Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Yoga is Resting in Residue, Not Knowing" R.Freeman

Rest in Space.
between here and there,
me and you,
earth and sky.

Hear the Residue,
time stands still for a moment - in the SPACE.

Alone not lonely.

A few weeks have passed since I returned from studying with Richard and Mary in Boulder, Colorado. Words seem like a futile form of thanks - but still worth it - so Thankyou to all who helped me to leave and study for a month, it is a gift to have such an opportunity.

It has been months since i have sat down to write a blog (aside from the odd short clip or picture) - below there is a collection of things that seem to be surfacing for me, perhaps it is useful?? For now, i'm not going to add dialogue - rather I just want to share some of the tidbits of things i am working with in my practice.

And when I say practice, i mean my life.

In any moment of true deep listening (thank you Sarai for inspiring this path of observation):
- the breath stops (kevala khubaka)
- the eyes soften and open to the periphery (drishti manifests)
- there is no objectification of the world, and the possibility of open transformation exists - maybe??

Sometimes in stillness, the body disappears.
Sometimes in presence, time ceases to exist.

I've been working with spaces and hollows in the body (inspired by Gioia Irwin and Richard Freeman). The depths of the groins as they relate to the cave of the sacrum and the softness in the back of the practice is slow, breath deep - less poses, longer amounts of time. Less feels like more right now.

Sitting Practice: practice of getting to know myself
Mind as a muddy pond.
Let water be water.
Let earth be earth.
Let fire be fire.
Let air be air.
Let space be space.
---then the flower can emerge---

-watching the way constructs of language seek to define and limit experience, and the way the ego function seeks to stir up the muddy waters...let water be water, let earth be earth...etc.

Anjali Mudra
Holding a seed - two thumbs together beside the heart
prana and apana
together unite.

The residue of my time away is extensive and vast. It is all the ideas that don't fit into the concepts and all the thoughts that remain that are yet to be understood. It seems so simple to just reduce the residue to the formula, but within the residue, within the muddy waters lies the unknown. And within the unknown is where i find the most humble learning.

'Yoga is resting in the residue, not knowing' R. Freeman

have a wonderful holiday.
love sarah
p.s. the photo i posted is a picture that Dan Schmidt took while i was away.
p.p.s. the recipe below is for Chocolate Coconut Macaroons...gluten free...easy to make!!
pre heat the oven to 400
1/2 to 2/3 cup of oat flour
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup coconut milk
3.5 cups coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisens/dried blueberries/cranberries
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients and bake for 15 minutes (approx. till browned).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving towards Balance.

Photo by Ben Moon.

It is November in Squamish.
The rain is a massive and opaque shield between us and the sun. The sky has been falling without mercy for a week. However, we live in a world where there are two sides to everything, and where everything may ALREADY be balanced, so the rain also has an incredibly soothing effect. There is a rhythmic sound but also a quiet to the world. As if the earth were perspiring, it's musty fragrance is seeping from it's flesh. Half of me wants to incarnate into the dark ground and half of me wants to ascend on a beam of light to where my skin can drink the sun.
But I am here somewhere in the middle, after 2 sunny weeks in Boulder City, Colorado. What a wonderful trip!
So I find some way to "make the best with what I got", (as my friend Martin says about coming to a Yin Yoga class with a broken foot).
The practice of yoga continually takes my breath away - and gives it back fully - with a wave of appreciation. It seems the ancient yogis could diagnose almost any mundane affliction with some sort of magic yogic antidote.
So we know that the damp cold might bring our mood down and make us slump a little bit, caving in the sternum and compressing the lungs and heart. Shortness of breath may arise and a slackness in the center of our anatomical universe. Forward head and winging shoulder blades. Not to mention the increased time on the computer or in front of a screen. Innately, we know we need to pick it up.
Yoga is a practice of inquiry into the paradoxes of life. Often, it prompts you to look in two directions at the same time or to see opposite points of view. So simultaneously as we pick it up, we can see that this is a time of rest and quietude. The darkness asks our terrestrial bodies to rest, digest and contemplate.

Supported back bends on a bolster to start practice. Neck roll under the head to support the neck and elongate the back of the head right where the cervical spine meets the occiput. Take full pranayama inhales and exhales into the buoyantly lifted heart and chest area. If you have a sand bag place it on your thighs to ground the tops of your femur bones into the floor. This will release your hip flexors and calm your mind. Tune in to the rhythm of your body and breath. Ask yourself with a curious and gentle mind, "Do I have to control my breath or will it take care of itself?" 10 minutes.

Many Sun Salutations. Sweat and breathe whatever it is - out!

Standing poses to strengthen the legs and direct energy up the spinal channel.

Active back bends. Salabhasana, bhekasana, dhanurasana, ustrasana, urdhva dhanurasana.
For those of you who speak english as well, these translate to: locust, frog, bow, camel and upward facing bow or wheel postures. Back bending is proven to enhance mood, and aid in curing chronic depression.

Make sure you are back bending with a strong contraction of energy to the center. Be aware of the bandha areas and press out through your periphery. Create a container for yourself and then expand and free your central axis - the front of your spine.

Properly close yourself down for final relaxation:
Long holds and long breaths in the closing asanas (postures).
Eating too much dessert before the main course will ruin your appetite and skimp on the nutrients. As much as it is amazing to uplift yourself and open your heart and lungs, it is just as important to wind down well.
Postures like paschimattanasana, salamba sarvangasana, halasana, karna pidasana, viparita karani.
Forward fold, supported shoulder stand, plow, ear pressure pose and legs up the wall (inverted) poses. These postures increase blood flow to the brain, and calm the nervous system.

Meditate: Sit quietly with a not-too-loose and not-too-tight posture. Give your breath attention without asking for anything in return. If you stray, escort yourself politely back to your breath as if guiding a blind person down a busy street. Patiently be with your breath again and again. Ask yourself, "Do I have to control my breath or will it take care of itself?"

Savasana: sweet surrender.

Open! + Close. = Moving towards Balance.

It is a great time of the year to come to class and breathe in synchronicity with others who are experiencing the same thing as you.

We are all in this thing together, we ARE this thing together.

Enjoy the rain and I hope to bump into you soon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A little clip of The Yoga Studio.

A big thanks to Alex Lavigne who made us a little video to give people a taste of Squamish and the little yellow room.

Check it out by clicking here.

I am enjoying Boulder, sunshine, stillness and learning from Richard and Mary.

Many ideas but for now, i am letting things simmer and observing the residue between the thoughts.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Thank you Life

Photo by Ben Moon

What are you thankful for?
These words came from my father, sitting at the head of the table, Thanksgiving dinner. One big dead bird in the middle of it.

My parents live in 100 Mile House, B.C. A place that, when I was a teenager, seemed to be the most desolate and soul sucking crater in the universe. While driving there by myself a few days ago I was amazed at the quiet and engrossing beauty of the places I encountered on the way. Every piece of scenery that I encountered on the drive north struck me with the same holiness. I was amazed at my change of perspective. I was a part of every tree, mountain, every dancing leaf and tumble weed. 100 Mile House seemed like a place of pilgrimage. I thought... thank you Yoga. My practice is working.
I labeled it good.

My ego was swiftly and comically heeled. I got to my parents house glazed in happiness. Soon after we were all interrupting each other, telling the same stories, forcing our opinions, and ignoring each other - I was irritated as can be, and I realized how un-enlightened I actually was.
I labeled it bad.
I had to laugh.

What are you thankful for?
It seemed like something opened space with that question. It was like I actually listened to the question without circumnavigating the moment. Because the question cut through all the bull %#$@.
I am very thankful.

For life- and that means my parents.
Thank you Mum and Dad, for giving me this life. You are both wonderful.

No matter what I think - it is still just thinking - but the feeling of gratitude is beyond words. Beyond good or bad.
I felt it standing there by the misty lake with my two sisters by my side. No words, no thoughts, just drinking the morning sun through our frosty skin, and opening our ears to the big silent ohm.
One heart between us.

What are you thankful for?

Finding Balance.

A big thanks to Rameen and all those who joined to explore movement, breath and stillness in the context of balance, freedom and happiness.

Below are some pictures from the weekend workshop - more in writing soon!

love sarah and lydia

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Yoga Studio and Friends at Good Time Farm

Volunteering our support and giving back to our love for organic vegetables.
Thanks to Erin Urton, Scott Everett, Sonnie Trotter and Kathryn Weiler for their amazing help!!
It is so beautiful at the farm. If you or anyone you know would like to lend a helping hand for a few top notch veggies and a magnificent view... please contact us at

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Spark

My boyfriend Sonnie got appendicitis last night.
I came home from a long day at the studio and I was too tired to do anything but lay on the couch. As he complained about abdominal pain, he proceeded to give me a foot massage while I fell asleep.
The next morning he was in the hospital. I cannot believe his generosity for caring for me while he was curled up with pain that I was too sleepy to notice.
Seeing him in the hospital struck a chord in my heart that had not been sounded for a while. Maybe never. Even though he was fine I was hiccuping with emotion. Surges of feeling. Guilt for not giving him my full attention the night before and being awake to his suffering. The tears were a spark for me.
Why is it that I can not fully appreciate the people that I love the most all the time? Why can I not feel this strength of love for all people? Compassion for all people?
Why can I not feel the fullness of gratitude for this precious life in each moment?
I don't want to lose someone to find out.

Now that I sit here contemplating the day's events, I am happy to be suspended in the questioning. I am happy that this experience has illuminated these questions for me. This experience has brushed the dust off of life.
I may not find these answers quickly. I know that there is a spark for the need to be more awake. I know my practice must, in some way, help brush off the dust and cultivate compassion. This is the real stuff.
Leg behind the head and then standing up (durvasana for example) is a way of teaching the body to let go. Asanas practiced with commitment may also give the energy to act when feeling empathy for others. Asanas clean out the laziness! But after asana... when in the field of life, there is much more to practice.
If you can take a moment and feel gratitude for your lover... or someone whom you feel very close to... let that be a spark for you to fully appreciate them. And let that spark turn into a flame for all.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Vinyasa: Placing things in a special way, step-by-step.

Sincere thanks goes out to Ron Reid from Downward Dog in Toronto for coming to share and visit with us here in Squamish. And also to all of you who joined to move and breath through Ron's 2.5 hour Yoga Jam class! Thankyou.

At the start of Ron's class on Saturday he spoke about the Sanskrit word Vinyasa.

Often I use the word Vinyasa in relation to its' role in the dynamic ashtanga yoga practice. But, I had never really broken down the roots of the word to really understand what it menas. I love (albeit challenging at times) when it is brought to my awareness that something I say or do actually means something different then I am thinking.

In Sanskirt
"Vi" means "in a special way"
and "Nyasa" means to place.

So Vinyasa means "to place in a special way"

Ron translated Vinyasa in his own words as STEP-by-STEP.

The actions we take, one foot in front of the next.
Not merely the jump-backs we take during the physical yoga practice, or the label our culture has given to the idea of flow yoga.
But rather, a sense of the yoga practice on a much deeper level -
the way that all actions in our lives are part of a step-by-step process,
what we do today, does actually influence the next steps which unfold in our lives -
real listening is vinyasa yoga, as listening needs 'to be placed in a special way' before any notions of understanding and wisdom can begin to blossom.

The way we move and breath in each moment of each pose
The way we transition between postures with intelligence and awareness,
Staying present with our lovers, and our mothers.
It is each step that we take and every mountain that we climb -
this is all vinyasa yoga, if we choose to see it that way.

Now this isn't profound, of course - as i have long been open to the idea that yoga happens on and off of a yoga mat. It is just curious that a word i use so often is loaded with much more depth then I ever stopped to explore.
Perhaps it is also curious for you??

Ron started a yoga studio 15 years ago and seemed excited to return to the grassroots of starting up a yoga studio by teaching here in Squamish as well as at a new underground ashtanga studio, Babylon, in Vancouver. His passion and curiosity towards the process of yoga in our lives is incredibly inspiring.

This is just the beginning for The Yoga Studio here in Squamish, but Ron's words reminded me of the importance of beginning things with intention - placing things in a special way - one step at a time.

Thankyou all for being a part of this journey in the early steps (both those reading from afar, or those enjoying the rain today here in Squamish) - we look forward to having more experienced teachers visit to teach and share with us in the months to come.


p.s. we have updated the website with a number of fall courses and workshops...check it out!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quiet thoughts, and an upcoming workshop with Ron Reid

Morning everyone...

Below is a poster we've made for an upcoming workshop with Ron Reid (click on the poster to make it bigger!).

He'll be in Squamish in a few weeks and anybody who is around and interested in learning from one of Canada's most innovative and experienced yogi's should come join!!

The heat is on here in Squamish!!
One day after another of bluebird skies and intense afternoon heat - not to mention the amazing lightening storm that exploded over the chief a few nights ago.
The sky was yellow!!

Yesterday Lydia and I went on a walk in search of quiet shade. A place to sit and be with the damp, misty forest after the stormy evening. We found a great spot by Alice Lake, and after an hour or so of silence we wrote a poem together. Hope you like it!!

The sound of this world.
shh, can you hear it??
Soft white river rushes by.
Barren tree tops pointing out new directions.

Drip, Drip, Drip - from above.

Wet earth, the smell of leaves,
mind settles into the forest floor.

Little river outside, little river inside.
flowing, moving,
changing - breathing.
as the cool wind weaves a blanket for us.
reminding us that everything we need is here.

Emptiness and fullness together,
in the sounds of this world -
and the silence of this moment.
Shhh, can you hear it??

thanks for reading.
stay cool - breath deep - enjoy the sunshine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Poem from Long Beach

Where does the beach end and the ocean begin?
When does a seed become a plant?
At what point does this experience turn to memory?
and, that memory into a story...?

My story versus your story,
This truth or that one.

Which is right or which is wrong?
either -
both -

In a culture so obsessed with absolutes,
this world is so full of blurry lines.

Starring into myself sometimes, there is ME.
often, there are endless vivid questions,

Where does mind end and body begin?
Can you -
or me -
or we,
touch the blurry line at the edge of our ego's?

And, realize for a moment -
You are me
I am the ocean
The beach is the ocean
The ocean is me.


and now i'm back in squamish

this morning I ate
red lettuce
from the earth behind my house.

thanks for reading, have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I would like to share with you a creative meditation practice that is a staple in Buddhist practice. It is called Metta Meditation. In Sanskrit the word is Maitri.
Metta means love or kindness. Maybe even compassion or friendliness. I like the translation of "an active interest in others." (It is often difficult to translate Pali into English because of the differences in the language and culture, so sometimes it is nice to have many translations so that you can get more of a feeling for the word.)
Metta Meditation is a practice where you make up phrases that wish well towards yourself and others. It develops good feeling towards others. It helps you understand that we are all similar. It helps you deal with sticky relationships. It helps you dig yourself out of the sludge and muck of self centered existence... which could be disguised as depressive tendency.
I had done a little metta in the past, but when I started practicing it more regularly with my meditation teacher Lisa, I didn't feel much at all. It was quite disconcerting for me. I wasn't sure if it was an inability to concentrate or an inability to wish well for others. I got really interested in it because of the knot it gave me mentally. I felt like something wasn't flowing. I started practicing it exclusively for some time. I am still a raw beginner at this practice, but I was amazed at how quickly I started to feel changes. Shortly after I started practicing it consistently I attended my brother's wedding. The amount of pure love for my family that I had when I was there was so strong. I was amazed that I went a few days without thinking of myself. I actually remember the first thought I had about myself that weekend, because it was so obvious.
I attributed the way I felt to my metta practice.
I am not sure how many of you feel disconnected to people at times, or have had dry spells of feeling towards the important people in your life. This is a practice that may help you. It really seemed silly to me at first. Even annoying. But over time it may flower into something that is very energizing.
You start with saying these phrases towards yourself. Then you can pick a friend whom you really like to repeat them for. Then you can choose a person that you have neutral feelings for and repeat the phrases. You can finish repeating the phrases with someone you don't like (which is a very interesting practice!).
You can also start with yourself and proceed spatially. So the second grouping could be the people in the room, third the people in your town, fourth the people in your territory, country, whole world, and lastly, the universe.
The phrases are done internally, not out loud. The whole practice may take as little as 10 minutes to upwards of 1 hour.
These are some phrases that my teacher Lisa uses. One of them is Micheal Stone's.

May I be free from harm.
May I be healthy and strong.
May my mind be peaceful and happy.
May I be free from any form of lack.
May I live with ease and joy in this life.
May I awaken.

After this you can substitute "I" for the next subject.
Example: May Sarah be free from harm. etc.

Persistence and patience are key in this practice.
All the best to you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long Summer Days and The Yoga of Food

This time of year is incredible in the northern hemisphere.
Life and energy are everywhere,
inspired by the green forests and the unwaivered strength of the sun's rays - it is rare that i find myself in front of this screen.

Having said that, I feel like i have lots to share;
ideas brewing
bodily sensations unfolding
steeped in this journey from the tips of my toes to the depths of my heart

but, where oh where to begin??

The little yellow room that is The Yoga Studio here in Squamish is continuing to amaze me. We had over 20 people come to join us for an Intro to Meditation and Buddhism course on Monday night and i was drenched in a deep smile for the community that is taking shape as time passes.

The more that time passes, the more i am grounded in the idea that we are not trying to build a business of yoga here in Squamish. I really believe in the idea of building community and allowing the people and energies that share in the community to be a guiding force behind the directions the community chooses to go. And, on many levels this is foundationally different then the modern western model of building a business. I think??

In this vein, I am equally amazed by the small classes I teach.

Where there are a few intrigued souls who come in with an open mind and dense curiosity.
In these moments I really truly realize the inability to plan for what to teach,
Rather, I have to look people in the eyes and allow the learnings i am experiencing, in my own mind and body, connect with where people are at in a given moment in time.
And the result is that I feel like i am really getting to know the people who come and go from the yellow room, real connections are made - and this is the foundation of any lasting community.

A month ago I posted a link to a CBC talk on the industry of yoga. Another interesting link is just below. It is an interview with Richard Freeman on The Future of Yoga, worth a listen if you have the time.

Richard Freeman Interview

I've also been exploring and playing lots in the garden lately.
What an amazing way to connect with the food you eat...grow it yourself!!

The more i learn, the more intrigued I get. Scott and I have eaten big salads from our garden on many occasions recently and we are also spending time helping at a local organic farm in the Squamish Valley - Good Times Farming. I feel compelled to share about the dedication and passion that Stephan and Nick (the brothers that opened the farm) put into each and every day on the farm.
When we go out there and share in this energy it is incredible to feel the dirt wiggle its' way between my toes,
it is meditative to plant rows of seeds that are growing so close to my home
and I am scratching the surface of understanding the complicated nature of food production...

Where does your food come from?? Are there local farms you could support or just visit to learn from?? Do you know what chemicals the food you buy at the grocery store comes into contact?? How much gasoline is used to bring your food to your table??
Supporting local food production in Canada is hard when we have grown up with mangoes, banana's and avocados all year round...Yoga is grounded in practices of morals and ethics and i think food is one of the many things we can take the time to stop and think about and maybe let go of habits, attachments, aversions...or maybe not??

Are you not willing to have some parts of you be sponged out, erased, canceled, nothing? If not, you will never really change.
D.H. Lawrence

The Summer Solstice is this Sunday - if you are in Squamish, come join us for the 108 Sun Salutations to Celebrate the longest day of the year!! All proceeds go to charity!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Sri K. Pattabhi Jois passed away yesterday, May 18th at 2:30pm Indian Standard Time. He is the man responsible for the making the Ashtanga Vinyasa System available to all of us. His passing has sent a huge universal wave of compassion out from all of those who practice yoga today. Somehow it brings us all together.
I remember meeting Guruji in 2007. I was in Mysore, India while he was finishing his last year teaching. He was 91 and still dropping big men into backbends every morning! His presence immediately blossomed smiles. He was playful, and his fire blue eyes danced. His head wobbled with comic fatherly disapproval all the time, which was nothing short of hilarious. A father with hundreds of children! The Mysore room often had 250 people entering and leaving it in January. At any one time there were 70-80 people practicing at once! Besides his vibrant demeanor, robust energy, fantastically erect spine and giggling eyes... I noticed his feet. His feet were like elephants feet. Very wide, soft and like the earth. After practice the students might touch Guruji's feet before leaving the practice room. This is an Eastern tradition of honouring "Lotus Feet". The lotus is a metaphor for spiritual development, creation, purity and rebirth. In the act of falling at the lotus feet, touching them or even gazing on them the ego is said to be subdued in favor of awareness.
Coming close to his feet I was amazed. They were quite beautiful!

To learn more about his life visit -

For some more information and a few lovely videos visit -

Let us take a moment of gratitude for all the things this man has done for the yoga practice as we know it today. He has taught this method for 67 years! And another moment for his family. It is hard to lose a beloved.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Practice and all is Coming

Isn't so funny how our minds see things in the context that it wants us to?
Yesterday I was going for a steam at the Brennan Park Rec Centre. My friend Cait was going to come with me but decided against it because she thought $5 was a bit much for a 10 min. steam (and she had some packing to do as well). True that. I concurred. However, I was still seduced by the thought of the heat penetrating the fascia in my legs and upper back, so I ventured out. When I arrived there was a $1 special on. It turned out to be the best steam of my life. I was smiling ear to ear. The entire time I was contemplating... is it so good because I got a deal?
That evening I had to go pick up my boyfriend Sonnie at the Vancouver airport. The traffic was heinous, as it usually is in Vancouver. I was slightly bitter at being cut off by an over-stimulated young driver. I found myself thinking Vancouver was SO not the place for me, and longing for the lush forest and homey feeling of Squamish. I got to the airport and I was not smiling. Seeing Sonnie allowed me to have a great reversal. He drove me back home. In the passenger seat I was amazed at the beauty of Vancouver. The playful city lights at twilight. The hundreds of people all wearing something that expressed a little of who they are. The vast landscape of peaks in the distance and the shiny peaceful expanse of ocean. I was smiling. Hmmmm. Same city. Different experience.
It got me thinking. Wow, the mind and it's conditions. The mind and it's context. Why can't I see things with that shining sacred light on them all the time? I think I know why - and I can intellectualize it. My intelligence (buddhi) knows. But my mind is still immature at times. Playing the great game and flitting and flirting with instant gratification, self love and self loathing. It still covers the brilliance of my heart with a little opaque sheath at certain times.
The practice of yoga has been an amazing thing for my heart. Even through the murkiest of times when my mind is poisoned by my conditioning, I have been able to step onto my piece of rubber, latex and microfiber, and move and breathe with this feeling of reverence for the life experience. At least I have tricked it into (or maybe it has tricked me) into seeing that my mat is not just a toxic piece of waste. There was a time in my life when I looked at my body and saw it as a repulsive object. I wanted to change it. I wanted out of it. That started to change when I started to practice yoga. For 2 hours of the day my body was a vessel for hovering. My body was an instrument that was used to precisely harmonize with gravity. It was silent and vast. Spacious and enlightened. The feeling would pass quickly. But the little residue of it started to penetrate my life.
Presently I feel like I am working more with my mind. The meditation cushion or block is taking on a sort of phosphorescence. I am hoping that the small minutes when I see my mind as a vibrant part of me, and also as no different than the natural power of wind and waves, will start to expand and deepen.
What about love? When we fall in love we see the other as brilliant as a diamond. The other renders us speechless at the best of moments. We become quiet with appreciation. In the moment of looking into their eyes we feel everything and have no opinion. As the years go by we begin to project on to them. Make expectations. Why should this happen? It never did in the honeymoon stage!
What about our parents? Do we really have to see them as parents? As some strange alien prototype in which to dump blame on?
On the same note, I had an aversion to The Yoga Journal for a little while. The flashiness of the advertising. The way I thought it made some people feel like they weren't pretty enough or fit enough to do yoga. Sonnie got me a membership a while ago and I stopped reading anything but the anatomy section for some time. Today I was waiting for Sonnie in a coffee shop and I had the latest issue. I ended up reading the whole thing cover to cover and being completely impressed. I also was completely amazed at my aversion patterns. There was a beautiful article on meditation called Presence of Mind that articulated many different mindfulness techniques. I still had some discriminative awareness about some of the advertising, but on a whole, I was very pleased by the magazine and felt much appreciation for it's publication.
We have the opportunity to see everything as sacred. We just have to engage in some sort of practice that allows us to see the perfection of everything. Some practice that curtails the mind's aversion and attachment patterns. Slowly we can sculpt the mind into peaceful happiness. Then it can drop into the cavern of our heart, and the union will open up the gates to freedom.
Pattabhi Jois said, "Practice and all is coming." He is not doing so well right now, so let's put our hearts out to him. He has contributed so much to the integration of yoga as we know it here in the West.
Keep practicing something!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tension in the Body - Pain vs. Suffering

'To be in a Body is to be in tension' Lydia

Last week I went to a few of Lydia's yoga classes and her words above have sparked reflection, research, contemplation and now...this blog. Lydia, thanks for being such a wonderful inspiration, teacher and friend!!

So, let's contemplate this idea...

As long as we are living and breathing in our bodies we will experience tension, discomfort and pain. At the same time, as long as we are alive we will experience freedom, space and joy through our bodies.

And, despite what you may think, the practice of yoga is not going to make the reality of tension/pain in your body go away - even when you can put both legs behind your head and move into the most advanced backbending asanas - you will always feel tension/pain in your body.

'To be in a Body is to be in tension.'

So, then, why practice yoga??

In the Buddhist philosophy there is a teaching on the psychology of pain called 'The Two Darts.' In this teaching, the Buddha articulates the difference between the ideas of pain and suffering.

The first way that you know there is sensation in the body, is that you can actually feel that there are sensations arising in the body. You feel your toes wiggle, you feel lonliness when a relationship ends, you feel tension when you stretch your shoulders. These physical sensations you feel describe being hit by the first dart.

It is good to recognize that these feelings exist all of the time if we are living in the present. Both the good feelings and the difficult ones - it is a part of being alive.

Interestingly, it is common for people to believe that the yoga practice will take them out of feeling pain in their body (this could refer to the physical or emotional body). When in reality, the yoga practice, expands our awareness and deepens our physical capacity to feel in our bodies. At the same time as our ability to feel expands, we become more and more aware of acute tension and pain and joy that exists within our life.

Yoga expands our spectrum of feeling.

The second dart is what the mind does with the feeling sensations of the first dart. This is where the buddha makes a distinction between the experience of pain and the experience of suffering. The second dart is of your own creation.
As such, we can begin to see that suffering is not built in to pain, suffering is one way to react to the sensation of pain inside of the body. Furthermore, within a culture that has so many aversion patterns to living in the present, many people live day to day without any real sense of what is going on within their living, feeling, breathing bodies yet they are suffering. They are living through the second dart which is the minds construction of reality....and if we are disconnected from feeling then we are living out of reality, out of our truth of being alive.

At this point, we can really begin to see the way that these ancient practices (Meditation, asana, pranayama) are designed to effect our mind-body connection. Yoga is beginning to happen when we can see shifts in the way our minds react to the sensation of feeling within the body. Most often here in the west, this begins with the exploration of the physical body - but it transcends to observing the way our minds react to emotional feeling. In this process of observation we can begin to observe the minds tendencies towards pain aversion - rather then being present with the pain without suffering.

If we accept that the feeling of pain is an inevitable part of being alive - then we can begin to transcend patterns of pain aversion towards a greater understanding of our own individual patterns of suffering as a result of pain. And maybe, somewhere down that road is the gateway to freedom, samadhi, enlightenment - whatever you want to call it??

This is an ongoing dialogue - thoughts are appreciated always!! And, thanks for reading.

be in your body - feel whatever is true, for you!!


p.p.s. I have posted a link from a CBC program on the commercialization of yoga. Interesting dialogue and good food for thought, especially as we begin to grow together in this Squamish yoga community. The program is 90 minutes but the yoga sections starts about 30 minutes in...
CBC Radio - Yoga Podcast
p.s. Our garden has begun to grow - we have little kale leaves!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Heart Sutra and a little song.

It's been a while since i've written....again.

But such is the way of springtime. I've been gardening and climbing and pondering the amazing ways the earth changes, practically overnight, as season's change. I have been lost in the forest, lost in my dreams, lost in conversations and enjoying a bit of a hiatus from this cyber-world - at least as far as blogging goes.

I have two things I want to share with you today...both a product of my amazing sister, Tessa. She is truly one of the most inspiring and creative minds i know. She also studies yoga, and has recently been exploring a Buddhist text, 'The Heart Sutra.' She made a little video that everyone should see that emphasizes the teachings of the sutra and will also make you smile.

Click this link to see her creation...

The Heart Sutra Movie

Tess has also been writing and singing songs for a long time...she recently recorded her first song in a few years and I attached it below...enjoy!

Tessa's Song - At Last a Song

The real depth of our learning, in any practice, shows itself in the actions we take in our day-to-day lives.
We must time and time again revisit the question, how is this practice deepening and enriching my life??
Otherwise, what's the point??
Or, perhaps there doesn't have to be a point??

Tess will be out here at the end of may and will teach a class or two, and perhaps sing us a song at The Yoga Studio!!

Happy Spring Everyone.

p.s. below is a picture of Scott and during a hike we took last week...

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I had an discussion with a friend a few days ago that left me with a feeling of failure.
Doesn't it seem like when it rains it pours??
On top of the energy out-put it takes to start a new business, the overwhelming feeling of being a new home owner and the long days that provide us with more eyes open and less rest... I am feeling like I am spread a little thin.
I have always been of the type of animal that takes on guilt. (Remorse as well, self criticism and self judgement!) It is a dark night for me when I feel like I let someone down. More and more I am realizing that this is inevitable. I can't make everyone happy. Also, I can't continue to relish in making people happy. Some neutrality most be there to conserve my life nectar! What a relief it is to admit that I can't be what my perception of perfect is. It is far nicer than what I think it is!

So, I told Sonnie (my boyfriend) about the discussion I had with said friend in an agitated way. He told me to

just be soft for a moment.

My resistance to his comment suprised me. It was the best advice, and I knew it, but I felt an exoskeleton piecing itself together around my heart when he said it. It is sometimes hard to hear the best advice from the person you love the most! I reacted with a little bit more agitation, but a little drop of that comment infected my life for the next couple of days. It turned into my mantra... be soft, be soft, be soft.
Softness/ or compassion and friendliness (karuna and maitri in sanskrit) means malleability. The ability to be OPEN. Receptive. Loving. The word took on many profound meanings to me over the course of 48 hours.
Rigidity /or dullness, (styana in sanskrit) is one of the biggest and baddest obstacles to real yoga! Sutra 1.30.
It is amazing how difficult is can be to accept change and adapt to new situations!

Life has had a few little challenges lately. Small and insignificant in comparison to the world, but also little bubbles of opportunity to be aware of in my universe.
When life happens... I am thankful for my yoga practice. Without challenge there would be less contemplation for me. Yoga could turn out to be something like gymnastics. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that it is so much more.
We all face these challenges. The amazing thing is that we are in this life thing together. It leaves no one out.
I hope we can all have the courage to be more open and less rigid.
"The play seems to be, once again, to increase the capacity to allow for the feelings and thoughts to arise without having to accept or reject them. The neutral resistance to the usual pathway seems to create a friction or heat that generates the required spaciousness."

Thanks to all those people who help me see more clearly.

By the way, life is great too!! I just think that it is cool to open up the lines of communication sometimes that are not so flowery and sing-songy.

Sonnie and I are also looking for a room mate (or a couple) for June to September in a lovely town house 5 minutes from down town Squamish. Sunny deck, open concept, great room mates (us!), no pets unfortunately. Pictured up above... Squamish... BC's greatest secret.

My email is


Monday, April 13, 2009

Best Yoga Teacher Ever

If you have a moment,
check this out...
Even though I am more into the cloth diapers... haha.

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Savasana - Learning to let go...

Over the recent weeks i have found myself pondering and exploring, mentally and physically, what it means to let go.

Letting go of old thought patterns, old habits,
exploring the edges of my own existence
and then fully letting go of it all so that i don't get too attached to new ideas and new ways of being.

Why are we are such creatures of habit?

And ultimately the depth of our yoga practice,
exists where one idea joins another,
it transpires as practices merge
and occurs as relationships in our lives become more intimate.

What, then, is the role of 'Savasana' in the yoga practice?

Why is it often referred to as the most important pose?

And, is it okay to fall asleep in Savasana?

I should preface all of my insights with the notion that i am just sharing my ideas, some of which are based on reading and teachers and others that are simply grounded in my own human experience.

Savasana is directly translated as the corpse pose and in the literal sense it symbolizes the way that we are all dying a little bit every day. Regardless of how long we live, as each day passes we are one day closer to our deaths. In Western culture the notion of death is often avoided or treated in such a way that it isn't appropriate to talk about. Perhaps down the road Savasana can help bring us to a place where the ideas of aging and death are not feared or loathed but rather seen as another example of the way things are always shifting and changing to become something else?

Nothing is static.

Lately I have been exploring Savasana as the place where the physical yoga practice seeps into the deeper essence of my being. Many of us have an intuitive sense that yoga is about more then changing our physical bodies. We feel inside of ourselves that there is something deeply meaningful about this practice, but it is sometimes hard to put our fingers on exactly what it is. This is where i think Savasana has a unique and very important role in the asana practice.

It is a chance to be still and focus our energy inward.
Unsure of whether we are awake or asleep,
we can feel our heart beat
we can watch the mind race
and we can choose to let these things go (even if it is only for a brief moment)
and settle deeper and deeper in the essence of who we are.

And the scary truth is that most of us aren't really sure who we are,
and so Savasana is hard because it asks us to face that uncertainty
and in facing 'not knowing' maybe we can begin to really truly relax?
but more likely at first is figetting, itching, talking to ourselves,
and waiting for the bell,
or perhaps we fall asleep to avoid the uncertainty?

It is important that we don't latch on to a certain ideal Savasana experience. Every day is different and every moment and every breath brings a new opportunity to explore relaxation. If we accept this then we can move past expectations of Savasana being some blissful state we drift off to each day at the end of our practice.

A friend, and teacher, once told me to look for the edges of relaxation. Once you think you've found it, go deeper - surpass the limits your mind places on what it means to be relaxed. In approaching relaxation this way i have yet to find real limits, there are endless possibilities...not only for relaxation but so many things in this life - learning, love, giving, laughing.

Where are the edges of the mind?
Where is the end of your internal smile?
Can you let go of another muscle?
Can you observe your thoughts and then watch them drift away?
Where are the edges of letting go?

Enjoy your next Savasana.

Below are a few pictures Sonnie took at The Yoga Studio while we were playing, check out the website for more new pictures of the little yellow room where we breath and move.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thank you Power of Foodies

To all of you that attended Adam's fascinating workshop, thank you! I had a great time, and am very excited about food processing, oat groats and those date power bars. Eating mindfully can truly enhance our capacity for being resourceful to all of those around us. Also, it makes us feel WONDERFUL.
If you don't know Adam his website is
I just wanted to leave you with this little exercise.
Please feel comfortable to come and visit The Yoga Studio at any time. There is a class suitable for all bodies and all ages.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hey all of you, I think this is Cool.

I love this! Also love how he talks about "the brain" and doesn't link it to "the self".


Muscles Only Relax When the Brain Says So
By Patrick Moore

Patrick's love for science, nature, and spirituality was apparent from an early age. In Oregon, he was a Boy Scout camping every month, snow, rain ... ...

Article Word Count: 1391 [View Summary] Comments (0)

What is a knot? A knot is when the sufferer feels tension, and reaching his hand to touch the spot, he feels a raised lump of muscle.

What is the lump made of? If he rubs it back and forth, it feels crunchy, as if there were some substance in there. This crunching has lead many to guess that there are "calcium crystals" in there. When this image is believed, clearly the way to cure the knot would be to "break up the crystals." This requires "stripping," "breaking," and generally mechanical forces from outside the body to "tenderize" the meat of the muscles, like one of those wooden mallets used by thrifty cooks to tenderize cheaper cuts of beef. Of course, after mechanical force is applied from outside, he feels sore the next day. This is why he is advised to "drink lots of water." But what if a knot is not made of crunchy crystals?

I believe a knot is nothing but smooth muscle, raised to a wrinkle because it is pulling so hard. It is like rope that you twist and twist, until finally the fibers kink in the middle.

Why do I think this? Any muscle will soften in seconds when the person's brain changes its mind. After thirty seconds of softening, when I rub the muscle back and forth, there is no more crunching. If there were crystals there, where did they go? If nobody broke any crystals, how did they soften?

If instead, knots are only muscle fibers kinked from tension, then when the brain stops signaling it to "pull", the kink naturally flattens out without any mechanical force from outside.

The nice thing about relaxing muscles from within, is that there will be no soreness afterward. There will be soreness after "crystal breaking" or any mechanical force intended to break something in the muscle. When you intend to break something, something will break! Soreness includes bruising of the skin, bruising of the muscle, and little bits of broken muscle fiber. Of course you need to drink more water for a few days that the immune system needs to clean up the broken fibers and heal the bruises. On the other hand, when muscles relax from within, there is no need to drink more water because nothing was broken.

How do muscles relax?

Muscles respond only to brain decisions. (Well, that's mostly true. There are mini-brains in the spine that can also signal muscles to contract or relax temporarily. But after the spinal reflex is finished, the muscle will return to the last instructions the brain gave.) Muscles relax for good only when the brain commands them to relax.

In the absence of new signals from the brain, muscles will continue to do as they were doing. Muscles will actively contract (or "guard"), day and night, even after death, if this was the last command heard from the brain. (for this reason, animals who know they are about to be killed tense up, and the meat--which is only muscle--will still be contracting when it gets to your plate, you'll be eating millions of "tense up" molecular messengers sent from the animal's last thoughts to its muscles.)

We need to figure out what the brain wants, so that it will choose to relax.

Here is what does not work: Lengthening muscles by force. The brain knows that force is being used and so it will subconsciously choose to relent temporarily, returning to its previous tension settings by the time the person wakes the next morning. Worse, the brain now subconsciously mistrusts whomever used force to overcome its guard.

How To Invoke The Brain To Relax The Body

If we want the brain to freely choose relaxation, then it cannot be forced to change.

Instead of forcing change, why not agree with the brain? When you find you can't rotate your head to the left, don't force it! Turn your head to the easy way. Contract lightly in the directions of comfort for about twenty seconds then gradually let it return to neutral. Do this a few times a day. If your body wants to go into a curled or bent position when you sleep, allow the body to go where it wants and help it. Get into a pool and let the body bend and curl in any direction it wants.

When it feels it has been heard, the brain feels honored that someone has taken the time to listen without judging the guarding as bad. It feels supported that someone is on its side and actually wants to assist its plan.

How Does It Work?

Once the brain sees that its limbs, joints and muscles are in the fullest contortion of guarding, (something happens within and) the guarding releases like magic. What happened? Maybe the brain has a sense of humor and needed to see how silly the guarding really looked when it was allowed to do what it planned. Maybe the most guarded position is a secret key that unlocks the double-lock vault where the tension was originally stored. Maybe it is just a playful time that allows the brain and body to lighten up. Maybe the symbolism of guarding as far as one can go, wears out the original command and it simply runs out of steam. Probably all of the above and more reasons too.

The Importance Of Immediate Feedback

Every muscle treatment I give, I ask the person, "Hey this muscle is softening, do you feel it?" Before the question, her brain had monitored relaxation only subconsciously. When a person has enough experiences noticing her own muscles relax, she gains conscious influence over her own muscle tension. Soon enough, she no longer needs outside assistance from a massage therapist, she can relax her own muscles from within, all by herself.

Complaints That Benefit From Invoking Brain To Relax Muscles

(please understand I am not a Doctor, I am not licensed to diagnose, and I am not saying that any disease would be "cured.") Relaxation From Within Helps With:

* Aging (triggers PNS parasympathetic nervous system) gives back years of quality living, healthier skin, nails, hair, better digestion, lower heart rate, better blood pressure, lower anxiety, deeper breathing, etc.
* Asthma, Allergies, Histamine Reactions, Chemical Sensitivity, Hyper Sensitivities
* Athletes: those specific cramps at mile 22, low back pain for black belts (psoas muscle), Tendinitis (relax the muscle attached to that tendon), Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, etc.
* Atlas and Axis: by relaxing obliquus inferior and superior muscles that were jamming these two joints
* Brain: TBI brain injury, Stroke, MS, ALS, Encephalitis, Lyme, etc. (by boosting brain-muscle communication, intra-brain communication is enhanced)
* Dancers (psoas)
* Emotional Release (release not in outbursts, but gradually and constantly leaks away, a gentle rivulet of release), PTSD, "Shell Shock," automobile accident trauma, major surgery (traumatization can reside for decades after anesthesia and surgery), past life trauma (encapsulated in pearl gray capsules in the hippocampus and medulla oblongata, regulated by the centrum and the cerebellum)
* Fatigue, CFS, Fibromyalgia, Candida, etc. (reducing muscle tension without the next-day soreness, ends the pain-spasm-pain loop)
* Hip Rotators and Shoulder Rotator Cuff (tendons heal faster when no longer under tension from muscles)
* Irritable Bowel or Poor Digestion (colon has spiral muscles that need to relax to move the food smoothly and effectively)
* I-T band (which is the common tendon of the Tensor Fascia Latte and Gluteus Maximus muscles)
* Job-Related Injuries, Stress, Overuse Injuries, Tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel (more likely wrist extensors), Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, tingling in the fingers, numbness, (pectoralis minor, scalenes, atlanto/axial joint, subscapularis), Sciatica, Bursitis, pain down the leg, numbness or tingling in the foot (piriformis, pectineus, TFL) (muscle tension restricts vein, artery and nerve flow)
* Low Back Pain: (relax the lumbar sidebenders and psoas)
* Lumbar Rotation, sometimes diagnosed as rotoscoleosis: (tight psoas muscle can rotate lumbar spine)
* Type "A" personality, SNS (sympathetic nervous system) always on, "Fight Or Flight," Adrenaline Junkie, High Blood Pressure, Hypertension, Cold Hands and Feet, Sweaty Palms, Anxiety, Tongue Tied, Butterflies In Stomach, etc.
* Yoga Practitioners and Teachers: overstretching injuries, low back pain (psoas,) loss of hip medial rotation (piriformis too tight, TFL too weak)

We live in a generation of dramatic change. Force never really worked well. We never really needed to depend on an Authority Of Healing to fix our knots, kinks, and ailments. It is time to use the gifts within.

Patrick Moore, L.M.T., B.A. is an educator for both undergraduate and licensed massage therapists. Specializing in the brain-muscle connection, he continues to develop new technique, publish articles, and maintain a small massage practice in Phoenix, AZ

In 2001 Patrick rediscovered the idea that muscles relax when the brain feels safe, and began publishing and teaching what is now called, "Melting Muscles"

As an NCBTMB educator, he travels Nationwide to teach Melting Muscles, Reiki, tendinitis treatment, and an Ethics class on Equal Relationships

Patrick would like to organize a fan club for the obliquus capitis inferior muscle

His articles have appeared in Massage & Bodywork magazine and Massage Therapy Journal

Melting Muscles technique at:
Class dates and new classes at Patrick's blog;

Article Source:

Friday, March 13, 2009

The 5 Koshas

What is self realization?

First of all, you don't have to have your serious face on to ask this question.

What does it have to do with learning how to do Downward Dog more efficiently or lying on the floor at the end of a sweaty yoga class?

At first it may seem like a lofty spiritual goal to ask this question, but I think that it is as much a part of your everyday life as washing the dishes and walking to work.

It may not seem feasible at first, but yoga is a way to tap into an uncovering of the layers that are superimposed over who you truly are. Yoga encompasses many other things than just asana (posture) practice. However, for practicality's sake, we start with that. We start with the tangible - our body.

In Yogic philosophy there are 5 sheaths (or bodies) that enshroud the true self. They are called the 5 Koshas. You can visualize them as the skins on an onion or the rings inside a tree's core. We will look at them from the most obvious or gross to their most subtle.

Annamaya Kosha: This is the anatomical body. It is the most obvious (like feeling your hamstrings in your first forward fold!). This body is composed of muscular and connective tissue, and bones. Anna means food. This body needs food for it's maintenance.

Pranamaya Kosha: This is the breath body. It is also the subtler aspects of of the energy body. You could call is physiological. It encompasses moving the air to all the vitals and bringing the anatomical body (your own skin bag!) to life. It also contains the nervous, lymphatic and endocrine system.

Manomaya Kosha: This is the mental body. It is how you perceive the world through your 5 sense organs. Eyes, ears, nose tongue and skin. It also involves your feelings, emotions and how you organize your experience.

Vijnanamaya Kosha: This is the intellectual body. Also called the wisdom body. This body takes the mental body one step further by being the framework for how you make decisions. Past karma (your actions) and environmental and social conditioning influence this body.

Anandamaya Kosha: This is the most subtle body. The inner ring of the tree and the closest to who you really are. It is the causal body and is responsible for the cause of everything. It is like a blank projector screen that remains blank even though the movie is playing on it. It is untouched, unchanging, and the only real truth. It is the sense of contentment that you feel when you are laying on the floor in savasana and everthing aligns, even for just a moment. It is the one breath that you can follow completely, all the way through inhale and exhale. It is the feeling of watching a sunset and actually being the sunset. It is vast and unexplainable.

Ever experienced this before??

Yoga asana (posture) is a way of connecting all of these bodies that make up you. After some observation there is the realization that all of these bodies interpermeate. The breath affects the mind. The mind affects the breath. The body affects the decision making. When you look deeply into the past conditioning you find anxieties that make knots and grooves in the body and the psyche. When all align, there is a moment of pure clarity. Right?

Try a sitting practice and checking in with the 5 Koshas. 5 minutes of checking in with the internal landscape. How does this affect your knowledge of your self?

Try aligning virabhadrasana 2 and checking in with the 5 Koshas. How does this influence your posture?

Remember in these explorations you don't have to come to an answer. You don't have to be right. You can hold many different vantage points and postures.

Let your yoga practice take you closer to who you are. Daily.

The Yoga Studio Squamish

Friday, March 6, 2009

The time is now - Stretching Kindness

So, tomorrow morning we will host the first few classes at our new studio in Squamish. The past few weeks have been so busy and so full that it has been hard to fully comprehend the reality of my days. And, even crazier to look back and believe that I moved to Squamish barely 2 weeks ago.

Today, for the first time since i got here we found ourselves with nothing on our list of things to we sat on the massive roof top of our studio and marveled at...the granite peaks, the warm sunshine and the company of a good friend who has come all the way from Canmore to join us for the opening. Erin, it means so much to have you here.

The space is beautiful.
The time is now - to share and breath and grow together.
The time is now - to share and grow with this remarkable planet.
And if the time isn't now, what is it we are doing with our lives??

All classes this weekend are by donation and %50 of the proceeds will be donated to Pacific Wild, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and protecting the west coast wildlife and forests. You can find out more about their efforts at

Also, if you like...check out the link to an article in today's Squamish Chief with a little more information on the opening weekend. Thanks to Neil for helping us to spread the love for yoga in Squamish.

The title on the cover of today's paper was amazing - Stretching Kindness!!

Thanks again to all of our supporters!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Yoga Studio Squamish...coming to life!!

So, i've been in Squamish barely a week and Lydia and I have been working non stop to bring The Yoga Studio Squamish to life. Last Thursday morning we walked into the studio space - the walls were barely drywalled, the floor was cracked cement and there were terrible florescent lights hindering the incredible views of the Chief and the Squamish harbour...

And now...

First we painted.
Then we floored.
Then we taught ourselves about electricity so we could put in some new lights.

Big thanks to Sonnie for being there with us and helping us every step of the way...and Scott, too, for taking the time away from school when we first arrived to help us get going on the reno's. You guys are absolutely amazing and we love you!!

We had our first practice in the space a few days ago and despite still needing more heat it was incredible. Words can't describe it, but the space is magical and Lydia and I are so excited to share it with whoever wants to come and be a part of it!!
Everyone is invited!

There is still a busy week of work...the finer details of the space, building momentum and energy. But this process is teaching us so much. Each day we practice patience and hard work. We breath deep and stay calm as we spend more money then we normally spend in a month in a few days...we enjoy the moments we have to move in our bodies after a long day of physical work. And we take the time to sleep and eat and breath...although we are admittedly a little tired after a week of long days. The practice is every moment of our day and each moment of each day is teaching us in ways we never thought were possible.

And, i couldn't imagine working and making this happen with anyone else but Lydia - thanks Lydia for inspiring me to come to Squamish and create our shared vision into the reality it will soon become!!

I am flooded with excitement,
Steeped in a dream
Filled with a deep sense of purpose for something other then myself.

And as far as i can tell there is no beginning and no end to this journey -
just a deepening sense of connectedness,
so many new souls to meet and teach and learn beside.

Hope to see you all next weekend for the grand opening - There will be by donation classes next Saturday and Sunday (march 7 & 8th) at 10 am and Noon.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Art of Not Trying...

So, it's been over a week since Rameen Peyrow was in Canmore for a workshop. Over 55 people joined in the yoga lounge to soak up a little of Rameen's contagious inspiration, to move and breath, and to connect to some deeper sense of this path of yoga.

When lots of ideas are presented i often want to let things simmer for a while to gain a real sense of what is really meaningful for me at this point on my journey. Immediately following workshops we are often flooded with information - and it is through this simmering process that we can let go of holding on too tightly to somebody elses ideas. And through this, space is created for our own ideas, our own authentic teacher to begin to grow inside of us.

Rameen spoke often last weekend of his 'art of not trying.' He commented on the way amazing things happen when we let go of this notion of trying. Now, on the surface I think this is a hard thing to understand or rationalize? Clearly there is effort as we move and breath in our asana practices, some intention is necessary to begin to explore the depths of a seated meditation practice, and deepening relationships is not an easy thing...surely we must TRY??

What on earth is Rameen alluding to with his 'art of not trying'??

Letting go.
Creating the space to observe and learn,
without expectations or judgment.

The ability to settle into this present moment,
as what IS,
while maintaining a connection
to the reality of ever present and constant change in our lives.

Trying without trying.
A world of contradictions.
And within this a world of truth
and freedom
and happiness.


This morning was the first day of a two week mysore workshop I am running here in Canmore. It will be my last teaching here before heading to Squamish. I woke before 5 to head down to the lounge to do my own practice before teaching...except i couldn't find my car keys anywhere. Ahhh!! It's super early and i don't want to wake up Scott so I TRY really hard to find my keys quietly...of course in the process of TRYING so hard nothing ever happens, and in the moment where i surrendered and decided to stop looking i found the keys...ahh, the art of not trying is everywhere!

Another theme I have taken from Rameen's workshop relates to my recent curiosity with the pose Salabhasana. The locust pose (i.e.Lying on your stomach - hands by your side, lift shoulders and feet so that there is a gradual curve along your spine). This is a great pose for strength and support along the spine. I have been spending time over the past month holding salabhasana for long periods of time, followed by cobra, then upward dog. In every vinyasa. Some of Rameen's Satva sequencing followed on this theme. It is an amazing way to explore opening the upper spine and shoulders without compromising the lower back. Also, explore keeping the legs slightly internally rotated, groins deep and bum and video of this sequencing soon!!

Thanks again to Rameen and Sarah for joining us last weekend, you are both a wonderful and inspiring gift! I can't wait for you to visit our little studio in Squamish in September. To find out more about their yoga studio and Rameen's teachings check out


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A lesson in expectations - yoga for everyone!

Here's a story.

Over the past month I have been teaching two morning classes a week and the cement plant, Lafarge, just outside of Canmore. As a part of the company's heath and wellness iniative all the workers (over 100 of them) have the option to participate in, and get paid for, morning "stretch" classes every day of the week.

Deb Boucher, a local pilates teacher and busy mother put enormous amounts of energy into getting this program going and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with such a diverse demographic.

Prior to teaching my first class, I was nervous and full of expectations about how the union workers would receive my classes. I was wary of being a lone female amidst a crowd of men. I dressed in baggy Carharts, boots and wore safety goggles to meet the warehouse standards while teaching. I was somehow convinced in my mind that these men would be resistant to moving, breathing and stretching - i couldn't have been more off!

As the weeks progressed, I added stretches and often there were over 70 men in the warehouse stretching at 7:15 in the morning. So amazing! Many of the workers made a point of saying thanks, asking questions and letting me know that they were enjoying the program. I am fairly sure that none of them will ever read this but i am sending a huge thanks to all who joined for showing such openness in something that was clearly challenging and new for many of them.

As for me, i am still learning and reflecting on the way my mind manifested ideas and judgments about the way my classes would be received at Lafarge. Every day our minds create situations that are not actually true and i believe that so much suffering and many challenges result from the energy we put in to these false realities...

I share with you this story in hopes that we can all move a little closer towards a truth that is free from the clouds of judgment that often sneak into our lives in ways we don't even realize.

As for yoga - more so then ever the time I spent at Lafarge has shown me this practice can reach out and enrich the lives of anyone, if the opportunity is there.

more soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sit Still and Enjoy Going Deeper

The French Philosopher Pascal said that all human happiness comes down to the ability to sit still in a room alone.

Why do you think that is?
We're together on this one.
The simple act of sitting by yourself without distraction. Distraction from what?

(Where ever you go there you are)

Yourself. But maybe more than that. Maybe just what is. A percentage yourself and a percentage the world around you. The very amorphous moment that is now. Contact with this gives an unexplainable sensation of peace. Quietude. Continuance.

I once heard that if you don't find sitting still interesting, than sit for longer. 5, 10, 15, 60 minutes... things become more interesting. True that! I strongly recommend that you try it.

Sitting still for elongated periods shifts your awareness from the gross to the subtle. Yoga shifts your awareness from the dense to the refined and ethereal. Yoga shifts your awareness from your external sense environment to the internal environment of your mind body matrix. Once this is established and explored it expands you back out into your environment- without losing your awareness of the inner world. Then you are moving in two directions. Expansion happens. Amplification. Vertically you are ascending to your natural potential and horizontally you are interconnected with others and the earth the way you innately know you can be. Openness happens in the mind and body. You can be in a relationship that is harmonious with yourself and the other. Give/receive, love/be loved, inhale/exhale.

Sitting still for elongated periods you can help you to be more in tune with your body and mind. Where do the thoughts come from? Where do they go? Can you do this without thinking about the proper answer or what someone else would say? Can you not only feel the skin but the flesh? The place in your chest where your heart is... in front of the spine and behind the sternum? Can you feel it beating? Can you be in tune with one single cycle of inhale and exhale? Which nostril has a more open channel for air? Which lung expands more freely and is it related to the weight on your sitting bones?

How interesting.

While sitting with your eyes closed you don't care about what you look like or about what others think of you... and it is not like you don't care because you are too smart or good to care about such things, but just because you actually DON'T CARE. The way you FEEL is much more interesting and enthralling.

Who knew?

I was hiking up a trail the other day and I ran into a nice gentleman and we struck up a conversation about yoga. He was telling me how he really wants to get back into yoga but the type of class he was looking for was specific. He really hates it when the teacher asks the students to feel the relationship of their anus to the roof of their mouth. He just wants a good stretch.
No judgement on that! A good stretch is an amazing experience!
However, these things may seem silly at first but with a bit of practice they seem completely valid and interconnected to the state of the asana. If you can feel the dome of your perineum and the dome of your palate and their striking similarities... chances are you are not entangled in a cluster of tricky thoughts that are distracting you from the moment- and from actually living your life.
And.... (this is all stuff I need to be reminded of, so when I'm talking about you I am not pointing any fingers, I'm really talking about us)
Maybe the next time you go to the store you will actually remember those eco reusable bags. And you won't forget that really nice person's name. (Doh!) And when you are listening to someone tell their story of sadness you will be totally present with them and will give them the space to tell it. And when you are angry with someone because your own agitation levels are in the red, you will take a deep breath and not say the nasty little thing that is on the tip of your tongue. When you are climbing you will be absorbed in the upward flow without thinking of falling. When you are riding or skiing or biking you will hit the tranny without hesitation. When you are hanging out with your child you will understand the primal, ready and uninhibited ways of an innocent youth... without getting angry. When you have an interaction with an animal you will be able to speak to them without uttering any sounds.

And you won't take yourself too seriously for making any mistakes if you slip up... you'll know they are in the past, which has no business in the present moment - that you can observe as you sit still in a room alone.


Asana Tip for the Day (Inspiration from Patricia Walden):
In Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) press the OUTER shoulder down into the mat. Press the outer elbow down into the mat.
Be aware of the shoulder blades and press them onto your back so the upper spine curls in to the space behind your heart. Don't let your middle back be dead in the posture. Lengthen strongly the latissimus dorsi muscles on both sides and sharpen your inner leg so it journeys UP to the ceiling.
Spread your toes and soften your facial muscles.
Lift your chin a small amount so that there is a space between the back of your neck and the floor and the C7 is lifting away from the floor ever so slightly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Authenticity - Who am i??

Whoa - that's a big question? But perhaps a good one??

On some levels seeking an authentic human experience should be easy, we are after all human, so aren't all of our experiences authentic??

Maybe...but there is something innocent inside of each of us that intuitively knows certain experiences are deeper and more meaningful.
They effect us into our core.

Certain conversations that are more from the heart then from the head.
Some days we are more present in our lives then others,
Filled with a sense of purpose and freedom
Accepting fears and flaws without fleeing into avoidance of truth.
Humbled by the harshness and magnificence of the world.

Breaths are deeper,
postures flow beyond analysis or judgment.
Stillness is everywhere.

I accept that the depth of these experiences shines in comparison with a world that challenges us daily with consumer culture, media, small-talk and an excess of intellectual analysis.

But, in accepting that, I am also striving to daily dive deeper into real experiences that deepen my human experience. I believe this is a conscious choice and even within the world of yoga one we need to be mindful of.

Recently i've been reading and listening to the ponderings of an inspiring yoga teacher Michael Stone ( Below is a quote from his recent book, The Inner Tradition of Yoga.

"The heart of yoga is the cultivation of equilibrium in mind and body so that one can wake up to the reality of being alive, which includes not just joy and health but impermanence, aging, suffering and death. A yoga practice that excludes the shadows of illness or aging cuts itself off from the truths of being alive. Similarly, a practice that focuses exclusively on physical culture and the performance of yoga poses at the expense of psychological understanding and transformation is a one-sided practice. Without the balanced practice of all eight limbs, and a path rooted in the first limb (morals and ethics) especially, yoga practice can easily become another form of materialism."

I'll leave you with that for today, more soon! I'm off to another workshop with Rameen Peyrow - this time here in Canmore. Sattva is the name of the workshop, perhaps the title of my next writing...three weeks till i head west, getting really excited for the coast and the little studio which will soon come to life!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good Grooves

When deepening one's practice of yoga one penetrates or becomes aware of different layers in the psyche and the body. Like peeling back the skin of an onion to reveal another strikingly similar layer. Yoga is a psychosomatic practice, it pertains to the mind and the body. For example, a yoga practice may make one feel stress free, buoyant and bright, but may also make a person become painfully aware of a deeper layer of their psyche that contains guilt and embarrassment. When a person becomes more aware of themselves they start to become more aware of their surroundings and their impact on their surroundings. Similarly, a yoga practice may make someone feel like their hamstrings and shoulders become more pliable and supple, but this level of progress will expose deeper layers of restriction or weakness in the body... for example the achilles and the iliopsoas.
The restriction in the mind and the body in the form of patterning is referred to as Samskaras in Buddhism. Samskaras are the fundamental impressions left on an individual, which are acquired in the present and the previous lives through various experiences. These samskaras prove to be the coded form of the entire life of an individual.
Everything we do or think leaves an imprint. Samskaras are like psychological and physiological grooves or slide paths that become harder to break or cease flow of as they get stronger. We all know how hard it is to break addictive habits!
For example, I was making a ginger beet soup yesterday and I decided to chop the fresh ginger root into tiny pieces using my left and less dominant hand. I couldn't believe how awkward and difficult it was to chop 1/4 of a cup of the stuff. I strongly kept wanting to switch hands and I became a little agitated. While this process was going on I was just observing the way my mind reacted to attempting to break a physiological habit. The groove was very deep. It made me wonder what kind of psychological grooves I may possess that I am not yet fully aware of.
There is much work ahead for me.
No one has ever said there isn't a little pain on the path to freedom. But maybe the pain doesn't have to be YOUR pain or MY pain. Maybe it is just pain, and it is universal.
In each moment we have the choice to create another samskara (volitional formation) through dullness, negativity and habit patterning. We also have the choice of making a good groove (mental disposition) by just observing reality as it arises with awareness of our impact on others and the earth. We have the choice of making good grooves.

My experience thus far has been that as soon as I feel like I have "gotten somewhere" with anything pertaining to becoming more liberated in my experience of life there is another layer waiting to be explored and peeled back to expose another. Ambition to become enlightened could either leave me perpetually unsatisfied or it could be balanced with the wisdom that I can be free in each stage of the path by realizing the true and pure nature of perfect awareness without judgement or self reference. There may be steps to take, slowly and persistently, but freedom can be in each step and with each breath. The balance is tedious, and my mind continually wants to label and own things as they come up into my experience, but I feel the most progress when I appreciate and observe the small things and when I act for someone else's benefit.

The mind and body is a wonderful apparatus isn't it?

Speaking of which we went climbing in the sun today! The first pitches of the year... and I was free when I observed the sensation of the first sunlight hitting skin after a few long weeks of winter.

I hope you enjoyed it too.