Moving On

The places life takes you are often different than we expect. We all know examples of this.

About two and a half years ago, at a party, a friend was telling me about his new venture in life: teaching yoga. Off-handedly he mentioned that he thought I’d be good at it, and for the first time ever I thought seriously about the idea. I loved yoga, after all, and truly believed it would enrich other peoples’ lives.

A year later I was in the midst of my teacher training. Not long after that I met with the managers of BCIT’s rec program and got set up to teach in the Fall.

Now, a year after that, I’ve realized I won’t be going back. Some life-type circumstances have come up, and it looks like I win’t be teaching in a regular class environment for a little while.

It’s sad to say goodbye. There are a lot if things I loved about teaching at BCIT, including a great crew of students who I got to know well over the course of the year.

I’ll miss everyone there a lot, but it’s really awesome to know I’m following the new path my life is taking. Who knows where it will go, but I know that yoga will always be a part of it, as well as theatre. Aside from that, all I’ve got is some adventure ahead.

Stay tuned!

Different Everywhere

By this point in human history, most of us have a pretty good understanding that human beings are all different on the outside. We just plain look different – it’s kind of a “Captain Obvious” thing to point out.

We even have a pretty firm graspt on the fact that we are all different in terms of the way we think. That while there are some universals, we all are deeply influenced by a large array of factors coming from culture, upbringing, and our unique biology. Different brains and different experiences lead to different ways of seeing the world.

When it comes to our physical insides, however, our bones and organs, most of us have a pretty homogenous view of what we expect to find. This is unfortunate, because our insides are all totally different.

Why does this matter? Well, in some ways maybe it doesn’t. You can get through life pretty easily without knowing that someone’s stomach is in a kind of different position than yours or that your femur has a little twist in it that causes you to walk with your feet turned slightly out. No big deal.

Some of these differences can even be changed or created, that’s part of why most of us do yoga, after all – to change our bodies by making our muscles stronger and more flexible.

The key is to realize that some of these internal differences translate into different abilities in, for example, a yoga class. If you do happen to have a twisted femur, then standing with your feet parallel in tadasana is probably a pretty uncomfortable position. It would be like asking everyone else to turn their feet in.

Don’t force your outside to look the same as everyone else’s if your insides are doing something different.

Eye Yoga

I’ve already talked about face yoga here before, but what about getting even more specific – what about the eyes?

Most of us spend hours each day staring at screens, and then possibly more time looking at books and other non-electronic items that are still in a very close focal range. It’s no wonder everyone needs glasses. In fact, degeneration of eyesight is the only health problem that actually increases with socio-economic status, because of the increased time spent reading, studying, writing, and using electronics.

There are two problems with this trend: one comes from overuse and the other from underuse.

We are overusing our eyes by staring at screens and books all day long. They need a break! Give them one by simply closing your eyes and letting them rest every once and a while. Pair it with some deep breathing and see how quickly your mental energy changes. This is the first “eye yoga” pose, and might be akin to savasana.

Another great way to give your eyes a break is to cup your hands over your eyes, masking all the light, and keeping them open, so your looking into total darkness.

The second problem is underuse. While you are overusing your eyes by keeping them open and active all the time, most of what we look at is within a very limited focal range, which means we’re underusing the other aspects of our vision. It falls out of practice, and like anything else in our bodies, once we stop using it, we lose it.

Keep the variety by following the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Simple, but effective. Set an alarm if you need to.

There you go! A few eye yoga exercises to keep your eyesight strong and healthy.

Yoga Journal Talent Search

I saw a this in the Huffington Post Health News – Yoga Journal is hosting a talent search, inviting its readers to send ina photo of themselves doing their favourite asana. Here are some of the entries thus far:

How is that for the beauty of true yogis? No fancy make up, costume, or flattering lighting. Just regular yogis doing their thing. Love it.

Check out the Yoga Journal Tumblr to see the awesome variety of people doing yoga, and maybe add yourself to the mix!

Yoga Break

Here’s my latest (and so far greatest) solution to the problem of incorporating yoga breaks into my work day: alarms.

I downloaded an alarm app on my work computer, and set alarms to go off every hour and a half after 10am. Then I get a guaranteed reminder 5 times a day to jump out of my chair and get moving.

Lucky for me, I work in a casual enough office that nobody minds (or even really notices) if I jump up and do a couple sun salutations and heart openers in the middle of the room, so I get a nice, full body mini-practice every hour and a half. If your office isn’t quite so open-minded, you can be a little more subtle about it: when you alarm goes off, just do a little desk yoga. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, stretch your arms up over your head and do a little twist and a backbend or two. Then get yourself out of your desk and go for a little stroll – even just to get a glass of water.

The app I chose can be found here, but there are tons of options. Just do a search for free alarm apps!

Before and After

This is a wonderful series of photos charting a group of participants in a meditation retreat before and after their experience. The photographer had them sit in front of the same background both times, asking them before the retreat to reflect on what they hoped to get out of it, and asking them afterwards to reflect on the experience. I have certainly made my own observations about the difference between the before and after images, but I won’t colour your interpretation with my own. Posted below are a couple of images, but I definitely recommend clicking this link to get the rest.

Face Yoga

I’m not saying anything new when I tell you that we are generally terrified of aging in this culture. While I have embraced the fact that I have a few grey hairs at the tender age of 27, that doesn’t meant that I am immune to the fear of visible aging.

Well, let me introduce to you the latest craze in anti-aging techniques: face yoga!

Yoga’s already good for keeping your body youthful on the inside: a regular yin and yang yoga practice will help keep your joints and muscles fluid and mobile, putting off the shrinking and drying up that happens with age. They don’t do much for the face though, which is where face yoga comes into play!

Some (alleged) benefits of face yoga:

  • Increasing the tone of face muscles (and thus keeping the face lifted and tight-looking)
  • Reversing or diminishing the effects of habitual facial expressions (if you frown or smile all the time, you’re more likely to get lines in those places, but face yoga brings some variety into the mix, and variety, we all know, is the spice of life)
  • Increasing blood flow to the face, something that will brighten your skin and theoretically help keep it from drying up from the inside out
  • Sharpening and refreshing your mind
  • Bringing some silliness into your day, because you’ll be making some really silly facial expressions

Some things to take into consideration: there is no scientific proof (that I found) that face yoga actually prevents or decreases wrinkling and sagging in the skin, and some doctors claim that it might exacerbate the problem.

Then there’s the argument that yoga isn’t really supposed to be about beauty and changing your appearance but about acceptance and enlightenment. Of course, the intentions and philosophy behind the practice of yoga has changed many times throughout history, so is it so bad to change it again? Up to you.

Want to try out face yoga for yourself? Time Magazine has posted a great photo essay with a complete face yoga practice!

Do Nothing with Dan Clement

My YTT instructor is hosting an amazing-looking retreat that fits in with my New Year’s resolution quite nicely.  He’s only accepting 8 students, and if you’re looking to chill out a little this will be a good place to start. Here’s his invite:


You will not get better at doing anything by attending this retreat.
You will not achieve a higher level of anything, which may be good, because is that helping?

We will enjoy each other’s company, talk about interesting
things, laugh, stretch mindfully (you could say do yoga) quite a bit, walk along the beautiful seashore paths and sleep deeply.

We will not try to do anything, not even try to do nothing. But it may happen that you’ll
experience a state of doing nothingness.

All cellphones, computers and other devices designed to distract will be handed in upon arrival, and handed back when you depart.

Come, do nothing with Dan.

Arrival – late afternoon March 2nd. Departure – A.M. March 5th.
Cost – $375 Includes – Accommodation and vegetarian meals. Two sessions of Yoga practice daily, exploring holistic biomechanics, self-practice and some therapeutics.

Contact Dan at to register. Maximum 8 students