Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There is no Secret Ingredient

Have any of you ever seen Kung Fu Panda? (The movie)
I was just hanging out in Toronto with Sonnie's 4 nieces and nephews and had the opportunity to watch it. WHAT A GREAT MOVIE.

Well, 2008 is coming to a close. Sonnie and I got home from the airport yesterday to a car that wouldn't start. We spent all day looking for a new vehicle in Vancouver and conversing with seemingly desperate and mildly pushy car sales people. Today we are going to do the same. I guess it is a logical end to the year... to trade in the car and lease a new one. This will be the first NEW car I've ever driven. Not to mention the first 4 year commitment I've ever made- save my commitment to Sonnie. We bumped into a friend on the way to the city and she commented on the decision... "sign of growing up,) she said.

All the travel, turkey and wrapping paper made my head a little fuzzy. I'm pretty happy to simmer down into my life as it is again and hear the noise fade to a pianissimo. Christmas is really about the kids. Even though it was a little hectic with long nights in the airport, and capricious weather that had everyone not knowing (could that be bad?) I found it nice to go a few days without thinking of myself very much.

The first time I went to India I was with my dear friend Mindy. We spent New Year's Eve together and both chose a word that we would contemplate and come back to throughout the year to come (instead of a New Year's Resolution). I chose commitment that year. It proved to be a year with less doubt, more direction and a decisiveness that I was looking for. The next year Mindy chose my word. Lucky. I found myself in Bangalore, India, with Sonnie, at 3 am in the morning on Jan. 3rd, after 36 hours of traveling, and staring at our hotel sign that was blinking and sputtering in the dark and rat infested streets. It read "Lucky Hotel".
I knew it would be a good year.

This year Mindy will send me a word and I will also choose my own. My word will be Sonnie. A name, yes, but a very good one.

What will yours be?
If you feel like sharing please post.

And remember, there is no secret ingredient... you just have to believe.

So much love to all of you that read and share. This is going to be a good year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two heads are better then one....the dream continues!

Happy holidays to you all!

It's Sarah and Lydia writing together, amazing!

We've spent most of the past week drinking tea, brainstorming, registering The Yoga Studio and crunching numbers for the startup of the new adventure...we've also taken long snowy walks, sat still, practiced with Ron Reid and Micheal Stone, laughed till our stomachs ached, enjoyed amazing food and played scrabble way passed our bedtimes.

We've also been loving the company of the Cooper's Hawk (we think?) that seems to have taken a liking to my parents property.

It is so amazing to be together!
Two heads are indeed better then one.

As I write, Lydia is searching for grant applications on the internet so that we can reduce the start-up costs of this project. If anyone has any suggestions of grants that may apply to a yoga studio dedicated to community building and environmentally conscious living please let us know.

Mostly we wanted to write and let you all know that we thank you for your support and hope that you have a wonderful white holiday season. We heard on the news that this is the first time in over four decades that all Canadians, coast-to-coast, will enjoy a white Christmas - what an amazing country we live in!!?

Also, check out our new updated website -

so much love.
sarah and lydia.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A dream to share....

Hey all,

It's been a while since i've posted so a big hello to all of you who are joining and reading from time to time.

And, thankyou for your support!

Another winter storm has arrived in Canmore. This storm is coming from the north and is bringing a deep freeze - temperatures aren't supposed to rise above minus 20 all weekend. I suppose it's a good excuse to cuddle up by the fire and read or watch a movie. I am currently roasting root vegetables and making squash soup to enjoy with Scott over this chilly weekend...

As the opening of The Yoga Studio in Squamish approaches, I am pondering lots of ideas around what yoga has brought to my life and what I am inspired to share with people on this path. I have always been attracted to deep, real human relationships and this practice exposes and challenges me to more honestly relate to myself so that in turn i can better relate and open myself to the world (both people and places!).

In more ways then i can know, yoga is about relationship...and if it's not, then what is it teaching us?? To put our legs behind our heads??

It is clear that there are deeper dimensions to the practice but i think it is important to ask ourselves often...and to be honest about how this 'yoga' is enriching our lives?
Making us more open to growing?
Less attached to patterns within ourselves that hold us back -
towards truth and honesty with ourselves and the world around us?

This is the yoga i really want to share with people. The physical yoga practice is a path to liberation in the body, which so many of us have been imprisoned by at some point in our lives. And, I love to teach and share about learning's i've had in my own asana practice as a gateway to a deeper sense of truth.

But, as the holidays approach, I am thinking lots about family and friends. And I am inspired to share gratitude with the community that makes up my life. Thank you all so much for making my life so wonderful and for teaching me in the ways that you do.

The yoga of the holidays for me will be walking by the lake with my family,
staring into the eyes of my lover,
sitting down to beautiful meals prepared by my amazing mother,
listening to my sister play the guitar,
playing chess with my brothers and my dad,
embracing my oldest friend and her new son, Grae
and breathing deeply with gratitude for this life.

I head east on Monday to meet up with Lydia in Toronto.
Together we will breath, laugh and learn on this new path as business owners.
We are so excited to spend some time putting energy into the vision we share.
A dream of creating a space,
A passion for sharing community and real relationships
- with people and places in this world.

So much love to all of you over the holidays - enjoy the moments!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Deep Breath

Yeesh. I've been spending too much time staring at this screen lately. It's a good thing I have a yoga chair to keep me away from the slump factor. Thanks Carl! (
Do the holidays ever add a little stress? Exploit any financial weaknesses? Overload your senses? Remind you that we not only live in abundance but sometimes (dare I say it) gluttony?
Although I am really melting from the cheer that is brightening the faces of all the people in this corridor, sometimes during December I need to lay down and take a few deep breaths. (I tend to do this during Jan, Feb, March, April... and so on as well, BUT maybe more in Dec... wink) Even just one breath can help me feel embodied and aware of what is REALLY arising in myself. Somewhere in there there is a place that is more than the extreme of holiday intoxication or it's opposite of Western consumerism resentment.
Anyways, on our new website I just posted a couple of Breathing Podcasts for those of you with like minds.
I especially like the belly breathing before the New Year.
When I lay down and belly breathe for a little while it actually feels like my belly is doing the breathing. Like my belly is breathing in and out.
I always thought that our skin actually did breathe but I dissolved this myth after a little bit of study. (A renowned yoga teacher published a very good book that led me to believe this was true, and that this is why the gold painted woman in the old James Bond movie Goldfinger died - but apparently she went on to make a few more films before retiring and skin-asphyxiation is not really possible).
There is only one animal known to man that breathes through it's skin. It's an Australian Mouse that is born as one of the tiniest mammals on earth after just 9 days of gestation.
Okay, WAY too much time on this computer. What I am trying to get at is that I love the idea of the skin breathing and it seems to be a wonderful visualization for me during practice. I'm kind of disappointed our epidermis doesn't have it's own set of lungs because I like to think that my whole body is pulling in oxygen from the outside medium into the inside.

On another note, I teach a group of First Nations kids yoga two times a week. Today I taught the last class for them before the holidays and they were genuinely sad to hear that yoga was postponed until the New Year. (!!) It has been a long and seemingly impossible journey and I have had many confrontations with myself and my ego teaching these packages of reality, but we are now on a hugging basis and they got together and did a continuous 2 minute Om with me tonight. I don't even want to think about when I no longer have them as part of my week, because I am starting to fall in love with the little rascals. They are so candid that it is refreshing- it's kind of like being in India! They don't really know it, but I am really THEIR student.

A picture of me and Sonnie- all soggy and squishy in the coastal wetness wonderland.
He even bought me a pair of water proof running shoes (shown in picture)... best boyfriend in the world.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

TODAY is a gift.'s hard to believe that December is almost here. The warm sunny days we've been enjoying feel more like September.

I recently attended another wonderful yoga workshop.

This time with Rameen Peyrow. Humble friend, inspiring teacher and student of life - Rameen teaches about yoga in the context of our lives. He challenges each and every one of us to dig deeper into what truth may mean and once you think you've found something....let it go and go deeper.

This journey inward, if we choose to accept it, is endless.

In the week since the workshop I taught more classes then I can count. Themes I was left with in the wake of Rameen's wise teachings were 'balance' and 'being present' and below are a few thoughts his teachings brought up for me...comments are welcome!

What does it mean to be balanced? For me ideas of living truth come to mind. In a world where I am constantly bombarded with the external experience of media, friends, family, work and is easy to lose track of my internal truth, what it is I really want??
I believe it is often hard to know what we really want because we are lost in an abyss of meeting expectations, living the life that we have been taught to live...

So, that's where yoga came into my life...a chance to deepen the internal experience, an opportunity to be more connected to my own truths. A chance to really truly know myself. And the balancing act of life is articulating and negotiating the relationship between the internal and external experiences which will forever be ebbing and flowing. Of course, just when things start to feel balanced we are destined to fall once more.
Always balancing - never balanced?

All of this is great in theory, but as humans we need direct experience to really believe things. That's where the yoga posture practice is so amazing. An opportunity to experience first hand, balance - a place to explore your own internal experience (i.e. breath, thought patterns) while staying connected to the external experience of each posture (i.e. injury free alignment and movement).

Balance or truth arises in asana when there is steadiness and ease in both the internal and external expression of the posture. Or as Patanjali says in the Yoga Sutras (2:46), 'Sthira sukham asanam.' In my own life, the experience of this sensation on the mat has definitely left me seeking and striving to find that same sense of truth and balance in every moment of my life.

And, that's where the journey of yoga (for me) has become really interesting!

As for living in the present.
The moments of our lives when the internal and external experiences we are having seem to match up,
The times when we let go of expectations we hold of ourselves and fully accept where we are,
The periods of time where we really engage in listening (whether it be a conversation with our body or our lovers) this is what it means to be present for me.
To fully give my self to a moment.
To go deeper into the NOW.

This week I found myself really encouraging myself and my students to BE PRESENT and GO DEEPER, and even in setting that intention i felt my own engagement with every one of the countless classes i taught more heightened and real.
It felt amazing!
And, after my class last Tuesday morning at the Rec Centre a wonderful women came up and shared the most beautiful quote. It's from a Charly Brown cartoon - if anyone has a copy of the cartoon I would love to see it.

It says.
Yesterday is the past.
Tomorrow is the future.
Today is a gift - that's why it's called the present.

ahh, it's perfect!
Enjoy today!
As Rameen would say - TODAY is the best day EVER!!

more soon - Sarah
p.s. Rameen's website is and he'll be visiting Canmore in January '09. As for all the Squamish readers - he was excited to hear about our new studio and looks forward to gracing us with some wonderful classes in the late summer or fall of '09!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Run run river

Sonnie and I drove to the Fish Hatcheries here in Brackendale, Squamish a couple of days ago and went on a stunning evening hike up to Brohm Lake. The light pixels created a kaleidescope of colours and shapes for my eyes that gave me a reverence for the ability to see. Have you ever just stood still in a high place with a view and taken a deep breath and... just... felt AMAZED? It is both an intoxicant and a sobering experience at the same time. It's no wonder the word light is in enlightened.

We came down from our hike and stood by the river to watch all the chum salmon swimming upstream with patient and unwavering determination to reach the nearby lake. A kind man who has been working at the Hatchery for years came down and spent half an hour teaching us about the fish. Those salmon were about 4 years old and had been born in the lake- their final destination. When they were old enough they ventured out into the ocean through the river we were standing by, and began a long journey towards Japan. They make it all the way back to this river by SMELL. They have the accuracy of smelling 1 part in 1 billion. They know what their birthplace smells like. So these fish make it all the way back here to have their fry. Once they enter the freshwater on their way home they stop eating and live only on their own fat. They labour for a few weeks to dig up a clean space in the river bottom and drop their eggs. The eggs get fertilized and stay under the wet earth for a few months before they break out of tiny vessels. When the babies are born most of their parents will be dead.
I don't know why, but I was really touched by this. Watching the fish battle up the running river I was amazed by their beauty and intelligence. By the acuteness of their senses. Somehow I felt like I could relate to them. I don't know how or why, but maybe because I saw them as beings instead of fish. I also felt humbled. I had just been marveling at my own senses and suddenly they felt dim and vacuous in comparison. I wondered if they could speak now what they would say about their life... it is no wonder so many indigenous tribes told stories (and still do) of animals who spoke and understood... who were gods and friends.
And there is the circle again. The cycle. The rhythm of the universe.
When we close our eyes, we can actually FEEL this with every inhale and exhale. One cycle. One circle. Onc birth and death. One generation.... organization...destruction. (Acronym for something in there somewhere?)
Sometimes I feel like I am seeing and understanding the same thing over and over again in many different ways.
Do you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Slowing Down - Learning to feel...

Yesterday I took a workshop in Calgary, with Susie Hately-Aldous, called Advancing your yoga practice - The Art of Slowing Down. Susie has a real curiosity and immense knowledge about the human body that translates into a lot of amazing questions and discussion.

There are tonnes of things we played with yesterday that I look forward to using, both in my own practice and in my teaching. Some things I enjoyed most about Susie's sequences is that they were exploratory yet simple, they encouraged relaxation and they created space in my torso for the breath to expand more fully in my body. Thanks Susie!

I have always been intrigued to explore postures more deeply and softly in my own body and this workshop was no exception. I felt myself listening keenly throughout the day, often closing my eyes and following the breath to find a great sense of release and awareness in each posture. I found myself asking new questions about the way the shoulder blades move on the backside of my body and inquiring within myself about how i can more fully let go and surrender the weight of my body into the earth. Furthermore, how can i help my students to move beyond their thinking minds towards a place where they intuitively and accurately feel their bodies? feel their hearts?

Ultimately moving them towards a deeper place of surrender and acceptance of what is - with the belief that true change begins when we can fully accept where we are right now, in this present moment.

Since returning from Brasil I have been thankful each morning for the time and space I have to practice and delve deeper into my fascination of movement and in the process widening my understanding of myself. Yesterday, that sense of gratitude expanded to appreciating and loving every downward dog, giving myself fully to feel the posture each time as if it was the first time I had ever experienced it.

And then,
This morning i awoke to a thick blanket of white.
A winter wonderland.

As days shorten and temperatures drop it seems like an appropriate time to contemplate the art of slowing down.

So this morning I decided to take the time to walk down to the Yoga Lounge where I was teaching a mixed level ashtanga class. Based on my experience yesterday I wanted to bring people to the present moment of each posture. I wanted them to FEEL and LISTEN to their bodies. So as a class we moved through the standing series, doing each posture twice - the first time I gave people a few cues, the second time I had people feel and move their own way into the pose. I encouraged people to let go of the perceptions they carried about what the postures should feel like or look like and instead explore the layers of language that their bodies could share with them about what was going on.

I suppose only they know if they heard or felt anything new. It is my hope that i created the space and possibility for softness, listening and freedom.

happy winter!
i'm going to make a snow angel.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Darkness there is Light.

Last night there was a planned power outage scheduled during a restorative yoga class I was teaching. With a little bit of prior planning and a few extra candles I taught one of the most memorable classes I have ever been a part of. For a little bit of context, the whole end of the street was totally dark. We had countless tea lights and a few larger candles sprinkled around the room creating enough just enough light to see our toes.

Below are a few words i jotted down after class as i watched the full moon light up the mountains.

Deep darkness is broken by faint flames
and a full moon overhead.
Our eyes openly adjust to the new reality.

Natural stillness.
Pure truth.
Intense quiet filled with the sounds of our souls.
Sinking deeper,
it's like we are moving and breathing among the stars.

Comforted by the soft shades of honesty that paint the room,
warmed on this cool murky night
by an authentic gleam of reality
a glimpse of what it truly means to explore
the unknown within myself
in the context of this world.

An opportunity to remind myself that within the deepest darkness we all have the potential to shine.

Thanks to all who joined.


p.s. i added a few pic's from Nicoragua below, enjoy!...I've been meaning to add some more pic's from the amazon and Central America. Soon i hope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Walking in the forest in the morning I find a seat
high enough to gaze down on the red rooftops and the grey ocean.
I sit.
Close my eyes from top to bottom.
The percussion of the rain. Pitter-patter. Tic-tac. Splash.
Speaking to me with gentle taps, "Are you awake?" it says.
A cold trickle down the back of my neck, a stark opposition to my stillness.
The wind.
The medium for the rain.
I feel it underneath my nose.
Whoosh. Whip. Whorl. A cold breeze. A warm lull.
Inviting me to breathe it- to live.

A sound behind me.
Is there someone there?
I am not afraid.
Whoever you are, come and sit with me.
It is not my seat, it is ours.

Walking home there is so much more for my eyes.
A rich vibrant matrix of colour. It widens me.
For my nose, the smells of cedar, smoke, the neighbors dog, the writhing earth underneath the ceaseless pelting of the sky.

There is something else in my step,
there is everything.


(by Lydia... have an amazing day...)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It has been an eventful couple of days.
Sarah and I are here together and we just registered our domain to have internet credibility on the worldwide web. We bought the url It all seems (Sarah and I having a yoga space in Squamish) like it is a little more real now and is starting to metamorphosize from it's latent ethereal quality. Sarah got a feel for the space and we had numerous meetings to get the ball rolling. This weekend we taught two classes together and I can tell the Squamish Connection of yogis are already falling in love with Sarah's powerful yet peaceful energy. To me it feels like things are forming a circle. Something that I have been contemplating on this week. How the circle represents union and the cycles of life.
And it is everywhere. It is the circumference of the diaphragm that never ceases to recieve life and breath in my body. The cylinder of the nasal cavity that warms the Squamish air and allows it to flow through me. The life giving sun. The opal coloured moon. The pupil of the other. The tangy orange fruit and the spot on the lady bug. The index finger and the thumb coming together in mudra. The shape of our arms in a hug. A crater. Even the rim of the candy flavoured, pink-filled goblet that Sarah and I sipped on Halloween in our 15 minute thrown together costumes.
Beautiful how there are so many of these circles in our world and how symmetric they are and similar. Just like us.
And they all have a center.

So I'm handing off to Sarah now, I am tired, happy and satisfied after another great meal. It is so nice to have company and to share great food. And life is just beginning, again.

Oi tudo - Hello all!!

And, love from Squamish. It is so wonderful to be here with Lydia and it feels so real to be sharing with the world that we are opening a yoga studio together.

In the same breath it is hard to believe I returned to Canada less then a week ago, and i am still processing the wild ways the jungle expanded my mind, touched my soul and forced me to let go for a while. I am so thankful for the adventure that embraced the whole reality of my existence over the past few months and i am certain that the stories and lessons will seep into my life the same way a river so gradually and beautifully flows to the sea.

Amidst the lessons of letting go, I am reminded not to hold on too tight to any one thing, otherwise i might miss new and wonderful opportunites on this extraordinary planet. Here in Squamish the next journey is beginning already and I am beginning to weave the two worlds together into the story that is my life.

I am energized to begin to share and grow with Lydia and the Squamish community. Lydia's contagious humble energy has already sparked a keen yoga interest in this community and it seems so right to be embarking together on a new path. Or, perhaps this has always been my path, but I am only now becoming aware of it??

Cruising down colourful autumn trails
misty granite faces drip from last nights haunted rain.

Heading to teach, beginning to learn
about ourselves and this world
a new journey is borne -
The Yoga Studio?

I'll be in Canmore till February, then heading west. We are hoping to open the doors in March and look forward to any and all of you who want to join us on this new adventure!
Sarah and Lydia

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everything Is As It Should Be

So, even though all of you can read about Sarah and I... we have not seen each other for 2 and a half months. Sarah is on her way to come and visit me this weekend! Reuniting will be a truly amazing experience for me. I still can't believe our Sarah was guiding the Amazon River!
The weather here in Squamish has been immaculate. The leaves are changing and the temperatures are making rock climbing feel like it is cheating... the rock is so grippy and sticky. The sun has been shining for a week and I am lost in the bliss of a true autumn.
Things are rolling along for the studio. It turns out the room has no warmth and I am waiting for the (wonderful) landlords to get some in-floor heating installed. They are also in the process of moving so this will be an after Christmas affair. Waiting till the new year is perfect for Sonnie and I. It gives us a bit of time to escape for a short trip and allows me to build a few students to move into the space. I am letting the intensity of my efforts subside a little bit. Everything is as it should be. I have a yoga emailing list that is now over 60 Squamish students!
It has been a good month. The first nations children are actually quiet in savasana now and I don't even raise my voice at them anymore. I even hear them whispering with excited tones that "it's time for yoga!" when I enter the gymnasium with rolls of mats under my arms. Some children even want to stay for the adult class. I have some neophyte students that are "hooked" on yoga, and their first class was with me about 3 weeks ago. I smile at that, and completely relate.

As the earth changes emotions with the seasons I appreciate all the little things.
Lying on the ground.
Allowing my body to be a membrane of reception and exchange with all the people that I meet.
Listening to the sound of my breath as I jump through to the next seated position in the Ashtanga series.
Feeling my calloused fingers stick to another tiny, textured piece of granite stone.
Eating a pomegranate.
Simply sitting.
Contemplating the posture pashasana.
Holding hands with the someone that will always be the love of my life.

Something from the website of one of my friends (Natasha Grbich, Transformative Wellness)

“The salt of life is selfless service;
The water of life is universal love;
The sweetness of life is loving devotion;
The fragrance of life is generosity;
The pivot of life is meditation;
The goal of life is self-realization.”

Kirpal Singh (The way of the saints)

A picture of me in my friend Carls new yoga chair called Sukhasana...

Love and light to all of you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Adventures in Rio - The Power of a Smile

So, my Brasilian adventure has come and gone - and i now find myself wiggling my toes in the sand on the pacific coast of Nicaragua, practicing yoga on the beach, listening to tropical rainstorms remind me that the wet season is here and enjoying cold cerveza's on the beach, and walking hand in hand as another perfect sunset drifts into the night.

As my brasilian departure loomed I had trouble distinguishing what i would miss most, the kind creative people, their musical language or the deeply complex landscape they call home. In the end, I suppose, it doesn't really matter. And, of course - it goes without saying that a piece of me is forever lost in the jungle of Amazonia.

The last few days roaming the massive city of Rio on my own I thought lots about basic communication, universal understanding, the strength and trust that comes with eye contact and a genuine smile. Being true. I remember reading once about a study that determined only a small percentage of communication is actually a product of the words we say or hear. Mostly it is our body language, our volume and our tone of voice that lets others know what we are trying to say.

Exploring and learning new languages gives me a deeper appreciation for direct communication and the power of a smile. On my first bus ride across the massive city of Rio I met a wonderful women who was patient and excited to share her city with me. So, as the bus navigated raging Rio traffic she spoke slowly, laughed with me and told detailed stories that I could have never found in a book. She took me to her favourite cafe and helped me on my portuguese path - i am so thankful to have met her...

And, later that same day, on the beach I made sand castles with brasilian children who laughed and smiled as I fumbled with words.

My brother - who has spent many days lost and found in the abyss of Rio - advised me to 'speak to strangers, it is the best way to learn.' His advice was on my mind as i opened my heart to the concrete jungle of Rio. To trust this world and smile - even when it is scary and I don't understand a word anyone is saying.

And now, the journey of languages and culture continues here in Nicoragua, although i am admittedly still dreaming of the Amazon. We are off to a quieter beach north of here where we have found a tree house that we can stay in - to listen to the rain and the ocean and the jungle, all at once.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
p.s. I have so many pictures but this computer is way to slow...the few i posted are of Ipanema beach as i sat meditating and watching the sunrise on my last morning(the place is crazy busy during the day)and the other is a view from one of the city's countless high points. i'll post lots more soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Amazon Wonders.

16 people,
One month,
600 km of paddling on a Jurena-Tapajos river journey.

Amazonia is the orgy of life on this planet.

More trees then i'll ever know,
cashew fruits and casteneira (a.k.a. brazil nuts)
acai, guava, coconuts and mango.
All growing beside me, sharing sweetness from time to time.

Crossing paths with wild animals -
river dolphins, giant river otters, toucans, jacare, tapears
and even a jaguar on shore as we paddled.

Three cases of bodily fungas,
250 bee stings,
thousands of mosquitoes and blackflies
incredible heat - incredible storms.
And, two incidents of infected tick bites on our expedition.
The jungle is a challenging and exciting place to live.

I wrote pages through our journey, and once i have had a chance to filter through my thoughts and digest a little more i'll share some deeper learnings.

For now it all feels like a dream.
I already miss the taste of the water and the songs that woke me up and sung me to sleep each night.
Confined in the walls of this airport, in this moment my soul wishes it could again breath fresh amazon air.
Yet new adventures are beginning already and it is nice to be on my own for a few days. I'm enroute to Rio de Janerio as I write - then off to Nicoragua for yoga and surfing on the beach with Scott...I can't wait!

Enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Love from the Amazon....

Jungle Lullaby
has taken me away with the crickets and the butterflys,
to find a deeper sense of myself
where i forever find a love for living simply.

Just off the river - there are too many stories for this brief stop.
I am sundrenched, drunk from the waters of the amazon and lost in the beauty everywhere here.

Lots of pictures to come over the next few days...

love to you all from the amazon -

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baby Pose

I have only been in Squamish for around 3 weeks and strangely it feels like 3 months. The time has flown by but at the same time dragged on.
My yoga classes started and the first one was teaching yoga to first nations children at a private school. I have taught yoga to children in schools but all classes have been supervised by another adult. There were about 20 kids all under the age of 13, and me. After about 5 minutes I knew this would be a very interesting learning experience. For anyone to hear what I was saying I had to elevate my voice to a yell. When I raise my voice it seems to get even smaller and I couldn't really decipher my own from the others. In the middle of class I started having the children teach poses and in between volunteers there were tiny pauses, ripples of quiet. Nevertheless, afterwards I laid on the floor exhausted, my ears prickling in the silence. I shifted onto my belly and remembered a particular posture that Rameen Peyrow taught in a Yoga Lounge workshop called the "baby pose". With my ear to the hardwood I finally sunk into the floor. I felt like it was the first time I had really felt the earth in a long time. 10 glorious minutes. With all the running around and trying to squeeze my enthusiasm into this community, I think I forgot to feel the ground beneath me for a while. I remembered evocatively how easy it was to feel at the Vipassana course. I could just sit down and close my eyes and... thunk... I was plugged in to this immeasurable support. Then... whoosh ... I felt this expanding lightness that balanced it. Lately, it has been harder to feel. Maybe too much coffee, maybe not enough time in a day, maybe too much intensified activity, maybe life just happens to be that way sometimes.
In Yoga Philosophy there is a phenomenon called Prana (Basic Energy). We don't need to be convinced that we are made up of energy right? Anyways, Prana could be many things but it is the principal creative life force. Apana is it's counter energy in the body. Apana is downward and grounding force, but also it is part of prana. With too much prana one can feel like their head is in the clouds. With too much apana one can feel dull and sluggish. Balancing these two energies (which sometimes may take no effort at all- or a very artful way of life) creates equilibrium in life.
I don't think that one can always be balanced, but recognition of what it is that takes us out of equanimity may be very helpful.
Deep breathing, close company and exercise are good ways to jack up prana.
Meditation and less stimulant intake are good ways to emphasize apana... So is 10 minutes in the "baby pose". (How about 10 minutes on each side?)
So I think teaching these kids is going to teach me a LOT. It will be a very captivating month.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Here's a Dream

Hello all.
I really should not talk about this dream (but there may be no should and shouldn't in my existence these days) but I am practically bursting at the seams with excitement about the prospect of having a humble yoga studio in Squamish. This has been going on since I came back from the Vipassana... Sonnie had seen this space in a beautiful building on 2nd street, downtown. The landlord was someone he had rented from before and the space had been spotted a couple of years ago. He just knew that I would get the same feeling from it, and I did. It is the special space. I am trying not to get too attached to it already. The picture of the majestic Chief is from one of the windows and behind it is a small blue balcony. It is currently being used as office space and won't be ready till around Christmas. Perfect.
Another reason I am so excited is that I really miss teaching. Not even teaching, but interacting about yoga. Being with yoga. With others.
Teaching has been as much a practice, and a deepening of the practice, than the discipline itself. I have spent hours on my mat lately but it doesn't substitute for the service and the giving. I have set up some workshops for October and it looks like classes are starting to open up and I may have around 4 a week for the fall. Yay!
To pass the time and pay the rent I have been landscaping recently. A good friend and fellow yoga instructor here named Kim Beck passed on the job to me. (She just recently had a BEAUTIFUL and perfect baby boy named Jackson). The first three days on the job I was thinking "Why on earth would anyone ever want to do this??" I came home with my ears ringing from the power tools, no juice to practice my postures, no energy for making dinner and even a little bit of angst.
I decided to give it another week because Kim had done the job to 7 months pregnant so I sucked up my winging and whining and showed up with my gloves on. I recorded Richard Freeman's Matrix philosophy talks onto my ipod, meditated for an hour before work and patiently made it through the days. Of course it got easier and I came home less tired, stronger, and more at ease. The people are wonderful and gardening is an engaging and satisfying job. I just have to laugh at myself at how I reacted to the labour of the first few days... it just goes to show how everything changes and your perception can too!
However, most of my volition is mentally and physically going to go towards building the space for a studio. Sonnie is more than supportive and so is everyone in this community.
The rain has started to fall but it has washed over me a sense of peace and contentment. My home smells like the apple crumble I just baked and my yoga matt and books are warmly welcoming me. Sonnie and I hiked up the Chief in the rain yesterday and it was even more beautiful than in the glaring light of the day. The mist and the sense of quiet enveloped us until we just had to stop for 10 minutes and just listen and observe the magic of the coastal forest.
I already feel like I am home.
In the "incomprehensible, luminous, vibrant, silent, vast emptiness in my heart."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Patiently and Persistently

Sarah we miss you!

Well, I have just started talking again after a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation sit in Merritt, BC. It has been two full days so now I feel like things are back to normal but a little further away from the reality I was experiencing.
There were 25 women and 25 men, segregated at the Dhamma Surabhi Centre. On the evening we got there a gong rung and from that moment until the 11th morning we were to abstain from stealing, harming, taking any intoxicants, speech, eye contact, eating more than fruit after 11 am, physical touch and reading and writing. The schedule started at 4 in the morning to 10 pm at night, lights out. 10 solid hours of seated meditation a day. I never really understood how deafening silence could be until I was at about day 3. Every sound seemed to reverberate through my skull and sternum.
Everything began to amplify.
While laying on my back in the grass during break periods I would just listen and watch as I allowed the spell of the senses to envelop me. There seemed to be a silence underneath all the sounds. A silence that I could actually feel and hear that was in between the sounds. An undercurrent or base level of energy. Paralelled in my meditation practice there seemed to be the same awareness in me that there was a base level of quiet. In between the thoughts, flash backs, memories and emotions. A deep subtle level as I passed through the more gross aspects of my mental process. A silence.
It was so silent that sometimes I just had to look at the people walking around me with their hoods up to see if they were alive or just in between somewhere. Just to see that I wasn't the only one REALLY there. And then we would all go back to work, patiently and persistently trying to quiet and observe our minds and body sensations.
When the gong rung to signify that the silence was to be broken I walked right back into the meditation hall, sat in my spot and closed my eyes. I could hear chatter and introductions through the walls into the courtyard. I wasn't ready yet and didn't want to come out of myself yet. Noticing my attachment to the silence and my aversion to the sound ( Craving and Aversion, the two things in Vipassana meditation that you are advised to let go of and remain equanimous to) I slowly made my way into the sound and the warm eyes. As soon as I started I noticed what a release it is to speak, communicate and relate to people.
I also noticed how valuable a stay of 20 days would be... as 10 days just wasn't long enough.
It seemed like I just broke myself in to the pain of sitting and the difficulty of the amazing aloneness. However, I really missed everything about Sonnie and was almost in tears of gratitude for him when he came to pick me up. I had so much love in me.
I look forward to the next one.
An amazing thing about the yoga practice is that the older I get the more I get excited about getting older. This practice just keeps on opening me up and opening up to me. If one 10 day meditation course feels so illuminating and the confines of my mind and body so fascinating, how incredible will it feel after 10 more years? 10 more years of experience with myself and experience with the world around me.
Sonnie and I were sitting on the balcony last night looking at the majestic Chief and he was commenting on how this life is just a little snapshot of the world through our eyes. Just a blink in the colossal wheel of time.
I feel like it is a pretty good one. With long exposure and natural light.

Friday, September 5, 2008

jungle lullaby

Goodnite friends,

Tonight the jungle will sing me to sleep and tomorrow we shall leave for the river.

For a brief while that will feel like a moment and a lifetime
i'll live
and paddle,
and explore,
myself and this wild world.

I will be with the river, meet it where it is and flow with its' current, become a part of its' ageold story...
and i, hope that its' story will embed itself in my being -
the same way all wild places connect me to something deeper then i can know,
some other dimension beyond written word, but one that i am sure exists.
A reality that is union with all that is,

more stories in a month
ciao amigas et amigos!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brasil Update...


Brasil is here and now.
As I write i am baking in the midday heat. It is about 44 degrees celsius in the sun.

I arrived after an adventure of a journey that left me humbled by my inability to communicate and amazed by the generosity and kindness people shared to help me make it to my destination. In moments of doubt, I was thankful for the honest smiles and eye contact from people who barely knew me but somehow cared to help...

Since arriving in Brasil I have travelled north from Sao Paulo to Chapada, a small town of about 15 thousand at the height of land between the Pantanel and Amazon river basins. NOLS (the school I'll be working for down here - rents a beautiful oasis here where we are presently preparing to head to the river.

On this property (like most others in Brasil) outside is inside, inside is outside. We all sleep in tents, there are barely doors on the buildings and cold showers outside are the best thing on the mid afternoon plan. It is also the end of the dry season so we have running water for a few hours a day, outside of that time we need to haul water from the well. Amidst a busy schedule of preparing for our expedition daily living here reminds me of the things i often take for granted in the ease of my life.

The oasis also has mango, tangerine, lime, pomegranete and coffee trees - among others i am sure. We pick fruit that is ripe to add to meals. These gorgeuous tropical trees are also the homes for toucans and parrots fly that fly by regularly during the day. Each morning I wake to the songs of the hundreds of birds I don't see but hear and know they are my neighbours - the sounds of this dense tropical forest is another foreign language that will humble and teach me on this journey.

We are here for a few more days finalizing details of the long river trip ahead. I often find that the days leading up to expeditions busier and longer then the travel days themselves - so, needless to say, it will be nice to be paddling....

Beginning Saturday we will drive for two days northwest to the Jurena river...and from there we will paddle 600km through the Amazon to the Transamazonicas Highway. We will not see a single road for the entire journey. We will pass by some indigineous lands and many layers of this diverse jungle ecosystem.

And where really will this journey take me - likely deeper into myself, away from a mind that is so easily cultured by consumerism and productivity towards a playful sense of what it means to be alive, what it means to breath, what it means to be interconnected and live fully in this world. I think??

'What is it you want to do with your one, wild and prescious life??' Mary Oliver


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Southbound to Brasil - The Adventure Begins....

Expect the unexpected...
lessons have already begun to unfold on this barely born journey to the Amazon.

I spent the night at the Toronto airport after finding out my flight to Brasil was delayed over night. It is currently very early (430 am Toronto time) and i am writing from Terminal one as I sit and wait a few more hours for the rescheduled flight to board.

In the anticipation of a big journey it is always hard to fully embrace delays. To be calm and fully open to the idea of getting there when you get know that it is really nobody's fault that the plane is delayed and to resist laying blame or finding frustration in things I can't control. To surrender control and to simply be in the moment of whatever it is life presents me with. And, perhaps, to even come to enjoy the times when something beyond my control causes me to be still - instead of moving and going and changing.

I often take lessons from my yoga practice and bring them into my life as a whole - but this early morning my mind seems to be working the other way around (perhaps caused lack of sleep). I find myself pondering delays and surrendering control and how much more content i am when i let go of the feeling of waiting for something and simply be. Lessons that I can communicate and understand intellectually with ease but that are most valuable and effective when they are felt with my whole being in my life. I believe that the notion of surrender to being where I am at encourages deep complexity and finely attuned awareness of a self that is ever changing. And with with awareness, it becomes natural to practice & teach & live with images of where our minds and bodies are in the present not where they should be, could be or where we want them to be...

And, in this moment, i am fully feeling the embrace of surrender - giving in to what is and accepting that i simply can't control over when the plane leaves this airport.

I apologize if this turned into a bit of a mumble, jumble of thoughts - I am sleep deprived and have been soaking up flourescent lights for too long...i think the next thing i'll do is roll out my mat in some quiet airport corner for a few sun salutations!

Next time i'll post from the southern hemisphere in Brasil!

p.s. A big thanks to my mom, dad and brother Austin for a great few days beside the lake in Oakville. You amaze me and I love you.

p.p.s. To those of you who will be reading in the next few months - feel free to post comments or note to say hello, Lydia and I always love hearing from you all!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Little Gurus

Sonnie and I just got back from a week on Clear Lake in the Muskoka area of Ontario. We surprised his parents for their (honorable) 40 year wedding anniversary... (now that's something to be inspired by). The week passed briskly with a cohesion of events such as hide and go seek, wading in the water, sand castle building and treasure hunting. Between Sonnie's two super-mum sisters there are 4 children under the age of 5 years. I know why Richard Freeman calls having children the 6th series of Ashtanga Yoga (there are only 5 to date), I was pleasantly exhausted by the end of the week, and it wasn't from laying out on a beach towel under the glowing orb.
By the first day I was learning a lot from the kids. How to allow proprioception happen spontaneously. To let my belly expand naturally so that my diaphragm has space to do it's ceaseless job... I know these things, but to see them pop out of these purely energetic little beings reminds me of them and allows me to see them so clearly!
Seems to me that children have this gift of reminding us of who we once were and who we still are. They are constantly comingling their senses to experience everything that is NOT them in a way that truly connects them to the world.

Their bodies have the appropriate balance of reflexive strength to soft openness. Seems to be their minds have the same ability... they can let things go as quickly as you can say "Ice cream!". They can jump in the water without looking into the murky depths, being disturbed by their inability to swim, or thinking about the cold sensations- in an instant.
Their voices are constantly rich with inflections and emotions... and they always tell the truth.

We really are children- with a bigger vocabulary and a few more hang ups in our bodies and minds. (Speaking mostly for myself here! I realize not all of "us" have hang ups.) I know that when I am surrounded by these little gurus I forget about the things that may not be as important.

Playing with the kids was a gift and an inspiration for me. For a few days I felt like I could feel more of what they feel and it was, and is, magical. I think we all did. I was also noticing the hard work that it was being a mother (and father and Grandma AND Grandpa). But that's a whole other set of qualities that I'm not sure I'll completely understand until I enter that plane of existence... (I might not get to Grandpa for a long time). I'm sure it is one of the hardest and most beautiful experiences.

Thanks for your work Mum.

I am taking a deep breath and preparing myself for the meditation retreat.

It is nice being in Squamish and smiling at everyone I see thinking... that person could be in my yoga class soon, so may that person...


Sunday, August 17, 2008

One of Mother Earth's Temples...

'Now and then it is necessary
to seclude our selves in the deep mountains
and hidden valleys
and return to the source.' Morchei Ueishiba

A few weeks ago I made the trek up to Applebee Dome in Bugaboo provincial park. We arrived just as the storm clouds left and enjoyed 4 days of summer alpine granite play. Below are some amazing pictures Scott took and a few words I jotted down amidst the beauty of it all...enjoy!

Alpine granite - steep shaded walls compose a skyline beyond this language.
Fake but real.

Up close the walls are filled with green gardens
snowmelt waterfalls
and cracks to fill our days.

In the company of a warm soul
a soft heart
eyes more blue then the clearest of skies.

I pinch myself to see if its' real, and it is.

Each day i am grateful for all that is in this life. I am filled with gratitude for the people, opportunities, places and dreams that grace my days.

I leave in a week to travel to Brazil to guide a river trip on the Amazon. In the context of yoga, these adventures challenge me to let go of any attachment or expectations i have to the physical yoga practice.

On journeys to remote mountains and rivers I always make time to move in my body. And, I find that I often breath deeper and move more gracefully while connected to the rhythms of this remarkable planet.

Mentally these expeditions keep me grounded it what is really important in life - free from the clutter of my life I am reminded that food, clean water, a thin nylon shelter, good work and good sleep, a supportive community and laughter can take me farther in life then money and amenities ever will.

Spiritually, I really believe that I am closer to my truth when i am deep in the heart of the wilderness...breathing deeply and amazed by this world.

So, I suppose these expeditions are just a different flavour of yoga - or as lydia talked about in the last blog - Yoga is delving into and accepting what is yoga.

If I don't see you before I head south...i'll post occassionally from the amazon...much love and i look forward to seeing you all in late october.

stay wild.

p.s. Lydia has officially left Canmore. and i miss her like crazy - she is a dream of a friend, and an inspiring women to work and practice beside.