Before I started traveling in Yoga and Buddhist circles, community used to be a very loaded word for me. It used to bring up images of small towns in the bible belt, where ignorance ran rampant, mob mentality ruled and anyone who didn’t fit in was ostracized or maybe even stoned to death in the town square. Of course junior & senior high school didn’t help this misconception either. As a self-professed lone wolf, I really didn’t get the whole clique thing; this need to fit in. I was raised fiercely independent, to question everything and stick up for myself (and the underdogs too).
In truth this idea stuck with me until I started my Yoga teacher training. In my first Yoga teacher training course we had huge diversity, ages, sizes, abilities, ethnic backgrounds and income levels (we even had one token guy ) 😉 . Slowly my carbon copy idea of community began to change. Here we were this rag tag bunch of Yogis all united together to study this thing called Yoga that we had fallen in love with. We had become a Kula or community.
A few years later when I came out the “Buddhist closet” and committed to practice, I set out (with much resistance) to find the third of the three jewels, Sangha. Again I found big diversity. So I started to rethink my previous borg-like view of community. I started to realize that I didn’t need to be assimilated to be part of a spiritual community.
Of course now with the internet being what it is, it is even easier to find your tribe. If you don’t find your community locally, it’s got to be out out there on the web (perfect for introverts).
When I started teaching Yoga, I set out to bring a sense of community to my classes. I consciously chose to teach small, more intimate, community based classes, instead of teaching in trendy, over-packed, impersonal feeling studios. My students see each other week to week, know each others names and make connections.
A few years ago my fella and I took this embracing community one step further when we moved into the community of Inglewood (which is known for it’s community vibe) from Downtown. Inglewood is rich in diversity, none of the houses are the same, we have various ages from seniors to young couples, and many different income levels as well. For the first time ever neighbors said hello as I walked by on the street. I lived somewhere where we had more volunteers than needed for the annual river clean up. Where local shopping is so encouraged that merchants give a discount just for being a member of the community association!
In video below I talk a bit more about my journey to embracing community.
As an introvert I still need plenty of time to myself to recharge my batteries so I don’t attend all the community events in my hood, but now I can’t imagine living somewhere without this vibe.
In the comments below let me know What Does Community Mean To You? Where do you find community?
Last night while scrolling through Instagram my heart stopped. There in my feed was a picture of BKS Iyengar with a RIP under it. My chest tightened, tears flooded my eyes…no it can’t be true I panicked. It was. A quick internet search revealed that he had passed at 95. Now I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked I had heard that he was ill and in hospital, but last I had heard his family was insisting that he was recovering and doing well.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured” -BKS Iyengar
Death doesn’t normally upset me that much, even with people I know. I mean we are all going to die. Death happens to all of us after all, it’s just a common as birth. I guess one advantage to believing in past lives, is that it takes some of the blow out of death, since I believe that we are all coming back around again. So why was I so upset about the death of an Indian man who lived miles away and whom I had never actually met or studied with? It’s taken me until today to figure that out.
“When we free ourselves from physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mental distractions, we open the gates to our soul.” -B.K.S. Iyengar
I start all my classes with a moment of pause and a guided gratitude practice, part of that practice is pausing in reverence for the teachers that have come before, my teachers, my teachers teachers and so on. BKS Iyengar was my teachers teacher, and indirectly through books and DVDs my teacher too.
I feel the grief and sadness of my teachers.
My first teacher training program was steeped in Iyengar Yoga, although not an official Iyengar certification program it was heavily Iyengar Inspired. I was so blessed to have some amazing certified Iyengar teachers leading my training. Teachers like Margot Kitchen, David McAmmond, Trish Robbins & Valerie Crump just to name a few. These skilled and passionate teachers built a strong foundation for me to grow from as a Yogini and a teacher.
A fierce lion of a teacher, he demanded nothing but the best from his students. Iyengar had an attention to detail and awareness or the subtle aspects of Yoga Asana & Pranayama that no one can top. His teachers are some of the most rigorously and thoroughly trained teachers in the world.
“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
Despite the fact that I have branched away from my Iyengar roots somewhat, there is still the deep resonance of Iyengar Yoga and those teachers through out my classes, practice and being today. In fact if it weren’t for BKS Iyengar, I wouldn’t have become a Yogini or a teacher.
Whether someone is a devoted Iyengar Yogi or not, I don’t think anyone can argue about the massive influence he had on Yoga as we know it today especially in the west. He is truly the father of Yoga as we know it. In fact 90% of today’s Yogi celebrities and influential teachers were in whole or in part trained by Iyengar or Iyengar teachers. If you Have ever used props in your your practice, you can thank BKS Iyengar.
Hi-lights Of BKS Iyengar’s Contribution And Influence At A Glance:
- Received gold medal known as Yoga Shikshaka Chakravarti, which means “Emperor of Yoga Teachers, Teacher of Teachers
- Author of 14 Yoga books translated into 18 languages, including Light On Yoga which is commonly deemed “The Yoga Bible”
- Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine
- Built the foundation for Therapeutic, Medical, and Restorative Yoga as we know it today
- Iyengar created his own brand of Yoga, called “Iyengar Yoga,” and established studios in 72 countries
- Iyengar Yoga’s poses and breathing techniques have been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners to help patients suffering from many illnesses and diseases including: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic back pain
- Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) was established on January 19, 1975 , The institute is filled with numerous awards, citations, presentations. The library has 8000 titles in several languages on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy, human anatomy and physiology, Ayurveda, commentaries on the scriptures, modern medicine and of course Yoga.
Deepest of bows and much gratitude to the man known affectionately as Guruji. My condolences to the Iyengar family. My deepest sympathy to all of his students including my teachers.
Perfectionism-Let It Go!
Some life lessons or aha moments trickle slowly into your awareness over time, and some are more like a flash storm that seems to come out of no where but leaves you drenched to your core. My aha moment with perfectionism was more like the latter.
I remember the day very clearly in my mind even though it was 10 years ago. The day it hit me that it was my perfectionism, not the circumstances around me that caused my suffering. I realized that my expectation and obsession with things being perfect was keeping me from enjoying my life as it was in the moment (and my life is pretty awesome). I was missing the beauty and blessings of my life because I had this picture in my mind of what things “should” be like. Holding onto that picture of perfection meant I couldn’t see all the brilliance right in front of me. My worship of perfection was making me miserable, keeping me from being present to my life and those I loved.
In the video below I talk more about the day I had this aha moment.
Now I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t aim for excellence or that we shouldn’t stretch, grow, learn and expand. Of course we can challenge ourselves to do, to dream, to grow to be more than we are in this stage in our lives. To challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone is healthy and what keeps life interesting and builds self-esteem. However, there is a huge difference between wanting to excel and to grow vs. trying to be perfect. From my experience it is actually the imperfect situations of my life that have been the most fruitful in terms of personal growth and realization and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So if you have been or are currently chasing perfection, consider this:
There is no such thing as perfect; it is an illusion.
If you are an ever-changing, growing, evolving, expanding person (which I hope you are) then your version of perfect will change as you grow. The ‘perfect life’ that I would have envisioned for myself when I was in my 20’s is nothing like what my life is like today (thankfully).
You will never catch perfection. This is good news! When you let go of being perfect or your life being perfect, you can be open to all the the beauty, and amazement that surrounds you in every moment.
If you think, “I’ll be happy when…”, “I’ll do the things I want to do with my life when …” always waiting for the ‘perfect time’, you will spend most of your life miserably unhappy.
You will never be perfect, things will never be perfect ….you will just have to settle for amazing, incredible, beautiful and inspiring.
“When we let go of being perfect, we can settle for just being amazing” -nyk danu
Private Yoga Lessons might sound like something only for the rich and famous but actually there are some really practical reasons why Private Yoga Classes may be a good fit for you.
Private Yoga Lessons might be for you if:
You want to try Yoga but you are totally intimated. Maybe you have Back Pain and other injuries or aren’t flexible. Or you just know that learning physical things (whether it be sports or dance) hasn’t really been your strong suit and you need a bit of extra time and help to feel like you “get it”.
You’d like to eventually attend classes, but feel like you need a bit of a base to get you started so you feel more comfortable and prepared for public classes.
Maybe you are an introvert and the thought of sharing the room with a whole bunch of strangers makes you want to crawl into a cave and not come out.
Or you are totally happy coming to classes but you have a few trouble spots you’d like to work on your own in between classes and need a sequence created for you.
Maybe you’ve been practicing Yoga for a while and you have a serious crush on Yoga. You would love to practice more often, maybe a few times a week or even everyday. You dream of having a home practice but are totally intimidated by the what, when, where and how of sequencing your own practice.
You work shift work or travel a lot and can’t seem to find classes that fit your schedule.
You need some serious “you time”, you give a lot to others. You often feel drained, stressed and over committed. You need some regularly scheduled time to let someone take care of you for a change so you can recharge and reboot.
You having been nagging at your partner about Yoga and its benefits, but still they resist….maybe if you had a Yoga Practice just for the two of you they would feel more inclined to give it a try.
If any of these resonated with you and you want more information on my Private Yoga Lessons and packages, you can get more info by clicking here.
What does a “Spiritual Person” look like? When you think of a Spiritual Person does this image come to mind?
What if it was more like this:
I first discovered Chris Grosso through a mutual friend Kayla via Twitter. I started following him and vice versa and we have since become friends on Facebook as well. There aren’t alot of us tattooed, alternative folk in the wellness and spiritual circles, so I was excited to check him out.
When first I read Chis’s blog Indie Spiritualist, I was immediately struck by his wise (beyond his years) and humble nature. I was so inspired and moved (literally to tears) by his story and how he came to spirituality. I am also a graduate of the school of hard knocks, and felt an immediate resonance with his story and his message.
When I heard Chris was writing a book I just knew I had to get a copy and do a review & giveaway! Lucky for me Kayla had already bought me signed copy as a gift. In an effort to pay it forward and get this epic book into more hands you will have a chance to get your hands on a signed copy as well (more on that below).
So who is Chris Grosso and what is an Indie Spiritualist?
“Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, recovering addict, and bestselling author of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality. He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post and Mantra Yoga + Health Magazine. A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid 90’s.”
Indie Spiritualist in Chris’s words taken from Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality.
“Spirituality is often of little interest to those who are independent thinkers and don’t necessarily feel like we we fit into the mainstream cultural norms in terms of interests, passions, values, or attitudes. Whether we’re a teenager, a twenty- or thirty -something or older; into punk rock, hip hop, or alternative music; covered in tattoos and piercings; a skateboarder……”
He goes on to say: “Many of us looked to religion or spirituality for answers but soon found that neither the dogma of old religion nor the “love and light” fluffiness of New Age spirituality were approaches that resonated with us. Still, we were left with an internal yearning – one of virtually deafening silence-that compelled us to answer it’s call, but how? What can we do? What about the rest of us who don’t resonate with the exceedingly positive love-and-light movement or the dogmatic tenets of spiritual and religious traditions? What are we left to do when we are looking for something more, something we can embrace exactly as we are?”
Watch the video below for my full review and details on how you can win your very own signed copy.
Chris’s Website: The Indie Spiritualist
To enter to win a signed copy of Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality.
- If you are not already Subscribed, Subscribe To My Blog Below
- In the comments let me know what “spiritual” means to you
Winner will be selected August 30, 2014 using random.org and notified by email
This Giveaway has closed you can get Chris’s book on Amazon.ca here Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality or on Amazon.com here Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality
Do you have specific ideas about Yoga teachers and what it means to be a Yoga teacher? Many Yoga Students buy into myths and stereotypes about Yoga teachers that are commonly portrayed in pop culture and media, but are these misconceptions even true? Putting Yoga teachers up on a pedestal is dangerous, for the teacher and the student as well.
Time and time again There are Yoga Scandals that come to light when the latest Yoga teacher celebrity has a fall from grace and the pedestal they have been put on. Now I am Certainly not excusing unethical behavior on the part of a teacher by any means, but as students of Yoga don’t we have to at least take some of the responsibility for this ourselves?
If we truly embraced that Yoga teachers are Human beings and thereby have flaws just like everyone else, maybe this dichotomy wouldn’t exist.
In the video below I discuss some of the common Yoga Teacher Myths And Stereotypes (I am sure there are many more).
Common Yoga Teacher Stereotypes:
- Yoga teachers are Vegetarians
- Yoga teachers are all natural
- Yoga teachers don’t drink
- Yoga teachers all get up at the crack of dawn and spend hours practicing Yoga & Meditation
- Yoga teachers don’t drink coffee
- Yoga teachers are all strong & flexible
- Yoga teachers are all skinny, tiny barbie types
Have you believed any of these stereotypes yourself? In the comments below let me know which Yoga teacher stereotypes I have missed.
Why Striving For Balanced Life Is Bullshit And Will Never Make You Happy.
Are you striving for a life balanced life, feeling frustrated and like you’re always coming up short?
If you hang out in Yoga & wellness circles long enough, you can start to get the idea that in order to be happy and fulfilled, you should be trying to lead a life of balance or a well balanced life. We feel like we should be eating a balanced diet, have a balanced Yoga practice, get a balanced nights’ rest, we should have “work-life balance”.
Let me tell you why striving for a balanced life is Bullshit. It is impossible to lead a perfectly balanced life. Striving For perfect balance is just one more way for perfectionism to rear it’s ugly head. We can start to feel like, doing all the things we need to do to create a balanced life just adds more to our to-do list. We can start to feel like we aren’t good enough or wise enough to achieve perfect balance in our lives. We secretly wonder how others manage to to create This perfect balanced life.
We need to STOP this right now! Perfect Life Balance is a lie. No one has it. Let it go. What if instead of striving for a life of balance we relaxed into a life of harmony? In the video below I discuss Why Balance Is Bullshit, and how a simple shift in perspective to A Life Of Harmony can change your life (and make you a whole lot happier).
In the comments below let me know where in your life you can let go of Striving For A Balanced Life? In What area of your life could you relax into Harmony instead ?
If you or someone you care about suffers from Arthritis, You’re going to want to check out this book review.
Kim McNeil (a fellow Calgary Yoga teacher and trailblazer) and I follow each other on Instagram. When I saw that Kim had released a book Happy Joints: The Yoga For Arthritis Handbook I knew I had to buy a copy and check it out.
This is the story of how this book came to be in Kim’s own words:
“I had heard too many stories about how arthritis had reduced the quality of life of my family, friends, and students. Their stories were too similar: they went undiagnosed for years, they felt older than their age, they had given up on the things they loved to do, and they were frustrated about how their bodies were no longer working for them. Their physical and mental health had gone down the tubes. When it came to yoga, they felt left out of classes and misunderstood by teachers. I knew yoga could help them feel better again. I heard the testimonials from my students and complete strangers about how yoga helped improve their lives. I saw the changes made in my client’s bodies. I decided there should be a book written just for them, something they could use at home every day to help empower them to manage their pain, stiffness, and depression. I got on the job of creating such a book.” ~Kim McNeil
I cannot rave about this book enough. Watch my video below for my full review and your chance to win a signed copy!
Giveaway Details / Rules
- You must be a subscriber to my blog (which you can do below or on the top right hand side be entering your name and email)
- Leave a comment below letting me know if the book is for you or a loved one
- Winner will be chosen June 30, 2014 and contacted via email
Please check out Kim’s website for more info on Happy Joints: The Yoga For Arthritis Handbook and her Yoga For Arthritis Classes. If you know someone who suffers from Arthritis, share this blog post with them.
My Precious: My Review Of Precious Malas
My Q & A With Creator Of Precious Malas Bri Waldeck
Nyk: How did you come to Meditation and specifically mantra and Mala work?
Bri: I came into Meditation on my path to find happiness. For as long as I can remember (up to 2 years ago) I have struggled with extreme anxiety and depression. I had hit my rock bottom and decided I was going to fix this. I didn’t want to live in that world anymore. So along with many many therapists, psychologists, Chinese Medicine Doctors, and psychiatrists I started attending a Meditation class. I felt peace for the first time in 15 years. That was the start of Meditation for me.
Nyk: How did Precious Malas come about?
Bri: Ever since I was little I have loved Semi-Precious Stones. I was given a Tigers Eye Stone when I was 4 and actually still have it. Also, I have always been really into making jewelry. It was something that I loved and brought me peace.
When I tried to Meditate at home I found it really difficult and someone told me about Mala Beads as a tool to keep you focused on your Meditation. So I looked at my large collection of beading materials and made myself some Mala Beads after lengthy research into what they were and the history behind them. I felt something click in my heart. Making Jewelry was a passion I’d given up for a very long time to get a “normal” safe job; in my quest to find happiness I was brought back to what I really love.
Nyk: I am more familiar with cord (non-stretchy) for Malas. How long will the stretchy stuff last as the long cord (what is the life expectancy)?
Bri: The stretchy power cord I use I find super strong. I’ve been making Malas for 2 years and I have yet to have one break. I actually tested the strength of the cord with my nephews who are 2 and 3 years old. I made them their own Mala and they still hold strong. I figure that’s a good sign. I like it because it gives people the option of wearing it as a bracelet or necklace
Nyk: Any tips on how to use a Mala for those who are new to Mantra Meditation and Malas?
Bri: I have a free step by step guide to using a Precious Mala on my website. Just enter your email and it will be delivered to your inbox.
As a special treat only for my readers, Bri Has generously offered to give a complementary wrist Mala with every neck Mala ordered. Just drop her an email once you have placed your order and let her know I sent you.
FTC Disclaimer: This review is my own unsolicited opinion. I have bought all of my Jade Yoga Mats with my own money. Jade has not given me any products for review or to giveaway.
A few years ago, I decided to order my first Jade Yoga Mat. I heard so many good things from Yogini’s and Yogi’s I respect and admire about the quality and ethics of Jade Mats and Jade as a company.
They are a premium mat and I tend to be thrifty by nature so I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not they would live up to the hype. So I ordered my first Jade Mat; the professional 24 X 74 (in purple of course). It was Love at first Downward Dog and there was no going back. I have bought several now, and have one at each location I teach at. They are the only mat I use and recommend.
I’m doing another order Feb 15/2014 for those of you who are local. I will have order forms at class for you and if you aren’t currently signed up for classes, watch your inbox for details or email me using the contact form on this page. I have a Video Review and Giveaway or you below.
1 star for natural and sustainable
1 star for giving back by planting a tree for every mat bought
1 star for made in the US (sweatshop-free)
1 star for Kick Ass Quality (best mat I have used to date)
Jade Yoga Mat Giveaway Rules:
I will be giving away 1 -24 X 17 Jade Travel Mat in the color of your choice (colors in the image below)
Giveaway deadline is Feb 15/2014
Giveaway open anywhere in North America
To enter to win a Jade Yoga Travel Mat you must:
1) Subscribe to my blog below (if you are already on my email list, you can add my blog to your subscriptions by “updating your preferences” once you have entered your email.)
2) In the comments below tell me what color of mat you want to win
The winner of the Jade Yoga Mat will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted Via Email, Good Luck!