March: Satya

satya- (1).jpgI’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for what feels like forever. March was a chaotic month for me and it lasted 5 weeks instead of the usual 4! This month’s focus was Satya- the second of the Yamas in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. Looking at this one has been really difficult this month as it translates to TRUTH or HONESTY.

What is true in your life? Which thoughts are true and which thoughts are fear based or ego driven? How much do we spin stories about what ‘could’ be or what ‘should’ be instead of what is?

For myself, I’ve been looking at satya as more of a mental health practice than a ‘have I told this person the truth’. It’s a really good tool for checking in with your thoughts and seeing where you are telling yourself ‘stories’, and then returning back to the now.

We all have this compass engrained within us to know what our true self would need, it’s about sifting through the bullsh*#@ to find it.

In the end, satya looked like me ‘changing my mind’ a lot. And thats okay. I wrote a post on Instagram about how frustrated I was with the question ‘are you being kind to yourself?’. Sometimes, honesty isn’t exactly kind or nice. Sometimes Its about facing the truth in order to grow and honor your soul.

ON THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

In order to practice satya when I step on my yoga mat, I’ve been committing myself to completing a full body scan (10-15 minutes) before practice and then after practice. A body scan is where you either sit of lay (but if you are laying don’t fall asleep!) and mentally move through each part of the body, relaxing muscle by muscle and noticing what is going on in that particular part. There is no judgement. Only observation. I start with my toes and slowly work my way up.

Are the toes tense or relaxed? How do the ankles feel? Are the calves resting or active? and so on until you get the crown of your head.

Why complete this? It helps you slow down and connect with the body before asana. It helps you decipher what is true in the body/mind and what is false. Having scoliosis- I tend to feel like my alignment is incredibly uncentered, when truly it isn’t. My mind views my body different than what it is in reality. My right hip is too high. The left side of my ribs are sinking- These are all things I start to think at the beginning of my practice. I notice. Then, when I body scan before Savasana, it is changed into mind awareness. My body is here and it is doing all the work I need it to.

The TRUTH of the body, is that it tries it’s hardest for you every moment. You are here now in this life- feeling and creating feeling. Whether you are chronically ill, suffer from structural or functional disorders or simply have monkey mind- you are here, and that is truth.

OFF THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

This is the trickier part. Life has a way of providing several paths or ways of seeing things. Sometimes, our mind persuades us to believe things that aren’t true. You can’t do that. You aren’t beautiful. You aren’t worthy. We tell ourselves these stories at different junctions in our lives and they become misleading-so very misleading. Satya is about looking at what is true. Not berating yourself with it- but understanding that in truth there is a bit of peace.

Off the mat, I ask myself ‘Is that true’ and if it is I go on with my day. For all the chatter we have in our minds on the daily, I think its important when a seed of doubt gets planted to ask ‘is that true’? Doubt isn’t very factual- when faced with honesty it either dissipates or you move in an entirely different direction. Whenever a feeling of doubt or insecurity arises trigger yourself to ask ‘is that thought true’, and then move on.

or try to. Sometimes it’s not that simple, we are human after all.

Most of all, enjoy the peace that comes with this practice. I’ve found satya hard but rewarding to focus on. I feel much more grounded in self or whatever concept of self I have.

xx

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Favourites of 2016

2016 has surprised me in so many ways. Back in January I certainly would not have thought I’d be writing this at my parents house in the U.K & working in Luxembourg in the new year. In fact I had absolutely no idea where i’d be- no direction, no big goal- for the first time in 23 years I had no plan. 2016, for this reason, is going to go down in history as one of those in between years- a building year. A year of growth and big change- some change heartbreaking and some quiet and internal. Despite all this rockiness and change, there was so.much.good. So much good. Here, I’m gonna shed light on it all

Best of Luna Bell

Luna had a big year between vet visits, trips to grandmas and chasing balls. She was lunab3spayed, got all her vaccines and declawed (I researched thoroughly and spent many hours in worry over it, its not the right decision for all kitties but it was for Luna B). She spent most of all that looking at me from her carrier like “I trust you, but why are we doing this again?”.Her little nose is so cute.

My favourite day with her however, had to be during a snow day. In the winter I was on a teaching placement that, to be truthful, had me quite emotionally drained. There was a chunk of time- 2 days I think- where we got calls that it was a snow day so I got to stay home. It was MUCH needed & Luna stayed with me all day, cooking and watching movies and catching up on lesson planning. She really is the best company.lunab2My favourite photo of her in 2016 has to be this one though. Always a distraction while I’m working, she’ll come sit on my lap and manoeuvre into the weirdest poses.lunabShe really is my best choice. When I decided to take this 6 month job, she was my first worry, my first thought. Originally I had wanted to fly her to the UK to stay with my parents but when that changed due to their impending move in 2017, she ended up staying with my grandma in Canada. This was my first month without her in her whole life and its been really hard for me, but I know 6 months will fly by and I’ll be back with her soon, figuring out our new plan. For now, she is happy as a clam at grandmas- spoiled with tuna everyday and stairs to bolt up and down and lots of love. luna5lunab4

Favourite Trip

My favourite trip of 2016 hands down, without a doubt, was Kauai & Maui with Andrew’s family. Hawaii is just one of those places where I instantly feel good. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be and like nothing else matters. Theres such a sense of peace and home I get when I’m there. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but all my roads lead back to Hawaii- maybe not in 2017, but at some point(maybe for another ytt:) ). This particular trip can be summed up in one word: MAGIC. Everyday was absolutely spectacular-from rainbows to oceans to mountains to chickens to snorkeling with turtles and fish… magic. Magic. Magic.hawa2.jpghawahawa4.jpgOn the trip I learned that I need the ocean like I need oxygen- too long without it is not okay. I also learned that Andrew is a waaayyy better surfer than I am (although, I still felt very blue crush standing for the first time- then getting hit in the noggin with the board :p)  and that yoga on a towel is just as good as yoga on a $100.00 yoga mat.  I learned that you don’t really need a lot of material things if you are deeply happy- I felt I could have let go of everything I own and lived with just the clothes in my case. I learned there is more to life than worrying about whether you’ve made or are making the right or wrong choice.

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For most of the year I was home in Canada and there were lots of favourites. My little brother leaving home and going off to university for one!! It was a hard shift, being that my parents would still be in UK and he was coming back to live in Canada, but we all got through and he is doing wonderfully. I’m so proud of him and happy I got to see it all unfold.

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I spent a lot of time this spring & summer on the waterfront in the town where I lived. A rocky beach was only a 10 minute walk from where I lived and there was a sand one about 40 minutes away by bus. These quiet moments were my favourite. Often, I’d go after work, having sat all day long needing some movement. best2.jpg

Field trip with my best girls is up there in the charts as well. Such a happy fun day all 4 of us together! The National was pretty amazing too.
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img_2342Before my brother started school, my family came to the town I was living in for a vacation. We went to Wolfe Island and had such a wonderful time together. All 4 of us together is hard to come by sometimes so it was great to take it easy.img_3474

My best friends and I also went on a roadtrip to Vermont before  left for Luxemboug where they threw me a ‘Happy Everything’ party. Complete with halloween, christmas, birthday, new years, valentines and cinco de mayo. Best. trip. ever.

Yoga

2016 was the year I completed my first 200hr yoga teacher training. May 1st, graduation day, will forever be one of my most favourite days of my entire life. It was incredible. Full of love and harmony and emotion. I came home almost vibrating with energy. Yoga has been an important path for me for a long time and will continue to be.IMG_9053

Creative Self Study

One of my ‘resolutions’ for 2016 was to give myself more space for creative release. I’ve always loved art, I took art class all throughout high school and loved it immensely but never felt it was something to take seriously. Now i know that it is seriously something I need to allow time for in my life for my own wellness. Making that space was one of the best things I did for myself in 2016- it will continue on in 2017!

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Tattoo Love

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I got my first tattoo this year commemorating my scoliosis & spinal fusion surgery. I did it on a random day and couldn’t love it more than I do. I walked in, no hand to hold and no plan other than wanting a lotus. Afterwards there was such a feeling of freedom of control and respect for my body. It was a fantastic little experience.

 

 

 

Those are the big favourites of 2016! Of course I have a million and one other favourite moments- they’re smaller moments though, little snippets of love and generosity that are saved in my memory forever. These, however, are the big photographable moments of yoga, travel and teaching throughout 2016. I’ve loved looking through all my photos & videos from the year and hope you will with your own photos & videos!

All I can say now is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

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Yoga Poses to Ease into the Seasonal Change

Seasonal changes affect our bodies & minds in more ways then we, in our busy frantic lives, give them credit for. The transition into autumn, I’m learning, is a big transition and goes much deeper than a new menu item at Starbucks (pumpkin spice for everyone!!). As the heat of summer fades into cool days and the leaves begin to change colour, you can begin to incorporate these yoga poses into your daily practice with the intention of easing the transition. While asana is not everything in yoga, when practiced with intention it can help guide the body into a more balanced and connected state. CHILDSPOSE1.jpgUTTANASANA1.jpgTWIST.jpgBalance.jpgOnly practice these poses to your comfort. No pain!

There are many other ways to ease the toll that change takes on the body & mind as well! Food, routine, self care through cleansing and minimizing, meditation, learning… these are all ways of easing seasonal transitions. Asana is simply one wonderful form!

Enjoy your autumn practice!

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The Things That Matter

In about two hours I’ll be 23 years old. That’s 23 years of this life I have lived in this body. I keep thinking about karma and dharma and purusha and prakriti and all of the tattvas really. It’s so mind boggling. So expansive. It’s something I feel like I’ve known before but know I haven’t. That’s the funny thing about this yoga stuff- there’s a reason I’m drawn in, there’s always a reason for the pull.

At 8, I thought I’d have my life ‘figured out’ by 23. The world is so ambitious in its goal setting and schools really orient kids to pick a path and go for it. And I love that. I love the ‘going for it’ and the passion and the drive and the ambition.

But I also know, that the moments I have experienced in this life that will leave lasting marks on my karma and my soul… They have nothing to do with the path. They have to do with the feeling. Whether I had chosen to be a doctor or a anthropologist or a astronaut- whether I still choose to be any one of those things- that’s not really my being. My being is how I feel. My being is my emotions and the moments tied to the ones I’ve felt so deeply that I thought the world could implode.

My existence for 23 years is my first fearful or joyous screams into real sound. It’s my many full hearted adventures into friendships that sometimes never started or failed or grew into some of the most deeply loving relationships I have ever felt. It’s my terrifying fears of failure or being wrong and the constant compassion I’ve been shown by my mother and father and family when I do or am. It’s in my deep anger that felt like tree roots planting me to the ground at 16 and my humbling gratitude at 17. My being is in my loneliness and contentment with being alone.

I’m 23 and I don’t really have a lot of direction. I have degrees. I have certifications. But I’m finding that what really matters at the end of the day is how you go to bed feeling.

And I’m really feeling okay about all the emotions to come.

Atha Yogah Nushasanam

Now (that the student is ready) the inquiry into yoga begins…

Yesterday was my graduation. Friday was my graduation. This weekend I have completed two teacher training programs, one university degree and one ytt. I find myself so grateful for the teachers around me. My friends, my family, the students among me, the teachers who spill with knowledge and I am ever so in awe of.

I thought this first sutra was about myself back in august, applying for my yoga teacher training and having my interview. Sitting with Mona on the couch and talking about why yoga was so important to me. I thought it was something that would only happen once, that the moment I was ready and began my training was the first Sutra that I had ‘checked off’ (thanks pitta…).

I see it within myself now, more than ever before. I feel more like a student of yoga, now, than I could have ever imagined in my life. This is my home. Yoga is my home. And this is why I will teach and what I will teach. But this is where the Sutra comes back, NOW I am ready to inquire into the puzzle pieces of union. How will I unify (yoga) all the strands of teaching, all the strands of love. This, I am a student of again. These nows, these moments, they are not boxes to check off and say goodbye to, they are moments that will arise and fall over and over like thoughts in meditation. We are never done.

Studentship never ends and I think thats important to teach our students, no matter what they are learning or how old they are. Studentship never ever ends. We are always learning. We are always teaching.

I am eternally grateful to all the educators in my life. To all the students in my life. To life.

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Ceremony circle of goddesses in white
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This is the card the universe wanted me to have for graduation. Life long learner. Life long teacher.
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Full of gratitude and love for my incredible teacher Mona
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The beautiful group!