Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More than Breathing

Yesterday I shared someone's article that indicated addiction is the result of a lack of connection. This article struck me profoundly. Last fall, my son left home to embark on a new adventure at boarding school. I was suddenly living alone. I had not lived alone since 198? A long time.
It was a long hard winter; in fact the worst in over 50 years.
I had reprieves... the Wednesday evenings I spent hours with the beautiful souls in teacher training and the long weekends we practiced and learned together. The colder the days, the more snow, the more I felt buried in self-pity. My eating habits digressed, I drank more wine and watched TV than I usually do and I stopped walking my dogs further than a fifteen minute jaunt. I became depressed and less and less connected to others and myself.
It was a negative cycle that was swirling toward addiction.
I am fortunate. I have a spiritual practice. Although my practice suffered, it never stopped. And I knew I needed to do something.
I reached out. I made a plan to see my teacher. I sat in the light of all those fabulous souls that believe in something beyond what we see and feel. I connected to great hearts and I my heart began to come alive again. I became re-inspired. I stopped TV. I stopped the eating. I started walking the dogs. I went climbing.
Although the fears and doubts remain, I feel more joy and possibility because of the love of those around me.
As you go out today, remember to love those around you. Remember they may be struggling with a darkness you cannot see. And if you are struggling, look for the bright souls that invite you to connect.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Absolutes, Limits and Expectations

When we KNOW a thing - I know I don't like swimming - for example, we create two things; limits in our experience of life and expectations. We will avoid opportunities to swim and perhaps even people who like swimming because we expect we will dislike the experience. We are no longer like a child who is curious and open to the idea of swimming.

Humans like knowing. It creates a sense of safety and identity. I am a climber because I like to climb. Some people like to go climbing once a year and do things they know how to do and some may live in a van and give up everything else to just climb every day. Are they both climbers? If not, what are the defining characteristics of a climber?

This is why things like Myers-Briggs and Predictive Indexes, Dosha Quizzes capture our attention - we want to know who we are. I know I am a INFP and predominantly Pitta, with a little Vata. These quizzes have validated what I believe about myself and they also give me guidance on how to live, engage with the world. Since I now have a reference, I can now create expectations about my experience. I expect myself to be intuitive and have a strong reaction to skipping meals.

What I love about Yoga is the continual quest to stay curious. Remember that with every quiz - these were created and delivered to groups of people and not everyone had exactly the same answers. Nor do we. We can try to define ourselves, but ultimately our life experiences, our past life experiences and life circumstances in the moment we do the quiz will be influencing the outcome.

Stay curious... and you may discover you are far more diverse than you first believed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Post Road Trip Depression

It's a thing... really it is.
The many years I lived on the road, we would travel to a climbing destination and spend weeks working on new found projects. Each day we got up, chose the routes to climb, the rest days, the place to sleep and what to eat. Gradually the money got low, the projects were sent and sometimes, the weather would begin to change. That meant we needed to move on. Time to go make some more money for the next trip. So we would head back to the place we called work, book some clients, and well... work.

Brian Capps, RMP, photo: Nick Sagar

The initial return is fun. Time to reconnect with friends that don't leave and sharing the adventure. After a few days though, it would get depressing. There is a sense of loss of the freedom of spontaneity. Freedom from the obligations and responsibilities of work. Freedom from choosing to be there.

Yes... that is what is missing... the freedom of the choice to be doing exactly what you are doing.

I now feel this same sense of loss and depression when I return from studying with my teacher or time at the Himalayan Institute. Initially it is fun to reconnect, to share what I learned. Then it starts to just be a longing to be in the study again, away from the responsibilities of day to day.

I wonder, if it is only about choice, what would happen if you chose what was happening where you are?
Would each moment be as awesome as a retreat, a road trip?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What does it mean to be a woman?

The Facebook feed and the news proudly shows this pic of Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn. Wow! What a transformation! I am curious how someone who feels they are meant to be a woman, but was born in a male body, can only feel authentic with so many inauthentic props?
What happens when the props come off?
Why a beautiful, sexy woman and not a plain Jane?
Why a bigger chested woman than a small breasted woman?
I say this with real curiosity.
Is this image of Caitlyn what we as a culture really think being a woman means?

I know some amazing and beautiful female athletes who are strong, willing to try hard, tenacious and spirited. And their beauty is in the face devoid of make-up, hair pulled into a ponytail, and chalk on their hands. And breasts just get in the way. They are awesome girlfriends, wives and mommies. Are these women not really women?
A woman doesn't need props to feel like a woman. A real woman can rest in her authentic, natural beauty.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What the hell is self care?

You hear it all the time in the yoga world. When you are in the fire of transformation, self care is essential. I just read an article that when dating, we often are dealing with deep seated beliefs that head us off in the wrong relationships. The answer, self care, self love and appreciation.
What the hell does that mean?
Right diet? Well if you are an eating disorder survivor like me, having the discipline to even pay attention can be hard. And not beating yourself up when you haven't is even harder.
Is it a massage, pedicure, new clothes? If you are in the midst of financial insecurity, how do you afford it?
Perhaps it is Self with the capital S? Sitting on your cushion often feels more like torture than self care.
Is it connecting with others? How do you do that when you feel so disconnected?

I can tell you that self care for me means getting out in nature with my dogs who love a good romp in the woods. It means going to a climbing gym and talking to a stranger, offering them help sequence a route.
Sometimes it is actually teaching my yoga class with a real intention to serve them.

For me, self care is not something I do for me... it is something I do for someone else.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Freeing the soul

The path of the masculine is purpose. It is the path of strength, provider, the warrior, to act.
The path of the mother, feminine is to nurture, to be receptive, to hold power.
The male would keep people safe by holding back the enemies; the mother makes them feel safe by holding their fears.
As I navigate this year of empty nesting, I have struggled with the warrior and the mother within me.
Protect who? Nurture who?
In the emptiness, I have stepped into the more comfortable energies, the masculine.
Be strong, act courageously. Persevere.
The feminine has been left in the darkness, waiting, longing for someone to nurture.
It is this longing has created feelings of being unsettled.
It is time to let her be free.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Being in the Right Company

In the company of the right people, in the seat of love, one feels and believes anything is possible. In the company of the wrong people, in the grip of fear, one believes it is not possible.
This pretty much sums up my climbing life.
Climbers look at a line, a piece of rock and say, sure I can find way up this. And then they just keep trying despite all the evidence to the contrary. Hundreds of failed attempts.
Then one person would figure it out and do the one move that seemed impossible.
Then one by one, everyone would do it too.

What is the one thing you think is impossible?
Find the people doing it and find a way to be with them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Taking the leap

These past few months have been unsettled.
My life has been changed, leaving so many things unsettled.
In turn, my heart has been unsettled and my mind has been unsettled.
I recognize the presence of anxiety, sadness, and anger.
The root of all three - FEAR
"There is only fear and love, choose love." - Marianne Williamson

Monday, May 18, 2015


This morning I learned through my FB feed that Dean Potter had died. He died in the way that everyone would have predicted. He hit the ground after a jump. His parachute did not open. I read through the many comments remembering him as an amazing inspiration.

There was a part of me the was frustrated and angry. A part of me wanted to shout... 'he threw away his life. He wasn't a hero. He made heroism out of needlessly risking his life!"

I went off on some other internet escapism about buddhist characteristics and there in the page was a Dean Potter interview, bringing me back. He was sitting with his then girlfriend and fellow climbing and base jumping partner, Steph Davis. This led me to her Ted Boulder talk on Flying Again.


The more I pondered these justifications for living so much on the edge being the seat of joy, the more I considered my own life in the light of this idea. I had lived on the edge. I had lived in a car for almost five years with a net worth of $1000 thanks to my sponsors who gave me climbing equipment. I had moments of not having money for food and yet choosing climbing still. And I had so much freedom. I loved teaching people. I loved being free to choose to go climbing or to write another article or to work with a client. I loved and even now long for the freedom in such a simple life.

As I prepared to go to a family celebration I realized something. My anger, frustration was really a projection of what was tearing me up. I resented the part of my life that was dictated by my sense of responsibility to people, to work, to activities that did not bring my that joy. I was doing those things out of a sense of obligation and in doing them I felt very little joy, in fact it was the birth place of resentment.

I am the one rejecting the possibility of living life on my terms. I do not believe that I can just leave it all and find people who will want to learn from me. I do not believe this old body can get back into shape and learn even more about how it all works. I am the one holding me back - UNINSPIRING ME!

Time to change.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Call to Action

Last night, I was asked to write my "call to action." What would I say to someone about what I have to offer them that is of value.

My response,I get people out of their minds and into their bodies. I offer tools to help people find clarity and deeper understanding. I support them to move past resistance and realize their potential.

This morning as I reflected on the call and the sharing, I heard a voice in my head say, "Yes, but people don't value that. People like being safe and comfortable and don't worry about potential until they have hit rock bottom."

WOW! This of course is exactly how I have reacted to reaching my own potential. I keep resenting and resisting that life isn't comfortable and safe. I am longing for the job with security and yet resented the tying down of my soul's desire when I had such a job.

I once heard Eve Ensler on a TED talk and her words rocked me. "When you give away what you long for the most, you heal that part of yourself." Guess I better add a little juice behind that word "support". Inspired... maybe.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother = Love Unconditionally

Mother's Day is just ahead.
Being a mother has been one of the greatest gifts of this life. My son was born in 2001 and just weeks before September 11th. In the days that followed, I considered the pain of mothers who lost sons and daughters and the pain for a mother who bore a child who would kill.

Looking into the eyes of my beautiful son, I could not imagine not loving him, even if he were to do such a horrible thing.

I looked around me and wondered who else I had that unconditional love for and why was it so few people.

Ever since that day, I move through my life looking at the places I find it hard to keep love alive. Sometimes, that is just looking in the mirror.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mirrors of Light

Beautiful people smile at you and let you see the possible within yourself.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Power of Sangha

In two days, I will be connecting again with beautiful hearts and shining lights in Colorado at a ParaYoga training with Rod Stryker. I long for these trainings and the connections they bring. In yoga, this is called Sangha. Sangha means "a community of noble ones." A community of seekers. Although this community is spread over multiple continents, it somehow has the power to jumpstart faith in the process, the goal of life... awakening.

Perhaps it is the freedom from daily worries of jobs, family and house chores. Perhaps it is the beautiful natural environment. Perhaps it is the nourishing lunches made with love. Perhaps it is the blessing of the experience seeping through my teacher. Perhaps it is all of these things at once. But it is in this place I feel life is truly worth living and thriving.

It is my prayer that each of you have such a refuge.
If not... come see us at 108;)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Black and White

This morning I am remembering a quote from one of my all-time favorite books, "If I defend myself, I am attacked." I am repeating this to myself in light of recent conversations with different sources and hearing the same complaints about my character. According to these sources,

I see the world in black and white. AND I am too independent.

I do see some things as black or white - right or wrong.
I would argue that the moment someone is calling me out on seeing a situation as black or white, they are seeing me in a black and white way - a right or wrong way.

I am too independent. True. Very true. I do not like being told what to do, how to do it and when.

It is that spirit of independence that has empowered me to do what I consider some of the greatest accomplishments in my life... to raise a child on my own and simultaneously become a 500 hour certified Yoga teacher. To climb at a high level because I chucked traditional living and lived in a car for multiple years to understand climbing. To become a traveling author and coach. I wrote articles and a book in the back of a Ford F-150.

Ironically, it is these very accomplishments these critics admire.

The moral of the story... exactly what people are annoyed by is also the characteristic they admire when it is seen in a different light. Never ever ever reject any part of yourself because you can be damn sure that at some point it served you well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


In Vishnu Smriti, the image of hope, morals and work is represented as the virtuous man who rides in a chariot directed by his hopeful mind to his desired wishes, drawn by his five senses, who keeps the chariot on the path of the virtuous, and thus is not distracted by the wrongs such as wrath, greed, and other vices.*

A hopeful mind is an optimistic mind.
A hopeful mind focuses on the desired outcome, and does not swerve with failed attempts and obstacles.
A hopeful mind may or may not have faith, it simply follows the dream rather than the fear.

~ *Maurice Bloomfield, The Mind as Wish-Car in the Veda, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 39, pages 280-282

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting Wanting Worrying

Waiting for what we want.
Wanting the things that will bring peace.
Worrying about change.

Resistance means we are attached to an idea of how things should be. As long as we believe things should be one way it is very hard to appreciate them any other way.

This pretty much sums up FB conversations from my Nova Scotia community as yet another snowfall blankets the landscape in these early Spring days.

My early spring unhappiness about snow opens me up to looking at the lens through which I view other areas of my life. What am I resisting?
What am I worrying about?
What am I wanting?
What else am I resisting?
What would I be open to if I wasn't believing it should be a certain way?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

9 Days of 100 days of Happiness

Happiness is something you see in every moment or choose not to.
My Facebook page is loading pictures of new babies and a little older babies. So cute.
Even as I see them I recall those amazing first days of just LOVE. Nothing else.

I recall in my own young life a time of just boldness and endless curiosity that got me in perpetual trouble. Taking apart the TV, the phone, my siblings toys, bringing home strays, climbing cliffs and dragging my siblings along.

Where did she go? When did she go?
I am more tempered now. More aware of what can go wrong. Because I have seen things go wrong. I have seen broken bodies falling from cliffs and felt broken hearts. I have seen people who will take from other people for their own beliefs and gain. I have felt the pain of greed and the sorrow of death.

And yet in each moment, there was also new birth, new babies who break your heart with boundless love, blossoming flowers and an endless cycle of birth and death.
Where I put my attention will determine my happiness.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What's your story?

We all have a fear story. That story of how our life will unfold in the way we don't want. My fear, being alone. Disconnected.
As I embark on a new journey of no longer being a single mom... just being a single woman, there are moments the fear seems realized.
And then I go to the studio... my community... and I am reminded I am not alone.
I sit in meditation and I am reminded I am never alone.
The illusion is that I am in some way separate from everyone and when there is no one with me, I am alone.
The truth is that when I am looking outside of my own heart for companionship, I will always feel alone even in a room full of people.
Connection happens when we are resting in the seat of our own heart.
We are comfortable in our own shoes.
We are comfortable in our own skin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life Practices for the Best of your Life

These practices came to me through the skilled teaching of Rod Stryker. I still struggle with mastering all of them - but it is a lovely reminder that anything that helps us move in the direction of attaining these actions is skillful.
Embody what you can, and feel compassion for that which you cannot yet master.

~ Love and respect yourself and the world.
~ Have faith in yourself; your strength, courage and tenacity.
~ Love and be grateful for this life given to you, with all its strengths, limitations & karma.
~ Strengthen your potential - do not undermine it.
~ Make time for yourself, honour yourself.
~ Expectation, entitlement - these create suffering. Be grateful for what is offered. Do not want more.
~ Disconnect. Discover the stillness in silence.
~ Cultivate your relationship with the force behind all life.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Asmita... this was me once

I watched this.
I cried. This was me at one time.
I climbed. I worked in climbing. I dreamed sequences. I visualized success. I awoke in a van, had coffee and went climbing usually before others were up.
Then I wanted more. My heart wanted a home, a shower. A baby. To serve the world in some way.
I awoke in a house. I went to a job. I taught others what I had learned.
I had a son. Someone counting on me. My soul also longed for his happiness, his life to be full.

The job continued to evolve; more administration, less teaching. My soul's longing to solve the next problem no longer fulfilled. The longing to share now met as a mother.

Climbing was pushed to the back of my heart. Not enough time, no climbing partner.

Then I found Yoga.
I had new sequences to solve, new movement to understand. Movement in the body and movement of the mind.
A whole new adventure, exploring my inner landscape.
Climbing inside... overcoming the obstacles of my own limitations.
I now have the joy of climbing inside and occasionally out. Solo and occasionally with a partner (if she hadn't up and move to BC).

There will always be climbing in my heart... the routes are just not always on rock.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


This morning I awoke to a winter storm.
It's mid March.
I awoke to feeling my earring come out as I pulled my hair back and now cannot find it.
I awoke to learn an amazing spirit and mentor has died.
I buried myself in a book - "Who Would You be Without Your Story? by Byron Katie.
My story - it shouldn't be snowing, my dear friend should not have died and I should be able to find my earring. It is not really any of these things that is the cause of my suffering, it is the idea that they should not be happening. I am snug in my home with a fire blazing in the stove and warm tea in my hand. My dear friend has spent the last 3 years fighting cancer. Now she is at rest. And the snow... it is March. It is a little crazy to believe that it shouldn't snow in winter.

Who would you be without your story?
Thanks Katie.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sutras - threads of living fully

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 Sutras, by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD.
The magic of being a parent has been being able to live this sutra with my son. He can speak to me in a way that is less than virtuous and I can still feel equanimity in my heart. When he is happy, I do not feel jealous or envy, I simply feel joy.
Although it is very hard not to feel attachment toward my son, at least the taste of the teachings shows me the potential expansiveness of my heart.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It takes a Community

Love makes the world go around.
Love happens between people who think alike.
Love is a reflection of the love in our own heart.
Without a mirror, a person to reflect our Self, fear exists.
It takes two to make love a reality.
It takes more than 2 to really shine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Love is always there, only acknowledged or ignored.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Just Show Up

Never never never give up on your ability to become the person you want to be. But just do it to the best of your ability in the moment you remember.
Our suffering comes when we resist what is happening. Shift your focus to who you want to be and act as if you are who you want to be.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Let it snow, let it snow... or rain?

It's 3 pm and I have just returned inside from removing snow from my deck. After weeks of storm after storm, the layers of ice and snow are too thick to remove it all. Still as I pondered what more weight and freezing temps tonight would mean to the overall integrity of the deck, I decided I better make a move.
As I stepped out onto the deck, I was a little worried about the deck, the dogs and myself all detaching from the house and landing in the flower garden. Fortunately that didn't happen.

As I chucked each shovel load over the railing, I was thinking about my neighbour, for whom this work would definitely be physically too much. Then I was thankful for my massage on Saturday and my practice. My asana practice. I have a pretty regular practice that involves lots of low back, mid back and low abdominal strengthening. After many years as a professional climber, one who suffered from a little low back pain, I discovered how to strengthen my low back and even more crucially, my low abdominals to protect my back.

As I reach over to pick up a shovel full of snow, I draw my low belly powerfully to my back body. I hold this contraction, feeling it support my low back as I heave the snow over the railing. I have been fortunate to have been practicing this way for a pretty long time. If it is new to you, I suggest just start by doing this action in forward folds, exhaling as you fold forward, reaching to touch your toes. Practice holding this contraction as you breath in and come up. It's trickier than you may think.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love... not elusive, just a choice

Love is one thing we all long for, and yet the expression is unique to each heart.
True love is without attachment to being loved.
True love exists even when we disagree.
Real love listens more than it speaks.
Real love is fire in the heart that must be shared.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Truth lies in the Heart

It's so easy to say and yet so hard to do! What would you imagine if you couldn't think of the reasons it wouldn't work? What would you live that you are not living now? Our brains are designed to keep us safe, to ensure we survive. Yet our brain is not always the best at accurately predicting the future. Nor is the brain great at seeing our best long term survival; it tends more to project our more immediate future.
The heart is where the truth lies. Still the body, still the mind and find the truth in your heart. Then live it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Internal Power

A wonderful image and article found at Yoga International. Thank you YI for your amazing resources.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Making the Uncomfortable Loveable

We are forever striving and rarely resting.
A friend just completed an amazing feat of climbing arguably the hardest long multi-pitch free climb in the world. It was covered in the news because it is such an amazing feat. The practice and preparation took 7 years. The actual ascent took 19 days of sleeping on the side of a rock face hundreds and thousands of feet above the ground. Eating, sleeping in a hammock like tent. Yet, this is one of many ascents he has done, all of which have required some level of discomfort. And it will not be long before he will be planning the next ascent. The next unclimbed project to try.

Phot credit - Nick Sagar collection
This is how we are as humans. We long to accomplish great things and we also long for security, safety, comfort and ease. When we achieve the success we work so hard for, the comfort and ease, we can enjoy it only briefly before we long for something else. It is the longing itself that makes us uncomfortable.

Swami Rama said, "Know your dharma (purpose) and learn to love it." This is one of the key teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Tommy Caldwell, a lifetime climber certainly is living his dharma... to climb the next impossible line. And he has certainly learned to love the parts of us that most of us could not tolerate.

What is the think that you must do above all others, despite the discomfort? And can you learn to love the discomfort?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Just Rest

sukham = comfortable, ease filled; sthira = steady, stable, motionless
These two ideas are the goal of Yoga practice, these are the practice. Ease filled comes first. Moving into a pose with ease and steadiness, as if these words cannot be separate.

Yoga off the mat... moving through life, all positions, actions with this same ease filled steadiness.
This can only be achieved, on or off the mat, by letting go of the fruits of our actions. It is our striving for something that puts tension around. It is our resistance that makes it awkward and uncomfortable.

Just rest.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Love; a luxury or a necessity

The experience of love is either a necessity or a luxury. If it be a luxury, it is expendable; if it be necessity, then to deny it is to perish. So simple is the reality, and so terrifying.
Ultimately there is only one place of refuge on this planet for any person -- that is another person's heart. To love is to make of one's heart a swinging door. ~ Howard Thurman