Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Koi Fish Pond

Let’s return to the old Kung Fu re-runs. When Caine, fondly called Grasshopper by his master, is a small boy in the monastery, his master finds him watching fish in a small pond.
The master asks Grasshopper, “How many fish are there?” Grasshopper replies, “Twelve, Master.” “Good,” replies the master, “and how many ponds are there?” Somewhat confused by such a seemingly obvious question, Grasshopper responds, “One, Master.” “No,” replies Master, “there are twelve ponds; twelve fish, twelve ponds.”

In the previous exercise, we could have asked a room full of five hundred people to do the experiment and all the answers describing the world would be different because each person would have described pieces of their unique self. Five hundred people, five hundred worlds.

The world and others simply reflect back to us what we are seeing, not what is there. It is as if wherever we look, there are only mirrors that show us pictures of ourselves. We cannot love or hate something about another person or the world unless it is already inside of us first. The world gives you what you see. You can experiment with this truth by changing your story about what you see. You will notice, the world changes to fit the story you are telling.

The Buddhists say that the universe dies when you do because you have created your own little world of reality. As you begin to steadfastly pay attention to what you are saying to yourself about the moment, the other person, yourself, and life, you will get clues about the “boxes” you have wrapped yourself in that create your own little universe. All of these utterances are projections of the parts of yourself you love, don’t love, can’t see, or can’t yet accept.

From - The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
Chapter Eleven - The Fourth Niyama SVADUYAYA (Self Study)


We can all use this lesson in our daily yoga practice.

Why do we even do yoga? We all have a reason for the first time we finally come through the door and take a class.

I want to get in shape...I want to get flexible…I want to get skinny…

But what keeps us coming back? Any fitness class, any spin class or Zumba class or Pilates class will do the trick, why do we keep coming back to yoga?

It’s not about flexibility, it’s not about the poses. It’s the chance to reconnect to mindful awareness, reconnect to your heartbeat and breath and strengthen these connections. Practice the connections and make them so strong that they follow you off your mat and out the door of the studio and stay with you through your daily life.

Every yoga class is a chance to reconnect and strengthen these connections. Well if flexibility and stretching is not the reason, why do we bother with the poses at all?
The yoga poses are simply a way to challenge your mindful connections. The linking of movement to our breath and mindfulness is a way to try and distract you, to make you hold your breath, to let that monkey mind back in. In the end, the practice of yoga is accepting the challenge of the pose and keeping your mind clear, your breath and heartbeat steady throughout the class.

Yes, your yoga poses will eventually make you stronger, more agile, more stable and flexible, but the pose is not the goal. If the pose is not the goal, then a perfect pose is even less so.

If there are twelve yoga students in my class, then there are twelve different yoga classes going on. Each student has made their connections, each student has begun to move and challenge those connections and each student is on their own mat, on their own journey, maybe they are practicing with intense focus and their eyes are closed. No one is on your yoga journey but you, no one has the same body or experiences as you and no one’s pose ever looks the same.

But the challenge is the same for everyone, stay on your own mat, find the connections between your mindful awareness, your heartbeat and your breath, then begin linking and strengthening those connections as you start to move.

You are on your own mat and your own journey, therefore there is no one to compare yourself to, there is no judgement on your mat and no jealousy; just your yoga path laid out before you.

930am Tuesday Hatha for Warriors at Lotus and Lettuce, there’s room in my pond for another fish. Who’s going to join me?

Namaste 😊

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Tuesday, Hatha for Warriors day!
Each Tuesday we work on the warrior series of poses, Virabhadrasana I, II and III, as well as their variations and the peak poses that build from them. While the term Warrior refers to the mythology that the poses symbolize, it can also refer to your “Warrior Within” that prods you to let go of the excuses and self imposed hurdles and continue to show up on your mat!
The Warrior poses are accessible to any level of yoga practice and are a tremendous way to build balance and foundational strength; in our hatha series we hold poses for five to tens breathes allowing you to really settle into alignment and find the connection to your pranayama breathe and mindfulness.
930am, who’s feeling like a warrior this morning?
Namaste πŸ˜Š

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Warrior Within

Today is Tuesday, every Tuesday is Hatha for Warriors in my weekly series. If it wasn’t obvious before, each day’s theme is a bit of wordplay; yes we work on the Warrior poses and their variations, but warrior also refers to the people who make up our growing community.
If you’ve been to even one class of ours this year, there is a strong likelihood you’ve practiced next to someone currently dealing with cancer. Some of them can see the light at the end of the long tunnel of treatment and are celebrating great news, some of them are gracefully accepting their fate and making the best of the worst possible prognosis but they have been in class with you.
You may be practicing next to someone dealing with a disease affecting their motor skills, sharing your energy and helping them build strength and confidence as they learn to deal with a new body and new reality.
You may have practiced next to someone dealing with a lifetime of intense pain and a body slowly breaking down.
You have most certainly practiced with someone struggling with depression and anxiety, many people actually.
You have probably practiced and held space with someone who has recently been hit with an unimaginable personal tragedy or the loss of a loved one that brings suffocating grief.
Whether they are students or teachers they are all an integral part of this growing community, they always find the courage to face up to another day and we are honored when they choose to come in to class and share that courage and strength.
Everyone of us is coping in our own way, and everyone of us is absolutely a warrior πŸ˜Š
930am Hatha for Warriors, who’s going to join me?

Monday, October 8, 2018


Each of us at Lotus and Lettuce wanted to post this weekend, taking the time to let you all know what Thanksgiving means to us.
First of all, I’m grateful for my family. I don’t see them as often as I would like but I know I have their unconditional love and support and that has never wavered despite my jagged edges and my struggles with alcoholism, OCD and depression.
I’m grateful for my healthy body and the 22 extra years I’ve been granted since the day of my cancer diagnosis. I struggle mentally at times but I don’t take for granted that I wake up able to get out of bed with energy and free of pain. I love that I am healthy and fit enough to teach yoga for a living and that I have a steady if not consistent personal practice.
I’m grateful that I still play soccer twice a week. I’ve loved this sport intensely since I was five years old and to still be able to play it and play to my capabilities and enjoy it as much as I ever have is an enormous blessing.
Lastly, I’m eternally grateful for my Vernon adventure; my great friend Michellene and her family that have welcomed me with open arms and the extended community we are growing at Lotus and Lettuce.
Michellene’s decision to open this studio and offer me the chance to join her allowed me to leave behind my old life, move back to my home province of BC again and get back to the mountains and lakes I grew up with.
I deeply love and admire my fellow teachers here at Lotus and Lettuce; and I am grateful every time a member of our community comes through the door, allowing me the opportunity to live my dream and teach for a living.
Happy thanksgiving to each and every one of you πŸ˜Š

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hatha for Strength

We all face the change of seasons differently, each one of us has our reasons for loving one season more than the rest.
I usually like to say that fall is my time of year. Despite my love of outdoor sports like soccer and rugby, as I grow older I don’t really enjoy the unrelenting heat and at night I find it hard to sleep. Autumn brings cooler temperatures at night, less crowds around town, no insects, the chance to wear clothes and feel comfortable; I really do love this time of year.
If I’m completely honest though, this time of year is also an epic battle internally.
I struggle with change and really begin to dread the shorter overcast days and longer nights. My OCD causes me to mentally tally and obsess over how many summers I potentially have left.
Inevitably grief and anxiety have crept in and I sink deeper and deeper in the couch making excuses to avoid getting out and being active.
My yoga practice has tailed off again and I struggle to even look at the schedule to find a class I might enjoy. I begin to feel guilty about my lack of motivation and then the panic attacks come.
Holed up in my apartment I’m now using food for comfort and reward and starting to feel the weight gain. All the old habits flood back and I can see the familiar signs of depression looming.
The old me would be self medicated with alcohol which would allow depression to take over.
However, It’s not the same old story anymore. My discovery of yoga ten years ago and it’s gradual takeover of my life has provided me new perspectives.
The ability to cut away the noise and clutter, to clear the mind and just breathe, to acknowledge, accept and forgive the things that I once used to hate myself for - all the things I’ve learned on the mat allow me to see things the way they truly are and take steps to fight back.
I am now part of a community of like minded people who share my values and a Kula who unconditionally support me. I have the vocabulary and the voice to speak up and tell my story, to share it and maybe have it land for someone else.
This week a dear friend sent me the cartoon posted below; I haven’t written her in a while and it arrived with no context, it was just something she sensed I needed. Another dear friend called this week and said she had a powerful thought that I needed her call, each of these couldn’t have arrived at a more perfect time.
Yes, I am struggling, but now I have weapons, and warriors coming to my defense πŸ˜Š
0930 Friday Hatha for Strength, who’s feeling like a warrior?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Autumn is Here

The fall season is here, a reminder that it's the time in our life's cycle to set limits and protect boundaries. In nature, autumn represents the process of contraction, decay and decomposition - returning all matter to its original source.
This time of year we are also contracting and pulling inwards, slowing down and focusing our attention internally. It's the time of year where we organize our life's clutter and clear out the chaos in our lives. Shedding the things that no longer serve us, letting go of unhealthy relationships and habits; we pare back now in order to create clarity and new space for future growth.
As we let go of all that clutter and let go of our attachments to the youthful yin energy of summer there is naturally a feeling of grief, maybe a little fear as the long nights of winter loom. Our bodies need the stillness and quiet though; summer's nonstop activity and lack of downtime left us depleted, stressed and burned out.
We need to honour this time of year, we need to lean into the discomfort, take the time fall offers us to slow down, let go, release and surrender.
Today at 930 my weekly Hatha series features the Warrior poses; come in, find a mat, find your breath and let go.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hatha for Warriors Tuesdays

Tuesday is always Hatha for Warriors in my series, this refers to the warrior poses and the poses that can build from the base asanas of 1, 2 and 3.
Yesterday we focused on Warrior 2, extended side angle, the bind from extended side angle and then finished with the balance pose Bird of Paradise!
I am extraordinarily passionate about hatha yoga as it allows every body of every shape, size and ability to get in to a posture or its modified variation. We take time to breathe into a pose, find mindfulness, then adjust and align and allow each of us to really get to know our body and it's capabilities. You don't have to have done yoga before or be "flexible" as hatha yoga will always reward your decision to show up and try.
Wednesday is Happy Hips day in the hatha series and we will continue to play with Warrior 2 and its variations today.
See you on your mat at 930 or noon!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hatha for Strength Fridays

Friday at 930am is Hatha for Strength in my weekly series, I know the name is a bit of a misnomer and may even scare off people looking to try their first class. I fully appreciate that sentiment! However, I chose the term to honour the yogi’s who consistently come through the door and grace our studio with their energy, breath and spirit.
Strength does not have to be defined as physical power or muscle, it could describe the incredible courage it took to make it through our door to your first class.
It could refer to the fortitude you required to ignore the urge to give yourself an excuse, leave behind the things you were doing and make time for your practice.
I also know that it takes strength to trust in a sitter for your young kids in order to make it to a class.
Most importantly, it describes the enormous energy it took some of you to just open your eyes and start another day. Life isn’t easy for most of us, anyone who knows me knows my struggles with OCD, anxiety and depression. For me, sometimes it takes literally everything I have to get up off the couch and do anything. There are days where it is a grind just to feed myself, let alone get dressed and find extra energy to make it to a class and practice. There is nothing easier than saying “maybe tomorrow”, I’m there with you and I know how often I’ve done it the last few years.
I admire every single one of you who has ever crossed our threshold and given us an opportunity to teach.
I would love to see your bravery on your mat today πŸ˜Š

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hatha for Balance Thursdays

Thursday morning is always the Balance day in my Hatha series at Lotus and Lettuce, we work towards finding balance between our bodies, our mindful awareness, our breath and our heartbeat; we work towards finding balance between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems; and we work towards strengthening our balancing asanas. 

Come join me tomorrow at 930am or maybe come try the noon Energy Boost, either way I look forward to seeing you on your mat!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

30 For 30 Podcasts throws a spotlight on yoga's #MeToo moment

This is a fascinating and comprehensive look at Bikram yoga and Bikram Choudry the man. It's honest and brave, and presents very real questions for the people who claim they can separate the yoga series from the flawed and corrupt alleged "founder".
This is a must listen for every yoga teacher and potential mentor, especially for the lesson that you must be certain in your heart as to the reasons you teach, and to be constantly vigilant to not lose sight of that reason.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Being a yoga teacher is challenging..

Being a yoga teacher is challenging. Being energetic, empathetic and present for each class and every student always. Being creative in class planning but staying true to your ideals and values. Ensuring every single student leaves class uninjured and safe, happy and fulfilled.

But by far the single biggest challenge is convincing people that they are capable and deserving of trying or practicing yoga in the first place.

In this age of Instagram and Facebook and social media influencers, people can be forgiven if their impression of yoga is that of the perfect lithe body in an impossibly perfect pose, wearing perfect and expensive yoga gear and pictured in the precisely perfect filter with the most perfectly chosen hashtags to bring in the perfect amount of “likes” and “shares”.
As a teacher and mentor, how do I counteract this imagery? Where are the pratfalls? The warts and imperfections? The fully lived lives and overweight bodies? Why aren’t they considered yogic on social media? And how do I convince someone they are the normal one and deserving of a yoga practice, that the social media influencer is the rare exception, that their perfect imagery is disqualifying, that it invites comparison and jealousy and discrimination?
The first and only way I can do that is to be truthful and authentic and vulnerable. I have teachers and mentors and yoga partners who support me unconditionally, and in turn I will do the same for you.
I’m no social media influencer, I’m a middle-aged man with a belly and a broken body. I’ve had cancer, survived car accidents, my ankles and knees and hamstrings ache from years of soccer, rugby and a supinated gait. I’ve had life happen to me, I deal with depression and anxiety and panic attacks and addiction. Yet every single day for years now, I’ve stepped on my mat and taken the next step on my path, my yoga journey.
Here’s the truth, everyone – the teachers, mentors, gurus, the skinny models – everyone must show up and take that first step sometime in their journey. You screw up the courage, you get on your mat and find your energetic breath. Don’t worry about the next pose or how you’ll look, do what you can that day. You are where you are on your path and that’s good enough, just get your broken imperfect body on the mat and take the next step.
My wish this week is for you to get your perfectly imperfect yoga body on your mat in our studio.
Gently close your eyes, clear your chattering monkey mind and find your energetic breath.
Gently close your eyes and maybe get a glimpse of your inner truth.
Gently close your eyes and take the next step on your profound journey.
There is no better time to find your mat, our new spring and summer schedule begins on Monday April 30th at Lotus and Lettuce Vernon; pick a class that looks appealing and come start your journey with us.
Namaste πŸ˜Š

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Day 2017

Exactly 20 years ago on May 13, 1997 I received my cancer diagnosis, and my mom received hers just 2 short months after mine. 14 months later she was gone at age 55.

Today she would have been 74 and its still unfathomable that she’s been out of our lives this long, that I can’t pick up the phone and hear her voice, that we can’t share in the joy of another Oilers playoff run, watch her dance at one of Kevin’s concerts, or that she wasn’t there beaming with pride and cheering at the top of her lungs at Kevin’s wedding last month, and feel the overwhelming love she would have shared with his new bride Tricia.

I’m now approaching the same age she was when she passed and it gives me a frightening new perspective; how truly young she was when she faced this death sentence and how terrified she must have been, and how devastated she was when realizing how much of our lives she was going to miss out on.

It’s taken me a long time to overcome my bitterness at her passing and my survivors guilt for having outlived her, to come full circle to the realization that I was so blessed to have had a loving mother always in my life at every turn while she was here.  Her love and support were always unconditional and she was the one who prepared me to be the man I have eventually become.

Since the day she died, special occasions like Mother’s Day and Christmas have never been the same for me. In this age of social media it’s a constant barrage of happy wishes and photos and I just haven’t been able to not feel grief, regret and anger on these occasions. 

So today I pledged that I would sit alone with my thoughts and really meditate on changing my perspective.

I sought to feel gratitude for my great health and the extra 20 years I’ve been gifted, to allow myself to feel her pride in my recovery from rock bottom a few short years ago, and feel the bliss of knowing she was there and fully a part of the wedding ceremony in her own way. I believe with all my heart that she has never really left me and today I could feel her great joy in the path my life has taken.

As the day wore on I did feel the weight lift; I was able to enjoy the Okanagan sunshine and the smiles of the happy families walking by the studio and really share in the joy so many people feel on days like this.

Today, for the first time in 20 years, I can sincerely and authentically say Happy Mother’s Day.

"Over and Away She Goes" Bill Fox

Over and away she goes, over and away she often goes
And leaves me here, inside a drink
To find another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?

Over and away she moves, spilling grooves and taking chances there
It’s not her hair I’m tangled in
It’s just another sense of wonder, I wonder why she goes?

She moves and drives, she drives and moves around
No wonder, no wonder for the sounds

Hoping dearly she returns, in every place my body burns
Over wild, over snow
It’s just another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?

Back and forth the wheels roll out, and my heart is filled with doubt
Change my clothes, blow my nose
It’s just another sense of wonder, wonder why she goes?

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