Okay, this might be now following the start of a new a little late, but hey, better now than never. Well, looking back on 2012 it has been a wonderful, but very challenging year.
I have had a few separate-connected health issues in my body that have really hindered my yoga-asana practice. It has been frustrating to say the very least, not to mention a little depressing.
I have been dealing with some funkiness in my lower back and my sacrum has locked up more than once. In August at an Ashtanga workshop, I blew out my hamstring during the mysore practice which made general movement, walking, stairs extremely painful. Also, postures I used to find easy, dare I say mindless to do, either aren't good postures for me anymore (kurmasana, eka-padas to name a few) or I just can't get into easily or at all. And some days, I'm just in a lot of pain and it is hard to feel the motivation to practice – sometimes the practice does help, and some days not so much. Makes me think of something Adnan said "Do not get too attached to these postures, because one day, one by one, it will all be taken away from you." How true that is.
To take some good out of this experience though, it has made me, I hope a more sensitive teacher to my students, and in my own practice, less dogmatic, less mechanical as I've had to become a lot more body aware by feeling the postures deep within.
This year has been a bit of travel too – Costa Rica in January, Cuba in April, and Nova Scotia/Quebec City at the end of July. As well, as we have done in past years, we rented a cottage for a week in September to celebrate our anniversary.
In July I had eye surgery done with Lasik MD = 15 minutes of total terror, but now to be eye glass and contact lens free is such a blessing.
I have been part of three teacher trainings this year at Adi Shesha and am humbled, plus inspired by my teachers, Basia Going and Janice Tokaryk – and by the students who I am grateful to be part of their journey. Sometimes, it is overwhelming how much there is to learn, and how little I feel I know.
December 3rd also marks the start of another renovation in the house. This time it is the main bathroom. We are enlarging the space by removing a hallway linen closet, and removing the closet space in the 3rd bedroom. This will make room for a big bubble tub, a separate shower to name a few of the things going in there. Update – Feb 5 and still not done the renovation, but hopefully now by the end of February.
I am welcoming 2013 with a good house clean and purging on the newly renovated areas. I have also realized that I spent a good deal of 2012 living vicariously through other people's lives, hoping that through their good life would come my way. When it does not meet my expectations I easily fall into periods of depression, the big blues or the mean reds. So much of this I have realized has to do with too much time on Facebook and Twitter and following other people's lives – and getting attached to them. Comparing them to my life, which I realize now is really none of my business.
So this year for 2013, I commit/ recommit to my goals and to who I want to be as person, a student, wife and yoga teacher.
My Top Goals for 2013 are:
In addition and thanks to a conversation with my friend and peer Ichih Wang, I will apply mindfulness into my life.
What tense are you in? PRESENT
When is that? NOW
And that means? Everything is perfect and so am I
- And there is a lot I don't know – and that is okay. Because when you start from "I don't know" than anything is possible.
– Where you blog about your best five moments of the week –
I'd like to thank Manon Newberry for this idea, check out her great blog for a pick-me-up - http://theblissprojectblog.wordpress.com/
1. Went golfing with my Dad and my husband on Tues June 19. It was a hot 18-rounds and my arms and feet were sore after, but had a great time.
2. Got a chance to spoil my parents a little with home-cooked meals and spend quality time with them on Father's Day (June 17) and Mom's birthday (June 20) respectively.
3. Have planned a trip today for the end of July and early August, with thanks to CAA – driving out to Nova Scotia and Quebec City.
4. There is a new Bikram Yoga Studio near very close to my parent's condo. While Bikram is not one of my preferred practices, it was fun to be an outsider and a student and see how other studios run things, decorate etc.
5. Eoin Finn tonight at Rama – and a weekend workshop of mainly being a student.
The Day the Music Died…..
Well folks, all good things come to an end. It has been quite a ride; The Madonna Flow Parties will be no more due to copyright legislation by SOCAN and the music industry in general.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who came out, got into the groove for the charities we supported. Without you, it would not have been so grand a party. I have been touched and amazed by the enthusiasm for the event. What started off as such a silly idea, and with much husband convincing effort on my part three years ago, grew and took on a life of its own. Thanks to your support, we managed to raise a great deal of money for needy charities and highlight local charities in our community. We raised money for:
CARE Canada, Global SEVA Project, CHAMPs War Amps program, a local special Olympian, Movember, CHEO YouthNet and the ROH Mental Health Unit
Who or What is SOCAN you ask? Here is some basic info (to the best of my knowledge). This is a complicated issue, and some information below may be revised.
Under copyright law we are required to either have permission from the artist directly, or have paid them for the performing rights. SOCAN collects money on behalf of all musicians who have signed with them (Canadian and Internationally), and splits the money amongst all these artists. However, any artist not signed with SOCAN or their equivalents do not receive money. This would require that we would need to obtain the rights directly from those artists.
Also, SOCAN is saying that the yoga studio would need to pay fees to them if we are playing music (that we don't have permission for) as well any teacher who is under contract with the studio, must also get a permit with SOCAN and pay fees directly to them. When you have a SOCAN permit, you are also giving them legal right to audit your finances yearly. You would need to inquire what the fee structure is for the contracted teachers, and this can be quite high for the studio. It's a huge money making issue. Restaurants, fitness venues and other places do pay money to play music, so it is not surprising that this is now catching up with yoga studios.
MOST IMPORTANT: First and foremost, there are currently undercover SOCAN investigators in the Ottawa area and are currently handing out fines to any organization that is found to be playing music, but not paying SOCAN for the rights to do so.
In light of this, and for good reason, I, will NOT play ANY music at all in yoga classes, not before, not during and not after. <Unless I can obtain licensing agreements and permission from the artists to use thier music, that will satisify SOCAN and other PRO organizations - and am currently looking into ways to do this>
The options right now are this:
Now, in reality, this is not the end of the world, music played during a yoga class can have the effect of distracting you from the present moment by distracting the mind and body with exterior noise. Essentially, it creates the mood, the ambience. Music is emotive; it can make you move slowly with grace, or quickly with energy and vitality. Richard Freeman, my teacher, says that yoga should really be practiced without the use of music, that to practice with it is not really yoga. In essence I agree with Richard, but do feel that in some situations music played during class can be quite appropriate.
In my home practice I sometimes practice with music since I do not have a dedicated, quiet yoga space since Mike works from home, the phone rings, I can hear him talking upstairs, etc. For me, music creates a nice bubble of space around my mat and can help to me keep me more focused, and is a great time keeper. And, some days, I just enjoy the feeling of my breath moving with the rhythm of the music, and the way my body responds as if in some beautiful dance.
I'd like to also add that artists should be duly compensated. It is merely the system I have issue with, am still processing, and do not quite agree with. I would prefer to pay an additional charge to any of the artists I choose to play during class and know that the money is directed - 100% to them rather than redirected through a third party agency. I'd like to know more specifically to who and where this money is going to - and what about artists I do not want to support?
So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
- Abba, Thank you for the Music
PS. I facebooked Deva Premal and Mitten about using her music duiring yoga classes, and she responded, and quickly! So impressed, even more of a fan, here is her response – but again, will not be playing any music as I do not know if this is confirmed consent....
"hi natalie - thanks for asking! - you have our absolute and most definite permission to play our music for your classes!! this is why we make the music in the first place! all blessings to you and your work. xx dp&m"
The above is a quote I keep in my email signature. Over the past year, I have had to examine, define, redefine and in one case defend if I felt this was true. And trust me, I see the irony here in running a Bootcamp for Change workshop. After all, Yoga is a science of being, of tools & techniques to reach self-actualization. As a letter from one of my students case aptly pointed out to me:
"As living breathing human entities, we are endowed with these magnificent gifts,- mind and body….Self-improvement is a responsibility; stagnation is a sad waste. Self-acceptance and self-improvement are not mutually exclusive; they can and do work in tandem. So, therefore, I find your statement – ‘Yoga is about self-acceptance, not self-improvement.', to be facile."
In August of this year (2011), I took a week-long course with Rod Stryker, entitled "The Yoga of Fulfillment; The Four Desires" which is an intensive course that examines who you are at the soul level, what your soul really wants/needs out of life and ways to achieve it. According to the scriptures, each soul has a specific purpose, desire to fulfill. According to Rod, desire, is not a bad thing. Without desire you would not be here, that one sperm which beat out all the thousand of other sperm, would not have fertilized that egg that is now you. Without desire, why get out of bed in the morning?
Yoga is a paradox, at the one end of the spectrum we are told to accept what is, to let go, to just be, and yet, our desire to change something is what brought us to our first yoga class in the first place. Our desire may be to remove back pain, to relieve stress, or to get the tight yoga butt but, in all, there is a desire for something. I first got into yoga as way to get my bum off the couch and I had no idea it would lead me here.
So, I have had to question my own belief is yoga about self-acceptance, or is it really about self-improvement? While I agree with my student above that they work in tandem, the best place to start in a state of self-acceptance. Yoga requires that you be honest about the present moment, to be aware, so that one day, the layers of paint will peel away and you can see you for who you really are.
Allowing space for what is, feelings of love, of hate are the same: both have stories, labels, memories attached. With these stories, we identify, create a habit, and then as Yogi Bhajan says the habit then makes you.
So what we need to do is to get honest, to see our patterns for what they are, without judgment. Yoga provides a way to do this, the postural practice is just one of many starting points, and is not an end in itself.
From self-acceptance, self-improvement will follow. Through daily practice, this is how we start to make real change; like the laundry it just can't be done once. I can not think of anyone who scaled a mountain in one leap, small daily steps made the way to the summit. What it requires is an open mind and a sense of humor, and yes, a certain amount of discipline.
If, however, we our only focus on self-improvement, we may become easily disappointed as our expectations may not mesh up the results; we can become disappointed and even give it up altogether. Or we may push ourselves beyond where we are meant to go, hurt ourselves and/or drive ourselves crazy. I can personally speak from experience on this account; I practiced for many years with an over-abundance of drive to improve, to get myself into that posture and wound up hurting myself in the process. Once I took the ego out of the equation, approached the practice and my body with a welcoming attitude then the practice healed and helped me.
No matter what the desire is that brings you to yoga, no matter how shallow it may be, it is a good thing - and if you can be honest about your motivation, even better. Yoga is a path, not an achievement, it is a practice of self-discovery, exploration and with acceptance who knows where it can take you.
So in the final end, I have decided to keep quote in my email, Yoga, in my humble opinion is about self-acceptance, and not self-improvement.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. ~ William Arthur Ward
Ok, I've apparently fallen off the blog wagon. I've tried to be concientious about my blogs, make sure that they are relevant, not preachy and at least a little entertaining, and in putting these standards upon my blog, I simply haven't. My friend Andrea Ross, has a great blog, some of her blogs are long, some are short and just to the point- I admire the simplicity, its truth and general observation. I also appreciate my friend Jaminie Ackert's blog as well for many of the same reasons. Really, it was getting to the point, where I felt I should just let the whole blog go, but maybe instead, I'll let go some of the pressure and just see where I go from here.
Oh Ya, have been thinking about a redesign of the website, maybe it's time for an update - what do you think?
I.12: By Practice and Detachment these can be stopped.
With the growing trendiness in yoga as a form of exercise, and the morphing of the yoga practice into other disciplines (ie. Yoga booty ball, hoop yoga, yoga ball, and guilty as charged the Madonna Flow Party), there has been a growing feeling of disillusionment and discontent among the general public with the practice, and many sadly, have given up on yoga all together.
Admittedly, I have wrestled with these feelings myself, and have found since teaching full time that finding a balance between yoga as a living and a time-honored practice to be quite a challenge.
Like many things in the west, yoga has fallen into the trap of taking an otherwise good idea and marketing the hell out of it – remember the soy, hemp, and acai trend, they wound up in everything from teas to body lotions!
Many yoga teachers have become celebrities/cult-leaders packaging yoga as if they own it or seemingly provide easy formulas for happiness, a tight butt, or techniques for getting into that ever elusive yoga pose. To credit some of the teachers, the cult-like status may fall on them involuntarily, while others I am sure go seeking it. I would also not want to detract from those yoga teachers who are out there, putting themselves on the line and working really hard to make a difference.
As an industry, there are many lines of products from clothing, teas, mats, props, blocks, blankets, Music CDs, Instructional DVDs, jewellery, charms, books, water bottles to name a few. And to be honest, (me likey satya), I have purchased and own many of these products, and and as a Lulu Ambassador feel a little sheepish talking about it - plus the added irony of running a website etc. But the truth shall set you free.
This June (2010) I recently completed training with Richard Freeman. I have to say that I came back from Boulder and was not sure exactly what I've learned or what I'd share with my students. I have discussed this feeling with fellow teachers/Freeman followers and apparently this is quite the norm.
Richard operates on such a deep, philosophical level that all the material, superficial layers of the yoga practice (as it is today) melt away. Some teacher trainings seem to operate more like self-help, motivational group therapy. Richard's training was definitely not as he leveled the playing ground, did not pick favourites or from what I could see inflate anybody's ego. This is part of the reason why he is my teacher. The training went deep (well as deep as you can in one month, skimming the surface really) of the roots of the practice, history, its internal form, goal and matrix. It truly made me appreciate what this practice offers and all that it requires is to come to the mat and breathe (whatever form that mat takes). As my teacher says, "Just get on the mat and see what happens." and "Practice, and all is coming."
Here is a video worth watching of an interview with Richard Freeman, from ElephantJournal where they discuss the purpose of yoga, the link to buddhism and much more...
Ultimately, this is a practice of self-discovery, of awareness, an inward journey. We must not become dogmatic or rigid in our approach, or fall into to our habitual patters, of the human drama, the soap operas, the stories, the ads and the images as this surely is a recipe for suffering and will likely lead to abandoning the practice all together.
So, when you are feeling frustrated with the practice, know that NO. 1, you are not alone, and that the best way to overcome is through practice, through the breath, by acknowledging what is.
Try reading (or re-reading) The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali. Perhaps one of the most enlightening spiritual documents of all time, nearly two thousand years old, and the 196 compact observations on the nature of consciousness and liberation remains unrivaled for its penetrating insight is still relevant today.
I will leave with you sutras to contemplate:
I.12 Both practice and nonattachment are required to still the patterning of consciousness.
I. 30 Sickness, apathy, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sexual indulgence, delusion, lack of progress, and inconstancy are all distractions that, by stirring up consciousness, act as barriers to stillness.
I. 31 When they do, one may experience distress, depression, or the inability to maintain steadiness of posture or breathing.
I. 32 One can subdue these distractions by working with any one of the following principles of practice.
I. 33 Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.
Well, I am well behind on my blogging! I'm a little shocked and embarrassed to see that my last blog was in July -J
Just where does the time go? Hard to believe that in two days from now we will welcome in 2010. Winter, the end of another year, the start of another is a time for inner reflection and manifesting 2010.
In many ways I've had the feeling that I've been teaching for years now, and have had to question myself on when I left my government job. Officially I left in December of 2007, but in my mind and heart I was gone long before then, so maybe that is why it feels like I've been doing this full time for longer than two years (depending on how you count it). In all, this year has been (and is still) a big learning curve for me over this past year, trying to juggle schedules, classes, and useful time management. An important part of how I arrange my schedule is to be sure that there is time for self-practice.
My biggest challenge this year as a human being, yoga teacher and practitioner has been dealing with pain of my right knee and hip pain. It could be much worse, and I've had to really learn how to practice with it, respect it and even try to love it. It has softened my practice a little, but in a good way. Basia Going, my mentor, has mentioned how important it is not to be in the habit of naming things, like ‘I have a bad knee" otherwise, your body will start to believe it. In some way too I am thankful that this happened, a blessing, as I believe that it has provided me with greater sensitivity for students who experience similar problems and the importance of knowing and using modifications.
Also, personally, it is real easy for me to get into a downward spiral, the negative spin. Part of this arises I think that I do get a bit S.A.D. and find the dark, cold of winter very challenging. The other part of this stems from a feeling of insecurity and inadequacy. I won't go into the details here, but it is a part of me that I've been trying to change. I have though been making some breakthroughs, as I had a spell a while ago and was able to look at the barrage of thoughts streaming from my head and simply say to myself that I am ill, it would pass, these are not really my thoughts, who I am and things will get better. Somehow, this recognition and acceptance helped to change my head space. Additionally, when I start to feel the attack again, I say something positive like "Today is going to be a Great Day!" Sometime too I believe that you just need to ride out the emotion, and like everything, it will change.
2009 has been a very challenging year for many of my dear friends in my life who have dealt with various issues ranging from poor health, death of loved ones, divorce, cheating/jerk husbands, home issues, finance challenges and other family-related challenges. I believe that things will be better and will improve for them all in 2010. According to Kundalini numerology, Year 2010 (2+0+1+0 = 3) key themes for this year of 3 are: action, manifestation, positive mind, affirmation, heat, fire of joy or anger, resourceful, hope when there is no hope, smile when there no reason, equality or victim, success, respect and right value.
Over the summer (in July) I ran some classes from home thanks to this great group of ladies I teach at a community centre near by. It was lots of fun to have classes at home and overall they went pretty smoothly. If there is interest again in this, I may run some more – plus it's a great way to keep the house clean -J .
2009 was also the year of getting the Madonna Flow parties of off the ground. My husband and I put together this really cool 90 mix of music from Madonna, some new and lots of old stuff, brought a disco ball and with Christmas lights we do this playful Ashtanga flow to her music. The Madonna Flow parties have been well received and always a great group of people come out and party to it, and I'd especially like to thank Vahik and Joanne who I think so far have made it to everyone! But of course a big THANKS to all those who have come and party.
I did not attend nearly as many workshops/teacher trainings this year, was feeling a little cash strapped and like I needed a little reprieve. Probably one of the most useful workshops was with a great teacher named Adnan Tahovric, who used to teach in Ottawa, now teaches in Taipei. Best line that I remember from the workshop was to "Get on the mat and see what comes out…."
Seriously, some days it is hard to get on the mat, lots of excuses not to, like I'm tired, too sore, my knee hurts, too achey, Mike has a business call to make, there isn't time, really the list can and does go on. This little saying has helped me immensely and what comes out is sometimes surprising, I have more energy than I believe or thought.
Stick around for part two, my gratitude list……drum roll please….
So they say that it takes a village to raise a child, but I feel that without your village (whatver that means for you) life would lack meaning and purpose.
While there are so many people and things I am gratefu to and for, here is a short list........
All students who have come to my classes. Thank you for challenging me and keeping me on my toes. I hope that I have served you well, and will continue to do so.
The Ladies of Thursday night at Greenboro Community Centre. Classes are so much fun, I love the feedback from the peanut gallery, and we must contiue with our last class wine parties!
Mike B, DJ Fuzzy Mike, my hubby - Once again you have supported me with all my ups and downs, kept me on track, given me space when I need and hugs too.
Basia Going. The only person I know who can pull out a can of WD40 for a student in class and get away with it. I love your honesty, your strength, character and good humour. Your a fantastic teacher, I have learned so much from you.
Janice Tokaryk and Mike Mah: Am really thankful to have you both in my life, great teachers and great people. Thank you for all your help and support over 2009.
Tara Firma (Tara C and Tara P) of Rama Lotus Yoga Centre. Thanks for the support throughout the year. I'd also like to thank the reception staff of Rama Lotus who make my life so easy at Rama, you guys do such a great job.
Generally. I am so thankful for the beautiful home I live in, the food I eat, the clothes I wear, a body that works, my good health, my prosperity, my loving parents/family, my cat, a car.
So, some of you may already know this story, but a good friend of mine suggested that I should write about it in my blog.
While I still working with the government, I had a job interview with Treasury Board that a friend of mine helped get in with an interview. Going in, I knew very little about the job and had expected that the crux of the meeting would go something like this....here is the job, these are the skills, day-to-day responsiblities etc. Instead, the very first question that I was asked was "Where do you see yourself in the government in the next five years?" I mean, KAPOW! Didn't see that coming at all. So I sat there, and for the life of me COULD NOT come up with anything.....except for thlis little voice inside of me that kept saying Yoga Teacher....and it kept getting progressively louder. I tried to will my brain to come up with something, but nothing came back except for yoga teacher.....
Well, what to do? I looked at the room, the ladies and internally said to myself, phuck it! I'm going to be completely honest! So I looked at them brightly and with a big smile said "I want to be a yoga teacher." Not surprisingly, I didn't get the job and Mike and I had a good laugh afterwards. But, dang, it felt so good to be that honest; even if the setting wasn't quite right. Honesty can really set you free and can help to relieve a burden that you may have been carrying around for a while.
I often look at most tv and movies and have to chuckle to think how the industry would change if this policy were endorsed; no more running around lies, telling more lies or half-truths. I mean how many sitcoms are based on some form of lie?
So, is there some truth you've known for a while, are holding on to, keeping you stuck? Let it be free (just do remember to practice some ahimsa, compassiom and love before blurting it out...I'm still learning this one).
Whenever you have truth, it must be given with love, or the message or the messenger will be rejected. - Mahatma Ghandi
A friend of mine once commented that he believes that they are only a certain number of human physical blueprints, or models out there. This was in reference to a discussion we were having about who do you look like. More and more I coming to see a lot of truth in this. Yesterday, a very nice couple helped me drive out of a bank of snow during the big storm yesterday. They first asked me if I was Dr. So-So (can't remember her name), but they were quite shocked/surprised how much I looked this Dr. friend of theirs. I have also been mistaken for someone else. It is always a little hard to know how to react to these situations, but I can't help feeling a little deflated, like I have lost something of my uniqueness. Yes, I know that is just my ego crying out for attention and my attachment to form, but it's hard not to wonder then if the universe had supplied this great big world with a few select physical models. Or, is this just a way, that our species, as humans, likes to find similarities between things, Rather than differences. And this happens all the time, I sometimes am told that I look like Jodie Foster, and if you read on IMDB (the best Internet movie database) there are lots of discussions among fans who are other look-alike Starr's. Comparisons are made each and every time. At any rate, it was just a thought I wanted to share and I'm curious to meet my body-doubles.
Let me know if you've had similar experiences and how it made you feel....
Amazing how time flies....this time last year I handed in my resignation letter and left the world of government to pursue teaching yoga on a full-time basis. It has been a most interesting year looking back, filled with doubt, happiness, frustration, learning, and letting go. I have finished 3 teacher trainings (the 200-HR Hatha-Ashtanga from Santosha, 67-HRs with Beryl Bender Birch and 40-HRs of Ashtanga training with David Swenson). During the first part of the year, I got really sick in February and had to teach really ill or sometimes not all, it was like the universe put me on pause, and I came face-to-face with life without sick days. The questions I've entertained a lot of this year, is "Yoga, do you make enough to live on that?". Frankly, I don't really know, I'm in an envious situation that my husband does fairly well and so this has not yet been a real issue, thank GOD.
Though, truthfully, to live on, I'd say no. I'm teaching a lot of the daytime classes (not complaining, just reality) that right now aren't getting totally great numbers and I remain hopeful that I may be offered an evening slot one day soon where the student traffic is a little higher. It would be very nice, but I am not attached to it one way or the other. I am just very grateful that I am teaching yoga full-time and love my new life. I no longer feel as though I am wasting my time and my life behind a desk, in a job that wasn't me and in an environment that was ultimately killing my soul. Even though monetary situation may not be as good as before, I still feel really rich with the gift of time, of making my own schedule, of sharing something I love, of being surrounded by great students and inspiring teachers. Hmm, so I guess the answer is Yes, I do have enough to live on, and I trust that the universe will bring to me what I need at the right time.
Tania Frechette, fellow yoga-teacher and spiritual sister, often ends her year with a gratitude list. so here's mine....the idea is to list people whom you are thankful for.....
1. Mike Block - my hubby, thank you for believing me in, and for writing my resignation letter. If it weren't for you, I probably would still be there, and miserable. Thanks too for building my website.
2. Tania Frechette - for being a constant source of inspiration and proving what persistence, trust and pixie-dust can do.
3. Andrea Knight - thanks for being there as my best friend throughout all the years, and for also continuing to give me the kick in the butt when I need it. You are a wonderful friend, and Mike and I so lucky to have you and Rob as best friends and next door neighbours.
4. Basia Going - Your open, honest, warm, giving and completely real. Thank you for letting me be me even though my cloudy crappy days where I have space and permission to be down/grumpy. Thank you to for inviting me to part of the Adishesha Yoga Zone team and for mentoring me.
4. My Parents, my brother, and my Uncle Ray -- Thanks Mom and Dad for being so supportive of my decision, and for just wanting me to be happy. Thanks Rich for being a sympathetic ear and your support, though we rarely talk, I'm still glad your my bro. Thanks Uncle Ray for being so supportive too of all the crazy decisions I've made and for being part of my rooting team.
5. All of the wonderful students who've made the effort to come to class and to the familiar faces I'm so blessed to see again. You know who are you........
There are probably more people I should be thanking this year, so if I have missed anyone, please accept my apologies.....
Other things I'm grateful for....
A warm home, a warm bed, variety of clothes to wear, my cat, the variety of food to eat, living in a relatively safe country, that I've had an education, schooling, that I have a body that works (more or less), and for the privileged life I lead. Thank you universe, I am so grateful.....
I haven't written a blog in a while. Life has been pretty busy, with the Community Centres, Corporate and new Adishesha Yoga Zone classes have come into full swing on the schedule. It's always a little hard after the summer to get used to the new schedule, summer tends to be lighter and I just enjoyed having time to take day time classes, read outside and have lots of spare time. So to help me keep track of things, I actually got myself a Blackberry Curve. Oh, the humanity -:) Actually it's very ironic, when I worked for the government I never ever would have wanted one, but now that I'm out a lot of days, and often long days when I don't get home real late, it's become a really handy tool. The trick I think will be for me to manage it's use, and not let it to use or control me.
There has been a lot of changes recently in the yoga community, and it has been interesting to see the developments, hear the gossip, the speculations if Ottawa can accommodate that many new centres. In the end, I believe that all the new centres will do well, and that the existing ones, will continue to do well. There will be a bit of shuffling going on as the dust settles, but things always work out exactly as they are meant to be. I've been reading The Heart of Yoga by Dekishar, and Isvara Prandihara comes to mind. We normally resist change, but it teaches that sometimes you just have to let go and trust. Have faith....
During the transition, I was able to help Basia Going with some of the set-up of her beautiful new studio, Adishesha Yoga Zone on Fourth Avenue. It was A LOT of work, and it really made me appreciate what goes into running a yoga studio. I'm so grateful too that I've been asked to teach there. Basia is quite particular about the whom she has on board on teach, and I"m in some really great company. If you haven't' dropped by, come for a visit, at 99 Fourth Avenue, behind the Wild Oat, used to be the Changing Pace studio.
I feel so incredibly blessed that I can teach yoga, it really is a privilege, and not a right and I value every student who walks into my class.
Belly dancing is back on too and although it adds another night to my schedule, it would be hard to give it up. It's a lot of fun and once again I find myself in the company of a great group of women, plus it's really girly and I've just picked up a couple of cute new outfits.
I'm also running my very ever workshop, it's on November 1st at Basia's place, the lovely Adishesha Retreat Zone in Luskville Quebec. I've been busy preparing the manual and planning out kriya sets that we are going to do during the day. It'll be a great physical cleanse for the body, in great company and in a great setting. Plus, Basia is an amazing cook.
It never ceases to amaze me the profound effect yoga has. Before yoga, I could be easily angered over the smallest little thing, and could go off on a tyrant that would make a sailor blush.
This past April, my family and I (mom, dad, uncle and hubby) headed off to Cuba (Varadero) for a 2-week vacation and we had a great time. However, the journey home proved to be quite the adventure...
The whole adventure started when a plane got stuck on the runway with a flat tire. This one single event affected everything, since NO planes could take off from or now land in Varadero.
Varadero, in case you don't know, is one of the busiest airports on Cuba, with thousands of tourists arriving and departing at all hours of the day; and this meant that our flight, along with many others were re-routed to the Havana airport.
Ok, so, when we first found out that our plane could not land and was re-routed to Havana, was step one. Then we were told by Sunwing, that we had to collect our luggage, get a customs slip and go back to the bus for the 2-hour journey. Well, this wasn't ideal, but at least it seemed like a reasonable solution.
My family and I after much mayhem (remember, we were not the only ones in this). managed to find our luggage pretty quickly and board the bus. We then had to sit on the bus and wait for these three girls who were originally part of our original tour group, and it took over an hour to find them, mainly because they had boarded the wrong bus. Well, the bus to Havana finally left at about 10 pm. No problem, it was a little stressful, but there was nothing anyone could really do and no point in pointing a finger to make blame. While on the way there, one of the tour buses broke down (not ours) and we waved to the people on the bus. This seemed to be getting kind of silly, as on the bus, we watched burned copies of videos of all the hits from the late 70s and 80s.
Our bus driver really motored it, and we managed to make it to Havana in really good time. The Sunwing tour guide assured us that all we needed to do was to redrop our luggage off to counters 1 and 2 then go through customs; which should not take long as our bags were already tagged from Varadero and we had already gone though customs.
Well, the scene at Varadero was harried to say the least. You have to imagine, that all the planes that were re-routed to Havana, now had thousands pf travellers waiting to get on the arriving buses (which all of us were on) to take them to the hotels in Varadero. The mood was tense. After about 40 minutes on the bus, we were finally able to get off, get our luggage and go into Havana airport. Seemed simple enough.....
But, now there was even a greater number of people at the Havana airport, with their luggage, and what do you know, but the luggage carrier behind the counters wasn't working at the time, and there were hundreds of bags waiting behind the wicket counter.
By this point, it's late, we're tired, hungry, and in a smelly airport filled with frantic travellers. Also, my parents haven't travelled much in a long while, and like everyone else, were disgruntled and unhappy. Normally, had this been the pre-yoga me, I would have been cursing a blue streak, but was able to find mantras to latch on to.
OK, so we put our luggage in with the rest of the pile and then god bless, they got the machine to work - the whole airport cheered. One hurdle, now we should be able to get through customs. Not quite so easy as they did not have all the windows open and for some reason the officials there still had to look all the paperwork, passports over with a fine tooth comb, and even had one woman there for about 15 minutes, and imagine, that this line keeps growing.
Well, after some time, we made it through and heard a call for our plane. We walked out on the tarmac, and boarded the plane. This story doesn't end there though. While on the plane, it seemed very passenger light with many empty seats. The flight attendant then had to come out and say that due to the Toronto Port Authority imposing a time curfew for planes to land (right now we're at 1:30 am) and the fact that not all passengers were boarded due to delays with the buses, customs and luggage, we had to disembark and get off. Not a good situation.
So, now we're back in the Havana airport, with essentially no services waiting for the call. The call was supposed to come at 2:00 am, but for some odd reason we didn't get the call from the Cuban officials till 2:20 am. And by now, there were more planes on the tarmac, and we had to wait for 2 crowded shuttle buses to take us over to the plane.
All right, we're finally on the plane now, things are looking good....until.....a Cuban official comes on board to tell us that we can't take off because they are missing a long boarding ticket. So everyone had to search the plane, hold up the small portion of the boarding ticket and wait. Finally after another 30 minutes, our flight attendant, decided that enough was enough, we're leaving. Yay, never have been so happy to have a plane take off.
It is just amazing how things snowball, how one small flat tire on a small plane can wreak so much havoc. Yet, there was no really no point in pointing the finger or getting really angry. hari om tat sat. Sunwing handled the situations as best they could, and for taking off, they were going to be fined. Which is ridiculous. because the missing ticket would have been taken by one of the Cuban officials anyway who probably took it the first time we boarded the plane.
All during this ordeal, I kept chanting or singing mantras, and kept my cool. I really never lost my mind and managed to stay calm despite the circumstance, and I have the yoga to thank for that. Mantras are words and phrases. often, but not always in Sanskrit, or gurmukhi, that help to control the though-waves of the mind. We actually use many mantras daily, and most of which are negative, so the goal is through yoga is to be aware of these waves (vrittis) of the mind, and to work through them.
Also, this expereince has not left me cold on Cuba, it is still a great country, and I still would go back....
OK, so this is like one of those life-changing experiences. In 2005, after 93 years, Mike's Gran passed away. I had the opportunity to meet her while she was alive and could say that she was a remarkable woman. She was blind, and like most people of her age had mobility issues, but none the less, she lived on her own in a big farm-home in a most beautiful part of northern England.
Following her passing, we went over to her home to help with cleaning her house to get it ready for re-sale. There was a lot to do, since she lived in the home about 40 years, and literally did not do thing to the home to keep it in good maintenance. During the night, one could hear the plaster crumbling off the walls, mice were regular visitors with easy access in through holes in the house, and general musty smell permeated every part of the house. Heck, while we were clearing up the outside of the house, a part of the chimney fell off and crumbled down.
Although we tried to give away as much of the household goods to charity as possible (armoires, beds, linens, dining tables, chairs, linens, books, etc) - no one was really interested in taking any of it. I guess antiques are just not that rare, and it was too expensive to consider shipping any of the items back to Canada. So, we literally had a fire going on all week, where day after day, we burned pretty much all of the existing remaining items in the home. I'm an anthropology major and it felt like we were conducting a big funeral pyre all week long. This experience drove home to me, that you really can't take it with you when you leave.
When we arrived came home after that trip, I suddenly felt myself claustrophobic with our space and furniture. The furniture we had at the time was big. large and over-sized. I realized that I could no longer function in the space. Thus began, a major transformation. Over a few months and much planning, we purged a lot of items that sat around collecting dust, sold most of furniture, and underwent a major renovation. The space was transformed into a lovely airy space to practise and teach yoga, as well as still welcoming for guests.
They say (who ever "they" are) that life leads you down paths where certain lessons or realities about your self needs to be leaned. That experience of burning his Gran's belongings, made me realize a few things....
Everyone has story to tell. As this is my first blog, thought I'd tell you mine....or at least a short and condensed version of how I found yoga.
I'll start the story a few years before my 30th birthday. Most of my twenties I spent in neglect...of myself. I did not exercise (at all), and ate really very poorly. My diet at the time consisted in a large part of greasy meals, big meaty-cheesy pizzas, lots of wings, chips, fries - well, you get the idea. Not surprisingly as a result of my poor eating habits and total lack of exercise, I had gained a lot of weight and was very out of shape. Still, I was still somewhat in denial, even though, I was really quite unhappy with my body and physical state. It wasn't until I went for routine check-up at 30, that the reality had hit home and the nurse informed me that I weighed 150 pounds. For some odd reason, this time, though my weight had been steadily on the rise for years, this number hit home, and the mention from doctor that, although, I wasn't "fat", my height-to-weight ratio was getting near the line of no longer being healthy. I'm 5'4" and 150 for my frame was a lot to carry.
After that appointment, I left feeling very depressed, sad, even angry that I had let myself go, but I resolved then to make a change.
I love food, so going to some kind of crazy diet I knew just wouldn't work in the long term. I needed a baby step into reprogramming myself to food so I leafed through many diet articles and styles to see if there was similarity between them. The one link I found was the amount and type of bread that the North American diet consumes. So, I told myself, that I would commit to making a small change - I would monitor or limit the type of bread and how much I would consume by day and week. This was a small change, and meant that I tried then to only eat nutrient rich high-grain or rye breads, no white, and if I had bread in the morning, there would be none for the rest of the day. Though it took, 4 months, the result was quite encouraging, and over that time, by making one small change, I had lost 10 pounds.
So, then I thought, well, what else can I change or do? At the time, I was working with the government, and most of the ladies were following the South Beach Diet. A diet developed by a heart doctor that is based on low-carbs, or healthy low GI foods, lean fats/meat, protein and lots of vegetable. I picked up the book, read through it and felt that it's principles were relatively simple to follow. I had tried Weight Watcher's as I've seen other friends whom had great success, but I found the program too complicated and confusing. With partnership from Mike (my husband) we both agreed to go on it following a trip to England, after giving up sticky toffee pudding, and dieting while travelling was just not possible.
We both had great success on the diet and lost most of the weight we wanted to lose. The only challenge with the diet is once you re-introduce carbs some of the weight does come back, but I would still say a great diet and I sometimes still today try to eat this way. Plus, my body did real well on it, I had more energy and didn't feel deprived. With this, I had lost about 35 pounds.
It was during that time of following the diet, that I decided to find some sort of exercise to do. I've never been one for aerobics, running or team sports, though I admire those who are and knew that a gym just wasn't the spot for me.
Previously, I had with friends, tried some yoga with Community Centres and the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board, and remembered how much I enjoyed it. My friend Heidi, suggested that I look into Rama Lotus Yoga Centre, and it was then in 2003 that I took my very first yoga-studio class. Initially, my reason for going was simply to find an excuse later to sit my butt down on the couch, but, that did not last long, and soon I found other good reasons to go. My practise started small, first one class then a week, then maybe two, then consistently 4 or 5 and even everyday if my schedule could manage it.
Not only did yoga help me to maintain a healthy weight, get in shape, but it also helped to deal with negativity and stress much better. I am so grateful for yoga that I have been able to find yoga.....so, what's your story?