Focus on the Endocrine, Immune, Brain, Nerous and Lymphatic Systems and their specifics roles in prevention of chronic disease and for increasing our vitality.
I never have been one for good-byes. Maybe it is because I know nothing is ever lost…discerned actions, oscillation of emotion, embraces of love, lack of mindfulness, turbulent thought patterns, torrential tears, empathy, naked ocean dives, mountain-top visions, telemark-powder runs, unwavering support, rejections, endless altars, fantasy & play, exploration of body wisdom, sacred singing, rich conversation, mistakes, contemplation, humility, deeply woven bonds, conscious breaking of cords, complacency, yearnings, belly-laughter, glorious rapture, imprint & healing of wounds, sword-cutting fierceness, epiphanies, ancestry.… etc. All of this is downloaded and ideally is digested.
These experiences in Vancouver with all you have & will continue (for lifetimes) to stir into a lather and live out their purposes within me and many of you. I’m in an utter awe of how much gratitude and respect I hold for this gracious community in Vancouver, and One Yoga especially - as a collective you are beating with a multifaceted brilliant intelligence.
My family and I are following the winds & currents that have been swirling within-and-around us for the past few years. We are sailing ship to Europe at the end of February, and planting seeds in Spain. I'm absolutely thrilled to grow new gardens; but I'm definitely aching from the upcoming departure and pull away from the kindred spirits who have made a home inside my heart here in Vancouver. For me, ceremony is an act of honouring relationships and creating synthesis. I invite each of you to join me in a sacred sealing and celebration - hailing you and your woven tapestry of alliances. The weekend of Feb 6-7th, I will be offerings workshops called Embody the Subtle....something for everyone. Join me for a farewell.
Details for registration and program:
BKS Iyengar ~
Position God in every asana so you can exert toward him.
When you have intelligence, you need maturity.
Descending intelligence is faster than ascending intelligence.
Learning can be acquired, but wisdom must be earned.
Strong on the outside, humble on the inside - and then humility will be in your action.
This fall season I was immensely rewarded the almighty opportunity to visit the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India to study under the Presence of the BKS Iyengar family ~ Guruji BKS Iyengar himself, Geeta and Prashant Iyengar and several of the senior teachers at the Institute. The RIMYI reflects the essence of integrity, divinity and strength of Iyengar Yoga. The institute was in established in 1975 and is dedicated to Ramamani Iyengar, the wife of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar. Its directors are Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and his children – Geeta and Prashant Iyengar. The Institute is permeating with pictures & sculptures of Guruji, awards, certifications, pieces of art presented to Guruji from students all over the globe from many generations ….exuding a nature of royal caliber. The library itself has over 8000 titles in several languages….I spent hours and hours immersed into the documentation resting in this sacred library. There are hundreds of pieces of literature and commentary that have never been published – for your eyes only when perched within this temple of a library.
When entering into the grounds of the Institute, you are immediately greeted by gatekeepers who reflect dedication and divinity from their eyes. They are there to remind you to sign-in (every time you enter the gates we must sign in…some say that the RIMYI always has its eyes on you…watching every move), and the gatekeepers were also the first ones (out of MANY) to lay down the LAW of no picture taking – including the beautiful grounds of the Institute and most importantly not of Guruji BKS Iyengar or any of the teachers (without permission). The lineage of Iyengar yoga anchors its platform on integrity. Therefore, there was no way I was going to take any pictures within the practice hall during practice sessions nor of the teachers or Institute without permission. There were numerous times I was blessed to have intimate one-on-one dialogue with BKS Iyengar, Prashant Iyengar and several of their senior teachers, but I was absorbed fully into the potency of each experience that I forgot to ask permission for a photo. Therefore, all of the memories associated with the teachings and practices from my experiences at RIMYI will forever remain imprinted on my heart and consciousness versus captured on my iphone.
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – Sutra 2.28:
Practice is the means to eradicate impurities…leading to an increase in the lustre of knowledge and discriminative power.
I was introduced to Iyengar Yoga in 1999 and it has been in my life ever since (although it hasn’t been my sole source of practicing and teaching yoga). The lineage is too comprehensive to summarize. My Iyengar teachers over the years have been the most influential instructors in guiding me into new territories of knowing. My experiences at the RIMYI were incredibly awakening and more often humbling…..my conversations with students, logistical steps involving staff and most importantly the arduous practice sessions with all of the teachers. I felt like a five-year-old on their first day of school – lost, incredibly curious, nervous and acutely attentive . The sensitive attention allowed me to stay aligned so that I could receive the moment-to-moment offerings that are available to taste in every context when at the RIMYI.
Each of the practice sessions required an intensity ~ physically, mentally, energetically, culturally and devotionally. This kind of intensity builds a bonfire….sometimes like a tender flame of a candle and other times resembling a blazing inferno. If we are lucky – these flames devour the knots, impurities, obstacles, etc that generate fluctuations and/or patterns in the body & mind that prevent us from seeing, feeling, tasting, experiencing and moving with clarity and intention. The flame creates a combustion that transforms the energy embedded in the knots and obstacles and evolves this energy into a power that ideally aligns us with our greater good....higher Self. I can't describe exactly what played out internally for me the weeks at the Institute and the weeks that followed, but I do know that there is a different quality to my flame.
Although I feel my time spent with the teachers at RIMYI was too short, the practices were so profound that I departed with a wider lens as a result of an alchemy or recalibration…one that I feel I can tangibly witness. In summary, as painful & humbling as it was and will continue to be, I captured a clear picture of some of my ill-patterns, doubts and obstacles….and many more of these are still hidden within me. Recognition is the first step in eradication. As the Sutra 2.28 above outlines….even the smallest amount of purification leads to a shimmer or sparkle in our awareness & discernment, which I feel lights the way to see more clearly. When there is light out in front of us and around us, we can then discriminate and make effective decisions that are aligned with love and service.
Each of the teachers at the RIMYI have eyes like a serpent and eagle….they can see the most minute detail of each student’s alignment in a room of 100 pupils and simultaneously open their awareness to examine what is happening at the collective level. During the practice sessions I felt BKS Iyengar could see right through me as I placed my mat right next to him ~ he persevered through a series of deep supported backbends and inversions in his practice and simultaneously kept his eyes on each of the students in the practice hall. He continuously would stop and provide mini workshops on numerous refinements in the body, mind and spirit. At one point during one of our practice sessions he firmly stated “Each of you are too attached – attached to life. Too much gripping….too much fear.”….as we were holding our handstands for extended periods of time. His teachings embodied the utmost itty-bitty intricate refinements in the body & mind, which I have been practicing ever since and I’m once again astonished by the magnitude of small things.
The challenge of yoga is to go beyond our limits....within reason & keeping our practice progressive and gradual. Without a certain amount of tension and stress in the asana practice, the mind will remain in its limitations and will not move beyond its existing frontiers.
~ BKS Iyengar
He shared the above quote this with us one afternoon. For me - tension in and of itself is a measure of force that extends and stretches. I keep this quote in mind as I stand at the top of my mat….folding my hands to my chest, descending my brain to my heart, asking Grace to bestow her divinity in my body, breath and mind, with the overall intention to stretch my awareness and heart ~ wide open. Currently, in my practice, I have an understanding (or let's say even an agreement with myself) that when I step onto the mat it is a conscious mantra into a sacred journey which requires perseverance and faith (shradda). For me, the most robust gems I gained from my time spent at the RIMYI were the powers of tenacity, devotion and humility in my practice on and off the mat.
During one of my compelling conversations with Prashant Iyengar, he said to me...
The most medicinal modality or technique you can adopt is to create a sacred and intimate relationship with who or what needs healing….like you would with a Beloved.
This teaching is at the forefront for me ~ my practice includes a conscious selection of relationships (with people or with specific internal ill-patterns) and create a safe, loving, tender, direct, honest, bold, purposeful partnership along with the intention to sustain and evolve the relationship so healing can occur.
** I forever bow in full pranams to everyone that supported me to dive deeply into the abundance offered from the RIMYI, including my husband - Tai, children - Tenzin & Indira, mother-in-law, Nadine my nanny, Ryan Leier & One Yoga partners and community, Louie Ettling, Lisa Walford, BKS Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, Prashant Iyengar, Erik Thuss and all of their outstanding and powerfully skilled instructors.
Ironically before I journeyed to Bali, Indonesia to teach a 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training to 20 uniquely-potent yogis/yoginis, I leaped into the seat of a Bhakta (devout student) by studying in Pune, India at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) with BKS Iyengar and several of his senior teachers, including Geeta and Prashant Iyengar. I will have a separate post highlighting my entire experience in Pune with Guriji himself, but I must make note that the time spent as a devoted student before conducting a teacher training was the most paramount move I could possibly make before stepping into the role of guiding a group of soon-to-be yoga teachers.
Teachers who are guiding others on an inner journey when they have no experience of discipleship are perpetuating their own karma and suffering of others ~ Shambhavi Sarasvati.
The quote may seem a bit intense, but she exposes the significance of studentship (i.e., Adhikara) – especially for teachers. I feel the gems of all qualities to embody as a student so that the inner fields are plowed & teachings can be received & sprouted are: humility, tenderness, a yearning, fierceness and an emptying-out in order to make space for the new. Plunging into the intensity and taste of being a Bhakta in Pune unveiled channels of knowing and inflamed Nature’s wisdom inside of me, which then proceeded to pour out of me in Bali. I see my teacher weekly in Vancouver (which is pure bliss), but stepping into the ferocity & magnitude of studying at the RIMYI in Pune before leading the teacher training in Bali allowed me to dissolve into the seat of a disciple, which is the exact seat I was about ready to guide. The group of trainees arrived into Bali collectively holding these gems in their pockets and ready to rock it out as zealous and effective students!
I reference a ‘Bhakta’ or ‘devotee’ in this context to accentuate the type of study when there are no distractions from work, roles, obligations, daily stressors, etc. In Pune and Bali, we as students were completely immersed into the study of Self, and believe me – it is a pure luxury to have the time & space to devote into the exploration of Nature herself...whom lives & dances within you…shaping and reshaping your moment to moment existence and reality. It was a pure blessing to observe how each of the trainees elegantly swam into their own journey of Self discovery in an incredibly sacred manner.
Ever since I was a little girl, I partook in collective ritual and prayer, which started with my immediate family (which is somewhat large) and progressively evolved into Sanghas. I address this because collective sadhana practices have the potency & capacity to not only harvest a soft blanket of buffer but also an almighty sword for cutting through the nebulous internal weather patterns or obstructions that prevent us from experiencing life in its highest forms….providing a space for perception to widen and heighten. When perception widens, there are larger windows of understanding…and deeper understanding leads to more Love. The wider perception also initiates an alchemy of energetics within - literally reshaping and churning the fabric of our beings.
One of my primary aims for the training was to shape an environment for the teacher trainees to coalesce… so that their collective forces could stir and amalgamate into a sweet shield, and it is this tender shield that provided an arena for power to build itself into a mechanism that served the intensions of each of the group members. It was truly an honour to witness the teacher trainees plunge into collective ritual with rich & personal intentions, which we took the time to address immediately on the first day of training. As sangha practices have revealed for me, I know the lush experiences within the 25 days spent together will seep deep into the cells and memory of the hearts of each and every one the yogis/yoginis that were with me for this amazing pilgrimage we took together…a pilgrimage within. I bow in full humility to the LOVE that was produced and expressed between each of them.
Humility has been one of my most profound teachers. Unfortunately, humility is often hard-earned…it can take a long time and can include many uncomfortable and painful sensations along the way. I know the teachings of humility will be with me for lifetimes to come, and I plan to savor each & every one of them. I’ve noticed that humble beings expel great radiance…they shine light. This light is then used for them to see clearly….and this clarity allows for them to recognize the beauty that other people contribute on this planet. That is humility to me – being able to identify and acknowledge the contributions that others provide. Each one of these amazing teacher trainees were very humble ~ they clearly saw the beauty in each other.
Every single one of these beautiful souls arrived in Bali reflecting incredibly ripe studentship qualities, which were bound to lead to an experience of transformation and recalibration when compiled and shared collectively. We practiced 3-4 hours a day (asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra); nourished our minds and bodies with vegan/raw food; soothed the soul with salt water, surfing and sunshine; bathed in the diversity of the particles that were emanated from the jungle’s ecosystem; and the journaling and wealthy philosophical discussions led us further into our adventure. All of these abundant and sensuous pieces added to the symphony….the composition we made together with our breath, bodies, minds and hearts. The pilgrimage led to a refined polishing of the gems – so that each of these yogis/yoginis are now a full-blown jewel.
The beings who stand by your side provide a direct link to Source...which feeds your soul and brain... providing you with the strength to keep going. I must pay the utmost level of GRATITUDE and RESPECT to Alli Shafer...she stood by my side. Her devotion to the practice and teachings of yoga is reflected through her eyes, skin, touch, voice, intentions, vision, behaviours and actions. She is Goddess in the most expansive essence. I’m truly blessed to have had her by my side at the training and every one else feels exactly the same. I couldn’t of done it without her.
To each of the new yoga teachers - I will always witness each of you as a Phoenix soaring across the sky. A Phoenix is an Arabian bird said to set fire to itself and arise anew from the ashes. The Phoenix has also been referred to as a masterpiece, pearl, treasure, rarity and phenomenon. United together you are a symphony of jewels…and PLEASE remember that the practices & teachings will always live inside you.
Keep your eyes out folks for a powerful, skillful and uniquely radiant group of teachers with unraveled hearts ~ they are on fire!
p.s. Jon Chiang is an amazing artist and photographer (pics below)...we were so fortunate to have him capture so many of these beautiful moments we shared. MUCH LOVE Jon. Check out his AMAZING work:
'Humans underestimate their ability change' ~ John Porter
The weather patterns are in a constant flux right now....change is in the air. As Harroit Lerner preaches...."the only thing that truly remains constant in our lives is change". I often pat myself on the back for being a trooper during times of change, but when I take a deep look at my response to change...there is definitely qualities of resistance. Don't get me wrong...I welcome variety and diversity with kisses and open arms. However, we as humans can become creatures of habit in many ways - e.g., the kinds of food we eat, the people we socialize with, the path we take to work, the words we choose to speak, the types of books we tend to read, etc. How can we step into the nebulous weather patterns of change that occur within various circumstances of our lives? How can we invite change into our life so that we continue to sprout and evolve into brighter beings on this planet? One way to measure our ability to ride the waves of change is to ask ourselves if we are moving with elegance. Elegance implies we operate with refinement, grace, beauty and ease. I need to keep coming back to a stable center point in order to activate my elegance. A practical (and common for many of us) method for standing in a center point is to turn our awareness to the breath and to begin stretching inhales and exhales...especially the exhales. I literally do this over a dozen times a day...e.g., when commuting to work on crowded trains; when standing in a ridiculously long grocery line; when kneeling down to look my four year old son in the eyes for a hug as he fiercely cries and exercises his free will; etc. Just this month I will be dealing with a major shift in my schedule, a few extra new jobs, we are moving homes, and I'm traveling quite a bit. These are the moments when I remember to accept endings so that I can embrace the new beginnings. The circumstance (of change) in my life serves as my teacher and the uncertainty of change is one of the most powerful alchemists. Knowing that 'change' is the ignition of recalibration, then why not invite more of it into our lives? I go out of my way to journey to new parts of the city, to prepare new foods, and I pick up the dictionary and learn new words all the time. These are just a few ways to invite change. And having a steady center point to harness is essential during the wavy nebulous times ...(whether it is working with the breath, cultivating a steady yoga practice, praying, playing with your children, painting, playing guitar, embracing your lover, etc). If we know we need to make a change and are resisting it, remember that there will never be a right time to do a difficult thing. Instead of resisting the weather patterns of the mind....can we open up and allow them to move through us. I often ask myself - am I grasping or gripping onto paradigms of thought or any dogmatic principals in my life? Answering these questions propel me into a state of openness and more elegance.
Enjoy the ride of waves this season!
Below are a few teachings I received over several years from my studies with Nikki Hainstock, a Peruvian Qu'ero lineage Shamanic teacher.
1. Give up what you know
2. Give up roles...who you think you are
3. Enter into contact with Spirit
4. Begin to bridge the verbal with non-verbal
5. Step into innocence
6. Live free from shoulds
7. The coding of the deep unconscious is art, poetry, dance and song
8. Move out of linear and into circular
9. Stay out of victim role
10. Find closure
11. Integrity - totally negotiable and totally uncompromising
12. Practice non-attachmentments (even to your dearest beliefs)
13. Don't take it personally (we go unconscious when we take things personally)
14. Choose engagements carefully
15. Always ask permission of Nature
16. Let go of the 'stories' you hold on to about yourself and others
17. Look into your ancestry
18. You have to ask in order to receive
19. Move out of 'doing' and into 'seeing'
20. Let go - stop micromanaging
The Shamanic Path:
Living without stains - walk lightly, don't hurt others
A lie will always come back to you
Journey of discovery...not a search
Move beyond knowledge
Time to make wisdom
Greatest obstacle trapping the shaman is 'truth'
By Sally Kempton
" One way to know you are experiencing the ego and not the Self is that the ego always experiences itself in comparison to others. The ego never feels fully equal to others: it sees others as higher or lower, as better or worse. The Self sees everything and everyone as equal to itself.
The ego bears the same relationship to the Self as does a light-bulb to the electrical current coursing through it. The bulb looks as if it gives light independently, but in fact it doesn't. It is just a container. The true source of illumination is the electrical current that runs through the bulb.
In the same way, it is Self that gives energy to the ego and enables the ego to perform its function of making you think that the boundaries it sets are the real you. The ego is a useful instrument. For one thing, if it weren't for the ego, we would have no feeling of being an individual self. The ego tells us who we are in the limited, worldly sense; where the body comes from, how old it is, what we 'like' and 'don't like'. So, the ego is not always a bad thing or an enemy to exiripate. It is simply limited - and limiting.
To become fully in the Self, we penetrate beyond the ego's confining messages. Once as you let go of identifying with the body, mind, and emotions, then you naturally experience yourself as vastness, as pure being, as joy, as Awareness, as light. The Self has three main qualities: (1) sat - permanently real, (2) chit - aware of itself and everything else, and (3) Ananda - joyful. "
This is from her book - Meditation for the Love of it.
She is one of my meditation teachers. She is absolutely brilliant...check out her work. This piece above has been very practical for me in witnessing how many times a day my ego turns it up a few nothces to override Self. However, when I am experiencing the joyful moments in a day -- e.g., juicing, laying in bed with my children reading books, playing my guitar, back country skiing, etc. - I consciously steep in the experience. I ask myself what does this feel like? What does it look like? What does it taste like? I facilitate the joyful moments to sink deep and to penetrate the soul.
~ Anodea Judith
"Collectively, it seems we are falling out of love with the world. We all know what deep pain we feel when we fall out of love. It pierces the very core of our being, carves a deep hole in the soul and wounds and cripples the living spirit.
It is the enchantment of love that opens the road to wider consciousness. When we fall in love, we are suddenly stripped of our defenses, lifted out of our self-centered habits, and propelled into an enlarged view of the world. Love melts our rigid attitudes and alters our psychic structure.
Being loved by another increases our experience of Self, as we are reflected in the eyes, words and behaviors of our loved ones. Suddenly we catch a glimpse of our own divinity, our specialness and begin in a new way to truly care for ourselves and feel a sense of purpose.
Love is indeed be the most important element of well-being and spiritual growth. How can we create more love? Compassion heals wounds. Devotion is an act of selfless love and conscious surrender to a greater force beyond oneself. In order to love, there has to be someone home inside....an honoring of one's individuality and a deep sense of self-acceptance. Address your grief. And most importantly - Forgive.
Love is a feeling, yes, but a feeling that is created out of action. Love is daily, even hourly, conscious commitment to behave in a loving and caring fashion toward ourselves and others. When the feeling fades, it is our responsibility to find ways to create new love. Like a garden that is carefully tended, the rewards are well worth the effort."
Anodea Judith has such a multidisciplinary approach to viewing the human spirit. Her books are so powerful and practical. I studied with her numerous times in the 90's and she blew my mind and heart open. The above is from her book Eastern Body & Western Mind, but my favorite book of hers is Wheels of Life. Her writings on Love remind me how critical it is for us to address the barriers that prevent us from loving ourselves and others. She has taught me to PRACTICE the act of 'loving' over and over. It is our responsibility to create more love in our lives....nobody else is responsible for this.
Mother Theresa is the utmost reflection of love in its purest form.
"The tendency to be judgmental- toward yourself and others- is a good barometer of how anxious or stressed out you are. Judging others is simply the flip side of judging yourself. Anxiety by its very nature will lead you to lose objectivity about the complex, wonderful, flawed, ever-changing person you are. When you can't see yourself objectivity, you won't see anyone else objectively either. Every human life is unique, and every human life has value. We're not meant to be anyone else but ourselves. May we do what it takes to let go of anxiety-driven judgements and comparisons. Life is short, and none of us have that kind of time"
~Harriot Lerner, PhD
I immensely appreciate Pema Chodran's talk below about how to cultivate courage....which is essential in tackling the anxiety & stress outlined above.
Wade Davis has always been one of my favorite authors. Often his books were part of formal discussions within my educational trajectory (i.e., Serpent and the Rainbow; Art of Shamanic Healing; Wayfinders; Light at the Edge of the World). When I met my husband, we immediately had a connection over Wade Davis. Wade Davis opened many windows into deep and intimate conversations for both of us. These windows lead us into different worlds of magic and creativity...of spirit and meaning - into a Wonderland. In his book Wayfinders Wade Davis explains how half of the languages taught on this planet are on the brink of extinction and how detrimental that is to our well-being, on individual and societal levels. Below are words from this brilliant being in the Wayfinders:
"Language is like a flash of human spirit, a vehicle by which the soul of each culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old growth forest of the mind, a water shed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities".
These words place me in a deep abundant forest of richness. These words remind me to be receptive to our inner languages. I invite each of us to communicate with our inner worlds of languages. If we tune out certain languages within our vehicles (i.e., bodies), we are missing out on spiritual possibiities or walking past the open windows to our soul.
In your practice today, soften your edges and attune your ears and LISTEN. Embrace a playfulness in your meditation or yoga. Be open. Have no agenda. Co-Create the journey into your inner wonderland by jumping through the open windows that are presented to you by the vast number of languages living within you. Honour the languages that live within you by opening the eyes of each pore of your skin. The languages are buried in the various layers and fabrics of your being. Therefore, allow every inch of you to melt like butter so the communication can surface. Importantly, ignite your inner fire in order to remain attentive. There is a deep level of commitment required to sustain a level of awareness that will lead you into the deep abundant forest of richness.