One yogini sharing her path of discovery

Posts tagged ‘happiness’

Whiplash and Yoga

Common Whiplash Symptoms

Common Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash is not an uncommon injury in our culture. Unfortunately, it is quite frequent. According to the Whiplash  Prevention Campaign  nearly 200 rear-end collisions occur a day in BC alone. With rear-end collisions being the main cause for Whiplash it is safe to say that many people are effected.

For many individuals with a yoga practice already or those who haven’t tried yet, a physical practice is generally taken off the table as am form of rehabilitation. Pictures of big twists and memories of shoulderstand can understandably send someone running the other direction. Thankfully I am able to work with individuals in various stages of a whiplash injury sharing asana, pranayama, and meditation practice to aid in the stages of healing. And for those patients and physiotherapists who have been willing to give it a try have seen the great benefits.

Some benefits of Yoga in the various stages of a whiplash injury:

-Aids in easing anxiety and calming the fight or flight response

-Improves propreoception and overall body awareness

-Can gently maintain mobility and function while the body heals

-Balances energy levels

-Improves sleep

-Strengthens posture

– Aids in improving immune function

– Increases overall strength and core stability

The list goes on….

The most important and long-term benefit that I have noticed, however, is people getting back in control of their body. Often, those that come into the clinic for treatment are not at fault for the collision. They also usually have lawyers or family and friends telling them to “hold out” for larger settlements and they very quickly fall into the role of the victim. Some even hold tight onto the strings of entitlement, believing that they are “owed”.  According to a study by the NHS, it generally takes 32 days to recover, but one in five sufferers continue to still have symptoms up to a year later. Not surprisingly, this can lead to depression, anxiety and a range of other stress-related illnesses.

It is clear to many in the rehabilitation setting that people very quickly give up the right to their body and get stuck. Believing that it is someone else’s responsibility to make them better and deciding that they won’t be happy until they can feel “normal”again. All the various aspects of Yoga practice truly play a vital role in showing people that they can be in control of their breath, their body, and their thought patterns. It puts individuals back in the drivers seat and  creates a more realistic template for setting goals and moving away from being the victim to the victor.


So how should you go about adding a yoga practice in safely with physiotherapy/RMT treatment when suffering from whiplash?

1. If you don’t have a physiotherapist already look for a clinic or rehab center that is associated with a yoga studio or employs someone who does Yoga rehab/therapy so that it can be an option on your recovery road. Some insurance companies will even approve active rehabilitation by a physiotherapy assistant or kinesiologist so use this to your advantage and find one that also teaches yoga.

2. Schedule some one-on-ones with a therapeutic Yoga instructor. Sometimes (not always) more pricey but a great way to get some insight into  moving forward with a yoga practice independently. Just one or two sessions can make a world of difference and keep your body safe in the class setting.

3. Once you have moved beyond the acute phase of your injury and your health professional gives you the okay, check out a restorative or gentle hatha yoga class. ***Also let your instructor know your injury*** Most instructors know how to provide students with props and modifications to suit every body.

4. If your budget is a little tight from paying for all your treatment and possibly loosing time from work, the internet is a great source for meditation tips and gentle yoga videos. Find something that resonates with you. Also websites like YogaGlo are a great source for at home practice.


For more information on Yoga for rehabilitation or how to enhance your practice after an injury please don’t hesitate to contact me .




x Carly

February Food Foundations

Eating in

Eating in

Good news : February is almost past

Bad news: I am afraid of loosing all that I have gained from this last months resolution.

We chose “No Eating Out” for the second month of the year primarily because we wanted to be healthier and it only had 28 days in it so we wouldn’t to deprive ourselves of restaurant food for very long. It also seemed like such a daunting task since I probably average 1 meal out a day. Our lives are busy ones … along with everyone else … and grabbing a sandwich here and a burrito there just seemed easier then carrying around a bunch of food with me all day long. The benefits of this all, however, have expressed beyond those initial intentions as all of our resolutions do.

First, I noticed a drastic change of energy. I felt more awake and stronger after my first week of preparing all of my meals by my own hands and with fresh ingredients. Many “Well Duh!” ‘s may follow that last comment but it really took doing it myself for an extended period of time to realize the importance of making our own food.

Second, I am saving hundreds of dollars! For some, another “Duh!” moment. For me, I expected to save some money but I truly had no idea it would be this much. I am terrible with money. I never really know how much I have, how much I owe, or where and how it gets spent. I have always been completely hopeless and happily delusional and this has been a surprising wake-up call as well as new-found motivation into being better with where my money goes.

Third, our relationship has improved. Along with the “eating in” resolution we also decided to eat every meal at the kitchen table instead of the usual Netflix 1-2 hour dinner watch-a-thon. Now, I will be honest. On those nights when I got home late from work and wanted desperately to never sit in a chair again, we did end up cross-legged on the floor in front of the TV, zoned out and unconsciously shoveling food into our mouths. But the majority of the time we ate at the table and would stay there talking well beyond our plates had been emptied and cleared. My partner even started helping out with meals (Despite our “I cook, you clean” arrangement) which I really appreciated on those nights when I would usually vote for take out sushi.

Now as we munch our way into March this coming week I want to stay connected with the foundations that we have cultivated. New habits of making lunches, brining snacks, and creative cooking are always available and in a city where it is incredibly easy to forget these things I think its important that we keep ourselves reminded on all that we have gained from this months experience. And as always, even though I have always known this was the better way, it took actually doing it to make the difference. Practice makes for more practice. Horay!

Happy Eating In !


xo Carly

December Giveaway

Here it is. A whole year of resolutions coming to an end. I can’t believe that I have made it this far and have learned so much from offering myself 12 different goals for 2013. Choosing resolutions in this way has removed the guilt, the shame, and the disappointment.  Of course it wasn’t all fun and games and there have challenges and judgements towards myself and others. But through those rough weeks and more difficult resolutions I have found my rhythm of self-improvement and I feel strong and capable and better able to achieve goals on the road to being a better individual for myself, my family, and my community.

In case you haven’t been along for the whole ride her is a list of 2013’s Year of Resolutions:

January No Complaining- pretty simple.. no complaining

February Unplugging from electronics – no cellphone or ipods in social situations

March Compliments – Giving 5 compliments a day

April Writing – Journaling everyday

May Goddess Appreciation – Loving and honoring all women and letting go of jealousy and judgement

June Truths – Only speaking the truth to myself and others

July Sugar-free – No refined sugar of any kind

August Strangers – To speak to more stranger.. cultivate more friendships

September Reflection – To spend the month in reflection about my Burning Man experience and goals for the future

October No Alcohol – No drinking alcohol of any kind

November Clean up – Picking up one or more pieces of garbage on the ground each day

giving december

Its not totally over yet though…. in honor of the Christmas Spirit as well as the all powerful Burning Man principles we decided that December is to be the month of giving. Today is the 12th and we have already spent these past 11 days giving as best we can. Here are some of the ways we have offered gifts:

Making sandwiches for the hungry souls that we pass on the way to work

Giving change to familiar faces holding up a cup

Buying a friend a drink

Giving compliments to co-workers

Gifting myself a day of rest and recovery

Bringing the whole office chocolate bars

Giving students an extra long savasana with neck massage

Sending our sponsor-child a Christmas present

It doesn’t always have to be a monetary offering nor does it have to be big and lavish. It is just about taking the time to give to someone as well as cultivating the awareness that giving to each other can happen all year round. It is fun to be creative and wake up in the morning thinking… “What can be my gift today” till eventually I don’t think that at all and giving becomes a natural side-effect of moving through the world. We don’t need to have an ‘excuse’ or an event. We can just give.

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
― St. Francis of Assisi

Thank you to all the people who helped me in this year long journey. Those who gave me ideas, inspiration, and encouragement. It has been an amazing challenge.  2014 is coming. Time moves swiftly and it is beautiful.


a;ex grey


How did this beauty

Come so swiftly my way

When hope had been lost

My heart decayed

He spoke “why do you do this

Let them take your power

You are a Goddess of love

The queen of the hours”

My reply was weak

and completely unknowing

Already given in

To the loneliness growing

Then with a voice

As strong as the tides

He thrust “You are beautiful

You are divine”

As the stranger left

A new sensation arrived

I was worth more than that

I was worth love in this life

Let go of the sadness

and the role that I spoke

To fix all the men

That appeared to be broke

It was my turn to feel

Without pain or doubt

My turn to learn

What this love was all about

And than there you were

Right out of the blue

With your zest of life

Brightly shining through

There was no guessing

and only trust

And soon we went

From you and I to us

Now you are mine

and I am yours

My spirit awakened

Discarding the unsure

Our unbending hearts

stay strong, stay true

There is no replacement

for the wonder that is you

Sugarfree July


I missed out on doing a mid-month post about my June truths… consciously?? Perhaps. Although, I do feel it was a success. I am feeling dramatically better in regards to my self-image and was diligent about only speaking when I had something completely true to say. The culmination of it all happened near the end of the month when my longest, bestest friend came for a visit. A fellow yoga goddess and someone I admire deeply for her courage and eagerness to explore. When had many long talks about all things yoga. For anyone that knows yoga teachers, that generally means talks about life and living yogic-ly. She recently gave up sugar for a teacher training and it was interesting to see how her own body image has changed and how awesome it was to see her stay true to her goal. So that brings me to July with my new resolution… No sugar.

While my friend was here I discovered a surprising number of products contain sugar. Things I didn’t even consider. When I think of my own eating habits… sugar isn’t really on my radar as an indulgence. I put raw sugar in my coffee in the morning and eat the occasional treat and will most definitely get  a fountain coca-cola when I go to the movies but that’s hardly ever. But as my friend and I scanned the grocery store for supplies for dinner and snacks for the week I was shocked that only one of 10 different brands of granola didn’t contain sugar. Almost every cereal has sugar or a form of as the second or third ingredient and  countless other products line the shelves with sneaky sugar added in. The time is now… sugarless July!

It’s day 4 and am feeling my lack of sugar for the first time as my body slowly lets go of what is still remaining. I have come to realize how much sugar I do consume… consciously or not. So many fruits and spices contain natural sugars and sweetness to them and I am looking forward to getting back control of my taste buds that have been tainted by the food industry’s glutenous use of refined sugars. ***Also as a side challenge my partner and I have also stopped drinking coffee… a major part of my sugar consumption.

Gratitude to Keira for inspiring me and Wes to do this and of all my resolutions so far, I am very interested to see how it plays out.

Do you have thoughts or tips to share? I would love to hear them.




The Woods

The Woods

by Carly Russell


                It had been another long day at the office. Phones ringing, fluorescent lights glaring, and greedy co-workers making her feel small and insignificant. There is a reason that people feel as though the weight of the world is on their shoulders, she thought. She felt guilty that she this sad and depleted when she only had herself to take care of. No husband or children to mind. No big bills piling up or illness to bring her down. She had every reason for happiness and yet there was none.

She glanced out her buildings window. The path leading from her small office on the edge of the city, along the forest wall seemed like the perfect place to shed away the day. The evening was clear so she to ventured without a coat. The long sleeved loose shirt and light bootcut jeans fit just right and she already feet better at the thought of moving her body outside.

Soon she had made it to the clearing and away from the office. She felt elated by the openness of the field and wondered why she didn’t always come out here to eat her lunch or walk instead of remaining inside the stale space where she spent close to 10 hours a day. She even felt as though she was breathing deeper for the first time in months; taking in all the fresh new air that surrounded her.


“Annabel, you are so lucky. You have a good man, a good steady job, and satisfied life here. How could you even consider leaving?” It was her grandmother readily spewing all the reasons why not to leave her boyfriend, her partner really, of 5 years to travel for 6 months. “All that money you would spend wasting your time sightseeing could be spent on a house or savings for your wedding; which you most definitely won’t have if you leave.”

“I don’t know. It’s just an idea.” She answered. Anna had never really traveled alone before. She had taken quick trips here and there but always in the company of her boyfriend or parents. Foolishly she had brought up the fleeting thought at lunch and was now paying dearly for ever imaging she could do something so silly.

“Judy you seem awfully quiet for a mother who’s only child is about to run off to wherever. Probably get raped and killed in the first week.” Anna’s grandmother was always a little mellow-dramatic.

“I know she won’t go,” Anna’s mother turned to her “Your grandmother’s right sweetie. You have it made here. Michael loves you but he’s not going to stick around while you dilly dally across the world. It’s time to get married and settle down.” There it was. It was the dreaded phrase that was constantly being uttered at family gatherings and other weddings. Time to get married and settle down. It had been five years of dating and playing house. Who were they kidding? In everyone’s opinion, even Michael’s, it was high time they got they took the next step.


The clear sky that was once inviting was now beginning to cloud over. Within seconds, it seemed, the sunshine was gone and a loud cracking sound shook the little piece of land she was walking along. Instantly it began to pour. The girl was too far away from the office to make it back without getting soaked. She looked to the line of trees beside the clearings trail. Hesitating for a moment, she then stepped off the path and into the woods for shelter from the unexpected storm.

It took a moment to adjust her eyes to the trees. She had barely stepped off the path but she was now completely sheltered from the falling rain. For a moment it even appeared to have stopped so she stepped back out again.”Ahhh,” she cried as big wet drops of rain hit here head and hopped back under the canopy of the trees. The rain was still tumbling heavily down from the sky. She walked a little further in. Not too far, she thought to herself. You don’t want to go and get yourself lost.

Getting lost was not entirely absurd. Beyond the field, the tree line went as far as the eye could see. The depths of the forest also went all the way to the base of the large mountain range where habitation was unattainable for most that weren’t born and bred within it. It was not like the area had not been explored by others but there were many tales as she was growing up of souls getting lost amongst the trees.


Legends of the forest: A few years back there were a few high school kids that decided to have a party out in the forest. They knew they shouldn’t be drinking, staying out late on a school night, or even going out into the woods but they were defiant and did it anyway. So the 2 girls and 3 guys packed up their truck with all the things they needed. Stolen liquor from their parents cabinet, blankets to cuddle up in and flashlights to guide their way through the tangle of overgrown forest. The teenagers had heard rumors that there was a beautiful waterfall and lake within the depths of the woods; a secret place that only a few had returned to tell about.

The group set out late on a Thursday night after their parents had drifted off into a peaceful sleep, unknown to them where their children were going. It was not until morning that it was discovered that the 5 teens were not in their beds and it was not until the next day that there was any sign of hope. That hope crawled out from the abundance of the forest and collapsed at the edge. “Where have you been?” the worried people of the city cried. ‘Where are the others?” All the teenager could muster was that the beast had taken them.


As her eyes once more adjusted to the light she realized that despite the heavy covering of branches it appeared to be brighter in the forest than it had been in the field. Almost as if the sun that was previously shining had some how gotten trapped in between the limbs. The girl took it all in; seeing the forest with a new perspective that didn’t include horror stories. She decided to go a little farther in. For a brief moment she gazed back towards the park and even spotted the office building off in the distance, surprising herself on how far she’d walked. The moment of hesitation had now passed and she purposefully moved one foot in front of the other through the space, dancing into the density.


“I can’t believe your not going to come anymore,” said Ruth. Ruth, Anna’s oldest and dearest friend had invited her to visit her in across the ocean where she had been living for almost a year. It was the invite that had sprung the whole idea for 6 months of exploring through unknown lands (unknown to Anna at least). What had started as a simple invitation had turned into a big and beautiful adventure. Anna would first fly to spend a month with Ruth and use the rest of her time exploring on her own with Ruth’s encouragement and keen travel guides. “What happened? You, actually WE, were so excited a week ago. If its money, we can figure it out. Hell, I bet I could even get you some work at the bar.” Ruth, who was just finishing up her first school term there also worked a couple nights a week and the bar below her flat.

“Its not that. I just… I dunno… don’t feel like its the right time for me to be doing something like this.”

“Something like what? Visiting your best friend, having an adventure. Its just going to get harder to do something like this as we get older. The time is now!”

“It’s just that I know Michael won’t like it and my mom said…

“Your MOM!” Ruth interrupted, “Your mom said what?”

“I don’t know. She just made some good points. Like if I sell my car to afford it then I won’t have a car when I get back. I won’t have a job. Maybe I won’t have Michael.”

“What about having experiences? What about adventure and romance? Remember all those things you said you were missing in your life. And someone sure forgot fast how unhappy she was in her relationship a week ago. Unhappy enough to even cheat.” It was true. Anna had been unfaithful to Michael not only once, but a few times. It was quite a stupid thing to do but Anna had had every intention of breaking up with Michael. Not for the other guy. Just for herself since she realized how unhappy she was in their relationship.

“My mom is right, Ruth. Who am I kidding? I love the life I have. I love our apartment, I love my friends, and one day Michael will have a good paying job and we will be able to travel wherever we want then. I won’t even have to work. Can just stay home and take care of our kids.” Anna wasn’t lying was she said this. At least she thought that’s what she wanted. It’s what she is supposed to want.

“Oh Jesus, babe. That sounds tragic.”

“Maybe to you it does. You’re good at this stuff, Ruth. Being independent comes easy to you. Not me.” It was clear even on the phone that Anna was beginning to get upset.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I’m just disappointed, that’s all. If this is what you really want I’m not going to push you. I just want you to be happy,” Ruth continued after a short pause, “All I ever what is to see you happy.” Ruth was sincere. Long friendships allow for swift forgiveness.

“Yeah, yeah. So tell me about that new guy you’re seeing…”


As the girl made her way deeper into the brush she felt a twinge of excitement. It was rare that she was ever alone and the freedom of solidarity now was very present. How strange it was, she thought, that I am never alone. Maybe briefly while in the toilet but otherwise always (in some way or another) with other people. She suddenly felt very nervous with the realization that she didn’t know how to be alone. She had never been to a movie or out for dinner. She didn’t even like to eat lunch alone at work. Always waiting for someone else to join her whether she liked their company or not.

Within her thoughts she still moved through the trees and shrubs. Not really paying much mind to how far she had ventured in. Her new found independence only seemed to bring her farther away from the present moment and focused on her past. A tiny seed of regret began to root itself within her heart.

Before the girl was able to focus too much on the root of regret she stumbled on a log that had fallen across the path that she was creating amongst the trees. She instantly felt foolish and wished that had been watching where she was going instead of daydreaming. A trait her grandmother often scolded her for. The women in our family don’t daydream, the girl reminded herself. “I don’t day dream,” she said aloud. It felt odd to hear her voice after not speaking for a while. Even odder hearing without it being part of a conversation or greeting. “Hmmmm,” she continued, “Hellllooooooooo.” There was no echo to say hello back to her. The sounds just drifting off into the distance. In a flash she became aware of how far she had walked. Stepping over roots and around thick ancient trees. “Oh, what am I doing wandering around the forest like some crazy person? Time to go home.”


“When are you coming home?” Anna asked Michael on the phone.

“I don’t know, babe. The boys are out in full force tonight.” She could tell Michael had had a couple. So had she. “Come join us.” Oh now he asks me, she thinks.

“Where are you?” Anna can hear laughing and music in the distance.

“Umm, just some bar. You know the one with the weird lights.” Anna knew the place.

“Yeah, I remember the one.”

“I’m sure we’ll be here for a bit. Come. I’ll buy you a beer.”

“Oh, my hero.” Anna hung up the phone. She didn’t need to do much to prepare as she just gotten home from work dinner party. A party that Michael had been too busy to accompany her to.

As she stepped out of their shared apartment Anna was already dialing a mesmerized number. It only took a couple rings before being answered. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?” her mother often bypassed simple greetings in order to get right to business. It was also right at this moment that Anna realized how drunk she was.

“Hi, mother. Nothing. Nothing’s wrong. I was just calling to say hello,” Anna replied.

“Oh, well your father and I are in the middle of a movie. Isn’t it a little late?”

“It’s not that late. Say hi to dad for me.”

“That’s it? Okay, goodnight.” Her mother hung up. Anna felt a mixture of relief and hurt at the abrupt ending. It was good since she didn’t think she could handle a conversation with her mother when she was this intoxicated. She pulled out her cigarettes and lit one. Ahhh, thats better, she thought, as the inhale instantly calmed and rejuvenated at the same time.  She had arrived at the bar. She put out her cigarette on the ground, leaving the butt, and fished into her wallet for her I.D. At 25 and petit it would still be awhile before Anna wouldn’t get asked to show it.

“You know we close in 30 minutes?” The bouncer, a predictably bulky guy, asked suspiciously. “Last call is about to happen.”

“That’s fine. I am just here to meet my boyfriend. Thanks.” He handed her I.D back and let her pass. Michael was not wrong in describing the bar at ‘that place with the lights’ since the lights were the first thing you tended to noticed when you walked in. Dark reds, purples, and blues filtered through various fixtures creating a seedy, yet inviting feel.

The place was pretty much empty except for a few stragglers hanging out by the one solitary pool table. No one appeared to be playing, just chatting amongst each other in between gulps of their beers. There were a couple familiar faces among the group but none that were Michael’s. She walked towards them. “Hey, Anna!” rang out from the center of the group.

“Hey Trev,” she replied to one of Michael’s acquaintances. He was tall and lean with a dirty blonde hair. The kind of hair that had always tempted Anna to run her fingers through. “Where’s Michael?”

“Oh, umm, I dunno. I think they left. But uh, you’re welcome to hang out with us.” Trevor gestures to the remaining 4 members of the group. Anna looks to the group. They were an unappealing drunken bunch that she really had no desire to spend her remaining nightlife moments with. “Or… I could walk you home. Just to make sure you get there safely.” Anna pauses for what can only be described as a millisecond.

“Yeah, that would be nice.”


With the decision to go home firm within her mind the girl began to turn around. As she was turning a dark figure appeared to dart behind a tree. She jumped and breathed in. What the hell was that, she thought. She continued to hold her breath until realizing that she needed to exhale. She looked all around her, body tensed. She circled from where she came to where she had been going now frozen on one spot of forest floor. After a few minutes of being on the edge of fear she concluded that it must have been nothing. “Yeah, it was nothing. Relax,” she confirmed to herself aloud. “Just relaaaax.”


“Okay everyone, now just relax.” Anna was lying on the floor of a dark room. She was breathing heavily and could feel the beads of sweat that had formed upon her brow. “As we make our way into our final rest allow the mind to clear. Imagine it as a completely empty space where there is no need for thought.” How on earth does this guy think I am going to clear my mind. He is mad. After a strenuous 50 minutes of her first yoga class Anna was exhausted and figured it would probably be also be her last yoga class. He continued to speak but Anna wasn’t listening anymore. Just as she hadn’t listened throughout class. I can’t twist my body into all these different shapes and be able to relax at the same time, she thought. He had made her hate the word relax, the other girls in the class had made her hate their bodies, and the mirror made her hate herself. If only Anna had listened to the teacher she would have found peace with the word. If she had listened she maybe would have kept her eyes in her own space instead of looking at others. If she had listened Anna could have learned to let go of judgments and appreciate the person in the mirror looking back at her. Alas, she did not hear any of those things.


In the whirl of circling in fear the girl had now completely turned herself around. She darted looks from one way to another. Front and back did not exist anymore. Every direction looked the same. She had no clue which way she had come from or which way she had intended on going. Fuck, she thought, this is just what I need. Oh, yeah just go and get yourself lost in the haunted woods. ‘Your mother would love that’, she said aloud this time.

The girl pulled her shoulders back and looked around with a new dose of determination. She realized that the tree she had thought someone had jumped behind was in view. Okay, that’s a start. She started to walk but stopped suddenly. She then looked down to the forest floor to see what she could collect to mark the direction that she had come. All she had on her were the clothes she was wearing and her house keys. There were pine cones scattered around as well as small branches and twigs. She bent down to gather enough to carry a short distance. The girl felt she had only walked a short ways. As she reached her hand to the ground she touched the earth for the first time since before she could remember. She lets her fingers press further into the mossy earth. She felt a vibration through the soil and into her fingers. For that moment in time she was completely still, at peace even with the simplicity of playing in dirt.


“Don’t touch that! Judy don’t let her touch that.” Anna’s Grandmother May was sitting in a lawn chair. The way she sat, however, one would think that cheap lawn chair was a throne.   Anna’s mother, who was in the middle of making herself another drink, looked casually over to where Anna was playing in the garden. “Anna! Get out of there. Judy, she’s going to get sick. Who knows what diseases are running rampant in that dirt.”

“Alright mother, calm down,” Judy responds as she leaves her drink and walks towards her 3 year old daughter. “Okay, enough playing in the dirt, Anna. You will get sick if you put your hands in the mud.” Anna looked up at her mother, confused.

“Sick, mommy?” She asked.

“Yes,” Judy leans over to pick up her daughter. “Playing with dirt and mud will make you sick according to your crazy Grandmother.”

“Sick with a slew of unknown diseases,” Grandmother May adds paying no mind to the second part. Anna, not understanding all the words in between, holds on to the ones she does. Dirt, sick.

The girl was now sitting with both hands in the earth, eyes closed and breathing calmly. She opens her eyes and is aware of how long she’s been there. What had started as a few fingers grazing the ground had turn into sitting on the forest floor with both hands pressing into the moss and shifting around the pine cones and twigs that she was meant to be picking up. The girl starts to feel foolish again for what she is doing, imagining familiar faces laughing at her. She starts gathering bits and pieces. “SNAP” sounds out through the trees. First the girl thinks she has stepped on a branch beneath her, but then another “SNAP” reverberates from a few feet away. She jolts her head up. Her calm breath traded for quick panicked puffs of air. “Who’s there?” The girl utters; again startled by the sound of her own voice. All that echos back to her is the sound of the wind moving through the leaves. “This isn’t funny.” She can feel the panic within her beginning to transition into anger. Watching herself on the cusp of transformation she stands tall. She begins to walk with purpose towards the sound. At least where she believes the sound is coming from.

The trees slightly part and in between them is a large rock that fits nicely into the side of a small rise in the round. The boulder almost appears to have been placed there and as the girl get closer she sees there is a small opening. She slows her pace almost to a tip toe and crept closer in.


Anna crept towards her apartment door. Michael was most likely passed out in their bed but she didn’t want to take the chance of having to have the conversation of where she’s been all night. It would be easier tomorrow. Everything would be sorted out tomorrow.

She gently put the key in the lock and turned it, so familiar with the workings of her door that she was able to be as quiet as possible. The bolt clicked into the unlocked position. She opened the door and waited. Waited to hear a hello, foot steps or snores. But snoring was what floated to her ears and Anna felt momentarily relieved. She closed the door and took of her coat and boots with a little less care knowing that Michael was safely passed out. She made her way to the bathroom and turned on the light. The person looking back at her a was more vivid version of her former self. Hair tasseled and rosy cheeks. There was even a hint of a glow on her skin. Anna shrugged her new appearance as evidence of her late night wanderings. She turned off the bathroom light as not to stir any guilt.

She went into the living room, grabbed the cordless phone off the couch, her cigarettes, and went out to the balcony. When they had first moved into the apartment Anna had been disappointed that their bedroom didn’t open out onto the patio. She had envisioned waking up early in the morning and stepping directly outside to greet the day. Now she was happy it didn’t. It became her sanctuary for private phone calls and daydreams.

With the cigarette in hand and lit she dialed Ruth’s number. It rang only once before she answered. “Beautiful, Anna. To what do I owe the pleasure? Ohh geez, what time is there? Must be super early.”

“More like super late,” replied Anna. The time difference usually made it difficult for the two friends to talk so Anna was relieved to get her best friend on the phone. She needed someone to talk to. “I did it again.”

“Did what again? Oh. That. When? Who with?” Ruth had a non-judgmental way of communicating

“This guy, Trevor, who hangs out with the group sometimes. I was drunk and Michael had left me and Trev offered to walk me home.”

“Well what happened, exactly?” Ruth quizzed.

“Not that. Almost. The closest I have ever been with anyone other than Michael.” Anna and Michael had been together since their first year of university. He had been her first for a lot of things, most notably losing her virginity. But also all the other landmarks in young sexual exploration. Before Michael she had only kissed a few other boys. On more than one occasion when girlfriends were comparing notes of their exploits Anna always felt left out. Getting bored of her own stories being told in her head over and over. “I wanted to and I wasn’t doing anything to stop it from going there. But than he starting asking about Michael. Like if we were broken up, breaking up, or if I was just cheating. That kind of killed the mood. I just got home from his place a few minutes ago,” she continued, “I don’t think I want to stay here, with Michael I mean. Tonight felt so good. Just kind of freeing.” Anna smiled. She felt almost giddy.

“Wow. Well I hate to say ‘I told you so’ but this definitely has been a long time coming. You obviously haven’t been satisfied in your relationship in a long time.”

“Years,” Anna adds.

“Yeah, years. Like years of your life. You have to make up for those now.” Ruth didn’t like that her friend was a cheater. She didn’t respect her in way because of that. Always acting as if being in a relationship was better than Ruth’s choice for short term flings. If you need to cheat to stay happy in your relationship, Ruth thought, I just feel sorry for you. Ruth felt sorry for Anna for a lot of other reasons but most of all because of the fear she could see her living with. She wanted to help her. “What are you going to do now?”

“Move out I guess. This is Michael’s place. I don’t even pay rent.” Anna felt her first twinge of fear at the sound of the words leaving her mouth. Rent. Something she had never paid for since she just went from living with her parents to living with her boyfriend. Anna put it in the back of her mind. “I just need to get out of here. Quickly. I know if I hang around too long I’ll talk myself out of it.”

“Oh, well I have the perfect excuse.”

“Whats that?”

“Come visit me. Now is the perfect time.” Ruth’s voice went up a pitch with the excitement she was feeling. “I won’t have classes for a few weeks and we could just hang out and take it easy.”

“That sounds amazing. I would want to be gone longer than a few weeks though. Long enough to let things cool, ya know. Too bad you don’t have longer off. We could just go wandering for 6 months.”

“Ya too bad I can’t, but you still can.”

“What, alone?”

“Yeah, why not? You don’t need me. In the month that you are with me I will prepare you for solo travel so good that you’ll be itchin’ to get away from me.” Ruth was a seasoned traveler and proud of it. She was never short of tips to pass onto friends or fellow wanderers. Anna felt if anyone could teach her how to be alone it was Ruth.

“I have some money saved and I could sell my car for more.” Anna was getting excited. Imaging herself in a new place. Free of her mother, her grandmother, and Michael. Completely free, she thought.


The girls feet moved softly through the leaves towards the cave-like entrance. As she got closer her eyes began to make out a shape lying in the opening of the earth. The girls first thought was that it was a bear. She stopped, now guarded by fear. The continual seesaw from determination to fearful self-doubt was beginning to wear on her. She moved closer. Each step she remained watchful of movement or even breath but their was none. Finally she was standing right over the animal. She slowly reached down to touch it. The fur was soft, yet dense. The feel of it beneath her fingers was soothing and warm. She reach further and let her open palm rest on the dark brown hair. Suddenly she felt movement under her hand. The gentle rise and fall of breath is ever present. Before she could move away the mound of fur stood sending the girl flying backwards. She lay, stunned, on the ground. She looked up in awe as a giant furry animal stood before her. The Beast, she thought in terror. They were right.


“I know what happened with Trev.” Michael was sitting in their living room in the dark when she returned home from lunch with her mother and grandmother. Already defeated, she did not have the strength to try to lie.

“How did you find out?” She responded solemnly.

“A couple of the guys saw you leaving together around 2:00 am or something and it wasn’t till 5:00 am that I heard you come home. I’m not stupid, Anna.” Anna wanted to lash out. Attack him, just as he was attacking her. But when she looked into his eyes all she saw was pain. Pain she had caused.

“I’m sorry.”

“Why? Is this because I forgot you were coming there? Payback for my drunken forgetfulness,” he added.

“I don’t know. I just wanted to … to … feel something.” The more Anna looked into his eyes, the more guilt she felt weighing down on her. All her plans of flight vanishing. All she wanted was to stop the pain of the man that she once loved. “It was a stupid mistake. I love you. Only you. Please forgive me.” As soon as the words left her mouth she regretted it. Even the sight of Michael’s eyes brightening didn’t bring relief from the heaviness she had placed upon her heart again.

“I forgive you.”


                The girl remained frozen on the earth awaiting the death that she was sure would come. She had no fight left in her. Failure had made its way in between her muscles, joints, and bones. Already numb from the life she was living, death was the welcoming next step. The Beast approached her on its four limbs. Bigger than any bear she’d ever seen in books or movies. Its hair wild and claws long brought the girl solace, imaging death would be swift. The Beast stood tall on its hind legs. The girl cringed. But as it moved closer it began to transform. Each movement shed away a layer of fur. Each inch closer to the girl, the beast became more and more beautiful. Pieces of fur falling onto the forest floor leaving behind ivory skin and long delicate limbs. The only wild hair that remained was on the newly transformed woman’s head. The hair of the Beast tumbled over her soft shoulders and her feminine form.


                The women stood tall and strong yet still had the essence of pure peace. Complete knowing. “Anna,” she began, “I am so happy that you have come.”

“How do you know my name? Who are you?” Anna’s words came out in a surprised panic. The woman smiled and turned. She moved around the rock and deeper into the woods. Anna was in shock.

The mysterious creature stopped momentarily, glancing sideways towards Anna, beckoning her to follow. Although Anna felt fear hinting at her, the power of curiosity was too strong. She scrambled up off the ground and followed.

Anna knew the woman was not leading her back to the pathway of the city because as they ventured farther inward it grew noticeably darker. Anna watched in awe at her movements. So precise yet also so delicate. Almost as if she was simply floating through the trees and over displaced roots. Anna’s movements were just the opposite. Stumbling over and getting caught on branches as she clawed her way behind the woman.

After a few minutes of walking through the brush, it had grown even darker from the density of the trees. It began to get harder to move through without getting caught on something and Anna was sure she wouldn’t be able to find her way back out again. Anna’s fears began to overpower her curiosity of the woman since her transformation. She hesitated, looking behind her. Without a glance the woman spoke, “There is nothing for you that way anymore. Come. You are almost there,” and continued gliding. Anna looked behind her again and saw something moving. It was the Beast. How could that be, Anna thought. She watched it follow at a safe distance while she clumsily trailed behind the woman.

Then, out of nowhere, there was a break in the trees spilling light into the darkness. The woman passed through leaving only her elegant right arm to gesture Anna to follow. She looked behind. The Beast had reappeared and stopped, waiting in the darkness. Anna could only make it out from the steady movement of its breath. Not wanting to allow the Beast the chance to move closer she passed through the break in the forest. When she emerged, Anna found herself on the edge of a high cliff. Directly across the break of space in the rock was a waterfall. The light of the sun danced upon the falling water reflecting sparkles over the entire clearing below. Anna’s eyes followed the waterfalls path to the pool between the rock. Clear, perfect water made its home in the reservoir before moving along down a gentle river that the sun also shone on.

“Jump,” said the woman.

“What, are you crazy? I can’t jump down into that. I don’t even know how deep it is.” Anna was startled by the woman’s request. How could someone so perfect expect something so foolish? Anna could feel herself getting angry at the woman for misleading her.

“The waterfall and what lies beyond it is your freedom. Freedom from fear, freedom from anger, freedom from hate,” the woman answered.

“I don’t want to jump.” The thought of jumping into that unknown pool sent Anna’s heart racing.

“If you don’t jump the only way back is the way we came.” Anna looked towards the trees, the Beast was there waiting for her. “You can either live with fear and all the things that spring from it like ignorance and pain. Or you can jump beyond it to happiness and peace.” Then without warning the woman jumped disappearing as she did. Anna held her breath, afraid.

She looked to the woods. Even if she made it past the Beast how long could she really run from it? She stepped back towards the density and released the air she had been holding in and took another circle of breath, feeling the serenity that accompanied the flow of oxygen. She closed her eyes and in that moment felt peace. She felt her fears beginning to drift away. She let go of hate, and abandoned ignorance. Anna turned back to the glowing waterfall and jumped.


I feel myself changing. Not all of a sudden, but slowly. Like I am being gently awakened after a long and restless sleep. The way I think about people, situations, and how I react to them is molding. New thoughts don’t appear out of nowhere, but are a new part of an old idea. I can remember and understand how I thought before and now I am blessed with the truth that I am meant to now right now. Surely, tomorrow I will wake up and know more.

This is what yoga, meditation, and other intentional reflections have brought me. Its a gift I always had but had been covered by a thick fog of imaginary expectations and learned ignorance.


March Compliments

you look nice today

In the continuing saga of my year of resolutions we have reached the month of March. After January and February being more focus on my inner changes I wanted March to be the opportunity to offer something outward… since the goal of all this is to hopefully share more love with others. So March is the Month of Compliments

Since the beginning of my journey into healthcare, and later yoga, I have began to feel a stronger love towards myself as well as those around me. I am more open to new experiences and the chance to give to those I care about is exciting. But I still feel held back to offer that love to EVERYONE. I am connected and in agreement with the concept that we are all the same but I am still challenged in loving those that cheat, lie, or are so disconnected that they only see their own needs. I willingly feel superior to my co-workers that are unethical and past friends that have chosen material wealth over real experiences. The thing is however, just like me… we all want love. Sometimes we just go about it in different ways. So in order to learn to love without hesitation or judgement I need to start small…


My goal is to give 5 genuine compliments a day to others and at least one a day to myself. And I don’t want to just be willy nilly about my compliments either. I am looking at it as the opportunity to look at others in a new way and no matter who it is … find something to admire and therefore feel closer to them and possibly closer to loving them equally. Sometimes I expect it will be easy but others may be challenging and will require the ability and (more importantly) the willingness to dig deep allow myself to connect without it seeming “fake”.

I feel good about this months resolutions because not only do I get to be kinder to myself, but I also see the chance to let go of some old habits that have never really served me. I truly feel it is time to start shedding away my remaining cold exterior and humble myself in the light of other brilliant souls.



Don’t Stress… Feel Blessed.

relaxing christmas

Holiday season, to a lot of people, is a stressful time. Family visiting, big meals to prepare, and credit cards filling up with gift purchases. I have been fortunate enough to be in the age bracket where I am young enough to have the majority of my recent Christmas memories as lazy around in a cozy house and eating good food. There were most definitely stresses like Christmas brunch and dinner where my more conservative relatives questioned my piercings, life, and tattoo choices and praised my brother for everything down to having a good sneeze.

“Wow John, that was the most amazing sneeze I have ever witnessed. You are such a good grandson. Carly, do you ever plan on sneezing like that or are you just going to sniffle?”

Okay, so that’s an extreme exaggeration but needless to say I always left that dinner table feeling full of food and stressed about my lot in life. I know my mom and dad stressed in their own way as well about getting everything together. Making sure they bought enough food, making sure everyone had presents, and a bed to sleep in. And as my grandmother ages I can see her getting more and more worked up over the holidays and  every little thing that needs to happen for it to come together.

It has become quite clear with the way people talk its like everyone decides ahead of time to get stressed about the holidays. As I got older even I started to take on stresses … like it was an honor to wear my stresses to show to the world how adult I was.

After hearing countless people gearing themselves up for holiday stress and reading numerous articles on the subject I decided that I wasn’t going to put myself into traction over Christmas or anything else for that matter (As best as I could of course). I have made the conscious choice to not be stressed out about those types of situations that we have per-determined as “stressful”. A difficult situation at work, being late for an important appointment, someone being satisfied with the gift you got them.

But how do we transition from reacting to planning, how do we change a pattern that was learned, and how can we learn to let go of control and surrender to the rhythm of the universe?

I don’t know for sure but I know steps I can begin to take now that will take a positive effect.


1. Put a positive intention forward and get organized.

This holiday season sit down with a pen and paper and write out the things you would like to accomplish. Whether its a big dinner, getting everyone a good gift, getting along with your family, or all of the above.  Make a list and begin to cultivate change. When I plan and put my true intentions forth I will achieve the desired goal without getting all worked up about everything.

2. Let go of the outcome.

This is most definitely an important factor in reducing any kind of  stress. Lots of our chosen stress triggers are out of our control. In my own life, when I am able to let go of the responsibility of the outcome that is out of my control stress tends to melt away.

3. Slow Down.

In stress mode we tend to move at a faster pace. Sometimes even racing from one task to another. When possible, make the choice to move a little slower. Pay more attention to each movement and eliminate time from the equation. I used to be obsessed with time which induced a fair amount of stress in my life and especially during a season of events. I would constantly be looking at the time and rushing to get to my destination. Arriving in time but also in a ball of tension. When someone suggested that I look at the clock just once before leaving the house and then not again until I arrived at my destination that that might help. They were right. I still arrived on time but enjoyed the journey a lot more without the unnecessary distraction of the clock.

4. Give Gratitude

Christmas or any other holiday is not about the gifts received. Its about the gifts given. I truly believe each day that I am here is a gift and the more I give thanks and give to others, the more love and joy I receive.

gratitude words

This holiday season don’t get caught up in the old patterns of tension and stress, appreciate and enjoy the time spent with friends and family and thank your SELF for everything you do and others will give gratitude in return… even if its in a different way.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

Namaste xo


For the Love of Movement

Days off for me can be a variable amount of productivity. Sometimes I spend the whole day outside wondering the streets and running errands. Other days I stay in and watch an unnecessary amount of TV shows and movies. Or I will write and practice yoga until my body is mushy and there is nothing left to reflect on. Sometimes it is balanced mix of all of these. Today was just that. The perfect amount of relaxation, productivity, and reflection that makes me feel like I am on my desired path and fill my heart with energy for the rest of the week.

Another thing that I like to do is move consciously. I know that sounds a little vague, and to some, perhaps even like hippy non-sense. Whether its walking, asana, hiking, or (most especially) spinning poi I like to remain connected with the sensations of the movements and allow those movements along with music to move me without thought or judgement.

As a person who had grown up participating in a very regimented competitive type of dance and later a strict study in anatomy and physiology moving outside the box and thinking creatively was something that almost foreign to me until I started practicing yoga. Even when I first started I took it extremely seriously and was more focused on if a posture looked right instead of focusing on how it felt. This most certainly isn’t the wrong way of asana practice but it was when my teacher truly taught me to flow and remain connected with the sensations of practice that I received an abundance of benefits. Most importantly, SELF awareness.

*”Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.”

Having this awareness isn’t always an easy road. Sometimes there are harsh discoveries about yourself. But along with awareness must also come understanding and the ability to let it go to move forward.
Awe yes, movement. Movement of my body as well as the movement of my mind and attitude.


Conscious movement – The next time you are walking home, working out, practicing yoga, or dancing to music tune into the sensations of your movements.

-Begin at the feet. Take notice of the feel of your toes, soles, and ankles with each step. Do the right and left feel different? Is one side putting more weight down than the other?

-Continue this exploration all the way up to the knees and hips

-Once you’ve reached the base of the spine focus in on each vertabrae as you move your body

-Do the same thing with the fingers, arms, shoulders, and finally the neck and face. Are any of these places holding tension or are they at ease.

You may discovery discomforts with this type of focused attention through the body. But there is a good chance you’ll notice where feels good and which ways your body moves that feels good. Having this awareness is also so benefical if something in our body starts to feel “off” because you”ll have a better idea of what normal is for you.

***Of course allow breath to be a valued part of this exercise.

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. 
Deepak Chopra 

Tag Cloud