Happiness on horseback

Laura on horsebackI went horseback riding on a recent vacation and remembered how happy it makes me. I took riding lessons as a kid and then returned to riding as an adult several years ago.

I rode once or twice a week for a few years and mostly loved it. Of course there were some days where things just didn’t feel comfortable, but overall riding thrilled me.

Then my stress levels skyrocketed at work and riding lessons became a chore. All the pressure I put on myself at work came through on horseback. I made the horses nervous, I got frustrated easily, and my hobby was no longer fun. I gave up riding.

I hadn’t ridden for two years when I got on Ginger at Makena Stables. All the enjoyment came rushing back and being on a horse was fun again ūüôā

Now to see if there’s a way for me to continue horseback riding while not on vacation!

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.
~Ashley Montagu

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Learning to soar

Laura sitting upright in throne pose and twistingOn Boxing Day I got my first taste of yogaFLIGHT… and I was hooked!¬†sKY:: and slaDE came to yin yoga class I taught and hung around afterwards to introduce me to this incredible practice.

yogaFLIGHT is a form of acro yoga (i.e. acrobatics+yoga) that allows students to soar. It’s contact partner yoga that’s usually practiced in groups of three: one person to be the base (the guy on the bottom), one person is the flier (rising into the air atop the base), and one person acting as a spotter (making sure the flier and base are as safe as possible).

Being the base takes less strength than I thought. My husband (pictured acting as base in the photo) is able to fly with me as a base… and he’s got 50+ pounds and a lot more muscle than me! That being said, I love flying – that’s certainly when I’m happiest ūüôā

Since my first taste of yogaFLIGHT, I’ve joined Acro Yoga Vancouver for a couple classes and practiced with friends while on a beach vacation. Each time has been incredible!

On Saturday, February 2, I’m participating in a yogaFLIGHT workshop put on by¬†sKY:: and slaDE at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre. The workshop runs from 1-3pm and has limited space to make sure every participant gets the attention they need.

Although it might look intimidating, yogaFLIGHT can be an incredibly restorative practice – and it’s hugely fun! Between looks of intense concentration, I’ve generally got a huge smile on my face while flying. And I’m always looking forward to the next time…

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

Laura turning on a spiral staircaseAfter focusing on teaching yoga for over a year, I’m feeling restless… I’m looking for a change.¬†I’m not sure what direction I’m heading, but I know that I’ll need space to let it unfold.

To give myself time to focus on what’s coming next and to determine what I want that to look like, I’m cutting back on my teaching commitments.

Starting in February, I’ll be teaching just three classes a week at Bound Lotus Yoga & Meditation Centre: Hatha on Mondays from 9:15-1045am, Yin on Fridays from 6:30-7:45pm, and Hatha on Saturdays from 11:15am-12:30pm.

That means that I’ll be teaching my last Tuesday night Yin class at Bound Lotus tonight. If you’re able to, I’d love to have you join me for some of my favourite yin yoga poses (that means dragons, supported fish, and legs up the wall!) and a lovely savasana that will bring you beautifully sweet dreams!

And I promise David Bowie won’t be in the playlist… although his song Changes has certainly been stuck in my head today! It’s time for me to “Turn and face the strange” and find a balance of being challenged and being comfortable.

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Big love for biophilia

Laura standing on one snowshoe

A blissful few days of being almost entirely unplugged, along with time spent playing in the snow and the holiday routine of food, friends, and family has left me feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. While the tryptophan from turkey might have something to do with the relaxation, being outdoors also contributes to my feelings of well-being.

The Biophilia Hypothesis posits “that¬†there is an¬†instinctive¬†bond between¬†human beings¬†and other¬†living systems.” Basically that connecting with the biological world around us feeds some deep-seated psychological need and improves our mental state.

I first heard the term “biophilia” on The Peak’s Suzuki Report segments¬†and the idea immediately made sense. It’s rare that I don’t feel better, calmer, and invigorated after a wander through the woods or a walk along the water. And the magic of a winter wonderland like nearby Seymour Mountain brings me an additional sense of awe and gratitude!

Happy winter and happy holidays! Hope there’s some more snow-filled-nature-time in the near future ūüôā

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Be gentle with yourself

Quote over cluster of startsThere are a couple situations that reliably bring on negative self-talk and increase the nasty thoughts I think about myself. A couple nights of¬†disturbed¬†sleep and the grey nastiness of the slushy weather outside have led to recurring thoughts that I don’t care enough about others and that I’m not¬†nice enough, considerate enough, or loving enough; that I’m just overall not enough.

Days like this, I need a reminder that I am enough. I need a reminder that it’s okay to be gentle with myself. I need a reminder to treat myself like I would anyone I love.

I’d never accuse a loved one of being a terrible person for the same perceived sins I’m calling myself out for… not even in my head.

I am enough. And I will be gentle with myself first.

Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.

~Lama Yeshe

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Savasana-spiration

Animals know how to relax… something that many people have forgotten how to do.

My dog Sofie does savasana (corpse pose)Here’s my dog Sofie totally relaxed.

If her stillness inspires you to find some relaxation of your own, join me at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre tonight!

The evening yin yoga class on the last Friday of every month features an extra long savasana (corpse pose), including a long guided relaxation. The guided relaxation (also known as yoga nidra) encourages you to mindfully and deliberately relax your whole body and then sink into that relaxation and stillness for a few minutes.

Class runs from 6:30-7:45pm… and I’ll see if I can convince Sofie to come along and provide savasana-spiration in person!

 

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Smile because it happened

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.Tonight I teach my lass class at Body Harmony. The present studio space is being redeveloped and the owner is taking a hiatus before re-opening in a new location.

While I’ve only been teaching there since spring, I’ve grown really attached to the space, other teachers, and, of course, the students. I’m going to miss teaching there and it’s hard not to feel melancholic about the transition.

Dr Seuss brings a little perspective to the situation. Instead of being sad that I won’t be at Body Harmony in the coming months, I’m focusing on being grateful that I’ve been able to teach and practice there.

Catching the tail end of the space farewell celebration tomorrow evening should help with the smiling part, too ūüôā On¬†Friday evening, Body Harmony teachers and students will be celebrating the space with live music and good food. Nothing like a party to drive away sadness!

And if you’re in the mood for a hatha class this evening, join me from 7:30-8:45pm tonight for the last evening class at this incarnation of Body Harmony!

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Change the way you think

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.

Practicing meditation can be a powerful way to change the way you think.

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt posits that there are three ways to change your thinking and permanently alter the way you view the world: Prozac (or other similar medications), cognitive behavioural therapy, and meditation.

Meditation is the cheapest and comes with far fewer side effects that medication!

And I highly recommend taking a look at Haidt’s website and reading his book. It’s a scientific approach to why we think the way we do… and how to make ourselves happier.

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Mary Engelbreit

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Remembrance

My dog, Sofie, at the North Vancouver cenotaph

Sofie remembers at the North Vancouver cenotaph

I was struggling to find the right words to mark Remembrance Day… and then an email from Elizabeth May arrived that captured almost exactly what I wanted to say.

It helped¬†crystallize¬†my own thoughts and I’ve included the original (with a few adaptations) below.

On Remembrance Day, I remember and I am grateful.

I am grateful for my peaceful existence and all the small joys that come with that.  I am grateful to live in a land where I am free to live as I choose. I am grateful to be able to walk my dog to the nearby cenotaph, to remind me to always remember and be thankful.

I am grateful to all the men and women who protected my freedoms. I am grateful to all those who serve now. I am even more grateful to those who lost their lives in pursuit of peace and while defending our liberties. I am grateful to their families and loved ones.

I am grateful that I have not been called upon to be that brave. I am grateful that members of the armed forces are strong enough to carry us along with them.

I remember and I am grateful.

Adaptation of the Green Party Statement on Remembrance Day

November 11th is a day to remember that soldiers die believing they serve for a reason, a noble cause; that their service is to defend, to liberate.

Women and men of the military are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and we owe them our respect and gratitude. November 11th is a time for national reflection.

We remember those who gave their lives willingly.

We remember the shattered lives of soldiers who return wounded not only physically, but psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

We remember that the sacrifice comes from not just a single soldier but their entire family and often an entire community.

We remember how easy it is to begin a war but not to end it. There is no such thing as a short war‚Äďthe effects of violence remain long after the last shot is fired.

We remember the sacrifice of those who work for peace and to end violence.

We remember that violence does not happen just between nations but spreads through entire societies and permeates our way of thinking.

On November 11th we remember, with gratitude.

On November 11th, we remember and hope that war will be no more.

 

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Learn to relax and rest deeply

Restorative yoga is a practice of being, rather than doing. Opening, rather than stretching. Resting, rather than sleeping.

Restorative yoga poses help us learn to relax and rest deeply and completely.
Judith Hanson Lasater

I did¬†Relax and Renew¬ģ¬†training with Judith in September and it deepened my appreciation for the benefits of restorative yoga.¬†I liked teaching restorative yoga before doing the training with Judith, now I love it.

Thankfully, I get to teach restorative yoga every Monday night¬†for the next four weeks! I’m teaching hatha/restorative at 8:15pm on Mondays at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre¬†up to (and including) December 3.

Restorative yoga poses help us learn to relax and rest deeply and completely

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