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Previous posts in the old format can be viewed by clicking on the button below, but I have posted the last few here. 

Thank you for reading!

Jools

This blog installment is also featured in the South Okanagan Yoga Academy (SOYA) April newsletter

© Julie Andrés 2011 -2016



breathe move sit

Yoga is a lifestyle

Grow superfoods on your countertop

breathemovesitblog:

If you want to improve your nutritional habits and eat more fresh, raw food, nothing beats sprouting. Sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that aid digestion and protein assimilation, and are a true living food. You can have a continuous supply of salad and saute vegetables cycling through your daily intake at all times with very little outlay of money, time, or materials.

What you need:

• wide-mouthed jars

• cheesecloth

• sturdy rubber bands

• a colander or strainer

• seeds (always use organic seeds)

If you have never sprouted before, start with easy alfalfa. Put 1.5 tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in a litre/quart-sized (or larger) jar. Add an inch or two of cool tap or filtered water. Let soak for a maximum of 4 hours.
Cut several layers of cheesecloth to fit generously over the mouth of the jar and secure tightly with a rubber band.

Drain the seeds, rinse with fresh water, and drain again. Invert over a strainer or colander placed over a bowl or in the dish drainer over the sink. Rinse and drain morning and evening for 4-5 five days. Try to keep in a darkish area of the kitchen.

To refine the presentation of any sprouts, submerge them (fully grown) in lots of cool water in a large pot or stainless steel bowl. Swirl them around gently but thoroughly with your fingers to remove as many seed husks as possible, then gently return them to the jar. Take a moment to regard how they sparkle with life. There will be a little production loss, but it is worth it as it makes the sprouts extra tasty and they tend to stay fresh a little longer.

Drain the sprouts well and place them in a brighter location (never in direct sunlight) for a few hours to let them green up, then cover with a tight lid and place in the fridge.

Add variety

clover (similar to but sweeter and paler than alfalfa)
lentil (can be eaten raw or lightly cooked; nice in mixes)mustards: canola, radishes, broccoli, etc. (some can be very zingy!)
fenugreek (strong “curry” overtones; best in mixes in small proportions; can be bitter when cooked)
garbanzos (excellent lightly cooked or in raw hummus)
black beans (crunchy and potent; best cooked lightly)mung beans (excellent in stir fry or lightly steamed for warm salad)
buckwheat (sprouted and re-dried; great over your favourite breakfast cereal or sprinkled on salads)

Find mixes you like. I prefer beans, buckwheat, and lentils just barely sprouted, probably within 48 hours of initial soaking. The exception is mung beans, which take about 7-8 days. I grow them in complete darkness to reduce bitterness and maintain a pale colour. I sprout brassicas and mustard in very small amounts (1 teaspoon or less of seeds) and start new batches every 4-5 days.

Microgreens

A couple of years ago I started growing microgreens, indoors and out, and manage to easily produce year-round greens for salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Microgreens are much easier to digest than fully grown plants, so their nutrients are assimilated more readily by the body. Soil is needed as a medium for growing these potent and incredibly delicious sprouts, which can create minor involvement with composting and soil recycling. This is a rich process that brings its own rewards and takes very little time or space–more on that another time.

Start with sunflower sprouts. Plump and substantial, I love these in smoothies at breakfast or a handful as garnish for any dish.

Use a flat, drainage-efficient growing vessel with trays underneath to protect from leakage. (I use dense compostable paper trays that I save from organic nursery bedding plant purchases. You can also use plastic trays cut from blueberry or strawberry packs from the supermarket.) Purchase a small bag of organic soil if you don’t have access to the ground somewhere. A spray bottle is nice to have on hand for frequent misting.

Purchasing online with West Coast Seeds or another seed supplier is more economical over long term than buying the expensive, tiny packets available (when you can find them) in health food stores. Find a supplier that honours heirloom seed integrity (non GMO/GEO) and uses organic growing practices. Try arugula, beets, Chinese cabbages, kale, peas, and others for a great variety of tastes and textures. Harvest when the first leaf pairs are fully opened and before the secondary leaves form.

It takes me about half an hour a week to have a constant supply of these scrumptious dietary powerhouses. Be patient and learn from any unsuccessful attempts. Once you get the hang of it, it can become a pleasing ritual. Best of all, you will be blown away by their goodness.

Thank you for reading.

Jools


Jools Andrés photos

March 30th 2016
<hr><h2><b>Practice Notes: Persistence & Patience</b></h2><p>By Jools Andrés</p><p>It only takes me a couple of minutes to walk from my home to a busy esplanade that attracts large numbers of casual strollers, power walkers, joggers, and serious runners each and every day of the year. On some days there are outdoor tai chi classes, kite surfers, and skimboarders. Others attract bird watching or photography clubs. I like to practice standing and balancing asana far out on the sand at low tide among the squirting clams and squawking gulls. From morning’s first light until darkness transforms the day into night, many come to enjoy the fresh sea air, the flat terrain, and the safety provided by an open public space. </p><p>Now, such a busy place brings out the people watcher in me for certain. I see cane-toting elderly and wheelchair-bound folks of all ages; there are children, babies, and smooching young lovers, people of many colours and nationalities speaking many languages. Most are well mannered, but when people litter, for example, I can get up on my high horse. After all, I try to leave nature as clean or cleaner than I found it. Huff. Grumble. Even though my intention is to notice and temper my egoistic reactions, avoiding ensnarement by judgmental thoughts takes more self-awareness than I manage to consistently muster. So far.</p><p>One cool, windy morning in early January I found myself observing a woman who was slowly jogging toward me. She was quite heavy and her gait was lopsided, with restricted mobility on her right side, and her shoulders, neck, and head were shifted sharply to the left. She looked to be in agony, labouring to breathe, her face red and her brows knit.</p><p>The former competitive runner in me jumped right up into that lofty saddle. “She won’t keep that up for long! She should be kinder to herself and walk her way into her New Year’s fitness resolution.” My negative thoughts immediately displeased me, but I soon forgot about them. And her.</p><p>Several months and hundreds of joggers passed. Meanwhile, I had been increasing my time on my meditation mat by consistently sitting first thing in the morning and last thing before bed each day. I acknowledged my ego’s resistance and made myself give over to the part of me that said it was time to meditate and listen. Over time small shifts in self-perception became evident. I noticed that I was more forgiving of my own mistakes and, little by little, confidence in my abilities increased. And I started to experience these changes as expanding outward, resulting in fewer and milder critical responses to others.</p><p>Like most things, progress in yoga has its ups and downs. Many meditation sittings leave me feeling that I have just spent twenty-five minutes thinking and worrying, like I already do much of rest of the time. Complete lapses in practice are a thing of the past, but over the years I have had to really force myself to get back at it at times. I continue to battle for dominance over the internal jabbering so that the quiet, essential me can prevail. Without question, it’s the delightful little tastes of oneness that manage to peek through the mental muck that bring me back. Pavlovian, perhaps, but those are the rewards I seek.</p><p>One day not so long ago, after nearly seven months, I saw the same woman jogging toward me. I remembered my previous, ignoble reaction. Here she was, all this time later, still working very hard on her own behalf. She was still heavy and awkward and she still had a strained look on her face, but something about her was clearly lighter, easier. She exuded a kernel of inner glow, a softness.</p><p>“Bless her heart.”</p><p>What? These totally unexpected words simply burst out from inside my chest. Where had that come from? I had never even used that phrase before.</p><p>A flood of compassion for this strong-willed woman rose up in me. I felt grateful to witness her struggle and the gradual, real results of her work - she was no different than I was. I felt grateful for the awareness that I must persevere in my own practice to be able to see truth and beauty in others.</p><p>A deep appreciation for persistence and patience, and the words “bless her (or his) heart,” seem to be bubbling up frequently of late, both on my mat and out there on the promenade of my small world.</p><p><br/></p><p>Thank you for reading.</p><p>Prem and Om,</p><p>Jools</p><hr><p><b>©</b> Julie (Jools) Andrés, 2015. All rights reserved.</p><p>Photo by Jools</p>

Practice Notes: Persistence & Patience

By Jools Andrés

It only takes me a couple of minutes to walk from my home to a busy esplanade that attracts large numbers of casual strollers, power walkers, joggers, and serious runners each and every day of the year. On some days there are outdoor tai chi classes, kite surfers, and skimboarders. Others attract bird watching or photography clubs. I like to practice standing and balancing asana far out on the sand at low tide among the squirting clams and squawking gulls. From morning’s first light until darkness transforms the day into night, many come to enjoy the fresh sea air, the flat terrain, and the safety provided by an open public space.

Now, such a busy place brings out the people watcher in me for certain. I see cane-toting elderly and wheelchair-bound folks of all ages; there are children, babies, and smooching young lovers, people of many colours and nationalities speaking many languages. Most are well mannered, but when people litter, for example, I can get up on my high horse. After all, I try to leave nature as clean or cleaner than I found it. Huff. Grumble. Even though my intention is to notice and temper my egoistic reactions, avoiding ensnarement by judgmental thoughts takes more self-awareness than I manage to consistently muster. So far.

One cool, windy morning in early January I found myself observing a woman who was slowly jogging toward me. She was quite heavy and her gait was lopsided, with restricted mobility on her right side, and her shoulders, neck, and head were shifted sharply to the left. She looked to be in agony, labouring to breathe, her face red and her brows knit.

The former competitive runner in me jumped right up into that lofty saddle. “She won’t keep that up for long! She should be kinder to herself and walk her way into her New Year’s fitness resolution.” My negative thoughts immediately displeased me, but I soon forgot about them. And her.

Several months and hundreds of joggers passed. Meanwhile, I had been increasing my time on my meditation mat by consistently sitting first thing in the morning and last thing before bed each day. I acknowledged my ego’s resistance and made myself give over to the part of me that said it was time to meditate and listen. Over time small shifts in self-perception became evident. I noticed that I was more forgiving of my own mistakes and, little by little, confidence in my abilities increased. And I started to experience these changes as expanding outward, resulting in fewer and milder critical responses to others.

Like most things, progress in yoga has its ups and downs. Many meditation sittings leave me feeling that I have just spent twenty-five minutes thinking and worrying, like I already do much of rest of the time. Complete lapses in practice are a thing of the past, but over the years I have had to really force myself to get back at it at times. I continue to battle for dominance over the internal jabbering so that the quiet, essential me can prevail. Without question, it’s the delightful little tastes of oneness that manage to peek through the mental muck that bring me back. Pavlovian, perhaps, but those are the rewards I seek.

One day not so long ago, after nearly seven months, I saw the same woman jogging toward me. I remembered my previous, ignoble reaction. Here she was, all this time later, still working very hard on her own behalf. She was still heavy and awkward and she still had a strained look on her face, but something about her was clearly lighter, easier. She exuded a kernel of inner glow, a softness.

“Bless her heart.”

What? These totally unexpected words simply burst out from inside my chest. Where had that come from? I had never even used that phrase before.

A flood of compassion for this strong-willed woman rose up in me. I felt grateful to witness her struggle and the gradual, real results of her work - she was no different than I was. I felt grateful for the awareness that I must persevere in my own practice to be able to see truth and beauty in others.

A deep appreciation for persistence and patience, and the words “bless her (or his) heart,” seem to be bubbling up frequently of late, both on my mat and out there on the promenade of my small world.


Thank you for reading.

Prem and Om,

Jools


© Julie (Jools) Andrés, 2015. All rights reserved.

Photo by Jools

October 7th 2015

image

Taste summer in basil-laced smoothies


Who can resist the aroma of fresh basil? It is so abundant in my patio garden
right now that I’m using it in almost every meal. I have even started adding it to my fruit smoothies - a super refreshing, energizing way to start the day.

Here’s a basic recipe that’s easy to create in a vegan version. Use what you have in your fruit bowl. Banana, avocado, ground flax seed, and chia add body and lots of nutrients.

1 ½ cups milk or other liquid

½ cup of fresh berries

¼ of a juicy cantaloup or other melon

1 small banana

½ avocado (optional)

3-4 tablespoons organic hemp-based or other protein powder

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 tablespoon hemp hearts (optional)

1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

1 tablespoon peanut or other nut or seed butter

A handful of fresh basil leaves - use any variety (genovese pictured)

Use organic full-fat milk or a non-dairy milk such as hemp, almond, or cashew.
I find hemp milk strong tasting, but often include hemp hearts. For a lighter version, use part coconut water.

Local berries are all so wonderful right now. It’s hard not to obsess on strawberries. And blueberries. Oooo, and all those blackberries, too…

Use ripe pears or peaches instead of melon, if that is what you have. The avocado brings a lovely creaminess; chia adds a snappy crunch. Sunflower or pumpkin seed butter are nice alternatives to peanut butter.

Don’t be afraid to use lots of basil! I also like a handful or two of sunflower
sprouts if I have some ready.

Whiz well, sip, and savour the taste of summer.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you try it.


Prem and Om,


Jools


Julie (Jools) Andrés photo

August 22nd 2015

image

The kleshas: overcoming “troubles” through
self-inquiry


In The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita Paramahansa Yogananda uses the word “troubles” as an English word that corresponds to the Sanskrit word klesha.[i] “Afflictions,” “causes of suffering,” and “obstacles to enlightenment” are also commonly used translations. However we name them internally to help ourselves understand them, theYoga Sutras of Patanjali explains the five kleshas as qualities that all spiritual seekers must come to terms with in order to find truth. (Sutras II.3 – 9.)

To overcome our “troubles” and their causes it is helpful to become aware of all five kleshas and how they can play out in our own lives.

Ignorance - avidya

Nearly all of us identify most strongly with our temporal surroundings. Our conditioning in this regard is deep and strong and can manifest in yoga practice and teaching by focusing primarily on the physical effects of asana. This can (and often does) make us hold yoga in a confined, even confused conceptual space. The distortions we form on the physical level filter through to the mental and spiritual levels and obstruct us from blossoming fully as practitioners of yoga’s eight limbs, as outlined in the Yoga Sutras, and create stubborn roadblocks on our journey toward becoming enlightened beings. This condition of ignorance is also the source of the remaining four obstacles.

Egoism – asmita

In The Essence of Yoga: Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali author Bernard Bouanchaud translates Sutra II.6 thus: “Individual ego consciousness of ‘I’ sees mental and physical activity as the source of consciousness.”[ii] It is worth reminding ourselves on an ongoing basis that seeking / receiving praise for the mastery of an asana leads us away from the true gifts of practice. Yes, keep working to build physical confidence bit by bit, and then channel that feeling of power and strength toward faithful, patient meditation practice. Over time you can and will experience samadhi, a state of blissful inner peace, which is the very opposite of ego identification and the ultimate goal of yoga. (Sutras I.1 – 4.)

Attachment – raga

As you continue on with your day or evening after reading this, pay attention and see if you can notice three or four things that you are quite attached to or attracted to as they arise. Most often these things provide pleasure or reassurance of some kind, so we tend to return to them repeatedly, sometimes even mindlessly. It could be that you are fiercely bound to the routine of your day–do you feel anxious or even paralyzed when something happens that upsets the usual course of events? You may notice a habit of consumption such as having a glass of wine, comforting yourself with a certain snack, or turning on the TV at a regular time. “Passions,” obsessions, addictions–all have a way of overtaking us and diverting us from our intentions. Once we become aware of these habitual attachments we can make progress toward keeping them in check.

Aversion - dvesah

The consequence of rejection, or any unpleasant experience, is aversion or avoidance. While it makes sense to stay away from negative or abusive people or circumstances, we can also avoid facing our own roles in our situations by projecting blame onto others. Group dynamics often provokes emotional responses that are linked to difficult childhood experiences. For me the key is to recognize that, although I may not always understand the “why” of feelings of anxiety that arise in certain situations, I can recognize that the emotions that these triggers conjure are (usually) unfounded in the present situation. If I attack, freeze, or run away I do not engage in a way that allows for expanded awareness. Yoga master Erich Schiffmann tells us, “Immerse yourself in stillness and pay attention. Allow yourself to be taught.”[iii]

Fear – abhinivesah

This klesha is often translated as “fear of death.” This may be because underlying all of our dreads is the fear of not completing what we want to do in our lifetimes. Whether it is leaving a body of creative work, helping to improve the lives of others, amassing a valuable estate, or seeing our friends and family one more time, there is always more to achieve, always something that causes us to believe that our lives are perpetually unfinished. This misconception leads us right back to ignorance and primary identification with our existence on the physical plane. Observing our thoughts and behaviours and taking positive steps to temper our responses leads us to develop consciousness of and confidence in our true, innermost selves. Our fears eventually, certainly, melt away over time as this faith grows.

Be patient with yourself as you cultivate a positive mental attitude to overcome the kleshas. Once you discover that your own personal brand of “troubles” is surmountable, you are well on your way to triumph. As expressed in Lorin Roche’s beautiful translation of The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight, “Once you have set out on the path of intimacy with the immortal essence of life, never turn your back on it, my Shining One. Never turn away.”[iv]

Thank you for reading.

Prem and Om,


Jools

[i] The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa  Yogananda; Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007, Los Angeles, CA, p. 40.

[ii] The Essence of Yoga: Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Bernard Bouanchaud; Sri Satguru Publications, 1997, Delhi, India, p. 82.

[iii] Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, Erich Schiffmann; Pocket Books, 1996, New York, NY, p. 322.

[iv] The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight, Lorin Roche; Sounds True, 2014, Boulder, CO, p. 171.


Written for South Okanagan Yoga Academy, August 2015 Newsletter (since edited) soyayoga.com © Julie (Jools) Andrés, August 2, 2015;


Julie (Jools) Andrés photo.

August 10th 2015

image

The new discipline


Due to the many yoga-related posts among my social media contacts, this has been bubbling for a few weeks. It’s about the suffering and beauty we all experience as we come around to knowing ourselves.

I had children very young and was wholly dedicated to that role, but as I neared my thirties I felt educationally, professionally, and creatively desperate.

I had no confidence, little experience in the “real world,” and urgently yearned for a sense of belonging and self-worth. These conditions led to a deep feeling of inadequacy that was expressed as fear, anger, depression, and competitiveness. Frustration and resentment sent my family life down the drain.

I plunged into full-blown anxiety disorder, which was treated with allopathic psychiatry (drugs) and the psychotherapeutic nightmare of repressed memory approaches common in the 1980s. I became dependent on wine and Ativan and other pharmaceuticals–on and off, but mostly on–for the next 25 years. But I’m jumping ahead.

On my thirty-eighth birthday I began my first degree program at Antioch University in Seattle. I studied psychology, and at the encouragement of my professors, also majored in creative writing.

I started to think I had something to offer. Very, very slowly I ventured into class discussions and writing from my heart. I wrote short stories, essays, poetry. I read voraciously. Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Campbell, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare. Eco-psychologists, texts of the world’s religions, and great myths. And Ken Wilber.

I couldn’t get enough of Ken Wilber. He made sense, bringing the psychology, philosophy, art, and theology I was studying into a whole. I read and re-read A Brief History of Everything; A Theory of Everything; Sex, Ecology, Spirituality; The Spectrum of Consciousness; Grace and Grit; One Taste. I practiced Aikido and zazen (Zen sitting meditation), ran 40 to 50 kilometres a week, and read more Wilber. I wanted to make sense of life. I drove myself to earn top grades and finish my degree in three years. My second marriage crashed.

More wine, more running, more Wilber.

Then one night I had a dream. I was at a conference, mulling around with learned people, feeling inadequate. I saw Ken Wilber across the room–there was no mistaking that shining head. Wow! Ken Wilber. Anxiety mounted. Thankfully, I had a big goblet of wine in my hand. Ken started walking over to me, and the closer he got the more my nervousness grew. He came right up to me and smiled. I gaped.

Then he did something totally unexpected. He unscrewed his head and handed it to me. “Here you go,” he said. “It’s all yours.” He held it out for me by a few long hairs attached to his otherwise glowing pate. At first his body was headless and I was dumbfounded. I reached over and put my hands around his offering, saying nothing.

Then he was gone, but I saw, as he assimilated back into the crowd, that he again had his head on his body and I looked down at the gift he had given me. It was an avocado pit, split slightly by a tender sprout. I knew in that instant that I had everything I needed to grow something significant.

But you know how it is. Even though you have what you need, even though you know that you have what you need, you can be very neglectful just the same. I worked as a counsellor and writer and studied various modalities of therapy. I ran and ran and ran. I still believed my sanity depended on the haze I found in wine at the end of each day.

Then I discovered Ashtanga yoga and very quickly a new addiction developed. It got me even higher than running (but I didn’t stop that). My new-found obsession took place in an acceptable setting with other equally obsessed people. Like the audio connection of feet hitting the ground and collective breathing present when running in a pack (something that drew me to racing with hundreds or thousands in various organized runs), the sound of group ujjayi breathing and Sanskrit counting was like a hit of a powerful opiate. Ekam, inhale. Dve, exhale. Eachvinyasa, right up to the last one after headstand, built to a crescendo of endorphin-pumped euphoria. I practiced the demanding series as often as I could. I was 51, so that made me ten, twenty, and even thirty years older than my fellow practitioners.

As strong and limber as my body felt, I clearly had a long way to go. Classmates progressed to Second Series and I still had trouble with jump backs. How could sucking your diaphragm up under your ribs help you do that, anyway? And I never did make it to Mysore. I felt deficient.

About three years later my teacher moved away and where I lived she was the only Ashtanga game in town. I worked at it on my own, but that didn’t have the same effect on me. I went to other classes, but nothing compared. Eventually I took a yoga teacher training course. I started teaching, and over the next couple of years my asana practice became gratifying. I sat in meditation daily. But I still thought I wanted that feeling, that high, again. So I enrolled in a ten-day teacher training course with David Swenson, the author of my home practice companionAshtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual. It was great, and David was a wonderful teacher, but something in me had shifted. I could see that the world of yoga offered much more than this practice, as beautiful and as gratifying as it can be. And I could see how Ashtanga centres around perfectionism, obsessiveness, and, often, a fierce competitiveness.

I haven’t run, self-medicated, or read Ken Wilber for years now. I practice asana most days, but it is driven by deep inquiry leading to self-trust, not by self-obsession. What has given me faith that the lessons of life bring benefits are not the arm balances but the periods of sitting in stillness. I am grateful for the discipline I acquired from Ashtanga, and for what I eventually learned about myself from the routine, the rhythm and form, the connection to breath, the imperative.

Erich Schiffmann, one of my more recent teachers and the author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, says, “When the structure of discipline works it begins to dissolve. The new discipline is to listen, to dare to do as your inner guidance tells you.”

I think of the years of Ashtanga as I do the years of reading Ken Wilber. Each has given me a seed to plant. And that is just awesome.

Thank you for reading.

Prem and Om,


Jools


Galen Scorer photo courtesy SOYA

August 10th 2015

image

It all fits


As I scan my recent notes and journals I feel humbled and thankful to have participated in intensely gratifying yoga training and practice over the first half of this year.

The grey of mid-winter somehow drew me to deepen my inquiry into emotional stress and how it manifests in the body. (Not too cheerful, I know–studying depth psychology has inured me somewhat in that regard.)

I read Dr. Gabor Maté’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction and When the Body Says No: The Hidden Cost of Stress. These groundbreaking works present an unflinching and profoundly compassionate view of human fragility and the consequences of childhood trauma and neglect. I will not be delving into these books any further here, but I encourage therapists of all persuasions to read and consider their contents. Suffice it to say that I immediately wanted to combine the principles contained therein with yoga in therapeutic practice to help those experiencing depression, anxiety and the effects of addiction. [i]

Hmmm. How could I dive deeper, I wondered. My antennae were picking up on various offerings that came into my awareness.

I considered Beyond Addiction training with Dr. Maté and kundalini yoga educators as well as Yoga for Anxiety, Anger and Depression with Judith Hanson Lasater. I carefully evaluated those and other courses and chose to attend a six-day foundational restorative yoga teacher certification training at The Path Yoga Centre in Vancouver in early March. My brother and his family were away on a holiday at the time so I stayed in their Strathcona co-op to cut down on travel time from White Rock. This also enabled me to attend a few Vijnana-based classes taught by The Path founder Swan, as well as the wonderful Lisa Montesi. There I was reacquainted with the Tensegrity Repair Series, which I had been introduced to by the gifted dancer and Vijnana teacher Sylvain Brochu on BC’s Sunshine Coast in 2010-‘11.

As we studied movement and anatomy during restorative yoga training a languishing spark of interest in Thomas Myer’s Anatomy Trains was fanned to full combustion. I had a couple of leisurely browses in nearby Banyan Books during breaks and picked up The Heart of Practice: Understanding Yoga from the Inside by Vijnana founder Orit Sen-Gupta. It is a sweet little volume, easily read and full of wisdom linking the mind and body through meditations on breath, asana, and stillness.

The Path’s Swan is a Vijnana-based teacher and yoga therapist while Nevah Eyton is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist; both have many years behind them as yoga educators and they presented seamless, highly experiential instruction that left no doubt of the effectiveness of restorative yoga. I was particularly impressed with their ability to respectfully co-teach at all times, bringing out the best in each other for their students’ enrichment.

Upon completion of the training I returned to my small digs in White Rock and removed some large furniture so I could set up a second yoga area complete with props and supplies for restorative practice. I ordered Anatomy Trains from Amazon (sorry, Banyan–it was $45 less that way) and that very week I received a DVD in the mail from my friend, yoga therapist Lyne Lantaigne from Gibsons who had been studying with Sylvain. Lo and behold, it was Gioia Irwin’s Tensegrity Repair Series. Talk about synchronicity.

I went to Home Hardware and got dowels and a block of wood and began to practice Tensegrity right away. Three months plus later I can honestly say that I now don’t want to go a day without it—I start my morning practice with the whole advanced series before asana five to six days per week. It has so many layers to explore – Anatomy Trains, vayus, eye gaze….

Oh, dear! Now I had another direction drawing me, and, just like magic, an opportunity promptly appeared. Lyne sent an email saying that she would love to see me at the annual Vijnana gathering in May. I quickly enrolled and, oh, what treasures awaited! Tensegrity practice and asana instruction with the delightful Gioia and workshops with Andrew Clement, Alix Rodriguez, Elizabeth Burr, and Elizabeth Peckham provided glimpses into the unique Vijnana approach. I saw many people I have known over the years, some well, some more distantly, and felt a welcome interdisciplinary connection through yoga. I purchased another Orit Sen-Gupta book, Vayu’s Gate.

My teaching and practice have been forever changed as a result of this weekend and the ensuing inquiry and evolution of awareness are energizing and exciting. I added more props to my Tensegrity practice—squishy, deflated balls and Therabands.

But wait! There’s more. Two weeks after the Vijnana gathering I headed up to Shuswap Lake to the South Okanagan Yoga Academy 20th Anniversary and Retreat with my good Bowen Island friend Kathy Ainscough. None other than yoga master Erich Schiffmann headlined this extraordinary event, which was organized by SOYA owners Mugs and Bob McConnell and their able team. [ii]

Erich studied directly with greats such as Dona Holleman, BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, and Juddhu Krishnamurti and he is the author of one of the most influential contemporary yoga books around – Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness. Although I completed a Freedom Yoga Teacher Training Intensive with Erich in Los Angeles last summer, I was again blown away by his ability to facilitate profound relaxation, build a strong sense of self-trust, and increase conscious self-expression through asana. He lifts spirits while grounding physical practice. His ideas closely align with ancient teachings, and yet are so in tune with this and every present moment.

Back to everyday life.

I am plunging myself more and more deeply into the art of living through yoga, creating a tapestry made of the threads of knowledge gained through these teachers and teachings, interwoven with previous learning and influences, and lots of repetition and inquiry on my mat. (I guess now I should say mats, plural.)

I am doing a round of self-study of Anatomy Trains and find it really makes sense to me and helps me to holistically integrate the Tensegrity Repair Series into my practice and explore a new, exciting, slowed-down relationship with asana.

These approaches carry over into daily chores and the ongoing development of my personal and professional lives. In response to stressors, instead of becoming scared, angry, or dissociated, I more often hear “find neutral” (Nevah), “jade pillow yawning” (Gioia), and / or “what is the truth here, really?” (Erich).

It all fits together. It’s all taking me closer.

After all, yoga is unity.

Thank you for reading.

Prem and Om,

Jools


Galen Scorer photo courtesy SOYA

August 10th 2015