I used to think my job was about helping people do a better Downward Dog.
Or helping them to release some of the tension of their day.
Or teaching them how to breathe more freely.
And, yes, this is all PART of my work.
Awakening awareness in the body, installing functional patterns of movement and breath,
Imprinting healthy postural alignment in asana and for the rest of life (because for me, asana has never NOT been about functional movement, but I digress.)
But really, ultimately, what I do is teach people how to use asana as a transformational practice.
As a gateway into their own personal journey of growth and self-development,
As a path of inner discovery.
As *sadhana*, if you like.
That’s what asana is and has been for me. And helping others do that? Well, nothing brings me greater satisfaction.
How does it happen?
How do we go from refining our Downward Dog to gaining insight into into ourselves into learning how to act more skillfully...
These Lac St-Jean wild blueberries, as any good Quebecer will tell you, are simply the best in the world. Sweet, flavorful, juicy, available only for a few short weeks a year, they are the textbook definition of a PERFECT blueberry IMHO.
I’ve been snacking often on them as I’ve been planning for my 5-day women’s retreat next week. The other day, it hit me: this is the first ever Evolving Your Yoga retreat.
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book about deepening yoga practice for the past several years. It’s soon coming to fruition, so it made total sense when I realized (duh! of course) that this will be the first in-depth event where I’ll be guiding teachers into exploring the content of my book in their practice and teaching, on the mat and beyond the mat.
It’s like that moment where you’re in a workshop and through skilled sequencing and instruction the teacher leads you, almost...
I often hear from students that they appreciate that I’m a ‘real’ person with a ‘real’ body. I’m not exactly sure who or what I’m being compared to when they say this, yet I do endeavor to be someone who teaches from my own experience of yoga and of life.
And I’ve always been very comfortable with the ‘real’ things we do in yoga, the abhyasa, the steady, dedicated effort we make, the concrete “actions” of yoga.
But a few months ago, I got a different message. I was journaling about one of the contemplations I’d offered to my Skillful Yogi members to clarify their focus for their practices this summer. Looking up at puffy pink and peach clouds in the evening sky I heard inwardly:
‘Remember, there is magic.”
Of course there is.
Yoga has always been a path where effort couples with letting go.
Where are actions are offered in the context of something larger, ultimately more...
What if I KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that EVERYTHING in my life was unfolding exactly how it was meant to be?
What if I had FIRM CONVICTION in the perfection of my life, right here, right now?
Now, I’m not saying there are not things that need to change, or areas that must evolve and shift. Not that there aren’t actions I need to take to encourage that change, evolution, and shift.
But, how would beginning from that place of unconditional acceptance change how I felt and acted? How I approached unease, difficulty, and pain?
I journalled here yesterday about some of those questions. Like many of us, I’m feeling the intensity of these times.
Maybe it’s the complex planetary movements, maybe it’s grieving for losses in my own life own life, and those of people around me, maybe it’s all that and more.
For so many reasons, there are times when the inner waters get muddied, when we are left with hurt, disappointment, unresolved situations,...
Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my oldest sister’s passing. She would have been 60 years old and a grandmother of two, soon to be three.
It’s on days like this when I realize, yet again, that I will never be able to understand WHY certain things happen.
As anyone who has lost a close loved one knows, we’ll never be able to answer the question why? Why what should have been, could have been, is never to be?
Yet, while senseless tragedies will remain just that, I choose to believe that there is something else, something greater, something more all-encompassing than the pain and suffering (as well as the happiness and joy) in our lives.
Something fundamental, unshakeable, and essentially good.
I don’t want to say much more about that right now. But what I do want to say is that believing in goodness, believing in something beyond our suffering is a something I choose. It’s a decision I make over and over. ...
Earlier this week my family and I spent the day on a canoe. As we made our way down the idyllic, meandering Missisquoi river I got to thinking about how THIS was once the ONLY feasible way of getting from point A to point B.
There were no shortcuts, no highways, just a river with its twists and turns, sometime placid and peaceful, sometimes unpredictable, feisty and turbulent. There was no option but to go with it. We couldn’t take another faster or more efficient route.
In yoga, I’ve never been all that interested in shortcuts or promises of quick and easy transformation. For one thing, when we’re talking about delving into our inner landscape, I don’t think there ARE any actual shortcuts. I think there’s much greater wisdom, and delight really, in taking our time to nagivate all the twists and turns in the terrain of our own consciousness, whether it be physically, emotionally or mystically.
I know we LIVE in a culture obsessed with...
I BET IT'S SOMETHING LIKE THIS...
As yoga teachers, we’re experts in offering the best of ourselves to our students. As mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, we know how to be there for our families.
Most of us are really, really good at taking care of others, supporting those we love and serve with our positive energy and the wisdom gained from our study and learning.
How do you respond when you see this attitude in your students?
When you observe your students running themselves ragged, or getting “too busy” for yoga, when they tell you they just have too much...
I was talking with a few other teachers recently about showing up for class on days when we are totally not feeling it.
I could relate. Hasn’t it happened to all of us?
Maybe someone in our family isn’t well, maybe we’ve got a ton of other things that need attending to, maybe we are just plain uninspired. For whatever reason, or for myriad reasons, we just Do. Not. Feel. Like. Teaching. Today.
Here’s the thing:
One in our group said that when she takes her seat something begins to shift. Effortlessly. The class comes into existence and honoring her role as teacher completely changes her state. As she steps into the stream of her dharma the teaching not only happens, it’s often even better than usual. She’s in flow, effortlessly serving in the energy of the moment. Have you ever experienced this?
In almost 20 years of teaching, the class I taught on the morning of November 9, 2016 was one of the hardest. I was in shock,...
"You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other."
---Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
In my summer online program, we’re exploring how yoga invites us to learn from nature, to recognize and benefit from the timeless truths she holds.
For some time, I’ve been fascinated by the fundamental paradox of our existence as embodied spirits, as physical beings with a subtle essence. And, how yoga helps us to dance between these two polarities of material and spiritual, relative and absolute, earth and sky, with grace and skill. Yoga gives us tools to enhance the enjoyment of our physicality as well as for our spiritual benefit.
Exploring how to fully stand on the earth while embodying the sky is, I...
I'm thrilled that my new studio and online practice community were chosen to be featured in Stylight's survey of the finest yoga in Canada.
But when I multiply that by all the teachers, all the studios who are lighting up hearts in every corner of our fair land, well, that just blows my mind. Canadian yogis, Canadian yoga teachers, you rock!
From Saturday’s spent at the rink, to traversing mountaintops and canoeing wild rapids (not to mention all the shoveling in between), it’s safe to say that Canadians are a pretty active bunch. Hockey’s a given, but did you know that the country is also brimming with yoga fanatics? Justin...
Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.