November 2005

Wow, I found the greatest teaching resource in the world. Erich Schiffman has a very active community linked from his site at Have you read his book “Yoga: The Spirit And Practice Of Moving Into Stillness”? If not, it’s worth checking out.

So it gets better. If you go into the thread Amazing Asana Sequences there’s a woman from Wisconsin who posts under the name flow2susie, real name is Susie Anderson. Not only does she come up with amazing flows, but she illustrates them in handy printable pdf files! It’s great to have a visual reference because it can be tough reading through cryptic pose descriptions (like my own). I generally draw stick gals too – they’re not half as beautiful as Susie’s! And she gives them names!

Check out this thread and you can see her posting here with a link to one of her flow documents. So thank you thank you Susie – and please post your full list on a website so I can link to it!

Sat Nam translated means “I am That”. And I had a hard time finding more info on that translation – like, sorry I’m what? No really ‘what’. But I think I’ve figured something out here. ‘That’ refers to the little spark of Divine that we respect when we say ‘Namaste’ to each other.

That little spark is the essense of who we are – it’s my ‘corilee-ness’, it’s your ‘bob-ness’. It’s the part that if your friend could put it under a microscope, so to speak, she’d go ‘oh yeah that’s so Bob’. It’s the truth of who I am. But the problem is that we get all messed up in the stuff of our life, we get bogged down the problems and what needs to be fixed and we forget who we really are.

And it’s God-given because God can’t be Corilee and Bob. She’s God and she’s got stuff to do. So just a little piece of God rides side-car to experience a bit of who we are and what we go through. And it’s important because everything that happens is for a purpose. Not necessarily one we understand of course, but a purpose. And we can trust that. So Sat Nam is a nice way, especially after a good yoga session to remind ourselves that – yup we’re all that *and* and a bag of chips.

The best way is to say ‘Sat’ or make it ‘Sata’ to your self as you inhale and ‘Nam’ or ‘Nama’ to yourself as you exhale. So with every breath you can settle a little deeper into your ‘corilee-ness’ or your ‘bob-ness’ and let all that other stuff go. Just breath and be who we really are.

Oh i gotta tell ya my wacky connection story. I *love* Romeo Britto. I don’t recall how I ran across his stuff, but looked for everything i could find on the Net a few years back. I had forgotten he now lives in Miami (raised in a Brazilian slum). His art is so goddam happy and colorful and wonderful, it’s got such incredible life to it.

So in Miami I’m walking along Lincoln Road and look up and there’s the Britto art center. I wander in with my jaw open – I’m looking at real amazing original art! It’s so much better than the low quality images on my computer! So I start looking at the stuff that’s for sale at the back and this woman keeps appearing at my elbow to tell me stuff and I finally tell her how blown away I am that I’m there.

It turns out she and her husband are from Vancouver (where I’m from), her husband is his manager, they’ve moved to Miami but keep a house on Salt Spring Island – I spent a ton of time on the island next to it. And her husband does yoga. So we that this great totally unexpected connection. Talked about weather and how much we miss the mountains. It was wonderful. I ended up buying two cards. I absolutely loved the fish in a stand but it was $380 – ouch! Maybe someday :-)

Wow, coming back for air. I went to the Path of Yoga conference in Miami on the weekend. I went all ready to blog up a storm while I was there, but between technical difficulties and uber-long days it just didn’t happen. Now that my life is slightly sorted again – the bags under my eyes are fetching carry-ons instead of hockey bags – I’m ready to blog again.

Was the conference ever great! I learned from teachers I *never* thought I would see in person. It was incredibly intense, I did 16 hours of yoga in two days. About 10 of those were on Saturday and every teacher kicked our butt. I felt like I was teetering over the edge all day. Usually my yoga weekends are pretty laid back, time to reflect and get connected. This was crazy – 2 minutes of svasana and then out into the hall swept away by the throngs hurrying to water, washrooms and the next session.

I fought the butt kicking for the first couple of sessions – resisting what was being asked because I wanted to save some strength, wondering if I’d have enough anyways, mind scurrying about and then I stopped. I just surrendered to the day and I either had what it took to do what was asked of me, or I didn’t. And either one was ok. Either way I breathed.

The conference did the trick – I came back fired up to teach my classes. I’m doing a two-week focus on back-bends in my Level 2 class thanks to inspiration from Ana Forrest and Amy Ippoliti. I’m trying to have a spirit of adventure in these classes. It’s not about achieving some goal but being playful and maybe doing some things we didn’t think were possible (with support of course).

I helped a woman do a supported Wheel. She’s done yoga for 10 years and it was her first time in that pose. The look on her face when she came out of it was priceless. She was so thrilled and so proud of herself. It was just like me with the butt-kicking – my mind was deciding what my body could do. But the source of intelligence is my body – it’s always game to try.

I was reading in the Globe and Mail about a relationship counsellor, Joe Rich, who helps people with their dysfunctional relationships at work. He says genuine problems should be minimized or ignored but instead “we are guilty of doing magnification”. When we feel anxious we magnify things when we should really try to make them smaller.

This makes me think of drishti. Drishti is the steady gaze that we maintain during a yoga pose. It’s holding a visual focus point. And this is important in yoga because if you let your gaze bounce around all over the place your mind will follow. Maintaining a calm gaze makes for a calm mind. But it also helps to look at the quality of that gaze.

In my Power Yoga class we were doing a challenging Side Plank and people were practicing drishti because you have to in a balancing pose. I suggested to make it feel less intense they soften their gaze. Someone said “hey that really works!”

It’s the quality of drishti that brings us back to magnification. If you ‘glare’ like the way you’d look at a teenager who just came clean about joy riding all night in your car – you’re practicing magnification. It’s like the ‘glare’ holds your mind and body in an ‘uh-oh’ response. Instead, to make things smaller, or to make the experience less intense, soften your gaze. Allow your eyes to rest. Someone suggested to me that it’s almost like your eyes are going to go out of focus. It’s impossible to feel that things aren’t manageable. You may find it’s handy for dealing with Side Plank and teenagers.

So I’m all about taking short cuts if I can get away with it. Why expend all that energy if you don’t have to right? So I bought this jacket on the 75% off rack at Macy’s a few years back. I like it but really haven’t worn it much. Since then I’ve lost some weight etc. and thought – Cor either get the thing taken in so it fits well or give it to the Sally Anne. I had attempted to make it fit right by taking up the sleeves a turn. I have notoriously short arms (not enough ape chromosone) and just turned them up with some of that no-sew tape that you iron on.

So I go to my favourite tailor who keeps me looking somewhat spiffy and she pins in the spots to take in the jacket. And then I think, if you’re going to do it right, you might as well get the sleeves done up properly too. So I ask her about the sleeves and said I’d tacked them up and she gives them a squeeze and says “it sounds like there’s gum wrapper in there”. Ha! And it struck me – sometimes I get away with doing things half-assed and sometimes they’re just half-assed.

So today’s Serenity Prayer is – God grant me the serenity to know what I can’t get away with, the courage to get away with what I can and the wisdom to know when I’m just being half-assed about it.

Russell is great – honest, funny and a darn good writer. I’ve gotten some good stuff from his blog over time. There was the time at the a.m yoga class where he kept track of all his thoughts and it was so funny – hey I think about my next meal during yoga too! Just when you think you’re unique you realize you’re so not.

Russell also introduced me to a quote from “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse that I love:

The world is not imperfect, or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect in every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life….Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me. I learned through my body and soul that it was necessary for me to sin, that I needed lust, that I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world ,and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary world, some imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it, and to be glad to belong to it.”

I love that – how often do I live according to some “imaginary vision of perfection”? Or maybe – when don’t I? How often can I completely let go of having an image of things being just so.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve worked on letting go of my inner control freak in lots of areas, but I still find myself having an expectation or at least a desire for things to be different. We all want to get our way right? I think, how much less stressful would my life be, if I practices being in agreement. If I practiced assent. Not in a victim-y way but in a “I trust that the right thing is going to happen” way. I think I could say ”all would be well with me’.

So I’ve asked myself a thousand times while setting up the hosting, getting the URL, figuring out what blogging package to go with – why am I doing this? and now, why am I here? Is this to up my rankings in case I’m googled by ex-boyfriends? Why am I joining the throngs of people pounding out thousands of blog pages per day about their latest dessert, coffee addiction, the cute thing their kid did or news about their pet gerbil Ron?

Well there’s a few things I do know. I’ll never be as funny as Dooce and god help me cause my Mom might read this blog, I’ll never be as intimately honest as ol’ Steph (but good on ‘er). I hope to blog a little more often than “daily” guy but now that I’ve said that publicly I’ll be struck with paralysis and blogging two words a minute with a popsicle stick in my mouth.

So why – lesse, i’ve always been a journaler and love to write, I love to do/think about/read about/talk about yoga and haven’t seen many yoga-related blogs. I love to yammer about yoga at the beginning of the classes I teach. I also hope that I have perspective to add because I’m a maverick. I started with Ashtanga, I enjoy Vinyasa more these days and took my teacher training in the Kripalu tradition. I look for the good stuff from all the schools.

I’m an experienced beginner. I’m a practical person who counts on yoga to make me feel better and make my life work better. And that’s got nothing to do with getting my foot behind my head, in fact I prefer my foot to be where i can keep an eye on it. I’m interested in yoga both on the mat and off. So I plan to chat and ruminate, take some diversions, make some recommendations and hope it’ll be a fun ride.

I’m sure soon every yogi and their pranayama teacher will be yacking away on the web. But hey, what the hell. Talk to you soon.