Monthly Archives: June 2011

End of TT, Yoga Comp, Advanced Seminar, oh my!

Hey Yogis~

I’m still in LA…just finishing up my visit here. I fly home Friday.

I was here for the end of Teacher Training (week 9). It was a great week to be here, all the “work” was done and the days (and nights!) were filled with amazing lectures…and yoga classes of course.

Last weekend was the International Yoga Championships . This year I served only as a coach, not a judge or a competitor, so was able to be there for the competitors and enjoy watching the event. And what an event it was!! I think Bikram said there were 33 countries represented this year! Saturday everyone competed and Sunday was the finals (top 10 men and women) and the youth division.

Joseph Encinia from USA won the wen’s division, and Yukari Miwa won the women’s. They were both absolutely stunning. They have both competed before-Joseph for 4 or maybe 5 years and Yukari for a few as well. There was plenty of “upset” on the first day of the comp. Many of the people who were thought to place high had problems with balance or timing and didn’t finish where they had expected…..oh, Expectation, why must you be such a good lesson? (I had many conversations with unset competitors about expectation and attachment…lessons that I had to learn in my years of competing!).

Monday started the Advanced Seminar. So…this week has been beginner’s class followed by advanced class..followed by anything and everything I could get my hands on to drink and then eat!!

I fly home Friday and am looking forward to sleeping in my bed…for a few days anyhow…

International Champions 2011


Alberta is getting HOT!

It’s Sunday night and I’m just finishing my weekend here in Calgary. I came in on Thursday night for the first Annual Alberta Regional Hatha Yoga Competition and a Seminar at the Bikram Yoga Calgary Northwest studio. It was a fuuuullll weekend!

7 Studios put on the competition, held in Red Deer. There were about 26 competitors (I lost count!), including 3 youth. They did such a great job of putting on the event! I was so pleased to be a part of the start of something so inspirational (and, close to my heart) here in Alberta. One of my goals for this year is to help promote the yoga competition and inspire people to be involved. They really blew the doors off the whole thing for their first year!

Competitors of the Alberta Regional

Today I did a seminar at the Northwest studio (there are 3 Bikram studios here in Calgary). What a great group of people I got to hang out with today! They were eager and attentive and really made me happy to do the job I do 🙂

So, tomorrow I head back to LA for the final week of teacher training. Graduation is on Friday. Saturday and Sunday is the International Yoga Competition and the Monday begins the advanced seminar…whew! So much to do in this world!

OK, gotta go… this yogi is ti-red!


I might not know you (yet), but I CAN see you…

Good evening, everyone~

The past little while I’ve been thinking more and more about what brings people into the yoga room…and, of course, what keeps them coming back. I started teaching 8 years ago. My first class was here in Victoria at the original Bikram studio on Fort St. I taught on a Saturday morning, 10am, a busy class every week. I don’t remember much about the class, other than it was full, I was excited and nervous, I had several teachers in the class, as well as my mom. I remember fogetting the second set of head to knee pose with stretching pose because one of the students (a naughty cow teacher) had to leave so decided to do spine twist while I was (supposed to be) teaching 2nd set (I WAS running a bit over, but it was my first class!). Anyhow, the biggest thing that strikes me between then and now (and, believe me, there are lots of differences between then and now) is that all I could do back then was get the words out and try to see the people in front of me…and now…

Now, after teaching countless number of classes to thousands of people around the world in several studios, I realise that even though I might not know you yet, I can see you there.

One of the most memorable things I’ve heard Bikram say is this, “I can tell everything about a person in Pranayama breathing”. Really, I said to myself…”REALLY???” And now, after 8 years of teaching this practice, I can see what he means. I may not know everything about you from your pranayama breathing…nor do I know everything about you in 90 minutes…but I DO know a lot about you. How we do one thing is really how we do everything, don’t you think? How a person practices yoga, how he or she is in the yoga room, is really how he or she is in LIFE…..ugh, is that a scary thought to you? Haha, don’t worry, we’ve seen it ALL.

Many people think that they will get bored if they do the “same yoga” every day..but we know that it’s not the SAME…don’t we 😉 We know that everyday is different in that room and we rely on the comfort of the routine to get us through whatever it is that we are dealing with in any given day-whether it be physical, mental or emotional stuff we are going through. As a teacher, I’ve realised that some days my students need more talking, more encouragement, and some days they need more silence. The only way to know what they need is to teach them…to be with them…to SEE them.

I’ve seen struggle in people as well as surrender. I’ve seen happiness and joy as well as frustration and anger. It’s all there, it all comes up (sooner or later)…and the good thing about it is, once it comes up, it then passes…how wonderful.

So, you see, my yogi friends, I may not “know” you, but everyday that you put your toes and heels together I CAN see you, a part of you, a glimpse into you, a sign of part of who you are.

Parksville, anyone?

I went up to Parksville on Friday to visit my cousin. She just opened a new boutique store in the downtown and I needed to check it out and have a visit….wowee, what a store! She and her business partner, Alexis, specialize in finding brands that are Canadian designers and/or made locally, are environmentally friendly, and just plain ca-ute!

Both of the owners come from a background of crafting and markets. Shirra (my cousin) had a previous company in which she made metal art (she founded Shining Sun Garden Works). She sold that company for a life and career in something lighter!! She got into upcycling and screenprinting, and Supercraftstar was born. Alexis was also a market dweller and seller. Her specialty is one of a kind feather headbands and earrings, felted accessories, and other assorted accoutrements. The girls offer workshops at the store (there is a workshop space at the back) for groups of 4+ to come in and learn how to craft with the best of them (workshops can be upccyling t-shirts, circle scarves, bags, accessories, screenprinting…).

Alexis and Shirra of Wilde and Sparrow

The store is called Wilde and Sparrow. If you are up in Parksville, I highly recommend stopping by for a visit. During the time that I was there, all the people who came in had the same comment…”FINALLY, a good place to shop in Parksville!”…so, things are looking up! They don’t have any goats on the roof, but maybe you’ll like it there! I got soooo many great things while I was there…I had to leave just so I’d stop shopping!!!

Crafting workshop Friday night...there I am in the background too!


Pranayama Breathing

Hello Everyone, happy sunny Sunday evening! What a weekend we had, huh? Just when we thought summer *might* not come…whammo! AND, how about those Canucks. What a weekend, indeed.

While I was teaching class this morning I had the thought that I want to write a bit about the breathing exercises in the Bikram practice. We do two of them, we do them everyday, and yet there is not a huge amount of explanation of them in class…so, here we go.

The first breathing exercise (first exercise at all) is Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing. It is good for the lungs and respiratory system. It is designed to expand your lungs to their maximum expansion capacity, improve the elasticity of the lungs and begin to get the body warmed from the inside by activating the cardiovascular and circulatory systems. You breathe IN by the nose and OUT by the mouth, but all the time breathing THROUGH the throat. Are you still with me? What does this mean, “through the throat”? I’ll have to tell you that explaining pranayama breathing has got to be one of the hardest things to do in teaching this practice! Some people “get” it right away and others take a longer time to understand…some people think they are doing it, but are still breathing using the nose and mouth. Think of it this way…the throat becomes like a wind tunnel (Sandra reminded me of this this morning, something she heard Owl mention in class). It was not too long ago that I told my class in pranayama to make it sound like they are “passing wind”….haha, oopsie, maybe not the right way to phrase it! The sound that the breath makes as it passes through the throat is like a wind tunnel-on the inhale AND the exhale-the strength of the sound of inhale and exhale should be equally loud.  Some teachers describe it as a “snoring sound/sensation in the back of the throat”, some say for the exhale “imagine you are fogging a mirror on the ceiling”. It could be any/all of these things, if that is what helps YOU understand it! Be mindful if you are feeling/hearing/making a “snoring sound” that you are not rasping (is that the right term?) your throat…that is probably a good way for a beginner to start to feel it in his or her throat, but long term affect of that gravelly sound may be harmful to the throat, I would think.

Me helping a student in Sidney understand the Prayayama Breathing

When you learn to use the throat and keep the nose and mouth as only the passage for the air, it’s almost like you don’t even feel the air in the nose or mouth at all, only in the throat. It’s quite miraculous, actually! Try right now just taking a deep breath in through your nose, like your sniffing a big sniff of a flower…go ahead, try it, I’ll wait………………did you do it? Did you notice that you had to puff up your chest and the breath was full very quickly? (That’s what I notice when I do that) Now try starting with full lungs and exhaling the breath very quickly through your mouth…did you notice again that it is over very fast? When  you use your nose and mouth to breathe, a large amount of air passes very quickly in or out. In pranayama deep breathing, we are trying to stretch the lungs to expand to their maximum. It is said that we don’t utilize our full lung capacity in normal breathing, “The average total lung capacity of an adult human male is about 6 litres of air, but only a small amount of this capacity is used during normal breathing”, (Wikipedia). There is varying information on how much of the lung capacity we actually use during the normal breathing…but let’s just say it’s “only a small amount”, just to keep it simple ;). So…back to the pranayama…when you are able to understand the use of the throat, and that the nose and mouth are only the passageway, you are then able to start to pull more air into the lungs at a slower pace thereby allowing you to stretch and expand your lungs to their fullest.

Now, we do the inhale and the exhale to a count of 6. As a beginner it is very normal to only be able to breathe in for maybe 3 or 4 seconds and then breathe out for 3 or 4 seconds…do not fret, Puppies, this is normal and as your lungs improve, you will be able to use the full SIX seconds! If you are having trouble breathing for that long, just breathe in as long as you can and then hold it (lungs full and lungs empty)…this will start to encourage the lungs to improve and stretch and you will be inhaling and exhaling like a super yogi in no time!

Benefits of pranayama deep breathing include increased oxygen absorption into the cells, helps prevent respiratory problems such as bronchitis, emphysema and shortness of breath.  On a personal note, I find prayayama deep breathing to be very beneficial for calming the nerves and lowering stress levels…it’s like a fail-proof focus enhancer for me!

That’s all I got for ya on the Pranayama Standing Deep Breathing. It may seem daunting at the beginning, but once you learn to do the breathing exercise effectively and efficiently, you will wonder why you didn’t learn this years ago!

INhale breathing

EXhale breathing

Punta Serena Mexico

Ok, so…I did a yoga vacation ( just outside of Manzanillo (Pacific coast of Mexico) a couple of weeks ago. I would highly recommend this vacation, and not just because I was there!! 🙂

The resort (and I hesitate to say “resort” just because it was so secluded and quiet) we stayed at is called Punta Serena. It is just north of Manzinillo and about 3 hours drive south of Puerta Vallarta. This place is ah-maze-ing. It over looks the beautiful Tenacatita Bay. Every day we were there we saw dolphins swimming in the bay. One day we went on a boat cruise to go snorkelling and saw so many dolphins it would make your head spin. There was something so amazing and magical about seeing these animals in their wild habitat…they were so playful with us/the boat. We stopped several times and jumped in the ocean from the boat, but I wasn’t able to catch a fin and go for a ride. I was mezmerized at how smart these animals appeared to be. It was truly one of the best days ever.

The vacation was a perfect vacation (if you ask me!). It was designed to give people an optimum yoga experience (2 classes/day taught by yours truly or by Bruce-the organizer and brain behind the vacation). I also did 3 hour long posture clinic in the week in which I went over several of the postures in the beginner’s series, as well as answered questions and helped with postures. There were only 13 of us total (including Bruce and myself) but it was the perfect size (isn’t that always the way?). They were all Amercians, 1/2 from the East coast/New York, and the other half from around-mostly the US-but 2 Canadians (including me!) and one woman from Finland. So, we were a motly crew, but so well suited to be together for this week.

Our days consisted of yoga at 830am, followed with fresh fruit/juice and a dip in the pool. Then breakfast, the free time (most of my free time was spent lazing about the pool). The afternoon class was at 5pm-and then again followed by fruit/juice (the hotel staff was amazing about being there right when we got out of class with these beautiful platters of papaya or mango or cantaloupe, etc). We all seemed to convene on the lower deck for the sunset and chat and then headed up to the dining room for dinner.

Seriously? Does it get any better? The reason I really liked the idea of this trip in the first place was because it’s a vacation rather than a retreat. We offered 2 classes/day but people weren’t required to take them both (although, many did!). The posture clinics were also optional, but everyone attended (why not??!). There was so much time in the days, in the week, that people were free to do what they wanted-massage, walk the beach, lie by the pool, go into town, etc. This place was so amazing, though, that it was hard to leave.

There will be 2 more retreats this year; October 1-8 and December 3rd-10th. Get more infomation at or Tell Bruce that I sent ya!

Bruce and I demonstrating salutes to gods and goddesses


Temezcal-Mexican sweat lodge, preparation







I’m back! AND I have sooo much to tell you…

Hello! I have the feeling that this is how this site is going to shape up…I’ll be writing on it a whole bunch and then won’t be for a while. With all the travelling (I’m Canadian, I’m allowed to spell it like that!) I do, the internet use can be sporadic at best, so I’ll just have to write a bunch of catch up posts this week while I’m home.

So…let’s see, where to start. I think I’ll start with tonight. Tonight I watched the Canucks win over the Bruins. What a game! I watched it at home with my bro. He has been a Canucks fan for 30 years (they played their first game in the league 3 days before he was born, October 8th, 1970!), so it can get pretty crazy around here at game time. I borrowed my nephew’s jersey and hat and we watched all suited up, yelling at the tv, hooting and hollering the whole time.

It was interesting for me as I’m not actually a hockey fan. The last time I watched this many games in a season was in 1994-the last time the Canucks were in the finals (I was living with a house full of boys at the time, so the hockey was a big priority). I really don’t care for watching any sports and at the same time I could watch any sport and have a good time….it all depends on the company I keep. Having my brother a die hard fan to watch the game with really makes it fun…and I get all caught up in the nostalgia of it. Seriously, you shoulda seen us when Raffi scored the goal with 19 seconds left in the 3rd period…you would have thought we’d won the lotto!