Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Real Deal

The Real Deal. I'm on a quest to discovering and articulating what this is. So far it's been an impression, a thought I've had about people I've met along the way. Now I've come to a place in my life and teaching where the Real Deal is not only needed but required to elevate this world. I'm 100% committed to being the Real Deal, I may waver and falter, but I'm committed none the less.

This weekend I had the great pleasure of being in a workshop with Nico Luce from YYoga's North Shore Elements. His workshop was based on the teachings of the Tao Te Ching, the "being" in an asana practice as opposed to the "doing". He presented his interpretation of these teachings with such richness that it was like stepping into a botanical garden and drinking in all the sensations. His voice is lilting and sweet, most of all his words are true. It was the depth of authenticity that struck me and set me deeply at ease. I watched him teach and it was as if he were a muse to our inner artist. The deep pleasure that he gets from teaching is so evident that it's contagious. Nico has nourished my love of yoga and it's softer side. What he allowed was for me to be in a yin state even while doing a handstand, the result - authenticity.

What I see is that the over efforting and grinding determination creates hardening and will ultimately land us deeper in a hole. I know because I've been there. I'm a determined woman, and so, what would it be like if I just trusted, softened and let the "doing" happen by simply "being"? This is a beautiful concept that I've long struggled with - the notion of sitting back just wasn't going to work for me. But what I experienced yesterday was a mirror on my mat, and man, I liked what I saw. I thanked Nico after the class and sang his praises and you know what he said to me? "You are a reflection of what you see in others"...man this generous dude knows how to light me up. Yes, I suppose why I loved his teachings so much wasn't that he knew how to get us into some amazing poses, but that his message aligns with mine - that who you are is so much more beautiful than what you do. This is what I'm up to discovering and empowering in others, and most of all, in myself.

Thank you Nico for creating the space for me to see something so beautiful and something completely mine. Thank you for teaching me to hold on to centre and not reach out wildly for something outside of myself. There is beauty in the truth.
Saturday, 7 January 2012

Let go. Repeat.

What's the answer when things get complicated? How do we handle relationships that aren't going according to plan? How do we find out for sure how people feel about us? Of course the word "us" is code for "me"... 


I'm going deep into readings of various sorts and it seems clear to me that the answer is always "let go". I look up, scrunch up my forehead, wonder how and then, oh, right... let go means now. Let go means NOT figuring it out. Let go doesn't mean wait for someone to behave differently or for a situation to change, it means let go - now. 


I'm wondering if you are with me on this? Do you experience ease at letting go of some things, but oh hell no, not THAT? Seems that the key to happiness is to let go of exactly THAT. Damn. 


So why is this coming up for me now? It seems that when things go well for me, or even when they go badly, I can always find myself cavorting with an old feeling of not being good enough. I can blame almost anything on that one little hot spot. Letting go of that seems to mean stepping into being not only good enough but splendidly marvellous. But where's the drama in that? What would life be like with no tether to lowly thoughts? I can honestly say that the very first thought that I had was that I can be bigger and better for my kids, my husband and those I reach out to. Drop the crap and shine, it's time.


So my practice today and every day will be to let go and repeat!

Monday, 2 January 2012

1 step to greatness

Blogging is an amazing opportunity to keep er real. I find myself poised over the keyboard wanting to write something pretty and profound. Nothing happens as I'm stalled by the smell of pretention. I've been loving reading other blogs and seeing the freedom from which they are written; some are funny, some generous and some gut wrenching. 

Walter and James, brothers and kick ass teachers!!
Teaching yoga is a parallel world to blogging - no truth, no honesty, no generosity equals a deadsville class. Now it takes some serious courage to be vulnerable yet powerful in front of sweaty "yoga faces" and lead a class from the heart. I feel truly blessed to have experienced some of the great masters. Some are highly trained teachers such as my GREAT teacher Baron Baptiste (of course), one of his master teachers Kirsten Mooney (she rocked my world within 5 seconds) and the amazing Ryan Leier (among many others!). And I've been especially lucky to witness great teachers who are not educated, live in 8' x 8' slum cells, speak broken English and face some of the most grinding poverty in the world. 

What I experienced witnessing the Africa Yoga Project teachers opened my eyes to this year's buzz word "possibility". 

I sucked at school. My mum gave me all my report cards from high school and I sunk into a little self pity party. What pulled me out of my small world slump are Iengar's words: "self knowledge leads to wisdom". I note that he doesn't say "knowledge" only! Diving into self knowledge is something I am taking on in a big way. I'm ready to dig deep, live big bold and real. I've been deeply inspired. 

So what is the ingredient that can take ANY person to living a big bold life of powerful leadership and creation? Courage. Living life while "telling the story of who you are from your whole heart." - Brene Brown. So keep diving deep into the sometimes murky waters of self knowledge and chip away at showing your heart. I promise I will and my promise is that I won't write or teach to protect a veneer and look pretty. Nah, I've bawled my eyes out in front of a class and it's way better than reciting a script. Keepin er real!


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.

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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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