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 - http://www.kpjayi.org/biography.html

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 lydiazamorano@hotmail.com.