December 2005

As we move toward the New Year we inevitably think about resolutions and that can be a pretty depressing thing. What happened to last year’s resolutions? And why should this year be any different? We want a new beginning in some area of our life and we get all geared up to make it happen and then it’s lost and forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

Phillip Moffit’s article on Intention is just the thing. He makes a distinction between setting an Intention and setting a Goal. A Goal is all about the end result, and as we know from yoga, getting focused on outcomes is a downer because it’s tough to control. Life happens and if it doesn’t meet our expectations we’re bummed out. And then we make nasty conclusions – we’re lacking some necessary life skill or we’re less of a person.

Phillip says that what we want to do is set an Intention. He says that Intentions are all about how we want to be and that’s more within our control. How I want to *be* is something I can do in the moment, at any moment. Setting an Intention lets the future take care of itself and gets us focused on a much more basic level.

So for example – do I want to lose five pounds or do I want to be a mindful eater?

He also talks about noticing what kind of Intentions we’re setting. It’s kind of like – are you using your powers for good or evil? Are your Intentions feeding your heart or your ego? It’s interesting stuff, check it out, and happy “Intention Setting” for the New Year.

I don’t always have freedom to get to a class whenever my little ol’ heart desires, so I check out at-home options whenever I can. I did a second session from Jivadiva and she’s worth checking out. Her name is Alanna and she is part of the Jivamukti bunch from New York. I notice she also has a podcast on iTunes – that’ll be handy if she keeps it up.

Audio-only is always a little tricky because you can’t peek and see what you’re supposed to be doing when the words have stopped making sense. So this is best for experienced yogis who know the poses by name and can fill in any little spots without feeling lost. This is also a pretty physical practice, the Sun Salutations are not slow and dreamy – so you need to be used to that style.

I like how Alanna offers a few practices with different times so you can pick and choose based on your schedule. Even the shorter ones are great, she packs alot of good stuff in. Did I mention they’re free? It gets better and better, right?

Also, check out the two chanting mp3s she makes available. Great for mixing onto a yoga CD for your home practice sessions. I notice she also has some short talks you can download and she makes jewelry! What a woman – check it out!

‘Tis the season when people wonder most often, can I count on yoga to help me see the new year without requiring a new (size larger) wardrobe? Please don’t think that I’m one of those size 0 disciplinarians. I pride myself in long-loved traditions like Christmas shortbread with my a.m. coffee so I know what I’m talking about.

So let’s first agree that there are no magic bullets – keeping a sane weight is all about being conscious about our choices and treating ourselves well. And yoga gives us some great tools for doing that.

Even when time is tight, getting in a good vinyasa session here and there is so important to keep our perspective positive and if it’s a really good session – blissful. Short sessions over the holidays help us stay connected to our bodies. Being connected to our body makes it harder to unconsciously consume everything in sight. But regardless of what happened the night before, it’s also a great time to practice loving kindness. We can come back to the mat, reconnect and start anew.

Often overeating is about family stresses and feeling overwhelmed. Getting to the mat or even finding a quiet spot to sit and breath can insert some calm into the day. I also find that the holidays often mean staying cooped up in the house all day and that makes me feel sluggish (and slug-like). Grabbing some kids and getting outside gets me away from the table. Fresh air, deep breaths, walking or some standing poses get the blood moving so I feel like I’m more than an eating machine.

Here’s to a happy, balanced season – pass me my mat, and some shortbread.

Good yoga music is so important right? In my yoga teacher training my teacher said “be really careful with the music” which meant, play some safe chanting during Savasana but otherwise skip it. I’m more of a music person though, to me, if it’s the *right* music it adds and doesn’t distract. And of course a decent sound system is important too :-)

I discovered a great yoga CD at the last yoga conference – Rasa: Mello. It’s perfect forVinyasa, it has some nice beats. It’s nice soulful interesting diverse music. There’s a great track with Demi Moore doing some spoken word that got lots of replays when I had the CD in the car.

I noticed on Amazon that someone wrote that the album didn’t have enough edge to it – but that’s what makes it perfect for yoga. It’s just interesting enough to stand out but when you’re focusing on something else it just flows over you.

I notice there’s a whole series of ‘Rasa’, here’s hoping they hold to the same standard!

I thought when I first started doing yoga that a simple drawstring bag would be the just the thing for getting to class – easy, basic, one string attached. But really my life just ain’t that simple. When I go to teach I need my notebook, my CDs, an extra mat and a few straps if we’re doing Yoga Mudra. So since my life isn’t simple it’s at least been made more convenient with the Hugger Mugger Journey Bag.

Even if you don’t teach, let’s face it, going to class requires at least a wallet, keys, water, cellphone (turned off of course) and mat. If you’re a prop person? Enough said. The bag comes in funky colors, is well organized and well-built. It’s also perfect for weekend retreats if you pack light. Life may not be simple, but a good bag makes it simpler.

It happens every year – I’m making my lists, checking them twice and trying to get things crossed off before too many more things get added. I’m making progress and feeling in control. And then it happens. I hit the wall. I find my Xmas edge by teetering over it and doing the arm circling thing to keep from falling head-first. This time I was told that the thing I had found for my mother-in-law, that I’d gone to the mall for the 2nd time in one morning to get (during work no less) was not the right thing. And I threw in the towel. I didn’t freak out, I just made it clear that I wasn’t offering to take care of plan b.

And really I’ve been doing this all along in small steps and it’s been one of my healthier Decembers. Deciding, no I have enough for that person, they don’t need that extra dumb thing that is going to require a special trip across town. And no i don’t need to cook that thing from scratch, there’s enough ‘Martha-ing’ going on and what am I trying to prove anyways?

I guess it’s about actively playing my Christmas edge. It’s about being balanced enough to know when it’s time to stop instead of giving into Xmas cynicism which just sucks my energy. It’s about finding the best in the season in all its nooks and crannies. It’s about focusing on the relationships and not just the ‘stuff’ of Christmas. It’s about making sure I have enough time (and sleep!) to get to my mat and the sanity to enjoy it. Here’s to a healthy holiday.

As a Kapha person I have a hard time with winter. We’ve had a warm fall here in Halifax, but it’s gotten cold and we’ve seen some snow flakes. So about now my Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in and all I want to do is hibernate in polar fleece, lounge in a hot bath, eat comfort food and drink (not necessarily all at once).

I’m no expert, but Ayurveda is the only system that has properly explained my reactions to the seasons and the food I eat. It makes so much sense to me.

It’s time to get with the program. I need to get my warm clothes on and dig out the herbal teas and fresh ginger. I need to get outside for exercise during the day and make a point of eating according to my dosha. I need to take care of my skin and make sure the right bath products are on my Xmas list.

Here’s to a warm, cozy and healthy winter.

So we all know that yoga helps develop our intuition right? Intuition is more body-based than mind-based and as we become more sensitive to our bodies, it follows we’ll be more open to our intuition. Yoga helps me get more in tune with those subtle sensations because it’s all about using the same perception muscles I do when I’m playing my edge in Warrior 2.

I was listening to the Carolyn Myss seminar on CD that she did with Wayne Dyer and she’s fabulous ‘live’. Her books are good but she really comes through as a speaker. She’s funny as hell and very down-to-earth, I highly recommend it. She said something about intuition that really struck me on that CD. She says – intuition requires courage. And that courage is really the muscle you use to exercise your intuition and if you do, you’ll get more of it.

When I teach I try to be open to any intuitive nudges because I’m there to provide a service but don’t always logically know what’s needed. In class one day as everyone got in Svasana, I noticed my friend’s feet were kind of glowing out of the corner of my eye. I was going to walk by but couldn’t, I just had to give them a rub. I touched her feet and although she’s not big on being touched, she nodded it was ok.

She told me later that after class she was going to hear the vet’s diagnosis for her dog that she’s had for 15 years. It was bad news, he died a few days later of a tumour and it was very hard for her. So I was glad I had followed that bit of intuition. But will I have the courage when it’s not a friend? It was easy with her, but how can I be that open regardless of who it is? Only time will tell.