Spring 2015 Prenatal – Yoga and Birth Preparation Class

Coming in June 2015 on Salt Spring Island!

12 Hour Certified Lamaze Childbirth Preparation Class

Plus…Prenatal and Couples Yoga before the class (optional)

Dates likely to be Sundays. Call Shannon if you have input about preferred date or time and to register!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Self Cleaning Body and Mind

Spring is here! We are being called to clean out the habitual patterns – especially what and how and when we eat foods. Letting our diets change with the seasons is especially important for maintaining healthy sleeping and physical rhythms. Yoga can help, but the awareness gained from regular yoga practice must also be turned into action.

What are the signs….? They differ for everyone. Some might include: bloating and gas, periodic unexplained temper, nausea and pain in several gut organs/areas after eating, headaches upon awakening and after eating, abnormal bowel rhythms and stools, dizziness and abnormal levels of exhaustion after regular exercise, anxiety and inability to catch one’s breath, fogginess in the brain, itchy skin or ears.

I’ve been training for the triathlon season for the last 7-8 weeks and in the last 4 weeks have been stopped several times by some of these symptoms.

What is helping? Live probiotics (not in pill form – that made it worse) like Kombucha, and unpasteurized sauerkraut with only sea salt, water and cabbage in it. Ginger and roasted garlic have also been palatable and seem to help.

Most of all – it helps when I practice yoga. Mornings, evenings and teaching yoga classes. When I practice, even if I’ve been hungry, grumpy, stressed out by commitments I cannot keep or things that “don’t get done perfectly”, I achieve clarity, calm, zero distress in my gastrointestinal system and deep breathing and joy. You can too!

Yoga practice can “look” like a lot of different things for different people. Are you someone who needs to learn some basic tools and attend regular classes with a certified teacher? Maybe you’ve practiced off and on, and the regular classes and teacher keep you committed to the Path of Self Discovery and Healing. Perhaps you honour the benefits this brings to your life, yet struggle with keeping a practice on your own? Are you in need of community to keep you going in your commitment? Does your yoga look like ten minutes of stretching and an hour of chanting and meditating? Does it look like specific breath work/pranayama in a seated position, and muscle tension release poses, without a specific sequence or series or oriya? Do you like the simultaneous mental ease and stimulation of a different Kriya every time you practice? Do you find deep benefits from the mental and emotional release of a series of asana and pranayama where you don’t have to think too much about what comes next and can go deeply into consciousness awakening and mental-emotional cleansing?

There is something for everyone in the pursuit of awakening in the morning and asking yourself a question as you gaze in the mirror at your own soul through your eyes.

“What is my practice, today?”

Curiousity and time to Know Thyself – these are my greatest tools in the Practice toolbox.

Blessings on your Journey. If my offerings of the Teachings of Yogi Bhajan can be of service in your journey, I will see you in class!

Please be welcome to explore some of the powerful Mantra and Sound Healing that is becoming available through the gifts of Snatam Kaur – including a free online web conference offering!

Posted in Yoga Classes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is ‘Retreat’?

For some, the idea of “going on retreat” is like the tastiest food on the tongue and words to be savoured with a smiling soul. For others, retreating from habits, patterns and “what you are used to being and doing” brings up fear, uncertainty and resistance – to the max. This little bit of writing is to entice both kinds of people, and everyone in between, to consider what ‘retreat’ can bring if you offer yourself to the possibilities with a full heart.

For me, being in Kundalini Yoga Retreat gifts my mind with the purity of awareness without the clutter of navigating relationships to family, work commitments, even leisure and vacation pursuits. It provides a beginning and ending to pursuit in the deep pool of blissful awakening into sensory fullness; listening with ears, heart, mind and body to both a world ‘inside’ of what we call ‘self’ and learning new perspectives on our participation in nature. Retreats can awaken your mind and heart/soul to a purpose –  energy that calls you forward into the next phase of living with more grace, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and mindfulness. The results? They can be beyond words…..

I have considered hosting my own retreat – offering a way for people to converge in space and time to employ the tools of Kundalini Yoga, awaken through interaction of mind, body and soul with the healing elements of the natural world on Salt Spring island, and conscious communication with what we call the “heart” or “soul” or “intuitive self”, including the ability to listen by quieting the influence of external factors like relationships, electronic technology, work commitments, etc. So far, it has not dropped into place, and I trust this is not yet quite the right offering for me. Partly, I feel I am still a student of retreats, even though I have been teaching Kundalini Yoga for 14 years. I also have a family whose commitments during May – September are varied and not routine in terms of timing, and the childcare falls mainly to me, making preparation and leading of a retreat (minimum 1 week of time full time work), difficult to manage with my other work & home duties.

Last year, in September 2013, I had the absolute blessing of arranging to attend a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Retreat to Awaken the Heart on Denman Island, B.C., and I was reminded of the immensity of transformation that is so easily and effortlessly available when we surrender ourselves to this practice for more than 2 days in a row. As Yogi Bhajan might say, the daily early morning practice of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, including the Aquarian Sadhana chanting practice, has the ability to cut through the muck and shine one’s inner diamond.

In lieu of hosting a Salt Spring Kundalini Retreat this spring, I am teaching a 10-week Women’s Kundalini Yoga series “To Live from the Heart” and a 9-week Kundalini Yoga for All Levels “Balancing the Physical” series (ages 11 and up). My main goal with these classes is to provide space to drop into weekly mini-retreats that offer to reverse the effects of stress and aging, to cleanse mind and body, to heal past thought patterns or ‘heart’ wounds, to strengthen and clarify one’s commitment to health and wellness, and to further skill development in the art and science of Kundalini Yoga – a technology that works – especially when it becomes a daily ‘conscious’ habit.

My classes are designed to meet you where you are mentally, emotionally and physically, to help you learn to confront yourself for those patterns that are not serving you and the life you want to live! One does not need any level of flexibility or mental practice to attend!

For deeper retreat effects with this powerful technology ~ consider joining in one of the local Kundalini Yoga Retreats this year:

Denman Island Retreats with Devmurti and Hari Amrit Khalsa.

Sooke Blackfish Inn Kundalini Retreats with Siri Amir.

White Tantric Yoga Retreat Summer Solstice in Espanola, New Mexico, USA.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Synchronize Your Mind

Kundalini Yoga offers so many ways to integrate The Mind, The Body and The Spirit….this trinity of experience. Mind is, by and large, the “where” and “how” consciousness gets molded into living as pure consciousness interacts with matter. Humans are often living more in “the mind” than in the body. Another Trinity in this practice is the three “functional” aspects of the Mind –

Positive: the expansive sense of life, in the flow

Negative: safety and warning, drawing boundaries that serve you

Neutral: lucid and spacious – receptive and meditative (which we’ll explore in Thursday 9:30am class on March 6).

Through union of breath, sound, vibration, movement and energy flow, we have access to awareness of how the mind is working, and in this very awareness lies tremendous power and peace.

Here are two meditations we practiced the last two weeks in our Thursday Women’s classes for cultivating particular strengths of what we call “Mind”.

Yogi Bhajan taught us that, according to Kundalini Yoga Philosophy (originating more than 10,000 years ago), the mind contains 81 different facets. Universal Mind is acted on by many forces and elements; among others, it interacts with three functional minds 1) Positive, 2) Negative and 3) Neutral, 9 aspects and 27 projections.

Here is a meditation taught by Yogi Bhajan that helps one to deal with threats and balances the “Negative”. When out of balance, you may perceive that you are personally at risk when you are actually not. It can result in “stress and anxiety” beyond what is real. Too weak in this aspect of Mind and you are over-trusting and have a hard time discerning ill will and end up an unwitting victim. Too strong, and you doubt yourself constantly – even to the point of relentless inquisitions of others. You have difficulty cultivating trust in anyone or anything.

Synchronization Meditation for the Negative Mind: “How to Deal with A Threat”:

Sit with a straight spine. Relax arms at the sides with elbows against the ribs. Forearms are parallel to the ground and angled outward just as your thighs are angled as you sit cross-legged. Hands form “closed lotus” with your thumb tips touching all four finger tips at a single point facing upwards. Focus your eyes at the brow point. Inhale deeply and fully. Exhale completely. Lock out your breath and pull the navel point and mulabandha (root lock). As you hold the breath out, repeat mentally:

Sa Ta Na Ma X4 (16 beats total on one breath).

Then inhale deeply and slowly and repeat. Continue 7 minutes to start. Build this practice to 31 minutes. This meditation takes you beyond fear, and it lets the solder act direct and true.

Synchronization meditation #2:

If you are out of balance and overly in the Positive mind, without enough of the neutral and negative, then you leap into everything that crosses your path, and often are impatient and pushy. If this aspect is weak, however, then you may be satisfied with temporary success, not accept feedback, nor see the full impact of your actions. When balanced, you are strategic, successful and have an expanded sense of life – non-attachment makes life a dance with much creativity and gratitude.

Kundalini Laya Yoga Meditation: Positive Mind X Buddhi (discernment and intuition).

Sit straight and put the palms in prayer pose at the heart center. Focus eyes up to brow point (And through it). Chant:

Ek One Kar-A

Sat A Nam A

Sir-Ee Wah-Ha


Pull navel in on “Ek” and lift diaphragm firmly up at each “A” sound. Relax on the last line – Hay G-roooo.

Imagine the sound is energy spinning from the base of your spine, up through each chakra, and out the spinal cord in a right-handed helix.

Continue 31 minutes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Centering at the Heart

Finding our heart spaces and the way of listening from the heart instead of the head is the journey of our lifetime. Yogi Bhajan offered us countless opportunities to discover this for ourselves and to experience the distinction between centering at the heart and living in the head.

This week is a heart week for my five classes. If you feel disconnected from your emotions  – “What am I feeling right now??”, and if you want to increase patience and your capacity to give and be of service for enhanced feelings of fulfillment and joy, I offer one way to experience the tools to get us there. Breathe and move and resonate sacred sounds to open your heart!

Next week until December 12 we’ll have Women’s classes on Thursdays at the Gatehouse 9:30am and All levels classes on Thursdays at 5:15 at the Art Barn before Dance Temple. Come on out!

Sat Nam.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Consciousness and Creativity

_MG_6238We wake up to ourselves by practising removal of all of the self-imposed barriers to conscious clarity.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras guide us to recognition and awareness of “I am”, rather than a brain filled with thoughts imposing itself on the mind-body-soul.

This week all of our group yoga (five classes on Salt Spring Island) gave us the opportunity to explore the connection between a balanced second chakra – Svadisthana – and the awakening to our inherent, Divine creative nature. We chanted to open the throat and to balance our endocrine systems. We re-set our nervous systems with the sacred sound of the Gong, and we deeply massaged our muscles, joints, organs and other physical components while bringing the mind to focussed concentration.

On our own journeys, we work with regular discipline (achievement of upliftment of Spirit and bringing the light of consciousness to our inner world and to others). It means taking our practice outside of yoga classes, to awaken each moment – in relationship to ourselves and others. Discipline is about being rigorous and giving up the ego’s momentary desire (sometimes to great perceived discomfort) in order to attain Mastery of the mind and desires that are transitory, so one can experience the blissful energy when the mind and soul knows itself as pure Love. Surrendering to discipline will reduce what Yogi Bhajan called the “Unconscious Burden”. He taught that most humans are desensitized to the present moment because they live in their heads; humans experience life from the past or the future, following the folly of each desire as it arises, without really knowing why it is there; most humans are asleep to who they are, and how they are, in the glorious present “is-ness” of this moment.

Let’s wake up, together!

Here is a video I made last spring, in which I offer you tools from the Kundalini Yoga technology that speak to your daily awakening, and may be the right practices for this time in your life.

Yogi Bhajan told his friends and beloved students that it does not matter how long you practice, or even exactly what Kriya or Meditation you choose. Just do the practice. Let the grace of these teachings show up in your life by giving yourself to your Self for some regular practice every day.

Ideally, practice before your thinking day begins.

Please share with us what practising Kundalini Yoga brings to your life!

See you in group classes next week! Sat nam.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mind Over Matter

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” – Pema Chodron

Is there a set personality that I’m destined to live out? Do I turn away from negative thoughts and emotions – hiding them in trying to make myself feel “better”, when I’m down? Can mind change brain, or are we pawns in the face of powerful emotions that come about as a result of genetics and/or situations? Am I building brain matter by choices I make, or are my neurons set in patterns of learning by about age 14, as science has suggested?

Flashback: I remember sitting in grade 9 science class beside another bright student who liked to share “facts” with me. On numerous occasions after a weekend of spending time with friends, we both would find ourselves comparing stories and talking about the effects of our new-found “teenage” behaviours on our athletic, academic and achievement-based lifestyles. “Kill any neurouns last weekend?”, he would ask with that knowing look. “Neurons don’t re-grow when you kill them at this age, and alcohol kills neurons! Forget getting into the University of your choice! Now, you’re growing dumber every day!” How’s that for positive affirmations and friendly tips?

Thankfully, I did not let his taunting affect my sense of self or my ever-growing curiousity about mental, intellectual, and physical body health. Today’s neuroscientists are reporting amazing feats of plasticity in the human and other mammalian brains. Functional regions can re-grow and re-allocate themselves. For example, the visual cortex can become active in humans born blind as they learn to “read” braille!

Scientists have also studied the impact of attention/focus and meditation on the health and plasticity of the human brain. Buddhist and Vedantic teachings about meditation creating anti-anxiety hormones, peaceful and less aggressive behaviours, and better sleep and relaxation to bring the body’s systems to higher states of health can all be verified by scientific evidence!

In humans who have developed obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), practicing regular meditation techniques can actually be shown to alter brain chemistry and effectively re-circuit the brain. One of the most common forms of meditation is watching and labeling any activity of the brain as “thinking”, so that thought becomes merely “thought” rather than stimulating a biophysical response similar to the stress response that some thoughts taken to be “facts” are known to create. Many other forms exist – including the use of sacred chants to direct the brain so that thinking does not stand a chance (for the time you are in meditation), thus bringing a deep relaxation state to the mind and body.

Mind is not matter, the teachings say, yet the two are co-arising (Buddhist). Vedantic teachings highlight the reality of a Universal Mind – a state of energy that is beyond the human brain, yet which is accessible to all living creatures, as a function of their “alive-ness”. Both Eastern belief systems teach that the benefits that relaxation from the “doing” or “Ego” mind are necessary for healthy lifestyles and survival of the human species.

Whether your beliefs and experiences give evidence to the Buddhist or the Vedantic viewpoint, scientific evidence now emphasizes that: thought changes brain functions, and brain functions are influenced deeply by environmental factors, and are not purely determined by genetic codes. These claims fit within the ancient Eastern teachings – which even the Dalai Lama has been known to find exciting! What we choose to do with our mental attention (mind) can impact the growth and development of patterns of brain function, even seemingly involuntary patterning.

So giving attention to our thinking, taking pauses in the “doing-ness” of life, can actually benefit our brain chemistry and subsequently the way we learn to experience emotions and choose behaviours. This takes practice. Rather than expecting wholesale changes as a result of brain-altering drugs or a weekend workshop on relationships, the Middle Path and the teachings of yoga point to practicing mindful living – cultivating a relationship with our own brains may offer “Mind over Matter” capabilities. Yoga or some form of mindfulness or awareness practice may point the way towards transformations and adaptations towards more conscious, health-ful living. And it is practice. Like all forms of practice, when we cease to regularly give attention to the practice, our skills get rusty!

“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. ” – Pema Chodron

New Fall Series Starts Sep 24 (Free Classes Sep 17 and 19).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments