Musings from a life learning yogini
Yoga is about letting go and finding YOU in the middle of chaos.
A centred, grounded, curious and beautiful you.
Yoga is about letting go and finding YOU in the middle of chaos.
A centred, grounded, curious and beautiful you.
A couple months ago I began posting a series of “Meditation Tips” on social media, but realizing that not all yogis are on social media, I’m posting them here as well. If you have questions or want to get together to chat more on this topic, let me know. I’m also thinking about creating a regular meditation group where we can meditate, discuss challenges and observations etcetera, so we can grow as a community together. I hope you enjoy!
Ever since I learned to meditate, I have wanted to create a community where we can ask questions, share experiences and help each other on this path. In the past month during my yoga teachings I have spoken about meditation in detail and as a result, have received a number of questions. What do I do if I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work? How did you start meditating? Can you recommend any books? As a result, like my handstand tips, I’d like to begin a series of “meditation tips” in the hopes of answering questions and starting a discussion to support each other on this path to finding further clarity, calm, enlightenment. Tip #1: Set up an altar or space where you can meditate so that when you look at it or sit, you are reminded of why you meditate. It’s easy to google “Buddhist altar” to get ideas for what you can include in yours. Here’s mine: a statue of the Buddha, prayer flags, mala beads, a quote, an item from my childhood that has special meaning, and gifts from my kids- my biggest reason for meditating, so I can set an example and be my best self for them.
Meditation Tip #2: Meditate every day. No different than wanting to build body strength, if you want to grow mind strength, the practice needs to be regular and disciplined. It may seem, at least at first, like another ‘to do’ on your daily list. However, once you start to notice benefits and changes in your daily life and find those moments of complete peace and calm within your meditation, it becomes worth it and doesn’t remain an annoying “to do” for long (at least on most days ). What benefits have you noticed after beginning a regular meditation practice? For me, within 3-months of meditating daily, my mom, grandma, sister and partner- all around the same time- commented independently that I seemed calmer and yelled less (shit, did I really yell that much??).
Meditation Tip #3: Start a meditation practice when life is easy. This meditation tip is one of the best that my teacher Kevan Gale gave me. During hard times, your mind spins uncontrollably. You’ll never find success in your meditation practice if you start during hard times. Start during easy times, find success, and start building the strength of your mind so that you have those skills and training for when hard times hit.
Meditation Tip #4: Find what works for you. In meditating every day, you’ll likely start to notice what works and what doesn’t, for you. I don’t meditate before bed- it makes me sleepy. Meditation will help your sleep (it’s an awesome side effect), but I find I get too tired and my practice is lost if I meditate before bed. I try to meditate in the morning after having completed a few “to do’s,” before the afternoon lag sets in.
This is less a meditation “tip”, than a reason to meditate: happiness. I have just started reading “Happiness” by Matthieu Ricard: “I have come to understand that although some people are naturally happier than others, their happiness is still vulnerable and incomplete, and that achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill.” For happiness to move from external events (which are out of our control and fragile) to an internal way of being, we need to build it.
Meditation Tip #5: Meditate daily for 15-min when you first begin. This was recommended by my teacher. It worked for me, as when I first started meditating, it could take me up to eleven or twelve minutes to find complete stillness in my mind, the space that is so effing fantastic I don’t want to get up, I just want to stay there forever. It is so peaceful. If I never found that space, I’m not sure I would have known it existed and that I could find it. 15-minutes also didn’t feel like too long of a time commitment. I started to meditate for longer periods when I felt ready.
One of my students who began meditating relatively recently, but began with shorter periods of meditation and often at night, was struggling with her practice. When I suggested trying to meditate earlier in the day when she was more awake and for 15-minutes, she also noticed a difference. As in tip #4, it’s about finding what works for you.
Here goes round #3 at Kahlena! It makes sense and I say it often, but the proof is in the pudding… for those who really like handstands and want to progress, regular practice is necessary. Many of the yogis who have come to one or more of the series Kahlena has put on, have commented that due to not wanting to stand out or draw attention to themselves or give an impression of disrespect, they don’t practice handstands as often in class as they’d like to, as would be ideal for them. They’ll do some handstands in class, but not get in enough practice to progress. They have found that coming to these weekly handstand classes at Kahlena gives them the practice and coaching (from myself and each other) they need to progress. And progress they do. It’s one of the most fun parts of teaching handstands to the same group weekly, is seeing the incredible progression, the excitement, the smiles, the ‘ah ha’ moments.
So this is why we’re doing it again!
Saturday’s April 7-May 12 from 10:30am-12pm @ Kahlena Movement Studio in Edgemont Village.
Click this link to register, or send me a message for more info: http://kahlena.com/events/progressive-handstand-series/
Bridges seem to be a barrier to handstand series. Those who live on the Northshore like to stay and the DT crew likes it in Vancouver. If you’re a Vancouverite who makes it to the Shore for this series, we’ll buy you an umbrella. 😉
Our first handstand series at Kahlena went well, so we’re going for round #2!
It’s for all levels. We’ll work strength, and depending on where you’re at in your practice, you’ll learn to fall or balance or work on your press. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but honestly, the only difference between you and someone who can handstand better than you is practice. My favourite saying is: “If you build it, it will come.” There’s no magic. So, this series is a regular time, with coaching, to practice. There are a lot of “ah ha!” and celebratory moments when handstanders face their fear of falling or find their balance or feel the press! It’s a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.
Check out the poster for more info and let me know if you have any questions!!
This is coming up for all levels! New to handstands, wanting to learn to fall, balance, press, work into one-handed variations, name it! I will share with you everything I can in in 2-hrs. Come with questions and be ready to cartwheel, play and go upside down!! If you have questions in advance, shoot me a message.
For a long time I’ve known that handstands within the Yoga community- at least in Vancouver, BC and the surrounding area where I spend the majority of my time teaching and practicing- is a destination pose. If you can’t do it, you want to be able to do it. It’s a goal. Envy is involved. Not for everyone perhaps, but for many.
I practice handstands in class. I teach handstands in class. In one of my handstand classes last weekend, a woman told me that even outside of the yoga community (which I know little about!), handstands are the “it” thing right now. Everyone wants to learn how to do them.
I’m currently reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Carry On, Warrior and in it she comments: “I’d find myself in the middle of a lighthearted conversation with a woman I’d just met, and the woman would make a joke that didn’t sound like a joke, suggesting that our family was ‘perfect’ and that this ‘perfection’ made her feel bad about her own family. This happened three or four times over a two-week period. Once, a woman said, ‘You are so pulled together. It makes me feel so apart.’
Melton continues: “I do not like to make other women feel less than.”
This is how I feel about handstands. I do not like to make anyone feel less than. Knowing that many want to be able to handstand (or do certain handstand variations) and cannot, however, I realize this is entirely possible, even likely.
In class I talk regularly about why I handstand and why I teach handstands, but because I’m posting a lot more online about handstands now, I feel the need to clarify why I do what I do. Because I don’t want to make anyone feel less than. Ever. I do not want to contribute to the need to compete or be better than anyone else; I do not want to contribute to the sadness or anger or negativity in the world. Handstands, if we’re feeling envy and jealousy, can do just that. So, I’m here to clarify why I handstand and why I teach handstands.
Why I handstand can be found in my blog Lightness & Laughter in Handstand:
“In 2006, my son Trey was diagnosed with MPS II or Hunter Syndrome- a rare and progressive disease, and I was told he would either live with some physical challenges or like two thirds of kids with the diagnosis, decline mentally until he reached a vegetative state and die in his teens, and we didn’t know which type he had. I was struggling to breathe, to put it mildly.
The only times I stopped crying in class were when I was upside down or on my hands because I was concentrating on not falling instead of thinking about how scared I was for the future. Falling out the open door in the summer or tumbling off my mat to gaze up at my neighbour in down dog while I was flat on my back made me laugh. It was the only time I did laugh. It was funny when the rest of life was so serious.”
Why I teach handstands. I am a mom living in North Vancouver. Most of the conversations I have are with moms, and if you’ve ever had a deep conversation with a mom, their/our shit is real. Everything from postpartum depression to divorce, to potential ADHD diagnoses and the challenging decision to pay for a diagnosis that could- depending on the situation and your beliefs- benefit or harm your child, the decision to medicate for ADHD or find ways to help your child manage their jitters, to aging parents, to how to work and raise children and find that balance without fucking up your children or completely losing your identity, to making enough money to live where we live, to maintaining a marriage that you believe in and actually want to be a part of, when all you really want to do right now is crash and go to sleep or watch Netflix. And then recognizing that almost everything I said above comes from a place of complete privilege. The ability to think about and pay for counselling, for divorce, the ability to pay for a diagnosis and medication, the ability to put our parents in a home or choose to work or “go out on dates,” the ability to sit and watch Netflix. If you’ve read this far, I’m hoping you now feel enough stress and pressure to understand why letting that shit go for a bit to play upside down feels FANTASTIC.
So that’s why I teach handstands. Because seeing moms and other people who have a lot to look after in their lives, laugh and fall and have fun and cartwheel and let go and have the courage to face their fears is incredible. It is inspiring.
It is my greatest hope in sharing handstand tips and blogs online and leading workshops and series that these be inspiring and fun and so much more about the journey than the destination.