Saturday, 26 May 2012

Looking at the World Upside Down

“Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant---”
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--

Emily Dickinson        c. 1868

I love this poem by Emily Dickinson.  For me, she is saying that at some point in our lives, when we are ready and open, we will  be dazzled by the light of a right alignment with our world. A kind of getting right with the light.  Until we have capacity to comprehend and life experience to inform our views, we are best served by taking in information in gentle digestible bits.  Chunking it down.  Swallowing the elephant - one bite at a time.  Of course, life can throw curve balls, and the lessons are lived and learned at lightening speed.  Assuming one is not blinded by a direct hit of lightening, what can be meant by “the Truth’s superb surprize”? 

I have been taking classes at the Yoga Centre Winnipeg for the past four years.  Last year, I decided, it was time to take the plunge and enrolled in the Teacher Training Program.  Did I want to teach?  Perhaps.  Did I want to learn more about the path of yoga?  Absolutely.

I had retired from a fulfilling career in human resources.  Sure, I was trained to mediate, but could I meditate? I knew how to utilize personality preference systems such as MBTI but could I make sense of the Elements of Yoga (fire, air, earth, water, space) that the yogis favoured?   I wasn’t looking for a new job.  Facing facts - I was no spring chicken, as my mother would have phrased it.  I did not think I would or could build up to not so gentle Vinyasa or fire breathing Ashtanga classes.

I had felt very body conscious when I first started participating in beginner classes.  I did not get the concept of being on the mat, in my own space, that everyone was taking classes for their own reasons, relaxation, exercise, or socializing.  That people, generally, did not notice you, that they were so wrapped up in their own lives.  The studios were kept fairly dark.  After a few of months of beginner alignment and relaxation classes, I decided to “graduate” myself to a beginner flow class.  Before class, I ran into a former work colleague.  I mentioned to her how it was my first flow class and that I did not have a clue about how it would go and how ridiculous I might look trying, for the first time, to move fairly rapidly from pose to pose.  Her response spoke to her modesty and kindness: “when I am in class, I am so focussed on my own practice and that I rarely notice anyone or anything else in the studio”.  How pathetically egotistical I felt.  Of course, she was right.  She was all about being present in the yoga moment. 

Entering the studio for a yoga practice is about entering a special space that has been intentionally cordoned off from the mundane world, to invite you to bring your awareness into the moment, to still your mind.  Big Lesson: this is all about you (emphasis added).

Of course, the ego never lets up.  I wondered why it was that some people seem to move readily into what seemed to me to be complicated poses. I felt very frustrated that I could not kick up into head stand - or understand the euphemism of “float up” into the pose.  I felt my earthiness as I crumpled to the right in a spastic heap to the floor, my heels never making it up the wall. I was experiencing the inkling of the pose, but it was experienced in a truly “slant” manner, to paraphrase Dickinson, and pun intended.

One day, half a year ago, I made it up the wall and felt my heels contact the wall as I fully inverted.  Success.  The ego was satisfied.  Even for only 5 seconds. I notice when I think that it is force that will carry me up the wall, I do not succeed.  When I surrender to the breath, align my limbs, I am up the wall almost effortlessly.  Some days, I “float” up, and other days, I require a few tries before inverting.  I still ruminate on this pose - the ego knows no bounds!

I think it is safe to say that, not unlike the child in Dickinson’s poem, I am being dazzled gradually by the brilliance of the yoga practise and the surprizes/gifts of the teachings I am honoured to receive. 


Nancy M. is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Teaching my first Spring Sadhana

Last year while in teacher training, I saw the posting advertising Spring Sadhana. I was devastated that I could not attend because I live far away, so I instantly thought of teaching one myself.  I already had been teaching for a few years, I offered it to my class and they loved the idea. Then I realized that it had to be at 5:30 am to fit into their morning schedules, so I agreed and prepared to teach for 30 days straight.  I knew it would be an amazing experience and felt lucky for the opportunity.  The first day I was shocked that people were early and excited; it seemed much too dark and cold in April at that hour.  I made some tea, warmed up and taught a beginner level class.  Everyday I would make a new class for the next day, had to look up new ideas and poses. I learned so much.  As the days went on the classes lifted to another level. I taught everything I could and we were all stronger.  The students enjoyed meditation before and after class and we all felt closely connected, in love with the morning.  By the end I was so tired; I wished I had taken the weekends off to sleep in.  This year I am teaching another Spring Sadhana but in May and at 6:30 am so I can come home and start my day.  Not all the students can make it at this later time, but I know I need to take care of my body and mind. I'm also taking weekends off!  It will be 20 days instead of 30 days but it will still be wonderful and transformational.  I will do yoga, come home, play with my flowers, wake up my children, eat breakfast outside maybe, and then walk the children to school. It’s a beautiful morning. 

Lorissa Kowalchuk  

Lorissa Kowalchuk is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Averting the Gaze

Amazing how close is 'avert' to 'averse'…

Why withhold eye contact from neighbours? Why avert the gaze?

Here are some reasons:

Pair-bond Dynamics ---

Play it cool for other's sake;
Avoid the jealous other-other;
What if other shares attraction;
Giving one a chance to look.

Selfishness ---

Hope I'm not solicited;
I don't wanna talk to you;
Don't meet neighbours, build high fences;
Isolated suburbs, here.

Sketchiness / Emotional Toil ---

Inner self, I scream too loudly;
Lack of care or empathy;
Guilt & fear & real emotions;
Scared of being victimized.

Absorption in What I Do / Think ---

Lack of presence, mindfulness;
A space cadet lost beyond reach;
There's not room enough to list here;
Fill in blanks, your life is yours.

Non-Imposition / Respect ---

Giving others privacy, space;
It's the social norm 'round here;
No one's into people prying;
Or are we just conditioned such?

Meekness / Shying Away ---

fading away…

          ~ Cory

Cory Ash is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Transformative Power of Yoga

I was a driven Type A outside sales women who decided to open her own startup business 10 years ago.
Being more in control of my destiny and the ability to make things happen my way brought down my stress levels but I still felt an undercurrent of anger when I paid attention and heard myself on more than one occasion predicting the only thing that was going to take me out (of this world) was my stress levels.

I had celebrated my 50th birthday and thought, I have to at least try something that I will like to do and relieve some stress and anger.  I started trying different things and one was yoga.  I did it off and on, tried a few different studios and ended up at the Winnipeg Yoga Centre a couple of years ago.  That is where things really began to change.  There are many different teachers and many different styles of yoga to practice so when I began feeling a little restless with one there was always another class to try with another teacher. 

At first I thought, what a great workout, I feel more relaxed and practicing after work was the perfect way to shift into home life.  I found myself enjoying my evenings more and worrying or thinking about work less.  I also found I didn’t feel so burnt out which lead to less anger and stress.  Maybe I am on to something here.

As time went on I started noticing different things about myself, I began to examine old thought patterns and recognized that we all have a recording we play to ourselves that most times isn’t accurate or kind.  It can be anything but for me it was things like, this will never change or I don’t think I can do that (headstands) and just recognizing that helped me to stop those recordings and play kinder ones.

Now my body was getting stronger and my mind was getting stronger as well.  I wondered how I ever lived without yoga and where else I could go with it.  I decided to try the Teachers Training course and thought I would just do it for interest’s sake, I didn’t plan on teaching and I most definitely wasn’t going to stand on my head.  Well I learned if you quit resisting life it quits resisting you and now I not only stand on my head but actually find it enjoyable and I have started teaching classes.

I wake up many mornings and wonder “What is going to happen next?”  I’m excited.

In Peace

Brenda Parsons is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program