Stop all Resistance

One of the first things I was taught in both my Yoga Teacher Trainings was that the universe is always working for you. We come to each moment willingly – we can choose to come to a moment as a victim of circumstances or life-stories, we can choose to come to a moment as the ego-mind, or we can also choose to be open to each moment. But what does it mean to be open to each moment?

For the last year or so I have felt very stuck in my life. You see, I had a plan – a plan from about a decade ago now. And this plan of becoming a Social Worker took ten years to complete (welcome to going to school in your thirties) but last year I finally completed the first flag post of that journey – I achieved my BSW – and back then my thoughts were – now is the time to live for me and only me – no more being defined by the fact that my spouse is in the Canadian Forces, no more following him around and attempting to make a life everywhere we moved – this is MY TIME. And then …. nothing happened.

For a year nothing happened. For a part of that year I had a job (if you could call it that – Costco employees make double what I made as a Service worker in a drop-in centre dealing with all sorts of crises on a daily basis) but for the last few months I have not had a job in that field. For a part of last year I occasionally looked for new opportunities – always somehow falling short. And since the New Year I was actively looking for new opportunities. But by this point I was tired of all of the rejections. I was tired of either being too educated or not educated enough. Tired of difficult questions in interviews that did not highlight my skills. I was tired of no call backs. Tired of my life really.

Until one day. A few days ago in meditation I came to a realization. I was resisting. Resisting the moment. I did not want to face the fact – that right now is not my time to be a Social Worker. I was banging on a door that would not open no matter how hard I banged on it – no matter how many times I’d sit to meditate and my first thought of the day would be: why me? No matter how many times I complained about it. It just wouldn’t open.

In that moment, my heart lifted – a year of a sinking feeling in my heart lifted in one moment because I realized I had a choice. I could keep banging on that door until my knuckles were raw and the tears dried up OR I could change my perspective.

I did have a job – not full-time – but a job I loved with all my heart – I am a Yoga teacher – each time I lead a class, I lead people to themselves. It’s an amazing job to have. For so long the yoga job was my escape from the drudgery of the 9-5 lifestyle. Why not make my yoga teaching job – my job for now? Why not let go of pounding on that goddamn door that would not open and turn around and walk away – I very well know where that door is I can come back again when my path leads me there – but for now I needed to let it go.

So I did.

I stopped searching for jobs, I concentrated on my self-practice, picked up an enormous amount of subbing opportunities, started selling myself as a yoga teacher around town – and guess what? Doors started opening all around me. Enormous doors that I thought were too queenly for me – started opening.

The dread of each day, the difficulties getting to my practice, the melancholy, and the passive role I played in my life completely shifted.

I say this often, but it astounds me how deep wisdom which I thought I learned long ago in my self practice and self reflection seem to always pop back up in a new form along this path. I learned this lesson long ago when I first began practicing yoga at home. The same sort of shift happened for me and I saw for the first time the deep benefits that a yoga practice can have – and I was hooked for  life.

Yet, here I am almost ten years later and the same lesson creeped up on me once again. This time showing me that no matter what we have planned, no matter what society says we should be doing, or no matter what internal or external conditioned pressures we may be feeling – the only way to understand the moment, the only way to connect to the self, the heart of the issue, and the lesson beneath the experience – is to let go.

Let go of control. Let go of analyzing, comparing, and judging ourselves and others. Let go of the victim mentality and realize YOU HAVE A CHOICE.

You can continue to be asleep to the moment – the only moment that exists, or you can wake up and look around you. See what is working right now, what is not. And what is not working is a sign to let that go for a moment, bring your energy and awareness to growth, to change, to happiness, to fulfillment, to what makes you smile when you get up in the morning even if everything is not perfect – and focus on that.

I did just that. I just finished teaching 16 classes in four days – and yes my body is very tired, my mind even more so (I had the opportunity to teach four more today but luckily I do not make decisions with my mind any longer but with my heart and I knew I needed a much needed and rewarded break today). And even though I came home last night from my last class completely exhausted, this morning I woke up happy. Happy to have shared this practice with so many people this week, happy that now that I have committed myself to it I finally see the fruits of this practice without the ego mind but from my heart, from the eyes of the witness – and what I see is truly amazing – it makes the aches and pains a small price to pay for this amazing and truly blessed opportunity to witness the waking up of so many people.

A week ago I was questioning where my future would lead, I was questioning even if I had made the right choices along the way in my life – and now that I have finally opened my eyes and turned away from that goddamn door the path is beginning to be so much more clear, opportunities surround me, and my heart and my spirit are finally leading the way.

I may be a yoga teacher – but first and foremost I am a student of this practice that always always has something new to teach me about life and about myself.

Hari Om Tat Sat



I call bullshit

Often in yoga we are asked to surrender – to trust what is – to trust that we are meant to be where we are at. Actually, I taught just this, this last weekend – and last night I tuned into a talk my teacher gave with the same message – surrender to what is.

But, today – this morning – I called motherfucking bullshit. Yea, there is a pissed off yogi in the house.

This morning I woke up angry. I woke from what felt like a full night of dreams of my voice being silenced, my skills unnoticed, completely ignored and ridiculed at anything I tried to do in my dreams. This is exactly how I have been feeling in my waking life – silenced, voiceless, helpless in helping myself – everywhere I turn I am rejected.

Some of you might know, others no, but I entered this year let go from my not so great job to begin with – the centre I worked at is a gem – I loved it there – but I was severely underpaid – severely – to give you an idea for those of you in North America – a Costco employ makes twice as much as I made at my social worker job – sick – really really sick. Anyhow, when I heard the news I wasn’t entirely upset for this reason – the centre because I loved it so much was a crutch to me finding a descent paying job. It was a crutch because I saw how difficult it is for many Social Workers here to find jobs – so I held on for dear life hoping they would see my value and make my position permanent.

Well, they didn’t – not because they didn’t see me value but because they had no money to pay me any longer. Since then I have been actively looking for a job and in the meantime relying on yoga to help bring in some money – and while I love teaching yoga – I did not spend thousands of dollars in University to be a contract worker. Anyhow, that is a whole other discussion.

I have been trying every single day to get out of bed with a good mood. As I wrote in an earlier post my daily practice has helped in this. This morning, getting up was a struggle. And the anger that was boiling inside – well it didn’t go away with meditation. Instead, it remained boiling while I drank my coffee and ate my yogurt. I knew that going out this morning to interact with people was not a good plan – so I decided instead of going to the gym to do my class from this last Saturday – my class on surrender.

Two minutes into the first kriya set and I was crying – like ugly crying – on my mat. That anger was not anger at all – it was disappointment and fear of what tomorrow will bring. The constant rejection (mainly because I am not fully bilingual) is adding up – so I am here to say that when a yoga teacher asks you to surrender – when you are asked to trust the process:


Funny thing is, now that I have completed my practice I see that anger – the bitchy devil’s advocate – is also a part of the process from healing from pain.

This morning I tried to fight it – the anger sat inside boiling – and I could have left it there – I could have gone about my day without tuning inwards – and the people around me would have paid the price for that – and more importantly I would have also paid the price for that. I would have gone deeper and deeper into that void of darkness – tuning out and calling bullshit everywhere I went.

But I didn’t. I sat to my practice and when the tears came I let them fall .. and fall … and fall … and fall … until I realized that doing so made me feel a bit more lighter – so I continued on with the kriya and the full practice.

In my class on Saturday I asked my students to celebrate the darkness – the moments where we felt lost in our lives, whether that was in the past or in the present – and if there were any past moments – that in hindsight there were flag posts along the way leading us down our path – we may not have seen them at the time – but in hindsight it is clear that they were there. I guided them to understand that they are always supported whether they are alone or not – they are supported by the people around them practicing with them, supported by people they consider family and friends – and as long as they stay connected to themselves – even in the darkness – that eventually they will find their way through once again – they will see that they never really were in darkness.

It’s a nice concept. And a part of me understands and honours this teaching – because in my past there have been very dark moments – and each time after the fact – I can see that they all lead me to who I am today. So I asked my students to drink in those experiences through our kirya – strangali – and to surrender themselves to this understanding. Because I know this to be true.

But today, for a moment – and maybe some future moments today – I gave myself permission to call bullshit and while doing so I dragged myself to my mat because ultimately I know my understanding runs deeper than my broken and bruised ego.

And that is the process. It looks easy to have a daily self-practice – I sure make it look easy when I am in front of that room. But it is not. Dedicating oneself to this practice – or any self-reflection practice – means tuning inwards even when it fucking hurts to sit with yourself. And although I called bullshit earlier this morning – I wouldn’t trade my practice and the teachings for anything in this world. Because I have been here before – I have felt as if the world was working against me – and each and every time that I have – I have made it through to the other side laughing – understanding that it was all a part of the process.

So this yoga teacher may be calling bullshit today but she will continue to tune inwards, come to her practice, and come to a better understanding at this funny thing called life.


For the Love of Yoga

I’ve been avoiding this post for a long time. If you have been following, or you know me, you know that this year has been full of challenges. It’s interesting to note  that my yoga journey began at a time in my life where life was full of challenges. At the lowest point of a time period where I was not working, where I had moved to an area of Canada that seemed more foreign than traveling across the world, and facing an increasingly stressful situation – it was at that moment that something inside of me whispered to get on my yoga mat.

Back then my yoga mat was the walmart 10 dollar yoga mat – which was in a closet somewhere long forgotten – prior to this moment I had practiced yoga a total of maybe 20 times. Nonetheless, I got on my mat – and I never looked back. A year later I was in India, two years after that I went again. Since that time I have taught over 2000 hours of yoga classes – it’s a part of me now – like getting up and brushing my teeth is a part of me – yoga is that – it is a part of my day. For those of you that I have had the honour in leading you in your own practice – you may have been able to see that it is a passion for me.

Back then I used to write about the struggles of starting a yoga practice – the endless benefits as well. I shared every triumph on my mat (I taught myself yoga from sun salutations to inversions – they all happened in my tiny living room in northern Quebec), I shared every struggle – in the hopes that people would see themselves in me – in my apprehensions, in my self-doubt, in my epiphanies.

Later on I wrote about yoga philosophy – integrating yoga into our modern life – after the challenge of those first few years passed I began to see the magic that yoga can have – and so I wrote about how this can happen through philosophy and physiology. I saw in hindsight that yoga had saved me from me – it has saved my life – because the direction I was heading into was depression and yoga helped to change my perspective on a not so happy time in my life.

Years have gone by, yet my passion, my teaching has not faltered – since that very first day I have been  getting on my mat everyday – not just for  me – but for this – for my writing – for my students – for life – I have gotten there no matter what.

Then this year happened. I used to think the biggest struggle I had getting on my mat were those first few months back in Quebec when I didn’t quite understand the benefits. I was wrong. The hardest time I had getting on my mat was this year. Actually scrap that – I will not compare – let’s just say this year has been a struggle – not just in my practice – I have felt like life was slapping me across the face everywhere I turned – I still feel that way. Writing that sentence has brought the ball of tears in my throat a little higher – the ball of tears that threatened to burst this morning during  my meditation.

I can’t think of a day this year that getting on my mat was simple – I am sure there were a few – but the difficult days greatly outnumber the days that getting on my mat was like getting up and brushing my teeth. Most days I sat in bed fighting with my mind – why meditate – watch TV instead – sleep longer to not have to face another slap in the face – who cares if you get on your mat it won’t change anything.



I got on my mat.

I’m not writing that as a triumph – actually a part of me is in disbelief that I was-am able to get there. I am writing this because I think it is important.

I don’t have any answers to the various figurative slaps I have received from various facets of my life – meditation did not lead to some wonderful answer on how to avoid the slaps. But here is what my practice does for me.

It reminds me that at the core I have a pretty good life.

It allows me to distinguish between what actually is occurring in this moment and what emotions-sensations do not serve me

It allows me to acknowledge the thoughts that come with these emotions and eventually change them or let them go.

Lately I have been waking up with a feeling of dread on what the day holds (which part of my life will slap me next) – my meditation helps to release that feeling of dread and replace it with a positive attitude instead.

It helps me tune into my strengths that may not shine completely right now – but I know they are there.

It keeps me accountable to myself rather than giving up and sitting in front of the TV eating chocolates all day.

Even on the worst of days it gives me a goal, a schedule, something to do rather than tune out.

It keeps me connected to the people that matter because it keeps me connected to myself.

I get on my mat with not so great an attitude and I always ALWAYS – no matter what my practice was like – each breath could be a struggle – but I always get off my mat feeling lighter.

The routine of getting up in the morning and going to my space is cathartic in so many ways – it provides a connection to the silence within – a connection to the Maria within that might not be shining all of the time at the moment.

I can go on and on. What I mean to say with this post is there is nothing in your way from YOU – only you. We can think of thousands of excuses on why NOT to do things we love, why not to connect to ourselves. I see it everyday as a teacher, people unable to connect, unable to let go. And when I see this I am not sad for them, I am happy for them – because THEY STILL CAME. Even if they are unwilling to go all the way in a kriya, or they give me the look of annoyance that I am doing something completely out of their comfort zone – it’s all good – because they did not give up on themselves.

Like I said, getting to your practice will not magically solve all of your problems – it definitely has not done that for me – but let me ask you this – what will magically solve all of your problems? And if you had a choice wouldn’t you want to connect with yourself in the darkest of times rather than feel empty and alone?

The most important thing I have discovered in my practice is that I am not alone and I am definitely not empty. I am connected to friends, to people who share this passion, to the world. Even when I am physically alone in my space – I am not alone – I am with the most important person in my life – me – and I am giving her a chance to speak. A chance to remind me of who I really am – that these slaps in the long run won’t matter – like the challenges when I began this journey were inconsequential on their own. Eventually, like those challenges, these slaps will lead me to where I need to be. The path may be dark today – but each time I get on my mat the path becomes a bit more bright. Right now I may only have a candle – but hey it’s better than darkness. And as my teacher often says darkness is only an expression of light. Without it there can be no light and without light there cannot be any darkness. So, to conclude I am not going to give in. I will continue – every day to get on my mat, and everyday face with a strong spine and soft heart what this life is throwing my way. I will carry my candle in the dark knowing eventually I will see that I am the light.

To Winnipeg with love

Recently, I went back home, to Winnipeg Manitoba, for a visit. It had been years since I had returned home. After moving with SO to northern Quebec I found myself in a dark place. Many experiences took place during that first five years of living in Quebec that led to me deciding I needed to be away from the past. So after my last visit in 2011 I decided to stay away. Then we moved to Europe for three years, and now back in Ottawa for a year.

After a year of internal battles here in Ottawa I decided it was time to return. Having been away for so long made me realize how important it is to connect the past with the present. And although I needed to distance myself for a time, that part of my life, as the part of my life in Quebec, made me who I am today.

So what is it like visiting a place in which you were an entirely different person. A place that when you lived there you were unable to see, to understand who you were. A place in which the past held you back –  a past that wanted to be explained – experiences that no one wants to live rising to the surface every time you tried to break away.

I knew I wanted to return home long before I made the decision. I needed to go to a place where I would be welcomed no matter what. I realized with this time away that the people that surround my life in Winnipeg were not people that joined my journey because of a certain label I carry – they were not a part of the yoga world, nor were they a part of the social work world. They weren’t really even a part of the world SO and I shared – not really. They were the world that made me who I am. They watched me become me. They were family and childhood friends, a God-Mother who always seemed to know me before I even knew myself, a little sister and a mother who held me so high in their books that sometimes I didn’t think I was fit for such high regards. A little sister who became my rock, and the reason I finally decided to return – her description of the ‘me-days’ that we once cherished together – and her insistence that they were exactly what I needed right now – marathon watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, drinking coffee with cookies, and sitting in out PJ’s all day – convinced me that in this storm that is my life at the moment – this was exactly what I needed. And so I went.

I was welcomed by the cold – but like a true Winnipeger I did not let the  cold define my experiences. What I found most of all during my visit was I felt like I was walking into a different life. And in some ways I was. A part of me longed to go back to that life – even  though some of it was the most difficult moments I have had to face in my life – because now in hindsight I see that those moments defined me, they also defined the relationship I had with so many people from that time. I wanted to go back, not to relive those experiences, but to take the relationships all in. In the midst of my father dying, or my parents attempting to hold a life together that had fallen a part – it was in these times that truths came out. It was in these times that I saw the people that surrounded my life for who they are, the relationships I held with them as what they were, and through their eyes, who I was. I wanted to go back not as the kid that experienced these things, but as the woman I am today and to just soak in all of the love that surrounded these moments.

And that is what I take from this trip – love. So much love. Love from people I have known my entire life, love from friends who joined my story along the way, and love from the people my sister now calls family who I was meeting formally for the first time. So much love. It is true – we Winnipegers are friendly – so many people went out of their way to be friendly. And it is true that we are not the best drivers and most of the time that I drove in Winnipeg I tried to understand the logic of Winnipeg driving – I am still trying to figure that one out.

With that love I also experienced a sort of awe at the fact that all of my memories all of the places that hold a place in my heart in Winnipeg are still there – monuments to my past. The house I grew up in, restaurants I would hang out at with friends, the different routes that I spent so much time driving to and from school, my high school, the condos I lived in as an adult – all of them still there – changed yet still eerily the same.

Coming back to Canada I wondered how I would connect the person I had become to the person that had left Canada before moving to Europe. It was in Europe that I dove into yoga, it was from there that I went to India twice. The person who left Canada was not a yogi – or let me change that – the person that left Canada did not know she was a yogi – and the person that returned had a firm foundation of who she had become. But not until I returned to Winnipeg did I realize that the person I have become started her journey in the middle of Canada, in one of the coldest habitable places on earth, surrounded by so much love that she did not see it  until her heart finally opened to the possibility that love still exists.

This post is dedicated to my father who was the personification of love in so many ways. It was him that I was seeing in the eyes of all the people I visited while in Winnipeg, deep in my heart I know it was he who led me back home to be reminded of just how much love there is in this world. I love you dad and always always feel you walking beside me in this life.

The Dance

I can’t remember when the last time I wrote was. There’s a reason for that. I could not write. I knew I had fallen from my path on one specific night. The night before I taught at a yoga festival in August. Everything had gone wrong that day. Our camping gear had fallen apart in our three years in Europe not being used. And after we had put up our gear the sky turned black and monsoon like rains filled the rest of the day. So at the end of the day our gear – everything was soaking wet. SO chose to go home. I chose to stay and sleep in my car. That night all alone in my tiny car, the fear came crashing down: of having to teach at a festival the next day to a group of people that did not know me, everything came crashing down on me. The sky – starry now – felt like a cage. I felt like I was falling into an abyss staring at that sky. The lump in my throat grew bigger and bigger as I stared into the night and I knew if I began crying I wouldn’t stop, I also knew instinctively this was the beginning of what would be the most challenging period’in my life.

I taught the next day, and it was fabulous, but right after my body and mind exhausted from the lack of sleep and the abyss that I now I understood I had been falling into for quite some time was just too much. Seeing that it would rain again I hurriedly packed my car and drove away to the sanctuary of home. Once home I began unloading my car, and as if I could feel the weight being lifted as one by one I took items out, I felt a weight being lifted off of me as well. I finally let go, and I began to cry. Each item the tears would touch me deeper and deeper until I found myself crying for absolutely everything and nothing at all.

Since that moment I’ve faced challenges I still don’t fully comprehend. It’s not over, I know this. But one thing is clear – THIS – YOGA – TARA – GOD – THE UNIVERSE – I – saved me. I have felt like I have been falling since that day in August, there were days that getting out of bed felt like a feat of strength, days in which my meditation was my enemy. Days that being a professional caregiver and healer took all the strength out of me. Days in which I thought I wouldn’t survive the day. Nights in which were full of nightmares, and moments in which I questioned yoga, myself, my relationships, my career choice, even life itself. But I’m still here after all those tears, all the late night discussions, all the doubt. Today as I practiced one of my routines I felt a lightness of being that I haven’t felt in a long time. As I moved through the poses I felt a gratefulness to THIS to YOGA to LIFE and as it ended I sat singing a devi puja I was listening to and suddenly I heard myself say get up. I got up and I danced. And as I danced I turned to Tara – the symbol that came to me on that day in August in my car and I remembered in Buddhism it is believed she comes to us to relieve us of physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. So I dedicated my class to her. And so today I turned to the statue in my yoga room represented as Tara and without thinking I thanked her. Then again I cried. But this time it was of relief. I knew instinctively that night in my car that the worst challenges were coming – and they did. But today, today I danced.

I’ve been here before

it’s funny that at a certain point in time we often think about how much better things would be if something were different. I have been having many of these moments recently – not of present moments but of past moments, and how much simpler things were – in some ways. This evening, I fell upon an email I had written years ago while I was a second language teacher in northern Quebec. I read the email and it felt like I had been transported in time. I remember the email clearly, I also remember the time. Back then if someone were to ask me if I’d ever look back at this time with fondness, I would have vowed to never reminisce on that time in my future – I would have sworn that once I left this place I would be so much happier.

And now, whenever I speak of yoga I thank that period of my life because if it weren’t for hitting rock bottom I would have never gotten on my mat in the first place. If it weren’t for that period in my life, maybe now I would not be where I am today – maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today.

But this email also made me realize how lucky I was to have found that job in Northern Quebec. Trust me I am not discounting the hardship – a year and a half of being told I was unemployable, working my ass off to get the hours in order to obtain a position on base where the pay was better and the work more steady. But I did it, and in a matter of a year after finding my first teaching gig in Saguenay I was working full-time, on base, killing the belief that anglophones (english speakers) could not make it in the deep french north.

And if you were to ask me then, how I would feel when I finally returned to Canada (more specifically the Canada I knew) I would have told you it would be fabulous, I would be working full-time, we’d have our own house, and things would be just perfect. But life is never perfect. Actually scratch that life is ALWAYS perfect. We just don’t see it until later. Because tonight as I reminisced of the days in which I worked full time and was super busy – it seemed perfect in my memory. Perfect, because now I do find myself in the Canada I know but am not working full time. I am struggling with french (I am ashamed to admit it and am taking courses to rectify that) and thinking of that time brings nostalgia – trust me when I tell you I never thought I would ever think of my time in Saguenay with fondness. Trust me when I tell you I counted the days to leave and when we did move (to Belgium) I was more than thrilled. But it is where it all started. It is the place where I was forced to strip away the labels I had defined myself with and figure out who I was underneath all of the labels. I was forced to face various demons in my life there – and I was asked to show up 100% or get eaten up by depression and anxiety – and I did show up 100% every single day – starting every morning on my mat no fucking questions asked.

I need that girl now. I need that woman to slap me in the face and remind me to wake the fuck up. She had guts. Man did she have fucking guts. She had tenacity and spunk. She had hard -ass fucking balls that never let go. She got up every damn day in the dreary, smelly, racist (sorry Quebec but seriously fucking racist) place and held her fucking head high. And when people dared to question her presence or dared to ask her where she was from because she looked different or spoke different she screamed. Ok seriously I don’t miss the rage (yoga remember) but I do miss her inability to  give up.

I honestly think I was meant to see that email tonight to remind me of who I am. I’ve been hiding out of fear of being rejected and for fucks sake I got rejected almost every single day living in Saguenay. If it wasn’t a store clerk who refused to understand my then PERFECT french, it was so many other things. I was rejected so many times – yet every damn day I got out of bed and unrolled that mat. Every day I met myself on that mat and I dared myself to smile and to be happy. To let go of control and find what I could do in the now. And I killed it. I fucking killed it over and over again.

So no I am not going to give up. I will continue to kill it even if it means that I first have to pick myself off of the floor. I got this. Somewhere inside me lies that warrior goddess that once upon a time dared yoga to change her life and what she found was that yoga taught her that she needed nothing all that she needed was already there she just needed to start screaming and make shit happen. And she did.

A lesson in Humility and Grace

I was supposed to be blissed out. I had a vision that my first yoga festival would bring out the best in me. It would all be flawless and perfect – I would be flawless and perfect. For months I had been envisioning this. But as we all know – and as I teach almost every week – life is not about flawless and perfect – in fact most our important moments – moments that define us – are far from flawless and perfect.

This is what I went into with,  driving to my first yoga festival:  Exhaustion – exhausted of trying to find a full-time job; burn-out due to a job that is demanding and pays far too little for what we do everyday; feeling lost in my own life – I imagined this period in my life would be more simple. I have my degree, we have a house – I find myself more and more confused.

Right before leaving for the festival on Friday I voiced a thought that had been on my mind for quite some time – one of the only things in my life that is going flawlessly is yoga – maybe I should just quit this social work thing and focus on that – what that THAT looked like I had no idea because I am not financially ready. Then I had the voice well what does that mean financially ready anyway? Back and forth, back and forth – this has been my life for quite some time now. A teeter-totter. I went to my first festival with a knot in my stomach and tears in my throat.

What we found was bliss. I loved it. That first day we set up our tent, I sang and danced. I wore my Sattva t-shirt and hat proudly – we gotta represent! I was having so much fun it was almost unbearable fun. I didn’t even care that we were caught up in torrential rains. I thought what a wonderful way for mother nature to greet us especially since my theme was the fierce feminine – with the rain my theme blossomed from a phrase to an idea. Change is near. Mother Nature is calling to us to embrace our fierce feminine within. It was all so perfect.

Then we went back to our tent. Everything – EVERYTHING – was drenched. Apparently three years in Europe and no camping led to our tent being ruined, our mattress limp, and our things just drenched. SO and I looked at each other for a long time silently – me hoping he had a solution and he looking very worried. He finally said – we should go home. I knew right away that was the wrong choice. He had another mattress at home, we should go home and sleep and I should drive back with the new mattress. He wanted me to have a bed to sleep on the night before I taught at my first festival. I said no. I told him you go home – you don’t need this right now – I am sleeping in my car. He again looked worried. I demanded this is how it will be, I will figure out a way because I knew if I went home the knot in my stomach and the tears in my throat would grab hold of me and I would never return.

He frantically looked in his car for a sweater for me to sleep in. He gave me towels, jackets – anything he could find – for me to stay warm. I told him not to worry and watched as my anchor drove away in his car.

I have been alone many times in my life. I walked away from an abusive relationship in Greece in my early 20s and lived alone for a year before heading back to the sanity of Canada. I lived alone once back in Canada. Hell, most of my childhood I was alone. But that night in my car – I have never felt so alone in my entire life. The knot in my stomach and the tears in my throat gripped me like a beast. I wanted to desperately run and hide. I didn’t want to be in the woods, in my car, uncomfortable as hell anymore. I didn’t want to be with people. I resented them for their carefree nature in the rain. I resented them for their dry tents. I was so angry and sad in that car I thought the night would never end. Two hours of this. After the two hours still wide-eyed I heard drumming and realized this drumming had been in the background the entire time. I remembered that at night there would be a bonfire. My heart whispered to me you should go my head demanded I stay entangled in the beast. My bladder told me I had to go to the bathroom. My bladder won. I reasoned with my mind if I am going to the bathroom I might as well go to the bonfire as well since it is moments away from the toilets. I made my way down and stood a bit away from the  crowd. I swayed with the music – but didn’t feel as elated as I had been earlier in the evening. The beast still had it’s claws in me.

A lull in the singing, a friend began singing a song I will love you forever. Out of the corner of my eye I felt her gaze at me, but each time I looked towards her she was clearly immersed in her song not looking my way at all – but I felt the song penetrate my heart. Somehow her soul knew my soul needed to hear these words. I moved a little closer to the gathering. I began to sing her song as tears fell down my face. After the song she called to me to come sit down on her mat, she had a bit of space. I sat we talked, we sang. I began smiling. I realized sleeping in my car wasn’t all that bad. It was ok that SO was gone. Tomorrow I was going to have fun.

I didn’t sleep – well maybe two hours. It was extremely uncomfortable (I have a very small car). But I woke up in the morning happy and ready for the day. I bought some yummy oatmeal for breakfast, took a few classes before my scheduled class mid-afternoon. I talked to a few people, bought a beautifully painted stone from my friend (the girl at the camp fire) with the gayatri mantra for my alter at home. It was wonderful. The whole time I gazed at the class tent and noticed all of the classes were good enough sizes, people were as interested in the yoga as they were in the music. This put my nervousness at ease.

There was a charismatic fellow of a certain lineage (I will not say as I think the lineage is amazing and don’t want it to be associated with this experience in your mind) that taught 2 hours before me. I took the class, as what he offered interests me. He was done at 12:30, I taught at 2:30. 1:30 I began preparing myself in the class tent. At 2:00 his assistant came and asked me when I taught, I let her know, and five minutes later this professional got a hold of his portable mike and announced to all of the festival that he would be doing a  presentation of his craft in fifteen minutes (remember he had already presented his craft) his booth was right beside the class tent. In minutes he had quite a large gathering. The class tent was empty. I was obviously worried.

No mike in hand, music would only save me. I had brought my portable speaker and had some music playing quietly. I decided to turn it up. And while I worried – I knew in my heart people would come. I was going to Sattva this place up and I was going to do it with power and grace. I began. First kriya: Sattva Kriya 1 – people started gathering around the tent. Sitting down on mats or on the grass if they didn’t have their mats handy. Second kriya: Shiva Shakti – everyone could hear us calling the names the sound was magnificent. By the time we came to our peak kriya the tent was overflowing with people. We shook the earth with Nara Simha. We tore away our ignorance and connected to our fierceness – our power. I was engulfed in the energy. Never had a I felt the energy a group of people can create like this before – not as a teacher anyway. I felt a deep knowing that I was no longer leading the energy – the land had taken over. Santanai (the name of the land) had taken us all over and we were a part of that energy now. It was magnificent. I have no idea what the other dude who tried to steal my show was doing, nor did I care. I came in to rock this place and what I found was this place was waiting for something like this – and we fucking delivered. It was magnificent.

After my class I began not feeling well. The thought of once again sleeping in my car and not feeling good on top of that didn’t sound very good. I stayed as long as I could afterwards, and the oncoming torrential rains once again was my sign to head back home. My body was done. As I unloaded my car once home I began to cry – a big cry. Out of nowhere. Grabbing a bag and going to the garage the tears started to pour. Hard tears. A deep pain I could not describe. I realized that I had been carrying this pain for quite some time. I also realized that I was crying the tears that  mother nature had also shed on us during the festival. What I was feeling was a mixture of a collective pain and my own confusion in life right now the knot in my stomach and the lump in my throat were finally being released through these tears. So I marched on unloading my car and crying at the same time. I let it all go. And once it was done – it was done – like the rain. A lesson in humility and grace.

I wouldn’t have imagined this weekend the way it turned out – but it turned out the way it was supposed to. I turned a new leaf this weekend. The quiet girl that mostly stood on the outside and watched – roared when she taught at Bhakti in the Woods. It was all so perfect in it’s imperfection. Humility and grace. Om Namaha Shivaya.


Being present in our life – what does this actually mean. I find this concept is much more difficult to understand nowadays with all of the destractions available. A lot of the time it’s hard to decipher what is our life – actual vital aspects of our life and what is not. For example I often set out to sit with my cats to play or to sit and just enjoy their praesnece and notice that somehow in the middle of this I’ve found myself on Facebook – it’s not a conscious decision, just a habit. No decision was made, no debate on whether this would be a good use of my time. Just like breathing – it just happens.

So being present in our life, in other words mindfulness, is noticing how we are not present, hopefully eventually noticing while falling into a habitual pattern, and ideally stopping it before it even happens. But this takes practice, and I believe it’s a life practice, it’s not something we perfect then let go of. Mindfulness is something we continue to practice throughout our life. 

We have misconceptions of what this means. Pictures on social media couple mindfulness with serene backgrounds, a very happy and relaxed person. Out in nature, doing nothing at all. And while some of life can be this way, it is not the entirety of life. So, a mindfulness practice, will not be just this. Mindfulness includes all of life, so it includes our dreaded chores (well for me they can be dreaded – when I’m not being mindful that is). Mindfulness includes the part of ourselves we like, it also includes the parts of ourselves we might not always like. 

I remind students often that if they are finding a part of my class difficult emotionally, mentally, or physically that they are doing it right. I remind them that we often have a misconception of yoga – which is a form of mindfulness (when it’s actually yogaand doesn’t   include beer, drugs, goats or whatever the new fad is). We imagine yoga to be serene and calm and we will be the humble heroof the piece. When in reality yoga is the oposite. It’s hard, just breathing can be a challenge at times. Often we will have storms brewing inside, and I for sure don’t feel like a humble hero a lot of the time during my practice. 

But at the same time it is beautiful and raw. It reminds us of the entirety of our life – something we often distract ourselves from. And the more we come to our practice the more we are able to catch our mindless habits before they take over our moments. Yoga does this by allowing us to become aware of subtle energy changes which translate into sensations within the body. The slightest change will bring us inward wondering what is going on to make us feel this way. And the more we are able to identify these sensations, the more we are able to name their source and create real change in our life. And that ther folks, is mindfulness.

I will end by saying something I often say to newcomers in my class. Whoever told you yoga was easy, obviously has never done yoga. 

At first it won’t  be easy, it will require will power and compassion. But then you’ll go back into your life and something will have changed. You won’t be able to name it. Maybe you’ll just feel lighter but it will be there and you’ll know something amazing came out of that yoga experience. Yourself. In your life with the pleasant and unpleasant as well. And suddenly you’ll recognize yourself as the humble hero of your life.

Restless stirrings of the Warrior Goddesss within

I am feeling a transition coming. I am feeling restless, out of place. I question every role I play in my life. I have been here before, I have faced her before. I know what it is, yet my mind has a grip on wanting to fix this.

This is something many people struggle with. My teacher described these feelings as bubbles – we mistake them for anxiety, but really they are much more than that they are opportunities to transcend. We just need to learn to sit in the discomfort. We desperately want to avoid it – that is what I attempted to do most of this evening – avoid the discomfort. But nothing has worked. It was temporary, the moment my mind was not entertained the bubbles of restlessness would resume. I finally decided to give up on trying to avoid it and accepted that I needed to be here in this moment.

Where the restlessness is coming from I do not know. Where it will lead I also do not know. My only task is to sit in this discomfort –  but what does this mean?

I recently watched a wisdom talk given by my teacher in which he explained that a woman’s power lies in her cycle. My first reaction to this was – he has never had a period what does he know. But the monkey mind was silenced by a deep stillness – a knowing – that this was true. I began to think about what this could possibly mean. I thought about what I went through during my cycle and when I really looked at it I realized all that makes me vulnerable is increased during this time. And I thought about that and what my vulnerability meant.

To be vulnerable, to be open, to not hide behind armour but instead to show your truth – is the definition of a warrior. And when in our cycles, well we are vulnerable, but in that vulnerability lies strength – if harnessed correctly. What I usually do during my cycle is I avoid the discomfort as much as I can. And only recently have I began to accept it as not a curse but as a gift. Because during this time – I have begun to realize – my vulnerability – the part of me that makes me – me – shines. I only have to accept the cycle and I will flourish within it.

It’s the same thing with the bubbles of restelessness. They are there to tell us something important. They are revealing our vulnerability to this moment, to the unkown, to change. And if we learn to sit within this restlessnes without trying to analyze it or avoid it, we will transcend whatever it is that no longer serves us, and that spark – that warrior goddess will shine a little brighter because of it.

So for the next few days, I am going to sit here in my bubbles. I am no longer going to try to avoid them or change them. I will tap into what lies beyond the bubbles. I have been here before. I have met her. I often forget her. But she is asking me to listen and that is precisely what I will do.

Meditation: Welcoming Resistance

I have wanted to write about mediation for some time now, but the words weren’t coming out. It’s rather an interesting story, you see. I didn’t always like meditation, in fact there was a time when the last thing I would write about, talk about, or even practice was meditation. Until I went to India for my 300 hr teacher training. I went there thinking it would be a piece of cake, since I had done it once before, in India as well. I had even dabbled into meditation at that point, so when I saw that our daily itinerary included an hour meditation every morning I thought nothing of it, I figured if I could do a guided meditation for a half hour how much more difficult will another half hour be, surrounded by the Hymilayan mountains under the sun?

Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t simple. For about a week and a half the first hour of the day was met with heart wrenching, hair pulling frustration – what I like to call resistance to what is. I couldn’t sit still. My hips were bugging me, the sounds of nature suddenly didn’t seem so  calming, even the river got on my god damn nerves. Every morning I was met with a side of myself that I wasn’t very proud of, and every morning I wanted more than anything to be anywhere else but within my body.


It’s funny, today my post just fell out of the sky as I was teaching my fourth and fifth classes in a span of three days. I was subbing for another teacher, so right away as I entered the room, I was met with – you got it – resistance. As I set up my area, two men were talking very loudly, so as I always do, I went over to them and gently advised them if they would like to chat to take it outside as this is the practice space. I was met with a force of frustration – this one man replied ‘yea yea yea’ and rolled his eyes. I gently walked away and smiled at myself. I began teaching, and the whole way through this man, who was right in front of me, glared at me – movements were quick and without gusto, as if he was trying to tell me something. I had chosen the theme of resistance today before I had even walked into the room – and so I gently reminded the class, without pointing him out, that if they meet resistance to come back to their centre and breathe. He continued to show his frustration – at who knows – but at the moment whatever it was that frustrated him was showing up as a revolt against me – the teacher – which is ok – I get it. I was a sub and I was leading them through kriyas most people would find a lot of resistance in that.

So why do I tell you this story of the frustrated french man (as I named him in my head as I taught). Because THAT is precisely what yoga is. I didn’t get that at first when I began my training in India. I WAS that french man, frustrated each and every day, fantasizing in my meditation of throwing my mediation pillows at my teacher and running away for dear life. That fantasy was the only thing that got me through on some days. And then, a week and a half later, I sat to meditate once again, and suddenly that resistance was gone. I had let it go. Through the practice, connecting with myself and nature, and continuously coming back to my meditation each and every day, I had pushed against the resistance until I finally got to the other side.

Now, this does not mean I do not face resistance now, I definitely do. Some days my meditation is a war with myself, other days I am blissed-out. And others it’s just ok. Even today, as I experienced that frustration pouring out of the frustrated french man, I felt resistance and for a moment I let it take over – worrying about my sequence and if people liked it. Then I remembered what I was there to do. I was not there to win a popularity constest, I was there to help people work through whatever it is they need to work through. And a frustrated french man is not going to change that. I might not be the most popular yoga teacher there, but I will help you come to an amazing place within yourself.

The resistance we feel is the tantrum of the ego mind. I like to call it a trantum because any time we change a pattern in our life or our habits the ego mind will show up and throw a tantrum. What we are doing is coming face to face with our samskaras/habitual patterns, and in doing so pressing the walls of our comfort zone. We could fight it and let the ego mind win, as I could have done in India by running away from the discomfort, or we could face it head on, coming back to our trusty tool – our breathe and our practice – to anchor us down – just like the frustrated french man did today. He didn’t give up. He didn’t yell at me, or run out of the room, he practiced, and yest at times he did half-ass it – and yes he was clearly frustrated about something – but he stayed and he got through – and in the end he, the frustrated french man – was smiling.

That is meditation. It is sitting with yourself day in and day out and facing the amazing, the tranformative, the beautiful, the ugly, and the difficult aspects of ourselves. Each moment learning something new about the mind and our infinite potential. Facing that resistance like a warrior each and every day and sitting with whatever meets us there in every moment.

Eventually, if we sit long enough, we transcend the resistnace, come to a place of calm and understadning. But the samskaras run deep, each time we transcend is an opportunity to learn something even more deep and ingrained about ourselves. So we meet resistance once again. It will come back with with the force of the worst temper trantum imaginable sometimes – but we have our tool – our breath – and we have the knowledge of having been here before. And so we welcome it, come back to the breath and lean on that wall once again.

Resistance. I see you. I feel you. I send you love and we can move on from there.