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.



  1. Congratulations Lynn and thank you for making the world a little brighter, for your place of balance and peace and for your words of wisdom. We must heal ourselves before we can touch the lives of others in a meaningful, powerful and positive way. I salute your accomplishments.

  2. And I yours Claire. You are a pretty amazing person.