Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Space in Between



You sang this song to me one night in my secret life, in between darkness and light.  Your words touched my heart and revealed my soul. You made me smile. You made me cry.  You sang this song to me, asking me to follow you, beyond the pale of my existence.  I did, afraid but curious to discover the places I had never been.  Eyes closed, I walked to the edge of what I could feel, not knowing where I would go as you sang the story of my secret life to me.  I began to sing along, though I did not know the words.  I found myself there, at the precipice of my own making. I jumped to feel alive.  In falling I could fly.  I was changed.  And still I search for that song that exists in between darkness and light.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's a beautiful day to change your life, or at least make it better.



Change.takes time. I often see people getting frustrated..  They say, "I can't balance". Yoga is not about coming in that way. It is about leaving that way.  People say, "I am not flexible". Yoga is not about flexibility. It is about mobility and breath.  People say, "I don't have time." Time is all you have.  


My yoga practice has been the connecting thread that has helped to guide change in my life. It continues to teach me about possibility, courage and determination. It gives me time and space to think, reflect and learn so I remain focused on what matters.

I find that the best experiences are those that take me inside of myself to the universe that is me. It is there that I explore the boundaries of my own making, including my stories, my assumptions about my abilities, my ego and my intentions.  Each time I practice, I learn something new about this universe that is alive within me.

As a student, I have learned that what I bring to the practice is what I receive. If I bring fear, ego, anger and mistrust, that is my practice. If I bring openness and a sense of discovery,that is also my practice.  When I want to be committed, I make a job out of whatever it is I want to do.  So, in 2013, I made a commitment to become a yoga teacher. I was accepted into the 300 hour, highly intensive Teacher Training Program at The Bodhi Tree Yoga Studio in Regina, with Colin Hall and Sarah Garden.

I chose the Bodhi Tree Yoga Studio in Regina because I value the commitment to learning and diversity.  As Colin says, "Yoga is a big tent.  There is plenty of room for all types of yoga."  This inclusive approach creates space for new ideas to emerge.

In our Teacher Training Program of over 21 students, we all come from different walks of life, but we share a common desire to help facilitate an experience of continuous discovery and learning both on the mat and off the mat.

With nearly 200 hours of training,  I am now teaching vinyasa 1 and hot vinyasa.   As a teacher of yoga, I am now a facilitator of this experience that has brought me to a better place in my life, aspiring to create an environment that encourages living well on and off the mat.

My teaching practice is about the integration of breath and movement. The practice is about creating an environment where we can be present in the moment, instead of being pushed from the past to the future. We end in savasana, to still the mind and the body and feel the essence of who we are beyond our titles, roles and job descriptions. In that moment, I hope for peacefulness and bliss.

It is important to remember that change takes time. I often see people getting frustrated.  They say, "I can't balance". Yoga is not about coming in that way. It is about leaving that way.  People say, "I am not flexible". Yoga is not about flexibility. It is about mobility and breath.  People say, "I don't have time." Time is the most valuable thing we have so use it strategically.

In the corporate world where I spent over 20 years as a corporate planner, 80% of the executive's job description is about setting and leading strategy. Considering the average salary of an executive is about $200K, times eight (an average number around the table), that's $1.6 million / year being invested in ensuring the company is healthy, moving forward and using its time and money strategically.

If a person were to invest 80% of his or her time in living well, I believe that we would be healthier, happier and more fulfilled in our lives.

A yoga practice can serve that purpose.  All one has to do is show up and let the rest happen. When you come, remember this:
  1. Your yoga practice is about who you are, nothing more or less.  
  2. You are not expected to be anything other than who you are in that moment.  
  3. It is not about the way you look, the logo on your clothes, or hair and make up. In fact, these layers  will quickly melt away, and generally can be found in a puddle on your mat.
Just come practice. The rest will take care of itself.













Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Think before you drink.

I hear there's a crazy drink out there. Not the good stuff we loved as kids, that fueled our play and our ability to imagine on those endless days of summer.

I am talking about the kind that we drink when we grow up. The kind of that makes you forget who you are, your dreams. It takes your time, uses your potential and asks that you abdicate your dreams until "retirement" or sooner should circumstances change.

Upon consumption, this sweet drink can impair your thinking, your ability to feel, and your vision.  It can disrupt your value system and steal your time and potential.  The packaging promises to take care of you all the way to retirement. It is sugared with visits to your dentist, eye wear plans so that you can continue to stare into their white light, visits to the massage therapist to correct your back, hips, shoulders and necks that have been corrupted by inactivity and bad furniture.  It tells you what you value, and how you will act, talk and smile. You will be expected to speak its language and quack in code.

It will measure you and tell you what is broken and how to fix it. It will ask you to be quiet, and it will demand your loyalty.  You will be its employee from 8 AM to 5PM, and its ambassador from 5PM to 8AM.  While there are promises, there is no commitment and no guarantee.  Should it be necessary to "sever" the "relationship" there are terms and conditions.

Sever:  To set or keep apart; divide or separate. To cut off (a part) from the whole.  To break up.  

Think before you drink.  Do a good job, but do not give yourself to it. Know that it is part of what may sustain you and your life financially, but cannot sustain your being.  Take some time today to think about your time, and what you would do with it if money were not a consideration.




Thursday, September 12, 2013

How vinyasa brought me to this place.


 "I remember the day you came to yoga and said, 'I bought SKY today'. After you went into more detail I realized it was a life changing moment for you.  A defining, empowering one that was only waiting to be discovered! Congrats!" 

A fellow yoga teacher sent me this note today, on a day that seemed like no one was listening, and I was reminded of why I am here.

I am celebrating my first year of publishing SKY Magazine (four issues). This is a big deal for me, because it is the first time in my working and living life that I truly love what I do, and truly feel that it makes a difference in the world. It feeds my soul in a way that makes every single day worth the journey.

The meaning and significance of"SKY" goes well beyond the masthead.  SKY is my personal metaphor for possibility, freedom and the quest for continuous learning.  My SKY is endless, and infinite. It is the perfect place for a claustrophobic pink flamingo to take flight for its horizon knows no limit.

My SKY magazine really found me. It was one of my business clients who saw it for sale. He said, "when I saw this on Kijiji, I thought of you." That was September 2012, and by October 18, 2012, the deal was done and we were in business.  I dedicated the magazine to telling the story of people who live in their own vision.  People who fly because they must.

I have produced four issues, each one equally breathtaking, inspiring, intelligent and awe-inspiring. I love each and every one of them and the people that I am fortunate to represent.

SKY is a gift of second chances, brought to me through a force that I can't say I understand. Why would he see this publication for sale and think of me? We had never discussed it. I was his strategic planner. The magazine business never entered our discussion.

In the fall issue of SKY, I interviewed Lindsay, a young woman who has a brain tumour. She said, "it is part of who I am".  I realized that moment if a person can embrace a brain tumour as a source of knowledge to inspire the journey forward, then a person can also embrace all the other experiences that comprise our journey and take responsibilty for how we carry this "knowledge" forward so that we can live a colourful, purposeful life.

What preceded SKY is similar to Lindsay's tumour, in a metaphorical sense of the word.

Suffice it to say I fell from the sky one day, and faded to white. On that day, I backed out of my of my six-digit parking stall, and saying aloud to myself, "no more."  No more could I face this disrespectful existence for a pay cheque.

No more could I suck it up. No more could I move over. No more could I understand why I would endure that existence. This experience was not the first bad experience at work, but it was the last.

I was devastated by what was to follow, trapped in a story that would not end. My ego was badly wounded and I was angry.I had to own it and understand my part in that story so that I could heal.

It was my yoga practice, and particularly sharing it with others, that provided me with a great source of strength. I was able to find the answers to the question that were haunting me, like 'why did this hurt so much?' and 'how could I have let this happen to me' and 'what do I do about it?'

I found the answers in my Vinyasa practice, where breath and movement carried me to discover the questions and the answers, and to ultimately end the story of that day and begin anew. I would take two years to learn to fly again.

My Vinyasa is . . .


Vinyasa to me is about connecting the dots.  It means to connect movement and breath.  Vinyasa is about learning how to move in movement, breath by breath, movement by movement. It can be playful, joyful, and funny, or it can be challenging.

My Vinyasa is not judging.  It is about getting into the body and exploring what happens when one moves towards a pose, and take breath into it, and then link that breath to movement.

As in all yoga, Vinyasa is the practice of staying calm in the face of calamity, of being aware and grounded in a world that is tumultuous at times, and always turning, churning and seldom peaceful. 

Physiologically, my Vinyasa practice brings awareness to the way my bones are stacked, so that muscles can stretch and tone as evenly as possible.

It is an integration of the technical pose, breath, movement and absolute awareness. My Vinyasa practice is patient. It waits for me. My Vinyasa is defiant. It challenges me to ask more of myself. It challenges my beliefs. It never says 'no', only 'how'. It creates the possibility of possibility in my life. 

In my Vinyasa practice, my journey is imperfect. It challenges me to look away from the perfect image of a pose to find my own expression. It challenges me to feel and to see how my feelings show up on that mat, and the possible limitations that result.  

Whether I am upset, angry, happy, blissful, disorganized, worried . . .whatever it is that I bring to my practice is what plays out, I find. I own this instrument, I discover, and I can play it the way that I choose. 

I am famous for story telling, after all, so leaving the "history" - aka - the happenings of the day leading up the point I reach my mat - is something that I must mindfully do. I do this through finding my breath, and settling into the moment, and finally establishing an intention for the practice.  

My Vinyassa practice invites me to leave the past at the door, and release those impulses to dwell on distractions by reliving them and retelling the stories in our minds.  


The Birth of the Flamingo Project: Living in Colour, again. 




Part of my Vinyasa practice is to document this journey, and incite a revolution of colour. I created "The Flamingo Project", a movement of body and mind using yoga, words and deeds to facilitate the process of finding the questions, embracing their experiences and creating an intention to live a colourful and purposeful life.

These principles provide the context for the way ahead as a yoga teacher, a business person, and most importantly, a person who is living a purposeful life.

Principles that Guide my practice, on and off the mat. 

1.  Choose defiance.

Defiance is a natural process of renewal and change.  Birds defy gravity.  Trees grow out of rock. Babies are born, kicking and screaming.  Without defiance, the earth would not turn. The sun would not shine.  We would not exist.

Choosing defiance in a purposeful way gives permission to challenge the beliefs and conventions that are deeply rooted in the psyche. 

Consider the natural tendency to focus on what could go wrong versus what could go right, or the way that we perceive "failure" as a life-ending spiral that is absolute.  We behave, and therefore are at risk of losing our ability to naturally change, grow, and evolve.

Positive defiance is walking against the traffic.  It challenges the belief system that we have acquired and embraced as our own.  But beliefs are fluid and can change. We each control our own belief system and our destiny.

2.  Listen to the secrets of the universe and seek to understand.
 
One can only accomplish what one can imagine and our vision is often clouded.  Learning to listen to the secrets of the universe and seek to understand is to listen with a desire to question and learn.  

Too often, we accept what we are told as well as what we tell ourselves without questioning the implications or the truthfulness of the story.  Listening to the secrets of the universe within, therefore, can lead one to the discovery of your potential.  A change in perspective will alter your vision of what's possible.  As Tina Hnatiuk (Anala Yoga) says, "Once you know better, you will do better."


3. Practice Imperfection.

My name is Lynn, and I am recovering perfectionist.  Perfectionism is unattainable by human beings.  It is not quality, nor does it lead to quality.  It is the big brother of fear and insecurity, and the killer of inspiration and creativity. Make a commitment to accept what is in the moment, and resolve to learn and question, but not to judge what is.  Observe it and seek to understand.  Know that this is a process of continuous learning and change, and there is no goal, or attainment of an ideal. There is only this moment, this body and this opportunity to explore its potential.  You will never know what you can do until you try. 

4.  Avoid rooms with no doors.

A room with no doors is a trap. Sometimes we accept things that are not in our best interest because we believe we have no other choice.  I vehemently disagree.  In yoga and in life, there are always options and choices, and the consequences of both.  We never have to endure what we decide we need not. We can adapt.  There are always options and choices.  Sometimes people tell me that they "can't" do yoga because [insert explanation here]. When I hear this, I can't help but wonder what else this person prevents him or herself from trying? In life, we practice all the time, whether we are conscious of it or not.  Sometimes we practice denial, rage, anger, and self - loathing.  Other times we practice all the reasons that we cannot do what we wish we could do.  The yoga practice is a safe place to develop life practices that enable us to live the life we wish we could have, rather than make excuses for the reasons we cannot.  Everything is possible in life and in yoga. There is no "no", just "how".  But just in case, sometimes it's a good idea to carry a reciprocating saw to make your own door.  


5.  Do what you love to do, and do it with love.

Regardless of what you do and what choices you make, it is important to love those choices and treat them with the love, because they are yours. Come to your practice with the intention to love yourself and find the good in the moment during your time in the mat.  Life is so much better when you do what you love, and do it with love.








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Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Need a Wife Rant


It's 2 AM and I am on round three of this day. I clean the house so there is some semblance of order when I begin again, organize my schedule for tomorrow, pick out the clothes that I will need for the day, including what I will wear for my meeting with the Chair of a Board, the Veterinarian (my dog is sick), my clients, my printer, and then to teach a class at the gym at 4:30.

Did I mention my dog?  The poor little guy came down with a nasty cough today, so I worked at home to look after my sick dog. Tomorrow he comes with me to the office for my meetings.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I will need to wash the bugs off my car from the "vacation" we took last week, write the content for the upcoming magazine, prepare for client meetings on Friday in a city 2 hours away, and return phone calls to new and current clients.

It's 2 AM and the my husband is snoring. My dog is asleep, finally. It's 2 AM and I here . . . with my computer, rather than sleeping.

The other day, somebody said that "it's a good thing you don't have a real job so you can take care of what ever you need to."

Did I mention that I am an entrepreneur? By that I really mean mice-sized. Minute, some might say. I run with the elephants, all by myself, like many entrepreneurs who would be my clients if they could take some time to get help. I help people plan their way ahead, market themselves, stay fit and healthy and live with awareness.

I have a strategy and communications consulting practice that helps business owners plan their way ahead and a publishing business that helps clients tell their story so that the community will support them in their goals and use their services. I am also a physical fitness instructor at a gym, a yoga student, on my way to becoming a teacher, and an author trying to get a book about living in colour edited (again) and back to the publisher. Oh yes, I am a blogger, but that's really just for fun.

I am not alone on my tread wheel.  As entrepreneurs we do it all.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way discounting men who are entrepreneurs, but the title of this post is about needing a wife, so please allow me to continue with my rant.)

As women entrepreneurs, we do it all. Am I right? (Say amen here). Today I talked with a friend entrepreneur who is attempting to run her businesses "part time" in between driving the kids to and from their summer activities. Many of the women I work with are multi tasking just like me. Women tend to do that, where as men tend to move linearly, like ducks.

I am noticing a trend that women work their butts off and can handle amazing feats of strength despite our minute, frail frame. Mice sized entrepreneurs work their butts off.  Women entrepreneurs work their butts off. So, I need another woman in my life to help me. A wife perhaps. Having been one for the last 31 years, I can attest to how handy we are.

If I had a wife, she could look after my poor sick little dog, wash the car, manage the family bank account, buy some groceries, cook them, clean the house, wash the clothes, and maybe even teach me how to make coffee in my new funky coffee pot in the office.

If I had a wife, maybe she could come to my office and help me get finally moved in after four months, order that wall paper and hang it, and possibly take care of my books in her free time.

If I had a wife, maybe I could get to a yoga class, and of course, so could she, because we all know how important it is to stay grounded, focused and balanced.

If I had a wife, I would have been in bed 4 hours ago. But it's 2 AM. And I just noticed how bad this video is and how thankful I am that it is no longer the 1980's when I danced like that and wore really bad leather.  But I digress.

I need a wife.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I am still standing




Fall down, get back up again. Life's like that.  I am still standing, quite often in mountain pose, or some other crazy asana.  Sometimes I am standing on my head, other times I am standing on my feet.  Sometimes I am standing on my hands, at least for a few fleeting moments until I come crashing to the ground.  Sometimes I am standing in line on leg to two and other times I am out standing.  Standing is my thing.  It's what I practice the most, on and off the mat.  

Lately I have been noticing feet.  Sometimes my own are a wonderment to me, when it occurs to me that I don't know what they are doing, and I have to actually look down at them.  Sometimes I even lift my toes to see what they will do . . . and I don't just think "lift your toes Lynn", I think "lift your toes Lynn", and then I look down to see if they obeyed. The funny thing is, they are part of me, yet sometimes we are disconnected. 

In yoga classes I tend to notice the feet of other people. mostly because we are in a packed Vinyassa class and I am packed in by the door, and the person ahead of me is not sure how to place his or her feet at the top of the mat when asked, perhaps due to a fear of sharp edge, or fear of heights. 

So when we sequence through mountain pose to forward fold, right lunge, downward facing dog, high plank, and hold at chaturanga . . . that is where I find myself noticing the feet of the person in front of me because they are practically up my nose . . . until we can move into upward facing dog and back to downward facing dog. 

I have noticed that quite often, the feet under my nose are lifelessly hanging at the end of the leg, doing absolutely nothing.  Imagine moving into an upward facing dog off the tops of your feet only to discover they are not there.  One sort of looks more like a seal than a dog. 

I mentioned  this to my teacher, and she suggested that I pay attention to the hips when the feet are not connected.  I noticed that when the feet are lifeless, the hips have to overcompensate, hoisting the lower half of the body forward. 

It's not pretty to go through life without our limbs, especially when we have them and they are in full working order.  And so I stand each day, thankful that I can, and pay attention to feeling my feet, even if I am wearing four inch heels. 

Namaste

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reading the Yoga Sutras 1.1-1.4: The Back Door Salvation Plan:


It's Sunday, so it's fitting that I should write about salvation and the path to enlightenment as that is the subject of my summer reading.  I have been  immersed in reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as part of the Teacher Training Program at Bodhi Tree Yoga.I read the introduction and realized it was just the introduction, so I decided to get on with the sutras.

The book is structured by sutra and explanation.  Each sutra is expressed in Sanskrit, then translated and explained.

This is not to criticize the text. After all, who am I to question something thousands of years old.  Truthfully, this is a book I will likely read or reference for the rest of my life and continue to learn.  So I decided that rather than attempting to "learn it" right now,  it is better to taste it and look for the larger nuances and not the details in between.  I liken it to learning a new language.  If you focus on the whole sentence, you miss the intent. I find the explanation to be distracting details.  I like the sutras themselves. 

Nevertheless, as I have now travelled through now 1.1 - 1.4 the focus has been on the perspective of yoga and the role of the seer.   In this scenario, the yogi aspires to be the seer as opposed to the one being seen.  

1.1.  atha yoganusanam - now the teachings of yoga. 
1.2. yoga citta-vrtti-nirodhah - yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind. 
1.3 tadah drastuh svarupe vasthanam - when that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature.
1.4 vrtti-sarupyam itaratra - otherwise, at times, the seer is absorbed in the changing states of mind. 

It strikes me that the path of yoga is a path of enlightenment and erego, salvation. Here's how I see it working. Purusa - the all seer, the all seeing, omniscient one stands outside of prakrti, or matter and all things contained therein.  Matter is driven by three gunas - tamas (inertia), rajas (action) and sattva (purity).

I do not pretend to be an expert on how this works, but here is my interpretation thus far.  I understand the  quest of yoga is to achieve sattva - or purity and enlightenment through meditation.  

To achieve enlightenment is to achieve balance of sattva, tamas and rajas - purity of thought and intention, the actions that we take, and the things we let go (inertia). 

At the risk of being seen and stepping out of yogic character as it were, I can't help but read this book through my own life mirror. My decision to become a yoga teacher coincides with the quest  to regain balance in my life after being thrown out of balance by the rajas (actions) of another, which occurred in part due to my own tamas (inertia - failure to fly when I knew I was at risk). 

My first reaction was to retreat (tamas - total inertia).  My next reaction was to strike back (extreme rajas way out of whack). Legal advice says do nothing (tamas - total inertia seems unacceptable as it serves no one and hides the larger issue of right and wrong). 

As in all things, the answer is somewhere in between. My own practice is about finding that place of balance as I learn to separate myself (my true self) from my experience.   I am not my experience, I find the movie theatre analogy useful. 

"Yoga is the stilling of the vrttis (fluctuations), stopping the film midway so that the mind can realize that the emotions, fears, happiness, pains, births, deaths, etc., it has been experiencing do not exist in the soul but are the inert flickerings and permutations of the material spectacle.  Thus, yoga is ultimately about liberation from the external material world, or in traditional Hindu terms, from samsara, the cycle of birth and death." (p.27)

So yoga's path to enlightenment can be attained through balance of the gunas. To do that, one must shift the focus from being the one who is seen to be seer. If the soul  (parusa) is outside of  prakrti (matter/ experience) then does it follow that yoga can be a get out of jail free card - or a back door to salvation. This brings into mind the question, how long will that take?