Happy Hall-OM-ween!

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Hall-OM-ween!

Happy Hall-OM-ween!

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Rain is grace

Rainy window with John Updike quote

There’s nothing like grey skies, rainy weather, and dropping temperatures to bring out the craving to hibernate.

Indulge your desire to curl up somewhere warm and do nothing at tonight’s yin yoga class at Bound Lotus. Class runs from 6:30-7:45pm and will feature an extra long yoga nidra (guided relaxation or yogic sleep) that lets you really get cozy and settle in to savasana.

The conscious, deliberate relaxation of yoga nidra leaves you feeling thoroughly rested and revived.

Embrace the rain… and bring out your inner grace!

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Sing your heart out

Photo from borianag’s photostream https://www.flickr.com/photos/borianag/

Most people have an innate desire to sing, but we we generally relegate our singing to the shower, the car, or an occasional karaoke night. We have all kinds of excuses for not singing (or at least not singing in public!) that deny us the joy of singing in a group.

Body Harmony Yoga Studio is hosting a special kirtan evening on Friday, September 28th from 7 to 8pm, (doors open at 6:45pm). Local composer, musician, and Body Harmony student Anne Leader will be leading the kirtan (a call-and-response chant, so there’s no need to even know the words!) and will be accompanied by live musicians.

This is an incredible opportunity to experience the joy that comes with finding harmony in a group. Our brains are wired to derive satisfaction from being part of something collective (we’re part hive creatures) and chanting in a group often brings a strong sense of well-being.

Everyone is welcome for this special event – you just need a willingness to participate, an open mind, and a small donation for the musicians.
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Balance a busy weekend

Photo from Chris Blakeley’s Photostream – https://www.flickr.com/photos/csb13/

Particularly when the weather is nice, weekends can get pretty full and hectic. Between after-work drinks on Friday, dinner parties on Saturdays, and movie dates on Sundays, along with bike rides, hikes, errands, and shopping trips during the day-time hours, weekends can become more energy-sapping than weekdays!

Counter all the yang energy of your weekend activities, with some yin yoga!

This Saturday, I start teaching an 11:15am Yin Yoga class at Bound Lotus in North Vancouver. The late morning start time is perfect for sleeping in (or sleeping off Friday night drinks!) and the early afternoon end time (12:30pm) is great for heading to Burgoo, Raglan’s, Moodyville’s, the Quay, or other Lower Lonsdale locales for brunch after class.

And the long-held postures of yin yoga (which I sometimes call lazy yoga 😉 ) are excellent for assisting with detoxification and replenishing body and mind. 75-minutes worth of meditative movement could be just the thing a busy weekend needs to find balance!

 

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The un-check-list traveller

I am not a bucket-list kind of person. I do not have lists of things to do before I die, must-see vacation destinations, or challenges to tackle.

I like working towards accomplishments, but often find more satisfaction in the doing than in the completing. As I move farther from the A-typer I used to be, I’m happier being absorbed in a moment. Instead of thinking about what happens at the end, I’m learning to let myself be part of the process and stop devoting mental energy to stressing about what might/should/could happen next.

Most of the incredible and memorable moments in my life happen when I’m not looking for them. I don’t see the wonderfulness coming and couldn’t possibly plan for it.

Our recent vacation to London, Paris, and Munich was mostly without checklists. The things we really wanted to do (eat at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, climb the Montmartre hill, drive the Autobahn), we didn’t need to write on a list to make sure they’d happen. We obviously needed to plan for the trip, but didn’t need to create false pressure to accomplish things while on vacation.

That’s my problem with bucket-lists: if something is that important, it’s going to get done regardless of being on a list and the list itself shifts emphasis to ticking off items rather than experiencing life and allowing the universe to unfold. Checking something off a bucket-list seems like getting a present that you specifically asked for; it’s nice, but somehow less special. I’d rather go list-free and collect experiences in a way that seems more like getting that perfect present you didn’t even know you wanted; the surprise makes it all the more delightful and special.

The most incredible parts of our trip were amazing experiences I didn’t see coming. Sitting on the grass drinking cider in Greenwich. Playing foosball at a pub in Finsbury Park. Sliding into a pew for mass at Sacré-Cœur in Paris, while my husband sat on the steps and got to see the astonishing synchronization of vendors in front of the basilica scooping up their goods as the police approached and settling back into hawking as soon as the cops left. Getting caught in a thunderstorm after dinner at a brasserie. Making French toast with Canadian maple syrup in Munich. Chatting in German with an incredibly nice church lady before lighting a candle for an ailing relative. Stumbling upon an excellent family-run Bavarian restaurant and finding the best beer of the trip on our last night.

None of these experiences would have made a bucket-list, but they were what made the trip really great. They were unforeseen and un-plan-able… which made them all the more wonderful!

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The sad Mac saga

I’ve found good excuses for staying away from computers recently. The summer weather has been wonderfully condusive to being outdoors and my computer seemed to be forcibly pushing me away.

My computer craziness started with Chrome crashing, then Firefox got in on the act and soon no program would stay open… which led to kernel panics causing regular involuntary system reboots.

Many calls to Apple Support later (thank god for the Apple Care warranty!) led to to getting a replacement hard drive, but it still wasn’t quite business as usual.

In an attempt to prevent further system crashes, I wanted to upgrade my computer’s operating system. With a fresh hard drive and nothing on my computer, I thought it would be easy.

The latest version of Mac OS X would download with no problems… but would not install. More calls to Apple Support, many repeated downloads, and another full hard drive wipe followed.

Yesterday’s visit to the Apple Store seems to have fixed the problem (fingers crossed!) and now I’m just working through setting up my computer again. Transferring files over from the external hard drive, remembering all my user names and passwords, re-installing programs, and deciding on all those little settings.

After being soured all things computer, I’m going to have to learn to love them again… hopefully the weather keeps giving me a plausible excuse for not wanting to spend too much time at the keyboard!

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Grasp the universe

I started reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan last night. It’s not my usual summer reading (I typically go with Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and other light-hearted non-thinking-ness), so I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it – at least for the moment it’s an enjoyable read.

It’s certainly brainy and will make me learn about science (astronomy in particular), but it’s more than just science. I’m impressed with how Sagan contextualizes the universe and brings in a human side.

I anticipated being wow-ed by exponential numbers (10 billion is a lot of zeros!) and awestruck by the scope of the cosmos… but before starting I hadn’t realized that I’ll also be pausing at some of Sagan’s insightful and memorable quotes.

Case in point:

It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

– Carl Sagan

If you’re looking for some fine summer reading, take a look at the Summer Reading Flowchart. A hundred and one book recommendations, all packed into a brilliant flowchart!

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The end of June celebrations

Today is the end of my birthday month, which I suppose means that I need to stop celebrating turning 33.

Turning 33 is a big deal for me, because I’ve kinda been 32 since I was 26. When I was in the corporate world and people would ask how old I was, I said 32 – settling on that as the age where others would stop thinking of me as ‘too young’ to do my job. Of course, these people were uncouth enough to ask my age, so maybe they were ‘too shallow’ for me to worry what they thought.

It’s easy to do a life assessment around birthdays and I enjoy thinking about how much I’ve changed in a year.

I turned 32 still working in the corporate world. Dealing with the fallout from overextending myself in a job that I didn’t like with an organization whose values don’t align with mine. Worried about myriad things beyond my control, but unable to restrain my A-type self enough to let go.

I turned 33 pursuing being a full-time yoga teacher. There’s a different kind of stress there (will students like my classes? how will I ever get paid enough to make this worth it?), but teaching through four fabulous studios (Bound Lotus, Vancouver CorporateBody Harmony, and Om Prem – check my schedule for when and where I’m teaching) means interacting with wonderful students and sharing my enjoyment for teaching and practicing yoga.

33 feels like a year of moving forward. Who knows what turning 34 will be like? I am getting better at letting life evolve and find myself hearing the words of a former prof from library school….

All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

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I totally cheat at yoga

This article about being a Yoga sinner from Recovering Yogi really stuck a cord with me. The author/yoga teacher suggests doing yoga poses while watching trashy TV (Millionaire Matchmaker, to be precise) and her student responds: ”Doesn’t that kind of go against the idea of yoga?”

I think the idea of yoga depends a lot on the motivation behind it.

Some people practice yoga almost purely for physical reasons, some find spiritual solace or emotional well-being. Some just like the chance to lay still in relaxation at the end of a class without anyone poking them. These motivations vary greatly, can change frequently, and certainly affect how students practice.

For example: I generally like tuning into my breathing, letting my brain quiet, and connecting with my body during a yoga practice. Recently, however, I’ve been feeling off and haven’t been comfortable dwelling in my own head. A quiet meditative yoga practice will not work for me right now – I need something to get me out of my thoughts. So I’ve been ‘cheating’ and doing gentle yin postures at home while listening to Vinyl Cafe podcasts.

I’m getting the physical benefits of stretching and relaxing my muscles, but instead of coming into a meditative state (which probably wouldn’t happen right now anyway), I get to escape into the Vinyl Cafe world and laugh hysterically as Stuart recounts Dave’s adventures taking care of six dogs. I suppose I could even call it laughter yoga 😉

‘Cheating’ and being comfortable in my yoga practice is far more important than trying to force myself into something that isn’t going to work.

A dear friend gave me an awesome magnet a while back (shown on the side of our fridge above) that says “I totally cheat at yoga.” It reminds me to wholeheartedly embrace that idea and ensure my practice suits whatever motivation is getting me onto the mat in the first place!

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From Oprah’s mouth…

The June 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine features a piece on How Yin Yoga Can Help with achy joints. There’s not a lot to the article – a couple of quotes from yin yoga teachers, one endorsement from a doctor, and three suggested poses – but it might be enough to bring yin yoga to the masses.

Just think of the influence Oprah had on book clubs!

Yin yoga is a fantastic counter-point to the swirl of activity most of us have going on in our lives. It’s a timeout for body and mind, where students get to hang out in postures (like supported fish pictured at right) for several minutes, allowing stillness to take over.

There are lots of yin yoga classes offered at studios in North Vancouver. I teach four regular yin classes a week and friends and fellow teachers I admire teach a bunch more!

 

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