My apologies for the break in blogging, I was away on a trip to Vegas this past week. Vegas may seem like an unlikely place to be deepening a yoga practice, but we all know that yoga is an internal journey, it isn't dependant on outside influence. I'm a firm believer that we see what we are looking for and in Vegas I didn't see tacky lights, pushy tourists, environmental and monetary waste - though those things were there on the surface. What I did see were kind people willing to help two moms touring the town laden with diaper bags, strollers and toddlers. I saw amazing architecture, fabulous displays and beautiful art. And I enjoyed the delicious food and fine wine. I also saw a lot of opportunities to grow out of my go-to thought patterns. As my bestie and I toured around the city with our toddlers in tow (in case anyone is wondering, Vegas has a plethora of child-friendly activities and is super easy to get around in too) I noticed that there were messages calling for social and environmental change, and educational information on issues like ocean health, the rainforest and fresh water conservation, amongst others, displayed at exhibits and venues throughout the strip. Now, at first glance, my immediate thought was that it was a bit of an oxymoron for a city in the middle of the desert that was built to cater to extravagance and consumption to be touting environmental and social consciousness. I stopped myself from commenting to this effect - I don't think the world needs more negative commentary being spouted, but I didn't argue with my friend when she voiced the point aloud either. But then, when the conversation popped up again while we were showing off our pictures back home, I gave it a little deeper thought. Vegas would have displays and exhibits with or without the information they give. By choosing to display those messages, they bring them to the attention of the over 39 million tourists that visit every year. That's a huge influence, even if only a portion of the tourists notice them and are inspired to make a change. To me, that's a comforting thought. So I choose to change my negative thoughts into positive ones and see the good in it, rather than following my instincts and seeing the negative. That's Vegas baby, drunken debauchery, broken pocketbooks, false light and smiles, and one yoginis step closer to enlightened thinking.
The yoga selfie. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't always been a little drawn to it, though a myriad of questions pop into my head every time I see one. How does one achieve the yoga selfie? Do all the yogis who claim the glory of internet fame through the countless photos of themselves in the most impressive poses have photographers who follow them around all day? Do they use the web cam on their computers? Have a special tripod and program for their iphone? What about the mama yoginis, hair perfectly coifed, immaculate camera ready make-up done, and adorable child dressed in a matching outfit partnering with them for shots? In my house, taking the time to primp and dress both myself and my son would engulf so much energy and time that we'd all need a nap. We could do savasana, I suppose, provided that one of the dogs developed the ability to use a camera...
I decided yesterday to make an attempt at the yoga selfie. Shona Williams, the yogi in charge of media for the Feel Good Fernie Yoga Festival, has been asking me for some non-winter yoga photos to use as marketing material, and I decided to try out taking a photo myself instead of waiting for my upcoming photo shoot to send her some options. I used my regular camera, propped up on a box, because I have no clue how to wangle one of those bad boys using my iphone. The sun was shining bright and hot. I selected a lovely patch of light in front of a towering blue spruce tree in the front yard. It was a beautiful spot, radiating the image of peaceful outdoor serenity that any yogi would be glad to practice in, and what ensued there was fifteen minutes of pure chaos unlike any other yoga experience I've ever had.
After a botched attempt (or two) at setting auto-click, I rushed through the mine-field of dog poo toward the selected photo area, only to realize that my slippers were still on my feet. Kicking them off in a flurry I quickly became aware that, in my selfie induced excitement, I had failed to give even one thought to the pose I was going to strike for my photo. I immediately lunged forward ready to assume crow pose. My palms may or may not have landed in dried dog poo, only the universe knows. As the beeping indicating that the photo was about to happen reached its final toll, I flew up into crow with little to no mindfulness, awareness or serenity. Click, click. "Two clicks? Seriously?" I thought.
Jumping up I leapt with what I hope was cat like grace through the dog poo toward the camera. If I was going to look like a lunatic in tie die pants taking pictures of herself I at least wanted to look graceful while I was at it. By this point both the dogs and the two year old were at the screen door begging to join in the fun. "Just another minute bubs," I scrambled toward the camera. "Mommy's doing something impor... er, doing something." A frantic moment of fiddling with buttons revealed the option to up the setting to ten clicks. For sure I could do something truly awesome with ten clicks! I hit the button and raced back toward the patch of sun. "Please don't let me step in dog poo" my mantra for the practice.
Arriving in front of the tree, I again realized that with all the poo dodging and technological concerns I had failed to give any consideration what-so-ever to selecting a pose. "Titibasana! Titibasana looks impressive," I thought. I folded forward to begin. It was then that I noticed the aforementioned dried dog poo. As the final warning sounded from the camera, I set my hands down so as to avoid it. With the cacophony of thoughts swirling through my mind from selecting a pose, to avoiding the poo, to rushing while trying to beat the countdown of the camera, I completely forgot how to get into titibasana - or so it would seem, since I placed my hands slightly in front of my feet, rather than behind them, and landed firmly on my bottom. I'm still contemplating today how my brain didn't manage to log out of auto-pilot, even with the distinct thought of "that's not where my hands go" entering it. Anyway, with my ass pressing into God-knows-what, my mantra quickly shifted to "please don't let me be sitting in poo." I sprung up and the last eight clicks of that selfie attempt caught the majestic beauty of my hop scotch ballet through the piles of poo.
One more try for titibasana found me again on my bottom. This time I capitalized and caught a shot of myself balancing while holding my feet. Never one to give up, I continued on with two attempts at side crow where the experience greatly resembled the description immortalized in the blogosphere above. Exhausted, I rushed back into the house, where the screen door was now empty and silence had eerily fallen (every mama out there knows a silent two year old is trouble). Safely inside, blissfully removed from the dog poo mine field, beeping of the camera, and frantic asana attempts, I examined the selfies with mixed emotions. I'm not sure that the slippers in the forefront captured quite the effect I had hoped for...
This morning I was sipping my coffee and thinking about what I should write for my blog post this week. I decided to open the Facebook app on my phone while I ruminated. As I scrolled down the news feed, I kept seeing a shared post from a group called "Help James Find a New Kidney." I skipped opening it the first time. You see, my thoughts were, firstly, compassion for this random James person on the internet and then a bit of sadness. And lately on my Facebook feed it has felt as though there are a lot of sad posts. I was trying to avoid it, to search for something positive, so I scrolled past. But when it showed up for a second time I paused again. I asked myself why I couldn't read the post. What if I could help? If it were me or someone close to me, wouldn't I want everyone to take a few minutes to read it? So I clicked it, and as I read, the story that was written sounded familiar. And then I looked at the full name of the James described and realized that it was my Mom's cousin's son who was so terribly sick.
I paused for a moment, my heart heavy in the knowledge that I had almost scrolled past. Heavy with the knowledge that he was someone who shared a closer connection with me than I could have known before reading the post. Would it have mattered less if he had turned out to be un-related? No. I think I met him at my Great-Aunt and Uncle's house once when I was around twelve. The truth is I would have been touched by his story, related or not, and I would have felt a call to help in some way in either case. But it was a great lesson for me on connection, and I obviously needed a reminder, with my sentiment that I deserved to avoid a sad story without considering that the sad story was one another person was currently living. We are all connected. We are all one. We are all important enough to warrant each others time, compassion, and energy. Namaste
Here is the link to the Facebook group and post I refer to in this post: https://www.facebook.com/jamessupport
And check back here, on my website, or Facebook group for information about fundraising efforts.
After an exciting last week, with my article being published, and very well received, on My Yoga Online, I've been in a bit of a zen zone this week. Despite some personal matters that would normally be cause for stress, I'm feeling good and checking things off of my to-do list one at a time. What gives? Has the excitement of publication shoved my mind into a guru-esque superpower zone where I'm impervious to stress? Unlikely. I think it has less to do with the excitement of publication and more to do with the pervading feeling of being on the right path.
We've all experienced it at some point in our lives. You start to work toward a goal or life change and suddenly things start to fall into place, as though the Universe is sending you little gifts to help along the way. Beyond that, you have an unwavering sense of calm. You just know that things are going to work out, no matter what the current situation looks like, or what challenges lie ahead. Sure signs that you are on the right path, manifesting the life that you are meant to live and thriving because of it. Sound crazy? Think about it for a bit. In our society we tend to downplay intuition and ignore how things "feel" to us, but if you stop to really examine your life, you'll likely notice that there were times where you were working toward things, and whether they were going great for you or not, you felt a pervading sense of angst, as though it wasn't enough, you weren't quite happy, or you thought you were happy, but kept having to push away the fear that at some point it was all going to fall apart. And if you try to remember other points in your life where you didn't feel that way, you'll likely find that at those times, despite whatever was happening in your life, or how bleak the prospects seemed, you were relaxed, happy, and confident that the Universe would provide for you. It isn't due to periods of mentally instability that your feelings changed like this. When we follow our right path not only do things work out for us, but we begin to feel at peace.
How do you feel about your life right now? Are you manifesting the life you were meant to live, or are you working against the Universe in pursuit of something you think you want, but that just doesn't leave you feeling quite right in your gut? Self-examination and awareness is one of the skills the study of yoga graces us with. Check in and confirm that you are living in the spiritual peace and prosperity you deserve. It's never too late or too hard to pursue your authentic self.
Today I missed getting to the vinyasa flow class I was planning to take. I've also been subbing a lot lately, and with a few writing commitments and a very busy two year old to pre-occupy my time, this isn't the first class I've tried to get to and missed. To be honest, my home practice has been splotchy the last few weeks too. On any other day, this might have gotten me down. But today, having had the theme of balance on my mind lately, I took a different approach. You see, the things that filled my morning are also things I haven't been getting done lately, so maybe this was the universe's way of striking a balance. Rather than thinking about missing class as a negative affect of events this morning, I thought about the fact that, even though it wasn't what I'd had planned, some other things that needed my attention got my attention. The next thing I did was to keep my promise to myself that I was going to take some time this morning for my practice. So I went upstairs to my yoga space and did a practice. I took time to journal while I was there too. Was it an hour long, guided practice, with a teacher I love, complete with time out of the house to boot? No. But it was fantastic all the same.
Yoga teaches us that if we change our view, everything changes, and today I was reminded of how true this is. I could have gotten bogged down with thoughts about how my day didn't go as planned, chastised myself for letting something get in the way of going to class, and worried that the classes I'm scheduled to teach this week would suffer because they always seem to have that little something extra special when I'm feeding my inner fire through my personal practice. But instead, by going with the flow, I discovered that if we approach life with an open mind we can see the good just waiting to be discovered in every twist and turn, even though it might not be the while looking at the view we had wanted to see.
yo·gaˈyōgə/nounnoun: Origin Sanskrit: yoga, literally ‘union.’
What's in a name? A memory. The power to evoke a feeling. An announcement. A statement. A revelation. When I arrived at the blog page for my website, I knew I wanted a name not only reflective of myself, but of yoga. To represent yoga it needed to be dualistic. Playful and spiritual, old but new, flexible but strong. To represent me, it needed to house part of my personal history.
During teacher training a myriad of books were recommended for further reading. One of those books was Yogini by Janice Gates. I knew immediately while leafing through the pages that I wanted to read this book. I ordered it from Amazon shortly after finishing my training.
The book itself is beautiful, but the contents are more so, chronicling the history of women in yoga before delving into individual profiles of some of the most influential female yogis throughout history and modern times. Beyond the inspiring stories and messages of the yoginis profiled, the book left me with a sense of wonder at the ancient science of yoga coming full circle as women become more influential on the practice, which was originally only accessible to men. Yoga, like all things in life, has improved with the balancing of masculine and feminine aspects. I found a humbleness taking up residence in my soul to be graced with the opportunity to experience yoga at a time when it is influenced so deeply by feminine energy. To be able to call myself a yogini and join in the collective energy of female practitioners.
Rewind twenty-five years to a little girl running into her Grandparents' house. Her Grandpa sits at the end of the table in an oak chair. He's leaning back, the chair balanced on its back two legs, the trim on the wall behind him dented from years of this habit. A hand rolled cigarette is perched between the middle and pointer fingers of his right hand, which rests casually on the chair's arm rest. A crooked smile graces his lips and in a rich, deep voice that resonates from his chest he sings Coraley-ley-ley, la ley-ley-ley, la lie.
It has been fifteen years since my Grandpa passed away and I can still hear his voice singing that song to me as though he is sitting right next to me. There are days where the memory of this song pops into my head unbidden and draws forth a smile to my face as easily as it did when I was seven. Like magic my Grandfather's voice lives inside of me, untouched by the passing of time. Untouched by the passing of his physical body into the universal consciousness.
So what's in a name? A glimpse into the tiny little, gloriously fragmented, mismatched yet somehow wonderfully cohesive pieces of a life; the melting point between the history of the yogini and the history of my life. A union.
I'm just a yogi in the mountains of British Columbia. If you've found your way to this site, it's very likely that you are too. Here you'll find information about my upcoming classes, workshops and retreats via the link to my website, as well my thoughts on yoga philosophy, what music I'm pumping in class, pictures, videos and other news about yoga and spirituality.