The world is changing around us. This is the second year in a row that we have had a mild winter here in Calgary. While this means no -30C and enjoying a 5C day mid February, it also means that something serious is happening to our environment.

Over the past few years the world has experienced hurricanes, tsunamis, earth quakes, freinkenstorms… And now… Crazy meteors large enough to actually cause injury.

This worries me, but not for the reason you may think.

Climate change happens. We just haven’t seen a huge change in a few lifetimes. But this isn’t the earths first go round at it.

In comparison to the substantial and life altering changes of the ice ages and the dark years, this is pretty well nothing to get twisted over. But it does bring about the question of whether or not there is anything that we can do about it…. And if we should do something.

The truth is that ninety nine percent of all species will face extinction, but this isn’t ours. It may be a way to thin out the herd however. I certainly do not mean to sound callouss, but this happens all the time in nature. When one species becomes too dominant the chain of control changes. For example, when an invasive species alters the Eco system of its surroundings, those surroundings have few options. One, adapt and change. Two, the environment develops tools to cut down the numbers or control of the dominant group.

Just an interesting thought. Something to toss around a bit.

“At various points in our lives, or on a quest, and for reasons that often remain obscure, we are driven to make decisions which prove with hindsight to be loaded with meaning. (225)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

When everything else seems a little out of place, and I can’t quite let go, I send myself to yoga. My mind slows down, the tension melts out of my shoulders, and I am reminded as to all the reasons why I love this glorious form of therapy.

Tonight was no different. I had a fine day, nothing dramatically wrong, just feeling a little off lately. There are a lot of things running through my mind that have been winding my muscles far tighter than they are used to being. So I made the decision to leave my practice in someone else’s hands. Their thoughts could guide me through each asana so that I could simply melt into the silence of my mind. I could let go of everything that needed to be let go.

Each movement was like a breath of fresh air. Each vinyasa working me a little deeper into all the places my muscles store my feelings. Each moment, allowing me to get closer to the root of my recent discomfort. Not confronting it, but accepting its existence, and knowing that I will have to give all my thoughts their own time to present themselves. 

People think that yoga and meditation are about turning off the voice in your head and finding silence, but it’s not. We cannot truly find silence that way. We mustn’t force the mind into submission. Instead, we acknowledge the thoughts presence, and promise to hear it at a later time. Only then can the mind be satisfied to allow us freedom from all noise. 

After class I had the opportunity to stick around and enjoy the company and conversation of a few colleagues. This was wonderful. Just taking a moment to sit and drink tea. Talking about what’s been on my mind and hearing an outside opinion. Being able to do what I love best, and that’s be in and around the welcoming spirit of the yoga community. My heart fills when I have the chance to connect with someone on a level deeper than mere pleasantries. It helps that the crux of the conversation was anchored by the mutual understanding that change is hard, but living the dream is worth it.

So my day got lighter. My shoulders released ever so slightly towards their comfortable space. And the pensive tension within myself is beginning to subside. It’s almost as though I will make it through another day by finishing on a good and happy note. And really, is that not the goal of all our days?

“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

 

Nothing on my task list, I look around me. The sound of music fills our home rivaled only by the soft murmur of the dryer in the background. I sit in our living room on the sofa with feet propped lazily onto the coffee table. To my right, Buddy resting after a long day of doing all the things curious dogs tend to do. To my left, Tino is snuggled in looking elegant and refined as every cat does.

The house is in order having just been tidied. And though there’s a few chores that could be getting done, I instead choose to take this moment to notice all of this exquisite normality. This amazing feeling of silence while surrounded by inconsequential noise. It’s deafening and rejuvenating all rolled in one.

As I sit, and do what I consider important work, Greg finds himself at the desk, doing work with deadlines.

Even at 9pm on a Sunday evening, my devoted husband puts in a few hours of work. I suppose this is why he is where he is in his career. He cares. Things matter to him. Most importantly, details are his focus. I am often in awe of how much his passion seeps into his work.

This is one if those moments.

All of these things happening around me simply help me to remember how beautiful life truly is if you just take a moment to notice. If you just allow yourself to slow down and live in and amongst the little things. Stop moving from place to place, one destination from the next, and discover the glorious journey that is taking place in between.

I have this distinct feeling that when we are all coming to our final days, we will look back and appreciate these memories far more than what we currently consider the milestones of our life. These are the moments that shape our character, define our relationships and ultimately lead us towards achieving those sought after milestones because it is within these moments that we allow ourselves to grow. It takes no extra planning or effort, it just takes a little awareness.

For me, these moments let me notice what is really important. When I stop and look at my husband working hard into the night it shows me how devoted he is to his work. And just as yoga and all it brings to my life is my passion, his work is his. I respect him for loving what he does and putting so much of himself into it. I appreciate him for working as hard as he does to provide us with all that we need. And I love him for being this man without ever thinking twice about it.

If I had chosen to busy myself with some extraneous task, would I have noticed all these things? Would I have felt all of these warming feelings? And if I hadn’t, what then? Maybe nothing, or maybe we would have suffered for it in the long run. I’m happy I don’t have to speculate.

I hope to always take the time to notice. Let the little things lead my focus in life and allow the big things to fall where they may. Most of all, I hope to always choose to enjoy the journey, walk the most pleasant path and make time to sit, quietly, enjoying the moment.

A great blog post that I really enjoyed today.

body divine yoga

psoas

I was delighted when I first came across Liz Koch’s amazing work because it confirmed much of what I’d been intuiting on my own. I had begun to open and close my yoga practise with hip opening poses with the specific intention of releasing tension in my psoas and hip flexors. I’d breathe and imagine tension flowing out of constricted muscles to be released as energy into the torso.

It worked, I’d feel my body soften yet somehow grow stronger.

Reading Liz Koch I instantly realized what I was doing – by learning to relax my psoas I was literally energizing my deepest core by reconnecting with the powerful energy of the earth. According to Koch, the psoas is far more than a core stabilizing muscle; it is an organ of perception composed of bio-intelligent tissue and “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire…

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It’s hard, sometimes, to initiate change.

There are only certain times in our lives that we are lucky enough to be able to change at a moments notice. When it feels right to drop all of our current obligations to simply follow a new path. Follow a new bliss.

For all the other times, it’s quite a bit more difficult. We have commitments and obligations that tie us down. We can feel trapped, and this feeling is what causes people to resent their current situations.

It can be a frightening idea, change that is. Leaving a part of your life that may have defined you for years. Closing a door in order to find a new direction. You might have reservations about the concept of change itself. Are you just seeking a challenge? Are you simply bored? Is it a case of the grass is greener? ….

YES!!

To all of these questions, yes. But why should that be a bad thing? If you’re seeking something it’s likely because your current situation is not where you’re supposed to be.

It’s true you know… The whole do what you love and you’ll love what you do thing. If you wake up and feel reluctant about something in your life, don’t just dismiss that thought, take a minute to recognize it.

For the people that are lucky enough to have something they would rather do, it can be a huge step, but it’s worth taking. It’s scary and it can be a long process, but it’s probably better for you and your happiness in the long run.

I’m not one to preach. I’m in this situation and have been for a few years to be honest. I know where I want to be, and I know what I have to do to get there, but I haven’t taken the plunge just yet. It’s very difficult to make a change that may be right for you, but will disappoint people around you. I have a big heart. I’m the type of person that has a hard time saying no and an even harder time knowing that people are going to be disappointed in me.

I know that I’ll make the change soon, and even know that it might be better if I treated it like a bandaid, but I’m afraid. I’m just not big and brave enough yet, but I will be.

I know that change is hard, but I hope everyone out there can have the courage to do what’s bet for them. Put yourself first. Why not. I promise I’ll try to muster the man-bites I need… If you do too.

Teachers can never stop learning. No matter how much you think you know, it’s not everything.

When I first started teaching yoga I felt like a sponge. I wanted to learn everything I could so that I could impart all that knowledge on my soon to be students. What I quickly discovered was not all teachers have this same attitude.

I recently read an article stating the five least desirable attributes in a yoga teacher (which can be found here: http://blogs.yogajournal.com/goodlife/archives/2013/02/5-signs-of-a-bad-yoga-teacher.html). I have met teachers that fall into each one of these categories, at times even a few of them at once. But like the article says, most teachers do what they do with the best of intentions. Some just get a little lost along the way.

My purpose today is not to list all of the good or bad characteristics I find important in yoga teachers, it is instead to make a case for the idea of eternal learning. You must continue to grow, in some way. If you choose to live your life devoted to teaching (whatever the subject may be), you must also be prepared to learn for the rest of your days.

Why?

Teachers have this unique ability to attract students who have a similar thirst for knowledge as the teacher them-self has. I myself find my students are curious. And thank goodness! I always get questions after class that range from posture modifications to philosophical connections and everything in between. I live for questions. It’s truthfully one of the best parts of my job because it tells me that that particular student is ready to learn more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always have the answers. And not knowing the answer to a students question is a humbling and delightful experience. Let me explain. When I was a new teacher I felt like if I didn’t know something I was somehow failing that student. As I began to grow in my position and confidence I quickly realized that I’m too young to know the answer to every single question. There’s just not enough time in the day to learn it all! The teachers that I had in the past that seemed to answer everything (be that answer right or wrong) began to look less genuine to me. I didn’t want to be someone that students couldn’t trust to answer honestly. So when faced with a question I didn’t know, instead of taking an educated guess, I would simply say I wasn’t sure. And then suggest a good resource to find that answer. The important part of that lesson was what I did afterwards. I would go home a learn about it.

The beauty of having students that are thirsty for knowledge is that it constantly pushes me to dive deeper into my own education. It’s this wonderful continuous cycle. I love to pass all I know on in my classes, and that in turn sparks interest in certain students, which again begins the conversations that promote growth through mutual curiosity.

The people who know me best always say that I am a sponge of a brain. I tend to retain most of which I learn. From the outside it seems as though I have a collection of surprisingly random facts floating around in my head, and while mostly true, they have all served a purpose at one point or another. And besides, who doesn’t love dazzling their friends at a dinner party with a particularly wide grasp on the life and anthropological history of squirrels (for example).

I will always learn, so that I can continue to grow. When given the choice to be good or great, who wouldn’t choose great? Take five minutes each day and learn a new fact… Anything! You’d be surprised how much more exciting life can be if you just begin to broaden your horizons.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
-Aristotle

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Little by little, piece by piece, our nursery is coming together.

The walls adorned with bright and happy green stripes give a feeling of whimsy and delight. We chose colours that made us smile. Something bright and exciting. Both shades of green are from within the same palette and have undertones of yellow. These stripes adorn two walls and the lighter shade along the other two. Not to mention there’s a tree on one section and owls around the room.

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Slowly the furniture is making its way into the house. So far only the storage cubes have been put together (and the swing, but that’s not exactly furniture). They are a grouping of three by three squares in white and we plan on getting canvas pull out cubes in bright colours to store nick nacks.

We’ve purchased our crib, which we will be assembling tomorrow, and it’s a cherry wood colour. I hate the idea of matchy matchy furniture, so we decided against getting a nursery set. The dresser is from ikea (the Hemnes chest) and is white but I’m planning to replace the knobs with crystal pulls! I thought it would be a perfect spot to use as our change table too.

We got an amazingly comfortable dark brown lazyboy rocker/recliner rather than a glider and I couldn’t be happier with that decision. It looks so much more put together and is incredibly comfy.

From there, we had a little ikea side table that we’ve decided to refinish in a bright blue for the room, just to add a pop of colour.

I’m very excited for our great big white faux fur throw rug. Super soft and luxurious feeling and adds a nice texture change to the room. All of our fabrics were ordered from Carousel in the states and follow the same palette that we fell in love with, bright and happy colours.

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I’ll be making the curtains, crib skirt, two blankies, recovering the ottoman, and creating an onslaught of different sized pillows. I wouldn’t call myself a great seamstress, but I am surprisingly agile with a sewing machine. After all, it is all just geometry and math, and that’s how my brain functions, shapes and numbers.

The finishing touch on the nursery will be a crystal chandelier! I’m well aware that all of these little details are for me and not for the baby, but if I’m happy in the room, chances are baby will be too.

I can’t wait to get started really putting things together. Only 3 months to go now!

I will keep you updated on the progress of the room with photos along the way. I hope you enjoy my vision as much as I do!

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

In my opinion, the most important thing that we do for ourselves is eat. The kind of food you choose to put into your body has a huge reflection on your health and wellbeing. The one thing that Greg and I never skimp on is our food budget.

With local supermarkets and grocery stores jumping on the organic trend it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to eat food without pesticides and herbicides. But you still have to be a little weary. Organic doesn’t mean the best. There’s still the issue of growth hormones. I recently read an article that looked at the vitamin content of fruits and vegetables in 1952 and compared them to the general brands we purchase now…. Shocking.

So a while back Greg and I decided to eat all organic produce, but beyond that, we would buy locally from our year round farmers market. Now sure that means that right about now there’s mostly beets, potatoes and cabbage available… But I’m okay with that. We also choose free range eggs and all of our meat comes from local butchers who take a stand against growth hormones and chemicals alike. It’s been a really good change for us.

We feel better knowing where our food comes from and that we are doing the best we can to give our bodies everything they need to be strong and healthy.

The most important part though? Eating better in general. You don’t need to eat all organic etc to be healthy (as our food bill did go up). Just start to change your relationship with food. Cut out the butter, let go of your love for fast food and eat less refined sugar. When you start to add in more fruits and veggies (what Greg calls “real food”) your whole palette changes. And that yucky green stuff actually starts to taste wonderful.

One serving of fruits and veggies equals a half cup, and you should be aiming for 5-10 per day! If you can do this, it will change your life!

I am in great health, have an optimal bmi, and never ever have to even utter the word diet. I just eat what we were meant to eat…. Real food.

Just a little “food for thought” 🙂