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Merry Christmas PYC!

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Almost Christmas! I woke up this morning to beautiful snow covered trees, my adorable puppy waiting to play, and thoughts of surprising my fiancé with breakfast in bed. Christmas is near and thoughts of family and friends quickly overcame me! As I planned my breakfast feast and started a grocery list I thought to myself, “What is the date today?” I looked around my kitchen for my cell phone, a calendar, anything to remind me. Nothing. So I went downstairs and turned on my computer. Ahhh… December 23, 2011.

I caught myself in a state of shock. December 23, 2011!? Christmas Eve is tomorrow?

What have I been doing???? So I reflected. My days recently have been filled with thoughts of my wedding, my wedding, my new house, endless ‘to do lists’ and did I mention my wedding? I knew going into Christmas holidays this year that my work schedule would involve 7 nightshifts in a row, that’s the nature of the job, and I was ok with that. So I threw Christmas to the sidelines!? Somehow along the way I lost myself this holiday season. No Christmas cards, no Christmas decorations. My fiancé and I agreed we were too busy and we would start next year.

As I opened my computer to check the date, my Facebook page automatically loaded and my Aunt Judy’s profile came to light. My Aunt Judy always makes me smile, she is the brightest light in our family at Christmas time! I immediately thought of my cousin Frankie who passed away this year and my family’s deep pain surrounding his death. I took some time to read through his dedication page and the tears started to flow. We miss you and Love you Frankie! I started to message friends and family and reflect on the holiday season. I started to dream about the wonderful Christmas dinner my Step-Mum has probably already started to prepare. I thought about my Fiancé and how I made him discuss wedding invitations last night. (Sorry babe!)

I thought about my family at Power Yoga Canada. This year, PYC taught me it’s ok to get a little off track… no judgement from this gal. Time to recommit!! Time to arrive! It’s December 23, 2011 and never too late to arrive. My holiday season is here and I can’t wait to jump right in. What are you grateful for this holiday season? I’m filled with gratitude for my job(s), my loving family, beautiful friends, my health, and my teachers. Looking forward to another year of growth, love, and light!!!

Merry Christmas!

This is it!

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I am sitting on a plane, jetting back to Canada.  I have spent a week in Tulum Mexico in Baron Baptiste’s Level 3 bootcamp.  Bootcamp.  Doing yoga in Mexico.  Gives the illusion that we are spending time on the beach and taking a yoga class.  This is an intense program of asana practice, self development and inquiry.  Intense doesn’t even scratch the description.  Don’t forget to add in F-U-N.

80 bootcampers arrived, reuniting with bootcamper friends, meeting new ones and melding together as a group for a week.  A community.  We support one another, laugh and cry, go upside down and bend beyond borders.  We cheer on self discovery and break throughs.  We ground down to rise up into our greatness, as yoga teachers, leaders and human beings.

One morning, we took a meditative walk on the beach in noble silence.  The ground rules were given – it was our job to stay together as a group, without verbalizing.  As we set out, the sun was blazing down on us.  We started as a big group, a nucleus, together as we were asked to be.  Over the 20 minute walk, we spread out along the beach, not so far that we lost our cohesiveness, just created some space between us.  We stopped for a few minutes, enjoying the sand, the water, the silence – being present to all our senses.  Our leader started moving back towards our hotel.  We all followed, in silence, together.

Last night, we had our farewell ceremony, still together physically.  Today, we awoke at different times, leaving the hotel by shuttle, travelling through the Cancun airport and on to planes taking us back to our lives.  The bootcamp community we lived as for 7 days is no longer together in Tulum.  Our nucleus has spread around the world, some space between us, sharing our hearts with our communities.  Japan, Australia, across the US and Canada, Alaska to Newfoundland.  Our greatness glows on, empowering others, inspiring lives and living in the right NOW.  The seatbelt sign is on.  Buckle up.  This is it yogi.

Earth to Yogi: Your Body is Calling…Pick up!

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Injury can be one of our greatest and most frustrating teachers. Just when we think we are on a certain path in our practice, we are forced to slow down, modify and pull back. We have to set up camp and hang tight.

Slowing down is not an easy task and often comes hand in hand with frustration and resistance. All of a sudden, we’re forced to put all that yoga stuff into practice. We have to get present to our current situation, to our bodies and what feels right.

Then comes the hardest part. Acceptance. How many times have you heard that word in a yoga room? We need to accept where we are, and this can be incredibly difficult.

I’m speaking from my own personal experience in my practice right now. I got present to my back injury about a month and a half ago. I’m not sure exactly what I did but all of a sudden any twist would leave me with a tight pain in my right, mid-back. Day after day, I would feel the same pain every time I practiced – so I modified. I shared my frustration with people in the community. I even backed off enough to take a few days off and after a while, it seemed I was in the clear. This past weekend I felt like I was finally 100% – surely I could jump back into full expression in every pose.

Yah…not so much.

Too much, too soon. I ignored my intuition and let my mind get in the way. I wanted so badly to be back to my “regular” practice (what is that anyway?) that I pushed my bodies signals to the side. I felt tight but muscled through countless back bends and here I am, sitting at my desk with a sore back and heating pad.

True practice comes into play when things don’t go as planned, when we are pushed out of our comfort zone, when we face one (or more) or life’s many different challenges. Whatever that might be for you; an injury in your practice, an illness, a loss, relationship issues, money problems or just feeling unhappy, listen to your body, your gut, your intuition.

Put your yoga into practice.

At the end of my class yesterday, I opened up that magical, amazing book from the front of the room (FYI – Journey to the Heart) and flipped it open to a random page. This is what it read:

Sometimes the Road Gets Rough

Feel your fear and frustration about slowing down, then settle in for the ride. You may not be going as fast as you’d like, but the journey hasn’t stopped. You’re not doing anything wrong. You are going slower, but you’re still moving forward.” 

– Melody Beattie

A gentle reminder to slow down, listen to my body and give it time to heal. I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that that reading came to me when I needed it most.

Whatever challenge you might be facing right now, realize that you’re exactly where you need to be. You don’t have to rush. You don’t have to force. Get present and remember that no matter how slow, you are always moving forward.

Life’s too short…. Eat Dessert!

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I have always wanted to start a nutrition blog. I love all things food. The taste, the smell, the excitement of eating! I know, kind of obsessive. The texture, the flavour and the variety… Ahhh so delicious. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

I decided to commit to contributing a nutrition blog last week in the midst of working a set of 4 nightshifts. I teach yoga and also work as a police officer in Mississauga. The practice of yoga has created awareness on how my food choices lend a major impact on my energy level, especially when working a 12 hour rotating shift schedule. In an attempt to feel lighter and create more energy, I decided to commit to eliminating meat, dairy, and gluten while working this specific set of nightshifts. My diet focused on fresh fruits, veggies, and natural proteins ranging from nuts, seeds, quinoa and gluten free brown rice pasta. (Which is incredible by the way!) I was amazed at the outcome! My energy was through the roof and I stayed up the entire night without crashing in a parking lot at 3am. (Yes we do that! When it’s not busy of course) To top it all off when I got home at 7am after a 13 hour shift I started cleaning the house and re-organizing my closet! Who does that!? Normally, I would sink into my bed amidst a series of moans and groans, complaining to my fiancé about how exhausted I was.

I felt great and therefore decided to continue with this strict food plan. I created a food log and posted it inside my kitchen cupboard to keep track of my progress. My intention was to create awareness and continue to monitor how I felt based on the food I was consuming. I used resources such as healthy cookbooks and tested till perfect recipes I had gathered from many hours of getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. This was perfect I thought.  What a great time to start a food blog. So far this week I made quinoa with roasted mushrooms, a broccoli salad with almond butter inspired dressing and my fav – oatmeal walnut cookies with chunks of dark chocolate. I took pictures of the results, dancing and laughing my way around the kitchen brainstorming ideas.

As I drove around today while working dayshift, I started circling the outside of Whole Foods at Square One deciding what I was going to eat for lunch. It was then I realized I was procrastinating writing my first blog post!! I realized it was because I was too busy worrying about ‘the plan’ and what to write. I have so many ideas, so many recipes and so much to share so what was taking so long? I was too busy thinking of the perfect recipe to start off with instead of being present to what was right in front of me!

We all have within us everything we need to know, all the tools we need, to take action and commit to something right now. And at that moment, as I circled Whole Foods, all I could think about was chocolate cake! So I dropped my strict ‘plan’ and inside I went and picked up the most scrumptious looking molten chocolate lava cake I could find, added a small coffee to my order and sat peacefully enjoying every bite.

Sometimes we get so caught up in ‘the plan’ we miss out on the present moment and what our body is really asking from us. As I enjoyed my delicious cake, I took the time to pay close attention to the moistness, the intense chocolate flavour and the sensations that arose in my body. I didn’t end up eating the entire piece of chocolate heaven. A couple bites were all I needed! I was present to the experience in my body and therefore knew when it was time to call it quits before quickly dropping energy from an unnecessary sugar high overload.

We have tons of time to chat about the perfect healthy recipes, why we should eat this or that and what to eat before or after yoga practice. But let’s not take this too seriously and remember that life’s too short to get in our heads and constantly stress about the perfect eating plan or outcome. When you focus on simple body awareness and allow yourself a treat every once in a while… the results are magical.

So go ahead… eat some dessert!! Pay attention and enjoy each and every bite. I promise it will be well worth it!

With Love,


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… 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