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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ahimsa - Non-Violence in Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

One of the first things we start with in yoga is Ahimsa, which means the absence of violence. Naturally, it would seem that we could use this to mean that we don't punch people or kill people. A society that practises ahimsa would for sure not be killing its citizens with capital punishment, for instance. That's sort of a big view. Sure, it's easy not to kill people everyday.

Then we take it down a level, to our words. What would it be like to have the absence of violence in our speech? Would that mean not swearing? Would that mean not yelling? Not yelling at people, again, pretty straightforward. I could not yell at anybody all day. I could even not swear, I'm thinking.  Some days that would be harder than others, of course.

Let's look at our thoughts. What would it be like to have the absence of violence in our thoughts? Does that mean we won't think bad things about other people? Not criticize, even in our minds? Would lightly editing a person be considered a type of violence? Perhaps. What about ourselves? Would having an absence of violence towards ourselves be possible while looking in a mirror in the morning? Could I refrain from thinking negative thoughts about my own plumper, aging self? These are questions only I can answer for myself. My thoughts are my own and don't always get shared.

But the body does vibrate with himsa, or violence, even when we think critical thoughts about ourselves. Just as though we were to take a violent action, the inner realms start to resonate with the frequency of negativity and begin to take on the flavour, even if it's just a hint, of the same spice that brings us violence towards others.

When you start to take a closer look at your life, you'll see that it becomes easy to notice things we think are benign, that are actually causing little sores in our subtle bodies. Sores that can ultimately cause us pain for real. Think about it. What you're thinking about matters a lot. Practising non-violence in actions, speech, and even our thoughts can be done towards others, but also and ultimately even more challenging, towards ourselves.

To explore more, please join us for Living Yoga 1, which starts Tuesday, September 21 and goes for 6  Tuesday evenings in total.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Yoga Teacher as Mother (First Day of School Again)

Today I walked my daughter as far as she'd let me to school. She's so big and so mature and yet she's still a kid, who's learning and growing and who gets nervous on the first day back. Taking her, at her request, as far as she needed me, is my job. In so many ways, that's my job all around.

Taking people, at their request, as far as they need me to.

It touches me to see her vulnerability as well as her excitement. It's an honour to be allowed in to someone's life while they deal with something. No advice needed. No pushing or cajoling. Just being there.

Breathe.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Living Yoga - Next Steps for Yogis

To be honest, living yoga and the yogic principles are not exactly the next steps for yogis, although they are that as well - please come and see my slide show presentation for more details on that - rather, living yoga and the yogic principles come before the place where most people in our society start on the path of yoga. Did that make sense?

We normally start with yoga poses and show up to a class and do this thing called, "yoga," which is really asana practice. Nothing wrong with that at all. It's just not the traditional order and sometimes, sometimes it happens that people do a yoga practice and don't learn much about the rest of yoga. I've heard of this happening!

As a result, learning about the principles of yoga, and a bit of yoga philosophy, often comes after we've already embarked on a yogic practice. Again, nothing wrong here. However, by learning about the yogic principles found in the yamas and niyamas, for instance, our practice of postures can go deeper and connect more with our lives as we live them, creating more alignment and sometimes a sense of purpose and direction, possibly leading to more fulfillment in our days.

Some people practice yoga once a week and I'd even say that's a great thing. Once a week, taking an hour or two to yourself, working on your health, thinking about things that matter, taking a deeper breath - these are all good things! But just like if you were to injure yourself in your practice or doing anything else, a good health care advisor would be more concerned with what you had been doing around that injury. How do you spend most of your time? What's your position like? How's your alignment?

So if you only spend an hour a week working on your alignment, that's great, but for even greater alignment and awareness, come learn and share about the yogic principles and how we're in positions all of the time. Take a look at what our alignment is like in our lives, not just our physical lives, but our relationships and jobs and attitudes, and see if this alignment is working for us or not.

The class will be held in a new location this season as Kat's house will no longer be available as she is moving soon. (Don't worry! She's just going to India to do her usual teaching and then will be readjusting to life in Ottawa given that she's managing an estate in the Laurentians, which hopefully will be the location of some retreats in the new year.) A possible location is at The Hub, which is downtown and I'm a member of. Let me know if you're interested in attending these six evenings. To register, as usual, just get in touch with me or Kat.

Living Yoga 1
Tuesday evenings September 16 - October 21, 7 - 9
Unit 1 of Makata Living Yoga Teacher Training Program
$240

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to Bikram


Sounds crazy, I know, but I went back to a Bikram class today (which I've done before as you'll find in the link). I first did a Bikram class back in 1992 with Bikram himself when I lived at Kripalu. Since then I've done lots of Bikram classes but today was the first time I've done the "express" class. New favourite thing!

The reason for the Bikram is the location and the time. As I mentioned in my last post, I've given myself some structured work times and I wanted to break it up as well as take advantage of the proximity to a yoga class, which happens to be in the same building, so I really have no excuse not to go, except of course, that it's a Bikram class.

People who don't know yoga, can't really appreciate the difference between a Bikram class and one of the classes I teach, or pretty much just about any other type of yoga class you'd go to. It's a huge difference when you know what's what. A Bikram class requires some things...I'm not going to go into it right here but suffice it to say, I've got a bundle of wet, smelly clothes (and a towel!) with me and I'm figuring out how to jam it all in my backpack with my computer and paperwork and get home on my bike. But it's a nice problem to have. And with the class only lasting an hour, I spent hardly any time wishing the class were over already.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Office Hours or Adminstrationasana

As a yoga teacher it can be easy to avoid administrative tasks. "I am a yoga teacher." But really I'm not just a yoga teacher, I'm self-employed. That involves doing administrative tasks like planning classes, setting up trainings, finding spaces, invoicing clients, paying taxes and other things that don't feel like teaching yoga.

Over the years I've found different ways to get some of the tasks done but I've never really dedicated myself to those tasks. As a result, I may be a good yoga teacher, but sometimes business is "bad." There's nothing wrong at all with the business part of business! I just tend to avoid it.

I'm sitting at the Hub, which is a space where people go to work. People like me, who either work from home or a coffee shop or not at all. And I'm thinking about committing to some office hours. I'm thinking about sitting in an office, that's not at my house, where I will go to get work done. Not yoga poses. Not meditation. But work. Or administration and content creation and blog writing and keeping up with emails and being disciplined about all of that. Feels like it's time for that kind of change.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Living Yoga - it Works!

Living Yoga is working with our own lives using some yoga philosophy. It's like going to a yoga class but instead of lining up our bodies in certain positions, we're lining up parts of our lives in certain positions. And just like a usual yoga class experience, there will be some stretchy times and overall it will feel really good.

These classes will be held over the fall period and are part of our Yoga Teacher Training Program, which is really a Yoga Exploration Program, and is for anyone. No special requirements to come to this class. We usually sit on the floor, but even that is optional and chairs can be provided.

One of the things we take a look at is Ahimsa, or non-violence. What a time to be taking a look at that topic. Believe it or not, that's one of the places yoga starts. Right there. Being non-violent with each other and especially with ourselves. So many of us hold ourselves back or put ourselves in positions that aren't healthy and allow ourselves to be mistreated. Taking a look at how we can open up to a more non-violent way of being is where this class starts.

I hope you'll think about coming and sitting with us for 6 weeks in a row. If you can't make a week, you can join us via Skype or FaceTime!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Where Do Yoga Teachers Go When They're Not Teaching?

Where do yoga teachers go when they're not teaching yoga? It's a real question. I can tell you where I go, but I know there aren't many other yoga teachers there.

In the past, I've been so busy that I was usually running from class to class and in the middle, I'd be at home, taking care of things at home. I only encountered other yoga teachers by appointment.

Lately it's been bugging me though that I don't have access to other yoga teachers or students for that matter, outside of a traditional yoga class and I'd like to see if that could change.

When I was down at Kripalu again recently, I bumped into some of my old yoga people in the halls and in the cafe and had a chance to informally chat. I saw that some of them would use that cafe space as a place to get work done. It seemed like the distractions were not unwelcome and the surroundings were certainly supportive.

On the same trip in April, I revisited a coworking space in New Haven, CT, which has grown for a third time in four years and has a wonderful, creative vibe to it.

Could these things be blended? Could a coworking space for yoga teachers be created? Would anyone use it besides me?

If you're not familiar with the concept of coworking, you can just google it for way more, but in short, it's a space for people who may normally be working out of their homes or coffee shops in the area, but who would like to be with other people, maybe of a similar ilk, to work near and possibly with, if the projects warrant.

It's like an office for the office-less.

I've worked from home for a decade. It's been great. I've accomplished a lot. But I would like to see other people. I would like to make myself available to other yoga teachers and have other creative people around to help me, too.

Ottawa does have a couple of coworking spaces and they're great, but they're not specifically for yoga teachers - there's no space to do yoga R & D. I have felt out of place at the Hub and paying to park and getting on a slow elevator cut down my time there. Plus, as a yoga teacher, getting in and out of a space quickly matters to me as I do have to get to other classes.

It also occurs to me that most of the people who are yoga teachers in the city are women. Of course there are male teachers but the majority of people teaching and practising yoga are women. The spaces I've seen for coworking aren't unwelcome to women, they just seem to be populated with men. I'd like to walk into a place where I'm not unusual, but the targeted clientele.

I'm sort of rambling here, but I'm trying to express a feeling or an idea that's inside of me and I would like to be able to walk into it outside of me.

I've started looking at various spaces, trying to get a sense of how much space I'd need to do this. I've started meeting with people who can help see if there's community funding available (in fact, I'll be at City Hall later this morning). I've spoken to a few yoga teachers to see if this idea would be of interest. I've even checked in with a yoga studio owner to see if she would find this valuable. Everybody has said they like it. Now will they become members and actually support it...?

I love asking myself the question "if money weren't an obstacle, what would you do?" And I would definitely do this project. That being said, there's this money thing that's required to pay landlords, which would be the bulk of the cost. How small a space could I start with? How big would it need to be to be able to accommodate the right blend of spaces inside the space so there could be a focused work area, a space where you can chat, plus a space to practise in?

Which other communities of people would find this attractive? Would artists want to come out of their homes and work around other people? Would massage therapists need a place to land? Again, I'm just asking some questions to see if I'm alone or if there are other people out there...



Monday, April 28, 2014

Blended Learning

I'm taking a course right now in "Blended Learning." Basically, I'm taking an online course in how to offer online courses. Sounds simple enough. But it's not!

Blended learning is different than just learning something online from watching videos and completing assignments. It involves a mix of learning styles and is actually quite dynamic.

In my work as a yoga teacher, I do most of my teaching face-to-face. However, as a student, especially when it comes to self-study of yogic materials, I do a lot of my studies online. The idea of putting the two together is pretty interesting.

The course I'm taking right now seems like it's really aimed at education professionals - people who are more in the mainstream in teaching organizations like schools and universities. I'm not quite sure where I fit in as a yoga teacher, but it's early days in the course yet.

I like Swami J's site, even though it's pretty dense. He's recently posted a Udemy course, which is also online (and free and you should all take it if you feel so inclined), but it is really a curated experience of some of what he has on his site already. Part of why I like his site so much and can freely recommend and use is materials is because I've met him and studied with him. That's a type of blended learning I think.

I'm still exploring how I'd use these tools, but it's a fun experiment. You can take it too if you like. #BlendKit2014 is also on Twitter.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Four Paths of Yoga

As you probably already know if you're reading this blog, yoga is much more than the yoga postures that have become popular. There are many paths of yoga and they all lead to that union, or peaceful place, or stilling of the disturbances of the mind.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna offers different ways to pursue a spiritual path, or a good life. He suggests Karma Yoga, or good actions. He offers up Jnana Yoga, or wisdom and understanding, as a path to the good life. He recommends Bhakti Yoga, or a path of devotion as a quick method to this place of union. There's even Raja Yoga, the Royal Path, that could be used to connect to the divine within and harmonize our external lives with our internal guidance.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali is also very generous with methods that can be used to still the disturbances of the mind. Try this, if that doesn't do it for you, try this. Or this. Or this. So many ways.

Yoga understands that people are different and have different preferences and ways that will work better for them. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach by any means and keen practitioners of yoga will recognize the other paths as not less-than, but just other paths.

In The Four Paths of Yoga course, we will explore what traditionally the Four Paths are and how they show up in practice. We will attempt to find and travel these paths ourselves, with others in the community at times as well, and see how there's yoga all around us, even if we haven't been calling it that.

This course is free and welcome to all. It's tonight from 7-9 and then again in June to see how things have been going. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coffee's Back On

I just read the title of the last post I put on here and it made me chuckle, as I reached for my mug of warm coffee.

I was off coffee. For quite some time. And then I started drinking it again. And I like it.

What else is new? Let's see...

I'm working more with Kat Mills at offering yoga trainings in a modular fashion so they are accessible to people financially, and time-wise, as well as curricularly, if that's a word. Nope, it's not as indicated by the red underlining in my "word processor." What I mean by "curricularly" is that you may just want to learn a bit more about yoga and not sign up for a whole bunch of yoga teachings. For whatever reason. So with that, you can sign up for all or parts of 200 Hour or 500 Hour teacher training programs.

I'll list them all on the right so you can see what is coming up.

Also, it's March Break and I'm taking my daughter off to Montreal for the day where we will traipse through the campuses of some, gulp, universities, she may like to be attending the future. I'm just telling myself we're going for lunch. Maybe a trip to Simons, which we don't have here in Ottawa, and that's why we're all the way over in Quebec. That's what I might tell myself...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Accidentally Off Coffee

I didn't set out to stop drinking coffee, although it was always in my mind that if I didn't drink coffee that would be okay. But I must admit that it surprised me how I stopped and how easy it was.

I wouldn't have described myself as a coffee addict but I drank some coffee off and on everyday for years. I even blogged about it long ago when I first started this blog. I didn't consider it to be a problem and in a way I felt included in coffee culture, which is predominant here in Ottawa, I'd say.

So when all of a sudden coffee didn't do it for me anymore, I was pretty surprised. It just started not tasting good. I tried different beans, even paying the big bucks for organic Kicking Horse beans, using my new Aeropress coffee maker, and still, just yuck.

What was new? What changed my taste buds? I started drinking juice, or as we might say, I started "juicing." I watched a video that came recommended by a friend describing the benefits of adding juice and the micronutrients that go with it and I got interested. I was more of a "blender" rather than a "juicer" because I didn't really believe that it was good to not eat the whole food and just take a concentrated portion of the food, but I hadn't ever really tried it before so I decided to give it a go.

Rather than investing in a brand new juicer, I asked Twitter if anyone had one they could lend me. I was sure that other people had gone through this phase before and had one stashed away someplace unused. Sure enough, I got my hands on a Breville Juice Fountain within a day and I set it up on my counter.

I went to the market stalls and bought bags of carrots and beets and kale and apples and other things I'd heard were good for juicing and I got started. It's a big scary at first to drop things into this fast spinning thing but it didn't take long before I got the hang of it.

I didn't actually do a juice fast or anything, although I'm up for trying, I just ventured to add more micronutrients into my diet, which had become somewhat convenience based and less focused on nutrition. Within two days of adding juice in the morning and at lunchtime, I noticed that coffee started tasting funny.

Stopping coffee was a natural next step. I had a headache for one day that I can attribute to caffeine withdrawal and then nothing. No morning fog, no headaches, no longing for a latte, just me with myself.

Being off coffee seemed like no big deal to me but then I started noticing other things happening like my sleep was getting better. My partner mentioned that my mood seemed a bit better and I didn't even feel like arguing with him about it; perhaps he had a point.

Now that the market has closed for the winter, where am I going to get my greens for juicing? Trucked in from California? No way! Turns out there's a local farm that has a green house and delivers all winter. I still have to get things from Farm Boy and the Metro, but I did pick a fine time to start this juicing thing.

If you want to get inspired like I did, try watching Joe Cross' movie, and then Food Matters. Who knows what surprising things will happen to you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meditation Workshop Sunday #1

There's a meditation workshop starting this weekend. We will meet for three Sundays in a row, learning different styles of meditation and practising together. In between our meeting times, there will be opportunities to practice on your own, then come back together as a group and talk about your experiences.

I've taken longer meditation retreats and if you have the time, like 10 days in a row, I think you should do one! But in lieu of that, this little meditation sampler will give us different ways to start and a chance to regroup and adjust our practices.

Probably everybody has heard that there are many benefits to meditation. I like to say that I've never heard of anyone starting a meditation practice and things going bad. ("Oh she started meditating a few months back and it's all just been downhill from there…" said no one, ever.) Meditation practice tends to mark the beginning of something good happening. But how to start? What to do? Who else can help? Come and get some support from the small group starting this Sunday.

The course will be from 11-1 so if you're busy taking a yoga class or other things in the morning, you'll be able to join us for a couple of hours. We ran it at this time last year and it was really nice getting together to do some thing still and calming in the midst of all of the rush of the holidays coming up so quickly.

Please join us. This workshop is eligible for credits in the Makata Living Yoga Teacher Training Program.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Blast from the Past and Mentorship


One of the programs I lead with Kat Mills is a mentorship program for yoga teachers. This course could be part of a 500 YTT program or just by itself. We meet in a big group and have phone calls in between and also one of us will visit the teacher's yoga class and give support and feedback.

Today I'm going to visit one of my participants' classes. This isn't an ordinary class I'm going to observe, but it's the class that I used to lead for 10-11 years! Since deciding to stop teaching on Sundays for a variety of reasons, I haven't gone back to that class. I've missed it for sure. I can still feel it in my bones every Sunday morning.

So I'm excited and a bit nervous honestly to turn up in that class. I know a lot has changed already - the room it was held in changed, and the teacher changed obviously! I know a bit of what to expect but not all - which of course, is a good thing.

Somehow it feels like either coming full-circle, or maybe more like a spiral. I remember my mentor coming to observe my class a decade ago. That same class. Again, it was in a different room, but at the same studio, same time, and probably some of the same students.

On another note, even though I can feel that old yoga class in my system, I've gotten pretty used to not getting up and out the door by 8:30 in the morning on Sundays, so I notice a little resistance this cold, slushy morning to getting my butt in gear!

If you are a yoga teacher reading this and would like to participate in the Mentorship Program, get in touch. We meet one Tuesday afternoon a month from 2:30-4:30. Our next session is November 19 with Ian Fraser as our special guest. December's special guest is Catriona Leger, a director and theatre professor. Cost is $50 for non-registrants and $25 if you're registered in the Mentorship course. Again, for more info, just get in touch with me.

(Those pictures are from 2001 or 2002 in the Crystal Room at Rama Lotus, where the Sunday morning class used to be held.)

---- Update ----
Lesley did great. There were some regulars at the class and it felt like a bit of a reunion for me. I'll go back to the class - next time as a student!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Living Yoga - yogic principles in your real life

Tomorrow we begin another session of Living Yoga 1. In this course we look at the yogic principles found in the yamas and niyamas in the 8-fold path. They're found other places too, but the ones we'll be examining are the same ones that Patanjali refers to in the Yoga Sutras.

Since leading this workshop, I've attended some workshops on other topics, and I have to say, this is a good workshop. Not that the other ones weren't good, they just weren't as good as this one is going to be.

What I like about this course (and some of the others I lead at Makata Living Yoga School), is that it relates directly to the participants and their lives and offers us some insight into our own personal lives. Typically when people take a look at their lives, things get BETTER. It's often through unconscious habits and reactions that things get worse or we feel stuck. Shining the light on various aspects of our lives unglues us from patterns and allows us more freedom in how we want to behave - with other people and even with just ourselves.

On top of learning about ourselves, we get to learn about actual other people. Not people on TV or through their blogs or up on a stage, people IRL that we can talk to and share with and laugh with. That's special in this day and age.

So this is a good course. I recommend it highly. Starts Tuesday night near Carleton University. To register, just get in touch with me, your can look in the right hand side on this link for the PayPal button.

Living Yoga 1: Yogic Principles in Everyday Life
$240+ tax
Tuesday, November 5 - Tuesday, December 10
7 - 9 pm

This course is a module in the Makata Living Yoga Program. For more information go to www.makatayoga.com.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Training Yoga Teachers


One of the best things I get to do is help people go where they want to go. In the advanced courses I teach with Kat Mills, there's a Mentorship unit where we meet monthly to work on being yoga teachers in a group, as well as having phone calls one-on-one and even a visit to our students' real classes to give feedback and input in a live setting.

The first set of graduates has come through the course and are all just finishing. We didn't want it to end, so we're having it continue informally until Kat gets back from India, when we'll resume it formally.

In the meantime we have 3 classes set up - today it's David Robbins, an old student of mine from way back who's leading us in some digital marketing poses. Next month Ian Fraser returns to deal with advanced postures and how to get our students into them even if we can't do them ourselves. I say he returns because he already paid a visit during our regular curriculum. In December, Catriona Leger, a yoga practitioner and theatre director is coming to help yoga teachers unfold their stories using their bodies somehow. I'm taking that class, not teaching it so I'm not really sure what we're doing, but I think it's going to be great. Each of those workshops is $50 for the 2 hours or $25 if you're enrolled in our Mentorship course.

I'm expecting that today's workshop with David will inspire me to pick up my blog again and continue to share my stories. I've gone rather quiet on the outside, but I'm really here and have lots more to share.

Monday, August 26, 2013

No More Sunday Classes

Something happened yesterday that culminated in clarity and a call to action, finally, about my Sunday class.

When I started teaching on Sundays, over a decade ago, I figured it was temporary. I was newly a single mom with a young child and I needed the work, but also, I figured I'd set up house in the future with a new partner and we'd need the weekends together. So I'd just teach that class "for now." For now turned into months and years and that class grew and became an anchor for me, and for others, who would become the regulars.

So my life went on and people and situations in my life came and went, but I always had my Sunday class to come home to. And for a long time, it was Tuesday night, Friday evening and Sunday mornings. Those classes held me in place. In a good way. But they were always meant to be temporary as I knew life would want me to go away for the weekends sometimes, and not stay out so late to teach in general.

Finally, it happened! I've been with a man for a few years whose schedule is firmly in place and the time he has off is over the weekends. That's it. So if we want to go overnight or stay out late or visit people, it's going to happen on the weekend. Having Sunday morning right in the middle of it has been mildly inconvenient, but mostly for me. There's been no complaining or pressure from him to change my schedule.

With more yoga centres opening up and more classes around Ottawa, yoga classes aren't as full as they once were, which means they don't pay as well as they had in the past, if you're talking about a place that pays teachers per student, which describes many places. So looking at how much my entire weekend is worth to me means doing some math, like will I give up a whole weekend for $80? $60? Would I do it for $30?

When it's not about money, it doesn't matter. And it hasn't been about money for the whole decade I've led those classes. But that does factor in to the overall time budget and it's just something to consider.

Ultimately the decision to stop the class came from a past promise I made to myself, which I mentioned above. When the time came that someone wanted to spend that time with me in more important ways, I would make that time available. When I didn't need to do it for money, which I don't need to anymore because business outside of the drop-in class is great, I would let that class go.

Being a yoga teacher often means having an unusual lifestyle - unpredictable income flows, schedule fluctuations, split-shifts, working evenings and weekends - many of the hallmarks of being self-employed. When I make a vision for what I want my life to look like, I see having weekends free like the other people around me. I see being at home in the evenings for my daughter, who needs me home more now at that time than she did when she was five.

So when I teach weekends in the future, because I'm still a yoga teacher and still will need to work around other people's schedules to provide services, it won't be indefinitely. It will be for specific periods, not months turning into years, over and over again.

The timing of the decision means I've already led my last Sunday class. The next Sunday will be in September and that's the beginning of a new class schedule. My replacement was swiftly found yesterday and I'll support her in taking over that class. So no big good-byes or announcements, just a new teacher will take over. I think it's better this way. It would have been a pretty uncomfortable and emotional class if I'd known I was leading that class for the last time.

Of course, if time goes by and I miss teaching that drop-in class too much, I will pick it up again somehow, someway. But for now, I believe this is a cause for a celebration. Goal achieved!

In the meantime, if you want to take classes with me, you need to sign up! Next thing coming up starts in September for 6 evenings until the beginning of October. Using yogic principles in your daily life. Check it out at www.makatayoga.com.

If you really want a yoga class, I happily do regular private and corporate classes during the day, so get in touch with me directly to arrange classes like that. I drive out to all of my clients these days!






Monday, July 22, 2013

They Grow Up So Fast

I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter, someone told me "they grow up so fast." I'm sure many people told me that along the way but I do remember one time when it just stood out and I took it in.

I know they grow up fast. I know I can stay present so it doesn't feel like it's going by so fast. And then sometimes - bam - it feels like it's happening so fast.

At first it was the little things - when she liked to eat - then that would change. Or what she liked to wear. What her favourite colour was. Just when I thought I had it down, it would change. Just as I got used to her being little, she grew. As soon as I got used to her knowing this much, she showed me she was aware of so much more.

I knew she was getting on a plane today - I bought her the ticket for heaven's sake - but I didn't realize that I wasn't ready for her to go away for two weeks. I know it's not a long time. I know I'll see her down at Omega in two weeks. But knowing that didn't take away the surprise pang of missing I felt when she got in her dad's car this morning to go to the airport.

She even said, "Mom, do you want to come to the airport?" and I said no. I'd already made up my mind I wasn't going this morning. I have other things to do. And I do. But that sweet surprise feeling of "Wait! Don't go! You're my daughter and I'll miss you for two weeks," just sort of jumped out of nowhere.

I know this is a preview of her leaving many, many times in the future. There will be so many goodbyes and hellos I expect. This one just caught me off guard. I love her so much and I love being her mom. What a great relationship that is. I guess sometimes I take it for granted because it's always just there - the fighting and hugging and challenging and joking - and this morning I have a little taste of that being not there. Loving a teenager - it's an awesome challenge and I love it! Sniff!

(Update: she's cleared Customs and I have permission to use this picture from last week.)
(Update #2: she wanted to read the post and the picture below is of the text she sent me. Sniff!)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hoarding Workshop - Now that's Some Real "Living Yoga"

So this is maybe a longer story than just a blogpost but here's where I'm at. I'm in the middle of an 8-week "De-Cluttering Workshop" as the "guest" of someone who has identified themselves as someone who perhaps lives in what some people might call a "hoarded environment."

(My boyfriend is a hoarder. Or has been, up until recently.)


Okay, I have to fill you in a bit more so here goes. When I met Steve two and a half years ago we connected instantly and can remember the moment we first saw each other. We spent lots of time together and he started coming over to my place and hanging out. My sister said what's his place like and I said I didn't know I hadn't ever been inside and she threw out the phrase that hadn't even crossed my mind, "maybe he's a hoarder."

"Hey Steve, I was talking to my sister and she said maybe the reason I haven't ever been over to your place is because your a hoarder, ha ha ha." Silence. And to this day he recalls how he knew me well enough by then to know that a deal breaker would be lying, so he said something like, "yea, well, that's maybe one way to describe it, she has a point, heh, heh."

So we broke up. And obviously things happened to bring us closer together and there's more to the story...

Without going into the gory details, we have had a great relationship but how we did it was we had most of our relationship at my house and he kept his place mainly to himself until he was ready to do something about it.


That time came two months ago. Steve gave notice to his landlord and said he wanted to move out at the end of May. The pressure was on. I asked him if he was sure, could he do this, did he need to rent some space because he could see those things he'd been saving were not going to have room at my little place.

We had already established that it was probably better for our relationship for me to not be the one to help him sort through his stuff. Over the past couple of years when I went over there it was not good. Recently, he had an amazing friend help him do the daunting task of actually going through the stuff a bit at a time over eight weeks and making progress rather than tossing everything out, which we learned would be dangerous. I found I could be supportive from home and not have to go in and get upset by the space, because it was upsetting to me almost every time I went over.

In the meantime, I saw an ad for a Hoarding Support Group in the paper. I let Elaine Birchall know that Steve had already given notice so we were maybe a bit further along but she said it would still be helpful and we signed up. The Hoarding Support Group consists of a dozen or so people who have identified themselves as having a clutter problem and if they have someone who can be of help to them, those people are there too, for no extra charge.

We started a month ago and every week I want to jump up and down and say "do you guys know you're doing yoga?!?" To take a look at our lives and to take steps to create alignment that will allow the flow of energy and bring people into our space - there's yoga there. Taking a look at our objects and our attachment to them - that's yoga. Seeing how the false sense of comfort we get from our belongings that will deteriorate over time is holding us back in living our lives fully - that's yoga!

Sometimes I meet people who ask me if my boyfriend does yoga. He doesn't do yoga postures so much, but is he a yogi? Has he walked the path of looking at his life and bringing himself into greater alignment? Absolutely.

May 31st has come and gone and Steve's place is empty. Value Village has loads more things to sell and there's a lovely apartment for rent along the canal in Ottawa. A quiet miracle has happened to a special man in my life and I'm thrilled for him and inspired by the massive change that has come about through his transformation (he read Anthony De Mello's The Way to Love daily throughout all of this).

I love it when people take a look at their lives and see what's there. Every time, something good comes from it. I've never seen people take a look at their lives and have bad things happen from it. So whether it's Landmark Education workshops or Makata Living Yoga programs or Hoarding Support groups, I find yoga in wonderful, messy, human places and it lifts me up, inspiring me to keep looking at my life and shed light on the dusty, dark places in my own world.

(The images are from a sheet Elaine passed around at one of our last workshop sessions. It was used to rate your spaces. She has lots of tools!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Practising Non-Attachment as a Parent

I remember learning about attachment before I became a parent. I didn't quite get it. I was young. I thought Buddha maybe just had a bad attitude and if he could shift his perspective, he'd see that suffering really was optional. Oh dear.

Then I became a mother. Now I know what attachment is. And let me tell you, not all attachment is bad. In fact, I used to say that if I wasn't attached to my daughter, I'm not sure how I would have kept taking care of her. So it serves a purpose...

So there I was, a practising non-attacher, having a kid, wanting her to be great, but not because I was forcing or pushing her, but because she was just turning out that way, through you know, her nature.

While she was little, we enrolled her in Suzuki violin. One of our yoga students was a Suzuki teacher and it made a lot of sense. I figured I'd be fighting, I mean interacting, with my daughter about something like dance or gymnastics classes, so it might as well be playing the violin. At least parents are involved and there's good communication and it's a pretty wholesome activity.

So my daughter was a "musician." She had an instrument and we had a purpose. We invested in lessons and music camp and pretty note drop earrings. We sat through hours of lessons and many more hours of practising at home in addition to arguing about practising and getting ready to go and spending time in traffic getting to, violin lessons. We did this for years.

I didn't realize how attached I'd become to being a parent of a little musician until one day she stopped playing. "What do you mean you're not going to play the violin anymore? We've spent thousands of dollars on this activity. What will you do instead? Don't you know that kids who are in the orchestra don't wind up in trouble at school?"

I kept the paraphernalia in a drawer and on shelves. The music books. Music stand. Extra shoulder and chin rests. Resin. Little things. And sort of let go of my attachment to my daughter being a musician. She dabbled in the bass and that was cool but she didn't really get back into it. Oh well. She used to be a musician. Now she just sits on the couch and plays on the computer. Oh well. She was probably too structured in the past. Oh well.

Years pass. She picks up modelling. The fashion kind. That freaked me out and I watched my attachment to her not being a model show up. "Just let it go. Pay for the photos. It's an activity. It's good she's doing something. Her hair looks really nice now and her make up sure is pretty. Allow her to be herself..."

Then I get the strangest text out of the blue last month. "Should I start doing violin again" was what it said. "Ok" was the reply and "it'll give me something to do after school." Wow. I contacted her most recent old teacher (not my yoga student) who said he had room and after a bumpy start, we're back at it. Saw her old teacher for the first time in years and it was like no time had passed. She even picked up sort of where she'd left off. His handwriting was still in the books and he could see where she'd ended a few years ago. This time it's so different though. She practises with her own initiation. She suggests it and asks me to be there but if I'm not, she still plays. Her sound is great and it's really nice to hear live music in the house again.

It's not finished but I'm just enjoying the bobbing of the waves. Up and down. Life. Parenting. It's wonderful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

ABC Guided Meditation

The other day while I was getting close to the end of a class, one of my regular students said, "hey Jamine, why don't you lie down and I'll lead you through the relaxation?" I told him this was his time and no, but he was serious so I got down on his mat and he sat on mine.

"This is the ABC meditation and it's what I do for myself sometimes. I go through the alphabet and think of something for each word.

"Close your eyes, let your body be comfortable." Then he slowly and quietly continued:

A. Aspiration. Think of what you want to be, who you're becoming.
B. Beauty. Think of the beauty all around you.
C. Calm. Be calm in this moment.
D. Devotion. Be devoted to your practice of yoga.
E. Equanimity. Be equinamous to whatever comes up.
F. Fulfilled. Allow your yoga practice to fulfill you.
G. Grateful. Think of all that you're grateful for.

And then he stopped and said, "That's it! Come back next week for the rest of the alphabet!" and we all cracked up.

I'm still learning from that moment a few days ago. I told them I feel I really got more than I gave in that class. What a wonderful treat. I'll report back with the rest of the alphabet as it unfolds...

On another note, this is the top I found to wear to the event that I wrote about last time. I like it!