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Friday, 30 September 2011

A Note for Yoga Teachers

Don't take anything personally.

At one point or another we all decided to become a teacher of yoga ultimately because there is, within us, a desire to help and an interest in healing. A desire to serve. A wish to assist others in feeling better.

But if you are a teacher of yoga, it's good to remember that many people come to yoga because they are seeking change. Whether consciously or unconsciously, there is a longing for transformation. For some - it is merely physical. They begin attending classes to deal with their injured or stressed-out bodies. For others, they're battling depression, loneliness or seeking relief from anger and the toll that non-forgiveness eventually takes on one's health and well being.

Change is not always easy. Natural, yes. Necessary, yes. But not always easy. Yoga classes can sometimes push our buttons in ways we never imagined. I always say that "yoga will bring you face-to-face with your own psychology". So, sometimes, as Yoga Teachers we must learn to truly remain patient, compassionate and open to our students, (did I mention patient?) We may, sometimes, become the recipient of their resistance as their buttons are gently pushed.

I recently had a very interesting phone call from a former student. This woman had purchased a series of classes at a discounted rate nearly 9 months ago. Because of the discounted rate there was clearly a date which all the classes had to be used by. The woman was calling because she wanted to attend the fall classes but her class card had expired. Her tone was harsh, defensive and extremely rude. (Not exactly the way to open a conversation whereby you are asking for something...) I calmly explained that the expiry date was there for a reason but that I would happily honor 5 out of the 10 remaining classes left on her card. This woman then launched into a rant about how she runs a business and works 7 days a week and couldn't possibly come to yoga with all this busy-ness and I should be more accommodating and blah blah blah. Interesting, I thought, I also run a business and I also work 7 days a week. I calmly explained that I understood however, I was not responsible for getting her to yoga class. How could I be? If you pay for classes, the rest is up to you.

Most of the time - people will think only of themselves and how to get their own desires met. As Yoga Teachers we are taught differently, and I believe part of our job is to help others view things beyond just themselves and their own desires/dramas/demands. This woman seemed to have forgotten that the money she paid for her classes (over 9 months ago) went towards the rental of the space, insurance costs, advertising, paying substitute teachers, gas and mileage costs on my vehicle and also my own time/energy, among many other expenses that arise. Her intention, it seemed, was to just find an outlet for the anger that seemed to be increasing as the conversation went on. Again, I offered to honor half of the classes left on her card.

Abruptly, she hung up. Huh. Interesting.

So I continued on with my day and when she didn't come to class the next morning I have to admit I wasn't surprised. Later that evening I found a message on my phone from the same woman. She informed me (in the same harsh angry tone) that she felt "we didn't have a connection" and that she "didn't like my attitude and will not be coming back." Again, she abruptly hung up. Huh. Interesting.

Sometimes, as Yoga Teachers, we will be placed in situations where we are expected to just say 'yes, of course. whatever you say. whatever you want.' However it's important to realize saying Yes all the time to everyone's demands doesn't serve you or your business. And in the long run, it doesn't serve your students either. Again, it comes back to the practice of Satya, Truthfulness. Being real vs. being nice. Let's face it, part of the training and practice of yoga is not only discipline but also learning to take responsibility for oneself. Learning that it is always us, ourselves, who are responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction.

The next day - 2 new students registered in place of Ms Nasty.
Huh. Interesting.

" Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. "B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga Teachers: You won't please everyone. It's impossible. Not everyone will "feel a connection" with you. And that's ok. There are plenty of teachers around. In fact it's good practice to learn who those other teachers are and what their strengths are so that you can send students to them if they are better suited. I do that often.

Ms Nasty: I wish you love, gentleness and kindness on your journey. May you find what you are looking for. May you be happy.

Om Shanti. Jaya Ganesha!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Rare and Precious. Hmmmm

“Growing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.”

— Victoria Moran

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a close friend regarding commitment to truth. In Yoga this is the cultivation of Satya (Truthfulness)which is really the fine art of being real vs. being "nice". We were reflecting on relationships; with lovers, with friends, with family. And discussing what it takes for them to truly be successful. My girlfriend and I both share a similar commitment to being real. To being honest. And, although that has been called "harsh" at times, I maintain my faith in the necessity of being able to occasionally call people on their drama- especially when it is hurtful towards me, or someone I love, or affects my life in a negative way. My closest friends also do the same for me. Which I deeply appreciate. Because I know when a close friend says "Jones, get it together. Wtf are you on about now?!" it's probably because I've allowed my little stories to, once again, take over and cloud my perception of what is real and truly happening in the present moment. Whatever. We ALL do it.

I always give people second chances. Always. Because I know we all make mistakes and I know that as human beings we are all floundering at times, trying the best we can with what we know. But, when you give someone a second chance and they continue to hurt you, the problem now becomes yours. It's no longer about that other person. We are never really "victims" because we are always making choices. Think about it. It is us, ourselves, who are literally constructing every moment of our lives based on those choices. And at the end of the day, we all have to have a commitment to ourselves and our own well being. To truly be happy I believe we need to be our own best friends. To deeply care for and honor this body, this life, this person that we have become. I notice as I care more for myself and make my own well being a priority, the more I seem to be surrounded by people who reflect that back to me and the more supported I seem to feel.

Interesting how that works....

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Love Through Music

Folks, meet my friend John Bauld. An amazing musician turned yogi who now dedicates his music and his time to performing sacred healing mantras and kirtan music for yoga studios throughout the GTA. Including Moksha Hamilton, Some Like It Hot in Oakville, Kula Burlington and (sometimes) my classes here in the Niagara Region. The music is powerful and elicits the energy of true devotion, true Bhakti. The chants and mantras have the ability to transform your practice, open your heart and you'll experience truly being moved by the music.

Come on out this Saturday in Burlington for YogaFest to help raise funds for John's new Cd project which will pay profits forward to the Red Cross. Starts 4pm Saturday in Burlington's Central Park. Come on out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Bring your mat!

If Burlington is too far - join me on December 15th for a pre-Christmas Yoga-For-A-Cause charity class where John will perform live during the class. Proceeds from the class will be given back to the community to help make Christmas a little brighter this year for folk's who may be less fortunate.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

My Inspiration for Today

Love this.

"We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between a man who flatters her - and a man who compliments her. A man who spends money on her - and a man who invests in her. A man who views her as property - and a man who views her properly. A man who lusts after her - and a man who loves her. A man who believes he is God's gift to women - and a man who remembers a woman was God's gift to man...And then teach our boys to be that kind of a man."

(Borrowed from a friend)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Happy Harvest Moon, Sept. 11th

Happy Full Moon. It`s a Harvest Moon. The last days of summer slowly fade and the grapes are almost ready for harvest here in the wine region in my tiny town in Ontario Canada. On this absolutely perfect late summer evening, the sky is clear, the moon is so bright it illuminates everything beautifully and I doubt I`ll sleep much at all tonight.

There`s always a vibrant excited energy around the full moon. My police officer and paramedic friends say they `just know` when the moon is full. Apparently life on the streets gets a wee bit crazier this time of the month.

Yet tonight, it`s not just about the beautiful weather and the richness of the bounty of our late summer harvests. It is also September 11th - a day that will simply never be the same after the events in NYC 10 years ago. It is the anniversary of a day of absolute horror. Absolute fear. Total and complete tragedy. My heart goes out to all who were affected by those horrible events. While we will never be able to erase what happened. We can choose to learn from it. In the Yogic philosophy it is taught that we are all one. We are all interconnected. And that because of that interconnectedness we have a responsibility to live mindfully, respectfully, lovingly. We have a responsibility because the more of us who remain connected to a non-violent, forgiving, supportive way of being the more we emit those frequencies that help to balance the darker aspects of those choosing to live their lives with other agendas.

Am I suggesting that we love and honor the terrorists who flew planes into the Trade Center, killing hundreds of innocent people? No, not necessarily. But I am suggesting we start where we are - at the level of our own lives, within our friendships, our families, our work. Start there. Forgive those who have hurt you. See your similarities with them. Forgive yourself for letting your jealousy or your anger or insecurity get the better of you. Surround yourself with healthy things that make you feel good. Try to help others feel good. Give back in a positive way to the world, even if it's just taking the time to hold the door open for someone, or buying someone's coffee who's in line behind you at the cafe, or calmly just moving into the next lane when you see the person behind you is in a hurry without engaging in ridiculous road rage games. It's in our day to day living that we can create the most change.

And, sure, it's easy to write such idealistic things. I write and I teach about the things I myself am also practicing. It isn't always easy. But, this is it. This is what we have. This is our life. And the energy of love can truly heal and it must begin with ourselves. Tragedies will happen. Senseless acts of ugliness will continue. But if enough of us align our actions and our intent with love and with forgiveness, we can support each other through the tough times. We can lend our strength to those who may need a little boost.

Ever wonder why there are so many Warrior positions in Yoga? Think about it. Because that's really what we are. Warriors for peace. Warriors that protect and defend our definition of heaven on earth. It takes courage and strength to really love, to really forgive, to really see past the illusion of your insecure little ego and all it's stories that seek only to keep you from your greatest potential. Live courageously. Be grateful. Appreciate. Practice cultivating the strength it takes to keep your heart open.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

To Miss or Not to Miss

Life is full of uncertainties.

Why is it that certain people who come into your life are harder to get out than others? And others - well they're just there for a lifetime.

Driving home from Hamilton this evening after an amazing yoga class at one of my favorite Canadian Studios - De la Sol Yoga, I drove right into the most gorgeous sunset you could imagine. On this late summer eve, the sky was ablaze with pinks, purples and oranges. It was incredible. I felt open, relaxed and calm after my yoga class. And my mind couldn't help but reminisce about good times had, good friends lost and dreams that have been shoved to the back burner. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to decipher other people's viewpoints and fend off other people's judgements that it's easy to forget why we're really here. For me - it's a quest for love and community. For others - it's a quest for money and fame. For others it's all about recognition. Maybe one day we can all come together and fuse our beliefs to create an amazing unified unstoppable team of dedicated people determined to support each other in their own awakening and committed to bringing out the best in others. Sometimes it's tough to feel like you are the only one who has such dreams.

We all fuck up. Let's be honest here. Everyone has bad days, bad months, bad years. We all get challenged. To think that you are immune to that is just preposterous! You're not special. Your'e not unique. You aren't any more important than any one else here. We are all in this together. Each and every one of us. Your problems are no more important than mine. And vice versa. There are times when you will be in the darkest of dark nights of the soul. There are times (lord knows) when I will be. There are times when we will be elated and mesmerized with the flow and power of our own creative existence.

But in the meantime - try, just try, to suspend judgement. We are all in this together. Forgive. See clearly. Focus on what you want. Be real. Drop the stories and the drama. This is it! Your life. You are creating it right now. With this thought.

Choose wisely.

May you be happy.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Today was a very special day. September 4th usually is.

But, today, was even more memorable. Today was the celebration of my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. 40 YEARS! It's remarkable and unbelievable to me that they have remained married for this long. Two people that couldn't be more different from each other, and yet two people who are equally amazing in their own right. I am really truly blessed to have come from such a strong example of unconditional love, support and what I believe many relationships lack these days - the power of perseverance.

I've been thinking a lot this week about Endurance and how that applies to life, and to relationships. It's funny to hear my parents talk about their courtship. Country boy meets city girl in 1970-something...there's a spark... and then a long distance relationship ensues through writing letters and occasional visits as she pursues her nursing career and he - his university education. To hear them talk, and laugh, and see the light in their eyes when reminiscing about those early times is really special. Really sweet. It makes me wonder - in this modern age of instant messaging, facebook, texting, and cyber dating, how is it that so many people still seem so disconnected? "Connecting" has become effortless, instantaneous. We are now so accessible to one another. We don't have to wait 2 weeks to send a letter and (hopefully) get a response within the month. Yet - if you look at the divorce rates and the percentage of people still searching for love and the "right" relationship - it's challenged, it's happening much later in life and the whole tradition around the sacrament of marriage seems to be suffering. Why? With all that we have shouldn't it make things better? Easier?

Somehow my parents have managed to stick it out. Year after year. For forty years. Through some very turbulent times, and some magically wonderful times. Through all of it - they've supported each other, forgiven each other, supported their children and never left each other's side. How do they DO that?! It's a special kind of endurance. An endurance that is committed to staying the course. A commitment to seeing things through and honoring how things change. It's remarkable actually because both my parents have changed a lot over the years. Yet, somehow, their relationship has survived. My father looked at his wife this evening and said "Geez - forty years! Does it really feel that long to you??" "No. Not at all!" My mother replied.

At dinner tonight I had a few candid moments with my father. I mentioned my amazement and how much I looked up to them for the shining example they've been for so many people. I mean, my parents have got to be some of the most wonderful folks! Everyone in their neighborhood can vouch for that. They are loved by so many people because they are just there for so many people, always willing to lend a hand, give a pep talk, or help in any way possible to brighten someone's day.

My Dad had this to say - "You know it's the end of the summer and all I wanted to do was go fishing. I never got to go fishing. I just can't leave right now." (he was referring to the recent diagnosis of a serious heart condition with my mom who is waiting for open heart surgery to replace her aorta) I told him that he didn't have to worry. I'm here. I'm close if anything should happen, and for him to go fishing shouldn't be a problem, if that's what he really wants to do. We will call him if anything happens. No problem. Go ahead and enjoy yourself! He looked me square in the eyes and said "It's not about that. And you know it."


"I told your mother I would always be here if she needed me. I will always be there for her. I always have been. And I always will be." And that is what it's about.

Because, you see, when my father says those words - he really means it. To him, it is the most honorable thing to do. He considers it his duty. And that, my friends, is endurance. If you speak to my mother - she'll say much the same thing. To her, no one has ever made her happier than my father. They're both willing to make sacrifices for the other's happiness and well being. They're both concerned with the other's best interests. Sure- they bicker like old people now and again, but at the end of the day, they seem to belong together. At the end of the day they go to sleep beside a person who knows all about them, has seen all of them, and yet still loves them anyway. Endurance. It's a spiritual practice all in itself...

Cheers Mom & Dad - Thank you for the example of what true love is supposed to look like.