Tuesday, 13 December 2011

10 ways to cultivate connection

Christmas is not my favourite time of year, I admit it. Somewhere along the way I allowed the magic to be squashed by obligations, consumerism and overeating. Now this isn't a scrooge post, but more an attempt to get the magic back. For me it's the same in any relationship that's gone sideways - get the connection back and the magic returns.

Adding the following ingredients to your yoga practice is an amazing way to embody the deeper qualities of connection. How can we connect to others if we're not connected to ourselves? When I come to my mat it's more a practice of diving in to know myself than of getting deeper into a twist. And what really lights me up about yoga is sharing it. And even more powerful is sharing yoga with the intention of connecting with those in need. This may be your best friend, husband or someone you don't know.

This Christmas I'm putting these 10 things under my tree and hoping they'll grow. I'd like to share them with you:

1. Be Present.
Get grounded, focus and breathe. Let every moment be the ONLY moment and tremendous shifts will happen.

2. Get real.
Know who you are and be yourself, you are worthy, necessary and a gift to others. The pretend stuff is just a waste of everyone's time and energy.

3. Listen.
Then ask questions to clarify. Hear people from emptiness and drop all that you know.

4. Become still. 
Empty out and become still allowing you to truly receive the gifts others are offering.

5. Trust. 
Hold the space for yourself most importantly and tap into your intuition rather than judgement. Trust that everyone has the greater good in mind and that we can never assume what another is thinking or feeling. Give up making up stories and trust.

6. Have compassion.
Come from love, see from love. Detach and accept what is without the need to fix, predict or control. Let go.

7. Live through the lens of love.
See love everywhere, in everything and everyone. It's possible!

8. Tell the truth.
Reveal what is true for you without needing it to be the truth for everyone. Stand tall and speak straight, it will be appreciated!

9. Honour commitments.
Say what you'll do and do what you say. People will find connection with your integrity.

10. Be vulnerable. 
Be willing to show your tender side. This is the part of you that is beautiful. Be willing to put yourself out there and shine out from your true light. Drop your brain into your heart and be willing to come apart. That's where true connections happen.

Have a wonderful holiday season and may it be filled with love and connection!
Sunday, 4 December 2011

Be a lighthouse

A tender touch as a beautiful act of service
given by Jenniferlyn Chiemningo
This was read to me by the lovely Katy Mason during Savasana at the Seattle Yoga Jam this summer. I was completely moved by these words and found them to be so fitting at a Yoga Jam!


I hope to be a lighthouse for those who may 
need it, and I certainly know exactly who the lighthouses are in my life. To them I am eternally grateful. To those who may guide me without me knowing it, I thank you.





Today we are devoted to shining the light of compassionate support and service on those who may be in need.

At night, the ocean can be a huge, dark & scary place. When riding on the seas, you can never know for sure if the water will be calm or turbulent. You never know if you will drift off course, or run aground. That is why there are lighthouses. When ships lose their way, they are guided by the lighthouse. When there is trouble or danger at sea, you can seek refuge by the light of the lighthouse. In the midst of a storm the lighthouse will always guide the ships safely to shore. Best of all, there is always someone in the lighthouse.
Be a lighthouse. Let your life be a shining symbol for others. Let everything you do be in service to someone. Stand tall in the knowledge of who you are. Stand proudly in the midst of difficult times. Be aware that who you are and what you have to offer can be a beacon to some lost soul.

Be a lighthouse keeper. Be on the lookout for lost souls. Be alert to those who may be in need and have nowhere to go or no way to get there. Be a lighthouse to a child. Guide a child. Protect a child. You don’t have to say much. Just let the child know that you are there should a need arise. Be a lighthouse to an elder, someone who has traveled the sea of life, but now needs a little warmth and comfort –perhaps a cup of tea or some interesting conversation. Be a lighthouse to a young man or woman who has lost their footing or may be losing their direction in life. Remember, no matter what condition a wind-blown sailor reaches the lighthouse in, the keeper is always welcoming. The keeper always encourages. The keeper always has something on hand or knows what to do to get you up and sailing again.

Until today, you may have been wondering how you can be of greater service to your family, your community or the world. Just for today, be the keeper of the lighthouse.

‘Until Today’ By Iyanla Vanzant (Nov. 10 Reading)
Monday, 28 November 2011

Two Continents, One Love

This is an article that I wrote and was featured in the Whistler Question. I'm so honoured that my community is behind this great project!


During my visit to Kenya this month to work with the Africa Yoga Project, a U2 song rings in my head: “We are one, but we’re not the same. One.”

As I witness hopeless poverty, children’s ill eyes, a population living with and dying of HIV/AIDS and unbearable stories of rape and violence, I question the concept that we all suffer. I’ve never seen living conditions like the slums of Nairobi, let alone being able to relate. It’s impossible for me. I am merely a witness. A voyeur.

I tread lightly, taking photos and documenting life as we do not know it. And then, out of the blue, a new perspective hits me. I see love, sincerity, generosity and grace amongst the endless mounds of steaming garbage and open sewers.

It is possible to believe that we are one because we all love.

I’ve lived a comfortable life, attending good schools, spending summers at the cottage and now living a dreamy life in Whistler with my husband and two children. My parents were sure to raise me with a grounded sense of self and an importance in education and in giving back.

I didn’t expect that my greatest education would come in an unorthodox form. When I took part in Baron Baptiste’s yoga teacher training a new world opened up. Through my training, an intense program of both physical and personal growth, I met two young Kenyans who were sponsored to take part in the course through the Africa Yoga Project, founded by Paige Elenson in 2007.

Catherine and Moses came from two different slum areas in Nairobi. While sharing their experiences, challenges and most of all their desire to lead the change in their communities, I received an incredible education.

I had no idea that yoga could bring immediate peace to communities that had suffered from tribal violence, poverty and political frustration. Yoga had simply been an activity, an indulgence even. A world of possibility opened up to me as I emerged from my training as a teacher ready to share yoga with my own community.

Motivated to support Moses and Catherine, I began a $5,000 fundraising pledge through my Yoga Jam Events in Whistler for the organization that engaged, employed and empowered them — Africa Yoga Project (www. africayogaproject.org).

Yoga Jam Events started in Whistler in September 2010 and thanks to the gorgeous and powerful space generously donated by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) there have been 11 events here to date.

One year later and $12,000 raised, I’m still fundraising and fully engaged in giving back to this amazing project.

From Nov. 3 to 21 I visited Nairobi, home of the Africa Yoga Project, to take part in their Ambassador Program. For two weeks I immersed in their world, witnessing the life of these teachers and the impact they are making.

A vigorous schedule was navigated despite the many obstacles with grinding, chaotic traffic, random police intervention and unsettled weather. The many challenges showed me just how unstoppable the Africa Yoga Project is at reaching the unreachable.



Whistler photographer Robin O’Neill joined me and we were paired with two young Kenyans, James and Irene, as our “brother and sister” who graciously guided us deep into every corner of their outreach programs.


Forty-three teachers have established a weekly schedule of 200 free classes in unlikely areas — orphanages, prisons, HIV/AIDS centres, slum area social halls, schools and facilities for special needs.

As I heard the personal stories of James and Irene I began to understand how these classes came about. James lost his father when he was 7 and by the age of 12 he was out on the streets hustling, gambling and pick pocketing to help feed his bedridden mother and three brothers. Life was lived close to the line with many near-fatal close calls.
When a random opportunity to join a yoga teacher-training program came about he felt he had nothing to lose. “I thought why not? It’s free and they are taking us to the coast,” he told us. He now declares that Baron Baptiste saved his life.

A powerful shift from hopelessness to a life of opportunity. When he realized he was given a tool to not only earn a living but also be able to give back to his community, a huge slum called Kangemi, he jumped at the chance and never looked back. Still living in the same dark, depressing and dangerous area, James now sees life in a very different way thanks to yoga.

As a woman, Irene’s story was hard to hear. Domestic violence, abuse and abandonment had left her defeated and cynical. As a single mother the only thing she was certain about was protecting and providing for her young daughter and unwell mother.


Her inner strength had been expressed as anger and moodiness until she found an outlet for release — yoga. Her employment had been performing as an acrobat, paid minimally to work long and arduous hours. Project founder Elenson discovered Irene and her troupe of Ghetto Girls and encouraged them to join her yoga class. Soon after Irene and her friends joined the Baptiste teacher-training program.

Today Irene is a leader, a born humanitarian, a fearless warrior — a woman who knows what she wants, fighting against all odds to live a life of service.

Africa Yoga Project trains, employs and empowers many others just like James and Irene. Their stories are unique and powerful and they share one common link — yoga as a means to transform their lives and those in their communities. Yoga is not a way out for them; it’s a way in.

Two of my greatest teachers came unexpectedly. These two strong, brave and compassionate people taught me how to listen, how to see people not from pity but from generosity, how a hug is more powerful than words, how true vulnerability inspires.

I am forever changed and grateful to these two peaceful warriors.

From my continent to theirs — one love.

People in Whistler can continue to support the work of the Africa Yoga Project with ongoing Yoga Jam Events. The next one is planned for Dec. 30 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the SLCC.

Also coming up on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to noon at the SLCC is a special Yoga Beyond Boundaries workshop that will provide more info about the recent trip to Kenya. Go to White Gold Yoga Page on Facebook for more info. 

Visit yogajamevents.com for more Yoga Jam Events in other locations around the world. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Stillness

I'm waiting for my flight home and using these long travel hours from Nairobi Kenya to Whistler to process the many images, experiences and emotions imprinted on my heart. 17 days has been like a lifetime. I've wanted to bail, wail, wanted to stay, felt frustration, sadness and pure love.

After a year of fundraising for Africa Yoga Project I had a speech fairly down pat about the charity I had been passionate about. 17 days on the ground with them has left me speechless.

I have wanted to blog during my visit but I found myself getting into my head while witnessing a life I have only ever seen on a UN commercial, wondering how I would put it into words. This was taking me out. I love to write, I love to share, this is my way of processing. Yet every day I experience so much that my brain and heart couldn't connect in a sensible way. Oh and even saying sensible I felt stuck in "trying" to make sense of everything.

I'm a "doer" and have always been praised for this quality. But what I discovered on this trip is that doing and being are not the same. I was deeply challenged to access a quieter more present side of myself. This was tough to do as I picked up bare bottomed babies sitting in garbage and heard stories of rape and poverty. The arrogance that I could possibly make sense of this left me quiet.

The greatest gift I received was simply the presence and acceptance of a group of young Kenyans who are leading the change in the world. They have taught me what it's like to receive and what it's like to be seen.

I'm still left with brimming emotions and some confusion but I'm sticking with it and can only hope to become more still.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Africa and the service of love!

Tonight I read a book to my kids called "Give the World a Hug" all about a little cat named Jules who said goodbye to his owner Doozy to go through his list of hugs he wanted to give away. He traveled the world to hug the unusual and seek out the secluded. I explained to my 4 year old daughter that I'm living up to Jules' mission. I'm leaving behind my adorable kids and loving husband to offer up whatever I have to give to the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi. I know I have hugs, I have love, I have yoga to share and I have great desire to elevate the world. That's what I'm going on and I feel it's enough. Jules' mission was simple and he was unstoppable. I'm inspired by a little fictitious cat, I can't imagine what I'm in for when I touch African soil.

I've had lots of opportunities to be stopped. I'm pushing through personal safety fears with high terrorist attack warnings and war with Somalia. I have no idea what lies ahead but I do know that the one thing that helps ground me in times of uncertainty is yoga. Yoga gets me out of my own way, gets me to a place of letting go of my imagination and puts me directly on the door steps of service. I'm ready.

My yoga mat and a year of support and awareness are packed up and ready to go to Africa. I acknowledge each person who has attended a Yoga Jam Event, who has come to my yoga classes and who has supported me on this trip. Empowering people through the gift of yoga is important work, it's peace work!

I will be back with lots to share. Robin O'Neill, local photographer extraordinaire, will be documenting the trip and I will be writing frequent blog posts. Please stay posted and I look forward to sharing all our experiences with you!

Photo by Dina Rudick
Saturday, 24 September 2011

Being of service

I just came back from a powerful week of training with Baron Baptiste and his group of master teachers. It was by far the most effective, inspiring, and motivating program I've ever done with Baptiste. The Yoga Journal Conference Baptiste Immersion was 3 days long with a 4 hour morning master class with Baron followed by break out sessions in the afternoon with 10 incredible teachers. It was really hard to choose which session to do and yet I know I was in the perfect one each time.

I went into this immersion with no expectation of having any kind of breakthrough. I was there to connect with the Baptiste community and to be of service to Paige Elenson and the Africa Yoga Project. I had it in my mind that I was going for her and not me. I got a pretty quick wake up call that allowed me to realize that I MUST be at service to myself first before being any support to others. Throughout the week, either in meditation or in the physical practice I was lead to a pretty powerful ah-ha moment. I've been running, pushing, driving, to be "at service". "What can I do for you" has lead me to a depleted place. A nagging feeling of not being good enough even while I'm helping others has left me feeling empty. I realize I've been on a pretty big ego trip. This being at service thing has really shined a light on who I've been. Giving to others while sacrificing our own needs does the world no good. I don't even care if that's not good grammar, it's true.

During one morning meditation I was feeling particularly low and tired. Energy resources were down and I suspect so were the guards that keep me from feeling what I need to feel. I love meditation for that! Just sitting with myself and not talking allowed me to go further into the realm of my being. What came up first was the pain. I've been experiencing searing pain in my upper back for years. It's like a hot poker jabbing my spine. I blame it on my work as a graphic designer. My posture hunched and repetitive clicking of a mouse seems to have left me feeling chronically stiff, immobile and in pain. I have literally hated doing design work because of that pain. What has followed is a rebellion to my profession, work I've built up over 18 years. I quit. I want to be a yoga teacher instead. Now there is no question that my path to become a yoga teacher has changed my life, saved my marriage and brought me into a place of personal power, but did I really need to throw everything else away to get there? With the "I quit graphic design" declaration I also threw away most of my income. My family has suffered because if it. So back to my meditation. Baron's voice was leading me through some very literal physical awareness. There was nothing profound with his words but they were clear, true and said with love. As I reached my burning upper back there was this click, pop, ahhhhhh no pain. What just happened? All of a sudden tears started to flow and the pain was gone. I realized that the pain associated with my work came from my loss of power, my giving up on myself, not believing that no matter what I "do" I can still empower and inspire others.

My friend and mentor Pauline suggested a brilliant plan to help develop marketing tools for yoga teachers. I ran this idea by my friend Julie who is looking to expand her market as a teacher and her eyes lit up and she jumped for joy and thanked me. I was floored. Could my graphic design really help people? Really empower them? Damn I've been so blind! I have access to tools that are out of reach for many. I can help them articulate who they are and what they're up to in a visual presentation. If I can help them get out there and live big then I've been of service.

So what has opened up for me is that I don't need to give myself away in order to be of service. And what's possible is that I can create a giant win win for me, my family and my community both local and global.

My friends, inspirations and supporters at the Yoga Journal Conference Baptiste Immersion Sept 2011
Monday, 8 August 2011

Social media or virtual living.

Social Media was made for me. I'm the first to admit that I'm hooked. I didn't think I would be but well here I am blogging, tweeting and all over facebook like a hungry kid saddling up to a bowl of spaghetti. I am grateful that I have a platform for self promotion that is free and far reaching and I hope that this pays off. I am out in the world redefining my work life and putting myself out there to be at service to others. The idea behind self promotion is to get people to take me up on my offer! So the question is - do I consider this platform for expression to be social media or simply media? The differentiator is emotional for me. I find myself browsing through all these accomplished profiles wondering how I measure up? I wonder, who's paying attention to me? Cringe. How can I get to be doing what he/she is doing? Double cringe. This self comparison hook is what social media feeds on. This nasty gremlin who's been lurking since I was young likes to take me out at the knees. The weapon of choice is a measuring stick.

During a particularly frenzied facebook feast I came up for air and declared that I have to just do what I'm doing and forget what everyone else is doing! I have to trust that I'm creating great things and that abundance is already present, there is no scarcity.

I set the wheels back on track and maintain that social media is wonderful. I get to be exposed to inspired people who are changing the world! I get to see photos of rock-me-to-my-core quality. I get to create alliances, friendships, and connections with a global community of like minded people.

I am so fortunate to have been exposed to such diverse people thought my Baptiste trainings and this is our way to connect, feel supported and be encouraged. The "like" button is like getting a virtual hug.

Social media allows me to promote the crap out of an event I love and believe in. The Yoga Jam Event, raising money for the Africa Yoga Project,  is taking off in other communities now and I have a voice, albeit digital, that will hopefully find it's way into the hearts of yogis interested in jumping in and being a part of it.

Friends would say that I wear my heart on my sleeve...well my sleeve has a keyboard now. And my heart is deeply in love with Yoga. So if even one post, one photo, one paragraph of a blog piques the interest and sets one person into action then it's all worth it. What I'm up to is to discover the bond in our human community and take it from me, that bond is so present at each Yoga Jam Event and if we keep practicing we'll find that there is no breaking that bond. But we have to do it in real time, face time, eye ball to eye ball. Using social media to invite people to come together, yes, but we still have to walk through the door.

So I'm shutting down my computer and going to hug my husband. Night!


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Courage.

I was reading a bedtime story to my 5 year old son called "A teaspoon of courage" which was a sweet and simple guide to mustering up what we all have inside us for when things look tough. It occurred to me that is exactly what I need right now.

I have been a graphic designer for about 18 years and the trade has served me well. I've always been an entrepreneur mostly to accommodate my chronic need to be free, independent and most of all creative. I have loved some amazing opportunities graphic design has brought me over the years. During the most independent time of my life I was fortunate enough to be the in-house designer at the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp and was a part of the core team when we won the bid to host the Winter Olympics. That project fulfilled all my deepest desires, to contribute to a team, to be creative with purpose and to be a part of something big. Since then I've worked on great projects and have also been able to maintain an income from my home while raising my wee kids. And since having kids and discovering Yoga I have transferred my entrepreneurial spirit to something I am deeply passionate about. A project I can sink my teeth into with my whole heart. I can apply my design and marketing skills to really put myself out there and hope that I can share what I love with my community.

This courage stuff came up for me when the reality of supporting the lifestyle that I've been living sunk in. I had a moment of wondering if I should abandon my endeavour of passion and go back to what I know earns me money. But interestingly enough my body is telling a different story. Everytime I sit at my computer I get a horrible pain in my arm and shoulder. It's unbearable. I can't concentrate and I need to move. My body is sending the message that my rational side is questioning. Can I have the courage to listen? Can I have the courage to trust the old saying "do what you love and the money will follow"? As yogi's most of us have a hard time discussing money. It almost seems taboo to strive for a great income while being at service to others. It is a risk for me to even put this out there...

And when I really look at the abundance I crave so much, I realize how unbelievably rich I am. I am doing what I love and I am making a difference to others. Courage seems to only be required to buck what my belief system tells me about abundance. What kind of currency am I dealing with here? Yoga allows me to reach out to others and speak the language of spirit. How can I give that up and go back to sitting behind a computer separate from the connection I so long for? 

I am so clear on what lights me up - creativity, connection and community. The Yoga Jam is all about that! The events make me happy and fulfill me deeply. If money is my concern then how can this be when all the money is given to a cause? The events generate abundance for others in a meaningful way and THIS is what fulfills me.

I am digging deep to access the courage inside me to lead the life I have waiting for me and stop gripping to the life I think I should have as Joseph Conrad said. I am committed to telling the story of who I am from my whole heart, not to you, but to me.
Monday, 13 June 2011

Spirit statements

Yesterday my good friend Sue Elmas and I put on our first workshop called "Elevate Spirit". It was inspiring, powerful, touching and, well, sweaty.

I am so grateful for the Baptiste training I've had, and for the framework for transformation that it provides. Yoga works. The Baptiste method works. If you're scratching your head wondering what I mean by that the come to one of my workshops and find out! I'm excited to share!!

The theme of the workshop came from what the Yoga Jam is all about. The only guidelines I have ever set up for the Yoga Jam is to elevate spirit, cultivate community and generate abundance. These words, spirit, community and abundance sprung up and bounced around the room at the first Yoga Jam and have been present ever since. I considered what "spirit" meant to me and how to go about defining it. I created a few key questions to help land some wording around creating a "spirit statement", and as I did the work myself I was amazed at what came out of it. I created my own spirit statement which I will share with you: I am inspiration through connection and love. I use this daily. I use it as a touchstone to remind me of what I'm about. I use it as a compass to guide me through challenging situations. I use it to inspire myself to get back to my true essence.

I asked the participants to do this work and challenged each to reach deep inside to articulate who they really are. This was met with delight, tears, withdrawl, resistance, frustration, love, compassion and grace. I was completely inspired and I am continually amazed at how we are at once completely different and exactly the same. My brother has a great way of defining how we move through life differently. He says "it's like we all use different golf clubs, some of us reach for the driver and some the putter." We're all playing the same game, just using different tools. As I reach for my large headed driver, I am grateful that Sue was there offering the fine touch of the putter.

This kind of work is like taking a vitamin. There are days when it's like swallowing one of those comically huge green flecked pills that you have to tell yourself are good for you. There are days when the work unlocks intense sensations. There are days when it's like swallowing something bitter and nasty.  But as we do the work, life pulses, vibrancy enters our bodies and our cheeks flush. How good it is to be awake and alive.

Come to our next workshop and see what is possible when we come together to do the work. It feels pretty sweet to sweat it out after and leave it all behind on your yoga mat. Unleash your spirit, I want to know you.
Monday, 30 May 2011

Yoga Without Boundaries

Ryan Leier, founder of Yoga Vinyasa for Youth
May 21 marked the 9th Yoga Jam Event in Whistler and for me this event went to a new level. For one, my goal of raising $10,000 has been met and exceeded. For another the event is reaching out to new people of various ages, abilities, health...the boundaries are expanding.

Ryan Leier, a yogi with a remarkable open and loving quality, flew out from Saskatoon, brought a huge posse to the event and connected us all in a soulful and rich practice. He is the Director of One Yoga, Saskatoon and now Vancouver as well as the founder of Yoga Vinyasa for Youth. He is bringing yoga to the most important demographic, our future leaders.

Ryan co-taught with Reno Muenz, his student and fellow teacher. The respect between these two inspired me. His business partner Dustin Fruson assisted the participants in a strong and supportive way. Ryan has a community of friends, co-workers, partners and students that is rich and committed. Much like his own yoga practice.

Big connection and lots of love at the Yoga Jam!
People ask me "how do you get these teachers to come, fly out from various cities and teach for free?" If I had to think about it and plan for it I don't think it would happen. Tension comes into my body when I think about "convincing" people. But the Yoga Jam Event is the easiest event to enroll people into. All I do is ask. Photographers, musicians, volunteers, they are all a big yes, and it has nothing to do with me. Yoga works like that. I have reached out to the very vast Baptiste trained teachers since they all have a special link to the Africa Yoga Project. We're like a big family that supports this incredible initiative and we all have huge respect and admiration for Paige Elenson who is the founder. Both Ryan and Paige share the ability to see Yoga as a means for connection and peace, no matter who, no matter where. They very often face obstacles in their quest to reach out but they keep on saying yes and venturing forward. Paige often says, "I don't know how, but I keep on saying yes." Through them I see now what my vision is to offer Yoga Beyond Boundaries, yes with capital letters.

Each Yoga Jam Event brings new faces and people willing to "give it a try". This last event brought over 60 people of 3 generations together from 6 to 70. Beyond Boundaries. We worked in pairs, connected through breath, laughed as we toppled over, perhaps even went into a pose that we hadn't considered possible. Beyond Boundaries.

Crista Shillington "backpacking"! 
The next Yoga Jam Event is in Vancouver, generously hosted by Gloria Latham at Semperviva, City Studio June 18 from 1-3pm. She has offered up her biggest studio along with three of her most lit up teachers to lead us through an all-styles yoga practice. Crista Shillington, Wes Salter, Cameron Gilley and Gloria will give us a taste of Yin, Power, Hatha and Kundalini yoga set to live music.

All I had to do was ask. Gloria was a swift yes and saw no boundaries what so ever. Now trust me, I do get to hear no, probably more often than I mention. But with this event, somehow I don't seem to care, I keep asking anyway. The yes answers I get are so bright and memorable that the nos drift away. One person, one breath, one yes at a time. I am up to dropping boundaries.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The source of being a YES

I recently assisted at the Baptiste Foundations in Action Training in Seattle which has left me brimming with inspiration and passion. I admit that I find myself with an extra wide funnel for this bubbling energy and growth and I'm not sure where to direct the spout. But if there's one thing I took from the weekend it was that sitting with emotions is the route to transformation. So I'm sitting with not knowing what's next and am opening my eyes to pathways of expression.

For me being with uncertainty is a challenge. I come from a culture of "get er done"ness. My husband calls this the "Konantz Cram". For those of you who know my family well will have a good chuckle at this term. A perfect example: my mother. A woman who grew up with a mother in a wheelchair, much older brothers, a father who was taken to war, and bred into a culture of "smile and nod". She was the youngest child to be at enrolled at boarding school at the age of five. Since there were no others her age she was alone in a big dorm room. Smile and nod. She went through life with little resistance and, well, got er done. Raising 3 kids in the age of wife home, husband works was something she took on in a creative way. Finding time to educate herself further, without sacrificing time to do paper maché with us all, she received a degree in fine arts. Get er done. My mother exemplified what we in the Baptiste community call "being a YES". She took on the good, the bad, and cancer with a YES. She taught us to accept what is and if there's something missing go and get it. This attitude showed up big at the last Yoga Jam Event where my 75 year old mother was a YES for a handstand. (The photo shows feet behind her which belong to my father, her feet are in the air!)

So my question is what is it that gets in the way of us all being a YES? Can we create a radical shift in our culture to each live life fully from a YES? What would be possible if so? I believe it would show up as peace worldwide.

Imagine if each person had the mantra of "I am enough. I am a YES. What's next?" Imagine if the world operated from this perspective? As I wrote this a huge sigh came over me and I relaxed into my body. Peace.

My hope is that more people will come to the Yoga Jam Events. Yes, I'm asking you to show up. It's fun, for a great cause and brings us all together. I'm asking you to be a YES to this event. What is it that stands in the way of participation? Can any concern for looking good be replaced by a concern for feeling good? I ask this of myself too so that I can show up more powerfully in my family, community and for others.

I loved that when I rushed over to assist my mum going up into handstand I whispered to her that she didn't have to do it, her response was "I'm doing it". Simple. Nothing in her way. Inspiration in the flesh.
Saturday, 23 April 2011

what it's all about

I am so excited that the fabulousness of the Yoga Jam Events is spreading into other communities. Recently two Rachels put on a sweet Yoga Jam Event in their home town of Eagle Colorado. So many beautiful stories came from it, connections were made, abundance generated and the community was elevated. Perfection! Stay connected to the Yoga Jam happenings on the Yoga Jam Events Facebook Page. Help me with my goal to get over 1000ppl to "like" the page so we can spread the awareness.

Recently I met many amazing people at the lululemon ambassador summit in Whistler. I had the privileged spending time with my teacher Baron Baptiste as well as Leah Cullis who is lighting up the Baptiste world. The room was electric with uber keen people and a very positive vibe, and not the cheesy fake kind, the really grounded super honest and vulnerable kind. One such person is Lisa Shields from the lululemon store in Carlsbad California. Sweet, energetic and a walking breathing YES. She is all about hosting a Yoga Jam Event in her community! Yes! My vision of taking the event around the globe is happening, one community at a time. Carlsbad watch out, Lisa is unleashed!

Lisa is busy planning her event and asked me for the guidelines of the event. I started writing and thought that I would share my vision blogstyle. So here it is! If you would like to host a Yoga Jam Event in your community let me know! erin@whitegoldyoga.com


The Yoga Jam Events
What it's all about, by Erin Anderson

The Yoga Jam was born out of an experience I had while at my Level 2 teacher training in Tulum Mexico with Baron Baptiste. I had the privilege to train with two Kenyans, Moses and Catherine, who generously shared their incredible story of hope and courage with us. They both grew up in circumstances so far from my realm of understanding that it motivated to be a part of the change. Their courage to step out of the dismal and hopeless life of living in the slums of Nairobi moved me to the core. I could see how strongly they linked new possibilities and hope with yoga and how they were clearly spreading the words of love and peace throughout their country. If they can do it, so can I.

The first Yoga Jam in September 2010, was a collection of great teachers coming together to share in what they love with our community with the sole purpose to raise money for the Africa Yoga Project. It was quickly apparent that it was so much more. Our community stepped up with unsolicited draw prize contributions from lululemon, Fruv, Wild Play, Scandinave, Capoeira Martial Arts School, Belly Fit, and YYoga. A Capoeira demonstration with drums and songs got the crowd revved up and ready to practice yoga!

Participants loved the space (Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre www.slcc.ca), were moved by the mission to raise money for the Africa Yoga Project and most of all they had fun! Many participants asked to do it again so the monthly Yoga Jam Event was born.

The format includes other elements such as dance, music or a wellness demonstration. Each month features different yoga teachers creating a fresh vibe.


THE VISION
To raise awareness and funds for the Africa Yoga Project. The Yoga Jam Events will raise $100,000 for AYP while transforming communities all over the world. The Yoga Jam Events are in over 6 countries and continually foster a sense of well being all over the world.


The mission
Elevate spirit, cultivate community and generate abundance.


ELEVATE SPIRIT
Yoga brings people together in a peaceful, generous, welcoming way. The Yoga Jam is a safe environment where people of all ages and abilities can come together in unity, wellness and a sense of belonging. Through a yoga practice we can more easily come into the fullest expression of ourselves. This leaves everyone uplifted and more open to share their great spirit with others.


CULTIVATE COMMUNITY
Yoga naturally leads us to a common ground; the desire to get to the heart of the matter. As we reveal who we truly are, powerful connections are possible. We realize that we are all the same even while expressing ourselves in unique ways. The fabric of a community is strengthened and a core value of connection is created.


GENERATE ABUNDANCE
Generating abundance for others is being in action in terms of giving back. Most of us have great intentions but rarely act on them. This forum allow for a win win to happen as participants gain a sense of wellness while giving back to those in need. This combination creates a powerful energy and will release the grip of ego and allow participants to come from a place of freedom.


EVENT FORMAT
The yoga jam is a fun welcoming event which speaks to the roots of yoga; love. The 1.5 hr practice is a fun and inspiring yoga class set in a welcoming environment. Preferably a Baptiste Power Vinyasa flow that is appropriate for all levels with the sole purpose of elevating spirit, cultivating community and generating abundance.



The 2 hour event is opened and closed by Erin Anderson or a representative. This is an opportunity to bring awareness to what the Africa Yoga Project is up to and to discuss how the powers of yoga can transform our own community as well.

100% of the proceeds from the Yoga Jam go toward the Africa Yoga Project which trains and employs yoga teachers who come from the slums of Nairobi. The Africa Yoga Project uses the transformative power of yoga to empower communities and change lives. AYP delivers effective and innovative programs that foster peace, improve physical, emotional and mental well-being, facilitate self-sufficiency and create opportunities to learn and contribute across the communities of East Africa. Visit www.africayogaproject.org to learn more.

For more information or to get involved contact erin@whitegoldyoga.com.

 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Growing Pains

Lately I've been thinking a lot about growing pains. My four year old son asks "mummy why are my legs sore? Growing pains. My brother's cancer has not been contained. Growing pains. I find myself sitting beside my teacher and mentor Baron Baptiste at the lululemon Ambassador Summit and teeter between giddy and sulky. Growing pains.

Growth is a version of change. I suspect that my son is more excited about his growth spurts than I am, and I am certain that I am resisting accepting that my brother has cancer, that kind of change was not part of the plan. But as the Chinese proverb goes, "When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills."

From change I am inevitably lead to make a choice. How do I choose to grow? Kicking and resisting? Creating a story around my reactions? Or do I stand up, spread my arms wide and say "bring it". This option can be messy, but I want to experience reaching too far, missing the brass ring, getting up to try again. I know I didn't come into this world asking for a boring life. I know I am up to creating something that has impact and that matters. The trouble with growing pains is that there is always something bigger to reach for. 

My goal to raise $10,000 for the Africa Yoga Project through the Yoga Jam Events is coming close. Really close. So I ask myself, what's next? I up my goal to $100,000. Growing pains. So I move into the living room of possibilities. I settle into not knowing the how, but keeping a clear sight on the why. And I am quite sure that there will be many face plants along the way. 

My son will grow into strong sturdy legs that will support him. My brother's cancer offers an opportunity for our entire family to transform. The growing pains of dealing with cancer has given his children a reason to look up from their cell phones to see the bigger picture. I pinch myself as Baron Baptiste, three Olympians, a lululemon athletica big wig, one bad ass yogi and I hit Whistler Mountain with a playful reckless abandon. Each of us wanting to go steeper, faster, hit  jumps, stick em or not...that's living. We dig the snow out of our pants, stand back up, dust off the goggles and set our sights on the bigger picture: to live with the wind under our wings, reach high, smile and take some hits along the way. Life is meant to be bumpy, it's weather or not we loosen the grip and enjoy the ride that matters. Growing GAINS!
Monday, 4 April 2011

Elevate by being happy.

I've been grappling with the notion that every time I sit down to write about the Yoga Jam it seems to revolve around Cancer lately. You may wonder, if I've been so personally affected by Cancer, why would I be fundraising for the Africa Yoga Project? The answer is deep, complex and truthfully not completely formulated in my mind.

I will start by saying that my personal experience at my teacher training with Baron Baptiste showed me that I have an ability to stand up and have a say. I was so moved by hearing about Moses and Catherine's journey from the slums of Nairobi to teaching Yoga in their community that I had to stand. I was brought to my feet. Moved. It occurs to me that I stand for something. I can take a stand for those who want to fight for change. Those who fight against all odds to bring about peace, to themselves or others are my heros and I want to be a champion to them.

I work, sing, promote, love the Africa Yoga Project and all that it stands for simply because it makes me happy. Cancer makes me scared and pissed. Yoga is breath, Cancer is fear. Yoga is wellness, Cancer is illness. These are the deep felt, not ever expressed out loud kind of feelings I have. I guess it leads to the question, what gets us to stand up? What are we willing to work for? Is it to make a statement, make money, make friends, get love? Maybe all of it, maybe none, we are so individual and absolutely right in our motives. I'm driven to bring peace to Africa in a big way, and I admit that it's fueled by how pissed I am at Cancer. Does it need to make sense? No. Not even to me. I just know that I follow my heart, follow my intuition and keep moving forward no matter the obstacles. And obstacles, judgment and resistance is plenty in all our lives. The greatest source of both inspiration and degradation comes from my internal chit chat. I can only start to affect change in the world by getting out of my own way. I say that phrase often because it's so clear to me that the only thing that stops me from greatness is me. My fear. My anger. The story I create.

I watch my Dad coach my brother through his Cancer treatment, cheer him on. This is a long way from little league. I look down at my own 5 year old son and the pain is unimaginable. Too hot to touch. I strap on my running shoes and try to make sense of it, pounding the pavement trying to shake off the helplessness I feel. If I can't help him right now, what can I do? I become a crusader for something that can change, support a project that is in line with all that I believe in. Generate hope. Somehow the work becomes easy. I'm driven. It may be true that I am avoiding really looking Cancer in the eye, but I don't care. I looked my mum in the eye through two bouts of Breast Cancer, I look my brother in the eye as he questions how this happened to him, I look all the Cancer patients in the eye as I wait for my mammogram appointment. And still I choose to send my energy, love, support, hard work to the Africa Yoga Project. Why? Because it makes me happy.

Please come to the next Yoga Jam April 30th.  Help elevate the world by doing something that makes you happy - I promise this is it! Who knows this may lead to the cure for Cancer! Yoga is full of endless possibilities.

You can also support this cause by visiting the Yoga Jam Events Facebook Page and "like" it!
Sunday, 27 March 2011

but do we have a concern for looking good?

My mother has many sayings of which I quote often. Let me list a few gems, "go out there and make a difference", "you have to have a marketable skill", "manners matter" and of course "showing up is 90% of life". In other words, my mum is always up to something big!

Saturday's Yoga Jam showed me that the message was heard loud and clear in my family. As I've written before, my brother is fighting Cancer and recently underwent surgery. His prognosis is great and certainly the disease doesn't stand a chance with a dude like him. So how does he spend his very first day out of the house after the surgery? At the Yoga Jam. Damn, that's cool. I hear so many people say they will come when they get "better at yoga", or when this happens, or that...not him. He lets nothing stand in the way of showing up, and showing up big. We need to understand deeply that yoga doesn't judge. It's a healing place, a place where we gather together in our differences, on common ground. I'm really not sure what culture was created where people stop participating because they're afraid of being judged? I admit to suffering from the same affliction. Ask me if I join mountain bike groups without any "concern for looking good", I'd likely squirm and come up with an excuse or go into a story about my inability to keep up. We are all the same on some level when faced with a fear. Can we learn from my brother? Can we up our game in honour of those who do it anyway? I'll join a mountain bike group if you come to Yoga! Deal?

Now back to the Yoga Jam. I have started on this path of offering different teachers each month and it never ceases to amaze me how the flavour changes each time. We went from a dance party to the Black Eyed Peas and practicing the "Lady Gagasana" posture with Will Blunderfield and Lara Kozan to a sweet, gentle, compassionate afternoon with Tanya Di Valentino and Colleen Felgate. All the more enhanced by the beautiful acoustic guitar by Polek and a live painting show by Kris Kupskay. The teachers brought the Yin and Yang of their very different personalities to us through their unique styles. It's amazing what manifests since I had been feeling the need for some soul nourishment with all that's happening in our world. It's damn scary out there. We may not admit it, but we're ungrounded. With disease and disaster abound I maintain that the very best place to go is to the mat. Through breath, meditation and asana we can stay present which is all we have. That's what Tanya and Colleen brought us.

 
It warmed my heart to see families coming together. Four members of my family, Sylvie Paré with both her daughter and mother, baby Bodhi plus 3 members of the Elmas family, Sarinda and her daughter, cousins, and friends who are like family all joint palms in a simple honouring of coming together just as we are. We can drop the concern for looking good and be up to something bigger. Let's all make a pact, the next time we say no to something, can we ask "what's standing in my way of showing up?" Trust me, when you show up it lights up my life. I love having you - all of you.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011

What's Cancer got to do with it?

I just spent the weekend in the midst of 80 or so soul seeking women (and a few men) at the Seane Corn workshop at Semperviva in Vancouver. The topic revolved around what Vinyasa Yoga is all about, the types of people most attracted to it (ie me and all fiery type A's), how best to teach it and what it tends to reveal. What I loved about the weekend is that Seane seemed to recognize that the topic didn't have far to go with us. She seemed to see that we were all searching for some deeper truths about ourselves beyond the fact that we're sweat mongers. The workshop evolved into work around our energy centres or Chakras as we moved deeper into postures that challenged our deepest layers of tension. Now we're talking my body said. Let's get into the nitty gritty. While in these deep and juicy postures she challenged us to ask ourselves big questions. What are our patterns, what are our blocks, in what way do we limit ourselves, how do we hold on to what we believe to be true? All I could think about was my brother's battle with Cancer.

So what does Cancer have to do with it? I know that since I was told that I have an 80% chance of developing the disease I have been scared, stressed and sad. I went to the mat and worked it out. What does a percentage really mean? What is Cancer anyway? All I can begin to understand in me is what is happening now, today and appreciate that I will never know the whole truth about anything. Down dogging, chattarungaing, lunging, creating heat in my muscles and freedom in my joints, that's the truth.

And while I watch my brother (who by the way is my absolute hero, idol, love and light) struggle, fight, laugh, cry his way through this affliction I can only stand by and support him on his path. It would never serve him for me to take it on or make it about me. Yes, I can question what is it about Cancer in my world, with my mother having it twice, my sweet dog dying of it and my super hero brother getting it at such a young age. I don't get it. I guess that's the point. That's what I have to breathe into. Suddenly I understand that my true path is in releasing the tension around "trying to understand", or trying to find meaning in everything. The effort around being victimized, being fearful, being paranoid only lands me deeper into a rigid life. I'm up to bigger things than that.

While asking some bigger questions about what areas in our lives are blocked or dull it's so important to remember to keep living BIG. To appreciate that every obstacle in our path diverts us onto something bigger and better. Live big, love bigger and light up the path ahead. I do this in honour of my amazing mother who revolutionized her life and mine because of Cancer. I do this in honour of my brother who can find humour in the darkest moments.

I can say in all honesty without any kind of self promotion, the Yoga Jam has been the purest venue for open hearted grace. A place of healing, celebration and joy surrounded by our community. Yoga relieves the tension on a broad scale. This is what the world needs. This is what we need to fight Cancer.
Friday, 18 March 2011

Being up to something big

I wanted to share what "being up to something big" means to me. My teacher Baron Baptiste said it during my bootcamp teacher training, in fact he said "you'd BETTER be up to something big". Truthfully I thought he was talking to everyone else but me. I sat nicely in my chair, compliant and ready to work hard, but be up to something big? Nah, that was for the great ones in the room.

I've been guided by the concept that I'm a generalist, good at a few things but nothing great. I have believed that I'm a bit flawed, a little tightly wound, with an ability to be vulnerable and exposed. I had held on tightly to the fear of not being loved and that being left and rejected was something to expect.  Baron would also say "we all got rained on" meaning stuff happens and we make it mean something, not just me, everyone. That quickly took me out of victim mode and got me to work. During a meditation I experienced clarity in knowing that the pivotal moment in the development of my emotional identity was my mother getting cancer when I was 11. She was very sick and I was afraid she would leave me. I got scared, and I got angry.

Coming to my mat and in particular delving deeply into the practice of self knowledge I realized this critical piece in the jigsaw of my consciousness. I know I owe my mum (who is a fighter, alive, well and continually making a difference) a conversation and certainly an apology for pushing her away as a preemptive cautionary move, but I'll start here. Had I considered what she went through? Had I considered who I was being? This is what Yoga does for me. Brings me to this place of knowledge in myself. Now it's about clearing up the wreckage.

Self knowledge and certainly "ah-ha" moments create a clearing - much like loosening a tight hamstring can create space for ease of movement. With this kind of clearing I ask myself, "now what!?" Am I able to be up to something big? Can I see who I've been and find a new way? Hell ya.

The Yoga Jam is my way of stepping up to contribute to a cause, my mission to light a spark for the love of yoga here and far. This is why the Africa Yoga Project touches my soul and I can clearly get behind their cause. I feel so much exhilaration with the possibilities of what Yoga can open up to me that I want EVERYONE to experience the same. And with the clarity of a cause I seem to be moving out of my own way. Huh. The clearing is happening and I'm up to something big! Connect people to the gift of Yoga and share it with the world.

Could we all use a little clearing, a little less tension a little more flexibility? Taking a big breath I settle into the pose of my life, palms open, chest broad, neck long and ready to lean into the discomforts that may come. I'm up to something big.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Yoga Jam features serious talent

It all started organically at the first Yoga Jam when Cole Manson and Magda Regdos got up and began a Capoeira Demonstration with singing and drumming. Cole is magnetic with his energy and bright smile, not to mention some pretty sweet moves! Cole, Magda and their team got the crowd clapping and grooving to their dance. Their contribution to the event disarmed any anticipation, any barriers, any trepidation. They put themselves OUT THERE! I loved it and it sparked the idea to feature other talent at each Yoga Jam.

One talent that is always present is a professional photographer. They slyly move around capturing blissful moments, moments that create memories. I am very grateful to the photographers who have donated so much more than their time and expertise - they donated their creative expression.

Huge thank you to:

Jordan Junck  www.jordanjunck.com
Bonny Makarewicz
Todd Lawson http://toddlawsonphoto.com/?cat=7
Robin O'Neill  www.robinoneillphotography.com
Dagan Beach- check this out http://www.vimeo.com/20268648
and this month will feature Crystal Brown http://crystalbrownphotography.com/

Seek them out - their talent speaks for them. This is what the Yoga Jam is about - bringing people together to light a spark!

In the meantime I have created a Yoga Jam Events page on Facebook where I will post all of the photography from the events. Enjoy a few selections from past events!  Erin



Saturday, 12 March 2011

Yoga Jam, something to talk about

Looking back at all the 6 Yoga Jam Events since September, each one has been so unique offering each of us something to talk about! Each one has given different teachers an opportunity to have their voices heard and to move us in their own specialized way. The energy they bring to us is a reflection of their own authenticity and love of what they do.

And talk about authentic...the last Yoga Jam was on a whole other level! Those who were there are collectively nodding and smiling.

I had always wanted to bring in a live musical performance to the Yoga Jam, and Will Blunderfield was on my radar. I thought if I could combine him with the uber powerful and bright Lara Kozan, the founder of YYoga I would have something diabolical. Lara had trained and traveled with Baron Baptiste which connected us to our love for the Africa Yoga Project. When I asked her to leave her young daughter and husband behind, set aside her hugely busy work life and intense teaching schedule to teach for free...all I got was a flash of bright white teeth and a sparkling YES. Synergy then came into play with her contacting Will to come and co-teach and sing! Will was quick to jump in with his effervescent and big yes. I don't know if I have ever been in the presence of such an open, caring, daring, loving and truly inspiring person. Every person in the room was deeply moved by his talent, passion and love.

Will and Lara began the Yoga Jam in a traditional way, all of us sitting, eyes closed, ready to be guided. Will spoke of starting with a chant, a chant that dates back to the early 1990's... Our ears perked up. He begins, "it goes something like this...ohhhh oh, living on a prayer, take my hand we'll make it I swear, ooooooooooh oh living on a prayer!" Really? Bon Jovi? Ok I'm a girl who is a total sucker for Bon Jovi, but singing that song to start a Yoga class...well right on, why not! I look around the room and the participants are either smiling hugely or crying. Beautiful.

The rest of the class Will put on a concert. His heartfelt songs and masterful voice carried us all through the most inspiring and joy filled yoga experience I have ever experienced! Lara lit up the room with her powerful teaching style accompanied by her lighting bright smile. Fearlessly, Lara and Will broke all the boundaries of what we conceive a Yoga class to be. I love that. They rocked us, moved us, made us dance, laugh, hug and cry. My dear friend Sue Elmas looked at me while we were all standing holding hands singing "Imagine" and said "oh ohhh" then the flood gates opened - tears covered up her sweat. Ahhh the release, the unabashed ability to let go. And why not! We were amongst our supportive and loving community nurtured and fostered by Lara and Will's confidence in us, their desire to bring more out of us. It paid off.

Joanna Berringer said to me after "I couldn't just go home after that, I had to go out and do something AWESOME!" Yeah we created stories. We are forever imprinted with the zest and zeal of the BIG love that came out of that event. Dave Halliwell said "that was the most love I've ever felt at one time!"

Ok now check this out, Dagan Beach creatively put together a time lapse of the event. It's perfect. http://www.vimeo.com/20268648

That was the last Yoga Jam, what stories will we create at the next one? It's all about what's possible when we come together. Our teachers Tanya Di Valentino, soulful, sweet and rich in knowledge and Colleen Felgate, powerful, strong, bright and thorough. Sweet and spicy. They are being accompanied by Rya who will be assisting and Polek will be plucking our heartstings with his soul-full guitar! See you all on Saturday March 26th. Yeah!


Erin
Thursday, 10 March 2011

Finding your teacher

Ok pinch me...I'm a teacher! I always wanted to teach but being a less than average student I thought my chances were dismal. I love watching people light up as they learn something new, break barriers, move through difficulties, it inspires me. I've experienced it with my teachers and for that I've been so grateful.

I guess I didn't know what I was in for when I took my first yoga class with Julia McCabe. I remember walking away thinking "ok that was SOMETHING". I had practiced yoga on and off for years and have always loved it, but once my teacher's voice pierced through my mundane and mediocre approach I was hooked. I haven't looked back since. Finding my teacher saved me. Saved my relationships and set me on a path to living in my truest and deepest sense of myself. I know my friends and family are out there nodding. Julia spoke my language. She unknowingly pushed me past my deeply rooted acceptance of being less-than. Once past that point I've been unstoppable. Yes, I can say that.

I pursued teacher training with a man who unabashedly, relentlessly, compassionately demanded that I be powerful. Baron Baptiste is the teacher who told me that "the train is leaving, are you on, or are you off?" I'M ON!!! I'M ON!! He asks me to "be up to something big" to "to live life as a 10, and show up as a 20" and especially to "be about others". Baron pierced through another layer - a deep one, one that I had carefully protected and kept alive since I was 11. I am forever changed, elevated, up to something big because of him and his teachings.

I have two teachers. I'm lucky. Who is your teacher? I believe we all need someone to follow, someone who can lead us to live in the fullest expression of ourselves, no matter what that expression may be. 

The Yoga Jam is about featuring different teachers each month in order to let their voices be heard, for the people in our community to have an opportunity to find their teacher. Trust me, I admit I would like nothing more than a HUGE line up at my studio doors, I'm a Leo after all! I so cherish each and every student that comes through my doors and I know that I have something to offer them. I believe in what I teach because I am also a student.

There is a teacher for each of us, can we each be open to letting a voice pierce us. Inspire us. Move us. Who is your teacher?

These are the teachers who have graciously and generously come out to share all that they are and all that they believe in:
Christina Tottle
Julia McCabe
Kristen Campbell
Janet Corvino
Jessica Kammell
Peter Elmas
Clara Roberts-Oss
Reno Muenz
Andrew Barclay
Will Blunderfield
Lara Kozan
me, Erin Anderson
and this month Tanya Di Valentino and Colleen Felgate!

December's Yoga Jam featured new Yoga Teachers from Julia McCabe's training including Kim Slater, Isa Mills, Laura Balsor, Katie Svenson and Ash Carter.


And each Yoga Jam features an assistant who lovingly uses their hands to guide you deeper into a posture. This is a very special treat and has been offered by Erin Stephens, Janet Corvino, Lisa Donnovan, Kim Slater and Isa Mills.

If you are a teacher and would like to teach at a Yoga Jam please contact me at erin@whitegoldyoga.com

In gratitude,
Erin
Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Yoga Jam leading the change

Where does the money go?

I was asked a very good question today - where exactly does the money go that is donated at the Yoga Jam events? Now before I go into the laundry list of amazing efforts AYP is up to, I do feel strongly that the Yoga Jam is so much more than a fundraiser. I have seen how our community shows up for the event with an open heart and open mind. Yes, it's powerful to practice "for someone else" and how the ego drops. Yes, it's amazing to feel the win win of being moved through an inspiring yoga class while donating to a cause. Yes, it's an amazing opportunity to highlight different styles of yoga, hear different voices and perhaps find your teacher. But really what I see right here, right now is the coming together of our community. The stories that are being told, the wonder of yoga at work, that's good stuff.

The money donated to AYP gets used in several initiatives which include:

$40/month sponsors a teacher's salary at the primary school in the Masai village

$800 buys books for class for one year

$50 buys a goat for a family

$200 buys a cow for a family or community

$600/year with a 4-year commitment pays for a child in secondary school in partnership with Kenya Education Fund.

$40 pays for the translation into sign language for our Deaf Yoga Program

$10 buys a yoga mat

$50 Food Programme feeds 60 kids after a yoga class

$5 provides fresh drinking water to an entire class

$40 pays for a school uniform for a child

$5 buys yoga clothes a woman with special needs

The money also goes towards sponsorship of an AYP Teacher for Yoga training in North America. They then bring back their skills to teach in their own communities.

Pretty amazing how far our dollar goes especially since the average income for those living in the slums of Nairobi is $2 per day.

So from the bottom of my heart - thank you. Thank you for not only showing up so brightly to such a fun community event but for making a difference to those who really need it. I'd love to see the Yoga Jam grow, evolve, reach out. I'm open to suggestions and I hold it out there that this is your event. The event is only as special as those who come to it. I'm inspired!

See you soon!
xoxo
erin

About Me

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My name is Erin Anderson, I'm in love with yoga. I found out how to love deeper, live lighter and reach further through yoga. I'm passionate about sharing just that. In order to do that, I created The Yoga Jam Events as a means to elevate spirit, cultivate community and generate abundance. Coming together in play, breath and movement we can make real impact in the world, starting in Kenya with a possibility that knows no bounds. Each Yoga Jam Event donates proceeds to the Africa Yoga Project www.africayogaproject.org. This blog is dedicated to what I've learned along the way.
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