Thursday, 31 October 2013

How yoga saved my life!

I found yoga the week I had planned to kill myself.

2 years prior I had survived being hit by a car, but was left to struggle with the after affects of that accident. Which lead to multiply surgeries, chronic pain, Fibromayalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, ulcerative colitis and undiagnosed PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). To say the least, I was struggling and couldn't comprehend the idea of going through the rest of my life like this. So I started to plan my death. Seems dramatic and in a way it was. At the end of every day, I would dream of the pain ending and the sadness dissolving. Suicide seemed like the only way towards this dream.

Finally one week (back in 2001) I decided this was the week. I knew I was about to do a very selfish thing, end my pain but create more for those I loved. So I planned to spend as much time as I could with my family, so they knew how much I loved them before I ended my life. At the time my mother was practicing yoga. She had invited me that Tuesday to join her for class.

She was attending a local Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga class. I had no idea what that meant at the time. I soon found out it meant a faster paced, vigorous practice that was centered around the breath. I was 40lbs heavier than I am today and was still recovering from my last surgery which was to insert a metal plate & 9 screws across my fibula (after the Dr's found out it was still broken, 2 years after the accident) to assist in the mending of that bone.

After 3 Surya Namaskara A's (Sun Salutations) and 1 Surya Namaskar B, I was wiped and finding it hard to catch my breath. Still had 2 more S.N B's to go. UGH!The teacher was empathetic and would offer encouragement or Childs pose to me when he noticed my struggle.

I managed to negotiate my way through the 75 min class and fell back into a pool of my own exhaustion and sweat for final resting pose, Savasana. It was a few moments into Savasana that I felt the release. My body sank deeper into the ground and my fatigued muscles stopped shaking. In that moment, I felt an energy reach within my body and hold me. Hold me like your father holds you when you fall of your bike, or your partner does when you're sad. Firm, loving and present. Within the arms of this energy I completely surrendered and awakened to the fact that I didn't want to die. I really just needed help!

I'm happy to say that after this class, I told my family everything and started the process of getting help (saw a psychologist for close to 5 yrs) and continued practicing yoga.

I've shared this story many times to different people and most assume that when I say "Yoga saved my life" that I'm referring to the sequence of postures. What really saved me was the breath and the conscious linking of my breath with my movements (the foundation of all yoga). Yes, the movements cultivated endorphins in my body which helped, but the breath created clarity and most importantly perspective. Perspective to truly see what I wanted. TO LIVE LIFE....In all it's glory.

We can take for granted the automatic breath that nourishes us every day. What I really want you to connect with is the power of the breath and the invitation that yoga offers you, in truly discovering and consciously connecting with the breath. So the next time your practicing yoga with us ( or in participating in a class, may you courageously step back and let the breath lead you home, even if that means you have to slow down or do less asana.

From my heart to yours,

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Getting Lost

Last week we joined friends of ours and took our kids to a corn maze. This was the first time I have been in maze this big and it was so much fun. Some people were racing through timing themselves, sweating as they practically ran through the maze and others were more like us finding themselves lost.

The thing that I found interesting as we walked through was the panic that some people were expressing as they realized they were lost. We are so used to having the answers literally in the palm of our hands all the time that it is unusual to find ourselves lost, without direction or without the answer. The point of a corn maze is to work your way through and maybe get a little lost on the way, maybe retrace steps and laugh as you realize that you have done the same circle more than once! I must admit there was one point that my friend and I found ourselves on the opposite side of a path from our kids and we did squeeze our way through but we had a great time just being lost and being present at the same time.

Life requires us to have schedules and to have direction and answers so much that I feel we need to sometimes just lose ourselves. On our mats, in our practice or in a good book or conversation or even in a day dream.

It feels good to let go and get lost.

It took us over an hour to make our way through the corn maze but it didn’t matter the direction or path that we all took or even how long we spent circling around, everyone that entered the maze finished at the same spot.

Practice. Get lost. Have fun.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

There's a whole lot of talk about the EGO, WHY?

I've heard many times in a yoga class the instructor say, "check your Ego at the door" or "your ego isn't welcome here!". So it's got me thinking a lot about the Ego, what is it and why am I being instructed to leave it behind?

Deepak Chopra says the Ego "is our self-image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images, and judgements." In other words our ego relates to how we identify with our self, or at least what we think is our "Self", like I am smart, I am funny, nobody likes me, I suck at yoga, I'll never be able to touch my toes, etc..... 

I see my 4 yr old daughter constantly questioning her identity, especially now that she's at school and discerning the difference between having "bad behaviour" and "being a bad person". We've had many conversations about this. That she's innately a whole, loving, compassionate person that cares about herself and others, yet on occasion her behaviour isn't a representation of that person (True Self). I explain to her, that we all get caught up in emotion, and desire, but it's about learning to consciously acknowledge those feelings and then make conscious decisions, rooted from the heart vs making a big reaction from those thoughts, feelings or desires. Yeah, I know, pretty heavy for a 4 yr old. Let's just say, she's starting to get it. :) So am I. 

Now, even though my Ego doesn't always lead me down the most honourable or humble of places, it does still help drive me forward along this earthy path. My Ego has helped nurture the courage to repeatedly share my knowledge and love of yoga for the last decade. My Ego has helped me start businesses and jump into handstand. My ego reminds me that I am capable of anything I put my mind/heart into and that life is grand. 

So what if it wasn't about leaving your Ego at the door or denying those thoughts, feelings, or identification, instead it was about having a constant conversation with your Ego in regards to whether those thoughts, feelings, desires and identifications are leading you in a direction that will serve you or not. That it's about checking in with the Ego vs ignoring it or reacting to it. That as long as the Ego remembers it's True Self (the being that is whole, loving and compassionate) than the Ego is a healthy part of YOU.

May we all start to be friend our Ego and discriminate what it's telling us, so that we can align more fully with our highest, most authentic, truest SELF.

Thanks for being apart of my life.

From my heart to yours,

Thursday, 10 October 2013

My Dad, the yogi.

I have so many things to be thankful for this weekend (and everyday) and one of them is my awesome Dad. Here is a post from my Dad, the yogi. I hope this is the first of many from his adventures on the mat. Enjoy, CJ

I’m a typical 66 years old male with a messed up lower back. Last summer I was using a cane for four months and missed a whole golf season.  My doctor made it clear that I needed to lose weight and strengthen my core to better support my back.

My daughter (CJ), a Yoga teacher in White Rock ( I live in Parksville) has always encouraged me to practise Yoga but I wasn’t ready to try a Yoga class. In November I was fortunate to meet a yoga instructor who offered to give me private yoga lessons. I was more nervous than my first day at school, meeting Sarah and not knowing really what to expect.

My first practice was interesting to say the least.  I am in this little room lying on my back beside Sarah who speaks to me softly while I am wondering what the heck is going on. I found out later this is called ‘Savasana’. I finally did relax and almost fell asleep when Sarah told me I had to get up.  We started with a lot of stretches and eventually moved up to my hands and knees with more stretches and then standing with more stretches. The hour went by quickly. In fact it seemed like only a few minutes and I was back lying on the floor with Sarah putting a blanket over me talking me to sleep again. I went home feeling relaxed but still not convinced yoga was for me. The next morning my body ached like you feel when you have had a good workout. Could this Yoga thing really work?

I have been practicing for ten months and realize how much more there is to Yoga than the stretches I started with the first day. There are several styles or types of yoga of which I practise ‘Hatha’ Yoga.  There are ‘Asanas’ or poses that require strength, balance and flexibility.  I enjoy practising at home sometimes in the morning which invigorates me for the day and sometimes in the evening which is a great way to finish a busy day. It took me a couple of months before I attended my first yoga class but now I attend drop in classes whenever I can.

I meet with Sarah regularly and sometimes join other teachers at drop in classes. It is really amazing how knowledgeable Sarah and the other teachers are as to how the body works. They know what moves are good for me, keep me aligned and makes sure I don’t do anything that might hurt me. They are also very patient knowing we are each different. I found that you learn yoga over time. You are continuing to learn and improve as you go. I wished I had started to practice years ago but the good thing is I can continue to practise for the rest of my life.  

So, what has it done?

I am stronger, more flexible and feel better than I have for years. I have lost 25 pounds and feel energized every day. My back is not cured but with greater core strength it does not bother me near as much as it did. “What’s more important than looking after your health”

Why do I keep practicing yoga?  I am able to play with my grandkids when they visit and maybe try and keep up with my daughter CJ. “It also just makes me feel good”.  


A lovely class with Sarah, my Dad's teacher. ( I love saying that.) 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Reach Out!

Wednesday Oct.2/2013 was Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. A day to celebrate his life and the impact he made in this world. His message continues to inspire people world wide, myself included.

I have the quote "Be the change you want to see in the world" (which is a Mahatma Gandhi quote), hanging at the entrance of my home. It reminds me to take responsibility for the energy in which I bring into the moment and daily decisions. Something I believe most yogi's are skillful at.

A particular group of yogi's that live by this motto, and an organization that we ( are proud to be aligned with is YOGA OUTREACH. Yoga Outreach was founded in 1996 by a group of yoga practitioners who wanted to make a difference and spread yoga beyond the regular studio experience. They wanted to bring yoga into centers & institutions that didn't have access to this practice but could greatly benefit from it. For Yoga outreach to continue with their efforts they need donations. An easy way to support this organization and benefit from yoga is to sign up for their 30 day challenge. 

Here's how you can do that and what it's all about;

May we all support each other in spreading the power of yoga.
From my heart to yours,