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Monday, 28 October 2013

Detox Yoga

At The Village Yogi, here in Fonthill, we have a Sunday morning class known as the "Detox Flow". Pretty much ALL yoga is cleansing and detoxifying. But on Sundays, stepping on to your mat at the end of the weekend, with the intention of "Releasing all of that which no longer serves me" can be pretty powerful. Moving through a class centered around creating space, rinsing out the internal organs, and releasing any accumulated toxins or tensions from the week is such an awesome way to start a Sunday.

With many postures in the practice involving twisting, folding forward to compress the belly, and resting with the head below the heart (as in Downward Dog, Standing Forward Bends, Shoulderstand, etc), we encourage an increase in circulation throughout the body and move fluid to our filtering lymph nodes. The result is clarity of mind, more effective digestion as we help to move things along, and a gentle release of stress, fear, and sadness.... among many other things.

The body's natural state is health. Your body's job is to constantly eliminate what isn't necessary. When we come to really respect and acknowledge that, there is a deeper reverence for ourselves and a more intimate relationship with our bodies that often leads us towards making cleaner, healthier choices with what we put into our mouths, and also what we allow in our daily experience. When we begin our practice with a powerful intention such as "Even if nothing changed, my body is perfect - exactly as it is." we begin to remove the inner critic and make healthier choices...naturally. Instead of hating that extra weight we've gained (or lost), or feeling angry towards our body for the pain/injury that's forcing us to slow down - we honor it. We lovingly accept and pay attention to it, learning to nurture ourselves back to health. From there the body falls into place effortlessly. When we begin focusing on a compassionate respectful attitude toward ourselves, food cravings begin to subside, and the need to numb and escape lessens as well! Simply because now you are starting to get the right kind of nurturing. Now, you are focusing on yourself with admiration and compassion instead of shame or anger at the way your body is at the moment.

Aside from just the physical aspect of the practice, Detox Yoga can also start in motion a cleansing on the energetic/emotional levels as well. Truth is: your body is built to move. It wants to be active. Gentle consistent movement, regular exercise that encourages perspiration and deeper breathing naturally assists in clearing toxins. Especially emotional ones. Sometimes, when one has been avoiding exercise for whatever reason, getting active again feels somewhat agitating. Almost as if all that stagnant stress, worry, anger, resentment that's been keeping us slothing on the couch with a bottle of red - starts to get all conjured up! I've witnessed it (and experienced it) many times. This, is where a calm detached perspective becomes essential. This is why, at the end of each yoga class, we practice a full complete relaxation in cultivate that ability to detach from any mental chatter or that feeling of alarm as stuck emotions begin to flow again.

This Sunday, for instance, after teaching the Detox class I experienced my own little cleansing. Within an hour of finishing class I met with friends for brunch. Instead of hydrating, or choosing a gentle herbal tea, I followed the pack and ordered a Caesar. Almost instantly after my first sip I knew it wasn't a good idea. The result? Brunch came back up in a not-so-gentle way and I landed in bed for a couple of hours feeling pretty ill. Once I awoke - the rest of the evening was spent feeling weepy, cloudy and generally dis-combobulated as all my own stagnant stresses from this last year started to flow.

Your yoga practice will be Detoxifying. It's just the nature of the practice.
Help yourself along by hydrating adequately before and after class. Pay attention to the foods you fuel yourself with. Take time after each class to let the effects of the practice settle. Learn to be kind and gentle with yourself as you begin to dig deeper and get to know your body in a different way. And finally - watch the tendency to push too hard.

Practice. Be consistent. Be loving and respectful of yourself. Hydrate. Rinse. Repeat.

Monday, 21 October 2013


I can be very judgmental.

It's true. Sometimes people appall me.

But I am actively working on it.

For the most part I am extraordinarily tolerant. To a fault at times. In fact, I will often give people second and third chances even though they have wronged or belittled me, someone I love,  or have been generally disrespectful in my presence. I truly believe we all share one common thing - our Humanness. And I believe, as we blunder together through life, Forgiveness must also be a part of our daily practices. Not just forgiveness of others, but of ourselves.

But every once in a while....a difficult person comes along that really....pushes my buttons. Usually it presents as those people who are loud, abrasive, bullies and gossips. And occasionally, although rarer, are those with an inflated sense of entitlement. You know the ones....Generally tending to live in a bubble world, with little to no responsibility, where they somehow come to believe they are unquestionably 'better' than everyone else....often stemming from the fact that they really have never worked for anything or experienced anything less than being utterly spoiled in every sense of the word, for their entire lives.

Yes, it's true. This Yogi still struggles with maintaining her equanimity amidst these strong personality types. Well, that's not entirely true. Usually I try to practice simply sitting with my discomfort when in their presence. I try to observe, in as calm and detached a manner as possible, their rantings and verbal diarrhea (usually obsessively centered around themselves and the myriad of problems they create with their impossibly high expectations of others) . In fact, sometimes I willingly force myself to interact with these sorts of people just so that I can practice not reacting to their antics; reminding my sometimes overly sensitive self, that their meanness really isn't about me. I practice attempting to remain neutral when I observe these types taking advantage of others, or stirring up unnecessary conflict. But I have to admit - even this Yogi has a boiling point.

And, just like water that's come to a boil, it sometimes requires a simmering down period for the fire to dissipate. People with that overly developed sense of entitlement usually are quite unaware of how abrasive and hurtful they are. Often - bossing, bullying and manipulating others into submission. Sometimes - they are actually quite entertaining. High energy, lots to say...However, I am a firm believer that just because One is practicing spiritual disciplines centered on Patience, Reverence, Joyfulness and Compassion does NOT mean that we are doormats to be trampled on by folks who have not yet learned that, well, Karma is only a bitch if you are. One person I recently experienced kept repeatedly upsetting people. She experienced multiple cases where people had such a strong distaste for her that she often found herself in conflict with others. And yet, each of these situations she somehow managed to convince herself that the "other" must clearly be deficient in some way to be put off by her. Somehow neglecting to realize that the common denominator of all these people being offended was, well, her. One of her catch phrases that she repeated often was "Wide Birth....I'm just going to keep a Wide Birth with that person from now on." I remember chuckling to myself thinking - 'Geez...all these 'wide births'...pretty soon she'll have to move to another town because she's having to avoid so many people!'

The bottom line here folks is that there is a time and a place to stand up for yourself and put a stop to those people who infringe on your vision for a healthy, joyful life. Hopefully, one day, I get a little more graceful with that. But my suggestion if you can't hold your ground with them and constantly feel awful in their presence - remove them from your sphere. If you have become the target of one of these people - practice speaking your truth with them if that feels right. But definitely, unquestionably, you do NOT have to endure their meanness. If you are their chosen target, trust me, you could be the coolest, most zen and helpful person on the planet - this person will only see what they wish to see.

Your Practice, should you choose to accept it:
When Face to Face with Mr. or Ms. Bully - immediately bring your attention to your breath. Breathe slowly and steadily to calm and focus your mind.
-Take a detached perspective by focusing on your feet on the ground, become aware of your body, relax your eyes, and simply watch. Watch and listen carefully to the words and the actions of this person.
-Practice not reacting to what they are saying or doing - even though there's a good chance it will be directed straight for you.
-Continue to breathe slowly and steadily.
-Politely excuse yourself. My favorite - "I apologize, but I have an appointment..."
-If you are in a situation where you cannot leave, busy yourself with other tasks (dishes, writing lists, sweeping, brushing the dog/cat, organizing your desk, etc.) And work on an exit plan to be implemented ASAP.

**In the event this person facilitates your 'boiling over' - recognize this as a lesson. Learn what you can. Send love to the situation. Be mindful the next time this lesson comes up. Begin again from Step 1.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Teaching (Yoga) is a Privilege

It's true. Teaching Yoga is this wonderful, sacred, tender, exhilarating and sometimes humbling experience.It keeps us connected to our Truth. It's difficult (and incredibly obvious to others) to try and pretend to be someone you aren't when you are teaching. The most powerful of teachers are the ones who teach from their own experience - warts, vulnerabilities, skeletons and all. It reminds us how connected and similar we all are.

Often I'm not certain that students who attend Yoga Classes actually realize that their teacher, who is also Human, has sometimes had to overcome a multitude of setbacks just to make it to class that day. Yoga Teachers take on a phenomenal responsibility. They accept the challenge of allowing their Teaching to become part of their practice. This means that even though they may be tired, financially strapped, fighting with their boyfriend or spouse, menstruating, raising kids, battling traffic to get to the studio, and sometimes searching for their own inspiration - they still Show Up. Because they are committed to the work. And they know, by the sheer wisdom of their training, that all things are connected. And all things are constantly changing. And - as in the words of Pattabhi Jois (the grandfather of Astanga Yoga) if we "Just practice. All else is coming."

A tiny note to Yoga Teachers:
Regardless of where you teach - at the local park, in your own home, or especially at someone else's studio - your classes are your own little niche. Your own little practice.Your own little business. Your time to touch the hearts of others with your service. Be present. Show up. This is a great honor. As your classes build there is a reciprocal healing that takes place. Your students are blessed by you. And you are blessed by them.
That is some serious Magic.

Our Sacred Space - Fonthill's Newest Home for Yoga

The Village Yogi is now open and beginning to thrive.

This marks our official 3rd week of classes. And, I'm happy to report that without much advertising, classes are slowly filling up. It's exciting and wonderful to witness. I've felt since the beginning that this space has it's own Life. It's own heartbeat and a very special energy. While it's located on the bottom floor of a rather old building, our renovation extravaganza has transformed a once deeply neglected space into a homey, funky and peaceful place to practice.

After a couple weeks of settling back into teaching a full schedule I'm FINALLY starting to relax and enjoy the studio.

I've observed every one of the 4 amazing teachers that comprise the Village Yogi Team and all 3 of our Energy Exchange Volunteer Staff. And I am nothing short of deeply impressed. I've decided to simply relax and allow each person to blossom in their own way. I'm simply not going to get trapped in the expensive cat & mouse game of advertising and cohersing clients into the doors by de-valuing our incredible services in ridiculous discounts or gimmicks. I feel so proud and honored by The Team that I am simply going to stand back, allow them to flourish and assist in that process however possible.

I know The Village Yogi boasts some of the most talented, creative, wonderful teachers this entire Region has to offer. How wonderful that this is now open for our community to enjoy! And, yes, I must really stop thinking about this and GET TO BED!

Jaya Ganesha!

Here's a few pictures of our lovely new home: (pics complements of our very own  Jenny Karpenko)