Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Yoga Adventure in Iceland

This past May, 20 yogini’s and yogi’s from the Yoga Centre Winnipeg, set out on an amazing adventure to Iceland .

Winnipeg is just an hour’s drive from Gimli  Manitoba, a small lakeside town in a region known as New Iceland. This area that boasts the highest Icelandic population outside of Iceland! We also had several travellers with Icelandic heritage in the group and so we were quick to boast about our connections!

However, not one of us was prepared for the warmth of the Icelandic people, or the awe inspiring natural landscape, so diverse from our own land! Every time we turned our heads there were vast fields of lava, steaming streams, geysers, moss-covered mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, and so much more.

Our outstanding guides navigated us skillfully, and joyfully, through the rugged Icelandic terrain.  Almost magically, every time we stopped to view another spectacular site, the sun popped out, along with a rainbow or two. Sure enough, as time to board the bus approached, the clouds gathered and the rain poured from the sky. As we drove through the countryside, our knowledgeable guides entertained us with information about the country, peppered with Icelandic sagas, and tales of elves. It seems that more than a few of us returned home with an elf.

Though the rain was significant, it did not detract from the marvelousness of our experience; whether it was touring the sights, shopping, or our most fabulous foodie tour of Reykjavík!! No words could prepare us for the delights of that day! Mmmmmm, the rye bread baked in the ground, ice cream made from the same rye bread, divine rainbow trout and fish stew to die for, were only some of the cuisine we sampled that we are all still drooling over one month later! Even the hotel breakfasts were a treat- fresh skyr, endless coffee, and smoked salmon were some of the highlights- but no one will forget the cod liver oil shooters- yup! Sounds nasty, but surprisingly great!

It’s hard to pinpoint what stood out the most. Many will treasure the time spent soaking in the warm and healing waters of the blue lagoon, or horse back riding at the foot of the volcano; while others carry with them images of the black beaches or standing at the edge of the glacier with the black volcanic ash starkly contrasted against the white ice.

With morning and evening yoga to balance and integrate each day of wonder, our group of intrepid yogis loved every moment of this amazing trip.

Thank you Travel Yogi and Season Tours !!
 Hugs and love
 Jan and Shauna and the Yoga Centre Winnipeg Travel Elves

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

My Yoga Journey

My yoga journey started when I was 14,  (1969) in the basement of my parents house in northern Manitoba in a small room next to the coal bin.  
My mom found yoga instructions in readers digest magazine and suggested I try. I am a tall, thin, shy adolescent - not interested in playing hockey- looking for something to do alone in those long dark winters.  I was young and very flexible and strong so i mastered the yoga positions and loved the practice.  

Flash ahead to 2017 and I start yoga teacher training with Yoga Center Winnipeg. 

I am now 61 years old and have not been particularly physically active other than a demanding career and wonderful active family to preoccupy me.  So I have the 47 year old memory of how easy things were and I am quickly faced with the reality that my current body is not nearly as agile as my younger self remembers.   I have had a serious back injury, broken bones and experiencing genetic concerns regarding connective tissue and just plain not exercising and the realities of aging.  All of these limitations /facts as I am studying yoga philosophy opens me to a whole new understanding of what yoga really is. I have no idea what I signed up for.  

The teachers are especially caring accepting, encouraging and able to support and assist to compensate for the injuries, fears, limitations and age without judgement and always accepting each person as an individual on their own journey.  

No competition and just accept the current situation and breath just breath. 

I know the holistic healing aspects of yoga and mindfulness from my years of working with people and their families who have endured physical, mental health issues and traumatic experiences. Years of work in human services has brought me to understand that human injuries and trauma can be greatly benefited from yoga, mindfulness and health diet. I have done compassion training in the past and experienced how a dedication to the process creates change in how the individual see and interact with the world. Part of the draw to teacher training was for me  to teach yoga/mindfulness in the area of mental health both for those diagnosed and those working with or supporting people, to maintain overall health for all.

The teacher training process, individual classes and the daily practice I am cultivating have enhanced my life in all areas.  The experience is far beyond my expectations as I start this training.  

I am not sure where my yoga journey will take me but I know wherever it takes me I will bring along a quieter, calmer more understanding mind and more compassionate responses to the world.

Big shout out to all of the amazing trainers, teachers, and other yoga students (who are all teachers in their own right) and participants I have met along the way. Each of you have brought an experience that is unique and wonderful. Pushing, pulling, nudging, accepting, exploring, encouraging and always open to each student’s questions and personal experience. The front staff are always welcoming to each person by name and with a genuine hello and caring interaction.  The instructors are able to connect with each student to help address their journey with specific support and encouragement and eventually an understanding of injuries and adjustments.   The entire yoga journey for me has been greatly enhanced by the staff at Yoga Center of Winnipeg.

Thank you all. 

So now I keep going.

Where will this adventure go??
Diane Lau
(p.s. paintings by Diane, added to the blog without permission(!) from her Facebook page)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

How yoga changed my life

I love yoga. 

To be honest, I am not entirely sure how it changed my life, but I am certain that it has.

To me yoga is a small
well used word 
that encompasses 
so much. 
It's a way of life
not just the asana
or poses,
that are so known. 

Yoga to me
is the good intentions
the breathing
the teachings
the body awareness
the self awareness.

Its about the practicing of all of it, and learning how to be my best self, and live my truest life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love the poses too. They feel great, the stretch, the release, and the progress into deeper and more complex poses. The poses help the energy move and flow so that the intentions and life practices can take shape.

So finding a yoga practice and adding all of the above to my life 10 years ago has changed my life for the better. I had been doing yoga for a few years with Bluemoon/kuhlektiv yoga before I took my fist yoga teacher training.  Now both of these things had a huge hand in making yoga big in my life. The classes spoke to me, helped my “desk job”  ridden body, left me with good intentions, self-awareness and all around feeling good. I wanted to take it to the next level and kuhlektiv yoga helped me find a YTT that suited me. I completed the first third of the YTT with Ally Gaiatri while I was  two months pregnant.  Unfortunately, because I was pregnant and the YTT was in Calgary, I didn't get a chance to complete the second and third modules. However, I believe that being pregnant during this initial YTT shaped how yoga is present in my life now.  

Being a mom is a huge part of my life now, but the yoga had staying power and they have woven together. 

Yoga helps me 
be a better mom 
(I hope and think maybe?!)
my intentions 
give me more patience 
(usually not enough, but it helps)
more love
more mindfulness
mostly the practice of reminding myself of all these things
that we are all doing our best.

So I guess I do know how yoga changed my life: 
in all the ways mentioned above and so much more!!

Going forward, I hope to keep growing my practice.
I am sure yoga will continue to change my life.

T. Horechko

Monday, 28 May 2018

why I love yoga

I love yoga for many reasons. 

First and foremost, it helps me maintain balance in my life. By that I mean it gives me permission to take time for me! It brings me closer to the connection between my mental health, my emotional well being, strengthening my body and connecting with spirit.
Another great reason I love Yoga is that it makes me feel beautiful.  When I get into dancers pose, I imagine myself as free, transformed with grace and poise.  Yoga can take you to anywhere you want to go. All you have to do is be. 
Yoga takes on many different versions from meditation, relaxation, to steady movements of flow. Any day of the week you can take a class or even practice at home and it will be your choice of which practice you choose for the day.  I base my practice on how I feel that day or more importantly how I want to feel when I’m finished.  

Yoga has made me more conscious of my daily decisions and how I interact with others. There have been many times in my life where I have reacted to a situation instead of responding. Now I think about how my actions will not only affect how I feel about myself but also how others see me. There is a rippling effect to all of our interactions with others.

 Every person you meet, converse with, even those you pass on the street. Yoga has brought me closer to the profound impact we all have on one another.

Yoga is not only yoga, it’s so much more! You will find what you’re looking for if you are open to it. We all need something of our own to bring us closer to our true selves, for me its yoga.

Michelle Greenslade

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Why I Love Yoga !!!

I have always enjoyed being an active person; swimming, cycling, gymnastics,
coaching, teaching, learning. But once upon a time, I got caught in an office job
and I found myself in front of a computer for long hours dealing with stressful
situations. I fell out of activity. I got lost in gyms. Machines and weights are
terrible conversationalists. I didn’t like being yelled at in robotic aerobics classes.
Spin class are not my jam. I worked as a lifeguard so long, I developed an
allergy to chlorine.

What to do, what to do? !!

I missed my body. We didn’t know each other any more. I never seemed to move except from place to place, my car to my office chair. Thebody needs to move! Yoga seemed like a way to do that. I signed up for classes and had the good fortune to be introduced to yoga, and reacquainted with my body (especially my toes),with Hart Lazer. The attention to detail was painstaking. What a foundation. I loved every minute and have tried to make yoga a part of my life since then.

The Yoga Centre Winnipeg IS my jam!!!!

Yoga is a lovely way to do my own lovely thing with a group of lovely people doing their own lovely thing while guided by lovely caring attentive instructors that invite me to explore.

I am not told so much what to do, but rather asked to feel my way through a series of poses that open my body, mind and soul. It can be energizing or restorative. It is always inspiring. Best for me, yoga makes me happy! Yoga is by far the best way I have found to stretch and move and enjoy being alive. Bonus lovely are the associated paths yoga has led me to: meditation, spiritual practices, consciousness literature. And yoga stretches itself off the mat and into my enriched daily life:
          Awareness. Presence. Gratitude. Positivity. Kindness. Humour.

It even influenced my career move of getting out of an office and into being a massage therapist. Woot! And best of all, I know it is something I can do til I’m 80. Or older!

Namaste ~ Pat!!!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Finding Space

My yoga mat is a very busy place.  When I roll it out on the studio floor and stand back to admire its colour (purple, my favorite), it looks like an empty mat.  An open space, reserved just for me.  There to support me, encourage me, hold and heal me.  And it is.  An open and empty place; until I step onto it. 

I think of caged water, pushing hard against its limits and the intensity of the release when its allowed to flow.   That’s what happens when I step on my mat only its not rushing water, its all of the other things.  Past experiences, failures, and embarrassments.  My distorted perception of myself, my mental illness, my fears and all of my broken pieces.   They are on that mat with me and sometimes for me, the greatest challenge on my mat is not the practice of yoga at all, but the practice of sitting with all of those judgments, that fear, that illness, those broken pieces.  
It was only a few years ago that yoga found me.

We had been introduced years before that but I wasn’t ready for it.  It wasn’t time.  I say that because the practice, for me, is more than movement and growth of my body but truly a movement of everything I am. My spirit and mind are holding that Plank and feel sensation right along with my thighs.  When I started the practice, I was deep in a depression and one of the hardest parts of my being in a deep dive is that my eyes don’t look the same.   They are flat, there is no spark, I can’t feel the essence of who I know I am.   Reduced to a pilot light, knowing I am a blazing inferno at my best.  Looking in the mirror, facing that darkness, was too big.  

The studio where I began to practice had mirrors along the walls and one day I came to class and the only places left in the room were at the front, face to face with the mirror.  The place I had been avoiding. 
I rolled out my mat, that optimistic space that quickly became so very busy as I stepped onto it.  Moving into Tadasana, grounding my feet and feeling the rooting and strength grow through my legs, exhaling and allowing my shoulders to relax back and open my chest.  Arms passively at my side, submitting to the fear of the impossible task ahead of me.  Slowly, my gaze moved up the mirror and there they were.  Those empty eyes staring back at me and the sting of tears rolling down my cheeks.  I just stood there, the rest of the class passive in Svasana, I stood there.  Fighting a silent battle, waging war on an invisible illness and beginning to see the utter lack of compassion that I feel for my illness, my fears, my broken pieces.

  The hardest work I did in that class, that day, wasn’t the practice of yoga. It was the practice letting go, the practice of learning to make space for all of the things about me, whether I like them or not.  Whether I have control over them walking on that mat with me, or not.  Learning compassion for ones’ self, making room for all of the pieces is hard.  It burns like the deep lunge of Warrior II, it takes your breath like sun salutations, challenges your balance like Tree.  Learning compassion for yourself, all of yourself, is sometimes the deepest stretch. 

The fact is, like so many others, I have fears, I have mental illness, I have broken pieces.   They are part of me, they walk with me. We can’t always control the things we are given but we can control how we walk with them. Hating them, resenting them, is hating me, wishing away me, my parts, my pieces. 

The greatest practice on and off the mat is finding balance with them all and learning to smile at the darkness.  To find softness in the hard places. To push through the long holds and be strong knowing you always have the power to make space, to find a place, for all of the pieces.   


Jennifer Forzley

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Loving Yoga

The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as, “the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself”. As soon as I read that phrase I adopted it as my definition of yoga, namely, as a practice which has come to both guide me and inform me of who I am and what I do. But what does tolerating the consequences of being yourself mean to me? It means being authentic or being true to myself, being honest with myself and accepting the consequences of that. Inherent in the phrase is the suggestion that one needs to know oneself  in order to be authentic. But the funny thing with yoga is that I am learning something about myself every time I get on the mat and as often, when off, living my life. (Sometimes I feel what I learn is profound, while other times it’s just mundane bits and pieces that make sense to me). So, for me, being authentic is an evolving process. I start out thinking I know myself fairly well, and am then surprised and sometimes disheartened by the depth of knowing that happens on the mat when I am still and can listen, instead of when I am trying to get somewhere or be someone.   Yoga reminds me to pay attention. It reminds me to be patient. It reminds me to be compassionate.,  and it reminds me it is an ongoing practice.

Tolerating the consequences of being myself also means truly accepting who I am and where I am in the moment, understanding that this moment is all that I have, is all that is. For me, it means that yoga is an active, alive and vibrant experience or entity or journey,  forever shifting and changing. Kind of like the ocean or a dance. It means that I have to surrender to being myself, warts and all, as well as jewels and all.  It means that no matter what I might want from a pose or practice, the pose or practice may well have something else to teach me. I am slowly learning to listen to this voice.

I love yoga. I love it when I feel great and I love it when I don’t. I love it when I can “master” an asana and even when I can’t, which I now understand as the constant.  I love the walls that are there for me to take down. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I have tackled something hard and have found success. I love the feeling of quiet and stillness I experience some days and alternatively, the excitement and energy I experience on other days. I love the feeling of fellowship in the studio. I love what each teacher has to offer. Through yoga I am becoming the person I want to be. For this and for all it’s gifts, I am grateful.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

There is no room for more than this.

No space for past and future
What I really am,
Who I really am.

The house is too small
For all that has been
And all that will be
And all the distractions of now.

The inhale catches and holds.
The exhale like a sigh.

What is a sigh except resignation?
What is a hold except fear of what’s to come?

There is something inside
Too painful to touch,
Too beautiful to see
The breath inside the breath

Do I know this to be true?
Do I think I know this to be true?
How will I know what is true?

Open the door

Open the door



Saturday, 20 August 2016

Roundabout Reflections

8 years old:
Sitting in my grandmother’s living room on the beige carpet …
A news blip on the TV in which a woman celebrates her 100th birthday. She folds like a pretzel, putting her feet behind her head with a big grin on her face. She’s been practicing yoga for 60 years and here she is, as vibrant and as flexible as I was with my as yet un-fused sacrum. Maybe she’s on to something.

13 years old:
My friend’s yoga teacher mother invites our whole soccer team to a series of 3 classes. We learn about ‘monkey mind’, about ‘corpse pose’ and that if we do inversions before exams we’ll think more clearly. We giggle and show off our youthful flexibility and levity, floating into headstands and flinging into handstands. We get tucked in for savasana, with tiny sandbags over our eyes. It is so comforting.

19 years old:
How am I already not as flexible as I used to be? In my first class since that fleeting introduction, a yoga teacher frowns at my downdog and pulls my hips back, trying to force my convex back into a more acceptable shape. My hamstrings scream.

23 years old:
I’ve been hitchhiking and camping all over western Canada, sleeping on uneven surfaces and living rough. I’ve also been sitting in stiff plastic chairs through interminable university classes and paper-writing sessions with slumpy posture. As a result I’ve been saddled with chronic back pain. It even hurts to lie flat on my back sometimes. Something’s pinching. I get an x-ray and a CT scan. I see a physiotherapist to correct the bulging disc in my lumbar. We set a goal together. I would like to practice yoga. I don’t know where this comes from but I know it’s what I need. I do the exercises until my muscles strengthen and my back pain lessens. I sign up for Iyengar-style classes with the same friend’s yoga teacher mother from the junior high days. I diligently attend a class a week over the next two winters. I feel taller, stronger and lighter. I stand in tadasana while waiting for the bus.

29 years old:
I have a dedicated yoga spot in my apartment. I feel it when I miss my practice. I work in male-dominated, physically demanding jobs and apply yogic forms while hauling gear. My 5’3” 130lb body can somehow keep up with their 6’3” 230lb ones. I love the dynamic strength that yoga allows me to build. I love the feeling of euphoria and clarity after a transformative practice. I love picking apart the anatomy and mechanics of a pose. I love delving into the yogic philosophy of the human mind and body; it keeps me grounded, it sends me higher, it brings peace. 

How Has Yoga Changed My life

My first yoga class was a community centre yoga class that I took with both of my parents when I was a teenager. It was taught by the mom of a boy that I went to school with. I remember even then thinking that she had the best job and that I also wanted to teach yoga when I grew up. From that point on I never stopped doing yoga or learning about yoga.

Yoga for me is applied practical spirituality. I spent many years deeply involved in Goenkakji's Vipassana Meditation but it was so much sitting and not enough moving for me. I have always loved to move my body from the time I was 5 years old when I insisted on taking dance classes, to my teens and adult life when spiritual intuitive dancing took over as my number one blissful renewing activity.

To have yoga in my life as a firm foundation for learning and practicing the art of keeping my body, mind, and spirit healthy is the greatest blessing. It makes me wonder how I became so deserving as to come across such a great gift so early in my life. My yoga practice has brought me through many trials and tribulations in this life. From the time after my daughter was born and the majority of my body was covered in a rash from head to toe for over 5 months and I courageous continued to attend yoga classes despite my appearance, to the many days when life was overwhelmingly difficult and my greatest accomplishment was to invest in my future by committing to my daily yoga practice, to this current time in my life when I am courageously stepping into the unknown as a single mother in the world. Yoga is and always has been from the first moment I discovered it been my number one go healing practice.

I may love dancing more but there are days I cannot dance and there will never be a day that I cannot practice yoga even if it is simply lying flat on my back observing my breath.

Yoga is my foundation. Yoga is my support. Yoga is my medicine. Yoga is my refuge. Yoga is my celebration.

Yoga is my devotion.
Yoga continues to teach and guide me.

- Michelle Louise Marie (embodiedwisdom.ca)