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On Losing My Brother

It's been a little over a month since my brother, Tim, died suddenly at his apartment in suburban Chicago. I miss him like crazy and still can't believe he's gone. While anything I write about him as a person or the process of losing him in my life is going to be partial and risks diminishing the experience, I think it's important to share my reflections in the hopes that you may find them useful in your own life.  Life is incredibly short and death incredibly final.  Like I said above, I can't believe he's gone. I saw his name in the favorites on my phone a few weeks ago, and my heart leapt at the possibility that I could just hit that button and hear his voice. Technology seems so magical at times that I believed for a split second that it could still connect me with Tim despite any distance that exists between us. Then reality set in and the magic of the phone faded. No technology can bridge the gap that exists between us now. I'm left to find other ways to connect with Tim without him being here.
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A Sneak Peek at the Elemental Yin Yang Yoga Book

In less than one month, my new book will be released.
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Spiritual Lessons of Parenthood

One year ago today I watched the sun come up in my hospital room while Steve and I welcomed our daughter into the world. I have heard many people say that the journey of parenthood is a spiritual one and reflecting on this past year, it has been both a learning challenge and simultaneously the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.   Several spiritual lessons and concepts are an inherent part of being a conscious parent. Like the most rigorous spiritual practice, being a parent demands devotion, awareness of yourself and others and it teaches you how to let go. I have only been at this job for a year and I know that these lessons will expand and unfold in the precious time we have to raise our child.   Here are some of the lessons I continue to learn spending time with Baby Ray. 
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Falling into Autumn Yin Yang Playlist

I love this time of year. Even though the cold isn't my favourite, the crisp air, the smell of dry leaves and the bounty of the harvest vegetables leave me with a sense of being full and grateful to be alive even while I am aware that life itself is impermanent by it's very nature. In Yin Yang classes right now I tend to play slower tunes and even a few that have a longing melancholy feel. Here are the songs I am listening to today on my mat:
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Elemental Yin Yang Yoga: Preparing for Autumn

This past weekend, I taught a class focused on the theme of Autumn and Letting Go. At the end of Savasana, I shared a short snippet from my upcoming book, Elemental Yin Yang Yoga: A Practice to Fuel Your Life. Today I want to share that short contemplation with you as we start to transition into Fall.  Metal and the Autumn of the Year  Fall is the time of the final harvest when the last crops that began to grow in the spring and flourish throughout the summer are finally collected. Now well past the Summer Solstice, fall is more Yin in nature acting as a buffer between the hot months and the winter. Autumn offers us time to prepare our resources and begin to conserve energy to survive the cold dark days before us.
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Yin Yang Playlist - More Summer Tunes For Your Mat

A few weeks ago I test drove a playlist with some of these tunes and I liked it so much I have been weaving them into my practice, my classes and blasting them in my car.
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Meditation is Waking Up From a Dream

Erin and I are spending the week on retreat with Jeff Carreira, and the insights are flowing like water down a hill. My favorite so far is how meditation is like waking from a dream. What is the dream? To begin, our world assumes that we're all separate selves working towards a goal. Consider when you look at your phone: checking email, stocks, Facebook, Pokemon; who is checking? You. You with your interests and concerns. You're checking to see who you love and who loves you. How much money you have today. Whether you'll be able to sleep at night after the next presidential election. Or you're just fighting away your boredom. It all strengthens the sense of who you are and what you know about the world.  The rush in real meditation is when all these problems and situations disappear. In fact, you realize they never bugged you in the first place. You were just hypnotized by them. You located yourself in the distractions and you got lost. When you sit still in meditation, you're not reaching for anything. You let go of the relationships and ideas you lost yourself in. Then you realize: you're free from it all. And that's when things get scary, in a good way. If meditation means waking up from a dream, and my sense of self was lost in that dream, that means I'm waking up from the dream of myself. In other words, you're the dream. The dream is everything you knew about yourself. The dream is that you are the center of the universe. Meditation reveals that there is no center except consciousness itself. Your stories never mattered. And you wake up from the drama of "my life." Unfettered, you realize that there are many different ways to see your circumstances. Some of those ways have much more power and truth than others. And you can choose how to see it. If you're interested in deepening your experience and practice of meditation, join me and Erin. Our upcoming meditation teacher training starts in September. Space is limited.   
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Elemental Yin Yang Yoga - Fire on the Mat

Working with Fire energy this summer on and off my mat has produced big results. The one I am most excited about is that after working consistently on my book, a major section of it is complete. Today I want to share a small excerpt from the Fire chapter and specifically how this element can be used on the yoga mat.  Fire on the Yoga Mat  For the Elemental Yin Yang yogi, Fire practice is one of connection.Yoga after all means to “yoke” and recognizing your union with the entire universe you are part of is one simple yet profound spiritual mystery. On the mat, asana practice is the opportunity to remember that you are connected to the universe and other people both basic and profound ways. In my Fire themed Yoga classes, for the last Yang posture (usually the most vigorous or challenging of the practice) I ask students to get into groups. In those groups the student must rely on their partners for support in the posture of the day. At first it may be awkward.
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Welcoming Summer - Reflections on the Fire Element

In preparation for my upcoming "Igniting the Heart" workshop at The Village Yogi in Fonthill on June 25 and in honour of the Summer Solstice I wanted to share the opening reflections on the Fire Element from my upcoming book on Yin Yang Yoga. What follows is an intimate memory from earlier this year that contains many of the Fire themes, devotional and mature love, warmth, connection and the beauty of summer. I hope this helps you get more connected to this energy and inspires you to enjoy all this season has to offer.
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Can Meditation Be Harmful?

I was having a discussion about meditation before my class at De La Sol Yoga last month and a question came up that I think deserves more exploring.  The person I was speaking with asked if meditation could at some point become harmful. They described that lately during meditation they found themself replaying a trauma, drama or negative thought over and over again. However because they are supposed to be physically still and let go in the meditation itself, they felt powerless to do anything about it. How stressful! (First, if you aren’t familiar with how to sit for meditation you can check out this video for the basic instructions) To address the concern of this particular student, the short answer is: If meditation is causing you ongoing or worsening anxiety, there may be different work you need to do instead of or in conjunction with the practice.
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