Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We Could Use Some Blankets

One of the groups I teach yoga to is at a school in town where kids go who've been suspended or expelled. Their principal has been doing yoga for years and when he got this new school he thought yoga would be a great thing for the kids so they could learn to relax and deal with perhaps some anger and anxiety issues as well. So they've got me as their teacher a couple of times a week.

The class for these kids is optional, however, if they come enough times, they'll actually get a gym credit for it. I've gradually gotten more mats for them and recently as it got colder, I brought in some donated blankets. As time goes on in the school year, there are more kids showing up at this school because more kids have been expelled or suspended, and the yoga class gets a bit bigger. At this point, I have more kids than blankets in the yoga class.

By far the best part of the class for these guys is the relaxation at the end. So we don't do a hasty 2-3 minute savasana, we really give 'er and the final relaxation lasts 15 minutes. In addition to the usual lay down at the end of the class, because this is such a small group, I do the leg-jiggle-arm-jiggle-head-scratch thing if they want it (and they do), and then they do a super-sweet savasana.

They know there are only a few blankets so they have a system for who gets the blankets. Seniority definitely comes into play. They work out the rest. I think it would be great if I could get a few more so that everybody had one. If you have any spares, let me know.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the Other Side

It's all over. I'm on the mend. I made it to the other side. Nothing bad happened. It all went as planned and I'm healing. My impression of what happened in the hospital is that the surgery team was tight and focused and the recovery group was less directed, but it's all over and I'm fine. I had the operation later on Tuesday than planned because the operating room was running behind. I was in the recovery area by 4, had visitors by 6:30, spent the night and was gone by 7 am Wednesday morning. Slept most of Wednesday, hobbled around on Thursday and ventured out for real outings by Saturday. I opted out of the narcotics when I went home and got by on Tylenol and Advil and halved that the other day. I could probably even drive but I'm not doing that just yet for the sake of it.

I attribute the speedy healing to me being in relatively good health and knowing how to relax. On top of it, a week before the surgery I started listening to a recording to prepare me for surgery on the advice of someone who had recently been there. I think it really worked! I took it with me to the hospital and at one point in the surgical day care unit some of the nurses asked me if I was meditating because my vitals were doing something unusual. Not sure what it was, but they did ask.

Here's what I used - it cost $20, which seemed high for an iTunes download, but it was money well-spent in my experience.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tomorrow's the Day

It's been quite a roller coaster. At the time of me writing this, I'm feeling really quite fine, not even nervous. Earlier today I was super-sad, feeling a sense of loss about having a hysterectomy and thinking maybe I'd change my mind. "Wait! I want to have another baby!" "What do you mean I'll never nurse another baby?" and things like that. I sobbed. It really isn't too late. I could change my mind. But I'm not going to. As much as I love kids and I think I'm a great mom, I LOVE being a mom, I'm not going to do it again.

So then I'd think about the "freedom" I'll have when I'm not all bleeding and tired and awkward and that would make me feel a bit better but then I went to, "what if something goes wrong?" "What if they sew my vagina too short and I'll never be able to enjoy sex again?" "What if my libido never returns like those other women said?" And that freaked me out so I took a half an Ativan. That made all of those thoughts disappear.

I decided to stay busy and moved all of my later-in-the-week clients to today and that worked out well. As I led my yoga classes this afternoon, I breathed into myself as I always do and this time the breathing felt the same as it always did except that there was this feeling of new conditions. Last day of the uterus. Last day before going on a big trip of surgery including a night in the hospital. I got home and my daughter said the hospital called and I am expected at 10:45 in the morning. Great! I'll skip the traffic and freezing rain warnings and even be able to sleep in if I can.

Yesterday as I was in Yoga Teacher Training I almost blurted out - "today's the second last day of me having my uterus!" But of course, I didn't say that. I woke up this morning thinking, "today's the last day with my uterus - what should I do?"

That reminded me that I'd like to see it. I haven't asked yet if they'll let me look at it because I figure the answer will be a creepy no. But tomorrow I'll ask and maybe they'll let me look at it. My uterus. My womb. My daughter's home. I kept my daughter's placenta for ages in the freezer so I wouldn't put it past me to at least take a good look at this other organ. But hospitals aren't designed for that. Viewing of the tissues. I'm going to see what they say...

One other thing. Today's the last day of my uterus but you know what? It's also the last day of having fibroids. Yay!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living Your Yoga Some More

Last night Kat Mills and I wrapped up our penultimate Living (Your) Yoga session. One of the participants mentioned that she's really enjoying the classes and even though she had something she would normally have stayed home for, she didn't want to miss it that night, which was encouraging to hear. It's our first time running this class and it's great to hear that people like it. We're going to run it again in the new year - it will start January 10 and go for 8 weeks.

When I got home and walked up the few steps to my door, I felt so achy. Even though I said last post that I've gone back to Bikram and it's helping my joints, I guess I'm not doing it enough because my hips just hurt. It turns out that it's one of the side effects of the medication they gave me (Lupron) and it's normal that I'll have sore joints. Someone sent me a tweet that warned me of how toxic that drug is and how the symptoms don't go away afterwards and people are plagued with sore joints, night sweats, and depression for years. Oh well. It was an injection, so I can't undo it or stop taking it.

I just hope that it did the trick and shrank the fibroids enough to get out using what I'll call the "simple method" as opposed to a bigger cut that will be required if the medication didn't work. Even the "simple method" will require an overnight stay in the hospital.

I'm using this as an opportunity to surrender. Just like getting in a plane and going on a trip, which really scares me - I'm going to go on this flight of surgery and participate in our culture - and this is important to me. So I'll give up control; I'll trust the training the doctor has and listen to people who say he has a good reputation and others who've had the surgery who are really happy they did. Big breath.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to Bikram

When I first came to Ottawa and wanted to go to yoga classes, I wanted something predictable. I didn't want to hear a new yoga teacher's spiritual take on life or try fancy poses, I wanted something comfortable and known. So I went to Bikram Yoga, as I had learned it back when I lived at Kripalu when Bikram himself came all the way from California to teach us. It helped that the classes in Ottawa were often taught by my old ashram brother, Luc.

Over the years I've done Bikram on and off. I hate it love it hate it love it if you know what I mean.

Lately I've had some tightness in my shoulder and wrist and I've adjusted my downward dogs and been careful on my hands and knees and I even talked to my trainer about it. "Jamine, you're getting old." Well, that did it. I walked straight into a Bikram class and went to work. My shoulder and wrist are about 90% better after 3 classes last week. That series is so therapeutic and if it doesn't kill you, it will definitely make you feel better.

As for the heat, the medication I'm on is giving me hot flashes, so I'm already there and it doesn't seem to make them worse. I would figure it's actually balancing me except that the stuff I'm on is intentionally unbalancing me so I don't want to mess with that too much. I'm preparing mentally to have surgery in just less than a month and it's probably not a bad idea to prepare physically while I'm at it. I don't want to be stuck with a sore shoulder and unable to move around, so I'll fix it now and hopefully it won't be bothering me afterwards.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Confusion - Fibroids - TMI

I'm confused. I have had conflicting advice about which medication I should be taking and I don't know where to turn for information. I will be getting back in touch with my specialist but an appointment isn't that easy to get and the wait is long once you get one and I just want to know if I'm doing the right thing or not. I'll get unconfused, or I'll just continue along this way, but that's where I'm at. The details aren't that important but they include things like the medication that was supposed to send me into menopause didn't exactly do the job and I'm wondering now what.

In the meantime I've been contemplating my body and how it houses me and and how it really just runs itself provided I do certain things and I'm so grateful. It's confusing to think there's this big thing going on inside I can't see or really feel and it makes me feel so out of touch. Like there's a stereotypical teenager in my uterus doing her own thing and not reaching out except once a month to make a scene and then return to her room leaving me to wonder what in the world is going on.

When I asked my GP why people are saying I need a hysterectomy when all of these new-fangled surgical options are available, he described to me how the fibroids are growing. Basically they're "intramural" and the big one is incorporated into my uterus - it's not on it or something they could cut off. It's integrated and to get it out means taking out my uterus, too. So supposedly I can have this operation and continue to ovulate each month, although my mom kindly pointed out, "sometimes people go into menopause from the surgery even if their ovaries are left." Great. Not that menopause is that bad, but I was kind of looking forward to continuing to have my cycle even without menstruating. Who knows.

That brings me to menstruating. So I was getting ready to say goodbye to my period, having my final mixed feelings about it all, really noticing the blood (I'll spare you all the rest, just know I was really paying attention), and like the patient who doesn't die when pulled off the life support, my medication didn't do the trick and I had another opportunity to possibly say my last goodbyes to my period. By the time it finally goes I will have said goodbye a whole bunch. Like standing in the yard waving to family members in the car who drive off, only to come back 5 minutes later because they remember they forgot something, the goodbye I'm having has lost its initial dramatic feel and will be a simple nod by the time it finally gets on its way.

I could not have this operation. It's not life-threatening. But like going to Montreal, I could walk. Thanks to modern technology and cars and whatnot, I drive to Montreal. There are consequences and there's a price I have to pay to participate in this culture. Same thing. I could wait for my body to stop making fibroids, but there's another 10 years or so left of that, and while that's all going on, travel is difficult, teaching yoga for more than an hour is difficult at times, it's hard to plan, and my energy is wild. I could put up with it, keep looking for natural solutions and new yoga poses to do the trick, just do "watchful waiting" as it's described in the reading material. Or I could have it taken out, heal up, and be on my way. Everyone I've spoken to who has had this operation is happy about it. Even my 94-year old grandmother said she's glad she did it. Maybe I will be too.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Workshop Today

Today's the day! Please come to the Rockcliffe Park Community Centre at 3:00 for a talk on How Yoga Works and Why it Might Make You Healthier and Happier. I am the privileged guest of the India Canada Friendship Circle this afternoon. I'll be sharing my experience about yoga and how it works.

Many people think yoga is just a bunch of physical movements, and unfortunately for a lot of people, that's all it turns out to be. Without integrating some of yoga's foundational principles and practices, the keys to yoga's power to transform your life and create greater awareness will remain unused.

Today we'll talk about how to use those keys. No physical effort is required!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yoga in Safe Schools

Last year I had the privilege of being invited to teach yoga as an experiment at a "safe school," a school where kids go if they've been expelled or suspended from their home school. We tried it as a test to see if it would help the kids relax and manage their stress. We weren't sure if we should call it yoga even, as the principal thought the kids wouldn't be into it, especially the boys.

I guess it went well because this year we've upped it to two classes a week. Today was the end of the second week and I have to say, I think it's going pretty well. We are going to organize it so what we're doing will count towards a gym credit for those who qualify for that, and it's optional so nobody has to go if they don't want to.

I'm compiling the work I'm doing now and making packets for the students, sort of like in the yoga teacher training program, but not quite. Perhaps this is something I'll be able to offer to other schools in the future. For now, I'm quite happy to celebrate with the guys when they see how this week they are a little more flexible than last week and appreciate seeing them soak up a quiet savasana, before heading back to the challenges they face in their busy lives.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How Yoga Works - India Canada Friendship Circle Talk

Next Sunday I will be giving a talk on How Yoga Works and why it might make you healthier and happier at the India Canada Friendship Circle at the Rockcliffe Park Community Centre at 3 pm. Please come! There will be a question and answer section after the lecture part, which will be around 45 minutes.

To register for the session, please visit the India Canada Friendship Circle's website.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Am I Grateful Yet?

I said that if I end up having surgery for my situation (read past posts) I'd want to be grateful when I did it. After months of herbs and prayers and things, I may be entering the Grateful Zone.

I got a call today from a clinic that said they'd try and get me in for a second opinion. Word is a doctor read my chart and said she wouldn't do anything different and doesn't have time to see me in the next six months. The person who left the message was really helpful and said she'd help me find someone in the community who could do a second opinion. I'll call her back.

Practising yoga all these years has luckily for me, made living in my body relatively comfortable most of the time. I haven't had big things to deal with up until the call from my doctor's office last year that freaked me out. Why would they call me for just me having low iron? I'm starting to get it.

It's not that my body is turning on me, it's that it's maturing, and with that, there are changes happening to it that I haven't had to experience fully until now.

I don't like the idea of a general anesthetic. I don't the idea of losing my womb. But really, this could be so much worse (and it will get that way if I don't treat it), and I'm lucky that I live in this age when both the energetic as well as the physical options are available. Colour me grateful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last Sunday

For at least 4 months, this is the last Sunday I'll be teaching yoga in the morning. I will still be a part of the teacher training, and the workshops I'm offering will still happen, so I will still be teaching, just not every week like I've been doing for 10 years. It has been my discipline to teach on Friday nights and Sunday mornings and has given me so many opportunities to practice the yamas and niyamas, in particular brahmacharya, santosha, and tapas.

It takes something to get up and get to a yoga class on Sunday morning (any time really), but the people that make it out to a Sunday class are special. I've often said that if I weren't teaching that class I wouldn't be at it, and I don't expect you'll see me hanging out in the back of that class once I'm no longer leading it.

Back to those yamas and niyamas I mentioned. Brahmacharya to me is moderation, but in particular, don't do things that make you intoxicated because there will be a period afterwards where you won't be present as you deal with processing the excess, i.e., the hangover. Weekends are often when our culture allows people to let loose and get intoxicated and recover from the week they've just had. I've heard more than one person on Sunday morning say how hungover they were! As the teacher, it doesn't work for me to be hungover and teach, it just doesn't. So although I may enjoy myself on Saturday night, I've always got to be moderate and manage my time so I am ready on Sunday morning. It's not really a problem at all or I wouldn't have managed for a decade, but it's something I look at once in a while.

Santosha is being content with what is. This morning, for instance, I have a cold. I haven't had a summer cold in years it seems like, but this weekend I came down with a cold and I have to get up and teach. I'm really okay with that. But the nature of my job is that it doesn't come with sick days. If you don't work, you don't get paid and that's how it goes. Sometimes you can find a sub and sometimes you can sub other peoples' classes to make up for it, but often you just lose the class. So arriving to class content and even happy to be there is a practice too.

Tapas is heat or a burning enthusiasm. For me that's getting up early enough before leaving the house that I can write, take care of my own stuff, and be on time, ready to go, bringing forth energy to share with people to help make them getting up and to class worth it! Sometimes I joke about how great it is that people are in class because just think about what other people are doing - sleeping in, having a coffee in bed, reading the paper - and here we are doing great work on the mat. Again, it takes something from the people showing up that is not always a common trait - it's special to get up and practice tapas - and on Sunday morning our class usually does involve some heat and people are sweating well before the end in general.

Sunday morning classes have been an important time in my life - it shaped when I saw my daughter over the years - it complicated new relationships - it anchored my life in a way. After a decade or so of being tethered to my practice of teaching yoga each Sunday, I'm going to let Sundays go free and see where they take me for the next few months.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Making Changes

After giving it some thought, I'm going to stop teaching my drop-in classes for the next few months, or the next session at Rama Lotus. It feels a bit radical but also so right. There is a lot behind the choice to pause, including what I've written in the last number of posts.

Starting in September, I won't be teaching any public drop-in classes. I will still be teaching on the teacher training team and leading workshops and teaching all of my regular non-public classes.

The major thing that not teaching every Friday night and Sunday morning brings me is, can you guess? Weekends! I will have a weekend in my life after 10 years of being committed each one. I'm hoping this will bring me opportunities to use my energy differently and look at healing my body, which is all good and serious, but what I'm really excited about at the moment is sleeping in! Going away overnight! Taking a workshop! Staying home!

I could go on and justify why the drop-in model is also tiring for me as a teacher, but that doesn't matter. I'm going to be on pause. Gratefully, the centre where I teach has said I can be off the schedule and I'll get my classes back in the next round. I may really miss teaching those times. It has been a part of my life for about a quarter of it and I didn't complain about the weekends. I enjoy this hour on Sunday morning. I love seeing who shows up. I love teaching Friday nights to help people unwind from their work week and set them up for a great weekend.

Given what I've got going on health-wise though, teaching 90-minute classes straight through isn't always workable, let's say. I sometimes need a break in that time and it is awkward to leave a class in the middle of it, at least the way I have been teaching my classes up until now. Maybe that will change and I'll build in a natural break. Or maybe I'll have my uterus taken out and I won't ever need to have that break again. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On Second Thought

In my recent post I said I didn't think what I was going through was worth having my uterus taken out but I'm starting to have second thoughts about that as I sit in my home feeling trapped for a couple of days while my period passes. I'd like my freedom back, actually.

The doctor's office called the other day with the date for my surgery. At first they tried to give me a date in September, but that was too close to my presentation for the India Canada Friendship Circle. Then a date early in October, but that was the weekend I am taking my daughter down to the States to review the Forum. How about the 18th. Fine. I half-scheduled it. I just said yes to please the system. I was still thinking I'm going to beat this.

Then I started thinking about what life would be like if I wasn't anemic and hemorrhaging every 3 weeks. That started to make me feel good. I go back and forth. I think, "what if this happened on the weekend I was supposed to be leading my workshop? That would be really distracting and uncomfortable." Then I flip to, "I hardly ever lead that workshop, so is it really worth having major surgery to take your uterus out just so you're not inconvenienced?" That turns into, "but maybe I'm not done having kids and I think I'd really like to have another baby, that might even make the fibroid better," which quickly goes to, "oh who are you kidding? You can't afford to have another baby and you wouldn't really want to you at your age."

The doctor I saw told me this, "if you were my sister, I'd recommend you have this surgery." The other women I know who've had the surgery are all grateful and I have yet to meet someone, although I think they're out there, who regrets it. My mom said, "it's common surgery now. They do it all the time. It's not experimental and the risk of something going wrong is small." She's right. They're right. But I don't want to get cut open and have my womb removed. I just don't!

However, the risks of significant blood loss over time are real and likely given how it's going. Even with the herbs, I'm running around trying to manage this situation. I'd be okay if this part were over. I could adopt if I really want more kids. Maybe I'll be a grandmother soon, who knows. (I use the idea that I'm really okay being a grandma and teenage pregnancy wouldn't be that bad as a deterrent for my 12-year old daughter.) I think it's likely that I'd be someone who would respond well to the surgery, who'd recover quickly, and be back to work within days instead of weeks.

The next step is to go and take the shot, which costs $500 that will shrink the tumour so it can be removed more easily. Once I take that shot my body will be sent into menopause temporarily. See, menopause would take care of this tumour naturally. But menopause for me is a good decade away most likely. If I have the surgery my doctor is prescribing, although I'd lose my uterus, I would keep my ovaries and still ovulate and have a cycle, just without the menstruation part.

I said I'd go in and get the shot when I'm back from Omega in a couple of weeks. They said okay. But I'm supposed to be on that stuff for 3 months before having the surgery and Oct 18 isn't 3 months away. So if I can get up the courage to go in and get the shot in a few weeks I'll be on my way and can reschedule the procedure as needed. Big breath.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Update - health and other things

I really have not been comfortable sharing what's happening in my life, so I shut up. At the same time, I've been encouraging others to keep writing, keep sharing, knowing full well I could be doing that myself. I'm just at a hard spot and it's hard to put it out there.

Healthwise: I was terrified of going on a recent trip to Paris with my daughter due to the situation presented in previous posts. I made the trip manageable by staying in our own place, rather than finding a hostel or place where we'd have to share a bathroom. That made me relax, knowing if I had to get up a lot at night, it would just be my little family I was disturbing. I also made it so we were not traveling around, we just stayed in Paris. That way, if I wasn't feeling particularly mobile, we could just hang out at home for the day or two I'd need.

It turns out that worked out well. I more than survived and was quite comfortable. The other thing that really helped is Paris is full of free, clean, public toilets. And if those aren't available, the local restaurants totally let you use the washroom without feeling ashamed that you're not a customer.

My next hurdle is the upcoming trip down to the States to teach yoga. I'm pleased that my period has arrived early, so perhaps I'll have the bulk of things to manage, let's say, here at home. That's relieving.

So are the herbs helping? They might be. I haven't felt like I wish they'd take my uterus out or anything, but I really have to manage to make it feel that way. My Natural Doctor said it isn't time to have another ultrasound yet because the herbs will need longer to shrink the tumour. So I suppose I'll get another one in the Fall.

Dealing with anemia has raised a challenge for me, which I think I'm really taking on. I was feeling so tired and wiped out and so I slowed everything down, which resulted in more weight on me, less energy, and I don't think that helped. So I have picked the pace back up, returning to my gym and trainer, and dealing with some of the things that were stopping me from running (sore knee) and making sure I'm being more physically active in general. Hopefully this will result in less weight for me to be carrying around, as well as greater energy overall.

Relationshipwise: I haven't been writing about it but I have a boyfriend. He's been around for over six months now and if you've seen me in that time, you've probably met him, because we're together a lot. Maybe it's because I've been burned in the past while I've been blogging and I'm afraid to have to explain it all or maybe I'm just not there yet, but I haven't been talking about him. But just so you know, I have a great boyfriend. He gets along well with my daughter, and we're happy.

Workwise: It's summer and I'm not leading the summer yoga teacher training intensive as I have for the past two years, so I left that space open and I've been having a good time traveling and spending time doing not much. As a result, I have lots less money though, which does freak me out. As an entrepreneur, I need to be spending time finding new work and cultivating clients and stuff, but I haven't been doing that at all. I've been at the beach and in Paris, and really just enjoying myself. Things will pick back up in the Fall I trust.

Practicewise: I've been taking things easy, as I've already mentioned. I'm not meditating as much as I used to - I've been doing other things. Lately my meditation has sometimes taken the form of focusing and working with the fibroid. I'm "allowing it to be there" while I also take steps to have it go away, so there's a bit of a juggle I do internally, trying not to be a hypocrite, but really being present with what's happening in my body. I've been back with my trainer the past two or three months and that feels really good.

There you have it. The update. I won't take so long to do it again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yoga Retreat

For the first time Kat Mills and I will be leading a yoga retreat together this summer. We are really excited about leading a retreat together. We love teaching yoga together!

It's happening Sunday, August 21 - Friday, August 26 on Juniper Island in the 1000 Islands.

If you've been with me and Kat before, you can imagine the tone of the retreat. If you haven't been with me and Kat before, just know it will be fun, funny, educational, experiential, light-hearted, relaxing, and refreshing.

We will practice silence everyday for a bit (practice being the key word there) and we'll do yoga a couple of times each day, as well as look at yoga in everyday life and how it fits in. We plan on taking the ancient teachings of yoga and making them accessible and applicable to modern life.

Let me know if you're interested in knowing more about it or to register.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yoga and Hoarding

I have recently found out that I'm close to some people who hoard. Without going into detail about who they are and the fascinating details about what's like to hoard I'll just post my thoughts about hoarding and how we all do it some ways and how yoga can be used to approach hoarding.

Yoga is the process of letting go of what's not you. In yoga, we let go of extra weight in some cases, but really the letting go is of old habit patterns and ways of thinking and acting that are not in alignment with who we really are. When we practise the yamas and niyamas for instance, we can go through a process of witnessing ourselves in our lives, waking up from habitual ways of being so we can live more consciously.

Some of us hoard weight. We started off thin as youngsters and then over the years, we kept adding and adding and not being able to shed what we didn't need anymore and eventually it can weigh us down so that we're carrying extra weight and it damages our health. Hoarders are like this with stuff. Some of us can relate because maybe we've held on to some things that are no longer needed or used and we can't really store those things anymore but we try. I've written a few posts over the years of my own personal struggles with letting things go.

Yoga also works like a digestive system. It can help us to integrate the things that have come before so we can take on more of life. Not just food that we take in, but experiences. Yoga helps us to get current in our lives, so we're not bringing along a bunch of stored up feelings or things to deal with.

People who collect stuff often don't have a way to get rid of it. I found that in my own experience. There was a system that brought stuff the house, but the system that recycled or donated stuff wasn't as efficient. When we see potential value in items, that can outweigh the cost it takes to keep the items around, and we'll keep on keeping things that have potential use, but not actual use. Those projects we meant to finish. The scrapbooks we mean to put together. The books we will read. It can really expand from there.

Letting go of bad habits whether they're destructive to our health - both physical and emotional/mental - or just displeasing to others, is often a really difficult process. We often keep these bad habits in place for a variety of different reasons, however, they often bring about very similar results: isolation, shame, loneliness, lack of vitality and many other symptoms.

I think that the teachings of yoga have helped me witness myself and my patterns in my own life and it has helped me have a lot of empathy for the people in my life who are uncovering their own patterns. Yoga for hoarders will be coming in the future!

(The picture is from a Google image search for hoarding. I'll see if I can get my own shots for future posts.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Staying Fresh as a Yoga Teacher

Lately I've run into a number of old students from the Yoga Teacher Training programs I've taught in over the years and they've mentioned that they could use some support staying fresh as a yoga teacher. Just like how the obstacles on the path of yoga are the same as the obstacles on the path to anything you want to do, staying fresh as a yoga teacher is the same as staying fresh at anything you want to do.

A few years ago I was on the Omega Institute campus talking to old friends one who was a writer and the other a midwife. The writer said, "if I have to write one more course description..." The midwife said, "if I have to say 'push, push' again..." and I was saying, "if I have to say, 'inhale arms up' one more time..." And we all laughed at how we were in the same place but in different professions.

It happens to a lot of people - when you've been at the same job for over 10 years or however long until you feel that way - you get tired of doing it. Sometimes it's just the natural process of getting older. We struggle when we're young to settle into a routine and sometimes after awhile we feel constrained by it.

What to do?

You could quit. It's at that point some people quit their jobs and find something else to do. There are pros and cons to that. If you aren't dealing with whatever are the underlying issues to your frustration, you'll run right into that again after you've been in your new job after some time.

You could take a break. Sometimes going on vacation or trying something else new will refresh you. If you haven't had a holiday in a long time, build in a break for yourself. The particular summer I'm referring to at the top of this post was one where my holiday was a working holiday. I taught more yoga while I was away and at earlier hours than I did at home. I didn't occur as a holiday at all!

You could do nothing. Just knowing there are days when you will struggle to find inspiration to do your job can help make it normal and just like the passing weather, you can rest assured it will change again.

Another thing you could do is dig even deeper into your profession. Rather than going away from it, you could get right back in there. Study more. Take new courses, get a mentor, and remind yourself of what fired you up in the first place to become a yoga teacher, writer, midwife, or whatever.

Nurturing yourself, connecting with others, exploring your profession - these are some of the ways you can stay fresh as a teacher.

Do any of you have ways that you stay fresh as a yoga teacher or other profession? I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yoga Rules

I come from a background of few yoga rules. I use a lot of "allowing" languaging. Anything goes. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. Listen to your body. You've heard me.

Every once in a while I get a group that challenges me and makes me come up with rules.

It makes sense that some groups will do better with clearer guidelines and expectations. The group I'm talking about in particular is the kids who've been expelled or suspended from school. They get to go to a special school, and I'm their yoga teacher. Their new principal is an old student of mine and he thought maybe yoga would help them to relax and learn how to cope better.

The first class had about 10 students in it and was awkward. A group of expelled and suspended students is a group of mostly boys, that's the reality. So we wondered how to present it so they'd feel good about going but not too weird to be in there with their buddies. Over the past few weeks we've worked it out but there were days when I had to take a big breath to walk in the door and deal with rowdiness, smoke breaks, phones on, people coming and going, the class ending early because everybody bailed, it was not what I've become used to when people pay to come to a yoga studio!

I worked with their social worker on the rules and we agreed: if you come in, you're in for the whole class. Come in on time or you can't come. No talking to each other during class. No texting - your phone isn't on your body. If you don't want to do a move, don't do something else instead. Stuff like that. Basic respect and manners. And I have to say the rules at the beginning of each class.

With those rules in place, we've had more repeat customers. They're learning some poses and sun salutations but the thing they seem to love the best is the relaxation where I touch them. I do the "leg jiggle, arm jiggle, head scratch" thing (the assisted relaxation if you've ever been in one of those classes with me).

Watching a group of troubled young men relaxing on their yoga mats makes me happy. It reminds me of the pride I felt when I was new with the police and would have a group of 20 guys (without their guns) taking 2 minutes to relax and how powerful that was.

It's taken a few weeks to get it together, but it seems like it's falling into place and having the other staff on board assisting me in holding space for these young people who choose to come to yoga (it's optional for them but 2 are doing it for gym credit) is making a difference and the kids are getting it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Herbs *May* Be Working

It's probably too early to tell, and maybe I'm just really hopeful, but I think this next period I have is going to be closer to a normal one. I can just feel it. If it's not, I figure I'm in big trouble and will have to do something about it, so there is a lot riding on this one, and I'm hopeful.

What I've been doing since I last blogged is eating seeds like I said, and taking herbs to reduce bleeding, and balance my hormones because apparently the situation I'm in is in part due to raised estrogen levels, which is natural at this time of my life.

I bought a Blendtec blender and have added lots of raw foods to my diet - without eliminating other foods altogether at all, rather replacing some meals with smoothies, which has been a lot of fun. I've been tweeting my smoothie concoctions and apparently they're getting tastier - my daughter is quite particular about her smoothies.

It feels so weird to have been going on a certain way for 30 years and then all of a sudden to have things be so different. I know other life situations are like that, but this was an internal process rather than an accident or some external intervention, just that clock inside.

The women I've spoken to who've had the recommended procedure have not regretted it at all and said their lives are so much better post-surgery and I find that encouraging. However, I'm still determined to resolve this without medical intervention. It was the same thing with the birth of my daughter. I was prepared to go to the hospital if I had to, and at one point during the labour my midwives "threatened" to take me to the hospital if I didn't get my kid out (full disclosure: she was 4.9kg, really long, and her head circumference was actually off the growth chart, ouch), but because of the research I'd done that revealed that often medical intervention leads to more medical interventions, I was really motivated to do it myself. My mom's had loads of surgeries that have made me want to make sure I don't have that happen to me and very sad for how she's had to recover from extra interventions that would have not been necessary if extra care had been taken during the surgeries. If I can prevent that from happening to me, I'm going to do it.

Managing what I eat and what time I take all of the herbs and supplements and rub on the creams and I tell you, it keeps me on my toes. I'm not quite at the point where I need an app to tell me what time to take which tablet, but I can relate to those who do.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seed Protocol

I'm doing a "seed protocol" to manage my hormones and try and shrink the fibroid tumour that's being scheduled to be surgically removed at the end of the summer or beginning of fall (the earliest appointment available basically). Thanks to the visit to the natural doctor (made possible by the boost from the YTT graduates), I am on a regimen of seeds, tinctures, herbs, and dietary changes that accompany the plan.

I think it's working!

I'm taking flaxseed and pumpkin seeds now and in a week I'll switch to sunflower and sesame seeds.

I don't know if it's really working or not but in the past 10 days I haven't had any pain and I feel pretty good! I want to try everything I can before having a significant organ of mine removed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Girls and Boys Yoga

Today I led yoga to two very special and at first, seemingly different, groups. One was my morning group at CHEO (our regional children's hospital), where I lead yoga to people who are inpatients in an eating disorders program. That group tends to mainly be girls.

I also led yoga to a group of kids in a special school where kids go who've been expelled or suspended. That group tends to mainly be boys.

At first it may seem like they are really different groups with really different needs. The girls tend to be doing well in school and are often trying to please people. The boys tend to not be doing so well in school and don't seem to care what others care at all. But I see a lot more in common than different.

Both groups exhibit behavioural problems, which is why they end up where I meet them. Both ultimately need attention and love. They both are dealing with fear and anxiety and how to fit in. Both are uncomfortable in their bodies. They may seem like they're on opposite ends of a spectrum, but that's exactly where they meet.

It made for a challenging day, as these groups aren't always easy to lead, especially when people don't want to be in class unlike at a regular yoga studio, but it was very rewarding to see them take a few minutes to relax and let go even though those minutes seemed so short to me...

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is not a blog about Fibroids

This is not a blog about fibroids, but it might be for a little while.

The yoga teacher training group graduated yesterday afternoon. The ceremony was touching, the flowers were gorgeous, and everyone seemed so genuinely happy. The new teachers shared, the guests shared, it was just about the best part of my job. And then I got home and opened a card from the class. I dropped it on the floor and burst into tears.

They'd raised some money for me.

I should have had a clue when I read the little card at the yoga centre. "Get well. Hope you feel better soon. Etc." "But I'm not sick! Hmm. They must have been reading my blog." I was warned to open the big card in private. That was a good thing.

I know I'm still in denial when I consider my reactions. But this morning I woke up fortified and ready to take on Project Shrink Giant Fibroid (and Avoid Surgery). Maybe I'll come up with a better name for it, but for now that's what it will be.

Any hesitations I've had to contacting a natural doctor have been lifted and I already put in a call to one this morning. I've researched natural solutions on the internet and may download an inexpensive ebook on the subject. I won't be afraid to buy supplements. And if I need to do the shots to block my period, I'll have some help paying for that process. So the money already has helped.

I feel all of a sudden super-supported. Not that I was feeling unsupported before, but now I feel really powered by goodwill and the reality that I've been charged with the task of healing my body. Thanks to everybody who's sent me their good wishes - either in person or comments on my blog or even just the positive thoughts. It has made a difference and I'm grateful.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Saw the Doctor

If you're just joining me, this post is a continuation of the situation that I described here. I'll jump to the end and back up. I'm going to be scheduled for a hysterectomy late summer, early fall, as soon as they have an appointment.

WTF? Seriously? Me? And I'm supposed to take medication to shrink the fibroid tumour for a minimum of 3 months beforehand. The medication costs just over $500 per month. (I don't have that kind of insurance, so please buy all of my apps and get DVDs for your friends!)

I am still in shock and don't really believe it. Surely it's not that serious and can be handled with herbs and other medications and exercises - maybe there's a yoga pose that will shrink the tumour so I can keep my uterus! I'll visualize the fibroid getting smaller. I'll pray better. And I'll keep the appointment for now.

If I'd had insurance, he would have started me on the period-blocking drug right away. I lose too much iron each month and the drug would put me into menopause right away and help shrink the tumour so it'll come out easier during the operation. He said, "you're 44 and are probably done having kids. If you were 42 or younger we'd do another operation, which is more difficult but we'd try to save your uterus." He's probably right but I'm still surprised that I won't have more kids, nurse another baby and all that. I also am not ready to all of a sudden not have another period.

Having a period is what I identify with as part of being a fertile woman. And we're just going to turn it off and move into a new phase of life just like that? I'm confused. I want more information. I don't want to do it.

I've never had an operation. Never stayed in a hospital. My daughter was a home birth for goodness sake, I'm not about to waltz into an operating room and get a general anesthetic. When (and if) I go, I'll be ready and educated and grateful. Right now I'm not.

He said I need to take the period blocker for 3 months so I have enough energy and iron to make it. Continuing to have the kind of periods I have now will weaken me (totally true) and make the surgery unsafe.

I welcome your stories, suggestions, prayers, understanding during this time...I'm scared and sad and realistic. He placed my hand on my abdomen and showed me clearly where it is - I can feel it for sure with my hand on the outside - and I'm too young to not do anything about it. If I were older and closer to menopause it would likely shrink on its own. Big breath. Here we go...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Social Media for Everybody

Next week I'll be leading a workshop series about using social media and covering topics such as how to use Twitter and Facebook, how to set up a blog or do simple website and how to stream video to create webcasts or share live interviews.

"But wait," you say, "Jamine, you're a yoga teacher. How do you know so much about these other things? Can you teach me?" One of the things about how I teach computer stuff is that it's a lot like how I teach yoga stuff. I really believe that anyone can do yoga. I also know anyone can tweet or use Facebook or learn how to do some of the simple multi-media things that make interacting in the interwebs so fun.

I have computers in my history. My father was a computer programmer back in the days when they filled whole rooms. Fun party favours at the Christmas parties were Snoopy cartoons printed out on that wide printer paper using characters to create the shapes. My grandparents gave me a calculator for my tenth birthday. (Okay it's not quite a computer but totally related.)

I did not study computer programming in school but went in to Film and Communications at McGill in the English Department. I was the only one I knew who had a computer. It was an Atari, hooked up to my TV as the monitor. I called home for files using a modem that had my corded phone that jammed and whined into a big thing on my desk.

After university I went to Kripalu, where I was a spiritual lifestyle trainee, and after 3 months of being on a cleaning crew (beds, toilets, mopping, etc.) I was offered a job where I was to teach yoga teachers how to use their computers. "Seriously? I don't know how to do that." "We'll train you," came the answer. It wasn't my only duty as the administration assistant for the Programs Department, but it was one of them. "How do I make it bold again?" came the questions. "What's a desktop?" "I can't find my file!" I would design little workshops for them and train a few people at a time in our tiny computer room.

In my free time I would check my email on GEnie where I'd get letters from my mom in Ottawa and my grandmother in Huntington Beach. (I still get email from them but it comes in colour and with pictures!) I played Tetris until the blocks fell in my sleep. Those Tetris blocks fell in front of my eyes as I watched more than one big name spiritual teacher do his thing. (Sorry Pir Valyat, I could still see you whirl but there were blocks coming down on your head.)

After Kripalu I moved to Omega where I helped implement their first website. I did not choose the domain name, I'm sorry to say because the first one had a hyphen in it and was hard for people to remember (good old In my lunchtimes during the summer I offered courses for staff in how to "surf the 'net." I bought my first big computer for thousands of bucks and it was supposed to answer my phone and do everything. It was in the back of the trailer I was living in during the summer. I was for a while. You might say I was an "early adopter."

I bought my first laptop computer while I was working at Omega and there was a while where the computer on my lap was worth more than the car I was driving, which I thought was hilarious. (I didn't have the computer on my lap while I was doing the driving, that would be when Chris was driving me to work!)

After Omega I was in South Africa, where I actually tele-commuted back to New York, to complete filling in the summer catalog data into the website. That was expensive because back then, we paid for phone time unlike here, and the connection was slow and it took forever to update the site.

That was 12 years ago. Since then, I've had more computers, offered more training, had the domain, which I let lapse and now sells tea I believe. I've had a cell phone since I moved here back when Telus was Clearnet, and when I got my iPod Touch a few years back I wanted to find a way to get my own data into that little machine and started a company to build apps for that gadget. In fact anyone who's got some text or a photo or sounds can build their own app - it's for anyone!

So when an old yoga student wanted to meet for coffee to talk about computer related stuff and found out more about what I know about these social media he asked if I'd lead a workshop on it. "Are you kidding? I'd love to. This stuff makes my mouth water."

The first series starts next week and goes Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for two weeks. I want people to try things and come back with questions. For this first series we'll be in my living room. If it grows and more people want to learn, maybe we'll find a different spot, but for now it'll be cozy and you're welcome to come!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New to Yoga

Today I led a lunchtime yoga class to a group of people, some of who were really new to yoga. The deal was I'd come one time and then they'd think about it, gauge the interest in continuing and get back to me. It was a nice feeling for me that at the end of the class, one of the people who was newest to yoga was like, "when are we doing this again?"

I may not end up being their yoga teacher again, and that would be fine, but what I liked was that someone's introduction to yoga was pleasant. I like it when people have a good impression of yoga.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lent Update

It's still Lent out in the Christian realms, however, as I wait for my little coffee to be finished brewing, I can tell you it's all over for me. I'm open to the possibility of starting back up again in a day or two, but for now I'm out. There's a combination of reasons I can give for why it just didn't work for me to continue with my dietary restrictions including going to visit friends in Montreal and not wanting to eat weirdly while at their house (they wouldn't have cared), and not starting the diet originally for Lent-y reasons, but some other reasons, and I was just piggybacking them onto the convenient Lent season. But they're just reasons. What happened is I stopped...

And I started... a little coffee again, and a bagel in Montreal (who wouldn't?), some wine with a friend, then my sister's birthday cake, and alas, I'm almost back to normal noshing.

Someone told me last week that during Lent you get Sundays off and can have whatever you gave up for Lent on those days. That little crack in the wall helped, too. I guess for some it's a relief valve, but I just don't really have a strong context for all of this stuff, so I'm going to keep reading the material and do personal inquiries around it, but I think I will do that while having a little cup of coffee in my hand.

On another note, I heard back from my doctor and they've found someone who will see me at the end of the month instead of at the end of May. And then I got home too late on Thursday to return the call - they've seen the ultrasound and I should call the office. I call first thing on Friday and get to listen to my doctor's voice say they're out of the office until March 28. Oh well. I'll keep hanging on for just a little while longer! Hope I make it through my class today - I'm nervous about it...

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I don't know what Lent is or means. But I'm going to find out. I've heard whispers of it over the years but I didn't really ever know anyone who did any Lenten practices that I knew of.

We practice the yamas and niyamas in yoga and some of what people are invited to take up during Lent are similar to what people take up during their training when we look at restraints and observances. So I'm familiar with those types of practices. In addition, I've recently, like right about as Lent was about to start, chosen to do a yeast-free diet to see if I can get rid of some symptoms I've been having that have been exacerbated by having a fibroid or maybe are making the fibroid more noticeable (see earlier posts).

So I'm going to do no sugar, dairy, caffeine, refined flour, bread, potatoes, alcohol, fruit, vinegar or fermented anything. And I'm going to do it for Lent this time and just see what happens. I've done the yeast-free diet before for long periods, so I know I can do it for 40 days. It's tough, but I'm on it.

After I looked into some Lenten stuff through a friend's blog, another friend mentioned on Facebook that he was signed up for an eCourse on Lenten practices that was starting in a day or two. So I signed up. And then I heard about Ash Wednesday and I wanted to be a part of that ritual, so I found a church that was having a service at a time I could go and I went to a Catholic mass and got some ashes on my forehead to mark the beginning of this journey.

Our homework today in the course was to look at images of the Annunciation and notice the little wall that blocks Mary from the angel. Look at where we have blocks in our lives to our spiritual selves, or our creativity, or anything we notice.

I still don't know what it means, but I'm having fun so far looking into this ancient ritual.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Snow Day Yoga

It's snowing out. I'm definitely going to teach my yoga class but I'll be honest, if I wasn't as committed to being there as I am, I might just roll back into the covers in my warm bed and skip the class. So I know that whoever shows up at today's class is probably a lot stronger than me. It takes a person with a lot of tapas, burning enthusiasm, to melt the snowy haze of a cold Sunday morning and get into yoga clothes and on their mat at a yoga studio across town.

If you are like those yoga students who will be in class in an hour, see you there. If you're a little more like me, you could always do some yoga on my app, or one of the other apps that CYP published for you to use at home. There's even my DVD that can encourage and lead you through some yoga poses, but you'll have to contact me directly if you want one of those :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

No News

After a week of waiting to hear about an appointment from a specialist I thought I'd call just to find out when that appointment is and all of that. Being on hold is something I'm getting used to these days after having to deal with multiple cell phone companies, so I have had the opportunity to breathe and practice relaxing when I don't feel like it. 15 minutes later she found my referral and appointment time.

So the appointment is in the middle of May. That is not satisfactory to me given that I've been having my period for almost 2 months and I requested an earlier appointment or a different new doctor. My GP hasn't even seen the results from the test I had last Saturday so the receptionist will follow up she said. I asked if she wanted me to call the lab but she said she'll do it and get back to me.

I'm not freaked out because my period has lightened up to almost nothing finally but I know that it's just a matter of days before it will all start again and any sense of normalcy I have at the moment will dissipate. So I'm balancing being proactive without freaking out - commitment versus attachment. I'm committed to getting an earlier appointment and getting a doctor on my team sooner rather than later, but at the moment I don't feel attached to it. Worst thing is I wait until May, or bleed to death before then. I'm kidding. I'll go to the hospital before then if it's serious, okay?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Natural Shiva Lingam

Every year I get this natural ice sculpture outside of my window. Today I looked for it and it was knocked over. Maybe because it was delicate in parts this time. With a month still of winter potentially, there may be some more lingam development, but if not, it'll be back next year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So it's a Fibroid (fibroidasana)

The technician wasn't supposed to tell me but she did. I have at least one really big fibroid, which may very well explain why I've been having the symptoms associated with having fibroids. But it's not for sure the reason and who knows - maybe a doctor - one that I'll go to see soon. And in case you're not following the links, having a big fibroid is not going to kill me or have me out of commission or anything. It's a nuisance, it drains my energy, and it may require surgery, but it's not any kind of cancer or anything like that, so don't worry.

I feel relieved on the one hand. Relieved to know there was "something" likely causing my symptoms and it's not just early onset menopause (I wish at this point). Relieved that other people, even people in my family, who've had to deal with this and are fine. Even the tech who did my ultrasound shared that she'd had some removed, had a procedure that's used to take care of this and she said her energy is back, she feels great and has the period of a 16 year old again (very light)!

It turns out that the medication I took for 6 weeks to try and address some of the issues I was having likely made the problem worse. Ooops. Oh well, guess I just wasted some time and 60 bucks on pills and made it so the problem is that much more acute.

I guess I'll be holding the pose of "fibroidasana" now. I'd like to handle it naturally, of course. I've never had an operation, I even had my baby on the bed at home, and I'm not that into being put to sleep by a general anesthetic. However, I'm not totally against it and if that's the route I'm supposed to take, I'll take it.

While I wait for a confirmation of what the tech saw (technicians work Saturday mornings but radiologists don't) I'll keep gathering information (especially on natural remedies). I'll breathe into the sensations (it's on my left side covering my left ovary in case you want to do a visualization that will help shrink it with me). I'll relax and know that it's a sign of life (a life that's getting older in a body that's showing signs).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

At that Invisible Place

I’ve gone invisible. I haven’t been blogging for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that there’s a health issue that’s been going on for sometime that’s started to make me feel like my body’s out of control. As a yoga teacher to have my body feel like it’s out of control is extra scary – isn’t part of my job to be healthy? So what happens to me if my body breaks down? Can I teach? Do I have a job?

The way I teach right now, the answer is pretty much no, I don't have a job. I teach to people as a contractor, so if I don't show up, I don't get paid. I don't make money for workshops I design and have others lead, I only earn money if I'm on site. That has always felt honest to me, but with the health stuff coming up, it feels pretty risky. If I have to take a week off, there's no money coming in, and no promise that I'll get my classes back or my workshop spots back or anything like that. That's one of the aspects of being self-employed in the service industry that's unripe and makes me understand while people do form unions and create safety nets, but it's also one of the things I have appreciated about it from an entrepreneurial point of view.

Being a full time yoga teacher, able to teach classes regularly, take the time to design course materials for workshops and trainings, and be available for student's correspondence, means I don't have another job. Lots of yoga teachers work full-time at jobs and then teach yoga on the side and I would recommend that's how people for sure start out because earning enough as a teacher to not only be paid for your time but enough that you can save to have benefits or savings or take a vacation, is unusual. Lots of us live simply so we are willing to earn what seems like a lot of money per class at times, but when weighed out over time, isn't very much at all. We don't teach yoga for the money, let's put it that way. Or what seems like a great income when you and your family are healthy may not be there when you get sick or need to take extra time away with your family.

So hopefully we yoga teachers will stay healthy long enough to share yoga with people who want to learn. And over the past year I took on a project to earn money for myself and other yoga teachers as an alternate source of income and another way to provide teachings of yoga (that's the company, Capital Yoga Publishing). It's still a baby and won't pay for my vacation anytime soon, but it's a start.

The invisible place is being a woman in my 40s who's now for sure out of my youth. My periods have gotten heavier and way longer. As a result, I have low iron and I'm afraid to check again because I must be anemic by now. I've seen my doctor, I've tried hormone replacement, and I'm waiting now to see a specialist. My energy is zapped, I'm numb in parts and even though I practice yoga like I used to, I feel nervous and not sure if I'll have the energy to do everything I've got planned for my day. When I'm on the spot, leading a class for 90 minutes, sometimes I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the whole class without having to run out to the washroom to deal with the menstrual flow. Sometimes I've had to leave the class and run out and come back. Yoga is also taught these days in tight pants. They're comfortable but often revealing, so to wear enough support means having it show through the clothes, which can feel awkward. The whole thing feels awkward. I'm in a place at the moment where I would welcome menopause. My period keeps me up at night many nights and I've been having it for well over a month.

This doesn't happen to most women in their 40s. It won't happen to many people but apparently it runs in my family and I'm not sure how to handle it. It's scary on a physical level and if I had the kind of job where I could just excuse myself briefly and that was normal, maybe work life would be okay. But as it is, I'm on, eyes are on me, and it's tricky.

One of the courses I teach that's been actually something that has made teaching through this change in my body is the teacher training. The groups can be working together and if I have to go to the washroom every half an hour it's not a big deal. Sadly, I won't be teaching the training in the summer as I had expected. The centre where I teach is also feeling scared and wants to broaden their safety net of teachers. So they've decided to have someone else lead the summer program and I'll be back on for the fall they've said. This is motivating me to move my teachings in a direction where I can lead more groups the way I'd grown to love in the teacher training format and not have a centre decide if I'm teaching or not. It's going to take some time to develop ways to be an independent teacher, especially a way to market and advertise courses, but I think I owe it to myself to create work in my field as a yoga teacher, that's more secure or feels more that way. Obviously no one's secure and things can change at any time, but at least making a plan for it seems like a good idea.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project Get Good Sleep

I wasn't always a terrible sleeper. As a child I had no problems sleeping. As a young adult sleep did not elude me. I think it was after my daughter was born that my sleep was disrupted enough and over time it wore on, wore me down and a decade later, sometimes it's really hard to get solid sleep. I also think that as we age, uninterrupted sleep is harder to get, but I'm no expert.

This past summer I noticed that I was feeling sleep deprived and stressed more than usual and I took it upon myself to develop some guidelines to give myself a chance to have a decent night's sleep when I needed it. These aren't everyday guidelines necessarily, but are the big guns I use when a solid night isn't imperative (that would put too much stress on the situation), but is likely. Then I can be fortified the next day with the knowledge I had a good sleep, I get the real benefits that come from having a good night's sleep, and the relaxation that comes from knowing I've done what I could to take care of myself.

Most of what I'm going to type here is common sense and you can probably already find loads of articles about these items. These are my personal guidelines.

Project Get Good Sleep Guidelines:

Go to sleep at the Right Time. Be in bed ready to sleep before 11. By 10 is even better. But not too early. Not before 9:30.

Eat the Right Amount at the Right Time. For me this means I can't go to bed hungry or else I'll wake up, and I can't go to bed full or else I'll be digesting and that will wake me up. So dinner after 6 and before 7:30 is what works for me.

Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol. Too much wine makes me sleepy but then wakes me up in the middle of the night. So if I've had anything to drink, I try to make it happen with dinner so it's all done by 7:30.

No Talking After 9. This isn't strict, but I try not to talk on the phone or have any conversations that are going to require that I think a lot or have any emotional content before bed. I'll talk by texting or maybe an email, but I try not to gab after 9. (This is just for Project Get Good Sleep, remember?)

No Electronics in Bed. Again, not strict, but I don't have a TV in my bedroom anymore and if the computer's in there, it's limited to low key activities. I put the wireless devices on airplane mode so I don't get email. The strict version has no computer, iPad, phone, nothing that will beep or light up.

Hot Bath. I find that after I take a hot bath, I'm dopey and good for just about nothing but sleep. So a hot bath is key for me in setting the tone for bedtime if sleep is what's in store.

Responsibilities. If I have an inkling that tonight might be a night for Project Get Good Sleep I make an extra effort to tie up loose ends during the day, so I don't go to bed and wake up remembering to do something important or wondering if I shouldn't handle such and such.

Exercise. Making sure that my body has had sufficient exercise makes Project Get Good Sleep more likely. It's also a way to get tired - tire out the body in a good way.

The Bed. Not that high up on the list obviously, but fresh sheets, the Perfect Pillow, room temperature and brightness/darkness, can also factor in, so I make sure I'm set up to be not too hot, not too cold, not woken up by the lights of downtown, and all of that good stuff.

Opportunity. Project Get Good Sleep is not something you may be able to have every night. If you're living a full life, there are many nights you're out late, you're eating late, you're having a blast and travelling and having fun with friends or working on exciting projects until the wee hours. These are guidelines for the times when you have a chance - or you need to build in a chance - to get a good night's sleep every once in a while. I find the more I tackle it and know that when I have a chance I'll get a good night's sleep, I'm more relaxed on the night's when I can't, and I know that I have it in me to create a night of good sleep for myself.

And there you have it. Jamine's personal guidelines for Project Get Good Sleep. Thanks Twitter, for asking!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Own Practice

Yoga classes tend to be an hour and a half these days. Some are shorter, some are even longer, but usually they're about an hour and a half. I like doing what I do in my class on my own, but it doesn't take me as long because I'm not describing any of it, so I just do it. I find I can do most of what I usually lead in my intermediate class in about an hour. I also like to add meditation to the end of it because that feels right, especially if I haven't already done a meditation and if I don't have anything else I have to do right afterwards.

Traditionally people will do their practice first thing in the morning, before the sun rises and it gets hot. That's not my circumstance here in Ottawa and I have a kid at home getting ready for school, so I always wait until she's out of the house and then I can do my practice. Midday or late morning feels good if my schedule allows. I don't have the stiffness from the morning, nor the hunger, and if I time it just right I can eat breakfast and practice before a sort of later lunch. Some days I just meditate and don't do asana practice. Other days I go to a class someone else is leading.

As I get older, I notice more of a difference if there's a gap in my practice. I get stiff sooner or my concentration goes away faster. So I'm motivated to keep it up because restarting can feel disorienting and sometimes deflating. But sometimes my life doesn't allow me to keep my routine or the order as I like it. And I'm not a victim, I could fight for my routine, but sometimes it's important to let something else in, like more work, or other people! Finding the balance is one of my hobbies. It goes off balance and I try and regain it. I figure I'll always be able to find it even though sometimes I worry that I won't.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I missed blogging here

Since I moved my blog, I haven't been blogging. That's funny. I integrated my blog with my main web site and then I got shy. I didn't want my "customers" having to read my daily surprises I guess. Or I thought my daily a-has or updates on my love life would be not professional, which they're not, so back to my personal space for moment.

It's Sunday morning - time for me to get ready to teach yoga. The house is quiet, it's still outside too, and it's a special time for me as I get ready to be one of the few cars on the road heading to a place where the people who show up are really special too. To get up and be at a yoga class on Sunday morning really takes something. And to do it regularly instead of laying around or having a coffee in bed, doing a crossword or whatever people do when they lay around in bed, I think says a lot about those people.

I recently got a new boyfriend, which feels amazing, and the urge to lay around in bed on Sunday morning instead of getting up to teach yoga is so strong that I made sure I was alone last night. I hate having to fight with myself to get up. I prefer to bounce out of bed and get on with my day. Feeling torn may have some romantic ring to it, but it feels crappy to me, so I just nipped it in the bud and said, "No. I want to be alone Sunday morning."

I never meant to teach yoga every Sunday morning for 10 years. I meant to do it temporarily until I had my personal life settle and then I'd go back to having weekends. It's been at least a decade since I had weekends in my life. Now I feel that pull to have a weekend again and maybe if things work out, I'll have my dream of being able to quit teaching yoga Sunday morning so I can remember what people do that's lazy and makes it Sunday morning. But these are early days and I'm up and out of here to teach my class...