Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Be Gentle with Yourself

Each moment we carry with us the moments our attachments.
Each moment the person we are with is carrying their own attachments.
We may not even know why or where these burdens come from.
It doesn't matter.
Be gentle with yourself and others.
It helps lighten the load.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Source of Peace

I love knowing what will happen next.
I love being comfortable.
Unfortunately, I have discovered that I very rarely experience this comfort.
Simple everyday moments of playing with a baby or when I am in the depths of concentration are moments of freedom.
Freedom from holding onto what I know, what I want and resisting what I don't want.
They are moments free of fear.
In the moment, with absolute focus, it is just the experience of freedom.
And yet, there are no moment where this does not exist.

Enjoy those moments this season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Power of Intention

In the book "The Power of Intention'" by Wayne Dyer, the main point is that the intention with which we do things is the what defines it. I have just bought a yoga studio. Prior to the purchase, I asked myself why I wanted to do this. I wanted to ensure I was doing it for the 'right' reasons. I felt I was doing it from a place of wanting to serve.

Now as I wrestle with the reality of marketing and budgeting, staffing and scheduling, I am less excited about my decision. My struggle with fear has me contemplating getting out. Those thoughts lead me to examining my intention again. I realize I have an even deeper intention. I made this step in order to also protect my position, my identity as a yoga teacher. After years of self study, I know teaching is my calling. I also know that fear of not being able to ensure my identity as teacher with a different studio owner was also a motivating factor in the purchase.

The Yoga Sutras state that non attachment and practice are the keys to freedom from suffering. As long as I hold onto the need to ensure the identity I have created for myself, I will suffer. Certainly in the many hard routes I have accomplished as a climber this was true. Only when I gave up the desperation for success on the route could I actually successfully climb it. So, it is I have come to notice when I give up worrying about the financial success of the studio, and focus on the content, the teachers and the community, my experience of my day is so much freer.

How could you live without plans?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We are all right.

I heard a story years ago that goes like this...
Two men were arguing in the marketplace. Each defending his position with great enthusiasm. A crowd had gathered and were watching the dispute unfold.
A sage happened by and was stopped by one of the onlookers. "Oh sage," he said, "you can solve this. Declare is X right?"
The sage replied, "Yes, x is right."
"So you mean Y is not right."
"No, Y is right."
"But sage, that cannot be true. Both cannot be right."
The sage replied, "we are all right from our own view."

And we are. But we are also limited by our ego, our sense of I-am-ness. This creates the idea that there is a right and a wrong. My way is right and the other is wrong. The sense that there is winning and losing.

How do we undo this sense that someone has treated us badly? According to Byron Katie, we recognize the truth that we treated ourselves badly when we trusted that individual. We recognize that the person must really feel separation, their own great sense of "I-am-ness," to have behaved as they did.

Then we hold both ourself and the other with compassion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Context Intention Fear

Everything I do is done in relation, or context, to other priorities, ideals.
Everything has an intention.
And often there is the element of fear.

I am writing this blog with the context of sharing what I understand about life.
My intention is to support others and to share a bigger picture view.
Fear hangs out as I write, criticizing and judging how everything will be interpreted.
Will I offend or sound stupid?

How much power am I giving to fear?

If the driving force is recognition as a good writer, or to have readers, obviously fear is winning.
If the driving force is sharing what I understand and/or to serve, then fear has less power.

The beauty is, I have the power of choice.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things I Learned in Yoga Teacher Training.

I started a Yoga Teacher Training when my life was in upheaval. I was getting a divorce, raising my son on my own while my son's father lived in a different country and worked full time. I am not sure who I would be without the wisdom I gained from my experience and I am so very grateful I found Yoga and particularly Yoga beyond the group class.

1) I became curious. Yoga teacher training taught me very quickly that although I was worried, anxious and grieving, I could laugh and feel gratitude. How could that be when the conditions of my life felt so dark? There were moments I really felt I would rather die and yet, somehow, I also recognized I was able to experience some joy. The curiosity kept me alive.

2) The importance of the people in my life. The women and men I met with once a month for a full weekend, intensely practicing and studying gave me a sense of community that was new to me. It was steeped in compassion and personal responsibility. On one hand I felt held close and on the other, held in check.

3) I learned to hold myself less tightly. As a professional athlete who has ranked pretty strong in my field, Yoga has been a very humbling experience. It was a humbling experience to realize I was not the most adept Yogi in the class. There was learning on multiple levels here for me. The desire for perfection, the pain of not being the best and learning that it is the movement of energy that expresses the pose. Taping into that energy and learning how to cultivate it; letting go of perfectionism and softening my expectations. All great lessons I am still working with.

4) I got glimpses of just how much potential I had. That lead me to putting myself first. Without me, my son would not have a mom. Without me, the people I work with would have to learn the way I learned; the hard way. I did have something of meaning to offer. Even with my ex-husband... he would not be where he was without me providing the daily support to our child. Now I put myself first.

5) I became inspired to be who I truly wanted to be. Yoga healed the parts of myself that limited me. It cultivated courage and resilience. It cultivated compassion and generosity. It softened and strengthened me simultaneously.

6) My love of learning and growing. I have truly discovered that the best life for me is the one that doesn't rest in the comfort of staying where I feel comfortable. Stretching my skills, stretching myself has always on one hand created some anxiousness and on the other, stimulated me to learn more about myself, to respect myself and to put the priority on giving and receiving rather than winning or losing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I practice Yoga

Weekend at Himalayan Institute.

Last week of working my career of 12.5 years.
Last minute tasks

Son returning home for a visit.

Evening with wonderful teachers at 108 Yoga Centre.
Photos ;)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yoga Sutra 1:33

"Transparency of mind comes by embracing an attitude of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgement toward those who are happy, miserable, virtuous, and non-virtuous." The Secret of the Yoga Sutra by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD.

Sounds like such a simple antidote to our negativity. And yet, it is very hard to change our minds. I recently had an encounter with someone and I am quite certain that person lied to me. I was suspicious. My mind went into judgemental thoughts, and I was telling myself that I know I am right.

The deeper investigation of why I want to be right reveals that the real issue is that this person is not treating me the way I want to be treated... honestly. This is about my own expectation to be respected, valued. This is about my fears of being betrayed. Ultimately, this negativity is about how I choose to interpret this event, and therefore, I have the power to decide if I really need this person to make me happy, or if I want to have that power.

Until I feel compassion for myself, until I am able to heal the part of me that needs to be treated respectfully in order to be happy, I will always struggle.

Have you found a way to self-compassion?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Power; Real and Imagined

Some people believe they have the power to change the minds and actions of others. Some people believe they can change themselves. And some just continue to grow regardless of obstacles.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I have often heard, "we are all replaceable," and as I prepare to leave my place of employment over the past 12 years, this thought is weighing on me. Where it is true, someone else can move into my position in life and do the things that I do in my work, I know no one will walk in and do it with my spirit, my unique inspiration. No one can, because no one else in the world is like me. I think any one would agree with me. To suggest we could lose one child and adopt another to replace it would be a ridiculous statement to any parent.

What separates us from each other, in sanskrit is called Jiva; your individual soul. No matter what one does for a living, we each bring our own uniqueness, Jiva, to how the tasks get accomplished, the relationships are cared for and our expression. It is an interesting place to be both leaving a role and moving into someone else's role. The truth is, I am leaving a role to some degree; my relationships will shift, but I can only choose to leave the people who choose to forget me. Similarly, I can never be the person whose role I am assuming. I can do the tasks, but never be the same expression of spirit. In this new role, I will create my own relationships in my own unique way.

And I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Receiving and Letting Go

Two of the hardest things for most of us is receiving from those around us and letting go of the things we love. This fall has certainly been a time of just that for me. In June my son informed me he wanted to go to Junior Boarding school. He just turned 13 years old in July. August was filled with planning and attending school visits, selecting the schools to apply to and deciding on one. It also involved determining what needed to be taken, left behind, dentists, orthodontists, doctors and the actual logistics of getting him across a border and moved into a new place.

I returned home with the intention to actually now take care of me. I started running regularly, I stopped drinking wine every day and I made sure I did not fill my schedule. I also became very angry and unhappy. It took a little reflection and wise words from someone to help me actually understand that I am grieving. I am letting go of my child. He is a young man now. Not the child I take to school and come home with at the end of the day. He is a young man who no longer needs me in the ways he used to. I am letting go of that part of my life. Once I saw it, I understood my motivation to be 'super productive,' and my short temper. I handle grief by putting up a wall of things to do and hope it holds back the uncomfortable feelings.

Little did I know that within days, I would be making the decision to let go of my other baby, the work I have been doing for twelve years. While the decision feels so right, I can feel the anxiety creeping in as I start to tell people. As I come to realize the coming days work of preparing for this change, I feel myself shutting down again.

I recall this quote brought to my attention by Brene Brown, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I feel like that man in the arena. How do I stay in the arena and dare greatly in the face of these feelings that make me feel so vulnerable?
Last night, I went to 108 Yoga, (the Yoga centre where I teach), and I sat in the presence of such powerful and beautiful souls; the other teachers. I let myself be seen, and to feel the love that they offer.
We don't stand in the arena alone. Ever. But that is true only if we allow ourselves to be seen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Set the World on Fire

Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.
~ St. Catherine of Sienna

This quote has rested as a parting comment on my emails from my personal account for quite some time. Years, I believe. In 2000, I wrote a book called Climbing Your Best. The name was suggested to me from a great friend and even though the publisher really liked it, I was a little reserved about it. When I transitioned from climbing as my means of physical activity and respite from stress to Yoga, I quickly realized Yoga is about BEING your best. And this quote became my moniker.

It sounds so easy... just be who you were created to be. Like climbing, just practice and learn a variety of tools and techniques and you can be the best climber you can be. Learning the tools is the easy part. Living it isn't so easy.

The biggest challenge is the fear of failing. I do not want to fail at being who I was created to be. Sounds illogical. How can you fail at something you were born to be? But we do feel we have failed if people do not love or appreciate who we are. So we tend to wear masks, put on roles and accomplishments or armour, and really only show most people what we want them to see.

After many years of practice and going deeper into the study of Yoga, I have come to learn how to love and support myself. I have learned how to be honest with myself about who I am, (the good and the bad), and how to continue to be loving toward myself because only from there - from acceptance - can I truly love and accept others.

That's freedom. That is where happiness lies.

I can always tell when I have stepped away from myself because that feeling of rigidity comes over me again. Maybe that is why people confuse Yoga with stretching and flexibility. It is not about the muscles, it's about acceptance and surrender.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Modifications of the mind

I awake and consider getting up. It's early. I decide to do yoga nidra. As I settle into the practice, following the directions methodically, my mind begins to settle. The instructions allow for silence and moments of resting in silence. My mind begins to think... I am back in the dream, what does it mean? Why would I be dreaming about plane crashes? How did it make me feel?

The instructions start again and my mind races back to attention, ever wanting to be the good student. This pattern happens over and over again, in one moment being with the practice and in the next, off in the land of thinking. This is mind following Prana, or mind following my energy and when all of my energy is back in a memory of a dream or planning the day ahead, it is not here in the present. 

There are so many enticements for the mind to draw it away and yet, as the wonderful teacher Byron Katie points out, you are really only ever physically right here in this moment... Woman sitting, typing. I cannot effectively change the past, nor change the events of the future until the future comes, so why is my mind already there?

Asana practice, meditation, pranayama, these are the practices that bring the mind back to the present; practices that cultivates more waking presence with the energy in the present, within yourself. When that energy is collected and contained within, you become more powerful, more patient, more joyful, free.

Practice, practice, practice. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Science and Perception

For the past couple of days, I have been harbouring some pretty unloving thoughts. Taking my responsibility as a Yogi seriously, I have been observing these thoughts... when they show up, what seems to be the trigger and why. Not the obvious why, but the deep seated why. The why that stems from there being something within myself that is rejecting this experience and trying to figure out what that is.
Well this practice is called vichara. It is as quoted from Plato, "the unexamined life is not worth living." The why in my case is not really about the things others do that upset me, no, the why in my case is what I am not doing for myself. The dishonesty with which I am living. I am a Yoga teacher and yet if you saw my schedule these days, you would very clearly note that 'self care' is not really given much floor time. You would see from my nutritional choices that self care isn't showing up there either. In addition, you could note that I am actually adding my type A style exercise to the mix to really burn myself up. With my son now living away from me, I am also not getting my regular dose of hugs. This is probably the hardest part of transitioning to this new lifestyle.

The dishonesty is not living in the way I know will allow me to be the best of myself. The symptoms; I have trouble getting to sleep, trouble getting up - oh I wake on time, I just don't want to get out of bed. The foods I crave, and then the food I choose. My approach to being in nature... which is actually more an attitude of "I am going to rock my time on this run if everyone would just get out of my way."

So now that it is pretty clear I am taking myself out of balance, I have some choices to make. Do I just work with contentment... finding a way to be content with being out of balance? Or do I need to make some changes. Clearly, in my case it's some changes. This is where Ayurveda comes in... the sister science to Yoga. I can select foods that will bring down my Pitta fire. I can choose self care that settles my ungrounded nature and improves my sleep. I can select a more cooling approach to work and to exercise. I can spend time in nature, not rushing through it, but nestled in the rich colours of her splendour.

Everything we do brings closer to balance or further away. The way we see the world is merely a reflection of how close to balance we are.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


According to wikipedia, "Aging is an accumulation of damage to macromolecules, cells, tissues and organs. If any of that damage can be repaired, the result is rejuvenation." To live the best version of our Self possible there are many simple things that you can do to repair the damage in our body. Your body has it's own history, it's own nature. Learning to connect with your body, to take care of your body and live from a place of appreciation are keys to living the best version of you that you can be.

Join me in celebrating a more youthful you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Becoming Your Best

"Negative thoughts and emotions are enormous drains on energy. Only by releasing those egoistic self-absorptions and attachments to success are we ever truly free to give 100 percent of ourselves, which is what every Big Project demands." Chris Sharma

Seven years ago my marriage was ending. I had a lot of negative thoughts. About my ex-husband, about myself, about my future. My dream was crushed.

It was very painful.

Except when I practiced Yoga. For some reason, on the mat, the mind became steady. My attention was no longer on my loss and grief, rather it settled in my heart and I felt lightness, joy, freedom from these burdensome thoughts. That was what made me choose to do a Yoga teacher training. I sought freedom. I wanted to understand how to have more of these moments. I caught glimpses of light in a world that everyone agreed was dark. I didn't need to teach. I needed to bring more light into my own life.

Last week I left my 13 year old son at a boarding school. I recognize this could be a time where I feel great loss. Many people have been sending me loving supportive thoughts. My little boy is now a young man. He is independent. My role as mother has changed, just as my role with my ex husband changed seven years ago. With seven years of practice, four years of daily meditation, I see light even in the moment of saying good bye. My heart is not heavy with sadness.

Advanced Yoga study was a very worthy investment in myself. An investment I continue to make.

When will you start?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Things your mother wants to hear.

Less than 24 hours ago, I left my son at his new school approximately 1254 kilometers from home. Needless to say I won't be seeing him for a few weeks. We've had these times apart over the many years of his life, but this seems somehow a little more distant. Perhaps that is because this time he is on the verge of real independence. At any rate, when we have done this in the past, I have gotten texts that consisted of, 'I'm ok.' Needless to say, I was hoping for something a little more. So the following is a list of questions children (even the older ones) could answer when they send mom a text. 
I had a __________ day.
I spent time hanging out with __________.
I did really well on my assignment about ___________.
I realized ______________.
I was just thinking about you mom.
I plan to __________.
My favorite new _________ is _________.
Today's practice went _________.
I miss __________.
Thanks for __________.

If all else fails, I even like 'I'm ok.' Please share your ideas too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No Ordinary Moments

There are No Ordinary Moments
In this moment there is breath.
In this moment there is light, even in the dark.
In this moment there is joy, even in the sadness.
In this moment there is love, even in the anger, grief and jealousy.
In this moment there is only what you choose to see.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Winds of Change

This week life feels hard.
My son is preparing to go away to school. I thought I had more time, at least 2 years before this would happen. I am going through the motions of getting things done and in all the doing, I am avoiding the feelings. I am taking on even more, not choosing to rest and take time for me. At least not yet. This is the way I cope. The unhealthy way I cope. I get stuff done.

It is in these moments, when life feels hard and we don't want to feel the feelings, that it is harder to practice. Harder to stay disciplined. Harder to see the point. Unless I choose not to practice and then it all seems to be so much harder and feel so much less capable of handling it.

So I keep one thing consistent. I practice every day. Good days, bad days. The practice gives me strength. It gives me light. It gives me a sense of steadiness in chaos.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Change, it's inevitable and in your hands.

In a few days I will be heading south to Massachusetts with my son. I will return, he will be staying in the US to attend school. It has been a bit of a whirlwind plan as we toured schools, made a decision and are now filling out paperwork and packing all within one month. People ask me how I am doing. How am I? Truth is, it depends. When I think about the opportunities for Fynn, the beauty of the campus, the resources, the class size, the excitement; I am really happy and excited. On the other hand, when I think about coming home from work everyday without my child, I am a sad and even afraid. If I think about what I will do; switch to a four day work week, use my additional day to write or plan workshops; again I am excited and light. Or if I think about maybe Fynn feeling lonely or depressed, I am lonely and depressed.

"Tis nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so." Which comes first, the feeling or the thought?

Yesterday I came home, sat down with a glass of wine and a TV show. I then proceeded to snack. Nothing healthy. The more I sat, the more I became disturbed and the more anything I was watching could make me cry, the more I searched for yet another snack. I became less inclined to do anything productive, despite a long list of things to do. Fortunately, I ran out of wine after one glass. I contemplated getting more wine, but didn't. I stopped snacking. I ran out of TV episodes of the show I was watching. I got up and took the dogs out for a walk. I started thinking about the empowering conversation I had with a friend just earlier that day. I started texting with a friend. The language in my texts shifted from more self pity and provocation to kindness.

Our senses and our actions, drive our experience. I wanted to hide. But I can't hide from my reality drinking wine, watching TV or eating. I could however shift my actions; getting up and walking, not consuming things that were not improving my experience. The simple act of walking... in nature... chatting with someone who cares about me... these actions brought me toward feeling more connected to mySelf, connected to feelings of potential, rather than feelings of loss.

Hope this is true for you!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In the Beginning

She awoke and moved through her routine. No decisions to be made. It is not a choice. Just do it, as Nike would tell you. She put one foot on the floor and then the other. The dog out for a pee. The teeth brushed, bladder emptied. Sinuses flushed. Time to practice.

It is all practice. Every moment of every day is a practice. We practice what we should have said or done. We practice what we will do or say.

This practice is different. This practice is the practice of connecting to something bigger than herself. Something bigger and yet not separate. Her, in a bigger sense of herself.

She recalled the first time she had realized this sense of not being alone. She had gone to a yoga class in the Ashtanga style. Despite being in pretty good shape, the class had definitely challenged her. She had noticed how easily her sister could move into poses that she struggled with. Quite unlike all her other accomplished physical feats, the movements here seemed to require something that was foreign to her. You cannot just make your body do the pose, you have to coax it into it and let go of getting there at the same time. By the time savasana came, she was physically relieved to lie on the floor, though this would be when she would return to her troubles. Her mind began it’s relentless story-telling of worry and resentment. She consciously tried to relax and yet could feel the tension creeping into her limbs and hips, her eyes. She wanted to cry. She felt almost broken. She had had enough and yet just could not let go. She felt as if she was being swept around in a wind storm and the only thing she knew to do was to hold on.

She could see the brown tam, the brown shirt with the orange and white coloured scarf. She recognized the blue eyes peering at her. It was a little girl, perhaps 7 or 8 years old; she saw herself. This was her in her Brownie uniform. The eyes were soft and caring. Her voice strong and confident. "You will be alright." As the words washed over her and her mind was trying to understand, she could feel a deep sense of safety. A deep sense that these words were true.

Those words would continually wash over her in the weeks and months to come. Along with her curiosity. It was that curiosity that would hold everything together in the next few years.

What was that, why did she appear and in that way? And what did all of that have to do with yoga?

Friday, August 22, 2014

What If?

What if I wrote a book and it became a bestseller?
I would be happy. Would I?
I would love that I could sit and write and people would love to read what I have to say.
Maybe I have a problem with not feeling heard.
Maybe I have an ego.
Yes… definitely got one of those. It tells me all the ways other people are wrong and I am right. It just hasn’t shut up and written the book yet.
Wait… I think the ego is here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

No Room for The Haters

There are those people in our lives who just cannot send us appreciative thoughts. No matter what you do or how hard you try, they have to point out your failings and make you feel somehow small. And sometimes the biggest hater is you. It's a little voice in your head that just tells you are can't have it this good, you don't deserve it, you could have, should have done it better. It could be better.

But just like the real people who say things that hurt, this little voice in your own head is just a thought born from the mood, the energy surrounding you. This is why it is so very important to surround yourself with the energy that fills your cup. To feed the body with whole, natural foods prepared with love. To feed your mind with pleasant text, images and sensory experiences. To feed the heart, the emotions with joy and gratitude, appreciation and love.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


This morning as I sit here contemplating what to write, the word freedom pops into my head. In this moment I do not feel very free. I feel very busy and committed to a number of responsibilities. But am I really committed? I mean if I was hit by the proverbial bus, all those commitments and responsibilities would vanish. Everyone involved would continue to breath, except maybe me. Time would continue to tick on. And within a short period of ticking time, someone else would be doing those things or they would no longer need to be done.

Freedom then is something we just feel in the midst of all those responsibilities and commitments, challenges. This must be what Viktor Frankl felt when he choose to live for the book he wanted to write when he was being held in a concentration camp. Freedom came when he let go of whether he could survive the experience and the challenges he faced moment by moment and held onto the dream, the goal. That takes a lot of faith.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Loving What Is

Listening to audiobooks as I drive and hearing from yet another source of the importance of loving yourself, having a sense of self worth and knowing full well it is so very hard to achieve. Years ago, I recall Dan milkman walking me through an exercise that showed me in no uncertain terms I had a way to go in this department.

Self worth is a sort of sense of scarcity about our own self. At least for me the big feeling of not enough are all linked to a thought that replies with, 'if I had... ' The had is everything from time and money to relationships and physical improvements.

I don't know I will ever feel completely content with me, love me for all my flaws and imperfections, but I do know that I can practice everyday. I can practice gratitude for my health and my well being, my desire to continue to grow and move and know myself even more. I can be grateful for the opportunities, even the ones I am not so pleased to be confronted with. And mostly I can be grateful for the amazing relationships I have in whatever level of connection or disfunction they exist, for every relationship is another opportunity.

And this kid is pretty lovable in my books!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rules to Live By

As the summer moves closer to fall and there are some potentially some tough decisions to be made, I find myself remembering these words daily. It is challenging when we feel pushed in directions we are not yet prepared to go. And yet, it is really the only way to live with integrity. I have to admit, I am not always doing the best that I can, nor am I always open in my communication, and I certainly have been known to take a few things personally. But at the very least my intention is not to harming myself or others. That should perhaps be the fifth rule to live by.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In the grey

I recall many years ago a conversation with someone who said, "the world is not just black or white, there is grey in-between." That quote came back to me this morning after watching this video:

I feel that one of the many gifts of Yoga is that it teaches how to live in the grey. We think of ourselves as perfect or imperfect, tall or short, good looking or not, male or female, black or white. But in truth, we are both. When I look in the mirror, I often can look with judgement at my face, the fine lines, the freckles, the redness of my nose. And sometimes I look and feel it doesn't look so bad. What makes the difference is not my age or whether I am wearing make up. What makes the difference is how I feel. When I am arrive at the mirror feeling content, peaceful, I know I have beauty that is skin deep. When I arrive feeling sad or lonely, I see the flaws. It is as if a laser beam shines on each flaw.

To be sure, there are societal pressures, and it is our responsibility to determine how much of it we carry. When we eat poorly, sleep poorly, watch TV shows whose plot is to exacerbate the weight of flaws around us, when we sit in a chair and don't get up and move, life seems very depressing. What are we living for anyway? We carry this momentum into each experience and it is the dull fray lens through which we decide what the world looks like. Conversely, when we move the body and get the heart rate up, we play, we eat healthy food, we enjoy nature around us, we see love between two people, we take that momentum into the next experience, viewing it through rose coloured lenses and everything seems brighter.

Even if the experience is the same.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stillness and steadiness

Five days of paddle boarding, kayaking, mountain biking and climbing. Each of the last few days, I did not do asana practice. I did spend those days getting into my body. And if I were to speak of it on a physical level, the physical benefits of all that fun is no different than the benefits of an asana practice or two. In fact, the three hours paddling, and swimming, might have even been better.

Each morning I would awake and attempt to do my morning meditation practice. And each morning I was distracted by the sounds of nature, the droplets falling from the leaves, the birds chirping or the other campers slowly arising. My mind would wander from the practice and I would attempt to draw it back to my mantra, the stillness I was attempting to rest in.

It is this lack of stillness that I cannot get from paddle boarding, from kayaking, climbing or mountain biking. It is the sukham and sthira; the steadiness and stillness that I cultivate in my asana practice, that enables me to sit and hear the whispers of my heart.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When enough is enough

As we roll into July, the level of chaos in my life is becoming more and more dynamic. Between the preparation for Youth Summer Camps, the ongoing teaching schedule and getting the chores like gutters repaired around my house and the joyful things like planning a vacation, I am exhausted. Not just a little tired. I am deeply tired. I come home on a beautiful sunny summer eve and do not want to move from my comfy reclining chair. I could go out and move that pile of dirt I have so I can put new sod down and repair my lawn. Or weed the garden or do an asana practice. I could even do a nidra - though even this vata girl falls asleep doing that these days. But I don't do any of that. I sit in a chair and try to relax so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.
This morning as I reflected on what to write before I dash off to teach a private, before I head into staff training, I realized I am the one who is allowing this chaos. I said yes to the private. I said yes to my role in the staff training - albeit if I said no I may find myself unemployed. The point is that we do make choices in every moment about what our days, our weeks and our future will look like. This week a friend said, "I don't do the things I don't like to do." As I put the final shingles up on my porch addition and tackled the starlings nesting in my soffit, bird poop falling on me as I stood on a ladder pushing the soffit back, I thought... "I really don't want to do this."

I challenge you as you move through your busy summer to slow the chaos down and take a moment to appreciate the deep state of relaxation within yourself. As Panditji says in this article,"Relaxation is not merely the physical act of lying down. Something very profound is happening. Your body is being reunited with your breath and mind."

To read the whole article, click the link and have yourself a calm day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's day

When I was a budding teenager, my father and I had an emerging relationship. No longer was he the man who bounced me on his knees or held me over the stair railing to watch my mother's anxiety climax. He became the man I wanted to be. Now as a woman, that may seem like a strange thing to say, but the masculine energy of my father was what I wanted to be. My dad was, and is, a commanding force; he was, and often is, in charge and we all knew it. It was this power that I wanted. My father believes that a twelve year old can certainly haul a bobsled covered with logs across the lake. He thinks it is natural for us as kids to fill a giant bucket with blueberries. He believes hard work was good for you. He believes that living with integrity and honesty are the only ways to live. That was what I wanted... that discipline; that integrity; that strength. My father has another strength I have come to truly admire... resiliency. As he supported and loved my mother through her illness and death, as he has stood by himself in the year that has followed, as he has allowed his love for his children to soften more and more, I see an amazing man who is still growing and thriving, embracing all life brings to him with gratitude.

Ironically, it is just such a man that I married and had a child with. A man who believed in having personal strength, probably still climbs 5.13 and can run a marathon. A man who believes in hard work being an essential part of ones day. A man who has incredible discipline and strength. I am no longer married to that man, but as I watch my son grow and become a man and who may one day be a father, I am very blessed. This summer his father will offer him many adventures, all encouraging my son to see himself as more capable than he believes himself to be.

There are so many great fathers in my life; my teacher, my brother-in-laws, my friends... they are great in their desire to love, to be great. It is my hope that each day I will pause for a moment and think kindly of all of them, after all, I am so very fortunate to be in their lives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The attainment of goals is often steeped in the suffering of 'fear of not enough' with failure or 'what's next' with success. When success means happiness, the intention is not the goal itself, rather the path. The intention for peace and happiness is the goal of Yoga.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Fork in the Road

There are very often forks in the road of life. Most times they are small enough turns that we do not worry or think about them too much. Maybe I will go to a Yoga class, I have not been before and I hear it is very calming. And that slight shift in direction leads to even bigger forks in the roads. The big ones. Should I leave this partner and embark on my own? Should I leave my job and start fresh? Should I move across the country?

Those are the truly tough questions. Those are the big ones. The ones that the head will usually win the argument until the pain of staying the same is just too great. Or until faith comes that in the end, no matter what happens, even in the face of failure, we can believe that we will be okay. Of course we will, we will always be okay. We all came into this world with nothing and it is exactly how we leave it. The path may just maybe a little uncomfortable in the new surroundings you find yourself. Discomfort is part of what will make it that much more rewarding in the end.

Follow your dreams, not the rules. Live your truth, not someone else's. Love like there is not tomorrow, it's all that really counts.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mindfulness in Motion

"From down dog, now step your right foot toward your right wrist, come up into warrior one."
The reaction is to quickly adjust the feet, stand up and then take arms up over head.
It is a reaction, 'ahhhh... I know warrior one.'
The goal of Yoga though is to experience the movement in between down dog and warrior one, to notice the roll forward on the back foot to the ball, to engage the low abdomen as one lifts the leg, bending the knee to bring it through. To experience the foot placed, to notice the hips and whether the left is drawn back or not. Then from this place of balance, to move the arms in line with the ears, to reach long through the side body as one lifts the rib cage away from the top of the hips and upward. Feeling steady in the stance. At the height of the pose, the belly is still engaged and stabilizing the legs. From this very solid and stable foundation, the front body can open, reversing the curve of the thoracic spine, the collar bones wide and the energy of breath collecting in the region of the heart.

Try it sometime, take a full minute, a breath or two to come up into warrior one and see what an amazing landscape of information there is for you in the change.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Secret of the Yoga Sutras

I have begun reading the secret of the Yoga sutras. As I read about learning to recognize and gradually not be attached to the variations of the mind, I am forced to notice how my mind wanders into self criticism. Yesterday looking in my body as I tried on pants and thinking with dismay how big around my thighs are and my butt looks saggy. I don my running shoes and go out with my good and dear friend Mike, all the while feeling like I am sucking air and I should be in better shape. Why is my mind on this journey of self criticism? Because it is the habit. It is my habit to look at myself with negative judgement.

And I know I am not alone. I watched a great TED talk this morning with a make-up artist who acknowledge that this is what she has been hearing for years from the people who sit in her chair. And then she said something very helpful... was it going to take being on deaths door or having cancer to make her appreciate what she was given?

Excellent reminders that I am in charge of whether I decide my thighs are too big or my butt too saggy. I am in charge of whether I choose to appreciate this 50 year old body that can still climb V4 in a matter of a few tries and still runs, weighs the same that it did in high school and enables me to teach Yoga. I will decide that I have been blessed with a petite figure probably from my Gram. I have bright blue eyes and a wide smile. And a pretty discerning mind. All in all, a pretty package.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yoga is Life

I enjoyed the past week in Colorado at a Yoga training immersed in the teachings. There was some asana, but more than that, there was an excavation of mud that covers the soul. As we stand in a pose we see the subtle movement of the body. The leg has a slight quiver, the abdomen expanding on inhale, tail rooting into the body on exhale. If we watch even more closely, we see the movement of the mind. 'My shoulder hurts.' 'Steady... steady...' 'God I hate this pose.'

I watched my mind as I tried to remain one pointed on the breath and the concentration of light at the third eye. My mind went off on an excursion and once I recognized it's movement, I had to retrieve it and bring it back. Then the thought arose...'act fearlessly.' Clearly a message from deep within me as it brought with it amazing feelings of excitement and anxiety at the same time.

These glimpses into what lies in the heart are critical to shape how I will live my life from here forward. These messages arise from the silence. And so as I negotiated the mountain passes through a late spring snow storm, my new mantra, "act fearlessly" accompanied on the road.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tuning out, tune in and farther out

I am sitting in a hotel breakfast room in the shadows of the mountains in Colorado. The air is crisp. The sun is slowly creeping higher in the sky, though later than what I am used to in Halifax. I am in the process of trying to adjust after a 19 hour day of travel.

And I am so very happy. Happy to put the phone, the computer, the Facebook, the blog away. Happy to just rest. Oh... It will be a week of asana, meditation, conversation, walks, dinners, social engagement, dishes and sweeping. But I will rest in it. 

My love of Yoga trainings is that I am fully present. I do not plan ahead or ruminate in the past. I sit with where I am.

Perhaps you can't go on a retreat. But go to class this week and rest in each pose, present to the experience, the whole experience. How does the tight hamstring feel when it is experienced in the landscape of the whole body experience? 

So much of our life is lived holding tightly to one part - usually what we dislike the most. Broaden that experience. In the tremendous mountains, the air, the sangha, it is a bigger landscape in which we see the world is beautiful, even if there is something challenging before us.

Rest in the pose and ask yourself, "how would this feel if I couldn't feel the discomfort?"


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Humour, the salve for our thoughts.

All things happen in their own time.
Bringing fierceness to your practice only brings you out of the practice.
Bringing patience and a sense of humour on the wings of curiosity and self appreciation, bring you deeper into the experience, whether it is a pose, a conversation or the weather.

Happy Spring... apparently the lion isn't quite ready to go ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's a Yogi's life

We all go through an array of experiences - some of us are parents, some are not; some have jobs, some are in school; some have large families; some are on our own. At the end of the day we all go through life. And life brings with it the things we love and the things we hate. It brings us happiness and sadness. It brings us lovers and enemies.

Yoga may seem a great mystery, but really it is quite simple. It is a science. YOU are not your body or your mind, these are tools you use to experience the world. You are the energy. You need the body and the mind to work well in order to animate your energy well. If life is full of struggle and you do not eat well, sleep well or move through a large range of motion, your body looses it's ability to animate. If the mind becomes attached to the distractions outside of it, then the hearts whispers are not heard.

Yoga is the movement of the body through broad ranges to keep it healthy and to bring our attention into the body. The breath work teaches us how to calm ourselves or energize ourselves. The mind follows the breath. When we still the mind, we can hear the whispers, the desires of the heart.

The community of Yogis give us the support to follow those whispers, those desires. And that is what makes a great life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Last night I sat knitting and watching Justice League. There is a Justice League character named Fate. In the context of stopping the Android from killing Lex Luthor. Fate offers to help the Android saying, his purpose is to help others understand their purpose. Pretty deep stuff for a cartoon. Has me wondering about the struggles all these writers must endure.

I have been in this process of discerning my own purpose for many years and what I have come to learn is that it is like peeling away the layers of an onion. There are hints, clues that when peeled away lead to a little deeper understanding. The desire to be successful often clouds the very understanding I seek. as I review materials I have, I came across this comment, 'You can come to understand yourself better by looking at your darkness than by sitting in your light.' Looking into my darkness. The times when fear won over love. Those are definitely the times when the purpose driven life is not ruling the day.

Easter is a time to renew. This Easter, I will renew my commitment to courage and I will just try my best to let the light of my heart rule the day.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

If the shoe fits...

What do you think... any of these apply to me?

extroverted, theoretical, logical, spontaneous, rational, innovative, intellectual, open, independent, curious, enterprising, analytical, clever, enthusiastic, venturesome, inventive, energetic sociable, optimistic, non-conformist, creative, freedom-loving, charming, able to get enthusiastic, self-confident, communicative, capricious, inconsistent, outgoing

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The other night I was speaking with my Guru over the phone. He noted that one of the most important elements of practice is patience. I have been working with a particular practice for five years and in response to just wanting to finally put my thoughts on paper I had written, "All I really want is...." my own impatience for this process.

I notice this same impatience with group classes. As I guide people through chaturanga (lowering plank), they cannot wait to move into up dog and then down dog. I don't know if they even realize they are rushing the movement. Or are they just so certain of where we are going, they get there. Because of my own nature, I will then try to change the end, to keep them curious, less certain.

Funny...I can understand so very poignantly the desire to be certain. And yet I know inherently that the real practice of Yoga is a practice of continual curiosity. And that is what I love about it. Letting the mind rest while one just experiences the movement is the mind body connection we hear so much about. It is freedom.

Try it... let me know if you agree.

Photo: Yogarupa Rod Stryker in Upward facing Dog.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Striking the right Balance

When I was growing up, I was often told to remember the Golden Rule. It seems like such a simple directive, but it can be so very complicated in delivery. In my homeland, there is currently dissension between the nurses who want guaranteed nurse to patient ratios, and our Government who are trying to balance a budget and in fact have shown a deficit budget without any change to funding for health care.

So who is right? And better question - who is happy?

The nurses argue that they are overworked and that patient safety is at risk. I think we would all agree that we would like the best possible care should we be in need of health care services from our nurses. I know we would all agree that we would not want to be overworked and overstressed in our jobs. If we were to do unto the nurses as we would like have done for us, we would agree to implementing these ratios.

On the other hand, the government is trying to balance a budget. More money in health care means we will all be eventually paying more in taxes. I am quite certain that with the highest tax rates in Canada, none of us want more tax burden. If they juggle the funds, then we need to do without another service - what service? What are we willing to give up for nurses to be less stressed and patient safety to be improved?

No matter who wins, there will be no winner. Should the nurses get their ratios, they will also get hit with the same tax increases or loss of programs or bigger deficit. Should the government win this fight, the patients will suffer with disgruntled and disengaged nurses who feel stressed and overworked.

The only way to truly find the win for everyone is to stop fighting and start trying to find a solution TOGETHER. That means being willing to admit ones own idea may not be the only or best one.

What I do know for sure is we will never be happy when we are at war with someone else, even if we are right.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Good, Bad, Ugly

This was not a good day... or was it?!?

The weather has been wintery, not the weather of spring. The sun has been elusive for awhile and I am anxious to get outside. I repeatedly think the thought, "when it warms up I will stop watching TV and snacking." And then I feel guilty and self critical for watching TV and snacking as the wind howls and the rain pounds on the glass. This period of darkness, of resistance and negativity though reminds me that the sun will come. It has to. That is the cycle and all things continue to change. The sun will arrive, we will have some form of summer... eventually. Yet during this time of focus on what I don't want, there is no room to feel what I do.

Having an opinion, a decided idea, prevents me from further questioning. It keeps me attached to MY idea. Right now I am unhappy because I have a very strong idea that it should not be snowing and freezing rain on the first day of April. But if I let me mind consider the idea that maybe there is some benefit to this weather this late in the season. Maybe we will have a very short black fly season. Or perhaps there will be less fog this summer. Maybe the cold weather is creating the opportunity for me to empty my wood shed so I can expand it and fix it this summer. Maybe it is just weakening the roots so the next hurricane will take out that larger firs that are growing up into my view. Maybe, or maybe not.

The point is, I don't really know if this weather is a good or a bad thing. And as long as I hold onto my idea that this weather should not be happening, I am unhappy. Questioning it... questioning whether there is good to come from yet another snowstorm softens my grip and lets a little light of possibility to shine, my heart opens and then the love that hides in shadow of resistance can come out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Body - Breath - Mind

I stand in warrior three. Firmly planted on my right foot, the leg extended. My left leg reaching back behind me. Arms reaching forward. The standing leg tremors, my mind responds, "will I fall? Steady. Oh. I have overcompensated. No! Okay, I think I have it. Oh, no."
My thoughts are interrupted by the instructor cueing the breath, "smooth and steady."
That's when I notice I am not breathing.
We come out and I exhale in a sigh.

Sound familiar?!?

The body, mind and breath are all related. In Yoga we refer to these layers as the koshas. There is the physical kosha, anna maya kosha; within that sheath is a more subtle sheath relating to our living energy - the energy of fear or of love for example -called the prana maya kosha. The third sheath is the mano maya kosha, or the sheath of the mind. The thinking essence of ourself. We experience the world around us through the layers of emotion energy and our physical experience of the world.

In warrior three, I may arrive with physical tension from sitting at my desk all morning and having done my run on a treadmill the day before. I had that extra cup of coffee in the morning and hungry for my lunch. These things will influence my physical experience of the pose. I rush to class, knowing I have a full afternoon before me. Knowing that I will not stop until late tonight. This is the living energy I bring to the class; this energy of being hurried, continuing moving, not grounded and steady. The mind is thinking of the results. It is checking the things off the to do list. It is judging the experience. "Is this class giving me what I want? Am I being successful?" This is the mano maya kosha layer through which I am experiencing the class.

My overall experience depends on how I manage these layers. A restful sleep. A healthy meal that balances me. Ensuring time in my schedule. These elements will create a very different experience on the three levels I have just described. This is why Ayurveda is the sister science to Yoga. Ayurveda works with the physical, energetic and mental energies. Eating foods that stabilize and balance the elements of the body, oil massage that creates a more relaxed or enlivened experience based on what one would benefit the most, help to create the maximum benefit from asana practice.

The koshas don't end here. There are two more layers; the vijana maya kosha and the ananda maya kosha. When we can move through the first three we reach the layer of discrimination. This is the place of clear understanding. And finally the layer of bliss. That place of joy, ananda maya kosha. This is the real fruit of our practice. Being and experiencing our best self.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Relationships within ourselves

All my decisions are a reflection of my relationship with myself, whether that is consciously understood and seen by me or not. I think this is true for everyone. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend who was telling me I was undervaluing myself by offering a movement clinic where the fee was only fifteen dollars. There was a time when I did movement clinics for groups for free in order to build a name for myself. And there was also a time when my rate for a private session was a hundred an hour.

So why did I decide to charge so little? My relationship with myself when it comes to climbing is disconnected. Funny since I run a climbing gym. But I have watched climbing change and as the ability of climbers has continued to get more advanced, the pattern of movement in bouldering has become more dynamic. Back in the day... when I started climbing, I was a trad climber. The rule was you don't fall. Then I progressed to route climbing and discovered you could fall, but I still didn't like the idea. So I learned how to make big moves while staying in balance throughout most of the movement. This served me well when I discovered bouldering. I knew how to climb tall even though I was short and I was strong through my core.

Now people like to swing to holds and move completely out of balance and then reel themselves back in. That doesn't appeal to me. People like to climb boulder problems that are 20 feet tall. That doesn't appeal to me. People like to climb at night with headlamps. That doesn't appeal to me. And so I have not found a climbing partner that shares my love of grace in movement and I have stayed home. I haven't climbed much. Unless I go to visit my friends in Colorado who don't dyne for things.

In this photo - first climbing post delivering Fynn, my left leg is dropping - I didn't do the move. Understanding that is the kind of thing I love about climbing... and yoga.

I gave up on connecting to people who share climbing and therefore, I gave up on my climbing. Oh... I haven't forgotten how to move gracefully, nor any of the safety related issues or how to set routes, but I gave up believing that anyone cared about that. And that ended my relationship. Funny thing is that it shouldn't. I have never climbed for anyone else before. I have walked away from sponsors because they didn't share my values about the joy of movement. And yet I walked away from that joy because I did not have anyone to share it with. Except myself.

Time to share my joy with myself. See you out there. ;)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Agni - the fire of self knowledge

When I settle into locust, each breath lifting my chest higher and each exhale grounding my belly on the mat. It doesn't feel uplifting and beautiful. I do not see the beauty and joy in my practice. I am generally having a negotiation with myself about just how long I will endure this discomfort.

This discomfort is what we Yoga teachers call tapas... inner heat. It's not the "sweating" that happens after ten minutes on the treadmill. It is as much a discomfort of the mind as discomfort in the body. The internal dialogue that heats up and I begin to bring on the ego in fullest splendour. The ego must not lose this battle. Ego begins to judge and argue. In my mind there is criticism that arises. Critical of the sequence, the teacher, others in the room, and eventually it settles with myself. If there long enough. If the discomfort is sustained and I eventually let myself free from the struggle, tapas eventually leads to tejas.

Tejas is defined as splendour, light, fire, fierceness, beauty, majesty, clearness of the eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Tejas is your inner light, your fire, the beauty and majesty that is you... the you that is not the physical body. It is the clear seeing of oneself. This is why I practice. This clear seeing helps me to see clearly the choices I want to make, see clearly the love in my own heart.

So why do you practice?