Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Random Kindness

Well here it is again, the most wonderful, magical, stressful, busy time of year. Personally I love the holidays. I love seeing family and I love the holiday traditions. I also love that holiday music is easy to sing loud! I love the excitement of my kids, the school concerts and the streets full of colourful lights.

I also feel a little sad this time of year and I’m pretty sure that is common. It is the time of year that many people feel extra stresses, pressures and many feel lonely. I am very grateful to have a full and happy life and some of my sadness comes from knowing there are so many people that don’t live the happy life that I do. I also wish I could do big things to help those in need but sometimes the idea itself is so overwhelming I fall short on even the little things.

I have come up with a few ideas on how to take our yoga off our mats and do what we can, big or small to help those in need, or bring the community a little closer over the holidays.

First, there are food bank boxes everywhere! Take something to them, if every time you grocery shop you buy one extra item, it will add up. Even more fun take your food to the local Santa Claus Parade if your town has one, and donate there, then enjoy the parade.

Support local craft fairs and events that are sending money to help those in need. They have done all the work for you and most of the time you just need to show up and maybe buy some of your Christmas gifts from them.

If you have a talent, I know you all do, share it. Sometimes taking your rock band (or simply your solo voice) or your cute puppy to the seniors centre can change a person.

Donate old clothes. Take your coats or socks to the homeless.

Smile at each other, easy enough but that one smile can make someone who is feeling lonely feel a part of something bigger. Really, proven fact.

Slow down and remember why you celebrate this holiday.

Soup kitchen.

Practice Random acts of kindness. Hang a neighbours Christmas lights or do some winter yard work for them if you know they are unable.

There are many organizations that you can turn to. There is also the gift of you and your time, you don’t need to spend money to help those around you.

I would love to hear how you are spreading holiday love this year!

This post was inspired my son’s first grade class and their teacher that just raised over $700, and still counting, for the homeless in our community by making and selling clay hearts. Thank you for being such caring and inspiring children.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

What would it feel like?

There are so many different types or styles of hatha yoga (the yoga of postures) that it can be overwhelming to decide what class to take. Here at we've had many calls & emails from clients asking where to start, what classes to pick etc... That's why we're so passionate about encouraging you to figure out how you want to "FEEL" and then let that feeling be the leading force behind your decision.

This concept came to CJ and I after attending an evening event with Danielle LaPorte and Gabby Bernstein a few years back. They were discussing how limiting goal setting can be and how really we work best when we align with a feeling, and let that feeling be the foundation behind your actions and choices. So for instance if you want to feel relaxed at the end of a yoga class, than choose a class that focuses on deep relaxation. To go even further than that, be mindful when you're in that class to direct your thoughts to relaxing thoughts. Consider if the inner conversations you're having or the thoughts you're ruminating on are assisting you with feeling relaxed. This will help you cultivate the desired feeling from this class and encourage you to take some responsibility for your yoga experience. Empower you in other words.

Now let's go bigger than just deciding what Yoga class to do. What would happen if you woke up every morning and considered, "How do I want to feel today....this week....this month....this year?". After you decided on the feeling you want to cultivate, you then consciously aligned all your actions for that day (week, month, year) towards experiencing that feeling. How would things change? Would your daily routine be different? Would you speak differently towards yourself and others?

In my experience of living this way for a few years now, my answer to the above questions is YES. Very different. I stop "shoulding" myself into doing things and instead align my actions and choices with that feeling. A personal example of this, is my experience of feeling love. After reading Brene Brown's book "The gifts of imperfection", I was taken back by how Brene described our relationship with love. She said,"You can only love others as much as you love yourself". 

Savasana - corpse pose
This was an incredibly powerful statement for me. I want everyone close to me to feel love and if that's limited to my feelings of love towards myself, than I better shape up and start loving my self like crazy. So over the last year, I've been aligning my days with feeling loved. This means I specifically align my actions, particularly my inner conversations with ones of self love. This has been a big part of my hatha yoga practice. I've incorporated more pranayama (breath exercises in simple terms) into my yoga. What's better than deep breathing to help feel nourished and loved? How about eating nourishing food and remembering not to "guilt" myself when I have my evening beer and cookie? Now that's making room for more self love in my life. I take baths when I'm stressed and feeling tired, I say nice things to myself when I'm naked in front of the mirror or struggling with the stresses of life.

What I'm hoping you're connecting with here is how amazing life can be when you consider how you want to feel vs what do you want to get done.

May we all dive deep into our innate desires and connect fully with our feeling body vs our thinking body. The buddha said "The hardest journey is the one from the head to the heart", so may we all courageous to step onto that path and experience the journey to the heart.

With you on this path,

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Reminder to Remember

Tuesday morning I headed down to the beach and on the day of remembrance, walking by the ocean in the beautiful sunshine it was easy to feel thankful and deep gratitude for those who fought for our freedom.

The thing that kept coming to me was that it is not just a day of remembrance but a day to remind us to remember everyday. To feel such gratitude for all the freedoms that we have daily. To freely walk to the beach and breath in the fresh air to our right to vote. I also feel that we not only need to find daily gratitude and to remember but to also live in a way that honours the people who fought, the people who lost their lives or the lives of loved ones. We need to speak freely to others and to ourselves but with kindness so our words are heard, we need to vote, we need to look each other in the eyes and recognize ourselves in each other and we need to put down our phones and notice the beauty that surrounds us and is waiting for us to explore.

These people didn't go through all this for anything less than the true, constant peace. So please remember to honour these people that walked before us, walk among us, that fought and still fight for our daily freedom and live in a way that only creates peace and spreads peace to those around us.

 Namaste, CJ

Thursday, 6 November 2014

What's your Sadhana?

My yoga practice has changed a lot over the years. Which also means my yoga teachings have changed over the years. The one thing that seems to be the constant during all the changes, is simply the fact that I still get to my mat and practice. It's not always for very long, it's definitely not always the same sequence or intention, but it's the process that seems to be the powerful force. The ritual of spending time with me, through movement, pranayama (breath work), and deep rest. 

In Sanskrit we call this "Sadhana". Sadhana is referred to as an intentional practice with dynamic effort. I like to think of "dynamic" as another word for a living relationship. Like in any relationship you have your struggles and pleasures. Yogi Bhajan the founder of the Kundalini Yoga institute says this about sadhana; "It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best." 

BKS Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga speaks to the wisdom that comes from a committed sadhana practice. He says, "The end of yoga sadhana is wisdom. You might translate yoga sadhana here as "the yoga pilgrimage" as it is a journey that leads somewhere, not the mere treadmill of thoughtless practice." 
The words that stand out for me from these two influential leaders in the world of yoga is, personal and thoughtful. To have a powerful sadhana practice is to commit to a practice that has deep personal meaning to you and that is done thoughtfully, with intention.......with devotion. 
What is your sadhana? Mine happens to be yoga asana (Hatha yoga in other words) which is why I'm so darn passionate about teaching it. It works for me. We at hope you'll give yoga asana (yoga postures/classes) a decent try, however we understand it may not be the right practice for you. You're not alone, many other yogi's have been down the same path, which is why there are yoga practices that focus on study, prayer, chanting, acts of kindness and service to name a few. Yoga is more than asana (postures) in other words. The power of yoga comes from the process. Your commitment to the practices. To your sadhana. So what personal, deeply meaningful practices are you committed to?
"The spiritual path - is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it." - Marianne Williamson

With you on this path,