Bliss On An Ordinary Day

No big revelations during a yoga class; no touching piece of music; no idyllic beach setting…just driving in my car running errands and it hit me. An overwhelming sense of joy, contentment, gratitude, and feeling so alive that it brought me to tears at a red light. THIS is what all my mind-body practices are for; learning to be a witness and take in the moment and THANK GOD, UNIVERSE, SOURCE that I’m right here in the midst of it all. Maybe you’ve felt a “Samadhi” moment like this; a feeling of strong connection and bliss. In the middle of an ordinary day, in an ordinary life with its ordinary ups and downs, doing ordinary things – I find it amazing that there is that possibility of a “knowing” of the EXTRAordinary!

So on this ordinary day, the rain has stopped and the temperature is warmer. I have work to do and meals to make. I have a day retreat to prepare for this Friday at Wakefield with twenty beautiful souls. The world keeps moving on with me in it – feeling stronger, lighter, and more spacious than the day before. In this moment I AM BLISS…I AM BLISS…I AM BLISS…

 “Anandoham, Anandoham, Anandoham”

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” 

– Mary Jean Irion

 

 

 

 

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Spring yoga classes in Manotick

I just returned home from the Toronto Yoga Conference, filled with energy and inspiration! While I often saw what yoga is NOT, I opened myself up more to what yoga IS. I’m happy to be back in my backyard but was hoping that maybe…just maybe…the snow would be gone. Even though the remnants of winter are visible, the robins are singing and the squirrels are scampering. SPRING HAS SPRUNG! And so has another season of my morning yoga classes in Manotick…Come celebrate this season of new growth with me!

 

Mountain Meltdown

It sure is hard holding stuff in, putting on a brave face, trying to be strong, denying instead of accepting…the energy it takes to conceal, ignore, suppress, and control can be exhausting. Sometimes you don’t even realize just how much emotional weight has accumulated. Maybe you can cover it up for awhile but at some point, often unexpectedly and maybe at an inopportune time, you have to crack. And crack I did right there on the Trans Canada Highway with the mountains drawing it out of me like magnets. It was like they whispered, “It’s okay, let it rip and give all your heartache, anger, frustration, grief, worry, doubt, and fear to us because we will ground it…we will ground you…”. So I pulled off the highway along a road leading to a frozen lake, and trudged through the snow to face those majestic hunks of rock. I wasn’t looking for solutions, answers, or explanations. I just wanted to get out of my head and release whatever it was that was tightening around my heart and weighing me down.

All I had to do was let go of the energetic grip and open my heart. All I had to do was take a few long, deep, fresh breaths. All I had to do was say to the Universe, to God, to myself…”Okay, so be it…lead me from the darkness into the light” and then let the tension drain away. And when I said it, felt it, and believed it, then drain away it did, with those mountains there as non-judgmental witnesses gently yet firmly encouraging me to let it all go. I also wasn’t alone…all the souls of my loved ones, both here and gone, were there supporting me, too.

Ehagay Nakoda Range

I like to think that these mountains have magical powers of healing. Maybe that’s why I am so moved when I see them. For someone else, maybe the ocean would do it, or a forest, or a beautiful piece of music…whatever makes one step back in awe and helps put things in perspective is just the catalyst we sometimes need for transformation, growth, repair.

Feeling a million times lighter, I wiped my tears, thanked God, and carried on my way with a smile. I know I will need to do this over and over again, not necessarily in the mountains, but every time I step on my yoga mat or sit in meditation or walk out into my backyard…the key is to keep on letting go, keep on opening my heart, and keep on listening to those nudges from the Universe. I might need a helping hand once in awhile and I will reach out trusting that the right hand at the right time will fall into mine…

Mid-winter blooms

Last week we were in the midst of record snowfall and here we are today, with sunshine, warm temps and melting snow! What a difference a week, a day, a moment makes…Instead of the mid-winter blahs, I’m rejoicing in my mid-winter blooms!

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I think there is something magical about flowers blooming in the winter. They remind me of the beauty and grace of nature, even in spite of a raging blizzard outside. They offer a splash of colour to an otherwise grey and dreary day, uplifting my heart and soul. At this time of year, we often get antsy, restless, down…Tired of hibernating we may want to be somewhere warm or at least anywhere else away from the cold and darkness of winter. However, as author and meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us, “Wherever you go, there you are”…You can’t run away from yourself and you can’t always get on a plane to the beach. Instead, I am choosing to be HERE in this moment, with snow and ice outside, and the miracle of life unfolding in front of me in the form of a tall amaryllis, a baby orchid, and a soft buttery phalaenopsis.

 

Welcome back to winter yoga classes!

The holidays are over and winter is here in full force! Need to stretch? Need to bend? Need to breathe? Look no further than your yoga mat! Hope to see you at one (or more) of my classes this season.

With the fresh perspective a new year brings, the cooling and cleansing energy of a full moon (tonight), and a deeper appreciation of the healing power of the body and mind, I’m looking forward to investigating with you what yoga has to offer us both on and off the mat. AND I can’t wait to try out my new boots…super-duper-non-slip-really-warm-and-cute-too boots from Sperry!! Look out, black ice, you will not get me again!

boots

 

Winter 2017 Yoga Classes with Anne

Season’s Greetings! I am making progress in the healing department slowly but surely. While I continue to work around my own physical limitations on the mat, I’m looking forward to coaching and guiding you through YOUR practice come the new year. I appreciate your support and patience during my recovery period. Here’s my schedule:

YOGA-PILATES (at Nepean Creative Arts Centre)

Wednesdays starting Jan. 11 – 9:45 – 11 am (registered program only – no drop-ins)

YIN YOGA (at Denise Smith Dance School)

Sundays and Thursdays starting Jan. 15 – 9:15 – 10:15 am

HATHA YOGA (at Denise Smith Dance School)

Tuesdays starting Jan. 17 – 9:15 – 10:15 am

Click HERE for full class descriptions.

I wish you and your family a joyful, safe holiday season! See you in January!

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Yoga When You’re Hurt

Two weeks into my injury and I can’t drive, can’t straighten my arm, can’t go down the stairs properly, can’t do my hair, can’t teach a class…BUT it doesn’t mean I can’t practice yoga. In fact, this is the very time when deep connection to what’s going on inside my body and mind is necessary, and all the “formal” practice time on my mat continues to equip me for precisely this – dealing with what IS. It has become an interesting experiment observing the ebb and flow of sensations, energy levels, thought patterns, and emotions as I work with limited range of movement and a restricted routine. The yogic prescription when you’re hurt is the same as when you are healthy – breathe, feel, connect, allow, take care, let go.

My mom passed away late summer and after her death it was a whirlwind of required activity and duties. There was hurt on a different level – unlike the physical pain of a dislocated elbow or sprained ankle, the pain of grief and loss sears your heart. I pushed through thinking it was better to keep going than to stop and let it fully surface. But up it came over and over and there was no escaping. So I took a deep breath, allowed myself to feel the constriction around my heart centre, held it with compassion, and let it be. I lay down on my mat and alternated between the deep heart-opening pose of matsyasana (fish pose) and the comforting energy of balasana (child’s pose) as I let emotion flow. I chanted all the mantras I knew, knowing that to release the hurting was to make way for healing. Ah, once again, yoga comes to the rescue.

Back to my elbow…As I was sitting on my mat the other day, I decided to explore. With limited use of one arm and foot, and without overcompensating with my uninjured side, what could I do with a block, a strap, a blanket, a cushion, and a couple of Yoga Tune-Up balls? Turns out quite a bit…Holding on to a block, I discovered I could safely do ardha surya namaskara (half sun salutation). Propped and padded and cushioned, I could do many seated poses. No matter what, I could always breathe. Slowing everything down, I let my body guide me without a scripted sequence, and listened closely to the signals that came from within. Keeping in mind the guidelines from my doctors as well as trusting my inner wisdom, a beautiful practice emerged that lifted my spirits, soothed my wounds, and brought me peace. The power of yoga prevails once again.

Today, I’m achy, cranky, impatient, and getting cabin fever. My practice is very different – chanting and OMing and bumble-bee breathing…but still with the same focus – breath, feeling, connection, acceptance. No matter what the day, hour, moment…yoga is available and it is turning out to be the best therapy of all. I hope to see you in January and let’s continue to explore together…

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Heartfelt thanks to all of you who sent me emails with well-wishes! I feel your good vibes – they help too!

Change in plans

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Oh how it’s easy to get caught up in momentum – charging here and there on auto-pilot and forgetting to be mindful of our breath, our steps, our present-moment awareness. Speaking loudly and clearly, the Universe has told me to SLOW DOWN…Due to injuries I sustained in a fall on the ice yesterday, all of my yoga classes are put on hold until January. For those of you who hold class passes with me in Manotick, just a reminder that while they are non-refundable, they have no expiry date so you can hold them over until I return. For those of you taking my Yoga-Pilates class with the City of Ottawa, you will be contacted by the staff at NCAC regarding a credit for next week’s last class of the fall session which is now cancelled. I expect to return in January for the winter session as planned (maybe with a few teaching modifications!).

Stuff happens and we get through it…this is where our REAL yoga practice comes in. Breathe, accept, take care, let go, move on…Thank you for your support and understanding while I take this time to heal. I will post the January schedule over the next few weeks.

With gratitude…

Anne

Yoga classes with Anne this fall 2016

Here we are in hot and steamy August and we know what’s just around the corner…Back to work, back to school, back to yoga class! If you’ve been missing your yoga mat, it’s time to visit it again (see my post What The Yoga Mat Said).

Here’s my class schedule starting September 6, 2016:

HATHA YOGA in Manotick – Tuesdays @ 9:15 – 10:15 am

YOGA-PILATES in Bells Corners (Nepean Creative Arts Centre) – Wednesdays @ 9:45 – 11 am

(Registered program only, 12 classes starting Sept. 14; registration on now at http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/parks-and-recreation/registered-classes-all-ages/recreation-guide)

YIN YOGA in Manotick – Thursdays and *Sundays @ 9:15 – 10:15 am

MEDITATION AND MOVEMENT in Manotick – Sunday Sept. 11, Oct. 16, Nov. 13, Dec. 18 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm

All Manotick classes held at Denise Smith Dance School. Drop-ins welcome!

Full class descriptions and more details HERE.

Hope to see you on the mat!

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Your Summer Retreat

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Summer is here with the anticipation of sunny days, spectacular sunsets, and hopefully some more down-time in your life. Where do you go to retreat from your busy routine? A cottage on a lake? A tent in the woods? A day at the spa? Or maybe your own backyard? One of my favourite places to retreat when I need a break is my own patio, where I can curl up in my comfy green chair overlooking the garden, and simply take a breath. And when I need even more space, into nature I go…

The definition of the verb “retreat” is to withdraw, to step back, to move away from something. And it’s in this moving away from something that we create space…space physically, mentally, and emotionally. In stepping back we can see from a broader angle and look at the thing we’re moving away from with a different perspective. Then we can make a conscious choice to proceed, whether that means walking away or turning right back around to face that “thing”.

Think of the many “things” that we might want to retreat from in our fast-paced lives: time-consuming projects and tasks, challenging situations, difficult people, noise, clutter, family and work demands, negative thought patterns, health issues, financial concerns…Such circumstances, conditions, and states are the reality of modern life. Running away to escape might seem like a good option but we may then forever be running as life deals us a new “thing”. We might think, “If I can just get past this ‘thing’, then everything will be okay”. But the Universe often has other plans for us and it turns out that the “thing” has something to teach us. Sometimes it’s just hard to learn the lesson…

Conscious awareness or MINDFULNESS is a great way to BE with our stuff of life. It teaches us to be present with whatever is there in our bodies, minds, hearts or surrounding environment, whether unpleasant or pleasant. It requires that we slow down and take notice. It asks that we step back in the moment (retreat) and allow space for what is there in your own backyard. But sometimes it is helpful (and perhaps necessary) to move beyond your backyard into a totally different space in order to re-calibrate and re-balance your energy, away from the usual environment that holds all those stressors and challenges of daily life. Whether that is in the form of an organized retreat or taking a day off work or just going for a walk in the forest out of the noise of the city, find some way to step back and make space regularly. It’s an important gift you can give to yourself…

Have a safe, happy summer…maybe I’ll see you on retreat!

 

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