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.
Namaste!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Full Moon

My life is chock full of yoga right now, it’s a bit of an overload for me, but at least in a good way. As anyone who’s ever eaten ice-cream for breakfast knows it’s hard to resist too much of a good thing.
I’m going to see my friend Alex tonight so we can go over what we’re teaching for partner yoga tomorrow. The poses Alex has picked are pretty nice, a good combination of trust and connection. For anyone who’s never done partner yoga it’s not necessarily for couples, it can be for family members or friends. It’s a chance to build a trust with someone. This may seem pretty mundane but if you’ve ever watched people go rope climbing together where the person on the ground has the option on how tight they keep your rope and how quickly you come back to the ground you can see that a lack of trust between two people can get pretty heart stopping. From my experience just taking a chance and openly trusting someone you love is a great way to increase their chances of not letting you down. At the climbing gym the girl that keeps shouting down to her boyfriend “Don’t drop ok?!” every five minutes tends to be the one who gets dropped. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m also filling out paperwork to work towards getting two park areas rented for an hour on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I want to give people to chance to just drop in and do yoga with out having the high costs or atmosphere of a studio. I’m planning to suggest a 2$ donation that I’m going to give to charity. But more on that once I get it set up.

Because one of the focuses of yoga is to bring awareness into the body I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and trying to figure out how aware I actually am of what’s up inside me. I had an interesting experience that made me realize just how few of us are really up on our bodies. When I was walking along Preston Street the other day this kid was out fixing a sign on a restaurant and his butt was almost fully exposed. And I don’t mean his boxers, but his full bare bum. It just struck me as strange. I began to wonder if I was losing touch with present fashion and this was the new style or was this kid so unaware of his body that he couldn’t feel his bottom hanging out in the breeze. But I guess lots of us lose touch with our body. We sit in uncomfortable positions all day and don’t take the time to work out the kinks, no wonder so many of us have long standing aches and pains.

After an involved weekend I’m done my Yin teacher training with Mark Laham and starting to work the things I’ve learned into my own practice and into what I teach. It was a good training with a well rounded focus. I suggest to anyone who gets a chance to go to one of Mark’s workshops that it’s a good experience and they should take it.

Things are finally starting to heat up outside. Take some time to get outside. Enjoy the Sunshine!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Black Hole- Surprisingly colourful actually...


I'm taking it easy this morning as I get ready to head into work, just buying some new music off iTunes (Muse- Black holes and revelations, there new CD), one of my favorite activities and we're heading into the Victoria Day long weekend so things are looking good. All the changes in my life are starting to sink in and I'm feeling a bit more relaxed in my own skin.

I've been thinking a lot about Gurus lately, which is kind of a funny word which probably makes most people think of Mike Myers at this time period but what a guru essentially is is someone you look up to or look to for guidance, like a role model. And right there when the idea was introduced to me it tripped me up. They say in yoga it's important to have a guru because it keeps you on the true path and I've read in a Buddhist book that with out proper guidance some people end up having a strange experience when they are meditating or something and they think it's the higher powers working through them and that they must be the chosen one and everyone should follow them, and so on (purple Kool-aid anyone).

So then I'm thinking I have to get a Guru which goes against my grain because even when I was a kid I never had any specific role models, because I never knew one person that didn't make mistakes and have bad days. Essentially everyone I knew was human, and last time I checked I was one too so why was I striving to be more like Michael Jordan right?

Anyways, the idea kind of stuck a thorn in me for a while but as time went on and no one Guru stepped forward for me I began to see that there are many people and things that act as my Guru exactly when I need them. I had dinner with a friend from my first teacher training last night and it reminded me of this because when we were going through our teacher training I used to say he was my Guru because he would say all the things I needed to hear just when I needed to hear them. In a sense he still in my Guru, along with all the other people that take the time to say the things I need to hear. The other night Adam and I were walking along the water and these otters came to the surface and began to talk to us and shake their heads at us, and in that moment they were my Guru. I think otters are a great animal totem for living in the moment and being open to other people and finding the fun to be had in the everyday mundane. And I know there are lots of lessons coming into me every day from all directions if I'm only receptive to recieve them.
So I thought I'd take the time today to thank all the people and things in my life that provide me with the lessons I need right when I need them.

To my Gurus:

Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu. Namaste!



I hope everyone has a wonderful May long weekend. I'm hopefully teaching partner yoga next Friday at Mountain Goat Yoga in Kanata- Friday, May 22nd, 7:15pm-8:30pm. If enough people sign up it should be a lot of fun and a good way to practice connecting with people.

Otherwise I'm off to Yin teacher training again this weekend, looking forward to (Hopefully) a nice quiet day on the rocks this Monday.

Hope everyone gets there vitamin D but stays out of trouble, mostly:)

Later!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Life's a breeze...

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the Moms and Mom-ish people out there.

We got out to Lansdowne to visit my Mom this weekend which was really nice because we don’t usually go down for the occasion and we spent the day wandering around Princess Street in Kingston, which is a pretty relaxing way to spend the day.
Every gift giving holiday makes me a little panicky because I never know what I’ll do if I can’t come up with a gift and then I start thinking even if I figured out a gift for this year what if I can’t think of one for next year, and so on and so on and the stress just builds. Until I stop and remember to breath and stop focusing on the future.
This year I knew what I was getting Mom for a while. See my sister and I have this ongoing teasing thing with Mom (that I’ll admit seems mean in retrospect) where we point out things that bug us about ourselves that we got from her genetically. Like my big heels or the fact that all three of us cry at the drop of a hat when we’re watching movies. Like I said in retrospect I realize even if we’re just teasing Mom in jest it’s still pretty mean to point out someone’s flaws or blame other people for things that they have no control over. So for Mother’s day I wrote Mom a poem about all the good things I got from her, which is a much longer list then the bad things but it’s funny how those don’t come up in conversation as much. It got me thinking too about how people tend to focus on the negative, most likely because those are the things we want to change. It seems that when good things in our lives our happening we say “Yay! Good job me!” but when the bad occurs we look around to find the culprit. And realistically good and bad things in our lives are all relative, though our brains may categorize them good or bad.
A healer once said to me when I was having a bad day that it was time to focus on the good things in my life. I think when we’re really down in the dumps this can seem hard to do. Negative minds attract negative situations so it’s tricky to get out of that frame of mind and start moving into the positive again. When I’m really down I find focusing on the small stuff that’s good in the moment can sometimes rearrange your brain. Like noticing how the breeze tickles your cheek or recognizing how warm and comfortable the chair your sitting in is, or maybe taking a sip of water or tea and recognizing how refreshing it is. People often think that in order for life to be ‘good’ the things around you have to be big ‘good’. Big ‘good’ things like winning the lottery or buying a new car. Sometimes the happiest things are the simplest and if your looking for the ‘big’ happy it could take a while, or forever for something to come along that meets your standards.

We didn’t get outdoor climbing this weekend because it was too chilly for our hands to hold the granite but I caught up on some sleep and got some new raw food things made up, who knew not cooking could take so much time. It’s a nice day today, get out and enjoy the breeze and just be happy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Raw....

How I picture a pain-body

I’m sitting here staring out the window and hoping for nice weather this weekend. There’s such a small window of time between winter and bug season in Gatineau park and I’d like to get out and use my new quick-draws on the rocks before it’s too late and a swarm to rival Pandora’s box is released.

I’m sitting at my desk ignoring my work, there isn’t much of it there to do today and I’d hate to rush it all and look obviously bored.
It’s been a weird week what with the combination of beginning to include regular Yin practice in my day to day, making tons of visits to the clients on my new caseload, starting teaching my new class, rainy weather, new climbing training, new coworkers and just overbooking my life in general. Yesterday on the way home I think it all hit me and I just felt emotionally raw. It was actually a new experience for me. Usually I don’t like emotions one little bit. I think I can count the number of times I’ve let someone else see me cry on my fingers. Usually if I’m upset I just push it down or change something, but that was the weird part. Everything’s good, I have nothing to change. So as I sat there and tried to sit with these feelings instead of push them down and block them off I found it hard not trying to reason them away. My mind tried to come up with a cause so that I could make my inside uncomfortableness get out of me.

Eventually I had to give up and just sit with it. Head for home early and just take it easy.

It’s funny because Eckhart Tolle talks about pain-bodies which are these sort of creatures we create or have created for us from our past lives and this life whenever we don’t deal with our emotions and issues as they come up. Eckhart describes these pain-bodies as things that sleep until their hungry and when they’re hungry they wake up to feed on the same emotions they are created from. In order to do this they take over your mind and latch onto or create things in your life so that you experience more sorrow or anger or whatever they are hungry for. You’ve probably seen people do this or have done this yourself lots of times and never even noticed. If you know a girl who always dates the same jerks who treat her badly, that’s the pain-body taking over. If you know someone who is always short and rude with people and is then angry when they get bad service or little compassion that’s the pain-body. People who tailgate or pick fights in bars are all under control of their pain-body. And once the pain-body wakes up sometimes it takes a while for it to fall asleep again. The easiest way to get rid of the pain-body is to know that it is not you and your emotions are not you either. They are both things you have created. Sitting in your emotions when they occur and not identifying them as who you are is also an important part of not feeding the pain-body. (If you have a habit of defining yourself as someone who is depressed or someone who is always picked-on you are identifying with your emotions and creating your pain-body)

The thing I’m finding tricky is knowing whether my emotional uprising is my pain-body waking up or just emotions I need to sit in. First I need to get over the fact that emotions are not bad or good, just things that exist, then I have to get a little better at just sitting in them.

You know when I started this whole search for enlightenment I knew it didn’t sound easy but sitting with emotions is definitely my least favorite part thus far. Must mean it’s good for me.
Dammit!



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swadhyaya


It’s funny because a year ago someone read my palm and told me it said I never finished things. Since I heard it I’ve thought of all these things to support this assessment of myself. My mind pulled up the time I quit karate when I was little because this older boy who was in the class with me used to bug me too much. I think about all the stories I’ve started writing and never finished and all the creative projects I’ve began but never completed. I can think of a million things I haven’t tied up the ends on that seem small, hobbies, projects and I then started investigating into bigger things. My nursing career, did I finish that? I got the degree, but does that mean I completed anything? How on this journey do I know when I’ve come to the end of something? And if life is this never ending journey can we really call something finished. For all I know I may take up karate when I’m 80, I may finish knitting that sweater I’m knitting ten years from now. How do we know? I think the guilt I carry with in myself over believing I don’t finish things affects me far more negatively then any damage done from moving on to other things in my life when it feels like the right time to move on. In the tradition of believing that no choices are the wrong choices I’d like to believe I’m always moving in the right direction with my decisions whether I know it or not.

But in the tradition of finishing things there is one thing that has been eating at me. When I started this blog I began going through Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyama and I ended up getting distracted right before I brought up Swadhyaya, the fourth Niyama and my second last topic on Patanjali’s 8-limb approach to yoga. And when we talk about Swadhyaya we’re not talking about taking personality tests on the computer or finding out we can play the song Wipeout by slapping our bellies (all useful information, but not Swadhyaya). When we talk about self-study in yoga we mean learning about our True Self and moving under the layers of our ego self. We mean practices that help us find the connection between our physical forms, our minds, our emotions, our energy and our True Selves, as well as our connection to the world around us. Where the study of our minds or ego self requires the asking of many questions, the study of our True Self often requires our minds to say little at all, only to provide the silence required so that we can experience this moment and see it as it truly is.

Strangely enough, Swadhyaya, the practice of self study, feels like what I’ve been immersed in for the past year. In the time I’ve spent moving through jobs and houses and big life changes I’ve been doing a slow self study of who I am and working towards coming to terms with the fact that I am not my job, my house or my hectic life, but something underneath that is safe and solid and able to weather any of life’s storms. In my tradition of explaining the Yamas and Niyamas I’m going to set myself some goals for the week to practice self study.

1-Every time I feel an emotion rise I’m going to take 3 minutes to sit with it and experience it completely instead of trying to classify it or redirect it or explain it to myself.
2-From the first half of my Yin Yoga teacher training that we had this weekend we were asked to practice 20 minutes of Yin poses a day and I think I will consider that part of my Swadhyaya practice as it promotes looking more deeply into ourselves and experiencing ourselves in the moment.
3-And lastly I’m going to bring up the dreaded mantras again. I always resist doing them so I can only imagine there must be something good for me in them. I’ll include mantra in my daily mediation and see what happens.