Friday, May 22, 2015

Combing the Coast - French Beach

SURF RIDER- COMBING THE COAST French Beach 2015 from Jen Steele on Vimeo.

This beach clean up was in March and Jen got the video out shortly afterwards.

Jen spent a lot of time interviewing a whack of people. She asked permission to follow us around for a bit and after a while I kind of forgot that she was filming.

At the monthly meeting in April a few people came up to me and said that I was a pretty good spokesperson, but I had no idea that the video had come out nor that Rod and I appeared in so much footage. I have to admit that it felt pretty cool to have a record of myself in this wonderful place doing something that I'm passionate about with others who respect and are grateful for this "super beautiful" place that we have the privilege to inhabit.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see this beautiful place that I call home and the amazing people who are making a difference here on Vancouver Island. Jen did such a beautiful job filming and editing the piece; inspiring. It really just makes you want to go out and clean up a beach doesn't it?

The next big event is INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY June 20th Paddle Out for Clean Water at Cadboro Bay Beach 10 - 4 p.m. I've got my SUP board reserved - woo hoo! Info on the event HERE
Hopefully there'll be another video to share with you all. Lots of events going on through the day - should be a lot of fun.

I'm so grateful to have gotten a second chance to do all the things that I never got a chance to do the first time around. I dreamed of being a surfer girl when I was a teenager living in southern Ontario. Well, the reality is that my surfing consists, for the most part, of falling off the board into the surf. But, I discovered SUPing (stand up paddle boarding) and the dream lives…a board, the water and a paddle; works for me! Just call me Gidget.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blog Hop - Reality Creation

I entered a blog on AWAKENING CHOICE DREAMS but it is one of those that would be suitable here so here it goes…
Go on over to REALITY CREATION to read about a personal dream coming true.

I'm adding this pic as a follow up to the post.

There's a bit of synchronicity here, as I'd said to a group on Saturday, "When I was a girl it was not "normal" for plastic bags to be blowing in the wind from the branches of trees and bushes…" and the very next day there it was. This was in a park not in a parking lot of a mall. Sadly, this isn't an abnormal sight for generations that have come after the boomers.

So, I untangled it and gathered some small bags that were nearby and I'll use it for other litter that I find on my outings cus if I find a bag I have made a pact with myself to do so. Maybe one day bags in trees and bushes will be an abnormal sight - that's a reality I hope to see in my lifetime.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Confessions of a yoga slut

I'm a yoga slut. Ahh. There, I've said it. 

I recently purchased a first-timer's one month's trial membership to a yoga studio. In order to make the most of it, I'm holding on to it while I work on another intro membership deal from a different place. I drop in to yoga classes taught by old friends. Recently I invested in a 12 day punch card special offer at an athletic club gaining full use of facilities + yoga class. And…I'll be seeking out more intro deals, so that I can check out more studios and see what local teachers have to offer.
In the spare room at the  folks place 2010

Such promiscuity! 

I would have never done this in the past. 

For the first 7 years of my practice I was self-taught, drawing from books and TV programs. Gymnastics, or rather the lack of support for the gymnastics program at my high school, brought me to yoga. It was kind of like gymnastics. As I explored all the many different  possibilities that the asanas offered I created my own flow and sessions. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of regular practice saved my life * 

I began to teach others now and then. In those days, if you knew more than the person you were teaching and had a certain amount of confidence pretty much anyone could teach.

I attended my first yoga class with a bunch of middle-aged female yoga teachers in 1975; we were part of the inaugural Sheridan College's Yoga Teachers' Training Program. They welcomed me with open arms and encouraged my aspirations to become a real teacher. I felt a camaraderie with these women.

Over the ensuing years I became part of, and was exclusively loyal (each in their own turn) to 3 different yoga studios.

On a deck at a cabin in the woods
a few summers back, Vermont
My first loyalty was to my fellow Victoria YMWCA yogis (aka Yoga Centre of Victoria), the group that I "grew up" with in yoga, that nurtured me through my early years from 1976 as a novice teacher. Yoga was yoga when I first began but different forms of yoga were becoming standardized through the '80's. Growing pains developed within the yoga community and along with them came politics and power struggles. Our group began to divide into Iyengar and non-Iyengar yogis. Eventually we were expected to declare our loyalty. Though I'd immersed myself in the Iyengar approach, I was quite happy doing other forms as well. It felt very un-yogic to choose one over the other but, reluctantly, I choose. I aligned with the Iyengar group and lost touch with many teachers of other methods.

That was the first and only time that I denied my love for all forms of yoga/asana practice.

When I moved back to Ontario I retreated to the sanctuary of my own practice. The voices of my mentors and peers gradually slipped into the background and the freedom and creativity that initially drew me to yoga re-emerged. It was, surprisingly a lovely time. 

My first foray back into public yoga class took place in a Church gymnasium; so old-school. I welcomed diving into a new form - Ashtanga yoga with its breath based movement. It was a big contrast to the linear and alignment emphasis of the Iyengar method. Iyengar: Ashtanga = ballet: jazz, in my experience. Both are wonderful, very different, complementary forms. 

Soon afterwards, Sue, my inspiring teacher, and her business partner opened up a studio incorporating both Iyengar and Ashtanga under the same roof; unbelievable! I found my second community. And, for a time they thrived alongside each other… and then… they didn't. Split was inevitable.

Meanwhile I resumed teaching but my style, influenced by life experience, some physical set backs and Shiatsu studies, evolved. I had classes in Iyengar influenced yoga, ashtanga yoga and my own fusion - combining Iyengar, ashtanga, tai chi, do-in and meridian stretches. All these approaches fed my body, mind and spirit and I knew some, or all of them, would be a fit for fellow seekers too.

Spare hall at a construction site this year
Campbell River 
I witnessed the torch of yoga being passed down to the next generation when Sue's gifted daughter, Katie, opened up a yoga studio of her own. Once more I found a studio and teacher to love. I enjoyed doing advanced practices alongside her. Her yoga classes "took off", her following grew and the studio moved out of my neighbourhood in order to fulfill the increased demand fuelled by the yoga explosion that was taking place. 

Around this time my body was going through the changes of menopause and a debilitating neck issue flared up. My practice needed to change. No books, nor teachers could guide me. I retreated to my mat once more and drew from the wealth contained in the many approaches I'd practiced as I allowed my body's wisdom to guide me through the adaptations and explorations that it needed.

Over the course of 46 years of practice, I've become more open to embracing the many studios, many teachers and many approaches that thrive nowadays, perhaps because I know from experience that impermanence exists, even in yoga, and that there is wisdom contained in all schools.

Everything changes. 

I've done yoga everywhere. Of course, images promoting yoga show beautiful, long, lean, lithe yoga bodies doing impossibly intricate, challenging and perfect postures on mountaintops, in exotic locations, on deserted beaches; yoga as "lifestyle" has become big business. For most of us yoga is done in the "trenches" of daily life, the non-glam places that you don't see in the glossy mags: hospital and hotel rooms, in airplane and car seats (I'm small), construction sites (during breaks - no saws, drills or dust please), cottage decks and campsites (bugs and bees drop by now and again - some leave their marks), hallways, airports, nooks and crannies in our homes - anywhere a yoga mat will fit. Yes, and in yoga studios and classes too. 

With the kitties Christmas 2012
Burlington, Ontario
But my favourite practice and location goes something like this…It's late morning, mid-day or evening. I'm in my living room, on my mat, in my PJ's (Some of you thought I was going to say in the buff didn't you? Ha, surprise!). My kitties are bathing themselves or sleeping on their "princess" blanket or pillow or crinkly paper beside me or perched on a chair overseeing my practice. Music is playing, or it's not. I embrace the sound of my breath that breaks through: silence, the sound of birds singing, kids yelling or crying crocodile tears as their grand dramas unfold in play outside my door. Light streams in through the glass sliding doors; it's overcast and/or raining; it's dark. It's cold; it's warm. I'm breaking a sweat through vigorous movements and/or I'm chilln' and hanging out in long held asanas. A candle burns, or it doesn't.

From the moment I began my own practice I knew that I'd always have yoga in my life. My practice is a joyful expression of gratitude for those teachers who have come before me. It provides sanctuary, guidance, inspiration and solace during difficult times. 

It is a physical celebration of movement and stillness which transcends the physical. As I practice I give thanks.

When it's really cooking… yoga spills off the mat and into daily existence.

* You can read about this in STORIES FROM THE YOGIC HEART
And…you can get the Kindle version - here at Note: Mine is but one of 27 inspiring stories about how yoga has influenced the lives of famous people and regular types like myself.