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poweryogacanada

A Practice in Equanimity

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Reflecting, and blogging, on the week past has been an interesting project to take on. It has really enabled me to get real with what is working and where there may be room for growth and opportunity, not only within the 40 Day journey but also on my mat, in my meditation and my life! Thank you for reading:)
I have been stuck on what to write on for Week 3 its focus, equanimity, and its connection to my meditation experience. And then it hit me.
Like I mentioned in my last post, I have noticed significant shifts in my life when I take the time to ‘Hurry Up and Sit Still’. During our third week of this journey I noticed a shift in my reactivity and my ability to take a breath before taking action.
Equanimity was presenting itself off the mat and in my life…
Last week when I was stuck in yet another long queue at the grocery store I waited patiently, the clock kept ticking and I began to notice that I was going nowhere fast. I was beginning to get hungry; starting to run late and as a result was getting a little agitated. I kept breathing. As my breath became more shallow and as my heart rate started to increase (note the drama here;)) a woman cut in front of me (I went silently crazy in my head!) and simply asked, ‘Can I skip in front of you with my bag of apples, they are the one thing I forgot in this shop?’ One big breath and I simply responded, with a smile (a natural one to boot!) I might add, “Yes, no problem.” And there it was, my breath neutralized, my heart rate subsided and it was time to move on.
My point is that meditation comes in many forms and can help us out in the most seemingly frustrating situations. I could have taken this incident home with me and made this woman the reason why my day went this way or that, or done the opposite, which I did, and simply took a few breaths and decided to move on.
Have you ever been stuck in traffic in the morning and it ruined your day? What about waking up to dishes in the sink when you did them the night before? How about someone cutting in front of you at the store? Someone driving super slow in front of you….someone doing something……..someone else doing something else….and so it goes.
And now you get to choose how you react, if you do at all. You get to choose. And in this past week I have noticed that I have chosen differently. If something has affected me I acknowledge it as something that I am creating and not making it about ‘someone’ else. It has been powerful.
So I ask you to do the time or at least make a practice of it. When that ‘someone’ has done ‘something’ can you choose to not react and simply let the next moment be about something different. You have a choice and the choice is ALWAYS yours.
Practice some equanimity in your everyday life. It truly is a gift. To meet life as life meets you.

-Heather Coates

Hurry Up and Sit Still

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If you read last week’s blog then you already know that I find meditation challenging. The simple idea of sitting with myself was often times scary, difficult and ultimately a boring activity for me to anticipate. I realized that I had created a massive block between me and the world of stillness.
As we moved through Week 2 with a focus on Vitality I got to thinking about my meditation practice (or lack thereof…yes, I continued to resist into the beginning of Week 2…) and reminded myself gently that my asana practice is a form of meditation; a moving meditation. Now I am not saying that this replaces the benefits of a seated, silent and still meditation but it was something that I had to realize was an accomplishment. I CAN meditate (the proof is in the asana pudding) but I had chosen not to, chosen to make it difficult and chosen to create a HUGE story around it. There was no ‘I don’t know how’, ‘I’m not good at it’ or any more excuses – I just needed to do it. And so I did.
So I am back on the meditation pillow (note: this is just a pillow from the couch;)) and as I type I remember…
I credit the positive changes in my life to the moments where I have taken the time to meditate. Taken the time to sit still and get clear about what I am doing with myself, where I want to go and what I want to accomplish. It’s no coincidence that I had huge shifts in my life once I graduated my PYC teacher training – I was meditating regularly. I should add that I am not sitting and pondering these things with a conscious mind but I find that when I take the time to sit and really empty, I get really clear in most everything I do.
By resisting my meditation practice what I was really telling myself was that I was undeserving of it and that is just not true. I acknowledge this lie and move forward with the power to hurry up and sit still

Heather Coates

Something’s Gotta Give

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I am in my second week of the 40 days program and I must say that I am really enjoying myself. In fact, I love this program so much that I’ve decided to take it on a seventh time. What’s not to love about this personal revolution though?! You get to do 6 days of yoga in a week, meditate every day, journal on your eating habits/patterns and go through some deep inquiry about your personal life…sounds pretty hardcore but totally doable right?!! Well, I must tell you that every time that I’ve participated, I’ve struggled with my meditation. I’ve constantly had to recommit to my meditation practice and realize just that….that it’s a practice! Well, I set out THIS time to really focus on that and it’s been going great. Here’s the kicker though….my asana practice is basically non-existent. My yoga practice that I love so much (my sanity!) has taken the back burner this time around and I’ve been making up excuses from ‘being tired’ to ‘having no time’ and simply just not wanting to hit my mat. What is it that I fear?

The very first time that I did this program I had been going through a difficult break-up. I resented meditation so much because it made me deal with the feelings that I had. I would immerse myself into my yoga practice so that I didn’t have to face anything else. Well now the tables have turned and there’s something on my mat to discover and I am resenting it. I am completely aware of this but yet I do nothing! If it’s not my meditation that’s lacking, it’s my diet or now…my practice. To really focus on one aspect of this program means I have to ignore some other components right? Something’s gotta give? Well….that’s the easy way out. The truth is, nothing has to be compromised. I can make time for my practice just as I’m doing for my meditation, my nourishment and my excavating questions. It’s a choice. If I want growth in my life, if I want to break the patterns that are clearly not working, I need to FULLY commit without judgement or guilt. I need to hit my mat 6 days a week and if I fall off the wagon…I get back on with more velocity, drive and heart. At our very first meeting I declared that I am letting go of my self saboteur and here she is….trying to take over control! She is so sneaky!! Well, I see her and I recommit to my declaration as well as my asana practice….which like I’ve said before…is indeed just that.

A Practice in (Im)Perfection

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There have been moments in my life (far too many moments to count) where I have chosen the idea of perfection, the “it’d better be perfect or I’m not going to do it at all” kind of attitude. As I reflect on my first week of 40 Days meditation I have to ask myself what a ‘perfect’ meditation means to me….
….I’m sitting in an empty, open air room with the sound of the sea nearby, I am wearing beautiful loose fitting clothes (of the Julia Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love variety), with Kirtan playing softly in the background, my body is comfortable with stillness, my mind is at ease with silence and every now and then a sea breeze softly touches my cheek…..
But this is what any given day of meditation is really like…
….I’m sitting anywhere in my house that allows me to sit comfortably on the ground, I am likely in my flannel pjs or housecoat because it’s -15 outside, no Kirtan but likely the hum of an NHL game on the background of the next room, my back hurts and is screaming at me while my foot falls asleep, my mind is trying (and it’s trying hard) to create the next thing that needs to be done and every now and then a cat saunters along and head butts me to remind me that it’s still there…..
Ahhhhh, blissful ‘real life’ meditation. The kind that challenges and aggravates me but will, given the opportunity, set me free from the shackles of wanting to look good, needing to look like I have everything together and wanting (and needing) everything to perfect, including myself.
My meditation practice may not be a perfect practice but it’s mine and I will keep sitting down, in silence, to take it on one minute and one breath at a time. Today I recommit to myself, and to my meditation practice, and to the possibility of being blissfully imperfect and being perfectly okay with it!

Small Change Adds Up

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It’s a running joke (slash ongoing battle) between me and my husband; my love of using exact change. His aversion to change is so strong, he won’t even carry any. He pays for his purchases exclusively with bills, and will toss whatever change he’s given into the car’s cup holder or our coin tin at home.

This habit of his is just fine with me. I happily dive into his discarded coins on a regular basis; he keeps me in my takeout coffees and feeds my parking meters. The best part about his change-hoarding habit is our yearly trip to the ‘Coinstar’ machine, when all that change turns into several hundred spendable grocery dollars! Over the course of time, small change can really add up.

Lately I’ve been seeing how this philosophy can extend into everyday life. Having given birth to my first child twelve weeks ago, I’m finding myself presented with a bit of a double-whammy: I have work to do to get my body, my nutrition, and my yoga practice back to where I’d like them to be, but I have very very little time for myself.

I spent at least eight weeks completely stuck in inaction: there was so much I wanted to change, that the prospect of initiating that change was just plain unappealing. I wanted all the bad habits that took over during pregnancy (too much sugar, too frequent coffees, lots of napping and cheese with everything) all gone, right now. All or nothing! Valuing this sort of black-and-white thinking kept me stuck, spinning my wheels. Every single thing I wanted to change stayed exactly the same.

So I took a page from Lululemon’s book and decided to ‘do one thing’. Finding myself depressed at the prospect of giving things up, I shifted my question to “What can I add in?”. Beautiful. I started by adding a walk every single day, no matter what circumstances arose or excuses I invented. I didn’t always want to go. I might not even have always enjoyed it…. but I was always glad I went.

A week went by and I was inspired to do more. I looked at the way I was eating. What can I add in? Mentally I wanted to get complicated about this, to make lists or even a meal plan, but I’m beginning to realize how much I complicate things with maximal planning and minimal action. So I just ‘added in’ one meal a day that was full of colour. And again, while I didn’t always want to wash sprouts and chop peppers (isn’t there a frozen pizza nearby?!) I got a total charge both physically and mentally from a plate full of vibrant colours and therefore bountiful nutrients.

So these two little changes are now beginning to have a big impact beyond themselves. Consciousness has begun to arise and is spilling over into other parts of my day. The days of going to Starbucks for an extra-whip latte because I’m out and because I can are over! Or at least less frequent. And while I may not be back in my skinny jeans, I do have at least one pair of jeans that I can fasten again. And that’s something.

So I invite you to ask yourself – Where in my life do I desire change right now? The answer to this one’s simple: it’s the first thing that flashed into your head. Now commit to doing one thing: what can you add in (or if you like, take out) that supports you in achieving this change? Keep it simple, keep it easy. Resist the temptation to be perfectionistic, black-and-white, or all-or-nothing. Just do one thing. And watch your small change start to add up.

~ Samantha Newton-Switzer

Let the Fog Lift

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Fog has always fascinated me.

One moment everything in sight seems crystal clear and then in an instant the fog creeps up. Before we know it, we’re surrounded by this thick fog and can’t even see our own hand in front of our face.

Last night, in our Your Life Design meeting, the idea of starting something out of nothing kept coming up. Pretty daunting, right?

OK, I’ve got my big idea! It’s crystal clear and of course I’m willing to put it into action BUT… (cue fog)

I don’t know where to start.

And there I am again, big idea in my head, but frozen stiff in the fog. Paralyzed by the future and how on earth I am going to get from here to there. I was in this headspace last night for the first half of our meeting. Every answer to the questions being asked was “I don’t know” and all my best yoga breathing and reminders to let it be were not taking any of the frustration away.

The moment I put my hand up and shared that I was in a fog, it lifted. Just as quickly as it crept in, it seemed to vanish. My vision got clear. I started to see where I wanted to go, but more importantly, the steps I need to take to get there. What I’ve never realized is that EVERYTHING starts from NOTHING. I’m definitely not the first person to have an idea and not know how to make it a reality. It’s okay to admit you don’t know what’s next.

We can get so caught up in where we think we’re headed, that we lose sight of where we actually are in the moment. When I’m on my mat I have to remind myself again and again that the prize is in the process. It’s not all about getting to a certain expression in a pose, but enjoying each breath along the way. Last night I realized that it’s not all about getting to the end result, the goal, the destination because what’s the point of arriving if I haven’t enjoyed the journey? It’s about acknowledging the unknowns, letting the fog lift, and embracing each step along my path.

So this week is all about reminding myself to:

Come back to the present moment.
Take a deep breath.
Place one foot in front of the other.
Take today’s step (no matter how small it might be).
Trust that in the end, it will lead me where I need to go.

– Jenn Dwyer

Just look down…

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The ground is right there beneith our feet, always has been and always will be, but for me it wasn’t until recently that I finally looked down to notice it.  Moving away from my frieinds, family and my regular practice at PYC has not been an easy transition. I have spent the last 5 weeks stuck in my head, fantisizing about the future, day dreaming about the past, really just being anywhere my feet weren’t.  Naturally, as a very watery person, I thrive on the stability of my support system to keep me grounded and I litterally felt like my roots had been ripped out from under me.   I used to fantasize about how I’ll just go back and forth from my new house in Bowmanville to Mississauga…  Seems so easy right?  Not so right! I was living in an non-accepting, un-reality and I refused to believe that I am meant to ‘BE HERE’ in my new house.  I actually closed my eyes, my heart and my mind to the possibilities that surround me. I refused to see that something was and is HAPPENING! Suddenly, as my eyes began to open, I began to accept this change in my life.  I started to look around me, at the community I NOW live — the beautiful greenery, organic markets, even my amazing neighbors! I can finally feel the earth benith my feet and I’m no longer afraid to grow roots here… My body has calmed down, my mind has became less loud and I realize that if I want MY community I’m going to have to create it!   So, this is it…  Bowmanville is my new playground and these people NEED PYC Yoga! The only question is, is PYC ready for Bowmanville? Lol!!      ~  Debbie Smith

Failures happen…and?

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K & P Having an amazing experience at the Baptiste Immersion in Estes Park, Colorado

I just want to begin with, I consistently post…every six months.  However, this time I am not prepared to make some grandiose statement about how I am going to re-commit to posting regularly.  The truth of the matter is I am extremely busy, period.  Most days I am struggling with making sure my 6 year old has all of his homework completed, uniform washed and lunch + joke of the day ready to be scooped up in the morning.  And yes, of course I put little notes in my son’s lunch box every day…the only problem is now the entire class has come to expect a daily joke.  Does my life sound familiar?  I’m sure it does, because we are all leading these extremely hectic, chaotic lives that having us running non stop.  I should do some yoga and slow down, says the studio owner and ironically enough that has made the biggest shift in my life since coming back from Kenya this summer.  I have begun meditating every day.  Do I miss a day?  Of course!  Do I struggle with being still?  Absolutely!  Kinndli and I are working on grounding down to show up fully in our day to day lives and for me, it is working.

Masai Village, random pic of the last 6 months 🙂

Meditation, being still has allowed me to be less reactive and less judgemental of myself.  Failures happen all the time to me.  It could be something as big as leaving my marriage or as small as missing a meeting.  How we handle the failure, what we make it mean, is where we find our true self.  The only moment we have is the one we are in, and it’s already gone!  I have spent countless hours worrying about my failures.  Judging myself and making myself and others wrong.  It has been exhausting and I am over feeling bad and setting unrealistic expectations.  The last 6 months has been yet another amazing journey filled with many breakdowns, many failures and many things to re-commit to.  These days I choose to see everything and to really see the positive in all of the ups and downs.  Every single bump in the road has lead me to where my feet are today, and although I am still not done cleaning up the mess I have made of my life, I am happy to report that I have at least picked up the mop…and am holding it as I sit on my meditation pillow 🙂

Mumbo Jumbo

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It’s been over 6 months since the last post, and today is the day that I have decided to resurect the blog and recommit to monthly posts.  I have to thank my dear friend for her random call just at the perfect time that completely motivated me to get my act in gear.  Once a month is about all I can commit to, we’ll have to get Kinndli and some of our teachers on contributing as well 🙂

As I began typing my iPhone dictionary just flashed the word of the day – mumbo jumbo [MUHM-boh JUHM-bo] senseless or pretentious language, usually designed to obscure an issue, confuse a listener, or the like.

Hmm, today that word fits (I really only get the word of the day to improve my scrabble vocabulary, and electronic game of scrabble is a bedtime ritual in my house and falls just under prayers and at par with bedtime stories!).  This has been the year of MUMBO JUMBO – yes, we finally opened up our second location in Oakville and yes, Etobicoke is well on it’s way but these things are just that….things.  I can list off a whole bunch of accomplishments this year, but really does it matter?  I can fill this blog with a bunch of mumbo jumbo – but that’s not how we are going to roll today.

The only thing that really matters to me these days is my real life experience TODAY!  Maybe it’s my very recent experience of my miscarriage and Kinndli’s journey into motherhood that has stirred all of these emotions.  Maybe it’s been all of my studies under my teacher Baron Baptiste that has lead me here.  But in either case, it doesn’t matter who i’ve been or where i’ve been, what matters is how I am showing up today.  A really great friend of mine once said, “Yes, failures happen”.  It’s so simple a true.  It is just a failure, and nothing more.  Not everything is going to go exactly as plan.  Goal, dreams, aspirations are indeed important but sometimes the side roads are where we have the chance to learn and grow.

And boy, did we take the scenic tour in our attempts to open up the Oakville studio.  Right down to crying to the town building inspector, oh yes we pulled out the tears.  But boy has it been worth every single tear, confrontation (yep, Kinndli and I call eachother out 🙂 )and good old fashion blow ups.  Oakville has become an amazing community, and I would not change a thing about our journey here.

So where am I going with this post?  I think that this post may mean more to me than you but it is simple really.  Today, I am choosing to let go of the handle bars of life and let God, the universe, take over.  Clearly someone has a master plan for me these days and I am going to surrender to it, just as I have to surrender in my practice to my breath.  I am going to take life, my journey as it is meant to be experience every side road, every smile, every opportunity…..one simple breath at a time 🙂

And so it began……

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Kinndli and I were at TED-x Oakville yesterday and I turned to her and said, “Let’s start a blog to capture our journey”.  The response was “hmmm….okay….really?  Who reads that stuff anyways”.  Well today someone, and whomever you are I thank you, suggested that we start a blog.  So here we are, our first ever PYC blog.

I’ve wanted to start this to document our path, as it has been quite a year!  If you would have told me a year ago that if you soared out of your comfort zone you would find freedom I would have laughed endlessly.  Yet, here we are knee deep in freedom.

I’ll never forget the afternoon in late August ’09 when Kinndli and I started planning opening up a yoga studio.  I met her at Starbucks in Clarkson village, me in my business suit and pearls and her in her halter top suntanning.  I knew right then that I wanted to spend my afternoons working on my tan as my son plays in the park.  That is exactly how this summer went, working in the afternoons on our lap top, while sun tanning and watching the kids.

The intention of this blog is simple, to share the inner workings of PYC.  I have learned that the best way to grow is to share your experiences with everyone.  People ask me all the time what I do for work and I always answer I play at the yoga studio.  Kinndli and I work all the time, but it never feels like work.

I have no idea if anyone will read this, but if you do I hope you enjoy the journey through the eyes of both Kinndli and I.  Right now we are in the midst of opening up our second studio (third studio under PYC) and we are about to go back into KD mode.  Just our inside joke (KD=Kraft Dinner – which we really don’t eat) to say that, here we go maxing up our line of credit and credit cards again! Here’s the very first picture of our second space.  With the last studio we were painting, cutting trim and dragging sofa’s up the three flights of stairs.  This time the studio is on the ground level and we will have contractors do what they do best.  Although, I am sure we’ll catch Kinndli trying to assemble some type of Ikea something in her last month of pregnancy.

Here’s to new beginnings, new adventures and a brand new KICK ASS BLOG!!!

Until next time…P