Thursday, 18 December 2014

It's Over!

I went on a search in my closet the other day, for a warm sweatshirt to wear. You know, one you can curl your knees up into, then crawl into bed with a good book kind of sweatshirt. 2 sizes bigger than you and you would never wear out of the house. Yes, that kind of a sweater. I knew I had one in there, just hadn't seen it in awhile.

It didn't take long for me to find it, just tucked in the back corner of my closet under a few well loved sweat pants. I immediately put on the sweater and went to find my book.

As I walked towards my bedside table, I saw my reflection in the mirror. I stopped to look at the sweater. Within that moment, I remembered when I bought that sweater. I remembered why I wore that sweater all the time. I remembered how that sweater made me feel.

The memories were full of sadness. Old feelings of thinking I'm unloveable. Feelings so dark that I often considered how I could end my life. You get the drift, It was a heavy time in my life. I wore that sweatshirt for comfort and solace. I wore that sweatshirt because I wanted to disappear and fade away. For no one to see me, because I was miserable.

Honestly it was a hard moment. Experiencing those feelings again.

Then I realized, it's over!

I'm not that person anymore. I'm the Lauren of right now. In this moment. Who knows with every cell of her being that she is enough!

So I took off the sweater, folded it up and placed it in the pile to be picked up by Big Brothers in a few days. It's time that sweater had a new story and I purged the past. I'm grateful for the lessons that came from those experiences, obviously they are still unfolding. I am who I am today because of the past.

May the simple gesture of letting go of this sweatshirt be a symbol of relinquishing the past, to live more fully in this moment. This moment is amazing.

With you on this path,
Lauren

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Path


I am a sucker for live entertainment. Musicals, buskers, ballet and kids school concerts. I am not exaggerating when I say that I tear up every time. Today I went to see Mixed Nuts with my son and his class and through my tears I was swept away. I love watching people get lost in their craft. You see how hard they have worked, how much time was taken and you see the love and passion that the performers hold. There is a light in their eyes.

It is when people are walking the path they are meant to walk that this same light shines through. When the right place, the right people and the right time all line up. When the hours it will take and the hard work to be done means little compared to knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be.

This may not come easy to everyone or this feeling may come and go as life changes and we adjust as we need to. But by following our hearts and following our dreams we will all eventually find our way to the path that lights us up.

With Love,
CJ


Thursday, 4 December 2014

45% of the worlds population is affected by......

According to the world association of sleep medicine45% of the worlds population is affected by sleep disorders. Yes, you read that right 45%, that means almost half of the worlds population is dealing with sleep dysfunctions, like insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, to name a few.

Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and other medical conditions.

In 2011, CBC news reported that lack of sleep had been officially titled as a "global epidemic" that threatens health and quality of life. These are all pretty scary facts, especially to a society like ours where we pride ourselves on a busy schedule and hectic warrior like lifestyle.

My brother Mark and sisters son, Baker napping together, AWE!
Research shows that we spend close to one third of our lives sleeping. Much like eating and drinking, sleep is a basic human need and is crucial to our overall health and well-being. Now what I also want you to know, is that sleep disorders are preventable and treatable. I don't mean just popping some sleeping pills to get a good night sleep. I mean address the problem and start to create some healthy sleep habits so you can truly get the type of optimal sleep we all need.

Here are 3 easy tips to help you get a good night sleep:

Learn how to breath deeply
Research says we only use one-seventh of our lung capacity. When we oxygenate our body, we increase the health and function of our body. We also help soothe our nervous system, something our stressed out world needs to do more often. Here is a simple exercise you can do to increase your lung capacity and take in more oxygen;

  • Take a comfortable seat, preferably on a cushion on the floor. Sit up tall and pull your shoulders and ears over your hips. 
  • Take a long steady inhale, until all the corners of your ribcage expand like a hot air balloon. 
  • Hold that inhale for 8 seconds
  • Then inhale again and hold until you can't inhale anymore
  • Slowly exhale
  • Repeat 3 times a day and notice the affects/changes this has on you over time.
Set up a sleep routine
There's a ton of research on the importance of a sleep routine and respecting the natural light cycles of the day. The common thread in the research is to have a consistent bedtime & wake time. In other words go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends. Establish a bedtime routine that doesn't include light exposure, like watching TV, working on the computer or managing Facebook from your smart phone. Get adequate amounts of exercise and eat whole, nourishing foods.

Do yoga - of course :)
Yoga is a practice that encourages all aspects of the body/Self to come back to its most natural and balanced state. The yogi's would call this a Sattvic state. In hatha yoga, we move the body with the breath, which helps us manipulate the energy in our body, while balancing out our nervous system (to name a few of the benefits of a regular yoga practice). Even just incorporating 2 - 3 yoga postures and 5 mins of deep, conscious breathing a day can change the quality of your sleep, thus assisting in the maintaining (or creating) a vibrant healthy YOU....LIFE. Here's a great Sleepy time video from Yogo.tv that you can do to help you with your sleep routine. 

"We need to reprioritize sleep and make it more important than Tv, more important than long commutes, more important than a lot of irrelevant social networking activities that make us feel good. Ten minutes a day on email may be enough, Radical!" Dr. David Dinges - Chief of the division of sleep & chronobiology of the University of Pennisylvania medicine. 

Namaste,
Lauren

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Random Kindness


Well here it is again, the most wonderful, magical, stressful, busy time of year. Personally I love the holidays. I love seeing family and I love the holiday traditions. I also love that holiday music is easy to sing loud! I love the excitement of my kids, the school concerts and the streets full of colourful lights.

I also feel a little sad this time of year and I’m pretty sure that is common. It is the time of year that many people feel extra stresses, pressures and many feel lonely. I am very grateful to have a full and happy life and some of my sadness comes from knowing there are so many people that don’t live the happy life that I do. I also wish I could do big things to help those in need but sometimes the idea itself is so overwhelming I fall short on even the little things.

I have come up with a few ideas on how to take our yoga off our mats and do what we can, big or small to help those in need, or bring the community a little closer over the holidays.

First, there are food bank boxes everywhere! Take something to them, if every time you grocery shop you buy one extra item, it will add up. Even more fun take your food to the local Santa Claus Parade if your town has one, and donate there, then enjoy the parade.

Support local craft fairs and events that are sending money to help those in need. They have done all the work for you and most of the time you just need to show up and maybe buy some of your Christmas gifts from them.

If you have a talent, I know you all do, share it. Sometimes taking your rock band (or simply your solo voice) or your cute puppy to the seniors centre can change a person.

Donate old clothes. Take your coats or socks to the homeless.

Smile at each other, easy enough but that one smile can make someone who is feeling lonely feel a part of something bigger. Really, proven fact.

Slow down and remember why you celebrate this holiday.

Soup kitchen.

Practice Random acts of kindness. Hang a neighbours Christmas lights or do some winter yard work for them if you know they are unable.

There are many organizations that you can turn to. There is also the gift of you and your time, you don’t need to spend money to help those around you.

I would love to hear how you are spreading holiday love this year!

This post was inspired my son’s first grade class and their teacher that just raised over $700, and still counting, for the homeless in our community by making and selling clay hearts. Thank you for being such caring and inspiring children.


Namaste,
CJ

Thursday, 20 November 2014

What would it feel like?

There are so many different types or styles of hatha yoga (the yoga of postures) that it can be overwhelming to decide what class to take. Here at Yogo.tv we've had many calls & emails from clients asking where to start, what classes to pick etc... That's why we're so passionate about encouraging you to figure out how you want to "FEEL" and then let that feeling be the leading force behind your decision.

This concept came to CJ and I after attending an evening event with Danielle LaPorte and Gabby Bernstein a few years back. They were discussing how limiting goal setting can be and how really we work best when we align with a feeling, and let that feeling be the foundation behind your actions and choices. So for instance if you want to feel relaxed at the end of a yoga class, than choose a class that focuses on deep relaxation. To go even further than that, be mindful when you're in that class to direct your thoughts to relaxing thoughts. Consider if the inner conversations you're having or the thoughts you're ruminating on are assisting you with feeling relaxed. This will help you cultivate the desired feeling from this class and encourage you to take some responsibility for your yoga experience. Empower you in other words.

Now let's go bigger than just deciding what Yoga class to do. What would happen if you woke up every morning and considered, "How do I want to feel today....this week....this month....this year?". After you decided on the feeling you want to cultivate, you then consciously aligned all your actions for that day (week, month, year) towards experiencing that feeling. How would things change? Would your daily routine be different? Would you speak differently towards yourself and others?

In my experience of living this way for a few years now, my answer to the above questions is YES. Very different. I stop "shoulding" myself into doing things and instead align my actions and choices with that feeling. A personal example of this, is my experience of feeling love. After reading Brene Brown's book "The gifts of imperfection", I was taken back by how Brene described our relationship with love. She said,"You can only love others as much as you love yourself". 

Savasana - corpse pose
This was an incredibly powerful statement for me. I want everyone close to me to feel love and if that's limited to my feelings of love towards myself, than I better shape up and start loving my self like crazy. So over the last year, I've been aligning my days with feeling loved. This means I specifically align my actions, particularly my inner conversations with ones of self love. This has been a big part of my hatha yoga practice. I've incorporated more pranayama (breath exercises in simple terms) into my yoga. What's better than deep breathing to help feel nourished and loved? How about eating nourishing food and remembering not to "guilt" myself when I have my evening beer and cookie? Now that's making room for more self love in my life. I take baths when I'm stressed and feeling tired, I say nice things to myself when I'm naked in front of the mirror or struggling with the stresses of life.

What I'm hoping you're connecting with here is how amazing life can be when you consider how you want to feel vs what do you want to get done.

May we all dive deep into our innate desires and connect fully with our feeling body vs our thinking body. The buddha said "The hardest journey is the one from the head to the heart", so may we all courageous to step onto that path and experience the journey to the heart.


With you on this path,
Lauren

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Reminder to Remember

Tuesday morning I headed down to the beach and on the day of remembrance, walking by the ocean in the beautiful sunshine it was easy to feel thankful and deep gratitude for those who fought for our freedom.

The thing that kept coming to me was that it is not just a day of remembrance but a day to remind us to remember everyday. To feel such gratitude for all the freedoms that we have daily. To freely walk to the beach and breath in the fresh air to our right to vote. I also feel that we not only need to find daily gratitude and to remember but to also live in a way that honours the people who fought, the people who lost their lives or the lives of loved ones. We need to speak freely to others and to ourselves but with kindness so our words are heard, we need to vote, we need to look each other in the eyes and recognize ourselves in each other and we need to put down our phones and notice the beauty that surrounds us and is waiting for us to explore.

These people didn't go through all this for anything less than the true, constant peace. So please remember to honour these people that walked before us, walk among us, that fought and still fight for our daily freedom and live in a way that only creates peace and spreads peace to those around us.

 Namaste, CJ


Thursday, 6 November 2014

What's your Sadhana?

My yoga practice has changed a lot over the years. Which also means my yoga teachings have changed over the years. The one thing that seems to be the constant during all the changes, is simply the fact that I still get to my mat and practice. It's not always for very long, it's definitely not always the same sequence or intention, but it's the process that seems to be the powerful force. The ritual of spending time with me, through movement, pranayama (breath work), and deep rest. 

In Sanskrit we call this "Sadhana". Sadhana is referred to as an intentional practice with dynamic effort. I like to think of "dynamic" as another word for a living relationship. Like in any relationship you have your struggles and pleasures. Yogi Bhajan the founder of the Kundalini Yoga institute says this about sadhana; "It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best." 

BKS Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga speaks to the wisdom that comes from a committed sadhana practice. He says, "The end of yoga sadhana is wisdom. You might translate yoga sadhana here as "the yoga pilgrimage" as it is a journey that leads somewhere, not the mere treadmill of thoughtless practice." 
The words that stand out for me from these two influential leaders in the world of yoga is, personal and thoughtful. To have a powerful sadhana practice is to commit to a practice that has deep personal meaning to you and that is done thoughtfully, with intention.......with devotion. 
What is your sadhana? Mine happens to be yoga asana (Hatha yoga in other words) which is why I'm so darn passionate about teaching it. It works for me. We at yogo.tv hope you'll give yoga asana (yoga postures/classes) a decent try, however we understand it may not be the right practice for you. You're not alone, many other yogi's have been down the same path, which is why there are yoga practices that focus on study, prayer, chanting, acts of kindness and service to name a few. Yoga is more than asana (postures) in other words. The power of yoga comes from the process. Your commitment to the practices. To your sadhana. So what personal, deeply meaningful practices are you committed to?
"The spiritual path - is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it." - Marianne Williamson

With you on this path,
Lauren




Thursday, 30 October 2014

BOO!


There is no denying the fact that Halloween brings quite a stir of energy. There are fireworks popping in the air, bonfires being lit and people of all ages are encouraged for this one night to forget who they are supposed to show up as and can become whoever they want. For one night you can walk down the middle of the street, in the dark, wearing whatever crazy thing makes you feel good and run into your neighbours doing the exact same thing! And of course there is candy.

I love Halloween, I always have. I love the decorations and the smell of fireworks. I love dressing up and seeing everyone else all dressed up. I love watching kids so proud of who they have become. I love that we open our doors to each other and give treats. The whole thing is crazy really! I love it.

Halloween reminds me that life is not always so serious and it’s fun to be silly. It’s fun to forget what time bedtime is, how much sugar is in candy and if you are dressed appropriate to go out. Life goes quickly and although there is something to be said for the "order" we set for ourselves there is also something to be said for once and awhile just showing up, having fun and maybe even eating candy. 

Have a safe and silly night,
CJ







Friday, 17 October 2014

Great purpose

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali


Thursday, 9 October 2014

I am Thankful


Finding gratitude and being thankful for what I have is an easy daily practice as I feel so blessed in my life with an amazing family, friends and community. I have a life that I am thankful for every second of the day. I often take moments to feel or express gratitude during my day and it always serves as a reminder of how much beauty there is in this life and how fortunate I am.

As we move towards this Thanksgiving weekend I am practicing being thankful for the things that don’t usually come first to my mind. I am thankful for relationships that have been challenging as they have taught me so much about myself and how I want to show up each day. I am thankful for injury as it has showed me how to live healthy and have compassion for others in physical pain. I am thankful for late nights working because I have work, and work that I love and feel passionate about. I am thankful for my kids waking me from my deep sleep every night to go to the bathroom or adjust their blankets because I have two healthy, happy kids that I love with my whole heart. 

This practice of being thankful for both the things that bring me pure joy and the things that are challenging has brought my daily practice of gratitude to a whole new place. I truly am thankful for all the easy paths as well as the bumpy roads because regardless of the ease or effort they all brought me here. For that I am thankful. 

OM
CJ



Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Body Image movement

On Tuesday night CJ and I went to an amazing event here in Vancouver called "Embrace Vancouver". The event hosted close to a 100 woman of all different cultures, professions, and ages. Even though we all showed up in our own unique way, we ultimately came with the same intention, to hear more about Taryn Brumfit and her "Body Image movement".

To say that CJ and I were moved is an understatement. The hair on my arms stood up for most of the evening and my eyes constantly swelled with tears as I related to Taryn's story and thought dearly of my sweet innocent 5 yr old daughter. Like many of us, Taryn struggles with body image issues and after years of agony and self loathing she came to the conclusion one day that she needed to change. Change the way she felt about her body, change the way the media portrays woman........change the worlds view of the woman's body. Powerful, YES!

Yoga is time we spend with ourselves, in our bodies, connecting deeply. Time we can use for self love, self compassion, deep rest. On the flip side, for some, it can also be another opportunity to beat yourself up or acknowledge your failures or less than perfect attributes. We at Yogo.tv hope that you'll see that those limiting beliefs and unnecessary inner talk isn't serving you anymore and will make a promise with yourself to utilize yoga as an opportunity to nourish all aspects of your Self and be grateful for the body we have. Just as you are. For we know YOU ARE ENOUGH!

We are in full support of this movement, and am motivated to do what we can to help Taryn in this endeavour and we're hoping you will too. To get a better feel for the "Body Image movement" please watch Taryn's video.

With you on this path,
Lauren and CJ




Thursday, 25 September 2014

Rare Qualities

Last week my daughter and I were reading about ballerinas and as we were reading about Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina during the late 19th century, we came across a powerful quote. This quote was from her teacher Pavel Gerdt while he was enraged with Anna for trying something that was not physically suited to her.

"... leave acrobatics to others. It is positively more than I can bear to see the pressure such steps put on your delicate muscles and the severe arch of your foot. I beg you to never again try to imitate those who are physically stronger than you. You must realize that your daintiness and fragility are your greatest assets. You should always do the kind of dancing which brings out your own rare qualities instead of trying to win praise by mere acrobatic tricks."

"You must always do the kind of dancing that brings out your own rare qualities instead of trying to win praise by mere acrobatic tricks."

It can be difficult both on and off our mats to not look around at others and try to move or behave in the ways that we see others moving and behaving, even if it feels unnatural, we still sometimes push against our own grain. But we are all different, we all have our own unique and rare qualities and if we don't embrace this uniqueness then we are not living in that place of who we truly are.
 
Embrace each others own rare qualities and please do the kind of dancing that brings out all of yours.

Namaste,
CJ


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Get grounded

It's mid September now (wow!). A transitional time of year, as we close the metaphorical doors of summer and move gingerly into Fall. Similar to our asana (posture) practice, transitions can be complex and full of air (Vata as we call it in yoga) energy that can inspire creativity and insight, however also increase anxiety and instability.

One of the powerful aspects of Yoga is that it helps balance the prana (energy) within all the layers of our Self, which in turn affects in creating more ease within life. It does mean that you have to be aware of where you're out of balance or just simply where you are in the current of life. Perspective you could say. Once you understand where you are in the flow of things, than you can look to your yoga practice as an opportunity to counterbalance any misalignment.

For instance, I'm finding I need more grounding postures and practices right now to help balance out all this Air (Vata) energy I'm experiencing. So in honour of that I've made a very quick video for you to use in helping you ground yourself. It's a simple practice made up of 3 basic yoga postures, that I would like you to hold each posture for 30 secs - 2mins (build up if this is challenging). Transition keeping your head down the whole time and your eyes gazing at the floor, all actions that assist in grounding our energy and creating balance. Don't worry to much about your physical alignment, just stay deeply connected to your breath (long even inhales and exhales) and root firmly into your foundation(hands and feet).


Here's to creating balanced harmony in all aspects of our Self.
With you on this path,
Lauren







Thursday, 11 September 2014

Katy


Last night my friend and I took our girls to go see Katy Perry and I know one thing for sure………......
I want to be a rock star.

But I will save that post for another day.

There were so many things I enjoyed about the show, hanging with three people I adore, watching the faces of the girls as Katy walked on stage and feeling the energy in the space as well as singing my lungs out. The show itself was incredible. But one thing that stands out for me is something that Katy said.

She said “I may not always have number one hits" (then she softly said, "I hate even saying that")  followed by… “But I will ALWAYS put my best foot forward.”

That’s how she does it. That’s how she gets thousands of people singing and cheering and laughing and crying, she puts her best foot forward. Always. She is without a doubt talented at what she does but what takes her from being a beautiful singer to a pop star sensation is that way of thinking. She loves what she does, it is clear and she gives it 110 percent, also clear.

Now thankfully we don’t all want to be pop stars, but regardless of what we do in life, our career choices or our choices on how we play, serve, or relax if we always put our best foot forward in each moment our lives can be that much fuller.  It seems almost wasteful to not do our best at all times. What are we waiting for? We are all meant to be stars in our own personal way, we are all meant to shine as bright as we can, and feel the energy of what we can create. We are all sensational. So love what you do and do it with love and put your best foot forward, you deserve it.


Waiting to be signed…….
Katycat CJ

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Marriage, friendship and yoga

My parents divorced when I was 6yrs old. My mom remarried not long after and my dad is happily married to his 3rd wife. So to say that I've been haunted by unsuccessful marriages in my life is an understatement. The hardships I saw my parents go through along with the pain and challenges my sister and I overcame because of divorce, definitely contributed to my fear of abandonment and fuelled my desire to have a successful marriage with my husband, Cam. A marriage we both stepped into, agreeing that growth and a commitment to work on our relationship came as a priority. Because of this, I have read many different books on marriage and gone to a variety of different relationship weekend retreats, masculine and feminine type of seminars to assist in the growth of our marriage. All were beneficial, however it wasn't until I came across John Gottman's work that things really started to shift for me. Particularly what John Gottman says in his book, Seven principles for making a marriage work; "you must strengthen the friendship that is at the heart of every marriage".

Friendship, hmmmmm. Now that got me thinking. It wasn't that I needed to be sexier, or let go of my personal ambitions. It wasn't about tending more to his needs, or sacrificing my yoga time for more "couple" time. It's about building a strong friendship. This was something I could do. This actually sounded like something I wanted to do.

So I've been thinking a lot about friendship. What does it mean to be a "good" friend? What characteristics do you look for in friends?

What else do you do when you have a question like this? Post it on Facebook, of course. Which is exactly what I did. The posting got a ton of hits and I heard people describe characteristics of a good friend as, honest, trustworthy, respectful, authentic, able to be vulnerable, be supportive and love unconditionally. 

Working on my friendship with my husband seems easier and more accessible because John Gottman is right, there's already a foundation there to pull on. That's why we got married in the first place. When I remember my husband is my friend, instead of another person I'm responsible for, or another person I have to cater to, I find myself naturally more generous, kind and loving. I find myself sincerely curious how his day was or what he wants to do over the weekend. When I remember that my husband is first my friend, I remember how excited I am to live life so closely with him. That our friendship is the bond to our family and the teacher to our daughter. Gets me excited about our relationship and motivated to deepen our friendship.

By no means am I a relationship counsellor, teacher or expert and am not claiming to be, however I do know that when I'm reminded why I've made the choices I've made, whether it's my commitment to my husband or dedicated to my yoga practice, I re-ignited a fire within me that confirms that decision. 

So whether you're working to strengthen your marriage or stay committed to your yoga practice, may you come back to the reasons why you began in the first place. Come back to the foundation of that relationship and work from there. When I return to the essence of why, I'm filled with the drive to stay on this path, whatever path that may be. 

From my heart to yours,
Lauren



Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Diamond

When I think of people that have changed or shaped the world to become a better place, B.K. S. Iyengar is on the top of this list. Followed by millions, this man shaped they way many of us practice yoga.

Born with illness, B.K.S. Iyengar transformed himself into health through hard work and constant discipline. Through his books I learned ways to be a dedicated yogi, the power of breath and how to use a block to create balance and proper alignment in postures. I never had the chance to meet him before his passing away this week but he has touched millions of lives through his teachings and inspired many, myself included.

I am always grateful for the lessons I receive from my teachers, the ones that I practice with in studios, the ones that show up in other ways or forms and the teachers I learn from through books and examples.

Thank you B.K.S. Iyengar for all your teachings.


"The hardness of a diamond is part of it's usefulness, but it's true value is in the light that shines through it."  -B.K.S. Iyengar









Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Living your yoga with Judith Lasater

Judith Lasater has a beautiful book where she offers daily practices for every day of the year to help embody yoga in your life. Here's what the book says for Friday August.15;
"Wasted time is the time I spend not being present with my life."
Living your yoga: there is really no such thing as wasted time if I am fully present with myself as each moment arises. Right now, stop, take a breath, observe what you are feeling, note what you are thinking, and look at what is going on around you. Hold these observations lightly and evenly. Practice this whenever you can, and the moments will not be wasted. 


May you make the best of your time,
The Yogo.tv team

Thursday, 7 August 2014

My Practice


I have this beautiful vision of how my yoga practice will be each day. I will wake up early and with the house still quiet I will head downstairs and roll out my mat on the back deck. The sun will be warm but the air still cool from the evening and I will find a tall seat on my mat facing our garden. I will then have plenty of time to sit, to breath and then to move my body through an asana practice finished off with a long still savasana. Dreamy right?

I have struggled with needing the perfect setting, the perfect time of day and even the noise around me to feel like I can do my practice. Over the past few weeks I have challenged myself to let go of this expectation I have on how my practice should look and tried to embrace my practice however it comes up in the day. Most days I get downstairs before the kids and have enough time to sit, it is a lovely way to start the day and then my asana practice follows in many different forms. Some days I get a little in during the morning, some while making lunch and the rest while I am hanging out in the evening. Some days I am in the backyard while my kids hang all over me or excitedly show me their practice. Some days I sit alone and some days my kids sit and chant with me.

My practice has been so fulfilling since I let go of this idea on how it should look each day. I feel less pressure and at the end of the day I am no longer disappointed that I didn’t get to practice. My practice is mine so it really can look and feel however I need it to look and feel to create the space I need. The same goes for all of us, this is your practice, you can take it on however and whenever you feel inspired to.

May you find yoga all through your day in different forms and different moments and may it continue to inspire you even when it means your trikonasana is between chopping veggies and setting the table.

Just Practice.

OM
CJ







Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why do you?

Why do you practice Yoga?

This is a question that has come up a ton over the last decade. My reasoning’s have also changed a lot over time.

When I first began yoga, it was a practice that forced me deep into my body, getting me out of my head and taught me about my greatest resource, the breath. I used the practice as a way to heal my physical ailments and filter my minds negative tendencies.

Years passed by and I found myself falling into a “yoga rut”. Where I became competitive with my self and the other yogi’s in class. Comparing myself to others and beating myself up when I didn’t meet up, critiquing myself when I struggled in a pose. Thus the practice I originally leaned into for solace then became another excuse to beat myself. Trust me I have a lot of those already.

It took awhile (I’ve been practicing yoga since 2002), but I eventually became aware of this. I saw the gap in my practice and recognized the choice I had in the moment. There was no way I could sustain my yoga if it was going to create this much inner turmoil. Something had to change.

That’s when I made a commitment to let my yoga practice be a practice of Self Love, a practice of Self Care. So I started going to more fitness classes, like spinning at the local gym, Zumba (b/c it’s freakin’ fun), Barre method classes to balance out my need to burn calories and “stay fit”, so that my yoga practice could be something different. So that I could unroll my yoga mat each day and consider, “what do I need today?” “How can I serve my Self?”. Sometimes this meant taking my yoga practice outside to the beach, or on the grass at the local park. Other times, this meant more of a focus on pranayama (breath work) and meditation, maybe some mantra. Sometimes my asana practice was gentle and restorative, other times it was steady and vigorous. Either way, I was letting go of the expectations that it needed to look a certain way. That it needed to be in a particular format. That my self worth was measured on my capability, when in reality my Self worth is my birthright. There’s nothing I need to do to acquire value and I am good enough whether I ever get my feet behind my head or not. I practice Yoga because it reminds me of this and allows for the necessary time to remember just how special and important I am in this crazy thing called Life.


May you spend some time considering why you practice yoga? There’s no right or wrong, good or bad, so let go of the categorizing of it all. Just be true to your self and I promise your practice will deepen and your understanding of Self will grow.

With you on this path,
Lauren

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Puzzle


Our physical practice is a piece of our puzzle. It is a very important piece. A corner piece. The one that often, people start with. I feel that although our practice on our mat is important, it is also our job as yogis to step off our mat and carry it farther. Gather the other pieces of the puzzle and put them together. To find the oneness, kindness, non-harming pieces. The piece that includes devotion, unity and divinity in all.

By connecting these pieces we build a stronger foundation, stronger roots and from there, a strong community. Walls come down. We live from a place of love and give permission to our neighbours to do the same, and then their neighbours.

If not, then this is just exercise and although exercise may help the individual it doesn’t necessarily serve the whole. Continue to move and breath and sit and play on your mat and when you roll it up know that this is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Let’s gather the pieces so we can create positive change in our world. So we can look into the eyes of our children’s children and honestly say we did it. As the puzzle is put together and it expands it will reach places we never imagined.

Oneness. Kindness. Love. It will glue the pieces into place.

From my heart and my mat to yours,
CJ


Thursday, 17 July 2014

What the monkey doesn't know

In the yoga tradition, stories are used as metaphors with rich and wise teachings in them. One story that one of my teacher shared with me years ago that comes up often as a great reminded for me, is the story of how to catch monkey in India.

To catch a monkey in India, you need a handful of peanuts and a glass bottle that has a wide bottom and a narrow opening at the top. Place the handful of peanuts at the bottom of the glass container and put the glass bottle in the courtyard of your home/place of residence. Then wait and watch. Soon you will see a monkey (or several) appear and approach the bottle. One will eventually put it's hand in the bottle and grab the peanuts. When the monkey goes to pull his hand out, he will be stuck. Unable to get his hand out of the glass container. You have then caught your monkey.

What the monkey doesn't know (yet) is that if he just let go of the peanuts he could get his hand out and be free from the trap. 

This story is a metaphor or an example of a common human behaviour to attach to people, possession, places and experiences. The yoga teachings say that it is our attachments that create suffering in our lives.

Vairagya in Sanskrit, means to be free from attachment, without rejecting anything. This represents a state of mind that is aware and observant to the events of life (nature), however unaffected with that which is occurring. Sounds simple, yet has complicated qualities to it. You could say it's seeing the reality behind things, without reacting or over identifying with that reality.

To relate this back to our hatha yoga practice, (which I hope you're all keeping up with over the summer), lets imagine a time when you're practicing yoga with other people, which usually means people of all different levels and capacities. The person to your right is Super flexible and can do anything the teacher asks. The person to your left is stiffer and seems to struggle more often in the postures. The teacher asks everyone to attempt the full splits (Hanumanasana). Right there, you may already be attached to the pose, mentally categorising this posture as one you like or dislike, which in turn creates an internal attraction or aversion. Then you begin the process of entering into the posture and you look to your right where the person is flat on the ground. You look to your left and the person is struggling, yet optimistic. You however are fierce and the inner conversation is intense. You're pushing past your edge and beating yourself up as you go along. Your attachment to a particular depth in the posture is holding you back from experiencing the fullness that already exists in the pose, in your body. If you could just be accepting of where you are in that pose, in that moment and practice non-attachment by observing without reacting, than your experience of this pose can change altogether. You will be free from the unnecessary suffering.

In other words the wise sages of yoga say that, non-attachment is the key to liberating you from suffering. So may we all witness our attachments with a willingness to be accepting of where we are and less reactive to what is it that we observe. In the hopes of releasing our unnecessary grasp on the peanuts of life. 

From my heart to yours,
Lauren

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Radiance Sutras

I have been reading the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra which is a beautiful conversation between the Creative Power of the Universe, the Goddess and the God who is the Consciousness. I have been falling in love with this text and I want to share one of the 112 techniques that is offered by Shiva to his lover Shakti as a way of enlightenment through everyday life experience.

I am reading the translation by Lorin Roche, Ph.D.  titled The Radiance Sutras

The heart of the universe pulses in all hearts,
There is One who is the life in all forms.
There is One who is joyful in simply existing-
     In all bodies,
     As all bodies.

Explore the life that is the life of your present form.
One day you will discover
It is not different
From the life of the Secret One,
And your heart will sing triumphant songs
Of being at home everywhere.


Love.

CJ

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Summer Stars

One of my absolute favourite things to do in the summer is stargaze. When I think back to some of my fondest memories as a kid, they are sitting around a camp fire by the lake with family and friends playing games, eating s'mores, and laughing, followed by late night stargazing on the top of our houseboat or on the sandy shores. 

May you spend many hours gazing at the summer stars. In awe of the vastness of the universe and the satisfaction of knowing we are apart of it all. 

Summer Stars by Carl Sandburg
BEND low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

From my heart to yours,
Lauren

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Chris Duggan



Enjoy this weeks blog from Chris. He is an inspiring, talented teacher and we are so thankful for his teachings and for being him. Check out his class and video at the end. Love.
(he is also the guy that made those cool mat bags you see us with) 



My Journey from Damaged Athlete to Yogi:

I thought my story might be beneficial to people unsure of yoga's "power".  Back in '78..... Yeah '78, I started my first serious sport.... Basketball. By '84 I was the top recruit from my city. I played a bit of University and City All-Star, but I knew it was pretty much over for me. I had taken it as far as I could, so I switched my focus to Beach Volleyball. And in just two years I played in the Labatt's Pro Beach tour. Needless to say all the jumping took it's toll on my knees and lower back! I never really stretched, even when I was weight training...... I never really thought about it.

Winter's were tough in Ontario and I hated them, until my friend Stefan took me snowboarding!

I moved to Whistler 6 months later where I absolutely fell in love with everything snowboarding offered. We played B-Ball and V-Ball in the summer, but my entire focus was snowboarding. Living in Whistler is "All Extreme"!

After riding 100+ days a year for 5 yrs. my body was WRECKED!

To date I've broken 9 bones and am waiting for my knees to be operated on.

My left femur break in '97 was my catalyst for leaving Whistler. With my knees, hips, and back messed up, I moved to Vancouver. Here I joined a great gym and took dance classes. My body slowly transformed but I still didn't focus on flexibility. I have had many friends mention yoga to me and one of the Pro snowboarders, Martin Gallant did yoga every morning and he is still at it. He's had sponsors for over 20yrs. and still rides, bikes, and surfs at a high level........ I saw the power of yoga.

So on my 40th birthday I took my first yoga class. It was really embarrassing but at the end of the class, I was hooked! It took me another 3 years to sit crossed-legged, but every class I noticed changes and improvements. I was taking 1-3 classes a week and about a year into it, the teacher didn't show up. I said: 'I've been practicing at home.... Would you like me to guide you through my practice?' And the other students said: "Sure, we came here for a stretch".

Then, shortly after, my friend Josh came to teach and he said: "I'm the most un-flexible yoga teacher you'll ever meet". It was the best thing I could have heard and I thought you really don't have to be the master to teach, you just need to be passionate about the process. And that I was!!

My next step was to find a teacher training that clicked with me. My tattooist Steve Moore took me to Eoin Finn's class at Kit's house......

And I had found my teacher. I got my teaching chops at Kitsilano Workout where I taught Power Yoga, Hip Hop, and Dance Yoga Mix (My creation...... Now called "Hip Hop Yoga")

Since then I have added One Yoga for the People, Chopra Yoga Centre, Exhale Studio, and YYoga to my resume. I am also running workshops, yoga and surf retreats, and making beautiful yoga bags.

Teaching fulltime is a very physical but incredible experience. It reminds me of my team sport's days, when the room is electric, and

everyone is practicing with passion!! It's really incredible when some days you show up for class, and you are down and sore....... And the students pick you up, and you leave feeling amazing!!.......... Everyone is a teacher and a student.

It's truly amazing how diverse the Vancouver yoga community is!! I tend to be more drawn to the powerful and playful side of yoga. I take a lot on inspiration from Ryan Leier, Dustin Fruson, and Danny Paradise with their Ashtanga backgrounds Eoin studied Ashtanga as well, but he added a flowy "surf" vibe to his classes, which drew me in.Then after practicing with Christine Price-Clark, Sjanie Mcinnis, Suzanne Slocum-Gori and Natalie Rousseau..... The Anusara flow felt really juicy too!

I love to remix the styles and add creative sequencing to my power class............ Keep it challenging but keep it fresh and fun.

September 25th 2014 will be my 10th year and I'll be 50...... Wow

Many times I have pushed too hard in class and caused setbacks!! For the "A-type" athlete, sometimes just slowing down and taking the "yin" approach is really what's necessary (Thanks Danielle Hoogenboom). Lately I have been adding more "long hold" postures into my practice (Thanks Slava Goloubov).

Slava said in class the other day: "How you do anything is how you do everything". That really resonated with me and seemed to help quiet my mind allowing me to focus on a deep healing breath....

I'm still waiting to get both of my knees "scoped out", to clean meniscus tears and scar tissue. My amazing physiotherapist Sharon Spinder is untwisting my hips from snowboarding, and helping me release my extremely tight lower back, the result of heavy weightlifting.

But as the years roll on, my practice keeps improving. When my back's too inflamed I focus on my hips. I am so much more in tuned with my body now... Less ego and more compassion.

We have our good days and bad, but the most important thing is to make time to be on your mat. Over time it's amazing what you can accomplish if you just be consistent... Nothing has to happen yesterday!!

While Danny Paradise was doing an incredible long arm balancing sequence, he said... "It get's easier when you get older"!!!

He's in his 60's... I have some work to do!

Practice and Breathe

 A class with Chris
A class with Chris