Sunday, September 5, 2010


OMG! The phantom editor is a real person. Her name is Lisa Miriam Cherry and she's just published STORIES FROM THE YOGIC HEART a collection of 27 stories of how yoga has transformed their lives. And, my story, A HOUSE FOR MY SOUL is one of them.

I have found the process, from the initial submission of my story (and notification of it's acceptance), to actually holding the book in my hand, to be TOTALLY SURREAL! For some background see: here and here, and here. (I really think I should really call this blog the SUBLIME AND THE RIDICULOUS.)

True to Lisa's modus operand, just when I was wondering, hmm I wonder what has happened with the book, I received an e-mail from her on August 18th, notifying me that the book launch party was to be held on Sept 2nd at THE YOGA SANCTUARY in Toronto and I was invited... because, my own story A HOUSE FOR MY SOUL appears in the book. I'm skeptical by nature, as you can plainly tell, but it was so.

At the party (which was so much fun) Lisa told me that it has taken her 6 years to produce the book. As thumb through it's pages and read the stories I marvel at the task she set for herself, appreciate the gargantuan effort it took for her to bring this project into the world; a true labour of love. She has my deepest admiration and respect!

I am moved by the stories of the other authors and am deeply humbled that my piece appears alongside theirs. We come from all walks of life and all ages (the oldest yogi is 98 years old); all felt our lives transformed by the grace of yoga practice. As you read you will see that we also give voice to the evolutionary process yoga has undergone over the last 50 or so years. From little specks of light, a shift would take place that would propel yoga into the mainstream of North America.

For the first 7 years of my study of yoga I practiced in isolation, self-taught, through books and TV programs. Meanwhile, others of my generation were doing the same in their own little spot in the universe or trekking to India to study at the feet of masters and bring back the wisdom or serendipitously stumbling across a swami who happened to live in their own neighbourhood or gathering with other self-taught practitioners to share what they had discovered.

My first participation in public yoga class was in 1975 through a yoga teacher training program offered at Sheridan College (which was then a budding, little community college not the internationally renown home of the school of animation that it is now) in my hometown of Oakville, Ontario Canada. I learned about it through an ad in the local paper, THE OAKVILLE BEAVER. At 23, a yoga practitioner and frustrated waitress with a newly minted degree in fine art, I found myself surrounded by eccentric, middle-aged, middle class, white women struggling to find balance in their lives as wives and mothers. Some were already teaching yoga, offering Sivananda influenced classes after hours at school gymnasiums, local YMWCA's and church basements. They formed a kind of yoga underground. This is how yoga was spread in the burbs, in my neck of the woods, in those days.

When I moved to Victoria, BC I became a member of the Yoga Centre of Victoria, an informal collective of individuals who taught public classes and gave peer workshops out of the YMWCA and their own homes. Envisioned and propelled by the driving force of Shirley Daventry French, amongst others, the community practiced the same form of hatha yoga as the Oakville group and was composed primarily of the same demographic to which was added a number of men (mainly husbands at first) and later younger practitioners appeared. Within a few years Swami Radha and B.K.S. Iyengar became our gurus. "Seniour" teachers - some international, some from the states and some Canadians - came to teach their methods. From these modest beginnings a formal yoga centre - the IYENGAR YOGA CENTRE OF VICTORIA - has sprung up in the heart of Victoria.

Not all had an affinity for these chosen masters and a faction of the group split off to follow the teachings of others and form groups of their own - Iyengar, ashtanga, Kripalu, flow, vinyasa, hot yoga, Baptise yoga, Moksha yoga, anusara and others have sprung up in a process of evolution that continues today in centres world-wide.

We are now so resource rich with yoga teachers that young people flock to classes at thousands of yoga centres in North America.

Krishnamacharya, Sivananda, B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Swami Radha, Swami Satchidananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Indra Devi, Baba Hari Dass, Venkateshananda, Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, these are some of the names of teachers and gurus that you will find in the book. If you do yoga they, and all who came before them, are part of your lineage. When you come to the mat you honour them and are responding to your innate need to "come home" and communicate with the Great Spirit, the divine, God.

My practice in all its forms is my refuge, my inspiration, my celebration, my life-long companion, my teacher, my creation, my connection with nature, the universe, all beings and the Great Mystery. It is the unique expression of my heart and spirit.

I am truly blessed that yoga came into my life.

Lisa has not only put together a book that explores how yoga has transformed the lives of it's authors, through their journeys you will discover the seeds of how yoga became, to use a modern expression - "viral".

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