Tuesday, March 30, 2010


As you know, I spent last week studying Anusara yoga with Barrie Risman. It was so revitalizing to be a student again! During our week-long session we touched on the importance of studentship - what it means to be a good student and how important that is to our practice and our teaching.

Yoga is a tradition that for thousands of years was passed orally from teacher to student. What we know of yoga today is the result of years and years of dedicated studentship. Individuals interested in the yoga teachings often had to prove themselves to the Guru (teacher) before he would accept them as students, ensuring that each student had the discipline and will to study seriously.

Today of course, we don't have to prove to our teachers that we're "serious students". The modern practice of yoga means many different things to many different people. Some of us are "serious students" and some of us are not - and where you fall in that categorization totally depends on your definition of "serious".

For me, the study of yoga has taught me a lot about being a student. It teaches me over and over that this path is not black and white. That there are different ways of doing things - different perspectives on the same practices - and that no way is right or wrong. It's all yoga. My study has shown me that things I thought were impossible actually become available to me with dedication and commitment (headstand, handstand and hundreds of other poses - i'm talking about you!). The study of yoga has shown me that to be a good student you must listen, decipher and respect the person doing the talking even if you disagree with him or her.

When you break that list down it's easy to see that what I've learned is relevant outside of yoga too. Understanding, dedication and respect are traits that this yoga has cultivated within me and that I am deeply appreciative for.

So the next time you find yourself in the position of "student", take a moment to consider how that studentship is affecting you at the deepest layers of the Self. For me this contemplation makes me hungry for more learning, more teachers, more moments in the role of student because I know that in the end, being a student makes me a better person and teacher.

With thanks to my many teachers (and with gratitude for the opportunity to study),

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anusara Immersion Day 5

Today is the last day of training here in Edmonton. This week has given me lots to think about and has armed me with new tools to take my practice and my teaching to the next level. Over the last 3 days we've learned about Muscular Energy, Organic Energy, Shoulder Loops, Tantra Philosophy and more.

Anusara yoga principles are so expansive and full that they infuse the practice with new energy and new depth. In some ways I feel that Anusara is very similar to what I've always practiced, but the well-planned system created by John Friend provides the words and the detail to experience and teach yoga in an exciting and fresh way.

I know that much of what I've learned will begin to integrate into my teaching when I return to the studio, and I can't wait to share these seeds of knowledge! However, I also realise that I am just at the shore of the vast ocean of expertise that exists within this system of teachings (and teachers).

Today we'll get our "homework" in preparation for Part 2 of the Immersion (happening in July). For me that will include practicing handstand and getting more comfortable with the new-to-me anatomical ideas and alignment principles of Anusara. Yesterday I had a revelation in Urdhva Danurasana (!) and can't wait to continue exploring backbends with the Melt Your Heart principle of Anusara - super strong and expansive.

I'll be in the air tomorrow afternoon and teaching at the studio on Friday. I can't wait to get back - a week feels like a long time to be separate from our little studio community - see you all this weekend!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Reminder: Candlelight Yoga This Saturday!

Don't forget our Earth Hour class this Saturday from 8:30-9:30pm. We'll turn out the lights and enjoy 60 minutes of pranayama, restorative asana and meditation; great for body, mind and Earth!

From WWF:

"WWF's Earth Hour has become the largest global environmental movement in history. Last year in Canada alone, more than 10 million people, in more than 288 cities turned off their lights!"

So join us, and 10 million others across the globe, to celebrate Earth and take action again global warming.

See you there!
Om shanti,

p.s. don't forget - we'll be starting class right on time, and the door will be locked for safety's sake once the lights are turned out!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anusara Immersion Day 1 - Open to Grace

Ahhhhh. What a day. My first day of Anusara Immersion. My first day of study along this new path.

Today was all about getting to know each other and getting to know what Anusara is all about. Anusara yoga is "the process of learning how to dance in the bigger current of our lives, which we ultimately do not control". It is aligning with the divine in order to peacefully surf the waves of the reality we live in. Big stuff, huh? But that's yoga - it's big!

The first principle of Anusara yoga is setting the foundation and opening to grace. Much of our asana practice today was dedicated to exploring this principle. Setting the foundation is just what it sounds like. Setting the foundation of the pose, whether that's in the hands, the feet or the sit bones.

Opening to grace is the "bigger picture" component of this principle. Grace is the revealing power of consciousness. It is the power that reveals a more expansive vision to us. When we open to grace we open to the opportunity to receive this truth. And of course, as is the case in many yoga philosophy teachings, this openness can occur physically as well as in deeper, more spiritual ways.

I had a few Aha moments during this first session and there are lots of idea floating around in my brain to ponder. I can tell immediately that this immersion is going to be a revelation of greater truth in itself.

Off to do my homework! More tomorrow...


Friday, March 19, 2010

5 Days in Edmonton

It's 10am in St. John's - but I'm on Ottawa time for just a moment as I stop over on my way to Edmonton. The "airport excitement" has kicked in - I just love the feeling of being in transit. Not quite sure of what comes next but so positive that it will be great.

For the next week I'll be exploring the teachings of John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga. Barrie Risman, certified Anusara yoga teacher, will be guiding me (and a whole group of yoga students) through the Anusara Immersion - Part 1

In the last few months I've been exploring Anusara more deeply in preparation for this course. There was something about the style that attracted me from the moment I'd heard of it. But being nowhere near an Anusara teacher, and having had no opportunity to take classes live, I couldn't really pinpoint what that was. But now, taking classes online and getting a sense for what it's all about, I'm finding that there are a lot of parallels between this particular style and the things that attracted me to yoga in the first place. For one, the idea that we're all intrinsically good beings (that's part of the tantric philosophy on which Anusara is based - looking forward to learning lots more about it this week). Also, surprisingly, many of the key asanas in Anusara teaching are asanas that I have a) always loved, loved, loved or b) have grown to love as I realized over time the things they offered which my body/mind/spirit really needed.

Ohhh - boarding call! Gotta run. But I'll be blogging throughout the week about my first Anusara learning experiences...stay tuned :)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Daylight savings has begun and Spring is just around the corner (this coming Saturday!). With the sun shining brilliantly today, I can't help but be excited about all the opportunities for "outdoor yoga" that we'll soon be presented with. I took advantage of the warming weather Sunday past during a walk in downtown St. John's. Here I am practicing ardha chandrasana - half moon pose - an asana that has always resonated with me as a symbol of opening and being receptive to good things coming.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Family Yoga on Places to Go with Sharon Snow!

This Friday (March 19, 2010) Shakti Yoga Studio will be featured on the NTV news segment Places to Go with Sharon Snow. Sharon attended a special Family Yoga class here today in order to film for this segment. The kids are all very excited to be shown on tv doing their yoga asanas - cobra and downward dog and sheep! Sheep was a special request, but congrats to Bobby for fast thinking and making a perfect sheep complete with sound effects.

Here's a few photos, including some of Claudia who loves her school-run yoga program and plans to become a yoga instructor when she grows up!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chair Yoga & Yoga for Older Adults

We're gearing up for our next session of Chair Yoga (starting April 9). This class is so much fun to teach - I love the social atmosphere, the "let's try something new" attitude and the awesome approach to a healthy lifestyle this group demonstrates.

Included in this group of Chair Yogis is my 85-year-old grandfather. He’s been missing his yoga so much since the Fall session that just last week he came to the studio for a private class. We practiced meditation and relaxation techniques, did supported asana (poses) and finished with a deep relaxation.

For many people, the idea of Chair Yoga or Yoga for Older Adults is pretty foreign. So I thought I'd offer an overview here...

This class is for anyone who wants to practice yoga but has limited mobility. Often this applies to older adults but it can also be great for people with conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, regardless of age. During the class we use chairs as supportive props (using them to sit on or for support in some standing poses). The class begins with a relaxation to calm the mind and body. We practice breath techniques that enhance lung capacity and quality of breathing and then move into the physical asana practice. We tone and stretch the entire body using traditional yoga postures. My favorite in the series is Warrior 2, a strong pose that's wonderful for body and spirit!

This class is excellent for anyone who wants to improve their strength, flexibility and balance. It's also an excellent opportunity to socialize with like-minded people. Most of the people in our last session were new to yoga when they started, but by the end they were sold on the extensive benefits of the practice!

If you or someone you know could benefit from this gentle class please call or email us to register!

And just as a little encouragement, here's a few photos of the yoga "supergran", yoga teacher Betty Calman (age 83). But don't worry, none of these postures are pre-requisites for the class!

Image credit

What a wonderful reminder that yoga is something we can practice our whole lives :)