Saturday, 25 June 2016

My Happy Space

When I first started doing yoga it was just with the intention of exercising. It was a really wonderful way to stretch and strengthen my muscles. Physically it felt great! However once I realized there was so much more to yoga than physical practice , I really fell in love with yoga. The first time I did a very simple breathing technique I immediately felt calmer, more centered, and a real connection with myself. Once I started to connect my breath with my physical practice it totally changed my practice. It was like I could connect with each posture more completely and could understand my body better.

Sharing yoga with different teachers, hearing different messages of love,kindness, and connecting with our true Selves , setting intentions for on and off the mat , these things have taught me so much! They have also set me on my own path of discovery and a willingness to be receptive to life's guidance. I've really learned that I am the one in charge of my own happiness, that's a little scary but also very empowering! It's becoming easier to sit in silence with myself and to enjoy the space I find there and the secrets I sometimes discover. 

Yoga has taught me to trust myself, love myself and reminded me I'm worthy of these things. I am also more confidant than I ever was before  because of these realizations. I understand that if I truly want to be able to share love and joy and trust with others I have to start with myself. I know now the importance of serving others without any expectations of pay back, this is how I can have a positive impact in the world. Even though I have so far to go and so much to learn I feel like I am on the right path and headed in the right direction. This is something I was searching for , although I wasn't aware of it, and I can't wait to see where it takes me next!

By a very grateful student 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Reflections along the way

I fell in love at my first yoga class, at first I thought I had fallen in love with yoga but I now realize that this is where I started to love all of life. It was like a new chapter had begun, for the first time I had found something that I truly had a burning passion for. This feeling of a new beginning used to make me think it was the start of a new Me but really it was just the starting point to remembering who I really am, who I have been in every moment of my life and who I will continue to be after this life. Since then it has been an ever expanding journey, like a kaleidoscope always changing and moving ever deeper within itself. This depth coming from moving and exploring inwards on all levels, body, mind and soul. As well as outwards in the world around us, seeing the subtle beauty and connection in all aspects of life.

The beginning years of performing yoga brought a sense of freedom to my body and mind. The physical alignment that I learned along with working with the wooden blocks for long periods of time gave me the knowledge and ability to create space and ease within my body for the first time ever. This allowed me to create and maintain a new sense of vitality and control within my life. The newly found space within my body created a spark of hope, it allowed me to move past the beliefs of victim-hood I had felt my entire life. This was the beginning of self-empowerment, where I was finally able to believe in myself and move past the physical troubles that I once believed limited me.

As more ease was created in my physical body and mind I was able to create more stillness and start to sense my inner experience on a subtler level. The combination of newly created stillness and space allowed me to connect to my energetic body, the movement and flow of more subtle energies within my body/being. Like my yoga practice this energetic work has continued to blossom over the years, allowing me to move ever deeper within myself. It has led me to working and healing on levels that I have never thought possible before. Revealing the true “magic” and infinite possibility that is all around us and most importantly within us. This inward digging has led me to find God within my own heart and within all beings.

The greatest truth I have learned/remembered from practicing yoga and moving through life with presence is, “Be Love”. These two words have been transformational to say the least. It has taken much practice, digging and healing to be able to get to this point where I can Be Love, where I can love myself and all beings around me. The point where I can work with Being Love in all situations and in all circumstances. This is my truth. It is not something we have to learn but rather it is something we have to remember, it is at the centre of all hearts and it is what connects us to the entire universe around us. AUM

Thank you, Blair Jensen

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Art of Slowing Down

I first tried yoga about 9 years ago when one of my friends introduced me to it. At that time, yoga was just starting to become more popular in mainstream fitness. I had my serious doubts as to whether I would like it as I came from an athletic/dance background and the thought of sitting and "stretching" for an hour was nothing short of torture for me. At that time in my life I was also leading a very fast paced life and prided myself on being able to juggle many different things at once. I thought this made me “tough” and resilient! I even thought that yoga was for “lazy” people! It came from a lack of knowledge of what the practice of yoga actually encompassed.

One of my friends at the time had just come back from her training to become a yoga teacher and she encouraged me to try it. I was extremely reluctant but the class was free and I was always up for a challenge. So when I went for my first class, which was a vigorous vinyasa class,  I strained and forced my way through every pose just to prove that this yoga thing was too easy for me and I could master the poses without difficulty. I didn’t listen to my body, in fact I ignored it. I continued going to the Vinyasa classes with my friend because i preferred the intense and fast paced nature of them, until one day my friend and I went to a Hatha style class. I found it torturous to sit and focus on one pose for what seemed like an eternity, and I felt like I was wasting my time. I remember thinking,”I’m never going to get strong with a class like this. This is doing nothing for me!”  I couldn’t wait for the class to finish so I could jump back into my busy life. But I never gave up on the challenge and I continued going with my friend for classes until something changed in me and I actually looked forward to the classes. I slowly realized that it was “ok” to calm my mind and body, and to just surrender to being present. I realized that yoga was exactly what I needed to help me quell the need and drive to be in constant motion. I also came to realize that the reason I needed to be busy in my life was to avoid being with my inner unhappiness. I had always suffered with anxiety even from a young age and I found being busy helped me ignore my thoughts and feelings.

Today, yoga is a part of my daily life and I could not imagine life without it! If someone  would’ve told me 9 years ago that I would be teaching yoga, I would've told them that they were sorely mistaken! I find every practice is different in some way, some new challenge or feeling to experience. Yoga has, and will continue to teach me so much about my body, mind and soul!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

How Yoga Changed My Life

Every mother can tell you about their long days and sleepless nights caring for their family.  We do it for the love of our family and we do it with love.  I did it too until I started to break down and break open from juggling many responsibilities with not enough nourishment for my own soul.

Eventually, I began to feel like I was dying inside. As if I was a plant with no sunshine to warm me, no water to nourish me while stuck in dark, cold, Manitoba mud.  Fifteen years ago I was over burdened with a stressful work environment, the responsibility of four children, a hobby farm and a husband that went MIA (missing in action) several nights a week.  My journey through the mud was systematic.  The plan was find out what is wrong with me. Then fix it or change it. 

It seemed to be a good plan. Except that when I began to change something about myself it did not fix anything at all.  Sometimes, it would make things worse for me at home. As I tried new ways to find out what I was feeling and what happened to my happiness, it became clear that this plan just irritated and inconvenienced my husband. His inability to support and comfort me through this time of growth (which certainly did not feel like growth at the time) was creating a chasm between us. To be fair we did the best we knew how to do for each other at the time. 

Still searching for answers to my discomfort and new ways to make life feel happier, I came across a yoga video at the local library.  I took it home and ended up renewing it throughout the entire summer; practicing daily.  It became a mission for me.  My body was getting stronger.  Muscles in my arms were becoming more defined.  I could ride my bicycle further. 

Later, that fall I was so excited to learn that a yoga class was being offered in a town close by.  Almost three years later I was able to do some amazing things with my body. Yoga was strengthening my body and practicing meditation was calming my mind.  I felt grounded and centered.  Confrontations at work were not a big deal anymore as I became the eye of the storm no longer blown into the storms.  Yoga showed me what my body needed day to day.  I began to listen.  Slowly, I began to see the truth of my life.

The stronger and happier I became the more jealous and resentful my husband became of me.   My journey over several years to discover myself through poetry writing, journaling, watercolour classes, yoga, meditation, Reiki and so on was getting out of hand for him.  As I was changing and letting go.  He held on tighter.  His rages began to become frantic and unpredictable.

Everything that brought me some joy brought out my husband’s jealous, nasty behaviour.  He wanted to squash this out of me; to keep me in place.  Through yoga I had made new friends with new ideas. He wanted this, too.  For a time he joined our after yoga class tea group and that went well for both of us for a while.  By the time he decided to join the yoga class, the connection between him and I was fragile.

Keenly interested in yoga and the after yoga class tea topics I was nourished. It felt like I began to awaken from a long sleep.  However, the awareness of what my life had evolved into while I grew up and slept through was not enough to save the marriage. His frustrations grew along with his verbal abuse.  The rages grew more erratic until the day I left; I knew his rage could finally destroy me. I was afraid of him that day.
Since he would not leave, I told him I would.  As quickly as I could, I grabbed a suitcase filled it with my clothes.  I wasn’t sure what he was going to do next but I knew I had to get out of there, right away.  This woman can be very fast when necessary.
By the time I had driven into the next town the realization of what had just transpired hit me.  There I was with no plan, no money, a car and a suitcase.  My bank account had $50 in it till payday and my job was about to finish for the school year.  But I was safe and I was never going back. 

The journey that followed was hell on earth for a while.  Slugging through the mud but with the help of friends, I picked up my big girl panties, found a lawyer, found an apartment, and found a summer job. Harvest Food Bank helped me for a year and a half till I was able to get on my feet.  Eventually, I went back to school became a Registered Massage Therapist and slowly built a new life for myself and my youngest child. 
Yoga and meditation were the foundations that sustained me after I left my husband.
Yes, you can say yoga changed my life.  Yoga taught me to listen to my inner guidance, stand like a mountain, bend like a willow in a storm, move forward when the time is right, stretch like a dog, cat, pigeon, cow, fish, snake, twist like an eagle and roar like a lion when necessary.  Also, to look up to the heavens, bow in prayer and rest the body and mind afterwards. The teachings of Buddha, the Jewel in the Lotus came to my awareness during this time. This is where I learned about the mud and how the beautiful lotus cannot grow unless there is mud under it.  This taught me there is much value in the mud of our journeys towards happiness and enlightenment.

In Metta,


Saturday, 4 June 2016

How doing Yoga in my PJ’s became my second career

At 5:30 a.m. everyday for over 20 years, I rolled out of bed, went into my spare room and put on a VHS tape (now DVDs) to practice yoga and meditation.  If you are not a morning person, you’re probably saying “ahhhh I’d rather just roll over and go back to sleep.” 

What possessed me to perform this practice daily? It was the fact that I had three significant surgeries within four years and two major car accidents. One accident was before the surgeries and the other was afterwards.  I wasn’t able to lift weights, play sports, or perform major household chores. It was particularly demoralizing for me. In my grade 6 P.E. class, I was introduced to the practice of yoga and fell in love with it immediately. What I loved was that it was gentle and soft yet challenging at the same time. Yoga healed me physically and allowed me to participate in the activities that I couldn’t partake in before. Then I took up the practice of meditation and that just sealed the deal for me. Meditating allowed me to complete the healing - mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Because it healed me, I added becoming a yoga teacher to my bucket list, although I thought of it as just a pipe dream. I hung onto the peace and sacredness of my private practice even though I had the desire to teach.  Then I began taking yoga classes to expose myself to different modalities and deepen my practice. Once in class, not only did I learn more but I also found a community of like-minded individuals. With lots of encouragement from my yoga teachers and friends, I overcame my fear took the plunge. .

Teaching yoga and meditation has forced me to learn a totally different language. Yoga is a language of love, a way of being. Watching students take off their layers of stress, relax into the postures, and increase their flexibility is incredibly rewarding. I’m thankfully that I have my home practice and my teaching that have helped keep me grounded through the many peaks and valleys of daily living.

Becoming a yoga teacher is quite an achievement for the girl who still loves doing yoga in her PJ’s!!!