Observations and Lessons

I attended the annual yoga conference in Toronto this past weekend. As always it’s a great place to learn…and not just from taking workshops, trainings, and celebrity classes. While I did learn some excellent “technical” stuff from top-notch teachers (yoga buzzwords, Sanskrit terminology, neuroscience, Ayurvedic practices, and how to do a better downward dog…), my biggest classroom was the trade show. In the midst of what could arguably be one of the most “non-yogic” settings of the whole conference, a few observations set the stage for contemplation in between the jewellery booth, the green juice booth, and the funky yoga pants booth.

Observation #1: It is so very easy to get caught up in the commercial side of YOGA. Clothing, baubles, mala beads…it’s not hard to LOOK the part, but does that really mean we truly walk the walk? Yoga is about shedding our layers, not piling more on. It made me think twice about buying yet another t-shirt…so I didn’t. It also made me think about being authentic…of living my yoga rather than pretending by wearing a fake OM tattoo.

Observation #2: Some of the big-name yoga teachers were there and I caught myself being a bit star-struck. “Hero-worship” is an interesting feeling, making me feel all giddy and awkward and kind of “unworthy”…even though I know better. Aren’t we all worthy, and very much the same divine beings at the core?

Observation #3: I absolutely do NOT like coconut water…even if it is a free sample and full of electrolytes and healthy properties…

Observation #4: Energy has different qualities and we refer to it in yoga as rajasic (crazy frenetic energy), tamasic (heavy lethargic energy), and sattvic (balanced calm energy). The trade show by nature is full of noise, crowds, and rushing (very rajasic), but somehow I managed to find balance amidst it all. Could that have been because of the restorative workshop I just did where my nervous system had a chance to re-calibrate? Could it have been because of my meditation practice that morning? Or could it have been that the sattvic seeds that I have been planting in my own backyard (finding the calm in the middle of the storm) have finally germinated? Hmmm…

Observation #5: A good friend gave me an early birthday present. She asked me to pick out a piece of jewellery that “spoke” to me. While it took several visits to a particular booth, I finally chose a piece that symbolizes grounding, harmony, beauty, strength, and connection. And it is infused with love and friendship and meaning – it is not so much the item, but the intention behind it. That means more to me than the item itself.

Observation #6: Another friend joins me every year at this conference. She is the ultimate “snacker” and loves to nibble. I can always count on her to bring something to satisfy our late evening cravings for food. She takes care of me…in this seemingly small way, she nourishes me. The mantra “Om Vardhanam Namah” means “I am the nourisher of the universe” and relates to giving and receiving. I love the energetic exchange between me and my friend…

Observation #7: I met a woman who had lovely yoga clothes that perfectly matched, cool yoga jewellery, and a pile of newly-purchased yoga props. But in the space of 15 minutes, she complained how tired she was, how much her body hurt, how she hated spending so much time in her car, how rushed she was, and how heavy her bags were. At first I caught myself being judgemental about her (thinking…whoa, and you’re a yoga teacher??). But when I considered her from a different perspective I realized she is just like many of us – busy, stressed, trying to find her way, and carrying a load that is far too heavy. Interesting, that as star-struck as I was over the other yoga celebrity, it really is THIS woman I still think about…and my wish for her is peace, an easier path, and a chance to take a breath.

Observation #8: I stepped off the train after a fruitful weekend to my knight awaiting in the Ford. He held down the fort while I was gone (which included doing laundry) so that I could come home to a peaceful environment. He is such a supporter of my path, and tries hard to respect my need for calm. What I learn rubs off on him…and what he learns rubs off on me.

Our learning often comes from those places we least expect it. I am grateful for all my teachers and life lessons…in any form.

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