Monday, 25 June 2012

Evolution in Yoga Evolution in Me

By Kim Nelson

I remember as a child my thoughts of yoga as intriguing and mysterious. As I got older these ideas evolved into a vision of yoga involving standing on one’s head, sitting in the same position for extended periods of time and mental concentration exercises that led to an intangible experience called meditation.

 I knew there was more to it. I just didn’t know what it was. Eventually, armed with uncertainty and unfamiliarity, I ventured into my first yoga class. What first struck me most was that in a roomful of people, I could find my own place of privacy, solace, peace and profound silence. I never thought that I’d find that among other people. To me, that was something that could only occur if I was alone with no external stimuli. If I was perhaps in a bubble or if I had learned the mysterious, elusive art and science of meditation.

Yet, here I was having an experience different than my preconceived notions. There was something to this. It reached me and so began my journey. Almost five years later, I’m still practicing yoga, still learning and it still reaches me, still challenges me to know myself and to be true to myself.

Here are some of the things I have learned along the way. I can breathe. I can be quiet and still and be with myself. I can listen. I can become aware. I can feel. I can understand. I can surrender and let go. I can really breathe. I can be.

Our physical bodies are inextricably connected to our entire being in this human experience. I did not always believe this. Practicing the physical postures of yoga was my starting point to tuning into myself in a new way, opening doors to self awareness that had been closed.

Yoga has certainly branched out in a myriad of directions from its Sanskrit roots dating back thousands of years ago to the Sutras, the Upanishads and the Vedas. It has been through an evolution and continues to evolve. Yet what remains constant is its essence, what it always was, a path of discovery, a way to connect to who we really are and the divinity from which we all come. Namaste

Kim Nelson is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Finding Peace in a Busy World

 I have just read the article “Busyness Plan” by Sally Kempton and completely related to her message on so many levels.  Ms. Kempton makes the point that we are often addicted to busyness in our “capitalist” society and frame of minds.  She offers insight into finding the spaciousness in the gap between time and timeless.  That perfectly blissful and peaceful place where you experience just “being”.  She goes on to explain that activity is fine and essential but our state of mind while engaged in an activity can be peaceful.  As in the story about the two monks, one scolds the other for sweeping instead of meditating.  The other’s reply is, “you should know that there is one inside who is not busy”. 

Accessing this is the key to bliss.  It reminded me of my life lately.

I have always valued busyness.  My family, culture and ego have always promoted and responded to busyness.  It is a state of being that was ingrained and learned through proud comments of, “oh, I’ve been so busy today” or “today I worked on this, this and this, made supper, took the kids to swimming and painted the bathroom”.  I have learned that being busy is a desirable, sought-after trait and way of being.  I have been conditioned with the praise and adulation that follows a statement of “I’ve been so busy…”  However, as I grew older and my children became more self-sufficient and eventually moved out on their own, I discovered I was burnt out emotionally, physically and spiritually.  I was a mom, worked full time, took university courses, managed my home, volunteered for everything, had my boys in as many activities as we could cram into a week and thrived on the busyness of it all. It wasn’t until I realized when life slowed down that my state of health was a mess.  I had anxiety, panic attacks, stomach problems, irritability,  jealousy, anger, illogical fears, unhappiness, illness and unbelievable exhaustion.  I was DONE! 

I had been living on a diet of caffeine, sugar and adrenaline.  My  adrenaline switch had no off button.  Out of desperation I began looking at myself, my patterns, habits, diet, and recognized a deep inner longing for peace, ease, relaxation and wholeness.  This process of discovery took me to naturopathic doctors, alternative healers, informal group therapy and study groups, psychics, card readers, past life regressions, traditional doctors, exercise routines, more self-help books then I can count and eventually yoga.  I felt such a strong calling to do yoga.  My body craved it.  As I began to practice at home to DVD lessons, my state of being began to alter.  Eventually this search for peace took me through a 2 year detox, a new way of eating, and accidently an experiment in which, out of desperation, I left my ego behind and found a new point of view I called “the observer”.  This brought me so much peace it was quite incredible the first time I “left my body” and viewed a stressful situation from this position of detachment. From this perspective I  had clarity and calmness.  I was rational and thoughtful. I was kinder, more patient, wiser and more in-tune with what was happening.  Essentially, my ego got out of the way and the “one inside me who is not busy” was allowed to be present.

Accessing this state of being is a constant learning curve.  I am more aware of the times I enter this state without effort.  These are the times I am totally engaged in an activity and lose all sense of time.  This is a blissful place to be.  The first time I experienced this sense of timelessness was in childbirth.  It is an incredible experience. A day could have passed, an hour, a minute I had no sense of time just “being”.  I longed for this experience to happen again but never achieved it until I began to practice yoga and learn more about the ego and detachment.  Since this time I  have experienced this state doing more mundane activities such as cleaning my house, writing, painting, doing yoga, working in the garden, and talking with a friend.  When time is irrelevant you know you have entered a place of peace.

I have dabbled with meditation but at this point I am not practicing it regularly.  I have good intentions of beginning this practice and more fully developing a yogic state of being.  Since I have been practicing yoga and taking the teacher training I have had many friends, colleagues and family comment on how calm I am.  How nice to hear after being tormented by the ego and filled with anxiety and exhaustion. 

I see the way I was living in others on a daily basis.  I wish I could sit them down and tell them to take a time-out, breath and leave their ego behind. But I know we all have to find our own way in our own time.  When the opportunity arises to discuss peacefulness I share my story and encourage friends and acquaintances to experiment with going to the place of the observer or “the one who is not busy”.  When accessed it is  pure bliss!  Now I can say with confidence I am a happier person and she’s always been there, lost in the gap.

My wish for all who read this is the opportunity to access their place of peace. 

Namaste, Elaine

Elaine K. is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

On Yoga

Then the  Yoga teacher training assignment  came forth and said.... Speak to us of Yoga.
And the student answered ,saying: Yoga is a freedom song,
But is not freedom,It is a blossoming of ones self
But... it is not the fruit
It is a depth calling unto a height,
But.... it is not the deep nor the high
It is the confined taking  wing
But.... it is not a space encompassed
Yes,In very truth it is a freedom song
 The human  body knows it's yearnings,and its rightful need,and will not be decieved.
 And my  body is the harp of my soul,
 And it is mine to bring forth sweet music
  from it ,or confused sounds
I go  to my field and my garden
And have learned  that it is the joy of the bee to gather honey from the flowers
But it is also the  joy of the flowers to yield its honey to the bee
As a yoga student growing in her  practise, I am not unlike the flower and the bee--

Laura Lysenko

Laura Lysenko is a current member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200 hour teacher training program.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Yoga in Italy

Jan and I just returned back from leading a yoga trip in Italy.
The destination was an 800 year old farm house in the Tuscan Hills.

 23 people joined us in the journey, our ages ranged from early 40’s to early 80s. It was, as they say, the trip of a lifetime. The people, the places, every moment was amazing. 

Each person on the trip was touched by something different: The food, the wine, the flowers, the history, the art, the culture, the shopping.  There is so much to say. I could fill pages, but this is a yoga blog so that is where I will start and end.

The reason I am drawn to yoga is the journey. Every yoga pose and every meditation session is an opportunity to explore an inner landscape as vast as the outer world.

The reason Jan and I have started to offer yoga trips is to provide an opportunity to explore the outer world, with the added benefit of the yoga practice to focus and enhance the journey.

On our trip to Italy I was reminded how clearly the outer journey also enhances the inner. Experiencing the depth and beauty of the world around brought me into a balance of my own body mind and spirit held in the body mind and spirit of the world.

Each day the group came together for yoga at 6:30 am.  We met in an awesome room that was once a stable, but now a lovely yoga space.  While the transformation from stable to yoga room is relatively recent, the sense of time and history was palpable to us as we rested on the uneven floor boards. 

Donkeys and horses regularly stood at the window looking in. Perhaps they too have a sense of history and wondered what we were doing in their space. Or maybe they were drawn to the energy of communion and peace they felt emanate from the room. The morning yoga practice was an opportunity for our group to come together, to stretch, to strengthen and to prepare body and mind for the day ahead. Each evening the group came together again for a restful practice, an opportunity to give body, mind, and spirit, a chance to integrate the day’s events.
For me the most profound yoga was experienced in the in between hours, when we were off the mat.  Every day we all hopped into little vans and headed off to explore the spectacular Italian countryside on our way to yet another hill top Etruscan village.

The countryside was hilly, filled with the vivid greens of the various crops that includes olive groves and wine groves. Other green fields were dotted with red poppies, and beautiful yellow and purple flowers. The beauty of the landscape inspires me to source out my own inner beauty and offer it out, and to invite others to do the same.

Each village visited had its own magic. Quite possibly the magic came from a loving attention to detail demonstrated every where you looked. In the way the flowers hang from the balconies against ancient stone walls, beautiful artwork visible everywhere you turn, exquisitely fashioned  clothes, shoes and bags, or the enticing gelati, cheese, and wine displays.  
As someone who easily tires of details, Italy inspired me to begin to bring such caring appreciation to my own life- to slow down and patiently, lovingly attend to what is in front of me, for its own sake.

While the yoga practice at times emphasizes sense withdrawal,  and one reason is to help us attune to the subtleties that exist. Italy is a delight to the senses- an invitation to appreciate the subtle nuances along with the not so subtle!-Drink it all in! Taste! Feel! Breathe! Italy inspires us to live fully.

There is so much to absorb and experience, you cannot help but be fully in the moment and at the same time profoundly aware of an ancientness beyond words and a future is limitless.

This is yoga at its best.