The Body In Motion

Have you ever been inspired by the human body in fluid motion? I’ve always been especially curious by the mechanics of the human form in its beauty as I flow through my yoga practice, exploring the depths of mobility, expansion, flexibility and flexion. Watching this video had me misty eyed at the gorgeousness of the physical anatomy, stunningly created by the medical 3D visual eFX team of Hybrid Medical Animation. Here’s how the Company described their project’s idea:

We wanted to combine the beautiful moves of yoga with this new visual approach to bring the full human skeleton to life. Hybrid’s illustrations and animations extend beyond the boundary of highly informative graphics: they enter the realm of high art, achieving a combination of Truth and Beauty

A skeleton in Tree PoseI am certainly inspired and entranced by this visceral journey through the skeletal landscape of the body, fluid in yoga motion. This dramatically unique video enhances my gratitude for a healthy mobile body that reaches beyond the proverb of beauty being only ‘skin-deep’. I hope you enjoy this profoundly gripping and humbling journey through the body in motion.

Herein lurks a deeper lesson for me. Beyond the movement of yoga lies stillness. And with the stillness and silence, one can explore the wisdom and lessons that are contained within each precious moment of our life.

The gifts of presence in body, mind and spirit is immeasurable. And magical.

What inspires you about your body, on or off the mat?

Three words … Clarity. Determination. Fulfillment.

Clarity. Determination. Fulfillment.

These are my three words. They just emerged in the heat of my Moksha practise, from the depths of my being. I wasn’t looking for anything actually. But yet the words popped in to mind, clear as day, as if I had sought out an intention to rock my world for 2014. As I wrote in ‘A New Year‘, I am not one to set resolutions at the rollover from one year to the next. But somehow, this feels different. Perhaps the seeds of desire from another have soaked into my consciousness, and from there they have manifested as three guiding words? Mental and verbal cues that bring me back to conscious action. A visual framework of sorts that represents three major focuses that I want to evolve in my life.

3 words

Words of Focus

1. Clarity:

Lao Tzu quote
I’ve been feeling extremely muddled and cluttered the last few months. Mental disarray to the extreme. Focus in thought, word and action has not been my strong point. Clarity in intention is vitally important, and has  been lacking. Sifting through my disarray means that I need a roadmap of sorts, to guide me through the chaos of my unhealthy patterns. For me, prioritizing and being accountable to a person or schedule is a big first step. I’m really good at sticking with a course of action that requires a daily commitment. I’ve successfully accomplished several yoga and smoothie challenges over the past year. But I didn’t have anyone to answer to, beyond my own desire to maintain a 30 day habit.  I have Maneesh Sethi to thank for my current impetus: “Hack The Habit Program”, which I stumbled upon more on a whim than with a plan. And before I knew it, I had two accountability partners, one in Singapore and the other in South Africa. 30 days of answerability. The concept – create a daily habit that is enforced through daily accountability checkins. My daily task must be cued by an already established pattern or routine  ~ i.e. after brushing my teeth every morning, I will do my 4 sets of plank holds. What happens if I fail to accomplish my desired task? A monetary stake is established for every day that I miss. At $50 a pop, the motivation to carry forth with my task is high.

I hope that with digging deep in my daily motivations, I can expand on my accomplishments and pave a pathway of clarity throughout my daily life.

2. Determination:

A seemingly simple word that establishes firmness of purpose and resolve. A commitment to my greater self, of establishing what it is that I want (clarity) and dedicating my all. I know that depending on others can be scary and messy, but depending on myself can at times be simultaneously empowering and terrifying. What if I fail? How do I bounce back without allowing my vision to dwindle away, disguised by the clutter of defeat and distraction?  By seeking out tools to guide me through the process of resolve, I might find that staying the course is easier than that without a plan. Meditation is a wonderful place to start. Starting small, committing to watching the breath, allowing for distraction to flow through rather than build story: this is my first step to building success on the path to determination. Creating an actual written daily plan of action, such as Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule is helping me be productive. An aid to overcoming procrastination by setting forth an action plan. Focusing and prioritizing what’s truly important in my day to day life is vital. By establishing my current state of being, and accessing where I am going / where I want to be, I can navigate both the path to clarity and resolve, in tandem.

3. Fulfillment:

The power of Gratitude is mind-blowing. Appreciation for all things {from the most basic elements of the cosmos to the most complex of thoughts and emotions}, I believe, will help me in the process of finding more clarity in life. By envisioning and understanding things differently (creating an alternative paradigm of thought and action), I am beginning the process of wanting and desiring from a place of transformation. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, and being open to the challenges and opportunities of daily living, allows for a flow of grace that is juicy & balanced, wondrous and accepting, guiding my innermost truest self to complete fulfillment in all that I do.

“We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.”

~ Thomas S. Monson

The biggest challenge through this entire process? Knowing myself, honouring my needs and being kind to all those around me (including myself ~ especially when I stumble and falter).

Savasana Bliss

Happiness indeed is a quiet mind. The quieter I can become in my daily life, the more I can hear from within. Yoga is an infinite path & transformative tool that leads me to finding that happiness and my edge.

Yoga = connection, being open, attuning to my inner awareness, and easing into a state of meditative groundedness. Savasana is that place of stillness; the culmination of a yoga practice, that perfect possibility for tuning in to the power of ones own unity and balance.

“Savasana: savasana is being without was, being without will be. It is being without anyone who is.”
~ Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar

Shadow Yoga in the snowYesterday, as I sweated it out in my new-to-me Moksha hot yoga class, I was inspired by the cleansing effect of my sweating. I’m really not one to sweat. Rarely. So I found myself quite surprised by this intensely hot yoga class …. the humidity, my shortness of breath, the at-times unbearable uncomfortableness of so.much.heat. that produced an alarming amount of sweat dripping from my body. It was like a faucet that I couldn’t turn off. Drip, drip, drip. I ached to leave the room into the coolness of the reception area, yet I was determined to weave my way through this strange sequence of asanas that left me, admittedly, a bit befuddled. To be honest, the class took me by complete surprise.  After the standing practice led to the sweet release of my body to the reclining series, I found that my mind was completely clear and focussed while my body was entirely at ease and perfectly released. There I lay, almost comatose in a state of savasana bliss. Whisperings of the breath, unwinding inwards to complete surrender. Now this is the exotic tranquility of complete emptiness. Bliss seems like the inimitable and only way to define my state of surrender to the Moksha practice I experienced.

At first, I was reluctant to be drawn in to the ‘cult’ of hot yoga (that’s what it feels like when I read about and witness the flow of people entranced by this practice). But I was curious, and I had a 30 day intro offer that I couldn’t pass by. $40 for 30 days of unlimited yoga at the Moksha Yoga St Clair West studio was my idea of a good deal that I wanted to take full advantage of (even if it means a 30 minute walk each way to the studio). Oftentimes, at home, I find it hard to maintain a sense of motivation to practice daily asana. I may have the intention, but my day gets carried away by the spell of my internet and working journey. By having this 30 day commitment drop in to my lap, I have an incredible opportunity to explore a new style of yoga that will help me get through the cold brutality of this winter of Polar Vortex weather here in Southern Ontario. So far, I’ve attended 10 challenging Moksha classes, 8 consecutively (all late evening = 8:30pm!). Not that I’m counting. I just don’t want to miss out on this amazing window for growth and yoga. And the nighttime repose sets me up with the divinity of relaxation sublime after a hectic day.

I LOVE this poem from the website “Peace. Love. Free“. For me, it describes Yoga and Savasana perfectly. Release the stories that do not serve us … SUCH a difficult but necessary task!

The mind says ‘mistake. regret. punishment’.
The heart speaks ‘long. ache. grieve’
The body pulses ‘want. want. want’


Yoga answers ‘you are nothing but your breath. exhale’


The legs scream ‘go. run. escape’
The ceiling fan whispers ‘you are still here. be present’

The critic declares ‘not enough. do more’
The practice replies ‘exactly right. infinitely curious. eternally gentle’

The hips protest ‘no. I can’t’
Yoga says ‘release the stories. they do not serve’

The hands grasp ‘hold tight. don’t let go
The pose demands ‘loosen. relinquish. release’

The tension says ‘do not move’
The breath says ‘you are free’

The habit pushes ‘control’
The mantra answers ‘surrender’


The spirit cries ‘scared. so scared’.
The music sings ‘every little thing’s gonna be alright’


The head whispers ‘afraid of shadows’
Yoga answers ‘you are nothing but light’



The muscles complain ‘so tired’
Savasana responds ‘rest now. be still.’


The fear says ‘ordinary’
Nameste reminds ‘divine. divine. divine’


The self says ‘I am here’
Yoga says ‘yes. yes, you are’

om shanti shanti shanti om

I Married Up!

This would be our final morning yoga class of Alumapalooza 2013. With 23 people in attendance (many of whom are returnees from their first-time yoga experience here in our yoga tent this week and from previous years), we felt very privileged to build and share in the community that has grown at this field location each Spring in Jackson Center Ohio, end of May. For three years running, we’ve volunteered our yoga services to the greater Airstream collective, cultivating a sense of yoga solidarity and exploration that didn’t quite exist before in Jackson Center. We have always enjoyed the prospect of returning to the Mothership of Airstream’s birth and revisiting with our Airstream family (once a year gatherings it seems). It’s amazing how an aluminum home can draw such reverence, interest and pride.

I was thrilled to be offering a yogaFLIGHT class for kids with slaDE, once again. But in actuality, it’s more of a giant play session. My husband has such a wondrous knack with teaching children, skilfully weaving an engaging and spellbinding varying story that has us adults enamoured with his style of yoga play. This year, we taught something near and dear to our hearts … the 12 young participants learned how to skydive, from exiting an airplane, teaching them how to ‘steer’ their canopies, to landing with a finesse and flourish. And of course, slaDE took them all for an ‘airplane’ ride afterwards. A few of the children stayed around afterwards to try out some of the more involved yogaFLIGHT moves that we play around with … ‘4 Step’ and ‘Shoulder Stand’. The boys did marvellously! I had to laugh when the one young boy, who was being spotted by our friend Kelly (while I roamed to take photos), exclaimed rather independently: ‘I’ve got this’ ~ translation = “Don’t spot or support me. I want to try this on my own”. 🙂

Antsy Maclean finished off a magnificent day with a rip-roaring spellbinding evening of 3 hours of raw wicked talent, interlaced with many an Airstreaming song. Antsy is definitely a favourite with this rVing crowd :), especially when he sings songs like: ‘I Married Up’.

It being the final farewell evening to spend with friends here at Alumapalooza, we chatted and cuddled, sang and laughed until our weary bodies begged for rest. Oh how I will miss our friends! Until next time, fare thee well ….

Amuck at Alumapalooza

Another spectacular morning yoga class with 25 people making the effort to attend our 7:30am class. I wasn’t sure how people would respond to the earlier time slot (last year we started at 8am each day). But it seems to be working out just fine, with those who really want their yoga morning fix, making the effort to join us under the big top, breathing and stretching on the luxurious tall grass. How wonderful indeed.

However, all is not champagne and roses on this windy, schizophrenically rainy day. The weather was failing to ‘cooperate’ as requested :). Backup Derby in the rain … not the best idea, especially with the threat of an impending torrential downpour with 50mph winds. Today, the winds started out much milder than yesterday’s stormy schizophrenic weather (although the skies threatened with their similar tempestuous character). It was actually perfect kite flying weather!

This year, slaDE and I decided to register for the Backup Derby. This truly is a tough event where a driver can show off their backing skills.  Teams of one or two can sign up to participate (note: married teams are coached to be prepared for marital-disharmony potential). You can find the 2012 rules here. The other 3 years I had been completely intimidated at the thought of pairing up with my husband in a trial run of rVing communication skills that would test the most skilled of rV marriages / friendships! Somehow 3 couples (including ourselves) managed to weave our way backwards through the seemingly simple track before the skies opened up in a heavy rainfall that had us scampering to the Airstream factory’s safety and dry interior.  The Derby looked deviously easy with the supplied single-axle trailer, until you saw that the supplied truck had ‘blacked out’ rear + side windows and mirrors, and that the traffic cones were strategically placed considerably close together. Aha! This would indeed be interesting. slaDE and I were 2nd up to bat. And managed to finish in 2min 3 seconds with two penalties (we hit the cones twice ~ slaDE was driving and I was outside with a walkie talkie), giving us a final tally of 2:23 minutes. By the time the first rain hit, our score was indeed the best of the three. However, there were 6 other couples to compete in the finishing round tomorrow. Wonder if we’ll win ourselves another set of ZipDee Alumapalooza special edition chairs for this year (we won the Rivet Master contest last year, with 2 chairs as our special prize!)?

The rest of the day was awash until ‘Happy Hour’ and then things started to really liven up! I announced that we would be offering a yogaFLIGHT workshop as a Roving Happy Hour pitstop, but we needed all participants to be sober. That caused quite the funny heckling ruckus, until I stated that we would be having a wIne & cheese afterwards. We in turn received a huge hurrah! 🙂

Three couples showed up to participate in the hugely successful and playful class. Turned out that afterwards, we had a really amazing happy hour under the big top tent, dry and tucked away from the fickle weather. Food and wine kept showing up after our supply ran short. It was a wonder to witness!

Josh Rogan finished off the night with a wonderful 2 hour set of rocking great tunes. What a fabulous day :).

Day 2, Alumapalooza 4

Another gorgeous day at Alumapalooza! So wonderful in that I slept soundly and solidly through the night, waking just minutes before we were to be teaching our yoga class in the tent beside us. YIKES! Nothing like rolling out of bed and stumbling to work :). Luckily enough, I’m a morning person and I can hit the ground running as soon as I wake up. Usually, LOL. The 23 attendees were gleeful at my tension-taming, easy-does-it morning class of stretching and breathing. And I threw in a bit of Pranayama and Meditation before stretching it out with yang-like asana postures. Lucky for me, slaDE was a wonderful assistant and allowed me the pleasure of teaching the class, for the most part anyway. We’ll try to switch roles later in the week.

Today’s highlights beyond the yoga tent ….

  • A vigorous countryside bike ride – very WINDY with the added bonus of a front-seat visual of the lovely Ohio countryside, topped with a big side of kick-butt exercise
  • A revisit to the Airstream factory tour. Nothing like being called to the Mothership :).
  • The ‘Aluminum Gong Show’ was a fundraiser where anybody could offer up their talents, and during their act, people who wanted the act off the stage could speed up the process with donations of large sums of money, after the gong was . Oddly, enough, if one liked the act, people were encouraged to give money as well! slaDE and I offered up a yogaFLIGHT routine to wow the crowd, Cirque Du Soleil style :). No gong was initiated for us. BONUS!
    • Over $800 was raised for the Red Cross to help with tornado relief in the midwest (in light of the recent Oklahoma disaster). Talk about generous Airstreamers! What an amazing community. Brett and Rich pledged to match dollar for dollar of the donations, leaving the grand total at $1,636!
  • Sitting around Colin Hyde’s trailer with fellow Airstreamers, shooting the breeze and podcasting via Colin’s cell phone (Colin Hyde is the Panel Pro) with VAP host Tim Shephard. The VAP usually discusses the weeks vintage topics , but tonight, everyone hanging out at Colin’s trailer spoke mostly about their Alumapalooza week thus far and how each individual found themselves at this venture in their Airstream life. You can find ‘Episode 186: Live from Alumapalooza 4!‘ VAP here.

Yoga and Alumapalooza 4

Alumapalooza 4: Our 4th year of returning home to the Mothership! Airabella’s birthplace, 22 years ago. Oh how we love to return home. I liken a trip to the Airstream factory as a trip to the ultimate candy store. 🙂

Our first official day as this years Alumapalooza Yoga Instructors started out beautifully with our 7:30am yoga class … 20 people in total! The weather was pure perfection, and with a freshly raked mown lawn under the big top tent, the earthen carpet for those to practice on was soft, clean and so very compelling in its true connection to Mother Earth, in every sense of the word. I love it when  people who are new to yoga, make the effort to come to our morning classes, never having attended any sort of class before. From the outset, we were very clear that these classes were purely a practice of breathing and stretching where we learn to listen to our bodies. Becoming attuned to one’s senses and connecting with in the inner world can be a very new experience for many. Any of the extra benefits of yoga (such as flexibility and strength) are just that … additional perks rather than goals. No excuses necessary or allowed! We had 7 new attendees, 4 of them new to Alumapalooza. YAY!

I learned a lot today from the multitude of discussions being offered in the main tent …. many great tips on rV Organization by a new friend Ramona Creel, the tech tips behind axle replacement on the Airstream by our friend Colin Hyde (we are possibly due to replace all 3 of our tandem axles). I had a tremendous amount of fun learning how to fly a trick Revelation kite (‘The Rev’), with Joe and my hubby. Roving Happy Hour was a wonderful success! We’ve been hanging with a similar group for the past 3 nights, and I’m thoroughly enjoyingWe were very blessed to have lent to us the wide variety of personalities, talents and knowledge base of these various new & old friends. It’s been such an amazing day of weather, warm sunshine, a cool breeze and endless blue skies. We topped off our day with sunset kite dances. Spectacular! Life is pretty incredible and amazing.

Going Deeper

redwood forest‘Going Deeper’ is a focused Meditation Retreat at the Mount Madonna Center that begins for us today. Officially it began on Friday night but we were uprooted from the full experience by full paying customers who registered last minute. I was quite disappointed, but am grateful to at least experience part of the process. What exactly is this retreat, you might ask?

meditationA small group of around 25 participants are set in seclusion for 4 days, embarking on a personal journey that invokes a deeper level of meditation and purification practice. To help calm the mind and allow it to turn inward, the staff incorporate a light diet of pure foods alongside a variety of purification practices, an observance of silence, and a meditative cave-like atmosphere of seclusion, all designed for inner reflection. A number of hours each morning and afternoon will be devoted to prescribed meditations, breathing exercises (Pranayama) and practice of asana in the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Baba Hari Dass. Time for reflection and study, spiritual stories, rituals, chanting of mantra and other devotional practices are also part of this special retreat.

Lotus Flower Inspiration

All of us, children and adults, are beautiful flowers. Our eyelids are exactly like rose petals, especially when our eyes are closed. Our ears are like morning glories listening to the sound of birds. Our lips form a beautiful flower every time we smile. And our two hands are a lotus flower with five petals. The practice is to keep our “flowerness” alive and present, not just for our own benefit but for the happiness of everyone.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Since coming to Mount Madonna, my education on the finer things of all things yoga (think Ashtanga Yoga and its eight limbs — we’re not just talking asana) has multiplied beyond my wildest perceptions. My meditation and pranayama practice has lovingly developed to an almost daily tradition that allows for a deepening of clarity and vibration in my life. It’s indeed beautiful and awakening in its energetic magnitude. In our weekly classes, I have learned so much more about the art of yogic breathing, the ability to go inwards, the energetic properties of prana (life force & vitality) which flows through each of us, the chakras and so much more.

With learning more about the chakras, as they are associated with our pranayama meditations, the imagery of a lotus flower (Nelumbo nucifera) comes up quite often. When we are taught about of the chakras, the lotus is visualised as seated on the crown (Sahasrara) in a subtle form of a thousand petaled lotus that opens upwards to receive divine cosmic energy. Also, it is typical for chakras to be depicted as either flower-like or wheel-like. I was truly curious about the symbolism of this flower. And so began my research. According to Wikipedia.org, in Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire, and is a symbol of wisdom and purity. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk, and lotus flowers bloomed everywhere he stepped. The lotus flower grows from the bottom of streams and muddy ponds to rise above the water, opening when the sun rises and closing when the sun sets, sinking below the muddy water, resurfacing the next day, untouched and unsoiled.

From this interesting blog, the author states that the eight petals of the flower could be taken to signify the eight noble paths. The white coloured lotus stands for mental purity and spiritual perfection, the red for purity of heart, love and compassion, the blue for wisdom, and the pink lotus is often considered as the supreme lotus reserved for the most exalted deity. This behaviour of the flower is a metaphor for the mind … without spiritual knowledge, the mind withdraws its beauty and form; with sadhana, the mind blossoms with illumination. Overall, the lotus flower is an archetypal symbol of the evolutionary potential and sacred development of each human being, signifying purity of consciousness and the journey of transformation from ignorance to awakening. The ‘Enlightened Yogi’ lives like a lotus flower, being fully grounded in earth yet aspiring towards the divine.

In Sanskrit the word for lotus is padma पद्म. The lotus posture (Padmasana) takes its name from the position of the feet and legs, representing the petals of the lotus flower. This asana helps to open the hips, strengthen the back, and increases flexibility of the knees. Padmasana (Pronunciation: pad-mah-sa-na) is also used as a base for meditation, chanting, and pranayama as the pose creates a natural balance throughout the body / mind, facilitating relaxation, concentration and ultimately, meditation. I however beg to differ when sitting in lotus pose for any length of time. In doing full lotus for any length of time, my knees and hips both start to ache with raw pains shooting through my legs. Luckily, there are a few variations …

  1. Ardha padma-asana or half lotus posture (ardha means half) is where one foot is placed on top of the thigh and the other is placed under the opposite thigh (full Padmasana places both feet on the thighs). When I sit in this posture, I must periodically alternate my position so that I get an equal stretch in both knees, as it is a “two-sided pose”.
  2. When full or half lotus is not comfortably available to a person, one can practice baddha kona-asana (bound angle pose).

Kitchari, some afterthoughts

It’s been a few days since breaking my cleanse. And as my friend Paul has quoted, “As much as fasting [and cleansing] can be a spiritual practice, so can eating.” I am finding myself so incredibly ravenous, trying to make up for lost time, it seems! It’s not that I limited myself on how much kitchari I could eat, but I found out that I only wanted to eat a certain amount, and large amounts of one item didn’t appeal to me. I’m kinda burnt out on eating kitchari (at least the one way that we were prescribed to make it) ….. what a shame, as I used to love and adore it so much. Maybe this too will pass. Additionally, I’m hoping that my unlimited hunger becomes sated :).

As an afterthought, I have totally been grooving on sprouting my mung beans and eating them with my rice breakfast cereal. YummY!