Friday, October 9, 2009

Chakras, Yoga, Emotions & Illness

Happy Turkey Day weekend everyone!!
This is my favourite holiday, so if I sound excited I am.

I just wanted to update everyone that I have a workshop coming up on November the 28th from 10am to 2pm at the Glebe Community Centre, located at 175 Third Avenue in Ottawa. The workshop is called Chakras, Yoga, Emotions & Illness and it’s a nice pre-holiday session with a focus on moving through the challenges of the chakras and learning new tools for working with stress and keeping the energies of the body moving. The workshop is open to anyone and you don’t have to know anything about yoga or chakras to participate. The rest of the information is on the poster above. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Out of My Senses

I had a chance to get out today and take some autumn inspired pictures. I was trying to find some colour among the browns and grays that sometimes take over this season. If you get a chance stop by my photo album, the new pictures are at the end.

So I’m always looking for new ways to get my brain to be quiet. That’s the main purpose of my meditation, to quiet the mind long enough to feel the peace that emanates out of everything when your brain stops playing the part of sports commentator. But because I haven’t figured out how to meditate and live my life (work, drive, teach, climb) at the same time there are long stretches of the day where my brain gets to chit-chat. For these times when I’m not meditating I’m always looking for new ways to get my brain to be quiet. Sometimes I’m thinking about how my feet feel pressing on the ground, or I try to focus on what the energy in my body feels like, or I’ll try to stop narrowing my view onto things and focus on the space between them. And for a while these methods work but my brain is always evolving and adapting and coming up with new ways to drag me into the drama of everyday life. It’s a good storyteller, it can be very captivating.
So my latest trick to disable the brain-bomb is focusing on the thought that all of our senses are brain impulses interpreted for our understanding, but the brain’s impulses are not actually the object causing the sensation and there’s a lot of room for interpretation. That’s why you can be fooled by optical illusions and why you get a brain-freeze when you eat ice-cream. It’s all how your brain chooses to interpret it. In yoga we call our senses the Indriyas and we do all kinds of things to work on increasing our awareness of them, or focusing our awareness of them. The neat thing is the quieter your brain is the easier it is to interpret your senses, but they’re still just impulses, not the actual thing. Yeah, I know on a thinking level that doesn’t make sense, but that’s the tricky thing about trying to quiet the brain, sometimes you have to find things too big for it to hold so that it just shuts up in amazement.

My partner yoga is coming up in two weekends. It’s free at Lululemon. And you can bring a friend or family member; it doesn’t have to be a spouse.
Have an awesome Monday.

Friday, October 2, 2009

If you were in a hostage situation and my mind was put in charge of talking it out don't worry, you'd be fine...

My first advice for the day is Vitamin D. Ottawa has been receiving cloud spit for the past week solid so if you haven’t had any sunshine lately take a supplement, at least a 1000 IU of vitamin D, because it’s better than nothing. I can always tell when it starts to get darker and people are staying inside more because my clients in the community start to break down. I get more panicked phone calls, more people saying they need help. What help do they need? They don’t know- they just know they need something. And I feel it too. It’s dark when I get up; it’s cold when I go out. Here come the winter blues.
When things get more challenging in life (during times of stress or illness) we’re always told to take better care of ourselves. What I find so interesting is it’s these times that our brain seems to rebel the most. Or at least my mind seems to.
I’ve taken to call my mind the great negotiator. When I was little I was always bargaining at the dinner table. An extra piece of carrot if it got me out of eating my broccoli. Two more mouthfuls of rice if I didn’t have to finish the other parts of my casserole and so on and so on. I always looked forward to the day I was old enough that I didn’t have to negotiate every little thing with my parents.
Well I guess the joke is on me because now I negotiate with myself. I’ve taken to blending my greens in a food processor (yes I still hate eating my vegetables), the recipe is delicious so I’ll include it (there’s sarcasm here I can’t express in writing):

Green Goop
2 cups Swiss Chard, Kale, Collard Greens or any leafy greens as long as they’re not iceberg lettuce, that stuff is useless.
½ cup Green Tea (Without the bag, in case it wasn’t obvious).
½-1cup Seaweed- the dried kind, anything but kelp which acts as a natural thickener.
1 cup fresh cut Wheatgrass- optional.
½ cup unsweetened flaked Coconut.
Enough orange juice to drown that stuff down. Puree, pour a glass, add 8 drops of oil of Oregano because everyone keeps saying it’s good for you. Plug your nose and drink it over the sink because sometimes your gag reflex is stronger than your willpower.

And when people ask me why I drink the stuff the easy reason is my mind truly is an awesome negotiator. If I make myself a salad I’ll just stare at it, take a bite and be finished. If I cook up a veggie casserole it goes bad in the fridge. The whole idea of drinking my vegetables is it gives me less time to talk myself out of it. And the funny part is that by the last gulp my brain still goes “But you just drank the whole glass, do you really need the last bit?”
It’s relentless. That’s why I rock-climb; it’s the only way to trick my mind into letting me workout.
Obviously I could over power my mind and force it to do things it doesn’t want to but I know it’s going to raise a stink and pout through the whole experience.
So today I give my kudos to all people that have their minds doing as they are told.
Hope for some sunshine and have an awesome weekend!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sacral chakra- Svadhisthana- Emotions are just energy in motion- E-motion

Sexuality, feelings, passion: All words that can make a person uncomfortable in Western society. Carrying a social stigma, the education on these matters is often sparse and incongruent. When we are children questions about sexuality are answered quickly and with little detail, to avoid any discomfort of the adult, and as these children grow up the problem persists as they carry this inherited discomfort on with their own children. Emotions don’t fair much better, while pleasant emotions are encouraged to some degree, even at a young age emotions that cause more of a scene or disruption are often ended quickly for fear of embarrassment. And so the main issues of the second chakra are continually swept under the rug, creating vicious cycles of suppression and outburst with no control. Little can be improved in this area until we are comfortable enough to bring our issues into the light and begin to truly express ourselves.

The Sacral Chakra Summarized:
Moving up from our Root Chakra along the nadis of the energetic body we soon reach the Sacral Chakra located in the pelvic region. Characterized by its orange glow, this chakra is the home of our self expression and it expresses itself in the physical world. Once we’ve created a firm base through our Root Chakra we begin to feel grounded enough to begin moving out from this safe base, and these movements become our self expression. These movements can be anything, the way we walk or talk, pictures we paint or whether we decide to dance or not. What we express has little significance compared to the importance of just being able to express ourselves as these energies come up and move through us. Having a healthy amount of energy flowing through the second chakra allows this energetic expression to happen.

Sacral Chakra Issues:
The issues of the second chakra tend to fall into the extremes. Either a person feels they should not express their emotions and as a result become a mechanical creature, rigid in their own thought control as they suppress any emotion that enters their body, or in the other extreme there is the person with no emotional savvy at all. This person becomes a weeping wound of emotion, leaking their energy at the slightest upset. In either extreme the same problem persists (a problem that is a common human belief), we associate emotions as us. People who suppress their emotions fear the expression of them because they don’t want to be seen as an angry/weepy/exuberant/out of control person. People who express their emotions in abundance also take their emotions to be who they are and sometimes revel in their emotional abundance (although this may be a subconscious enjoyment). One of the most beneficial things a person can do for their second chakra is realize that emotions are like the weather patterns of the body. Some days it rains and some days its beautiful sunshine but whether it shines or pours isn’t a direct representation of what kind of person you are, only what emotion is passing through your body at this time. Some people think that it’s their thoughts causing their emotions and sometimes it is but just as often the emotions occurring create the thoughts as a result. And really which comes first is irrelevant as long as we perceive both thought and emotion as temporary occurrences and don’t get attached to them and try to hold them and make them our own or push them away and deny they exist at all. Sexuality, creativity and passion are all a part of this, energy moving through the body and in order to heal the second chakra we work to perceive these energies correctly and then move them in a healthy way through the body.

Healing our Sacral Chakra- New perspective and allowing movement:
Since a lot of issues in this chakra relate more to our perception than the actual emotions or urges the first thing we work to do is change our perception. Just as we did with the Root Chakra emotions are best handled if broken down into their physical sensations. For sadness we may notice the tightness in the throat, turning of the gut, or burning of the eyes. Looking at emotions through their physical sensations is more manageable then becoming overwhelmed in what the thought of that emotion means. It is the brain that is naturally conditioned to take a list of physical sensations and provide them with a label. And once the brain has labelled you as sad it starts drawing up memories and personal stories to support this label. When working with the second chakra it sometimes helps to take a step back and see the emotion as it’s physical symptoms and just watch them. As we first begin to do this it is not unusual to find it initially challenging, especially for really strong emotions, the mind will keep pulling us back into the story of how the emotions are us. But as we practice stepping back and looking at the energies passing through our body it gives us a little more space and perspective to figure out how to let these energies keep moving. When we exist in the emotions or deny them all together the emotion decides how it will express itself, whether it is through shouting or weeping or whichever. As we learn to sit with the emotion (Which is different than thinking about them, your mind’s talking very rarely helps the process) sometimes the energies just move right through and out of the body on their own. For some emotions all they needed was some conscious attention without judgement. For emotions that are strong some sort of physical release is often needed, but because we begin to practice creating space around our emotions we now have more room to come up with healthy releases. Instead of shouting we may channel our anger into writing something or maybe a sport or training exercise. There is a strong belief that we need to understand our emotions in order to handle them. Sometimes this is true, but a lot of the time an emotion is just an emotion, just as a rain cloud is just a rain cloud. Understanding the weather does not necessarily make us experts at predicting or preventing it. And because energy can be released through physical motion sometimes some simple sun salutations can have the same effect as an hour long psych session. Sometimes. But the only person who can figure out what works is the person experiencing the emotion, which is why we start the process simply by becoming aware of the emotions in the body and letting the space we create lead us from there.
OMG, that was a struggle (The sign of blocked energies? Maybe). Emotions are such a touchy subject it’s hard to say what I mean with out feeling like I’m stepping on toes. There was probably a million little more things I could of said but that was the best summary I could come up with.
In the mean time I’m working on arranging a Chakra/Emotions/Illness workshop sometime before Christmas and will update you when I have a little more set up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"What's that for?" "Don't know, just put it on top of the pile labeled 'useless'."

*Neurons and Glia just chillin'*

Well, I am industriously (replace with the word "slowly") working on my posting on the Sacral Chakra but due to a present case of coming under the weather I'm having trouble flowing big words together so I thought I'd post something in the interim on how some scientific minds seem to have the urge to keep things simple all the time. How hypocritical of me *Wink*.

So I'm lying in bed trying to promote the healing process and finally finding time to look at my much neglected Discover magazines and I'm finding some interesting stuff. I read through this article called The Brain: The Dark Matter of the Human Brain which talked about how for decades scientists have been focusing on the neurons of the brains because when they stuck electrodes in them they could easily observe the electrical synapses. And I think because of the big focus on Neurons a lot of us picture our brains as being full of these synaptic cells, turns out not so much. Ever heard of the glia? Ya, me either, turns out there's about ten times as many of them in our brains as there are neurons but since they don't react to electricity scientists decided they were just the glue holding the brain together. That's a lot of glue. And of course now they're beginning the find out these cells are way more important, which is funny because for years they were considered the junk they had to slice through to get to the good stuff.

Reading that reminded me of so many things yoga and human health. When I took my Yin teacher training we talked about fascia and how if exist throughout the body, in and around all the other tissues, and it has so many purposes and functions, but even a few years ago when I was in university for nursing we never mentioned it. In videos of anatomy it was the stuff we scrapped away to get a better view of the muscle.

Maybe not in all sciences but largely in health sciences we're always looking for the simplest answer. When someone has lung cancer the first thing we ask them is if they smoked, deciding there must only be one culprit to this condition. If someone says they have depression we hand them a pill and say "There you go, that'll fix you." I see a lot of health care professionals become frustrated when it's not that simple, people return with the same issue again and again and instead of considering that life is holistic and things are rarely simple we categorize these people as 'difficult'.

And to tell you the truth I find it all so fascinating, the human condition to look for the simplest answer and throw the other 'stuff' away. So are people going to continue the search for the quick fix or is the fact that scientists are finally taking time to study multipurpose systems like glia and fascia a good sign that maybe we're evolving enough the be ready to handle a life a little more complicated. I hope we are...

As my systems get back up to 100% I'll keep working on the Second Chakra stuff, hopefully for the next post. And in the meantime if you get a chance stop to listen to some Aqualung, its good stuff for addled brains, been working for me anyways.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facebook- The Death of the Awkward Silence

I finally signed back up for Facebook. When I got back on my account was in the same condition it was when I left it over and year and a half ago. Kind of an interesting snapshot of me in a past time, although not necessarily a 100% flattering one. And even though I’ve decided to go through with getting back on the site for many different reasons I still feel myself conflicted with whether it’s a good idea to support such a site.
I’ve been noticing a lot lately that people are becoming more and more telephonaphobic. On multiple occasions in the past few months I’ve left a voice message on people’s phones only to get an email back. And when I think about it I don’t see people talking on their cell phones half as much as they used to. Now everyone is texting or on the net through their phones. So I guess that’s good news if we’re trying to decrease the number of people with brain cancer but watching the evolution away from really talking to people is a little nerve racking.
I mean, I completely understand it on one level. It’s hard talking to people on the phone, especially if we don’t know them that well. We find ourselves with our minds racing through awkward silences as we try to find a topic to carry on the conversation. We often feel like we could have said things better after the conversation is done. For many of us phone calls are stressful. But I doubt phoning people less often will help the problem. And if we find phone conversations awkward I think the same is true for meeting in person.
I find it interesting that we are willing to be honest over the net and say what we feel there but the minute we’re speaking in person we become afraid to say what we are truly thinking and afraid to be seen as we really are. Afraid of what? Rejection? Anger from the other person? And I know I’m under the influence of this fear too.
So now we’re communicating through ‘status updates’ which creates as little room for conflict as possible and I wonder how much further this can go.
Trying to think of ways to open the lines of communication again… It gets harder the more I realize most people would prefer if I didn’t.

So there I go ranting about the disconnect again. What is new eh? Just have to keep looking for the answer…
Hopefully have my stuff up on the second chakra next week. Still loving Anodea Judith’s book and starting to listen to Eckhart Tolle’s CDs on presence in the car.
Always trying to keep moving forward even if life’s gravity wishes otherwise. Ah, the opposing forces that make us stronger…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did you know "Junkiness" is not a real word? Oh well, it is now...

It’s strange to think that we’ve known for at least the past century that if we put junky food into our bodies too much and too often that we’ll feel pretty junky ourselves and stranger still to think that we still haven’t figured out that the same is true for the things we let enter our bodies emotionally and mentally.
I’ve been having trouble falling asleep again, which stopped being a problem a few years ago but in unfortunately starting up again. The tricky part about insomnia is that the anxiety of not knowing whether or not you’ll fall asleep is often the same anxiety that keeps you up at night. Practicing the art of self sabotage last night I found myself staying up late watching TV just to avoid finding out if I would or would not actually have trouble falling asleep once the lights were off. And this is where I had the opportunity to remind myself that putting crappy stuff in my body isn’t just an issue with eating. So last night I stayed up watching Criminal Minds (A great show for people who are always worried there’s a psycho around every corner, no I’m joking, you paranoid people should stick to watching something less neuroticism creating like Treehouse, oh wait, maybe not Treehouse...) It was a two hour special about a young guy with a split personality disorder who kidnaps and tortures one of the main characters in the show, in the name of God. Considering the young guy was played by the blond kid from Dawson’s Creek I wasn’t expecting the acting to be so convincing or to feel quite so stirred up by the end of it, but I was up the next two hours tossing and turning following the episode. The funny thing is that most of us are so used to this high adrenaline inducing stuff that we don’t even notice all the junk it’s accumulating in our bodies and minds. I think of all the paranoia in the world today, all the talk of terrorism and perversion, and I wonder if the world is really that much worse than it used to be. Has the world really become populated by dangerous, crazy people who wait to pounce around every corner or are we just focusing on the stories that make our hearts race more and more. Obviously I have no way of knowing but it’s hard for me not to feel that much like we can become addicted to the same foods that make us feel gross and sluggish maybe the same thing has occurred with our choices for mental and emotional stimulus. Sure the rush is awesome when it’s happening but is it worth all the “junkiness” we feel after?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Root chakra- Muladhara- Grounding, not just for rotten children anymore.

In Western culture today, speaking energetically as well as on other levels the human species seems to be becoming more and more ungrounded. As we move away from family dinners and stable homes we create new challenges for our species to find ways to be a part of something physical and real as we move deeper and deeper into our own thoughts and the imaginative world created by society around us.

The Root Chakra Summarized:
From a yogic viewpoint, looking at the 7 main chakras in the body, assessing for deficiencies and excesses as chakras are known to have, its pretty common to find issues in the Root Chakra in many Westerners. The Root Chakra, located at the area of the tailbone, is our power center for all our physical needs for survival, food water, shelter and in today’s society money which is necessary to meet these needs. The Root Chakra provides the foundation for all the other chakras much like the roots of a tree are necessary for support of the trunk and branches above it. Also like the roots of a tree the Root Chakra is responsible for pulling up energy into the system from the world beneath it so that this energy can be manifested into growth for the systems above it. Energy is also brought down through the crown chakra but if energy is not being received from both ends the system isn’t complete and functioning as well as it could be.

Root Chakra Issues:
As the world moves further towards what I like to call a ‘Cyber State’ people find themselves having more trouble understanding their own bodies. As demonstrated through repetitive strain injuries, chronic back problems and chronic fatigue, issues like these (which take a long time to be created in the body) show how little we hear what our bodies have to say until they are shouting at us. People may not understand what being aware of the physical body has to do with having enough money, or getting a stable job because they don’t see the connection but becoming more aware of what’s happening physically with ourselves connects us with the profound knowledge the body already possesses which we can not gain access to unless we begin to hear what the body has to say and trust in its message. If you don’t know what your body needs then how can you expect to make the right choices in the physical world around it to gain the physical things you need to survive? Today’s society seems bent on thinking its way out of its problems, assuming the mind has all the answers, and certainly there are answers in there but if there is a disconnect between the mind and body your mind is operating with out all the information.
Another issue with our lack of connection with the physical and the poor energy flow through the Root Chakra is a feeling of floating and an inability to create. Without being grounded in the physical world around us people commonly feel lost, resembling helium balloons without a tether they float from one thing to another unable to figure out why they can’t connect with the world around them. Some people theorize this relates to the obesity epidemic. As people feel more and more disconnected from the world around them their first instinct in to weight themselves down in a subconscious hope for feeling some sort of grounding or permanent belonging. Inability to ground into the physical also means that while our minds are active with imagination and ideas it is becoming increasingly challenging to make our thoughts manifest into something real and tangible. Without a physical connection our thoughts become nothing more than vapors that slip through our hands.

Healing our Root Chakra- Finding Grounding:
Luckily, many issues of this chakra are not as complicated to start healing as other chakras can be. The main focus of the Root Chakra healing process is finding ourselves in our bodies again and feeling our connection with the physical world around us. One of the first easiest tips is finding our connection with the ground just as we do in Tadasana. To simplify what I’m saying “Notice how the bottoms of your feet feel connected to the ground.” Noticing where the body connects to the physical world around us we begin to take our awareness into these areas and notice the ground holding us up and our firm connection with it. A lot of times this becomes tricky if we find ourselves ‘thinking’ about our connection with the ground which is yet again rerouting the experience through our minds. Instead simply ‘feeling’ the connection without mental judgment opens up our awareness that we are really here. A second idea is to take all situations to a physical level. Are you feeling angry? What does that feel like in the body? What are the physical manifestations? Heart is pounding, muscles are clenched and so on, and then just taking the time to exist in the body with these sensations. Absolutely any physical activity you would like to participate in offers a chance for grounding if you take the time to ‘feel’ what’s happening instead of ‘thinking’ about what you feel. And the real trick is not to be discouraged if you don’t feel the connection right away, it takes time to reopen the paths of communication with the body, but as your physical awareness and connection improves stability in your life from your new, stronger root foundation will bring changes with it.

-So a long winded summary of the first chakra. Most of the info was collected from different sources I’ve been reading, most lately from Anodea Judith in Eastern Body/Western Mind who provided a lot of the information on healing, which strangely echoes a lot of the stuff I’ve read from Eckhart Tolle and other people I’ve met on the yogic path.

I’m hoping to keep moving through the chakras as I move through my this book, I apologize for the long windedness of the write up.

Otherwise I’m starting yoga at Algonquin College next week. I got to help out at the frosh this week and met tons of the new students so now I’m super pumped to get to put them through some poses and see where we go with that. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful and I get to take my nephew Conner out for his birthday on Sunday. So excited about that. I’m hoping to get him outdoors in the nice weather even though I know he’ll just want me to take him to Midway. He’s only 6 but he’s already a world class negotiator so we’ll see who wins this one.
Have an awesome one!!
*Conner and I playing that game where you cover your eyes and the other person tells you what to draw, I guess Conner didn't trust me not to cheat, good idea.*

Monday, September 7, 2009

Life in my little boat...

I’m back! Two weeks away and it feels like I left yesterday. Proof that time is a relative thing.
To start myself off I jumped right into a revamp of the blog site. Not only is it newer and blue-er but I added some features down the left side. If you take some time to scroll down you will notice a question/answer section because I really want to help people get their yoga questions answered, but always if you have a bunch of things you want to say or ask feel free to email me at Also I have a “What I’m reading” section to get people into some of the stuff I’ve been finding interesting on my yoga path, and lastly I added a photos section, right now it’s mostly pictures from my trip but I hope to add some more as I go along of just random things to make people smile and think…

So of course my first day back has been crazy, I started the morning with a little Mommy/Baby yoga, which was pretty neat, I think it’s amazing to have mommies and babies right next to each other doing yoga because on the one hand you get the one group of people known for putting everyone else’s concerns in front of their own and commonly not taking care of their own needs and then you have these little babies who no nothing better than to ask for their needs to be met and express their emotions and needs freely. Such a neat contrast and hopefully the yoga will help us all move towards a happy medium of considering our own needs as well as others equally (at least for the mommies).
Then it was off to work work, which included multiple phone/email/computer program messages that needed follow-up. And every ten minutes I’m reminding myself to breathe.

I find it all reminding me of when I was in grade school and we’d have the summer off. I never much liked grade school mostly because I got picked on a lot and felt self-conscious and high strung most of the time. So summer was always neat because it was all this time where I didn’t have to care what other people thought of me or if I’m pleasing other people and by the time school started again I always felt pretty Zen and confident and calm. And then I’d go back to school and like a ship sailing out of port into the waves again I’d return to practicing navigating the waters of life. Vacation is like that a bit for me too, not because I get picked on at work, but because you leave the safe place of being who you need to be, when you need to be it, and enter the realm of “What does everyone else need”. So a lot like the contrast between Mommies and Babies I’m entering these waters again and trying to remember that there’s a “Me” too and I’m always going to get rocked by other people’s waves but the storm isn’t a permanent thing. So I need to just breathe and keep the Zen as long as I can.

I’ve been reading Eastern Body/Western Mind by Andeo Judith and getting into some really interesting chakra healing techniques. I’m hoping to post about the Root Chakra later this week.
Tune in and have a smooth sailing kind of week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It's my first day of vacation and I'm about to head out so I just thought I'd say hasta luego! Take it easy everyone and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Zombie Meditation

I had a chance to see the new area I will be teaching yoga in September with Algonquin College. In case you haven't heard me talk about it before the college is creating a boxing/kickboxing centre in connection with the gym they already have and they've redone a nice big sunny room for it with one wall of mirrors and nice wood floors. It's awesome! And now I'm excited to get to teaching. The only down side is that they don't do drop in classes exactly. You have to join the gym and the boxing centre, and then you can come to any of the classes offered, and it's a pretty good deal. It's like 240$ for the year at the gym and I think I heard 50$ for the boxing zone for 4 months, which is cheaper than my rock climbing gym (Except sadly lacking in rock climbing). So if anyone is looking to join a gym in that area let me know. Otherwise this is going to put a bit of a damper on my reaching more of the public since drop-ins aren't an option, so I'm trying to consider other possibilities in the near future. /maybe renting some space of my own, not sure yet, I'll keep thinking about it.
On another note I'm trying to figure out whether I want to reactivate my Facebook account again. I was never fond of my account, but can't deny the networking ability it provides. I had three people ask me if I had an account in three days and realized I might want to consider getting back on it to promote my yoga events... Hmmmm... Something to think about while I'm on my vacation for the next couple weeks. I'm sure I'll figure it out.
And last but not least I came across this awesome article last night on MSN: Zombies. It an article about how they're setting up models and researching whether, if there was a zombie outbreak, they could we stop it. They're researching this at Ottawa University which makes me realize I took the wrong program while I was there. They're actually using it as pandemic research but just adding the zombie twist for fun. The bad news is if they didn't stop the outbreak in 10 days we'd be out of luck. Now obviously the whole zombie thing would suck and I know a lot of people actually do worry about pandemics and plagues and all those fun mass hysteria words the media like to bandy around but I have to tell you I always put a different spin on it. Anyone who's got me on the topic knows I love zombies. I think they're funny and the whole idea is so interesting but pandemics themselves are not really funny. Especially not when you look at how much stress they cause. But instead of using these topics to create stress why don't people use them to realize how awesomely lucky we are. Buddhists say "Die to every moment" which sounds morbid but essentially means just live in this moment. So instead of focusing on the bad stuff that could happen I'm offering you up a little zombie meditation...

Zombie Meditation
No matter what happens to you today every time you start to think a negative thought replace it with the thought "This could be worse. This could be happening with zombies."
Example: You're driving through traffic and the guy in front of you breaks so hard you almost rear-end him. Instead of getting angry think "This could be worse. He could have braked so hard because a zombie stumbled out in front of his car and then while he was trying to figure out what was happening the zombie broke his window and started to eat his brains."
Or when they're taking way to long to ring your groceries through at the store and your getting impatient just think "Could be worse. They could be taking so long because zombies are trying to get in the automatic doors (Luckily they're so slow the door keeps shutting before they walk through and they have to step back to activate the automatic opener again) and the grocery teller is so freaked out she can't remember the code for summer squash."
You can do the same thing at work or with your kids or in-laws or what ever. Just take your problem, insert zombies and sit back and realize hey this moment you're actually in- Not so bad!
Happy zombie fantasies, have a good weekend!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Battle of Stillness

*Eddie acting shy*

*Destroying a peach, the most vicious veggie eater I know*

*And she's a rock-climber, guess it runs in the family*

Ok, I don't want to turn this blog into a pet posting site but I can't resist putting up a few new pictures of Eddie, our new tortoise. Just be happy I'm not putting up pictures of our other pets, the worms in our compost.
Adam and I spent Sunday down in the market looking for things to take pictures of with his new camera and didn't find a thing (I need to work on my photographer's eye, my picture taking methods resemble those of a four year old with a disposable camera), so it figures when we returned home that that's where we would find all our photo fodder.
This is my week off yoga, or teaching it at least. I planned my charity yoga in the park so I would have a week off before we head out on our two week vacation. I also happen to be off climbing for a week over my finger injury so I ended up with more free time than expected.
Right now I feel a little stuck in limbo. I don't have anything I have to be doing and it feels a little weird. Like what do I do now? I find myself looking around for something to commit myself to, a new volunteer project or group but I manage to rein myself in as I remember things will get busy again in September once I start teaching yoga at Algonquin College. Which leaves me in limbo until we leave for vacation next week. I know I don't usually find time to sit still at random and I usually have to book my yoga practice in on my calender just to make room for it, so this will be good practice for me. It's funny because I remind myself of my students at Lululemon this weekend during my Yin session. If you've never done Yin before lets just say the poses are held for a really long time (Well, not that long, but it feels long if you're in them), and you can tell the difference between people who have trouble quieting the mind and people who are more comfortable in stillness in these poses. The people who haven't mastered stillness look up from their pose often, look around, check their watches in what they think is a secretive way, tap their feet... It's pleasant to watch as a teacher because it always reminds me to practice being still. I can tell you I'm going to be working through the urge to tap my foot all this week, so I'm practicing sitting still right there with you. Just breathe...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thank You!

So last night was my last yoga in the park and I got a chance to count the money it brought in and thanks to everyone's donations there was close to three hundred dollars, which is really amazing! I just wanted to take this chance to say thank you to everyone who came out and tried a little yoga and donated to the cause and all the organization that made this a possibility. I'll be bringing the money to Big Brothers/Big Sisters as soon as I can next week.

I'm getting ready to head to Kingston for a lovely weekend of sun but I'll be back to yogafy some more on Sunday at Lululemon. Have a great one!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


So I’m back and freshly bruised from my white water canoeing trip and the joke is that with all those days on the water I don’t have a single picture of me in a canoe, just some pictures of animals and things I saw on the way. It was an awesome trip that really tested my endurance because the wind always seemed to be blowing against us and there wasn’t the option to just give up and float back to the start. I got a shot at my first class 4 rapid. I don’t know what that means but apparently that’s hard (as hard as just letting your canoe go with the flow can be) and after we got to the end of it Adam informed me that I’m an adrenaline junky. Which got me thinking about the whole extreme sport thing: I’ve been known to jump off a cliff or two and scale this or that rock face but I would never say I love adrenaline. I think that’s pretty obvious as shown by the fact that I hate scary movies and I get freaked out if people walk to closely behind me when I’m going up stairs. It makes my heart speed up and I don’t like the feeling of losing control, so if I really liked the adrenaline rush why wouldn’t I like these things too?
I’ve read that the attraction to dangerous situations is that for a few short moments things are moving so quickly that your brain can’t keep up, it just has to sit back in silence and enjoy the ride. In those moments with out the brains prattling judgments and comments at you you’re existing as close to your true nature as you can. A self created Zen moment. And that’s all we do when we meditate is try to shut the brain up long enough to experience ourselves.
And I know it doesn’t work that way for everyone. For some people their brains just shout louder when they are freaked out or maybe they don’t know who to take commands from when their brain stops talking. I don’t know.
I wish I could give that peace to people just by wishing it on them. But since I probably can’t convince everyone to go jump off a cliff with me I’ll keep working on the yoga angle to help people clear their minds.
One other way to find inner peace is to get yourself out into nature whenever you can. Sometimes the beauty of the sun shining through openings in the clouds, or a deer drinking from the water or just the way the wind makes the grass in the fields move is enough to quiet the brain for a few moments. So if you’re not one for taking an unexpected leap maybe make time for an unexpected walk in an unexpected forest and just let your brain take the back seat as you experience what’s happening, without judgment.

*The scene from our campfire the first night*

*This little guy was avoiding eye contact, maybe he's a little camera shy*

*A stolen lily from our last long day of paddling*

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Catching the Spray!

We’re getting to the end of my Yoga in the Park and it’s been going so awesomely (Is that a word?), I’m having a really fun time teaching people I haven’t had the chance to teach before and watching people step outside there comfort zones. I was reading a little Desikachar, Heart of Yoga, yesterday and the book was saying how it’s important to step outside our comfort zone to give ourselves a larger perspective of life situations. The writer provided an example of the importance of this by saying that you can think you love to be in solitude but if you’ve never lived anywhere but quiet, calm places how can you learn if that’s true for you? From what I read the idea seems to be that we should try a little bit of everything and then follow what feels true for you. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my yoga, give people a chance to try something a little different, maybe give them a new perspective and if it doesn’t end up being for them, that’s ok, it’s the intention that counts.

And it’s been a great lesson on perspective for me as well. I’m finding out I love the charity aspect of the yoga. At first I thought doing this for free would get on my nerves, you know, devoting my time but not getting anything back monetarily. I’m finding the opposite to be true. I love the freedom I feel this gives me. When I teach paid classes I sometimes feel like I have to teach a specific type of class and I try too hard to predict what people want from me. These Yoga in the Park sessions have given me an awesome opportunity to move into areas of my teaching I may not have been comfortable to move into otherwise. After the sessions are done and I’ve settled into teaching at Algonquin College I’ll have to look into finding other similar opportunities for myself. Next week will be my last two outdoor sessions, if you get a chance make the effort to come out, even if it’s just for the fresh air.

And speaking of comfort zones I’m heading out for the next few days for some whitewater canoeing in Algonquin, which should be a new type of stretch for me. We’re going with a couple we’ve never vacationed with before and while I’ve spent some time on whitewater I’ve never thought to take a canoe into it. Interesting idea. Should be fun! I’m not sure who should have my climbing gear if I don’t make it back, so people may want to put dibs in now so I can get that settled before I go. *Wink*

Coming up in the next few weeks is my Lululemon yoga session which will be all Yin style. It’ll be my first chance to teach the full class in Yin. If anyone has had some knots they can’t get out or things that won’t heal I suggest coming out, it might make a difference.
Hope everyone has a really good weekend. I’ll be thinking of you while I catch the spray.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tapas Makes Things Shiny

So I’ve realized I’ve been avoiding Tapas my whole life. It seems to be my anti-thesis and I try to work on it but feel myself repelled from it like a force field. Tapas is a Niyama of yoga, one of Patanjali’s observances in the eight limbs of yoga. I’ve practices it before and talked about it before and the first time I tried it it came easily too me like it was just the right time, but now it’s fighting me, or I’m fighting it (same thing really).

Tapas can be translated into burning enthusiasm, austerity or integrity. I guess I would describe it as when you put your whole effort into something and place the best piece of yourself in that effort. Where as the opposite of this would be doing things “half-assed” (I don’t know if there’s another synonym for that term). I know I should be hiding this fact but if I were to describe my work efforts “half-assed” could practically be put on my name tag.

In my life time I’ve met a lot of people who come by Tapas naturally. If you know me you may have heard me referring to these people as “morning singers”. When I was in camp as a little girl there was this fellow camper in my cabin who woke us up well before we had to get up (sometimes as early as 6am) and would start singing, and not just humming, full out singing to start the day. At the time I’m pretty sure I lobbed something at her head, but as I grew up I found out she wasn’t the only “morning singer”. There are just some people born with a lot of enthusiasm for life. And the fact that they irritate me says a lot more about me then it does about them. I mean there’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm, it makes work going quickly and I’m sure the quality of the things they do is of a higher level than mine. I find myself on a constant quest for that level of interest in life’s going on. I mean I can get completely consumed by some activities like yoga or climbing or nature but how do you get excited about typing up notes no one will read on a computer every day.

I know part of the issue is my outlook on things. I need to work to reframe my mind to find my Tapas for my everyday efforts. Eckhart would say I have to live in this moment as if I have never lived it before.

I’ve been trying to think more about Tapas over the past few weeks. The topic came to a head for me this weekend when we decided to clean and wax my truck. We spent 7 hours working on it and my brain kept rebelling by saying “Why are we doing this? You could get in an accident tomorrow and you would have spent 7 hours shiny scrap metal.” And sometimes when I’m having trouble staying focused that’s the problem, my brain is looking for an escape route and works hard to convince me I’d be better off running around in the woods like a tree sprite. But I try to remember that after a monk scrubs the floor he meditates and experiences enlightenment. And after he experiences enlightenment he goes back to scrubbing the floor.
I guess whether my brain wants to or not I’ll have chores to do, but if I can get it to quiet down for a minute I might have a chance at enjoying myself while I do them…

Friday, July 31, 2009


*A little tree pose with the trees*
Friday before the long weekend and my office is a strange mix of anticipation for the coming break and impatience for the day to be over.
My charity yoga in the park is coming close to an end and I think yesterday was one of the most beautiful days I’ve had to teach in so far, although standing outside with the grass and birds is always pretty cool. My students last night were nice enough to hold a little Vrksasana (tree pose) for me so I could catch a picture of them. It’s weird in the Western culture where we promote individuality so so strongly to get the opportunity to see everyone moving in the same way at the same time. I read a study in the paper yesterday that said when kids are really young they think that it’s cool to emulate the people they worship like an older brother or sister, by doing all the things they do. But then by the time they’re 9 or 10 they have a very clear idea about what’s cool and what’s not and it’s based strongly on expressing their individuality. I think the urge to find and express our individuality just grows from there. And I know that’s all ego (mind made personal construct) placing the importance on proving we’re special to ourselves and everyone else, and I’d never say people should always do the same thing everyone else is doing, but putting our ego’s aside I think it’s really amazing to feel the power of people doing the same thing at the same time. The synergy of like minded movement definitely has power. You’ve probably felt it if you’ve ever sang the national anthem in a really large crowd or seen people dancing in time at a show. Yogis use this synergy in the form of asanas (yoga poses) meditation and mantras (chanting), and when you’re not in the energy created by these experiences it can look a little funny watching these occurances from the outside, but if you can be brave enough to take a chance and step into that moment with everyone it can be so much more powerful than the power one person generates. So Namaste to all the yogis and yoginis who worked synergistically with me last evening. It was wonderful.
And on another completely unrelated note we bought a tortoise this week and I just hadn’t got the time to pop her picture up here like a proud parent. Her name is Eddie and I don’t actually know if she’s a girl or a boy but it’s probably irrelevant. Apparently she should be around for the next 30 to 100 years so I guess I’ll have a lot of time to speculate which sex she is. And she also gives me a reason to try to live as long as I can, or put her in my will, either one. We’ll be hoping for some nice weather so we can take her out for some Vitamin D and to let her stretch her legs. Hope you all get the chance to do this too!
Have an awesome long weekend!

*The red on her face is strawberry carnage.*

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My 'If Only's- for Kait

My sister asked me last night if I wished she would change. The question struck me as funny at first because it made me picture Kait as a little caterpillar I was waiting so patiently to turn into a butterfly. I asked her what she thought I wanted her to change and she said she thought I’d want her to be more responsible and motivated. *Smiles* Because that’s what I do, sit around and dream about the perfect sister: Hmmm, let’s see. She’d be 6 feet tall and drive a 1970 Corvette Stingray which she’d take me for rides in every day and she’d always give me first pick of the cute guys when I saw them… LOL! When my sister was little I used to chase her around the house threatening to lick her forehead because she was so afraid of germs. I used to take her crying baby doll and leaving it screaming buried at the bottom of the toy box because she hated to waste batteries. In short I tortured her royally. If anyone could have asked for a different sister I think it would have been her. I’ve been having a great time. If my sister was perfect I’d have to find a whole new target to pick on. *Wink*

But I guess it’s not really that silly a question. I don’t know how often we try to change the ones we love, and base our requests for those changes in the hopes that when those changes are made they’ll bring us happiness. We usually phrase our wishes with the words “If only…” “If only my husband would leave the toilet seat down…” “If only my kids wouldn’t scream in the house so much…” “If only my parents would give me more credit…” And the end of these thoughts is that if only these changes would occur we’d be happy. When ever I start to think ‘if only’ I wonder what ‘if only’s people have for me. I wonder what people are waiting around for me to change so they can be happy. I want to tell them if they’re going to sit around waiting they’ll never be happy. Half the time your ‘if only’s for another person don’t bug that person one bit and for all you know the things that you hate are the same things they pride themselves on. But it’s not uncommon for our egos (our mind made selves) to try to shape and control everyone else’s egos. What a strange battle of wills as we all try to bend each other to our ‘if only’s. And even if everyone responded to our wishes would we be happy?
I don’t think so. I think our egos like to create drama and find different faults in people to try to change so they can draw us further and further from our goal of happiness. Our egos don’t have the goal of happiness, it would make them pointless.
So I will issue my last ‘if only’ and if any more come forth from me I will cancel them out and replace them with this one… “If only we would all realize that we are already happy and that there is no person, situation or concern that can take that away from us unless we choose to let it. If only we would choose to be in our happiness and give everyone around us the freedom to choose to do the same or not. If only.”

I love you Kait, no ‘if only’s.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Intentions...

In yoga we talk a lot about our intention. We set them before the class and try to hold them in ourselves during the class and then following the class we are asked to take them with us out into the world and apply them to our everyday life. When I read books by David Hawkins and Eckhart Tolle I hear a lot of the same message as well, it’s not what you’ve done or not done, it’s what your intention was. Like if you offer someone a ride in your car and then you take a busy road and get them stuck in a traffic jam and make them late for work it’s pretty easy to feel like maybe it would have been better not to have offered the ride. But if your intentions were good then there’s no good reason to make yourself feel bad. We can’t choose the outcomes of our actions, only our actions.

Another important idea around intentions is that your life will flow in the direction we intend it. We could also call this our ‘mind-set’. Sometimes we set our mind in a certain direction on an unconscious level and end up directing our lives unintentionally, in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. So if you go through your day telling people that you have no friends and no one likes you then maybe by the end of the day this unintended intention will true. And that’s not to say there aren’t outside factors we have no control over, but if you intend to focus on all the bad things in life then you’ll most likely see all the bad things in life. I know this idea may offend some people because it’s not a happy thought to think that we are solely responsible for how we perceive our lives. That is to say that we can not decide the outcome of our lives but we can decide how we perceive our outcomes and in that we are our own masters.

So as I’ve been writing this I’ve been thinking about why I teach yoga. I’ve been considering what my intentions for being a yoga teacher are and so far I’ve realized that I would like for everyone to know that just a little yoga in their life could make a huge difference.
Even if a person only practiced deep breathing once a day or practiced being present once an hour, or did 15 minutes of yoga poses 3 times a week I know it would make a huge difference for them. That’s the tricky part, I don’t care if people pack into yoga centers wearing spandex and stretching 3 hours a day if that’s not their thing. That’s not my thing either. I practiced yoga on my own for almost 8 years before I ever attended a class. I think centers provide great opportunities to build community, and find guidance and refresh your personal practice, but I think it’s more important to take what you learned into your daily life and find where it fits for you.
So that’s what I’m trying to do with my yoga teaching, but the tricky part is reaching the non-yogis and helping them find the validity for yoga in their lives, even if it is just for ten minutes a day. I’m setting my intention in that direction and hoping that the answers come to me as to how to achieve this. If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ishvara Pranidhana

I’ve decided to boycott the weather channel for the rest of the summer. Before I left to teach yoga outside last evening they were calling for hail and thunderstorms and as I looked up at the perfectly blue sky and enjoyed the warm breeze during the whole yoga session I questioned which part of Ottawa the weatherman lives in, because it definitely wasn’t the part I was in. I send thanks to everyone that braved the predicted storm to come out and do some yoga. I had a lot of fun!

Today I’m finally bringing to a close something I started when I originally began writing this blog over a year ago. When I started writing I began with moving through the Yamas and Niyamas of Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga. I started with ahimsa (non-harming) and explained it to the best of my knowledge. I then continued through the other 4 Yamas and 4 Niyamas. When I got to the last Niyama- Ishvara Pranidhana- I got a little hung up, but I feel it’s time to take this challenge and present it to you the best that I can.

Ishvara Pranidhana- Which I keep having to copy and paste on my screen because the spelling trips me up- is simply the process of surrender. And even the word surrender is enough to scare most people away from this yogic observance. Very rarely do we use the word surrender in a positive sense. I tried to find a more suitable word but others were worse- abandonment, abdication, My favorite synonym was eating crow. *Smiles* What a funny way of putting it. So I’ve decided to rename this observance letting go, yielding or releasing. Even putting it as mildly as that this is still a tough thing to do. A lot of our societal beliefs centre on controlling every aspect of our life.

I watched a lady order a fancy coffee last week, one of those frapimocha latte thingers, and she watched the guy making it as she barked out orders “More caramel!” “Less expresso!” And by the time it was done she still wasn’t happy and she demanded a free coffee and even after she got that she said she’d be talking to the owner of the store, maybe even the district manager. Wow! Obviously this is the extreme side of our need for control. But sometimes it feels like we hold so tightly to the little things that we burn ourselves out over useless details.

And that’s the whole idea of Ishvara Pranidhana- slowly releasing our need to control every little thing. Another part of this practice is trusting in something greater than ourselves to send us in the right direction if we let it. I think this is another stumbling block for the practice because many people don’t like the word God and they don’t like the idea of trusting anything greater than themselves. I’m not here to promote religion, I wasn’t raised in it myself so I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I offer the argument that there is ‘something’ greater setting the flow of our lives. Anyone who doubts that can think about all the chaos humans create in this world with our wars and our hate groups and all our fears. There are so many things that present a challenge to our species and yet we still hug each other and love one another and sometimes we hold a door for strangers. If the world was just a big melting pot of self created and controlled chaos than how could any of us find it in ourselves to do something for the sole benefit of other people and the world around us.

And that’s the true spirit of Ishvara Pranidhana. We may not always be able to physically help those around us but even setting a personal intention of putting the well being of people around us before ourselves, without concern to what gains this involves for us, is an important step in reaching inside and bringing the best part of ourselves to the surface.

But first we need to surrender to our own lives. Learning to give ourselves rest when we need it, and exercise when we need it and healthy food when our bodies would benefit, as well as forgiveness and love and all the other things we need to help us be healthy and whole so that we can have the health and energy to move past ourselves and start considering others.

It can be a challenge to find the balance we need in our lives but learning to let go of all the things we are trying to control one piece at a time helps bring us closer to that balance point.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this topic.
Happy thoughts! Namaste.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm beginning to wonder if automatic-flush toilets are really a good idea...

I’ve been asking myself this question for a long time. I recently started working in a big office where everything in the bathrooms is automatic and I find my greatest daily battles to be with mechanized porcelain that chooses to either not flush without repeated button pushings (defeating the point of the automatic part) or flushes right in the middle of me sitting on it (ya, cause that’s way more sanitary than flushing it yourself). And as I continue these daily battles I can’t help but question why we keep moving in this direction with computers working along side us to prevent as much contact with humans and the outside world as possible (And I question this as I type away at my blog and check my phone for texts and emails).

It reminds me of when I was in grade-school and they came up with this whole ‘no-touching’ rule. That meant that if you purposely touched (I mean touched, no hit or punch) another person you were suspended. That rule made me feel so sad, picturing kids going through their whole day without human contact. Not a hug, not a hand on the shoulder, no nothing. I imagined if any of the kids I went to school with had families that didn’t hug them goodnight they would go through their whole lives without knowing what other humans felt like.

In China they did studies on the baby girls that get left in the orphanages due to the one child policy and found that babies placed in orphanages without enough workers to hold the children had drastically under developed brains as they grew older, to the point of causing mental disability.

And yet we continue in this direction of making our world a no touching place. We don’t open doors, we don’t speak to strangers. We base our choices on fear of germs and rejection. We have a thin Purell layer between us and the world.
I’m afraid to teach partner poses in my regular classes in case it scares people away.
I hug people by mistake sometimes, (a knee jerk reaction) and notice them go rigid and still as if they think playing dead will prevent me from eating them.

Internet dating, drive through coffee, groceries ordered by computer or phone… I could go on. And I’m not trying to whine and complain about how things are going, but I am trying to figure out how to connect more people in real situations and how to diminish the fear of things outside ourselves.

I’m hoping the weather will play along for my Charity Yoga this week. If you have time come out, although you may have to connect with another person. I’ll bring the Purell, promise.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Friday!

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to remind you on this lovely upcoming weekend to take the time to look up and take in all the awesome things around you.

Have a great one!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I’ve recently come across the word Dukkha in my search for something and it’s left me feeling a bit scattered lately. They say the well know Buddhist quote “Life is suffering.” Is actually a poor translation of what should be “Life is Dukkha.” And like many of my favorite French expressions there is no direct translation for this word. I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a way to explain this concept that hit me so hard. Dukkha is suffering, Dukkha is pleasure, Dukkha is the transient nature of all things. That’s just a start. Dukkha is what Mugison would refer to as “The Great Unrest”, it is everything and anything we become attached too (Asantosha) or grasp for (Parigraha). Dukkha is the person who has everything but still wants. The child who can’t wait to grow up and the adult who wishes they were young again. It is everything. And that is why Buddha said “Life is Dukkha.”

The part that really rocked me is trying to conceive all things as transient, my desk, the ground, my thoughts, my beliefs. All of them can come and go and the true cause of suffering for all humans is not that everything moves in and out of existence, only that we perceive these things as ours and try to hold them and push them into ourselves as part of who we are.

I read at one point that humans are mistaken to picture all humans as bricks held together with mortar. With spaces between us and the ability to pull out just one brick and hold it. The truth is human and all things in existence are waves of a greater ocean. Waves come into existence and then recede back into the ocean that they never ceased to be of. And no one can ever hold a wave, no matter how hard they try.
(What a comical image that is too- to picture humans running around the ocean trying to catch waves in their arms, only to come up with a mouth full of salt water. No wonder we’re sputtering all over the place.)

And still all this does not perfectly describe what I’m trying to get my brain to conceive and maybe it’s not something for my brain to hold, and it is only grasping when it tries.

Links to what I read…

Dukkha- This one messed me up...
Dukkha- This one is friendlier...

Monday, July 6, 2009


Here come the clouds again, I think Ottawa is competing for some ‘Weirdest Weather’ competition the residents of the city aren’t aware of. Oh well I’m sure sunshine on a day in the office would only make me pout.

I was up early to see my osteopath this morning and he made it really obvious to me how connected everything in our bodies can be. He had one thumb on my jaw inside my mouth (that’s my karma coming back to me for putting off the dentist visits) and his other hand on my occipital bone and as he was moving skull stuff around my right foot just kept falling, falling, falling down. He spent the entire hour moving bones in my head and now my hip bones feel like jelly and he never even touched them. It makes me wonder how people can ever think that any action they take won’t affect other people, or how people can think they have a perfectly controlled scientific study. I mean there are so many variables and we don’t live in a vacuum. Just our breath can affect so many things around us in too miniscule a way to understand fully.

But then it’s easy to mentally put yourself on center stage in your mind and think that as the primary character in the play the only effects of actions that matter are the ones that affect you.
And then on the flip side we can’t consider all the consequences of any action we take mentally because it’s just too much for our brains to consider and coordinate at one time.

For this reason I’ve settled on a middle ground (how Buddhist). In the yoga fashion I will try to make my choices to cause as little harm as possible (ahimsa) but also recognize that when bad things happen to people it’s not always a bad thing.

One of my favorite illustrations of this was when I worked at the Woman’s Breast Health Centre and we spent the whole day telling women they had breast cancer and then counseling them, which could be a bit dreary (obviously). But what was neat was what you saw when the women came in for a follow-up 6 months later. It didn’t matter whether they still had the cancer or not: Their lives were visibly and often drastically changed. Women who always wanted to start a new career had made the changes to move in that direction, women who wanted to spend more time with their kids did so and cherished it, so many alterations and benefits of one piece of bad news.

So I recognize that bad circumstances are not something to wish on people but if my choices unexpectedly bring about negative occurrences I’m choosing to drop the guilt. Who knows what changes that may bring?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yoga in the Park II

So I finally finished setting up both the charity yogas I wanted to get set up for the summer, one for the East side of town and one for the West side.

Click on the posters below to open, save or print them:

*East side yoga is at the Science and Tech Museum every Wednesday from 7pm until 8pm, running until August 12th.

* West and Central yoga is at the Adult Highschool on Rochester st from 5pm to 6pm every Thursday until August 13th.

Any questions feel free to email me at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I saw this picture on and couldn’t resist putting it up here. I thought it accentuated perfectly all the drama that seems to come up between vegetarians and the rest of the world. I think I definitely understand the attack some vegetarians feel they are under. Being one of the few meat eating yogis I know I get the same questions that vegetarians get from the rest of the world but in reverse. The one thing I notice in common between the two groups is the strong feeling of frustration at always being challenged on your beliefs. Because that’s what food has become, a belief and considering how much eating we do it’s a belief that comes up and gets questioned a lot.

I was thinking about how strongly we identify ourselves with our eating habits and how it’s considered taboo to be a meat eating yogi while I was out with Adam buying a new car last night. Our old car finally decided it could not go any further and unfortunately we had no choice but to buy a new one. As we were looking around the car lot I kept thinking “Is this car the best one for me as a yogi?” As in if I buy this car would my yogi friends say “Oh my gosh! That’s not environmentally appropriate.” Or something along those lines anyways. I think it’s almost more challenging to make decisions as a yogi because if you just choose what you want instead of considering all those who will be affected by your choices you would be being selfish by some people’s standards, but on the other hand if you always chose what others think to be best will you ever be choosing the right thing for you. And it’s the same thing as the vegetarian thing. It’s impossible to always make the “right” choice because we just don’t know how far reaching the effects of our choices will be. And even if you do make the “right” choice how happy are you living under the tyranny of said “rightness”.

When I saw Seane Corn in Toronto one of the most meaningful things she said was “Whatever choice you make at the time is the right choice.” And I think that’s a nice way of saying you can only know what you know and go from there, just trying your best.

I think the best thing we can do for each other is understand that that’s all anyone can do is make the best choice possible with the information they have, and all this fighting with each other over which choice is right or wrong doesn’t change our choices it just puts a wedge between us. Besides we are not our cars, or our diets or even our yoga practices or our favorite TV shows. Categorizing people by the choices they make just creates more of a divide and more of a challenge to see the things people are going through from there perspectives. Just a thought.
I finally received confirmed approval for my second location for my Charity yoga. So starting on July 8th I will be giving donation-only 1hour sessions at the Science and Technology Museum on the grass by the old black freight train from 7 to 8pm, every Wednesday for 6 weeks. I will have the poster done tomorrow and update my blog then.

On another note I will be teaching a session at the Lululemon store in Westboro on Sunday July 12th from 9am-10am as a one time thing. I think it’s free, if anyone is interested.

I hope everyone’s getting excited about the Canada Day festivities. I was told the fireworks are on even if it’s raining so hopefully see you on the Hill. Have an awesome day!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Sometimes I feel like I must be doing something wrong. I’ve been pretty sick the past few days. The kind of sick where I’ve just been sleeping and sleeping and it’s still there. And I was sick last month too. And the really strange part is that no one else I know is sick. So where did this come from?? I took it easy this weekend, I’ve been exercising, eating right, sleeping… Maybe I should stop licking all the toilet bowls at work…
Then I start looking at my charity yoga thing. It rained last week and it’s supposed to thunderstorm for my class today. I never even heard back from the rental lady at the Science and Tech Museum about the other charity yoga thing I wanted to do on Wednesdays, and that was after a month of back and forth with her. It just kind of became nothing.
I don’t know. I know it’s normal to doubt whether we’re doing things right and to look a challenges that come up as roadblocks instead of things to overcome. It’s always tricky to have perspective in the middle of when these things are happening.

I had a friend that used to tell me when I was whining to look at all the good things I have in life which was, coincidentally, the theme of my yoga class on Tuesday- Gratitude.
Even thinking the word always makes me smile, because it’s easy, especially in Western culture to want more and to expect more. Everything should be faster, everything should be easier. We’re like little kids who want that ice-cream cone they asked for “NOW” and if we don’t get it “NOW” we’ll throw a hissy fit or pout the rest of the day. When I put it like that I feel a little silly. So what if I’m not feeling 100%, so what if I didn’t get two charity yoga things started for the summer?
So, on my list of things to be grateful for: I’m super blessed and lucky because Adam’s taking me to Niagara Glen for climbing this weekend, which if anyone knows me they know this is my most favorite place to climb, ever. That’s pretty awesome! And actually the longer I sit at work the better I’m feeling so that’s good news. And I don’t see any crazy storm clouds in the distance yet, so I just might make it through the evening without getting too wet. And on the plus side of being sick I get the whole sympathy thing going for me. Most of my coworkers are Moms so everything I sneeze or cough they all comfort me and ask if I’m ok. Maybe I just needed a good Whine-and-Complain Fest in my life, a little sympathy for the Devil. Gratitude for that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yoga- not for the 'sweet' of heart...

I know it’s not very nice out now. I’m looking at the flag outside my window and it’s become so soaked it’s all caught up in itself and looking more like dirty laundry than a sign of patriotism. That’s what I’m going to look like in a few hours when I head out to teach charity yoga in the park. Now I realize no one is going to show up for my session in the park in this weather and I realize I’m going to look a little crazy standing out in the rain doing headstands and all my pretzel poses, but I’m still going to go (And not just because I’m the one teaching and organizing it), because yoga in the rain is a really great opportunity to be present.

It’s also a great opportunity to be not present.

It kind of fits because I’ve been thinking about how I will get my students to be more present when I teach them and also how to get people I spend time with to be present too. If someone ever asks why yogis insist on doing all their crazy poses it’s not because they’re showing off (usually), it’s because when you challenge yourself physically you force your mind to be quiet and focused and whether you know it or not you are being present. I’d say this works about 50% of the time. The other 50% it actually causes a person’s mind to go into hyper drive. They start questioning why they’re doing this hard activity or thinking about where they’d rather be. Both effects can be good. If the practice causes their mind to clear then Yay! Goal achieved. In contrast if it causes their brain to start shouting it also offers a great opportunity for a person to take a look at their thoughts and ask themselves why they’re getting so irate. This gives them a chance to sit with their discomfort and learn to be present with it.
What happens more often though, and the reason I know no one will show up tonight, when people do something that challenges and they find they are having a mental reaction of either silence or irritation they become uncomfortable with this new sensation and reject it. They then vow that they did not like this activity, it sucks, and they will not do it again. That’s the typical human response to all things that make them uncomfortable. And that’s how I know I will be the only ‘crazy’ one standing on my head in the park tonight. Which, from a ‘logical’ point of view, makes sense. Who stand in the rain? But from another perspective it’s 15 degrees C out right now. There’s not a ton of wind and the rain is less than you would experience in the shower. This isn’t going to be the thing that kills me. I’m not sugar, I won’t melt. But it makes people uncomfortable and it makes them present.

I just found out I’ve been accepted for a position at Algonquin College. They’re opening a new Kickboxing/Boxing facility and starting in September I will have the pleasure of teaching classes two nights a week. I’m pretty excited about this because it’s outside the usual realm of yoga and I’ll get to bring yoga to a new group of people. Now I have to come up with a quick blurb about what Hatha Yoga is for their website or newsletter or something. Hmmm, should be an interesting one to sum up.

In the meantime, I’ll be outside if your looking for me. I’ll be the soggy one balancing on one foot, just standing there enjoying the moment.

*Squishy hugs*

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I can feel myself getting a little crazy these days. I find myself getting caught up in the stories people give me and the stories I tell myself. Clients call me on the phone and I get all freaked out. I’m trying to solve all their problems and save them from their own crazies. *Laughs* here last time I blogged I talked about how people like to collect things and I’ve discovered that I’m collecting crazies. Not crazy people, just crazy stories and situations, crazy energy. I’ve been trying so hard to get this charity yoga thing right I’m driving myself a little crazy. It’s pretty easy to get the brain spinning. It’s like a pinwheel where the slightest breeze of change sets things in motion. So today I’ve decided instead of being the pinwheel (Instead of being the crazy) I’m going to watch the crazy. Because I’m pretty sure I can’t make it all stop but if I step back and watch instead of letting myself get sucked into the spinning it’s a little more enjoyable.

Tomorrow’s my first charity yoga class and I think there’s still a good chance I’ll be able to get a Wednesday charity class started at The Science and Tech Museum. I’m excited to teach yoga in such a free format and for something other than my own benefit.
The weather looks good so far. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yoga in the Park

So I have things set up for my one charity yoga thing for Thursdays this summer and I’m still looking to get one started at the Science and Technology Museum if I can. The poster above can be saved as a .jpg and then opened and printed (It will come out regular paper size) if anyone wants to put one up where they work or whichever.
I’ve been spending all my free time trying to get this stuff set up but I promise to get back to blogging bloggish stuff once all my ducks are a little more in a row.
Hope everyone had a beautiful weekend.
Sending sunny weather vibes out.
Link to the charity money will be going to: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Ottawa

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We are the Collectors

Humans are collectors.

There are very few things people won’t collect. We collect stamps and coins, video games and bugs and then we start clubs around our collections that bloom into TV shows or internet forums. Think The Antique Road Show, Pokemon or any show about people with two gazillion kids (Look I collected all 8, wow!).
When I was little I collected dust bunnies from under my bed and I put then in little cages with windows and air holes. I knew a guy who worked at the local dump who collected old baby carriages.
As we get older a lot of our collections become “practical” (If you consider 50 of the same thing practical), we collect clothing or books or if you work where I work you collect paper, “Oh this paper is important, oh can’t throw that out, look at all that useful information. Oh put it with all my other gazillion papers so I don’t lose it and it’s there whenever I need it…” We even developed systems around our collections. We call it the internet.
The interesting thing is these collections become part of our ego’s beliefs of who we are. Who are you? Oh come see all my stuff, I’ll show you who I am. I get upset if someone deletes my favorites list on the net. NOOO!!! That’s who I am. It took me forever to collect all those, now I’ll never find me again, and I was soooo close to figuring myself out.
And that’s the feeling that these collections give us. If you collect books the feeling is that the next one you buy will finally complete you. The next one will have all those answers you’ve been looking for. The next one will make me feel ‘enough’. And then you buy it and strangely it isn’t the last one. There never is a last one in collections, just the next one.

When you get into yoga or any enlightenment practice a funny thing happens. There’s this funny middle ground that most yogis enter and occasionally get stuck in. First they give away their attachment to their stuff collections. They are no longer their clothes; they are no longer their stamps or their video games. Instead they start collecting information and experiences. Instead of telling people about all the DVDs they have or all the bugs they’ve collected now they are telling people about all the information they have or all the experiences they’ve collected. And they go out looking for these information or experience pools to draw from and add to their collection. And that is where it gets tricky because it doesn’t really matter whether you collect stuff or experiences they are still collections and they are still not ‘you’.
I think there comes a day for everyone where you kind of wake up and realize that whether you sat in the same place and never moved or whether you travelled the world and collected stuff you would still be you, but then most people stumble across more stuff for their collection and their ego distracts them again.
It’s hard to get out of that trend and I don’t pretend I don’t collect. I do, although I got rid of the dust bunny collection because my house collects them for me with out the effort on my part. So maybe the important part is not to ‘not’ collect, but just to see it as that, a collection, but not a collection of ‘you’.

So I’m almost done with the approval process for my charity yoga. It looks like my one class will be from 5-6pm on Thursdays (Unfortunately the only time available) at the field behind the Adult High-school on Preston Ave. And I’m not sure about The Science and Tech Museum but I think that will still go through to be held on Wednesdays from 7-8pm. I’ll hopefully know by the end of the week and update you from there.
Take care and stay out of trouble.

Monday, May 25, 2009

This one's for the ladies....

Although there’s been a definite increase in the numbers of men going to yoga lately it feels like we’re still on the precipice of yoga falling either into the “gay” category (male society’s term, not mine) or the “everyone can do it” category.
I remember when I first met my husband I used to take him to yoga classes with me and even though he’s far more flexible then I am he’d still have to pretend he was forced there when I brought it up with his family (and oh the ribbing that would ensue!). Poor guy.
The funny thing is once a guy gets into yoga it often takes off with them and they become their own initiator because it’s hard to deny the awesome balance of strength/flexibility/endurance many types of yoga offer. But for girls that are still trying to negotiate their men onto the mat this one is for you…

Things to tell your boyfriend/husband/man/whatever to get him to come to yoga:

1- Point out to your man that if he truly cared about you he’d come with you to support you (Warning- this will not work if the man you are trying to convince to come is your husband, by the time you’ve married them this negotiation no longer works, please continue to suggestion #2)
2- Randomly mention how many cute girls there seem to be in your yoga classes.
3- If this doesn’t work also mention the fact that there sure seems to be a lot of cute girls- in spandex- in your yoga class.
4- If you happened to be talking to one of the few guys who doesn’t care about other girls (awww, isn’t that sweet) tell him he can come with you to Lululemon and pick out a new outfit to wear to class when you two go together. (No you don’t have to like what he picks, this is called compromise).
5- Still not working? Try pointing out that some girls think its fun to wear white in the hot room.
6- Ok, so maybe your man is not so easily manipulated. You could try telling him that Power Yoga is also sometimes called Terminator yoga or Chuck Norris yoga (Use your discretion to pick which nickname to give it based on your man’s preference).
7- Tell your man that your grandma did yoga last week and she found it easy. He’s not wimpier than your grandma is he?
8- Make a promise to never make your man watch Gilmore Girls/Grey’s Anatomy/Oprah/whatever again if he comes with you (this should only be used when everything listed above has failed).
9- When all else fails- Cry. You know it works.

Of course I would never suggest manipulation of this degree for anything else but the usual mantra in yoga is that it doesn’t matter why you started to do yoga, the important part is you started.

In agreement of this I am working to get permission from The Science and Technology Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum to us some of their green space to hold weekly yoga outdoors for free or donations. I already have discussed with Big Brother/Big Sisters of Ottawa about giving all donations raised from this to their charity and they think it’s a great idea. Hopefully I’ll hear from the museums this week as to whether it’s a go ahead. And there will be one more way to get your man to yoga, it’s cheap, it’s for charity and you don’t even have to go inside on a beautiful day.
I’ll let you know when I find out.
Send your energy this way and we’ll hope for the best.