Thursday, 26 December 2013

Closer to each other

" From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another, The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other. "-Emily Matthews


May the spirit of the Holidays continue to inspire you for days to come. 

Love Yogo.tv team

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Presence is truly the best present.

Sitting in the theatre of my children's school this week anxiously awaiting my son's Christmas concert we were given the gift of some wonderful advice. The principal, whom I really think is awesome, came on to the stage and asked the parents to not take pictures. At first I was a little upset as I am always snapping shots of my kids and didn't want to miss this big event....... but she went on to say, "please put down all your phones and cameras and just be in the moment. Give them your full attention. So often these days we are trying so hard to capture something that we miss what is really going on."

It was a wonderful concert and although some pictures were taken and moments caught on film, there were a lot more people just sitting back and enjoying the wonderful concert that our five year olds worked so hard to put together. The next night was my daughter's concert and I left my camera in my bag the entire show and had such an amazing experience. I caught moments that I may have missed trying to get that perfect picture.

I hope you can all just sit back for a few moments this holiday and enjoy being present with those around you and I also hope you receive the same attention.

With warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday,
CJ


There is no picture for this blog but I'm sure you can all remember how much fun school concerts were.........

Thursday, 12 December 2013

No more excuses!

Recently I was sitting in my car at a green light waiting for the traffic to break so I could turn left. As I sat there patiently observing the opposing traffic drive by, singing along to the song on the radio, I heard sirens from a distance. An ambulance was coming up the street.

I quickly scanned the traffic from left to right to see where it was coming from. A moment later I saw its lights flashing to my right and the sirens get louder, so I paused where I was and waited for the ambulance to cross the intersection. As I sat there watching and waiting, the woman behind me started honking her horn. At first I didn't realize what was going on, I was lost concentrating on the ambulance moving fast towards the lights. The woman behind me continued to honk, as she was frustrated I wasn't turning when traffic had paused.

I looked in my rear view mirror in dis belief and pointed to the ambulance who had now paused to look left & right before speeding through the red light. The woman mouthed something to me & proceeded to finger me. I again, pointed towards the ambulance. She looked up, noticed what I was pointed at and stopped all the fussing. At first I was mad. Really mad!

"What's her problem?" I thought to myself. Then started the process of breathing deeply & relaxing my already tense shoulders. It took awhile for me to settle down.

Once the incident settled and I could now turn and continue on down the road, the woman behind my sped off to my right and passed me as fast as she could.

Now, this isn't the first time road rage has occurred in my life. I unfortunately commute too much these days. What I'm in shock about is how frequently I've witnessing acts of anger, impatience and hatred in the last 2 weeks. I understand that this time of year people are busy and rushed, usually with an overwhelming schedule, and stressed about all the money their spending on their holiday shopping lists. What I don't believe is that this is a good enough excuse for bad behaviour and aggressive reactions.

What I love so much about yoga, is that it allows me space. To gather perspective. To connect with where I am in the current of life and consider my choices. It's my sanctuary when life gets tough or busy. It's home when I'm away from home.

When I was getting my hair cut yesterday, I over heard the hair dresser say to what I assumed was a familiar client that she hadn't been to yoga for weeks because she was just too busy. The best time to go to yoga is when you're busy. You make time. That's why Cj & I started YOGO.tv. So there were no more excuses to JUST PRACTICE YOGA. You're worth it, you deserve it, you won't regret it. Hardest part is rolling out your mat.

So instead of ruminating over your to do list or fussy about your dirty kitchen so much that you overreact in the grocery store line up or rage on the road. Just go do YOGA! Seriously, here's a short 30 min class from one of our teachers Jeff Mah, that I promise will help lift your spirits and help cultivate clarity.

With you on this path,
Lauren






Thursday, 5 December 2013

Already?


Well it has sneaked up again. The last month of the year. You may not all celebrate Christmas as I do but regardless of what or how you celebrate, I think most of us can agree, this month gets a little crazy! I decided this month I would do my best to try to enjoy the holidays and not get too stressed. These are some of the ways I think will be helpful during this holiday season.

Practice. Yes, you may feel like you need to be doing a million other things but carve out the time to get on your mat. Your practice doesn’t need to be long but take the time to sit and move and connect with your body.

Say no, but also say yes. There are only so many things one person can do in a a month, parties, craft fairs, concerts, light trains, gingerbread, card writing, parades….need I say more? If you feel overwhelmed then say no to a couple of things. It may be better to say no to a few things so you can say yes to the things that you want to do and therefore do them better or have more fun doing them. Take time to decide what is truly important to you and your family and maybe let go of the rest. You may be giving others permission to do the same and they will thank you.

Some things we can not control, but we can control how we react to them or what we do with them. We can also decide what we need to do to help ourselves. Take control.

Do you remember what anyone wore at last years party? I was chatting with two friends and we agreed that you can wear last years dress more than once! 

At the end of the day when you are tired and you want to crawl into bed, take 20 minutes, bundle up and walk around your neighbourhood. Look at the beautiful lights and breath in the fresh air. Chances are you will also walk by many people in your neighbourhood doing the same and it always feels great to connect with neighbours. Even if it is just a chattered smile or frozen wave.

Be reminded why you celebrate. This is important.

Yes, it is the thought that counts. Somewhere along the way Christmas got out of control. Maybe have conversations with extended family about gift exchanges and drawing names or just skipping it all together. More time to enjoy each others company.

Remember what you are grateful for. At dinner we go around the table and do our roses and thorns. We start with something in our day that we are grateful for, then something that we weren’t so happy about and finish with another rose of gratitude. It usually ends being many more roses than just two and it is a fun way to learn about each others day and be reminded of how blessed we are.

Rememeber. We are all in this together. We are all one. Share your smiles, your laughter, you love. Spend time this month with those you love and enjoy this special time of year when people make an effort to connect.

I wish you all a relaxing and purely enjoyable last month of the year.

With warmth,
CJ



Thursday, 28 November 2013

How to cultivate happiness and say goodbye to negativity


Today one of our talented YOGO.tv teachers, Wendy is sharing her love of Meditation with you and has even offered up a challenge perfect for the upcoming Christmas season. Something to consider on this day of consumerism, Black Friday! 

“You can live your life free from suffering. Meditation is a specific practice that can help you become free in this lifetime. ”   

How many times per day do you suffer from confusion, doubt, second guessing yourself and negative thoughts?  Do you want to spend your days experiencing these kinds of thoughts or do you feel like they are beyond your control?  

Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you overcome suffering and live in freedom.  

Have you heard a lot about meditation but you are not sure where to start?
Start by asking yourself – Do I want to cultivate & feed negative thoughts or would I rather cultivate positive, helpful thoughts?  Next question you need to ask yourself is – Do I want to be HAPPY or do I want to spend the majority of my time suffering?  

The answer to this question seems like a no-brainer but you may want to really take a look at the areas in your life where you suffer, often suffering is working on many levels for most people which is why they can get caught in it.

Do you secretly enjoy the drama of suffering?
Have you subconsciously decided that you don’t deserve to be happy?
At work do you feel like struggle & suffering is actually a sign of success?
Does a constant struggle make you feel like you are getting stuff done?
Is being negative the only way you can get other peoples attention? Has negative thinking become a habit?
If you constantly worry about something do you feel like you can somehow control it?  

How can a person become free from all of this misery?  

First you need to decide that you want the thoughts and suffering to end. Second step is to commit to a solution.  You may have tried many solutions and spent thousands of dollars trying to find the solution to unhappiness – new car, nice outfit, better job, gym membership – does any of this sound familiar?  But here you are reading yet another article on how to be HAPPY, sounds like the new outfit, better job & gym membership didn’t quite work out the way you had hoped??  

I have done quite extensive research in the field of suffering and have found one sustainable, guaranteed to work solution:  a daily meditation practice.    

By establishing a daily meditation practice you can cultivate stillness and create the time and space to let go of the suffering & let go of all the negativity.  

And here’s the best part: when you let go of all the negativity you make room for freedom & joy, you make room for thoughts that will serve you much better than the previous thoughts.  But most of all you create the space for your true self to shine (you know that part of you that secretly wants to be radiant, live wholeheartedly and enjoy all that life has to offer).  Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about we all have “it” some just choose to let it shine more than others.  

What practices would a person do?  Sit in stillness for 10 minutes per day and do some research: Become aware of the negative, harmful thoughts, figure out what situations trigger the negative thinking – is it from a reaction to something or some situation or has it become a habit?

Once you have given the busy mind some attention, begin to bring your awareness to the space between the thoughts, the space behind the thoughts.  Become aware of what is unchanging and pure in you (your true self).  Notice that it can be challenging to sit in stillness but know that you can always use your breath as an anchor, a tool to focus and bring awareness into the present moment.  

How does it work?  It works because you know you have a choice, you realize those negative thoughts can go on and on but you no longer have to react to them, attach to them or become the thought.  It works because you realize that you have cultivated the power to choose positive/helpful thoughts over negative/harmful ones.  

Feeling sceptical?  Don’t quite believe that sitting still for minutes per day will make you happy?  
Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.  I challenge you to sit still for 10 minutes a day for 6 weeks then sit back and observe the results.  Notice how the people around you react to you; notice how the tightness & tension in your body starts to relax, notice that you are starting to enjoy your life (even though it’s the same life you had before).    

Do one of Wendy's YOGO.tv meditations here.

Wendy is a certified Padma Yoga Meditation Teacher, she teaches meditation classes and workshops throughout the lower mainland.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Good

There is so much sadness, heartache, tragedy and loss in the world. When you turn on the t.v. or read the paper is right in our face and I often feel so helpless. It can become overwhelming.

I went to the school craft fair the other day and the first table was set up by the grade sevens, selling necklaces. Each necklace would send one child to school for a year. The next table were crafts to raise money for the homeless in our area, these were the grade ones. The next table were holiday cards by a grade two class, the money was going to help build a school in Africa. This went on and I felt so inspired by these children.

There are people everywhere from children making crafts to adults volunteering to help in disasters. They are doing good and being good and spreading kindness and love and it is right in front of us. People everywhere are coming together to help one another.

There is so much beauty, kindness and love in the world. It is right here.

We as communities, as neighbours, as one big energy need to support one another. We need to spread kindness and love so that when we turn on the news that is the first thing we see. We need to smile at strangers and lend our hand to those in need. We need to see the good in each other. Spread joy, spread laughter, stand up for one another. We are one.

With Love,
CJ





Wednesday, 13 November 2013

You. Your presence.

"Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious, valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being is this one, simple, true thing: You. Your presence. Showing up. Being in the company of another, undistracted, unhurried, with an open heart, gentle hands, and a patient soul. Willing to be surprised by whatever emerges in the soil of sharing your present, loving company with another human being." Wayne Muller from the book, A life of being, having and doing enough.



This paragraph hits home for me because I know this statement to be true and I think you do too.

I see it in my daughters eyes when we're dancing in the living room vs the times she's asking for my attention when I'm distracted on my cell phone. I feel it when my husband stops what he's doing, looks me in the eyes and sincerely asks me "how was your day?". I connect with it when I'm listening to one of my yoga students, as they share their experience with me.

So if this is really where our riches lie. Where the power to give and receive love comes from, than why am I obsessed with finding the perfect Christmas gift for my family or constantly panicked that I didn't get to my emails fast enough. Well, I don't know. But I do know that in order for me to be able and willing to "show up" and give my full attention I need to have offered myself the same gift. I need to slow down the go, go, go and take care of ME. This is really what Yoga offers us all. Time to be with our Self. Fully present, deeply connected. Once I've filled up, even if it's just for 30 mins, than I remember the value of my time, just how sacred my energy is and I'm more able to offer that to someone else. To give a gift of time.

May we put ourselves on the gift list this Christmas and Show up. Undistracted, full of love, ready to listen, without any guilt, for what it is that we need. So in turn we can rise to the occasion and let Christmas be about You, Showing up with an open heart and undivided attention to those you love.

With you on this path,
Lauren





Thursday, 7 November 2013

Remember

Sometimes at night when my kids are scared from the creaks in the house or the imaginary monsters in the closet I think of the Anne Frank's and how blessed I have been in my life that my fears as a child and my children's fears at night are just that; imaginary monsters.

I am sad for what has been lost on this Earth from humans fighting humans but I am so grateful for the men and women that fought that fight so we can live a peaceful life of freedom.

I will remember the ones who fought, the ones who sent loved ones away, the ones who were brave, who were scared and sacrificed so much of themselves, sometimes all of themselves.

I will live in a way that encourages peace and continued freedom. I will continue to be grateful for the way we live. The freedom to laugh, to play, to dance, to vote, to speak freely......

And I will remember them.

CJ

Below is a picture of my Grandfather who was a Doctor during the war and the love of his life, my Grandmother, who had to let him go.



Thursday, 31 October 2013

How yoga saved my life!

I found yoga the week I had planned to kill myself.

2 years prior I had survived being hit by a car, but was left to struggle with the after affects of that accident. Which lead to multiply surgeries, chronic pain, Fibromayalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, ulcerative colitis and undiagnosed PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). To say the least, I was struggling and couldn't comprehend the idea of going through the rest of my life like this. So I started to plan my death. Seems dramatic and in a way it was. At the end of every day, I would dream of the pain ending and the sadness dissolving. Suicide seemed like the only way towards this dream.

Finally one week (back in 2001) I decided this was the week. I knew I was about to do a very selfish thing, end my pain but create more for those I loved. So I planned to spend as much time as I could with my family, so they knew how much I loved them before I ended my life. At the time my mother was practicing yoga. She had invited me that Tuesday to join her for class.

She was attending a local Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga class. I had no idea what that meant at the time. I soon found out it meant a faster paced, vigorous practice that was centered around the breath. I was 40lbs heavier than I am today and was still recovering from my last surgery which was to insert a metal plate & 9 screws across my fibula (after the Dr's found out it was still broken, 2 years after the accident) to assist in the mending of that bone.

After 3 Surya Namaskara A's (Sun Salutations) and 1 Surya Namaskar B, I was wiped and finding it hard to catch my breath. Still had 2 more S.N B's to go. UGH!The teacher was empathetic and would offer encouragement or Childs pose to me when he noticed my struggle.

I managed to negotiate my way through the 75 min class and fell back into a pool of my own exhaustion and sweat for final resting pose, Savasana. It was a few moments into Savasana that I felt the release. My body sank deeper into the ground and my fatigued muscles stopped shaking. In that moment, I felt an energy reach within my body and hold me. Hold me like your father holds you when you fall of your bike, or your partner does when you're sad. Firm, loving and present. Within the arms of this energy I completely surrendered and awakened to the fact that I didn't want to die. I really just needed help!

I'm happy to say that after this class, I told my family everything and started the process of getting help (saw a psychologist for close to 5 yrs) and continued practicing yoga.

I've shared this story many times to different people and most assume that when I say "Yoga saved my life" that I'm referring to the sequence of postures. What really saved me was the breath and the conscious linking of my breath with my movements (the foundation of all yoga). Yes, the movements cultivated endorphins in my body which helped, but the breath created clarity and most importantly perspective. Perspective to truly see what I wanted. TO LIVE LIFE....In all it's glory.

We can take for granted the automatic breath that nourishes us every day. What I really want you to connect with is the power of the breath and the invitation that yoga offers you, in truly discovering and consciously connecting with the breath. So the next time your practicing yoga with us (YOGO.tv) or in participating in a class, may you courageously step back and let the breath lead you home, even if that means you have to slow down or do less asana.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Getting Lost


Last week we joined friends of ours and took our kids to a corn maze. This was the first time I have been in maze this big and it was so much fun. Some people were racing through timing themselves, sweating as they practically ran through the maze and others were more like us finding themselves lost.

The thing that I found interesting as we walked through was the panic that some people were expressing as they realized they were lost. We are so used to having the answers literally in the palm of our hands all the time that it is unusual to find ourselves lost, without direction or without the answer. The point of a corn maze is to work your way through and maybe get a little lost on the way, maybe retrace steps and laugh as you realize that you have done the same circle more than once! I must admit there was one point that my friend and I found ourselves on the opposite side of a path from our kids and we did squeeze our way through but we had a great time just being lost and being present at the same time.

Life requires us to have schedules and to have direction and answers so much that I feel we need to sometimes just lose ourselves. On our mats, in our practice or in a good book or conversation or even in a day dream.

It feels good to let go and get lost.

It took us over an hour to make our way through the corn maze but it didn’t matter the direction or path that we all took or even how long we spent circling around, everyone that entered the maze finished at the same spot.

Practice. Get lost. Have fun.

CJ



Thursday, 17 October 2013

There's a whole lot of talk about the EGO, WHY?

I've heard many times in a yoga class the instructor say, "check your Ego at the door" or "your ego isn't welcome here!". So it's got me thinking a lot about the Ego, what is it and why am I being instructed to leave it behind?



Deepak Chopra says the Ego "is our self-image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images, and judgements." In other words our ego relates to how we identify with our self, or at least what we think is our "Self", like I am smart, I am funny, nobody likes me, I suck at yoga, I'll never be able to touch my toes, etc..... 

I see my 4 yr old daughter constantly questioning her identity, especially now that she's at school and discerning the difference between having "bad behaviour" and "being a bad person". We've had many conversations about this. That she's innately a whole, loving, compassionate person that cares about herself and others, yet on occasion her behaviour isn't a representation of that person (True Self). I explain to her, that we all get caught up in emotion, and desire, but it's about learning to consciously acknowledge those feelings and then make conscious decisions, rooted from the heart vs making a big reaction from those thoughts, feelings or desires. Yeah, I know, pretty heavy for a 4 yr old. Let's just say, she's starting to get it. :) So am I. 

Now, even though my Ego doesn't always lead me down the most honourable or humble of places, it does still help drive me forward along this earthy path. My Ego has helped nurture the courage to repeatedly share my knowledge and love of yoga for the last decade. My Ego has helped me start businesses and jump into handstand. My ego reminds me that I am capable of anything I put my mind/heart into and that life is grand. 

So what if it wasn't about leaving your Ego at the door or denying those thoughts, feelings, or identification, instead it was about having a constant conversation with your Ego in regards to whether those thoughts, feelings, desires and identifications are leading you in a direction that will serve you or not. That it's about checking in with the Ego vs ignoring it or reacting to it. That as long as the Ego remembers it's True Self (the being that is whole, loving and compassionate) than the Ego is a healthy part of YOU.


May we all start to be friend our Ego and discriminate what it's telling us, so that we can align more fully with our highest, most authentic, truest SELF.

Thanks for being apart of my life.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren

Thursday, 10 October 2013

My Dad, the yogi.


I have so many things to be thankful for this weekend (and everyday) and one of them is my awesome Dad. Here is a post from my Dad, the yogi. I hope this is the first of many from his adventures on the mat. Enjoy, CJ


I’m a typical 66 years old male with a messed up lower back. Last summer I was using a cane for four months and missed a whole golf season.  My doctor made it clear that I needed to lose weight and strengthen my core to better support my back.

My daughter (CJ), a Yoga teacher in White Rock ( I live in Parksville) has always encouraged me to practise Yoga but I wasn’t ready to try a Yoga class. In November I was fortunate to meet a yoga instructor who offered to give me private yoga lessons. I was more nervous than my first day at school, meeting Sarah and not knowing really what to expect.

My first practice was interesting to say the least.  I am in this little room lying on my back beside Sarah who speaks to me softly while I am wondering what the heck is going on. I found out later this is called ‘Savasana’. I finally did relax and almost fell asleep when Sarah told me I had to get up.  We started with a lot of stretches and eventually moved up to my hands and knees with more stretches and then standing with more stretches. The hour went by quickly. In fact it seemed like only a few minutes and I was back lying on the floor with Sarah putting a blanket over me talking me to sleep again. I went home feeling relaxed but still not convinced yoga was for me. The next morning my body ached like you feel when you have had a good workout. Could this Yoga thing really work?

I have been practicing for ten months and realize how much more there is to Yoga than the stretches I started with the first day. There are several styles or types of yoga of which I practise ‘Hatha’ Yoga.  There are ‘Asanas’ or poses that require strength, balance and flexibility.  I enjoy practising at home sometimes in the morning which invigorates me for the day and sometimes in the evening which is a great way to finish a busy day. It took me a couple of months before I attended my first yoga class but now I attend drop in classes whenever I can.

I meet with Sarah regularly and sometimes join other teachers at drop in classes. It is really amazing how knowledgeable Sarah and the other teachers are as to how the body works. They know what moves are good for me, keep me aligned and makes sure I don’t do anything that might hurt me. They are also very patient knowing we are each different. I found that you learn yoga over time. You are continuing to learn and improve as you go. I wished I had started to practice years ago but the good thing is I can continue to practise for the rest of my life.  

So, what has it done?

I am stronger, more flexible and feel better than I have for years. I have lost 25 pounds and feel energized every day. My back is not cured but with greater core strength it does not bother me near as much as it did. “What’s more important than looking after your health”

Why do I keep practicing yoga?  I am able to play with my grandkids when they visit and maybe try and keep up with my daughter CJ. “It also just makes me feel good”.  

Namaste,
Doug


A lovely class with Sarah, my Dad's teacher. ( I love saying that.) 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Reach Out!

Wednesday Oct.2/2013 was Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. A day to celebrate his life and the impact he made in this world. His message continues to inspire people world wide, myself included.

I have the quote "Be the change you want to see in the world" (which is a Mahatma Gandhi quote), hanging at the entrance of my home. It reminds me to take responsibility for the energy in which I bring into the moment and daily decisions. Something I believe most yogi's are skillful at.

A particular group of yogi's that live by this motto, and an organization that we (YOGO.tv) are proud to be aligned with is YOGA OUTREACH. Yoga Outreach was founded in 1996 by a group of yoga practitioners who wanted to make a difference and spread yoga beyond the regular studio experience. They wanted to bring yoga into centers & institutions that didn't have access to this practice but could greatly benefit from it. For Yoga outreach to continue with their efforts they need donations. An easy way to support this organization and benefit from yoga is to sign up for their 30 day challenge. 

Here's how you can do that and what it's all about;

May we all support each other in spreading the power of yoga.
From my heart to yours,
Lauren



Thursday, 26 September 2013

Practice

My five year old son, like most kids, loves to ride his bike. He loves to go to the bike park and ride through the trails or over little jumps and my husband is right behind him. Last weekend the two of them were finding inspiration on YouTube watching videos of bikers that come flying down large hills and then flip in the air and land. You know the ones right? They spin their handle bars and take their legs way off the bike and then make it look effortless as they land.

To me this sport is crazy and I just can't get over some of the things they are able to do. So when my son and husband are showing this to my 7 year old daughter and I, I said "How are they ever able to do this? How can they fly through the air like that and then land?" My daughter turns to me and says, "Ummmm, they practice Mom, like YOGA, they practice."

Of course they do, they practice. They didn't start out doing these tricks, they started out with training wheels and they practiced. They most likely spent hours upon hours practicing. They also probably fell, or had days where they questioned what they were doing, or maybe not. One thing is for sure, they did practice.

Yoga is a practice. We practice our breathing, moving our bodies, opening our hearts, settling our thoughts, kindness, acceptance, balancing and much more. Sometimes we float through our practice and land at the end with grace and sometimes we fall but we get back up and we continue knowing that it takes this constant commitment to practice.

Together with this beautiful practice of yoga may we continue to support one another as we get on our mats and we float and we fly or we stumble and get back up and we PRACTICE. Together we play, we breath, we just practice.

OM,
CJ



Thursday, 19 September 2013

Compassion train

I've been taking transit and commuting into the city everyday for the last 2 weeks and I've noticed a few things along the way. Some are sad & disheartening, but today I want to share what I've noticed that inspires me.

People are sincerely kind.

I travel during busy rush hour times (I know, yuck!) so the trains get packed with people. Every time the door opens, you can see people look around and consider where they can move to accommodate the 6 more people about to step on. When elderly people come on board, people get up and offer their seats. Even saw someone do this for a pregnant woman yesterday.

Last week, I noticed a young man making silly faces to a distraught child and the child reacted with a smile and her whole demeanour changed. You could see how shocked and grateful the also distraught mother was for the kindness of the young man.

I see people hold the door open when someone is running to make the train, or help someone with their bags when their struggling to pull them on. Even in the busiest time of the day, when people are tired and ready to put their feet up, they offer their hand, welcome a warm smile and extend compassion.

For different reasons media seems to showcases the bad in the world. Tells stories of heart ache and terror. If you're anything like me, this leaves me paranoid and upset. Even though I've experienced my own pain & suffering and can empathise with those amidst their own turmoil, Today I want us to look within our hearts and remember how kind and loving we innately are.

If the ancient sages are right, than what we focus on comes to life. So then, may we remember our kindness and offer a hand the next time you see someone struggle, or turn off the phone the next time you're sitting at dinner with your love, and how about some self love when you roll out your yoga mat and find your tight hamstrings are limiting you.

Imagine a world where Love & kindness was our focus.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Lists



My friend Julie shares my love of lists. She recently told me about her latest list. 40 things she wants to do before the age of 40. As I love lists and am the same age as her, I was inspired to join her. I have been working on my list for about two weeks now and still have about ten things to add but so far it has been an eye opening experience.

The first thing I was surprised at was how hard to was for me to start a list. I haven’t done everything I want in this life but of the things I really want at this moment I feel very content. There were no big things screaming at me that I must do right away.

The second thing was that as I started the list I realized these are mostly things that I can do daily. I want certain yoga poses, to be more balanced in life so I have more time for the people and a practice that I love. So simple.

I also realized that there are a few bigger things in life that I do want but was afraid to say it out loud for fear I wouldn’t be able to accomplish them. After I wrote them down I felt better. I feel like I have some big goals and I know what they are. I have also started thinking about how to reach them.

I know that writing this list really opened my eyes even more to the life full of love, abundance, beautiful people and many exciting and fulfilling moments that I live. I could throw away my list today and be thankful that I wrote it. I won’t though, I’m going to tack it on my board and have fun crossing a few things off. If I don’t get through all 40 well I will move them over to my 50 before 50.


With Gratitude,
CJ


Thursday, 5 September 2013

SIMPLIFY!

If you're anything like me, you will relate when I tell you that on occasion I make things more complicated than they need to be. Especially when my schedule gets hectic and busy, as it has been this week. The good news is I'm aware of my habits, so when I noticed myself sliding back into my busy tendencies, I quickly re-collaborated and question, how can I balance this unavoidable busyness with some grounded peace?

What I've realized is that it's all about my ability to simplify. What areas of my life and schedule can I simplify, to help balance the energy of my day and my Self out?

  • I can plan ahead for dinners and snacks, so I'm less stressed and better organized during the week. 
  • I can be Ok with saying "No" to the extra work requests I get during my busy season. 
  • I can take transit instead of driving so I'm less stressed on the road and more relaxed when I arrive at work. 

One that has really been satisfying my soul right now is simplifying my yoga practice. Letting the priority be on my breath.
Inhale, move
Exhale, move 
Inhale, move
Exhale, move
Inhale, hold the pose
Exhale, hold the pose
Inhale, hold the pose
Exhale, hold the pose. 
RELEASE & REPEAT 
(*Sigh* I feel better even just writing it out).

At the end of my practice I feel more grounded and more capable of handling whatever life throws at me with the Grace and integrity I want to live by. Even though this may sound too easy or of little value, but please DO NOT UNDER ESTIMATE THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY!

What can you simplify in your life to re-collaborate or balance out the energy of this busy time of year?

From my heart to yours,
Lauren



Thursday, 29 August 2013

I Intend To Be by Peter Greenwood


CJ & I first heard Peter's story from his beautiful wife Melissa who works with us. His courage and strength is deeply moving, so we asked him to share his story with you, for a little inspiration before heading into the labour day long weekend. Thank you Peter!

I'm fairly new to Yoga, at least when it comes to Asana.  My down dog is awkward to say the least and there are many postures I am not able to do.  That is just the physical side though, as I begin studying the philosophical side of Yoga, I am realizing I have been on this path for quite sometime. 

In 2003, at the age of 18, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma or bone cancer.  This was a shock to say the least, but my prognosis was good.  Three years later, after the cancer spread to my lungs and I endured an above knee amputation of my left leg, I was given a 30 percent chance of survival.  I am now going on over eight years remission and life is pretty good.  But it took me a long time to get to this point, where I can say "life is good" with absolute faith. 

There are many definitions of what yoga is, one that resonates strongly with me is the unification of the heart, body and mind.  In retrospect it is easy to see, but when it happened, I had no idea that my diagnosis with cancer had pulled the key components of my being so far apart.  This caused me years of turmoil as my body was physically broken and incapable of many things I once took for-granted, my heart was incredibly thankful just to be alive after coming so close to death, and my mind was furious to have so much taken without reason and through no fault of my own.  To say the least I was left in a confused haze of existence.

I was mad and nobody could or would fault me for that, yet I had nothing to be mad at.  I was emotional and amazed by simple things in the world, birds and bugs etc. while my own existence continually broke me as I went from running a five minute mile to hopping and scooting on the floor.  And my mind just ran circles around itself, I had no idea what to do, eventually I didn't want to do anything.  I finally broke and literally locked my door to the outside world.  Daily living left me longing for a more vivid and authentic existence, after battling for my life most other things seemed lacking in meaning.  Luckily, I had some strong support and while these individuals gave me space to heal in my own time, they also pushed me when needed and kept me from completely shutting down.

The simple fact of my survival planted a seed in me, a seed of faith and belief in a higher power.  Through all the years I spent in and out of depression and doing my best to heal, even in my darkest moments, I never lost faith that I would find my way.  This faith came from the fact that even though I did everything I could, followed doctors orders and took countless supplements, whether I survived cancer or died was not up to me.  And if god, the force, the universe, whatever you want to call it, gave me my life back there must be a reason for it.  So even as I felt meaningless, I knew meaning had to be out there.  I found my faith in the simple fact that I was alive, when I very well could have been dead.

As I regained my faith in life I began to delve deeper and deeper into what cancer had done to my psyche.  This took patience, perseverance and strength.  I read books and wrote and wrote and wrote.  In the end, I came to the conclusion that healing takes time, often more time than we would like, and the only true path to healing is acceptance.  First there is accepting acceptance, then there is accepting grief, trauma, and loss over and over again.  These emotions are strong, and as I much as I would like to say they someday leave you, they don't.  Which is why throughout your life you may have to accept the same thing over and over again.  In the end though, as you accept your life, the strong emotions that brought you down will begin to lift you up.

When I first started practicing yoga I found myself overwhelmed by what I physically could not do.  In trying to move slowly and hold difficult poses, I had no choice but to spend intimate time with the loss of my leg.   Something I had avoided doing for years, but also something I recently decided I had to do if I was going to break out of the up and down existence I had been leading. Another simple yet in-depth definition of yoga is that yoga is the intention to be.  I started this year by setting the intention to be and to start proactively healing rather than waiting for healing to happen on its own.  I set this intention before I even found my way to yoga, but as I begun practicing more and more the reasons I set this intention have become clear to me.  After giving up on a yoga class and feeling down on myself I was able to put all the reasons why I intend to be down on paper.  This is what I tell myself whenever I start to doubt.

I intend to be for my heart and mind to continue healing, for the leg I lost, the stump I rely on, the years I spent depressed and confused, and the trauma I suffered through.  This is for healing and growth.  This is for my wife so I can love her with all my heart.  This is for my parents and my siblings because even in my darkest moments they never stopped believing in me.  And this is for my community far and wide for always having my back.  THIS IS FOR LIFE BECAUSE EVEN WHEN IT ISN'T FAIR, EVEN WHEN IT BREAKS YOU AND TAKES FROM YOU WITHOUT REASON, IT IS STILL BEAUTIFUL TO BE ALIVE! 

Namaste,
Peter Greenwood
To read more about Peter go to: http://standingondeath.blogspot.ca/

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Whole & Complete

The Ancient sages of yoga, tell us that as beings we are whole and complete. That we lack NOTHING.

Every cell of my being sighs in relief when I remember this, resonating with its truth, however it's remarkable how often I forget this. How often I ruminate on my own limiting concepts of Self or linger too long on a negative thought.

I see this a lot with my students too. Their feelings of inadequacy or  how they lack a sense of love and belonging. It amazes me how even in a yoga class people use this as another opportunity to beat themselves up or measure their self worth, by getting competitive with the other students around them or giving up on a pose when their neighbour can do it better.

Why is it that we're looking outside of ourselves for validation, instead of looking within ourselves and remembering our innate gift. We are already whole and complete!

Well, I sure don't have all the answers, however I do know that believing I'm whole and complete is one thing and putting action to that knowing is another. That when I remember my birth right as a whole being, to experience the wonderment of this world, to give & receive love, than my question to my Self is,

        How can I participate in this wholeness?
        How can I see the external experiences (even validations) as reminders of what I already know?
        How can I let go of the self defeating games I play and show up as a the woman I know I am?

Really it comes back to the little things I do to each day to help nurture my shift into reality. The reality that I am greater than I perceive. To paraphrase Brene Brown, "I am worthy of love and belonging. I am enough".

Here are the little things I do to help me remember;

Sit Quietly (meditate)
   Take 5 mins out of your day and sit quietly. Ignore the messy kitchen and ringing phones. Turn off the computer and open the blinds. Sit on the floor, in a chair or lie on the couch if need be. Close your eyes and direct your attention to your breath. Don't need to change your breath, just notice it. Relax your shoulders and feel the moment and you in the moment.

Get on your Mat (practice Yoga)
   Whether you're taking a class with us on YOGO.tv or visiting one of the many kick ass yoga studios out there or just practicing on your own, moving your body and taking care of yourself is another way of taking care of your spirit. As Marc Holzman said "you have to create an area for which consciousness can flourish", so let's participate in creating a healthy arena so we can remember our whole hearted nature. Everything counts, whether it's 5 minutes or 2 hrs, just get on your mat.

Question how you show up each day
   One of my favourite sayings from Oprah Winfrey is "take responsibility for the energy you bring into this room". You impact others and others impact you. If you live with others, you know this to be true. So when we remember this, then we are forced to be mindful of our choices and the way in which we chose to show up in the world. I'm done playing the "should" game. I chose to show up as the woman I'm meant to be (even if that means some one wont like me), because I'm done trying to be the woman I think I'm supposed to be. I hope you will be bold, be accountable for your energy and speak your truth too.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren
 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Space to just be.



There are many things I have learned from my beautiful Grandmother. To write thank you cards, how to say Grace, to bake, to sneeze hard, to laugh harder, to always learn the rules and respectfully push the boundaries. The list goes on but one thing that she always did was she held space for me. She held space for me to be me. She encouraged me and she cheered me on, she always listened and she always, without judgment, held space. I never felt like I couldn’t be me or had to behave a certain way. I always knew that she would greet me with a huge smile and hug me way too hard, and this never changed. Not even when I last saw her on her 96th Birthday.


This is a beautiful way to treat each other. Grandchildren, children, siblings, parents, friends. To hold space for each other to just be. We are all unique and we all have offerings but there is so much pressure to be a certain way or fit into a predetermined “way of being" that doesn’t always feel right for everyone. I think it would be amazing if we all just accepted each other as is. If we could hold that space for each others to be themselves and to know that we can do the same. There are no mistakes here, everyone is a diamond.


I am thankful for many things in my life. I am thankful for my Grandmother and the many lessons that she taught and even after her death is still teaching me.


Shine.

OM
CJ

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Lets talk about Poop!

In Ayurvedic medicine (also known as the science of life), your Agni or digestive fire is the most important element within the body as it helps you digest your food, which in turn is responsible for nourishing your body and eliminating toxins. To quote the world famous Ayurvedic Doctor, from his textbook on Ayurveda, Dr. Lad says; "Agni is the main source of life and if you worship agni, you will be blessed with perfect health". 

This was a profound statement for me when I heard it years ago. I've struggled my whole life with digestive issues and was diagnosed almost 10 years ago with Ulcerative Colitis. Through the process of healing myself and finding the digestive balance I need in my life I've learned to listen to my GUT. That our guts are sometimes the first sign to what's going on in our lives and if we're open to it, our digestive patterns can teach us how to find desired harmony and a balanced life. I do this the best by taking an interest in my poop. Yup, I said it....POOP. 


A friend of mine once said, "I can't have a good yoga practice till I have a good poop, and sometimes I need a good yoga practice to poop!" She followed this up with a good chuckle. There's truth in this statement. 

The thing is, if my poops are regular and normal I feel good and I stay grounded and centred in my life/practice. If my poops are off, than I know I need to re-calibrate and ask why? Is it stress? Is it food? What do I need to change to find peace and settle my digestion? Here's a fun and bright chart from Infographic, to help decipher your poops in the hopes of better Agni fire and digestive health. 

Here's to Optimal Health!

Love,
Lauren