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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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Moving Into Summer -A Flow Yoga Playlist

One of my favourite summer practices is to take yoga outside. We just moved into a new place and a few nights ago I was on the deck looking for the perfect spot and one of my friends pointed out a pair of outdoor speakers. High five new building, it seems you already know me. Not only can I practice with this beautiful view, but I can plug in my brand new summer play list. Check out the tunes below for your summer practice:
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Why Yogis Need Anger

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book on Yin Yang and Elemental Yoga.  Of all the emotions in Chinese Medicine and Philosophy anger (the emotion of the wood element) may be the most difficult to resolve for yogis. As you engage in spiritual life no doubt you have been taught that anger is “unyogic” and divisive. It is easy to see that most other emotions have the power to unite people. We commiserate and console in times of grief, laugh together in moments of joy, reach out for comfort and support in our fear or worry.
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Introducing Our Brand New Virtual Book Club

A few years ago a handful of my yoga/ entrepreneur pals and I started a monthly book club with the intention of reading books to help us both personally and professionally. We did the things most book clubs do. We picked a book, read as much of it as our busy lives allowed and then got together to drink wine, eat snacks and burst into fits of giggles over whatever shenanigans ensued that evening.  In the midst of all of that, we did manage to discuss the book of choice, and I am glad we did. Those books allowed me to break out of my old ways of thinking and working. Soon after life got very busy. A few of us had children and we all started new branches of our business ventures. Trying to get everyone together on a regular basis, let alone read an entire book each month became difficult.  However, I still yearn for those great discussions and the growth that can be sparked by a good book. That is why today we are officially launching The Aquin Yoga Virtual Book Club. This is free and open to everyone in this tribe with the intention of helping us stay connected and engaged beyond the mat.
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Yin Yang Playlist: Tunes to Bring On Spring

Spring is taking it's sweet time from where I am sitting. On this gloomy day I wanted to share some of the songs I am flowing to right now that get me feeling lively on my mat until the sunshine and warmer temperatures decide to stick around.
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The Problem With Dreams and Success

You might think the title of this blog is strange since I write so much about big dreams and re-thinking the idea of success, but while planning my upcoming meditation series at De La Sol Yoga and the Spring Revitalization Retreat on April 30, I have been talking to students about why they started their yoga or meditation practice and why they continue. Reducing stress, improving well-being and attitude are the most common reasons. While it is true that practice can help with these things, I am interested to know why so many of us feel stressed out, sick and negative in the first place. Most of my students have really good lives. They have careers, homes, families, love and safety. Having all of those things in a world where so many have so little should be a recipe for lasting ease, health and happiness.  Sadly, countless studies show that our culture as a whole struggles to find meaning and contentment. Even though you probably have wealth and security in many domains of life, you might also be struggling with an unspoken stress that is silently damaging your health and well-being.
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Elemental Yin Yang Yoga: Wood and Realizing Your Dreams

“They [the spirits of wood] endow us with the ability to discern our path, stay clear on our direction, imagine possibilities, move forward toward our goals and take a stand for what we believe is right.” ~Lori Eve Dechar “The Five Spirits”    In preparation for my next retreat with my Yoga Teacher Trainees I have been writing about and contemplating the Wood element in Chinese medicine and the nature of Spring energy.  The magic of this element can both inspire and empower you with its various themes but there are three concepts that I feel most drawn to for our work because they not only provide fertile ground to realize our life's goals and aspirations, but they are incredible meditation instructions in and of themselves. Yin Yang Yoga is more than just asana, it is a companion on your life journey.  To understand these core characteristics of the Wood Element we can use the metaphor of a tree. The Roots - Being Grounded When standing in the presence of a breathtaking tree, it is easy to forget that what you are looking at is only half the picture. Below the earth is a system of roots that spread deep and wide gathering nutrients and forming the foundation for the growth that happens above the ground. Without the roots the tree wouldn’t have everything it needs to flourish and would easily be toppled at the first strong wind. In our culture we often look at the outward achievements of someone and forget the years of "behind the scenes" work that went into their success. You can’t get a degree or build a business overnight. It takes a strong foundation to bring long term growth and success. Being rooted as a person may not sound sexy, but if you know who you are and where you stand it, is easier to move forward with confidence towards your life goals.
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