December Classes and Holiday Schedule 2019

This year, my plan is to gracefully, calmly, and joyfully navigate the month of December without getting all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. I am pleased to say that most of my Christmas gift shopping is DONE (thanks to an impromptu shopping afternoon and a great parking spot!). One way to stay grounded is to keep up a regular yoga practice. Mindful movement, focused breathing, embracing everyday moments of joy, and cultivating kindness is a huge antidote to what can be a very stressful time of the year. Come join me on the mat! Here is my schedule for December:

  • Regular Manotick classes continue until Sun. Dec. 22.
  • Yoga-Pilates at NCAC finishes Wed. Dec. 11. For those registered for the winter session, it begins Wed. Jan. 15, 2020.
  • HOLIDAY CLASSES at Denise Smith Dance Studio – 9:15 am – 10:15 am:
    • Tue. Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve Gentle Yoga
    • Fri. Dec. 27 – Candlelight Yin Yoga (bring your bolster and blanket!)
    • Tue. Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve Hatha Yoga
      • Please note that pre-registration is required for the holiday classes to secure your spot. Send me an email to put your name on the list!
  • No classes on Thu. Dec. 26, Sun. Dec. 29 or Thu. Jan. 2.
  • January classes resume Sun. Jan. 5, 2020.
  • Throughout December, a portion of the proceeds from each Manotick yoga class will be donated to The Ottawa Food Bank on behalf of Yoga In My Backyard and our yoga community. Did you know that almost 40,000 clients use this service on a monthly basis? Additional donations will be happily accepted at the studio OR donate directly to The Ottawa Food Bank HERE.
  • Recently I had the pleasure of being part of a PODCAST, discussing the importance of slowing down and taking a breath on a daily basis. Listen to Episode 30 here.
  • And finally…SAVE THE DATE! Another Inner Work Day Mini-Retreat is in the works for Sat. Feb. 29, 2020 in the quaint village of Osgoode. More details to come this month!

Wishing you love, light, joy, and moments of awe this holiday season and beyond!

Take 5…

…5 breaths, 5 stretches, 5 minutes…Stepping back and taking this little break can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit!

While longer periods of breathing with awareness, stretching and strengthening the body, and sitting in meditation are more beneficial, sometimes it may seem daunting to schedule in an hour of downtime. So taking these smaller 5 to 10 minute breaks throughout the day with conscious breathing and awareness might just be more “do-able”, and the effects can be felt immediately.

TRY THIS: set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes then turn away from your computer, sit tall in your chair with both feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Close your eyes; soften your shoulders, your jaw, and your face. Begin to breathe slowly and deeply, feeling the inhale and exhale in your body. Continue until the timer goes off. Notice how you feel! Imagine if you extended this to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.!

For more info on the benefits of taking a mindful break, CHECK OUT THIS PODCAST (Episode 30) with me: https://thehowesgroup.com/podcast/

And if you are looking for MORE THAN 5 MINUTES of mind/body/spirit self-care, join me on the mat at a yoga class or retreat!

 

Reminder of class cancellation dates – Oct/Nov 2019

Nice to see so many of you on the mat these past few weeks. Yoga is wonderful any time of the year! With crisp autumn mornings and fresh cool air, it sure feels good to be outside. In the studio, we are moving and bending and breathing, sometimes warming up and sometimes cooling off. Bare feet or warm socks, come join us!

A couple of reminders:

  1. There are no YIN classes on Sun. Oct. 20 and Sun. Nov. 10.
  2. Clocks go back on Sun. Nov. 3 at 2 am – end of daylight savings time for this year.

See you in class!

Musings, Mumblings, and Meditations

Oh what a busy mind I have! Lately it has been jumping around trying to multi-task and take care of so many things at once. Sound familiar? It wasn’t until I made a big mistake at work that I said to myself, “Whoa, take a breath and slow down!”. It’s amazing how caught-up we can get sometimes, without even realizing the trajectory of this runaway train of busy-ness. Caught up in doing, saying, thinking, planning, ruminating, mumbling…and the next thing you know, your plate is overflowing, or you make a mistake, or you say something you really didn’t mean and it comes out “wrong”. What’s an oh-so-busy modern person to do?

GET GROUNDED! Literally stand (in bare feet) or sit or lie on the ground…on your yoga mat…in the grass…on a carpet. Close your eyes and connect with your breath. Feel your body as it breathes. Relax your face and jaw. If you can’t sit on the ground, then sit tall in a chair with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Take ten full breaths…

No need to explain why grounding is so important. We’ve all been there with our heads in the clouds, thoughts scattered, and with feelings that the days are just going too fast. Are we inadvertently adding to this crazy momentum by our own musings and mumblings, racing minds and running feet, packed agendas and unrealistic expectations? I say YES…Until we get grounded. Until we catch ourselves and hunker down just before the tornado lifts us. Until we slow down and take stock of how we ARE. Until we rest in the present moment, rather than the past or the future. Until we MAKE THE TIME to re-connect with our own happiness. Until we are honest with ourselves. Every day.

A simple yet profound way of helping you ground yourself is with the Qi Gong exercise called “Bamboo In the Wind”. Stand with your feet together (or wider if you feel you need more stability), knees relaxed, and hands at the heart (I like to have my left hand at my heart centre, and the right hand at my lower abdomen). Feel your feet connected to the earth. Allow your body to sway gently and easily in all directions. Feel rooted, yet free to sway and bend softly. You can even close your eyes. Don’t forget to breathe! Like a meditation in gentle motion, simply be present as you move and sway. Try it for about 5 minutes and see how you feel…

At the end of a yoga class, we often chant the mantra “OM” or “AUM”. With a long exhalation, the sound of this vibration has the power to connect, to ground, to soothe, and to re-align energy. It is said to be a primordial sound or “the sound of the Universe”. Sound is another tool we can use to ground ourselves; even something as simple as humming can be therapeutic and soothing. Next time you have the chance to chant “OM”, find your voice, release the sound, sink into the silence following the vibration, and feel the inner resonance. As Richard Rosen from Yoga Journal writes,

“The silence is the crown of the mantra; it is described in the Maitri Upanishad as ‘tranquil, soundless, fearless, sorrowless, blissful, satisfied, steadfast, immovable, immortal, unshaken, enduring’.”

Now nothing can be more grounding than that. OM!

 

Join me on the mat at one of my classes this fall! Grounding awaits…

 

 

Welcome to Fall Classes with Anne

Well here we are mid-September already. The flowers in my backyard are still blooming, not ready to let go of summer just yet. Join me on the mat to transition into autumn with mindful movement, expanded breath, guided meditation, and sustenance for the soul!

    • Morning classes are underway in Manotick at Denise Smith Dance Studio, on Sundays (YIN), Tuesdays (HATHA), and Thursdays (YIN) from 9:15 am – 10:15 am. Click here for details. Note there are no classes on the following dates: Thu. Sept. 26, Sun. Sept. 29, Sun. Oct. 20, Sun. Nov. 17.
    • Fall session of Yoga-Pilates at NCAC has begun and the class is full! Registration is on for the Winter session so register soon. More info at https://ottawa.ca/en/recreation-parks-and-culture/recreation-programs. 
    • Inner Work Day Mini-Retreats are filling up! Click here for details. (UPDATE: The mini retreats are now full. More offerings coming in 2020!)

Recently I spent some time with my beloved teacher, Yogrishi Vishvketu (https://akhandayoga.com/) and he reminded me of the importance of honour. Honour for our ancestors, honour for our teachers and those who inspire us, and honour for this planet, this life, this Universe in which we are blessed to experience LIFE. To honour means “to hold in great respect or high esteem”. When I reflected more on that, it made me feel a deep sense of gratitude for YOU…those of you who practice with me, follow me, and open your hearts to my recounting of the teachings of this beautiful path of yoga. I honour YOU. My task is to serve and I look forward to sharing space with you for another season of YOGA!

YOGA with Anne this Fall 2019

Wow this summer is sailing by! Just a few weeks left then back to class, back to work, back to routine. Hope to see you this fall at one of my classes (see summary below). For detailed class info, click HERE.

  1. YOGA-PILATES at Nepean Creative Arts Centre – registration opens Aug. 14 at 9 pm online, Aug. 15 in person at any City of Ottawa client service centre. Classes begin Wed. Sept. 18.
  2. MANOTICK MORNING YOGA CLASSES at Denise Smith Dance Studio – Classes begin Sept. 8. Sundays (YIN), Tuesdays (HATHA), Thursdays (YIN). All classes are an hour from 9:15 – 10:15 am. Click HERE for full details and please take note of the dates on which there are no classes (Sept. 26, Sept. 29, Oct. 20, Nov. 17).
  3. AUTUMN YOGA RETREAT FOR WOMEN at Shanti Retreat on Wolfe Island – a few spots available for this annual extended weekend retreat Sept. 26-29. Click HERE for info.
  4. MINI-RETREATS at Misiwe Ni Relations Healing Lodge – save the dates for Sun. Oct. 27 and Sun. Nov. 24. More info to come this September.

Get your feet in the grass, your face to the sun, and smile as you take in these last weeks of summer!

Namaste…

Summer Soul Surfing

I am not a real surfer. In fact, I’m not even a good swimmer and don’t feel very confident in the water. The closest thing I’ve ever done to surfing is stand-up paddle boarding! But I am often drawn to the idea of navigating LIFE like a surfer riding the waves. Getting up every day and jumping on that board; at times floating and bobbing for awhile just hanging out until a big wave comes, then rising to action to negotiate the ups and downs, twists and turns. Sometimes falling off, sputtering and floundering, and other times, staying up with skill and precision. Sometimes feeling so out of breath and upside down that my bearings are totally lost, doubting whether I can do this at all…

Sometimes there are those painful moments of loss like something has fallen off my surfboard and out of my life, down to the depths of the sea below or blown away in the wind, never to be seen again. Other times there are the joys of success and reward and feeling so stoked after an intense ride. And then there are those times where I’m just going with flow on that imaginary surfboard, feeling so connected with my surroundings and my breath and everything is falling in to place. I am letting things fall into place…stepping out of my head and out of my own way to let my soul shine. Moments where it is magical and awe-inspiring.

Maybe we are all “soul-surfing” through life, and the key is to keep getting back on that surfboard no matter what…to be resilient. To remember that there are fellow soul surfers out there to support one another. To ride the waves with presence and with just the right balance of strength and softness.

Today was our last yoga class at the Manotick studio as we break for July and August. I always enjoy using these summer months to work on my own “soul-surfing” through personal yoga, meditation, and being in nature. Stay tuned to this site for more info about fall classes, starting Sept. 8, 2019, and if you’re interested in my women’s yoga retreat this September, click HERE for more info as there are just a few spots left. May you all have a safe, happy summer!

And to all you REAL surfers out there…hang loose and rip that Perfect 10!

 

Clark Little Photography, Hawaii

May/June classes with Anne

 

Photo from Hinterland Who’s Who

Lately, part of my morning routine has been to watch a robin feed her newly-hatched chicks in the nest just outside my window. I am always amazed at how more than one bird can grow and flourish in that small nest, hidden in the branches of a cedar. I watch as the robin delivers worms and gooey things to those open-mouthed babies, and it makes me smile as these signs of nurturing unfold. Quietly hidden or with bells and whistles, this is the season of new growth, transformation, and light – nourishing bodies, minds, and hearts. Come celebrate spring with me on your yoga mat as we stretch and breathe and OM together…

My regular classes continue until the end of June, then we are off for July and August. Check my schedule for details. Note that there IS a Yin class this coming Sunday, May 19, of the long weekend.

Looking ahead, my Autumn Yoga Retreat for Women in September is filling up fast – just a few spots left! Click here for details.

Happy Spring to you all and see you on the mat!

 

Welcome to Spring 2019!

Just over a month ago, I was waking up to the exotic birds of India, lifting my face to the warm sun, and flip-flopping along the beaches of Goa. I was feeling free and light, while being grounded and centered.

Today, I woke up to robins and cardinals in my own backyard. I lifted my face to the cloudy sky and smiled. I shoved my bare feet into my boots and clopped along my icy street. I was feeling free and light, while being grounded and centered.

Happiness cannot be dependent on an idyllic setting or pristine conditions, otherwise we will forever be longing for and chasing that perfect moment, disappointed when it doesn’t come exactly how we had hoped. Happiness is ALWAYS there for the experiencing…if we allow it.

Something about this first day of spring literally makes me want to BE happy, to FEEL happy, to SEE happy. Let’s choose to welcome spring with love and lightness…and YOGA! My regular classes are underway and I look forward to sharing this spring season with you on the mat!

 

Realization of Self

Well I didn’t need to come to India again to be reminded what was already within me. Haven’t I already heard the spiritual message – you already are what you seek? For whatever divine reason, here I am. I was meant to be here with these other seekers at exactly this time and place, to explore my inner world and challenge my beliefs and thinking…yet again. We were reminded over and over again, that we are so much more than just the “person” we think we are.

So often in our lives we question our purpose, our worth, our happiness. We bitch about the most minor of things and freak out if someone gets our coffee order wrong. We take things so personally and feel we are hard done by. Though we may say we are blessed and tell ourselves we have so much to be grateful for, there often seems to be an underlying dissatisfaction with the “way things are”; a wishing for something different. We might not even notice it but in our thoughts, speech and actions we perpetuate the discord with long drawn out stories, overthinking, grudges, and hurts; with longing and wanting something more. I didn’t realize how this was building in me; how could I feel unhappy when everything seemed to be going so well in my life? Probably because I was giving energy to the stories by re-hashing them over and over in my mind!

Nothing like travelling in a developing country to put things in perspective. I quickly went from “woe is me” to feeling very humbled. From the brick makers to the tile makers to the barefoot rickshaw drivers to the weavers to the tea pickers, I saw REAL work unfolding in front of me, with determination, commitment, and long hours. When you’re making bricks, one after the other under the hot sun, you likely have no time to even think about what someone said to you in anger two weeks ago, or how you missed out on something last year, or worry about what will happen tomorrow. All you can do is be fully present in the moment and pay attention.

I have a bigger appreciation for what we take for granted…just to name a few things: clean water, shoes, dental care, two cars in a garage, food, a toilet…My perceived problems seemed so insignificant in comparison; so “western” and even ridiculous at times.

So with this more humbled attitude, I vowed I would show more appreciation to all who provided service. My smiles and genuine gratitude were met with the same from the taxi drivers to the food servers to the woman selling her wares in the street. I asked their names and about their families and they were so happy to share a small part of themselves. Don’t we all want connection, heart to heart, no matter what station in life?

During my yoga retreat, we were invited to take a so-called “direct” route to understanding of the Higher Self, through the applied wisdom of Advaita Vedanta. Guided by the teachings or “pointings” from such ancient masters as Adi Shankara and Ramana Maharshi, and modern guides such as Mooji, Eckart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, we learned that our human tendency is to relate to our reality from the perspective of “person” through the beliefs, ideas, and conditioning we have gathered throughout our lives. Our self-awareness is driven by this illusion that we are who we believe ourselves to be based on things like status, education, appearance, material things, who we associate with, where we live, what has happened to us…the list goes on and on. These beliefs are so deeply engrained in us and colour our views of self and others.

During the retreat, rather than trying to analyze our mental states, or re-hash the stories, or even focus on self-help and improvement techniques, we were asked to just DROP IT ALL and rest in the “I Am”. We asked our minds to let go of the beliefs, the thoughts, the concepts and theories and ideas of our identities as we knew them – just for a short time…so we could see what it was like to be free of those bindings. We let go of all thinking about ourselves as “persons” and we simply rested in “presence”. We practiced bearing witness to what was unfolding in front of us without reaction; remaining neutral and just emptying the mind of all labels; observing and accepting without judgment.

It takes practice and patience in a gentle compassionate way not to engage the ego mind. This is not about zoning out…It is about being fully present. At first, so much resistance came up in me with irritation, frustration, impatience, and “ya…but…” thoughts. I questioned the method, doubted the theory, and somehow felt “I” knew better. The ego mind reared its head and tried to convince me that it couldn’t be this simple. I journaled like crazy and chanted and forward-bended and tried so hard to understand. Striving…seeking…endless effort.

But then one day, I gave up; I surrendered. I wrote in my journal, “I AM SO DONE WITH THIS GAME!” It was taking so much effort and energy trying to achieve BEING- ness that I realized resistance is futile. I couldn’t blame it on anything or anyone other than my own mind – clearly I was the master of my own misery.

One of my teachers reminded me, “Beneath all the anger, jealousy, fear, questioning, doubt, and broken heartedness, is RADIANCE and that is your natural state – your Being-ness. Just be silent and be aware without trying so hard. Just BE.” Okay…I’m willing…I will let it go; not just saying it but REALLY letting it all go.

Gradually the clouds in my head cleared and I was able to rest in the spaciousness of Presence. I felt it. I understood it. Somewhere deep in my Being I tapped into Self. No judgment, critical thinking, or evaluation…just Being. And from that place all my concerns and ruminations melted; past was gone and future wasn’t even a thought. All that was there was PRESENCE (call it God, Spirit, Oneness, or whatever) and a great freedom from all the bullshit I had concocted in my mind. This was not just a one-time experience; it is feeling of transformation and realization. But don’t take my word for it…you have to discover it for yourself.

As I spend my final days in India near the Arabian Sea, I am in awe of life as it presents itself moment to moment. We are exactly where we need to be right at this time with open arms and loving hearts. With my trusty travel partner, Debb, we have experienced authentic yoga in its birthplace, communed with nature and its bugs and birds, and witnessed both the beauty and hardship of life unfolding in front of us. I’ve been ant-bitten and wind-swept, dehydrated and dirty, stomach-crampy and cranky…but I’ve also been elated, peaceful, content and free. Just ebbing and flowing with what IS.

I am still getting nudges from the ego mind and will continue to work on dismissing its influence, but it’s getting easier to auto-shift back into Presence. From the place of the Higher Self we see others in a similar light, looking past their own mistaken identities and understanding we are all the same at the core. As the wisdom traditions suggest, we are ONE. From this perspective it is much easier to forgive and move on. From this perspective we can still do all our work in the world and live with others from a more open place.

I am more ready than ever to embrace life…MY life…and all those people and energies and happenings in it, with gratitude, salutations, blessings, acceptance, and love…not needing anything more or anything less. Blissed or pissed, I’m coming home, my Loves, to shine my light and to see the light in you. See you soon.

Namaste…

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