Calm, Cool, and Collected

With mid-October here, my backyard is mostly empty of colourful flower pots, bright maple leaves, and climbing ivy, but my roses are still blooming even with the few frosty mornings we’ve had. A reminder of resilience and nature’s tenacity! During the hot summer, these roses struggled to flower against the heat and drought and Japanese beetles. So as the cool temperatures began to alleviate the strain on these aptly named, “Double Knockout” roses, new buds appeared and growth has flourished!

As usual, my backyard is full of wisdom for me if I really pay attention. It struck me that, my roses managed to survive in the midst of challenging conditions, equipped with an innate hardiness and natural ability to persevere. Both beautiful and thorny, they just kept growing, and they are thriving…in October! I know they will eventually die off, as they do each year, and rebound again in the spring. This made me reflect on the inner strength and resolve of human nature, especially during these demanding weeks and months, and the need to return to balance…a natural state of being calm, cool, and collected.

We know that respite from day-to-day challenges and demands is NECESSARY to return to balance. For me, it came in the form of a few rainy walkabouts in my backyard, digging in the earth, cutting back perennials, saying goodbye to my begonias. Calm was right there on my yoga mat as I sat and watched my inhale and exhale. Healing was supported with juices made from fresh organic kale thanks to a friend’s glorious garden bounty. Poise and balance came back with several attempts at tree pose. Faith and hope restored themselves as I reached out to my loved ones, my yoga family, and my support network (in person, online, in my heart, in my prayers). And equanimity was always (IS always) there underneath all the disturbances, just waiting for me to tap into it.

This calm, this serenity, this composure…it’s there for all of us no matter what the season, what the conditions, or what the news says. We just have to remember to return to it, over and over again, moment by moment.

If you are in need of an hour of mindful movement, check out one of my YOGA VIDEOS. If you need a break from an overactive mind, choose one of my GUIDED MEDITATIONS. And if you need to feel CALM, COOL, AND COLLECTED in this moment, simply close your eyes, soften your face and jaw, relax your shoulders, and take 10 slow deep breaths. Bring a smile to your face and remind yourself of your resilience, your inner strength, your capacity to love, and your ability to heal.

Yin Yoga At Home

The very first line of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras says, “Atha Yoga Anushasanam”NOW, the practice of yoga begins. In this moment, under these circumstances and conditions, and within one’s body/mind…this is where the experiencing is, where the self-discovery begins, and where the lessons are. For the last 6 months in this COVID-19 world, we’ve been asked to stay at home, take care of ourselves and our families, be mindful of how we interact with others, and be with what is HERE RIGHT NOW. How are you feeling? What are you feeling? In what ways have you been managing all the challenges? Rather than seeking the external, this has been a prime opportunity to deal with the internal.

Yin Yoga is one of those fitting practices to help deal with the internal. I think one of the biggest skills to come out of this practice is FOCUS. Learning to better focus teaches me to adjust my lens of awareness as required, alternating between stepping back (observing the big picture) or zooming in (looking at the hidden details), so I can better SEE what’s there in my breath, body, and mind. So much can be revealed, including how I am distracted, what is ease and what is discomfort, what really matters, and what does not. While all styles of yoga might offer these insights, Yin Yoga in particular seems to lend itself well to this exploration with its slow, meditative approach that asks the practitioner to be patient, to be still, to lean into the moment, stay there and watch what happens. It’s like a training ground for BEING with all sorts of stuff, gradually widening the window of tolerance and acceptance. Dr. Steven Hayes (psychologist, professor, and author) says, “I will not run from my own experience” in the context of managing difficult emotions and thoughts. I think it can be the same with yoga, being with whatever is there on (or off) the mat – blissful or painful – and choosing NOT to run away.

The three guidelines that pertain to the Yin Yoga practice may very well be an effective strategy to help us live with the challenges of this world right now:

1) Slowly approach your edge – a physical limit, or place of resistance (might be mental or emotional).

2) Soften your body and breathe at this edge with awareness and openness.

3) Stay there for awhile and observe with attention. It’s okay.

And then we could add “proceed with better focus”.

However you are living your own Yoga At Home these days, the key is to simply get on your mat…every day. Just get there, then observe things unfold, with curiosity, compassion, and patience. If you need a little help to inspire you and ground you, see below for a Yin Yoga Video I made. I hope it helps to remind you that NOW, in each and every moment, YOGA begins…and I’m right here in it with you.

2020 Vision

A new decade, a new year, a new day…another opportunity to direct the trajectory of our lives in a positive direction. A chance to develop a clearer vision of how we want to BE, not just what we might want to achieve. As Gandhi wisely recommended, “BE the change you want to see in the world”. If we want to achieve our goals, make our dreams come true, and keep the faith that underlies our hopes, how can we BE in order for it all to happen? It most certainly requires us to do some soul searching, self-reflection, and quiet contemplation without blame, shame, judgment and with a whole lot of self-compassion to see how we are NOW. Then we can take the necessary steps to direct our energy towards what we want and how we want to be.

Sometimes our vision is not so clear…I can attest to that, being physically (and often times, mentally/emotionally/spiritually) near-sighted! Just as I need correction (contact lenses) to see clearly, I also need correction in my thinking at times. Negative thinking! Deepak Chopra says, “Every negative thought weakens the partnership between mind and body”. Yikes…no wonder I have been feeling sluggish and heavy and achy. It’s not just due to overindulgence during the holidays…it is also due to the negative self-talk, the rehashing of old dramas, impatience, resentment, and all those swirling emotions that come up (why, oh, why do they seem to come up so strongly during the holidays??). How can one have 2020 vision with a cloudy mind?

After a quiet meditation with my eyes open (literally I was staring at the ceiling), I hit a reset button. I found a warm space at my heart centre, forgave myself for my errors and short-sighted thinking, and decided to BE the change. Just BE it. Not only for myself but for my family, my friends, for everyone in my backyard and beyond…For this, I need ongoing energy (Shakti!), motivation, determination, and reminders to help me stay on track. That is what the tradition of YOGA and its teachings does for me. This is what CONNECTION does for me (we are not in this alone!). And with a little help from my “2020 vision board” – a compilation of my hopes and dreams and positive affirmations that I will SEE daily – I will remember. Remember how good it feels to be joyful, energetic, focused, productive, connected, and loving. It is all coming back to me…

This January, come join me on the mat where we will move and stretch and breathe and stoke the fire of our resolve to be the best versions of ourselves…our TRUE Selves. If peace begins with me…AND with you, then let’s BE that…together as we journey to higher ground. HAPPY NEW YEAR…HAPPY 2020!

JOURNEY

“I walk the hills and valleys of my mind.

Above the laughter of the brook,

and the sorrow of the chasm,

finding higher ground,

I turn my face to love.

Through the gate of all wonder

into the bliss of intimacy and worship.

Knowing this is who I am,

I smile!”

– John Stubbs, 2005

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 (UPDATE: Unfortunately, this class is cancelled due to poor weather…so sorry!)
      • 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.
  • “SOUL VIBRATIONS” – Inner Work Day Mini-Retreat at Vibration Studios, Osgoode, ON on Sat. Feb. 29, 2020, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm. Registration is on NOW with an early-bird bonus if you register by Dec. 31, 2019. See MY RETREATS for full details.

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!

 

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…

YOGA THIS FALL 2018 with Anne

Greetings and summer salutations! Looking ahead to your autumn yoga options? Join me on the mat this fall for joyful movement, conscious breathing, energy expansion, and monkey-mind taming! Here’s my line-up:

MORNING YOGA IN MANOTICK at Denise Smith Dance Studio:

  • Starts Tue. Sept. 4 with HATHA YOGA, Thu. Sept. 6 with YIN YOGA, Sun. Sept. 9 with YIN YOGA
  • Same time as before: 9:15 am – 10:15 am. Please arrive 15 minutes before class to set up your mat.
  • Drop in for $15 or buy a class pass.

YOGA & PILATES at Nepean Creative Arts Centre:

  • Runs Wednesdays from Sept. 19 – Nov. 21.
  • Registration opens online at www.ottawa.ca Aug. 15 at 9 pm and in person, Aug. 16, at any City of Ottawa community centre.
  • Bar code for Wed. class is #1188461 – look under “Fitness and Wellness”, then scroll down to Yoga & Pilates.
  • IMPORTANT INFO: Renovations will be underway at NCAC during December and January so NO CLASSES. Winter session is shorter, running Feb. 6 – Mar. 27, 2019. I will be in India during this time so Sandra T. will be covering this class. I will be back for the spring session.

TASTE OF MANOTICK:

  • Once again, I will have a booth at the Taste of Manotick event this Sat. Aug. 18 from 4 – 8 pm.
  • Come check out the street fair and drop by to say Namaste! Enter your name in my raffle for 2 free yoga classes!

NO MANOTICK CLASSES on the following dates:

  • Thu. Sept. 27 (Yin), Sun. Sept. 30 (Yin), Sun. Oct. 21 (Yin)
  • No classes from Jan. 15 – Feb. 21, 2019 as I will be in India. Manotick classes will resume likely the last week of Feb…but I will let you know for sure as it gets closer.

AUTUMN YOGA RETREAT FOR WOMEN:

  • Shanti Retreat Centre – Sept. 27 – 30, 2018
  • Retreat is now FULL.
  • Save the date for next year: Sept. 26 – 29, 2019.

Keep checking back to this site for up-to-date info. Enjoy the rest of the summer and I hope to see you soon!

In my backyard!

 

June 2018 Yoga Classes

I just love the season of spring! Getting my hands back into the earth as I plant my flowers; listening to the birds every morning as they nest; feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. New growth is happening within us, too, so come join me on the mat as we stretch and breathe and expand! This is the last month of classes for me before I take the summer off so here’s the line-up this June:
  1. One spot has come available for my Inner Work Day Yoga Retreat at Brookstreet on Sun. Jun. 24. Email me ASAP if you are interested!
  2. Hatha and Yin classes continue at Denise Smith Dance Studio until Thu. Jun. 28. Please note there is NO YIN CLASS ON JUN. 24.
  3. Yoga-Pilates classes at NCAC continue until Jun. 13. Registration for the fall session happens this August; check http://www.ottawa.ca later this summer for dates.
  4. Please join me for a special Candlelight Gentle Hatha Flow class on Fri. Jun. 22 from 6:15 – 7:15 pm at Denise Smith Dance Studio. Email me to pre-register and secure your spot. Use your class pass or drop in for $15. Afterwards I invite you to stay for a cup of tea and a sweet treat!

I encourage you to keep up your practice this summer by exploring the various yoga offerings around the city; by going on a retreat; by checking out online classes; or by simply rolling out your mat in your own backyard and meditating in the sunshine! I look forward to seeing you on the mat this month.

 

Namaste and Happy Spring!

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