Monday, November 29, 2010

The Peace Underneath the Storm

A friend recently sent an email and asked for a suggestion for a mantra she could use for meditation. I thought about this and could think only of one mantra I could suggest. The Ajapa (total awareness with the least effort) mantra. The mantra of the breath.
The aliveness that has mesmerized me for all these years seems to be inextricably linked with the movement of the incoming and outgoing breath that weaves it's way through the little rivers of the body - and the complicated web of thought.

Have you had the opportunity to spend some time with your breath?
Sometimes it feels like sitting down with an old friend. Old in knowing - and in connection to you. Never tells you what to do - in fact makes you listen very keenly in order for you to pick up any sort of clue that illuminates the present moment. Speaks in riddles and also knows how to uncover very old emotions and patterns in you. Somehow wants only the best for you, there is a very warm and tender undertone that is the current to each cycle. Grandmotherly.

I recently spent some time in the desert in Moab, Utah. I was there while a storm hit Indian Creek. I could watch the tumble weeds coming from afar, one after the other, and following them small dust tornadoes and the wall of darkness. The scene reminded me of the mind. The tumble weeds being the thoughts, the dust storms being the turbulence of the uneasy breath that preambles a storm of anger or sadness in the mind. Coming out of this storm it settled me knowing that the earth has these conflicts.

I once heard that the quality of the mind is just like the wind blowing through the trees. Completely random, coming from all directions. Completely natural.

After the storm the wind calmed and the breath of the mother settled and there was this tangible sense of peace.

Even the earth has short and long breaths and she embraces both her darkness and her light. She realizes there is an undercurrent of tenderness and love underneath. She IS that undercurrent. The sound of silence between all the sounds that is always there... the quality of the equanimous blue sky that is behind all the weather patterns.

It is all beautiful. It is all happening.

Anapanasati Sutta

1.Breathing in long, know breathing in long.
Breathing out long, know breathing out long.

2. Breathing in short, know breathing in short.
Breathing out short, know breathing out short.

3. Breathing in, experience the whole body (sabba kaya).
Breathing out, experience the whole body.

4. Breathing in, calm the body-conditioned breath (kaya sankhaara).
Breathing out, calm the body-conditioned breath.

5. Breathing in, experience joy.
Breathing out, experience joy.

6. Breathing in, experience happiness.
Breathing out, experience happiness.

"Blow firmly and very slowly into the hole of the thunderbolt with a suitable hollow stalk to allow air movement."
Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Metta for Healing

There will be a healing meditation for someone who is sick tomorrow morning Wednesday Sept. 29th at 8:30am - 9:00am in the morning and another one at starting at 9:00pm at night.
If you are sitting... please send out healing thoughts.
If you are not sitting. Please take a few breaths at these times - center yourself and send out a healing thought.

For all Living Beings.

Living or not, beings or not,
inside or outside of time.

Thank you

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sticking Around for a While

I was perusing Banyan Books some short while ago. There was an older fellow manning the front desk, he may have been the owner of the store to my limited knowledge.
I was looking for a book by the name of "Opening the Energy Gates of the Body" by Bruce Frantzis. (A book my teacher Gioia keeps reading from.)
I asked the kind gentleman if he knew if they carried the book (this particular store has an immense selection of books, video and audio for the mind body and soul... "the watering hole for the spirit"). Without a glance at the screen in front of him or even a moment lost he said "yes" and immediately escorted me, padding his way on the orange carpet, to the glossy new book. He slipped it out of it's shelf and gave it to me. It felt like what Christmas should feel like.
I was impressed he located it so effortlessly and commented. He replied, "You stick around long enough and you learn a thing or two."
He had shiny eyes and they seemed to be portals to some experience that I have not yet acquired.
I smiled with appreciation and nodded silently, grateful for brushing up against someone in an age group that seems like a phantom limb to me, and for the words of wisdom.
On the way back to Squamish, past the arbutus trees and the soaring bald eagles, I rested in the gentle feeling of contentment. The subtle yet powerful feeling that comes from committing to a good friend, a relationship, a practice, a community and a home. Some things that I humbly hope to learn from sticking around for a while.

Thanks to Ben Moon for photography.
Thanks for reading and please contact us if you would like to participate in The Yoga Jam class with senior teacher Ron Reid on August 5th at 5:30pm.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bowing Down and Touching the Earth

At the end of a yoga practice we often place our hands together and bow our heads down to touch the earth.

The simple act of placing the palms together could be a ritual of yoking the energies of the self into one place of pure presence. Have you ever felt like there are layers of you in different places? For example you are having a conversation with someone and your mind is involved with someone else... or worse yet... yourself?
Bowing could be surrendering the ego.

I have found this gesture useful. I am happy to come out of the drivers seat for a moment in time (because this isn't an easy thing for me!). I am pleased to use the moment as a dissipation of my thoughts. There is a possibility there to be opened by the moment and able to let go of self referencing.

I end my practice with this even if I am alone. Sometimes the act means that I am bowing to the center of my heart. It is always quiet there, vast, confident and completely free. It is the teacher.

Touching the earth with my forehead is also a reminder to me that I am part of the natural world. The earth shed a piece so that I could discover myself... and she will take my vehicle for exploration back some unknown day. It is easy to feel this in The Yoga Studio when I am gazing out at the great granite rock that blesses our space. This thought helps me stay aware of interconnectedness.

For some people this gesture might be a little weird feeling or even frightening? In a low grade, lukewarm sort of way. Maybe it even brings other sticky stuff? Mild aversion or repulsion or... whatever? Nothing is wrong with that.
Maybe there is a possibility that surrender or bowing in humility is not a part of our culture. Ritual or creating emphasis on the sacred may not be either.

If anything brings up peculiar emotions or brings up little waves of questioning - it is always skillfull to look deeper into the root of what is happening. This is the job of a yoga practitioner. To get to the root of things, record the data, find the closest thing that makes sense to the truth in that moment...
and prepare for that truth to perhaps have the fluid quality of change.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Dear Friends,
Thank you again for reading.
I took the time to go on a personal meditation retreat for a few days at the Sea to Sky Retreat Centre. Wonderful place.
In between the emptiness and the fullness of my mind I came up with a poem I want to share with you.


Somewhere between cinnamon and turmeric.

Slugging at the pace of a puddle drying up.

Crossing many interesting paths, but sticking to your own with your personal adhesive.

Leaving slick traces of yourself behind, not even embarrassed about it, or trying to cover it up.

Feeling your way across cedar mulch and spirited green moss with your gelly belly.

Almost stepped on your dark brother, and back there your bodacious mother.

Noticed your talents in one leap over a lively green maple vine.





Some of you may wonder why Sarah and I post about things that may seem unrelated to the Yoga practice. We believe that Yoga can be a set of techniques to open up a pathway that brings us more into awareness of all of life. This pathway may be grown over at times. Yoga gives us the tools to clear out excess debris... but also the utensils to be kind to ourselves while we clean out the muck and the viscosity.

So Yoga encompasses each moment of life that we share. Each contemplation and each interaction. A Yogic mind is simply aware without pushing or pulling.

The journey is delicious. In a healthy way. Bitter, sour and pungent may be as good for us as sweet, in different times of our lives.

In hopes that our study of being alive may be enlightening. Together.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Healing for Haiti

Thanks to all that attended our Freedom Class to enter 2010. Here are a few photos.
Huge thanks to Sasha Cecile (Healing Drums) for creating the beat that we could all feel in our hearts and with our breath!
We are going to feel those good vibrations again with a fundraiser for Haiti on January 29th at 5:30pm. A Level 1 Ashtanga Class to Sasha's drum beat. The class runs as normal and donations may be given on top.
All donations will go to Haiti.
After, at 7:15pm, a led meditation. After that a silent auction with a few items given by our community.
Please show your support in an expression of joy and movement with the intention of bringing about world peace and restoring balance.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ashtanga Invocation

I have attached a video taken during the teacher's intensive with Richard Freeman in Boulder, Colorado. It is a call and response recording of the Ashtanga Yoga Invocation. Enjoy. Sarah