Yin Immersion Special Guest: Hiroko Demichelis, RCC

Yin Immersion Special Guest: Hiroko Demichelis, RCC

For our last day of the Fall Yin Immersion Series, we had a special guest join us: Hiroko Demichelis, RCC (Registered Clinical Counsellor)! She is also a certified expert in the use of neurofeedback and biofeedback through the BCIA. The intent of her clinic, Vancouver Brain Lab, is to integrate her interventions which are the most innovative techniques that can speed up and facilitate the healing process. 

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What is Yin to Me?

Yin, to me, is similar to the psychological concept of rapprochement. It’s learning that you can always come home to grounded security, peace, and compassion. Far too often in this world, we stray from “home” (i.e., our true selves), much like an infant exploring his or her surroundings.

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From Trauma to Teacher


Guest Blogger: Lisa Melton

I feel dark today. I’ve woken up with a heaviness in my body; my skin constricting my happiness. I go to the washroom and can’t even look at the “You are beautiful” sticker that is fused to my mirror. My first thought this morning? Wishing I had a knife so I could carve out my insides and start afresh. I crave lightness, to feel good in my skin, to feel calm in my mind. My distaste for this increasing heaviness pushes me to question why I fill myself with unhealth. I know my being is too full. I know I am uncomfortable. Yet I continue. I have done this my whole life. I have always hidden it and yet, today, it feels unbearable and as though I am experiencing it on a new level.

For some reason I am taken back to my first day of Yin Yoga Teacher Training (YYTT). I was so shy and embarrassed by my body. I convinced myself that everyone would laugh at me because I wasn’t skinny and wearing Lululemon. I was convinced everyone would judge me for invading their sacred space with my old yoga pants and my used, two dollar flip-flops. I never imagined that I could ever teach a class. Me? Stand in front of all these thin, powerful women and try teach THEM something? To have them listen to me speak and have them give a shit? right. Don’t get me wrong, I have done some serious work on myself in regards to dealing with and overcoming my life’s experience to date. Somehow, I was gifted with an incredible chance to experience this YYTT. But I was terrified. But, I went.

For four days I was essentially a mute, frozen by my fear. I was overwhelmed by information that was spoken in a language I hadn’t really heard before. I was floored by the amazing women I met. One woman was from Iran and I was struck by her tenacious articulation. Another woman possessed her Master’s in Divinity, she struck me with her ability to express what she needed in any moment. Yet another woman was a badass,tree hugging, animal activist who always graced me with her smile and her willingness to listen. These women, among the others in the group, helped me to begin feeling like my voice mattered… like I mattered.

Day after day, everything got heavier and more challenging. By day four I was raw. I was exhausted. But, I went. From day four on I wept every day. And for the first time, I didn’t judge myself for it. I wept in front of others and they respected my need to do so. They just sat with me or handed me a box of tissues. They allowed me to have that moment with myself – what a gift! Day after day, things began to change inside. I no longer weighed myself upon waking. I no longer worried about my clothes not being expensive enough or ‘yoga’ enough. I stopped looking in the mirror. Not because I couldn’t look at myself but because I was now able to see myself so much clearer without it. I began to feel good in my skin and I no longer woke up feeling as though I wanted to scrape my insides out.

Our incredibly inspirational yoga guide gifted us all a yoga pillow that she made. I, for whatever reason, used it to cover my eyes during our morning Asana sessions. I loved the way it removed my sense of sight and how it helped me delve deeper into my body. Suddenly it occurred to me, having the yoga pillow over my eyes allowed me to quiet the acute hyper-awareness I had utilized as a way to survive in this life of mine. In that moment, I no longer needed that comfort and protection. In that moment, I was ok without it. When i removed the yoga pillow from my eyes I fully embraced this new vision, a new way of looking at the world and my position in it. This was when it happened. We were asked to teach the class. Gulp!

Nervously, I stepped out in front of my peers. I was to teach them two of my favourite shapes. I was terrified. But, I did it. In the beginning, I stumbled over my words as though rocks had been sporadically placed beneath my feet. My first shape was feet up the wall. I had always loved how I would feel tingles down my legs, as though the stars were filling me up with hope inside. The next pose was a supported heart opener with the yoga pillow over the eyes and a sandbag across the stomach. At this moment, Olafur’s ‘Tomorrow Song’ came on my iPod. For some reason, unknown to me at the time, I hopped up and grabbed my journal. I began reading a piece of writing I had done on what Yin means to me. Suddenly I felt confident in my words, calm in my delivery and my heart was truly open. This moment changed my life. My voice mattered. My life experience mattered. My ability to connect with these breathtaking souls mattered. The song finished and I quietly went back to my mat. After collecting themselves, one woman said it was like she could feel me, another said I felt really authentic, another mouthed the words, “I love you”. This moment changed my life.

My life has been a messy mural of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Two failed marriages. Drug and alcohol addictions. And a level of self-hatred and hopelessness that, in many life questioning moments, I never thought I could overcome. I have always searched for love, thinking that in hearing those three words I would be saved from myself. And here, in this moment, a stranger only had to mouth those words for me to hear a voice arise from inside myself. I didn’t need to actually hear her say those words to me – I could hear my voice in my ears. This is the first moment that I thought, Yes! I could be a teacher. From that day on, whenever I said, “I’m not a teacher” at least one woman would say ‘Yet!’. And then I too began saying ‘yet’.

So, I bring you back to present day. The day where I awoke to a life of darkness, another day where I wished I could take that knife and carve out my insides as a means of cleansing myself. This day where I find myself restricting my tears in spite of this quiet soul’s whisper that says “It’s ok, it’s just a little healing”. Truth be told, I have not done Yin since I completed the teacher training. Boy, do I feel a difference! Sharing my experience here has helped me to understand that I have been given a gift. For me, to teach Yin would be a radical act of surrender and self-love. Teacher training changed my life. My eyes have been opened to what I am capable of feeling and I can no longer go back to my old self soothing patterns of over-consumption on any level. That first teaching experience, combined with a number of experiences since, has shown me that I can be a teacher. Because I matter. Because my existence in this life matters. My wounds can be my weapons and I can share my experiences so others can ignite their own self-love.

I used to think that in order for my life to matter, I had to die in the name of something honorable. Today, as I write this, I believe that in order for my life to matter, I need to live in the name of something honorable. That something is me.

Wanderlusting: The Collective Power

I loved my time at Wanderlust! Not for the advertising, the shine or the big bang of the yoga business; not for the market of plastic wrapped samples, or even the commercialism of an industry exploding. I love it for the people. ALL the PEOPLE.

I can’t even express to you the beauty of seeing over 500 bodies move at once. Yes, Seane’s classes as the event headliner are packed. And yes, I know one assistant in a room isn’t much, but it really does call for people to be honest with where they are and to show up none the less. Assisting in the classes over the weekend meant I got moments with new yogis curious about the glitter of a festival:, men brought by their wives and rocked on the mat for the first time;. women that were due in a few weeks, bodies of many levels and sizes. Experienced teachers and famous musicians;, kids reading books on mats while mama practiced;, teens in groups giggling;, completely advanced students doing mind blowing things; and, other people that couldn’t keep their left straight from their right.

One of my greatest moments of the weekend was working with a man in a wheelchair in a Vinyasa class. No feeling or use of his legs, and in fact, Seane and I met him at Wanderlust three years ago and supported him in class. There are no words to express the moments of humanity, between he and I as we worked together to rock a yoga practice that was seated and support and creative enough to get some serious stretching on! We were grateful for each other, our stubbornness to find a solution together, while laughing and caring deeply,  between strangers sharing over this practice of adaptable yoga.

Me and my yoga hOMies spend time chilling in nature, bathing in the river, introducing each other to out of town friends and ruminating on yoga and life.  We meet international artists, hung out  backstage with rock stars that are really just happy, but tried traveling people.  I feel this is the deep practice of yoga, like its meaning intended; union, to gather and connect. Yoga; to create strong bonds that not only change the world, but our view of the world.  I give thanks to those that make it work and gather there.

I also feel a deep honour to meet and get to know the crew and staff, the musicians, the event crew and everyone else from behind the scenes. As I love to produce my own events, I love to know the team behind the scenes. I am curious about how a festival with a dream grew huge, expanded internationally and recently added a media company to their offerings. Thats a big and beautiful reach, so the question is... what are we really saying to the collective?

I spoke to many powers that be about there being a way to be wayyy more plastic free and to include more diverse community. To connect to local resources and progress businesses that BC really works.  I had some really interesting conversations with people to hear about the bigger view and vision of their projects. It’s pretty amazing, and it's a privilege to be in the conversation. If we think about yoga and systems of oppression and structural troubles, we do have to enter the system with our privilege as a tool, that our voices will be heard in the shifting of the course.  

I have attended this event every single year it’s been in BC. I have taught once, and all other times assisted my friend and teacher Seane Corn. I know the grassroots rebel yogis in my community always think it's strange that I would show up and support a big box event. I know, I at times feel that same way. But I go not for the shine, but for the multiple opportunities to connect to people. It’s an honour and a privilege to spend time with my teacher, and mentor in the yoga industry that I look up to. Her work in the world is major -spiritually speaking- and her deep call for humans to rise up and participate in the bigger knowing of life is revolutionary. And this is actually it. We can spend all our hours judging and wanting things to be different. Great change requires great action. Deep change requires numbers of people to step outside their daily lives and look upon the world with bigger eyes.

It’s way too easy to judge, complain and interpret from the outside. We must participate, communicate and show up in the world if we want to see change occur. We need to meet each other where we are on the path and offer up compassion and guidance before judgement and criticism.  

These events call the masses from all over to be together in ways we can’t even imagine. I have met and maintained friendships from all over the world that created new projects and inspirations. I have received invites to come and share my skills all over the world and also share moments when we realize this crazy world is a small miracle.

What I am trying to say is that my attitude toward big box yoga events changed this year: We have a powerful system, hating from the outside doesn’t always affect change. Let’s use this system to harness the change we want. There are so many good things happening here. There are people and exchanges happening. Affecting change from the inside can be more potent than criticizing from the outside. There are many roads to Nirvana. Rise up, step in and participate with a bigger picture in mind, with courage to hold steady, and to embody the principles of a teacher. Not everyone is where we want them to be in their evolution.  And many need guidance, or at least a chance to see another option. Rocking out your authentic nature with solid and true values is really how you can be the change you want to see in the world. So hold steady world, get on the battlefield Arjuna and step up and be the best you, with your greatest tools, to make the most profound change.

Natural Living

Recently I’ve been getting curious questions and glamorous praise for the homesteading, seed saving, salve-making natural life posts I’ve been making. It’s so interesting to me that this move to natural-living is becoming ‘trendy’ and ‘modern’, and there is a deep desire to know more about it. I feel honoured at the number of messages I receive from people wanting more info on how to make their own powerful natural things. Canning, drying, planning, compost, making natural goods –these are all actually our roots. I believe these things are actually just in our bones.

And yes, it’s a lot of work. I choose to haul fruits home in 50-pound loads to dry on my Saturday, post-market day. I could also go out and blast those funds on drinks and party. I don’t. I crank music, chill with myself, prep this magical fruit in a few different ways, knowing I am making my own medicine, honouring organic and local farmers, and prepping for the seasons ahead. It makes me reflect on my ends, where I spend my time, and what I consider important in my life.

Hey, and the good news is I am self-taught, meaning you can be too! I’ve spent loads of time just sifting through methods, finding what is right, honouring that this knowledge is all out and about, just within your reach. I also experimented. A lot. I tried many things, asked loads of questions, read books, looked on the Internet, but mostly I trust my intuition. Yes, that is all “new age”, but it worked when I transitioned over to being the main farmer at our house about 3 years ago. Meaning I had to set up my game to plant, grow, seed save, compost, preserve, plan, and make. I trusted that I could and would know what would work. I know now, after so much watching and learning what every little sprout coming up in my garden is and its time. I have been staring at the same backyard farm for 7 years, longer than I have ever lived anywhere before. The medicine making and all other parts of natural living came in time.

Looking for a place to start? Start now. Do anything! Decide what you want to grow and read charts to see when to plant it. And remember: nature was a boss ruler before we came into control and wrangle. Plants want to grow, flowers want to flourish, and bees want to snack. Things have cycles –we just interpret them to make it better for us.

The best thing I learned was to watch the cycles of plants; from seed, to sprout, to plant, to flower or fruit, to seed, to drop, to decay. It’s amazing. It also means that you can let it do its thing –and let seeds fall and it will grow. My farm is a kale and swiss chard sanctuary. Some planting, but most on its own cycles. Did you know seeds stay dormant under the soil for seasons, even years? Kinda like waiting for just the right moment to sprout up and rejoice! I have watched many of these ‘volunteer’ plants show up and produce amazing flowers and foods, pretty much on their own!

Tea: I make a lot of own teas. I save and dry mint, sage, lemon balm, rose petals, yarrow and calendula as main yums! Its easy –you just watch for when the leaves are ready. Collect, dry and spread them out on an old screen from a window, or a straw mat, and boom. Tea. Dry it completely and store in jars. My trick is I put them in baskets on top of my dehydrator, and you have a warm and fast drying space.

Drying: I have 2 dehydrators, including an old, yet badass Excalibur. The last few years I have been drying peaches, pears, plums and apricots. I aim to dry enough to make it until the spring, when fruit is back in season. It’s a lot of money and time in the beginning, but worth it. And in Vancouver, people have fruit trees that they don’t harvest. So don’t let money be the deterrent. Wild Forge, call out, hunt for fruit. I can’t tell you how thick to cut the fruit because it depends on what you like. I sometimes do half an apricot, for longer drying time. Or sometimes I do thin slices, faster drying. Depends on what you want, and you still have to keep them in until they are all and completely dry, so you gotta watch and trust.

Seed saving: My fav! I love, love, love to let food follow its natural cycle, produce seeds that birds eat, some that drop to become volunteer plants later, and some I save for the day I have my own massive organic yoga farm school! Dream and save now! It becomes clear when seeds are down, when the plant lives its full cycle and essentially dies in the process of changing to a seed making plant. Think seeds, just like the fruit or greens of a plant, need to go through its full cycle to complete. I dry seeds –keep them clean and dry in jars and label with the name of the plant and the year. I currently have in my seed saving cellar: kale, swiss chard, sage, mint, beets, shiso, basil, calendula, borage, lettuce, sorrel, cilantro, nasturtium, poppies, lemon balm and lots of flowers. I think there are more, but this is just off the top of my head!

Canning: This one is a bit tricky at first, mostly because of fear of the unknown bacteria. There are tons of online resources on how to do it. It depends on what you are canning. I do pickled peppers, beets, and other veggies. I can salsa, tomato sauce and pesto. I rock out canned pears, jams and berries. Once I realized how easy it is, I can’t stop. It’s so yummy. But still, it’s a process that requires effort, and requires tools. But I can’t explain the feeling of accomplishment when you crack open canned pears in the middle of winter. It’s summer in a jar, pure food medicine: local, organic and not sitting in chemicals in a plastic lined can. I mean, really food is so, so much healthier jarred. You can do it! I recently got a pressure cooker at a garage sale for $10, ordered the missing part for $15 and boom! My next step is to learn how to rock it. Good thing I have some serious homesteading friends to ask! For now, I actually love the process of cleaning and heating jars, creating the culinary contents, processing in hot water bath to jar, cooling it and looking at its post canning glory. And yes, it requires time. I often party solo on a Saturday night with my canning supplies: dehydrator, good tunes, nice vibes and vegan chocolate chips on the side for inspiration. Canning is my favourite meditation practice. Cut, dry, cook, can. Great mantras!

Salves: I adore making my own beauty products. I haven’t touched a snip of makeup since the late 90’s. I don’t use synthetic chemical anything in, on or near my body –it’s my temple. What touches it should be it praises and offerings instead. I make salves and potions with a shea butter base and have made my own toothpaste and deodorant. All these recipes are on the internet; you can copy one or gather pieces from many and trust your kitchen witching intuition will guide you.

I hope this post inspires you to trust that you have the knowledge and skills to do these things, it’s in your bones from your grandmother’s past! Trust your intuition and learn from your mistakes. I have had so many request for my vegan recipes over the years, I promise I will be making more food loving blog posts!

I would love to know the things you need support or making, or even share up your favourite recipes in the comments below.

New Class, New Ways

Friends! It’s been a busy and excellent summer with our Yin Teacher Training offering at Yoga on 7th. What an amazing and diverse group. It’s a deep honour to gather teachers that call people to a space to create great things together. The idea of yoga as union, or community, is in full action. Great things get birthed when we show up, honour each other, support one another's growth and do our best to acknowledge the beauty of our healing. THANK YOU! That was one of my most memorable and beautiful opportunities as a teacher to witness this group transform and connect. I feel the rumbles and waves cultivated from this look at yin yoga as a social practice with deep power to heal and transform our communities. Give thanks to the warriors of light that force the darkness with open hearts. LOVE

We loved our time at this little studio in East Van so much, I have decided to offer up a weekly session of yin classes starting Tuesday, September 8th, 7:30pm, at Yoga on 7th. This 90-minute class will involve longer holds and my new super yin love –sandbags. The beautiful part of offering up yin in an Iyengar studio is that there are more props than your average space. Come along to this class that will utilize longer holds, more props and insight into another realm of yin. I am stoked to share some deeper variations and an opportunity to experience yin with more attention to props and also a place to experience with a safe depth that a regular public class passes. Excited to have another weekly yin class when I am in town and I promise when I am away, you’ll have an excellent prop-loving teacher. Let’s build this yin vibration together for a more relaxed fall. I give thanks for all the yin love and the requests for more offerings. Drop in rate is $15 for 90 minutes, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Stay tuned for the end of October for more Yin studies. We will be offering 6 weeks of Saturday sessions to dive into the yin world of educational studies with the amazing Love Light Yoga team of RMTs, TCMs and other amazing healers that really propel our natural health understanding to new levels. This series will count as continuing education credits or towards a 200 YYTT. Looking forward to heading back to school!

Doctor’s Opinion: Why Go on a Normal Vacation When you Could Go on a Healing Retreat?

Guest Blogger, Dr. Tanya Hollo, ND

Everybody loves vacations. But not everyone comes back from their vacation feeling rested & restored, like they’ve learned something new about themselves & the universe, and healthier than when they left. There’s this amazing kind of vacation that actually accomplishes those things: allow me to introduce the healing retreat.

The first healing retreat I went on blew my mind. My entire life has changed because of it. I’ll tell you a bit about my experience before I talk about all the amazing things a retreat can offer you, and there are many.

Ayahuasca & Perspective Shifts: My Point of View is Different From Yours and That’s Okay

A few years ago, I went to the Jungle, for an ayahuasca group retreat with Gabor Maté. Maybe some of you have seen TJ Dawe’s play, Medicine, which he’s touring at the Saskatoon Fringe festival this summer, or the Nature of Things documentary, that the lovely Robin McKenna helped to make. Both of these featured Gabor’s work in bridging Amazonian plant medicine with modern stress and addiction theory, where nighttime ceremony experiences are coupled with daytime group psychotherapy. The goal is to help uncover patterns of behaviour and the origins of those patterns in childhood traumatic experiences.

Everyone has experienced some level of trauma, some more severe than others. The idea is that chronic stress and addictive behaviours develop out of a learned suppression of emotions, and a need to escape the pain. It’s not a conscious choice: behaviours that developed as coping mechanisms in early childhood are still being activated in the present, so it’s like the mind/body is reacting to something that happened a long time ago as if it is still happening

Uncovering these patterns becomes a pathway to healing. Now, I’m not entirely sure how it got uncovered – Gabor is a notorious laser-beam when it comes to pointing out tension and suppressed emotions – but it went something like this.

We all went around the circle, and each person shared why they were at the retreat. I went last. Somehow it came out in my speaking that I feel in colours.

Gabor: You feel in colours?
Me: Yes? (Thinking "doesn't everyone?")
Gabor: Can you describe that?
Me: Well, whenever I have an emotion or feel a physical sensation (and I'm being generous here; there's no way I was that articulate back then), I see a colour. It’s always there when I close my eyes, but sometimes, if the feeling is strong enough, I see it out loud. Like with my eyes open.
Gabor: That's kind of weird.

And there it was: my entire worldview shifted. Not because I had been called weird (truthfully, I still wear that as a badge of pride in my heart), but because the only thing I had ever known, the only way I had ever experienced the world had just been called into question. Not everyone sees things the same way I do. 

Fundamentally, this is true for everyone. Everyone has a view from which they experience the world, and that view was shaped early on in life. For me, there’s a beautiful, rainbow-like, actual visual effect in the way I see things, and not everyone has that, but the principle is the same.

(On an awesome note, it turns out this phenomenon of seeing colours when I have feelings or hear sounds (that happens too) is called synesthesia. I’ve known about synesthesia for a long time, and always thought it was so cool, without ever even considering the fact that I might have it.)

“I felt the most connected to people when there was a subconscious belief that they understood me, that they were speaking my language.”

Over the course of the week, we took the discoveries deeper. It turns out that not only did I see colours when I had feelings, I learned at a very young age to suppress this side of myself, to not talk about it, because people didn’t understand when I did. Underneath the beautiful rainbows was a deep sense of loneliness that I felt as a result of not being able to express myself.

I had one experience in ceremony where I got to look at all these experiences I had, in conversations with others, where the focus was on colours. All of my favourite people has talked colours with me at one time or another; there was this one game I loved to play where a friend and I would name a colour, then by talking about all the things associated with it, the colour would take on a personality. Like red, the kind of passionate, strong, fierce one; or white, the kind of peaceful, calm, accepting one.

I felt the most connected to people when there was a subconscious belief that they understood me, that they were speaking my language: the language of colour. As I said before, I wasn’t exactly emotionally articulate back then, and speaking in colours allowed me to express, or at least feel, these emotions.

10 Reasons Why Retreats Are Awesome

These discoveries were incredibly liberating for me, and I truly don’t believe it would have been possible for me to achieve the depth of understanding that I did had it not been for the retreat setting.

Let’s look at some of the things that a retreat has that daily life (generally) does not:

  1. Nature - It is so good for you to get out into nature. Things move slower, air is cleaner, and being in nature actually lowers your cortisol levels. (Cortisol is your main stress hormone.) And whether you believe it or not, plants have an intelligence and a soothing presence; whether you believe that’s through consciousness or just through their lovely smell is up to you to decide.

  2. A group - There are many benefits to working through your stuff in a group setting. The group serves as a big, ugly mirror, and helps you see that your problems are really similar to other people’s problems, that you’re not alone, and that humans are really amazing and wonderful and lovable. Plus you get to make new friends who are interested in bettering themselves. Pretty sweet.

  3. A facilitator - A facilitator is literally someone who helps make things easier. How wonderful would it be if life always came with someone to help you see things clearer?

  4. Intention - It’s possible for life to always have an intentional focus, but it’s much more common for us to forget what and why we’re doing things. At a retreat, there is a constant reminder of why you’re there, and who you’re there for: yourself.

  5. The food is taken care of - Really, it’s just so nice to have someone else prepare your meals for a period of time, especially if they’re healthy and nice and made with love, as they often are on retreat.

    And some of the things that a retreat doesn’t have, that daily life generally does:

  6. The mundane & little stressors - Like driving and traffic, waiting in line for things, emails, phone calls, groceries, picking up kids,

  7. Constant computers and cell phones - It’s so good for your brain to put down the internet for a while. And when you’re on retreat, you get to put down the internet and submerse yourself in nature, allowing your brain to relax and focus on something with a bit more temporality to it.

  8. People who want things from you - Bosses, kids, husbands, wives, moms, clients, students, etc. While having most of these people in your life is generally a very good thing, getting away from them all for a while can help you really appreciate having them around when you do.

  9. Familiarity - There’s something about stepping outside of your comfort zone and the places you know that serves as a catalyst for healing and transformation.

  10. Overstimulation - Let’s face it: Western society is nuts. There’s so much going on, all the time, that it’s hard to relax and take a real break.

I’ve since gone on several retreats, both in the same setting and in different contexts. I’ve discovered much, much more about myself, the way I relate to the world, and where it all comes from.

I believe there’s more available in a healing retreat than there is in a regular visit to a doctor’s (or therapist’s) office, and there doesn’t need to be ayahuasca there for you to have profound healing. Even more gentle retreats achieve significant health effects, by taking a little break from life and creating a community goal of self-betterment.

I strongly encourage anyone facing health challenges, or anyone who has stress in their life, to consider a retreat for their next vacation.

Dr. Tanya Hollo is licensed to practice naturopathic medicine in British Columbia. She is a member in good standing of the BCNA and the CAND, and currently practices in Gastown, Vancouver. She is excited to be co-leading the first Moon Medicines retreat on Salt Spring Island at the end of August (with Danielle Hoogenboom). Later this year, she will be returning to the Jungle to study with her soon to be father-in-law, Gabor Maté, so that she can further incorporate techniques of deep healing and integration into her medical practice. She lives with her almost-husband, Daniel, in a basement suite in East Van. You can find out more about naturopathic medicine and how to book an appointment at www.drtanyahollo.com.

Acceptance vs. Self-judgment

by Yogi, Healer, Traveller, Activist, and Dreamer Jolene McGill

Here we go again. Giving this writing thing another shot. Maybe you noticed and maybe you didn’t but I have not written a blog in almost a year’s time. I am not sure why I deny myself the pleasure of writing to you as I journey down this road to a plastic free life and ultimately a world that is free of the heavy use of fossil fuels, but yet I do.

So here I am after jet setting around the globe and travelling in one very beautiful but complicated Veg oil bus. I find myself writing to you from Cape Breton Island, my home for the summer.

As I get settled in to my life here I begin yet again to collect all my plastic waste. Something I started doing while I was living and travelling in our veg oil bus that I mentioned above. I got this idea from Beth Terry, The author of Plastic Free: How I kicked the plastic habit and you can too. She offers it up as a way of becoming aware of the amount of plastic waste that you generate. I find it is a simple way to shed light on exactly how much plastic is used and for what. My hope is that through collecting my plastic waste I will begin to become a more conscious consumer and ultimately use less. Ah the dream!

So I have picked up an old cardboard box from my work and decided that all the plastic that both Kyle and I use will go in there. Then once a week I will empty out the contents for recycling and document them here with you.

The results for this week are in:

  • Plastic wrap- from a journal, which was a gift
  • 2 almond milk tetra packs
  • 1 mango juice box with straw and of course the wrapper for the straw was in
  • Packaging for veggie sausages
  • Pro bar wrapper
  • 2 Organic produce tags from kale
  • Packaging from celery
  • Chocolate bar wrapper
  • Styrofoam bowl (cringe!) with plastic lid
  • 2oz plastic cup with lid
  • snack bar wrapper
  • dental floss packaging, thus we must include the floss container and floss itself
  • chip bag
  • Saran wrap from Broccoli
  • random plastic bit from condiment top
  • 6 salt water taffy wrappers

 My thoughts on this:

At first I was upset with myself for not being more conscious while I shop. Considering I just came from Central America where it is very evident that we have a plastic addiction. I mean It is literally everywhere down there. It  covers the streets, beaches and roadsides. You can’t even take a step without seeing at least 10 (and believe me it is much more than 10) pieces of plastic trash. Our throw away culture strikes again. Hurray Humanity!

Plastic waste collected on small isolated island off the coast of Belize. Collected all of this in 5 mins in under 10ft.

Plastic waste collected on small isolated island off the coast of Belize. Collected all of this in 5 mins in under 10ft.

Ok, ok, I know there are a lot of us out there trying. Myself included but the problem does not seem to be going anywhere. Plastic trash is gong to keep piling up throughout the world, and unfortunately in our oceans until we wake up and shift away from this disposable culture we have created.

Then I thought back to a teaching I found through yoga. When we practice yoga we aim for complete awareness. When we are aware of our impact on the world and the power that our individual choices have then I believe we can begin to wield that power and create change. 

I think a big part of creating that change comes from cultivating acceptance about how things are here and now. Accepting that we are human and that life has purpose above and beyond our control. And once we can fully and completely honour this life and accept it and ourselves for all that we are then maybe we have a chance. And maybe, just maybe if we approach our plastic culture with acceptance, curiosity and interest, rather than self-judgment we can begin to awaken great change in the heart of humanity on a level that we cannot even fathom. I mean after all if we are all one and all connected then when we DO make these changes in ourselves we are in fact making them in each other. 

Yin Yoga Teacher Training Immersion: Guest Teacher Bios

See event details here.

Monday July 6th: Dr.Tanya Gee, Dr.TCM is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver, BC.  She is the founder of the Bodhi Tree Healing Centre, a multi-disciplinary medical clinic devoted to serving all of humanity.  Best described as a  story teller, belly laugher, international educator and speaker as she inspires by example and encourages everyone to live simply and with consciousness. Dr.Gee has over 20 years of clinical experience in the field of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and esoteric studies of the Tao, Buddhism and more. What interests her the most is the unlimited power of love and the triumph of the human spirit.

Wednesday July 8th: Harmony Shire RMT is a fascial therapist focusing on the realignment of connective tissue. Practicing for eight years, she has found her passion in teaching the benefits and awareness of the fascial body and it's effect on daily living. An early advocate for fascial therapy, Harmony's knowledge of this understudied tissue is connecting and informing the yoga world, and shifting the way we view our practice. She has a full massage practice on Bowen Island and Vancouver, as well as co-teaching workshops.

Thursday July 9th: Muscles and Meridians Workshop by Obediya Jones-DarrellObediya is the head therapist of Superior Martial Arts.  He has had the opportunity to work with high level athletes such as Olympians, Yoga teachers and Professional Dancers to the general population who participate in the activities of daily living. Obediya helps these people do efficient stretching for injury prevention.  In this workshop, Obediya introduces specific stretching techniques and how to do some thai yoga based assists. Through a guided discussion he demonstrates how traditional concepts of yin and yang, the foundation of Acupuncture, and scientific principles from anatomy and physiology can work together to help you and your clients achieve balance during your practice.  

Friday July 10th: Dia Penning is yoga activist and Director of Curriculum and Training at World Trust Education Services in Oakland, CA. Through education rooted in love and justice, World Trust serves over 30,000 people each year. Using her 25 year foundation in the arts, social justice and yoga and challenging dominate paradigms through film, story and dialogue, Dia encourages deep reflection about how yogis approach service; within the yoga community AND out in the world. Please visit her website or Facebook for additional information.

Monday July 13th: Tanya Hollo is uniquely skilled in guiding people in the discovery of magic in everyday life. Weaving a strong scientific background with years of experience in various spiritual traditions and the healing arts, she loves empowering people to heal and transform themselves in a fun and accessible way. She believes that Yin yoga is a profound tool for self-discovery, and that through practice and integration, the skills learned in Yin can be used to transform the planet, one shape at a time. Tanya works as a naturopathic doctor in Gastown, Vancouver, where she is consistently humbled to witness patients on their healing paths.

Tuesday July 14th: Nicole Marcia has been a yoga teacher, therapist and trainer since 2004. In 2009, she was awarded a master’s degree with a specialization in yoga therapy from Lesley University in Boston, MA. Since then, she has been employed by Vancouver Coastal Health at their Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addictions, where she developed a comprehensive yoga therapy program for in-patient clients in various stages of recovery from mental health and addiction issues. She also serves as the director of training at Yoga Outreach, a not-for-profit organization providing volunteer yoga teachers to marginalized populations. In 2010, she completed the Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training at the Trauma Center in Boston, MA, and a course on the fundamentals of teaching yoga and meditation in military communities conducted by Warriors at Ease in Silver Spring, MD. She is a faculty member at Stenberg College, Ajna Yoga and Langara College Continuing Studies.

Thursday July 16th: Dr. Elisabeth Ormandy was introduced to yoga by her Grandfather when she was young. She officially started her yoga journey in 2002 with the practice of Ashtanga. Four years later Elisabeth travelled the ocean from Edinburgh to Vancouver where she nestled among the mountains and started to explore other yoga styles and philosophies. With inspiration from Anusara, Iyengar, and Yin-trained teachers, Rajanaka Tantra philosophy, and the human body, she settled into her own yoga rhythm. Elisabeth’s focus on wellness-based, ethically conscious living feeds her passion for yoga as a practice that goes beyond physical asana. In addition to teaching yoga, Elisabeth is a lecturer at the University of British Columbia where she teaches undergraduate classes in ethics, political theory, and animal welfare. She is Co-founder and Executive Director of the Animals in Science Policy Institute, a research consultant for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA), and a volunteer researcher for the David Suzuki Foundation. Elisabeth lives in Vancouver with her partner, Oliver, and together they are preparing to turn their tiny house dreams into a reality.

Join us for two weeks of Yin bliss! Tickets and info are here.

Announcing the Complete Schedule for the July '15 Teacher Training in Vancouver

Monday July 6, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomIntroductions, Intention Setting and Yin Overview
Dr. Tanya Gee: Yin, Yang and the Dao. Mysticism and Medicine

Tuesday July, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomPoses, Placement and Form
Danielle HoogenboomPose Variations and Props. Working with Diverse Populations

Wednesday July 8, 2015
Harmony Shire: Anatomy: Fascia and Function
Harmony Shire: Anatomy: Bones, Organs, Muscles

Thursday July 9, 2015
Obediya Jones Darrell: Meridians and Muscles from Eastern and Western Views
Obediya Jones Darrell: Assisted Yin, Partner Work and Thai Massage

Friday July 10, 2015
Dia Penning: The Business of Yoga & Navigating Politics
Dia Penning: Systems, Privilege and Karma Yoga: Yoga off the Mat

Saturday July 11, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomElements and Understanding: Learning to Un-Sequence
Danielle HoogenboomVariations and Long Holds: Dissecting an Inner Practice

Sunday July 12, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomGroup Teaching and Body Feedback: Learning together
Danielle HoogenboomEmotional Wellness and Class Themes

Monday July 13, 2015
Dr. Tanya Hollo: Organs and Emotions
Dr. Tanya Hollo: Natural Health and Nature's ConnectedCycles

Tuesday July 14, 2015
Nicole Marcia: Trauma Sensitive Yoga for Mind, Body, Spirit
Danielle HoogenboomWord, Sound, Power: Finding your Unique Voice

Wednesday July 15, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomAsana Lab and Practice Teaching
Danielle HoogenboomPresentations, Group Reasonings and Future Resources

Thursday July 16, 2015
Danielle HoogenboomSpiritually Speaking: Sacred Modern Living
Dr. Elizabeth Ormandy: Ethics in to the World. Living Yoga to Create Change

Birthday Wish


Woot, I have made it 33 years on this crazy planet, and I find myself bowing to all that I have seen, been, and achieved in this short time. I dream about the future, and can only imagine the beauty and lessons this world still has to offer me.

I have lived a minimal, non consumer lifestyle for a long time. I have been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old, and got into the habit of making and carrying my own organic, animal free foods everywhere I go in reusable containers. I feel guilt when I purchase something in plastic that is single-use or disposable. I ask myself, “where did this come from, where will it go, am I living my values and voting with my actions and dollars by purchasing this product?”



Our house has excellent recycling for when we lax on our efforts, or receive gifts. I am not perfect, but I go without, make efforts to distinguish between my needs and desires. Join me! Do you think you could shift to look at each disposable object as a metaphor for our relationship with earth, or how this world values some people more than others? Can we see our purchases and choices as a direct reflection of what we support and know to be true? I see a deep story in every plastic lid or fork that people consume. Can you imagine a world with less plastic? We have to start imagining this world to make it true.

Removing single use plastic means shopping at places that support programs like bringing your own fabric bags and jars. The stores that I have shopped at for over a decade in Vancouver love that I make the effort, and gives me a discount for not using their bags. I look for products sold in paper, grab things loose, and shop at the farmers market. I have gotten good at preserving food over the years: drying, canning, and freezing things so that I can eat local all year round with minimal waste.

When plastic waste does come into my life, I save it, and every few months bring it to the “mobile plastic recycling centre” in my hood. If you live in East Van, it happens the 3rd Saturday of every month in the parking lot at Britannia. They take all the plastics that the City won't recycle. On that note, did you know that many things you put in the city recycling bin aren't supposed to go there? Check recycling numbers. It takes effort to redirect the waste you create. We have a huge 3 part worm bin at our house and urban farm in the city

I like to make and carry hemp or cotton produce bags (let me know if you need a few, or check them out at the Van Farmers Markets). I also pretty much always have a mason jar or two, because over the course of a day I need liquids and it’s good to carry your own vessels. Plan ahead, buy in bulk, and cook at home. It’s easy if we can all share with each other to stay inspired!

So this is my birthday wish for you. Can you make the effort to consume less and create less waste? Can you stop for a hot second and consider the effects of the products you buy on your natural environment? It takes serious practice and training to learn to stand on your hands in yoga, we practice discomfort and peace in these movements. Expanding our practice way beyond the mat is an ode to our honour for our earth and home.

Plastic Free Yogi is a challenge to start the process of making no new plastic waste. It is hard! Really HARD! We live in a world that packages most things in single-use plastics, but small actions by conscientious individuals can have widespread effects. I’m sending love and honour to those who tread lightly and to those who aim to leave this natural environment healed and supported. May we remember each year that we have the power to inspire great actions and small miracles with our love and intention.

Love and bows!

Assisting Seane Corn

It is truly an honour and a privilege to support, learn, grow and maintain a friendship with teacher, leader and community activist, Seane Corn. Her career spans decades –she has taught for nearly 25 years internationally doing teaching workshops, trainings, master classes and large scale yoga festivals.

Over the years, I have assisted her in Jamaica, California, Vancouver and Whistler. It is amazing to see a yoga class from the perspective of support. She moves and weaves through the room to support those who are struggling, offering suggestions for safety, ease and alignment. To witness the entirety of a room without being responsible for holding the full space is a deep honour, as is participating in asana classes for the more intellectual parts of my teaching and the energy of the room.

I find supporting a teacher and leader is an amazing opportunity to express my devotion to that person: making sure they have tea, taking them for good healthy food in quiet places between classes, working the space so they can leave in a timely way post-class, and offering a sounding board for the room. The experience is beneficial for me, both as a devoted teacher and student, and also as a one-woman show in my own right.   

I look up to Seane as a woman that has set an example of what it means to live your yoga off your mat. She is continuously committed to her path of yoga culture. People think that these ‘yoga-lebrities’ are not real people, who have often have two sides. The focus, effort and intention it takes to hold, guide and alchemize energy in these rooms all over the world is really a super-human power, in my eyes. I know personally from teaching groups that it is equal parts fuelling and exhausting. To see my mentor as a human-being, experiencing the same feelings as I have for business, intensity and burn-out is humanizing and inspiring.

I loved watching my teacher grow and shift in this industry of culture change.  It is refreshing and enlightening to talk about the shifts that we have both seen in our communities over the years. It is thought provoking and fire blazing, and takes me back to when I first met her about six years ago and recognized a kindred spirit on the mat. Her commitment to spirit is unwavering, and her edge is unmatched. I knew I had a teacher and friend for the long term in this powerful (yet petite) woman, who can pray publicly like no other I have ever met. She is a thoughtful friend with an amazing memory and the mouth of a fucking trucker.  That blend of sugar and spice, her call to action in the world, and her ability to make a whole room break down in sobs make her a woman who will continue to fuel and inspire me for the long haul.

In this crazy world of yoga, it is an honour to have Seane as a friend and mentor. Someone who can listen, mirror and reflect the struggles of balancing personal and private lives, of teaching and leadership. To have someone to riff off of the challenges of the culture at large and the ways we support and participate in it.

Assisting her during the last vinyasa teacher training in Vancouver was a great way for me to show love and devotion to my friend, my teacher, and my community. It was great to support the energy in the room while silently dancing across the mats to balance that energy. Learning to read Seane’s signs and signals has heightened my intuition of shared space in a teaching room. It is so humbling and inspiring to know that the same questions about space, the same frustrations and fatigues, and the same overwhelming joy of service runs through the veins of all teachers, both old and new. The challenges and celebrations we face daily are mirrored by our choice of teachers and communities.  Assisting one another on this path of this life is the key to sustainable and authentic offerings. It has been a deep honour to continue to learn and grow with my mentor and friend, Seane. Many bows!

Returning h'OM'e to Yin

It's very easy to preach and preach, but when put into action, practice and self reflection are what affect community change. Yin is more than a style of yoga, its a vibration, an essence. This feeling of slowing down and moving more mindfully allows the cycles of life to do their thing. With the energy of spring all around us, it’s easy to get caught up in the energy of growth. If we are the ones that direct our attention and intention, nothing could be more potent than stopping and stilling.  Think of it as nurturing the nature of the foundation of future growth.

I have spent the last few months shifting, traveling, working, writing, planning, supporting, building and shifting. The winds continue to change for me, a self employed young woman building a small product and service empire on the road.  Although I practice daily contemplation, meditation, and take solo time to reflect, it seems my asana shifts in the spring. There are so many things happening and many things on the spring cleaning, planting and sorting list.  It’s hard to rein in your own energy at times, when in fact this is the exact time to do it.

There is pulsation to go go go, move move move. This is when our practice is needed the most. When the world is shifting and changing, when the pressures of the outside world grow heavier, it is time to retreat inwards to set the tone for future endeavors.

I use gardening as a metaphor for this process: Time is of the essence, nothing can be rushed and we must use our senses and inner nature to feel into the right timing. There is no map or plan to gardening, just like no map to life.  Prepping the soil, making the lists so all the timings are just right for seeds, for starts and for the planning of future outcomes. All of these things take a moment to step back and sort.

The great thing about your Yin Practice is that it will always be there for you to return to. Now is the time. Stop drop and YIN! Simplify the moment, take an easy shape and slow it all down. Connect to the beating of your heart, and use the power of your breath to slow your systems. Link up with the vibrancy of the inner worlds, feel their potency move through you, and shift. In this place, we can make peace with change.

Guest Blog from Jamaica Retreat

Pleased to bring you this blog post from Jolene McGill. Jolene has a student at Unity Yoga in Vancouver when I first met her. She went became a volunteer, then an employee handling studio affairs. Jo then completed a teacher training and began to teach at Unity Yoga. She has become a great friend over the years and joined us in Jamaica as my assistant. All retreat leaders I believe then an extra set of hands, ears, eyes and support to create a powerful environment for change. So grateful for Jolene's presence with us as both student and coordinator, and of course the alter and yoga space honouring each morning. Give thanks Jolene for all that you offer to the world. Here is her first blog from the first few days of our 14 day training and retreat. Keep your eyes peeled for the images and video on its way!

O Beloved

Great Spirit, Sacred Mother

in a kind and gentle way, I bow to thee

offering you my sincere and humble gratitude

for your abundant nature and unconditional love.

As the sun kisses my cheeks it reminds me that a new day has come again. A new day sure to be filled with growth, knowledge and love filled conversation here at Bromley Estates in Jamaica.

Every morning I make the journey down a simple path dotted with old stone steps that are probably as old as the estate I now find myself standing on. It leads me ever so gracefully to our open air yoga studio where I am drawn to the magnificent locally carved Buddha, adorned in Gold that lives at the center of our practice space.

It is my pleasure to spend the first 15minutes of my day wandering the property gathering many flowers and ferns from around the land to bless our divine Buddha. I then allow myself to create the space in my life for pray and stillness. Honoring the great spirit within all creation as I bow humbly to its feet.

Giving thanks for the opportunity to be here on this sacred land we call Jamaica. To be a guest in the hills of the beautiful Parish of St. Ann. Birth place of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Burning Spear. To be surrounded not only by a blissful and deliciously deep daily yoga practice but also by a very rich and deep culture with a not so blissful and delicious history.

Every morning we meet at 8:30 on the yoga platform and flow together to awaken our bodies and reunite them with our mind and spirit. Yesterday we started with yin guided by the Lovely Miss. Hoogenboom.

At this retreat we are also studying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and learning about 1 of the 12 meridians each day. So each class, both the morning flow and yin, are structured around the meridian we learnt that day. We Stretch, twist and compress the meridian of the day in order to create healthy flow within our bodies.

Morning class is then followed by a delicious breakfast that is provided by the staff here at Bromley, a beautiful old estate that has been in the family of Jonna, the owner, for over 5 generations.

Then it is off to our TCM lecture that runs for about 1 ½ - 2 hrs each day. As I mentioned earlier we discuss and learn about one of the 12 main meridians of the body. Yesterday we discovered and discussed the spleen meridian. Whose element is the earth and the emotion tied to it is thought, or overthought. It was fascinating to learn about how the health of our mind or thoughts can affect the part of body the spleen extends to, our muscles. Makes sense once you start to think of it though. They always say we store our issues in our tissues in yin class and as our teacher pointed out today we can see the truth in this. He said that when we overthink or worry it can be filed away like a librarian files away a book in to the muscle tissues of our body. So tightness or knots with our body may be related to our mind and the way we think on a daily basis. Simply put, our body is a reflection of our thoughts.


Then comes time for lunch, which again is a divine spread as if it was created for the Gods themselves. It is always vegan, vibrant and full of life. Such a gift to be able to enjoy the local and organic foods sourced from nearby farmers. Fresh and traditional Jamaican dishes partnered with dishes from home.

Our afternoons are either filled with free time or an adventure. For example yesterday we journeyed to Mahoe Falls, a beautiful and sacred part of the country. A cascading limestone waterfall that is dotted with little pockets of spring water for basking in or small fall spots for you to shower in. You are able to climb up the falls from the bottom and enjoy every moment of nature’s divine creation as you do so. Barefoot and connecting to the Earth as the natural spring water nourishes and tickles your feet, embracing fully the great spirit of the water. Simply stunning!   Waterfall_web




To finish up the day I was blessed with the opportunity to guide everyone through a flow class inspired by our spleen. It was filled with Lots of opening and compressing of the anterior thigh and frontal body.

One of the interesting qualities associated with the spleen that we learned yesterday was that when the Qi is balanced and expressive our awareness of the possibilities of change awakens. I hope that through our continued practice of yoga and our awareness of the power of thought in relation to our physical body grows, we can begin to tune into all the possibilities for change within and in time we will begin to see them reflect in our world and reality. For when we live and breathe the change we wish to see in our every moment. The world will become the change we wish to see.

Blessings for now

Jamaica calling! Feb 19th - Mar 5th

Meridians and Emotions Retreat

Yin Yoga  Studies and Traditional Chinese Medicine with Acupuncture in Jamaica with Danielle Hoogenboom and Ryan Thompson

Feburary 18-March 5th, 2013 // St. Ann, Jamaica


Includes: workshops,  yoga classes, shared accommodation, airport transfer (one shuttle each way), plus:

  • 3  community acupuncture sessions. Additional sessions or private treatment with Ryan at an additional  charge.
  • 3 vegan meals a day. Jamaican cooking and adaptable to fit dietary needs.
  • 5 day trips (incredible beaches, turtle hatchery, roaring river and surprises along the way)

+  Airfare, insurance, and taxes not included +  Studies can be applied towards teacher training with application

Join us for 14 days of study/retreat  in the beautiful hills of St Ann's Jamaica. Retreat with a yoga teacher and a Chinese Medicine practitioner/acupuncturist to explore the theory of meridians, emotions and chi and how it applies to yin yoga. Workshops and yoga in the morning and evening, rotating day trips and plenty of free time to explore.  Receive community acupuncture, indulge in nourishing foods while immersing yourself in this exploration of alternative health and body psychology. Suitable for beginners and/or teachers. Explore these healing practices in a way you can utilize their tools with your students, or simply integrate into your life and daily activities.  Part theory, part practice, all retreat.

Danielle Hoogenboom is committed to unity both on and off the mat. She believes in the power of yoga to change lives and create amazing shifts in the world around us by starting with personal healing and health. It is her great honour to share yoga and a collection of wellness studies as a compass on this life.

Ryan Thompson is a registered acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Canada. He has practiced for 10 years in a variety of settings, including supervising students in a school clinic, doing ‘detox’ acupuncture in addictions and mental health units, working in private practice, in addition to providing low-cost treatments and teaching local practitioners in third world locations including Guatemala and India in the model of the Barefoot doctor. Ryan’s most recent Barefoot Acupuncture session was in a very rural region in Northern Guatemala. www acupuncturebc.com

Dec 1: Assisted Yin: a Partner Workshop

This afternoon event will explore a short assisted yin yoga series, a practice of yin that is done in pairs.  Think yin yoga meets thai massage. Learn how your body moves in new ways when you are able to let go, work with gravity and a partner to achieve deeper explorations in your yoga practice. Makes a great gift for a partner! Come together and learn this short series to be shared again and again. Includes tea and snack.  Limited space, please register in advance: danielle@lovelightyoga.com Sunday, Dec 1st 1:30pm-4:30pm Unity Yoga Vancouver. BC $45 per person


Sister Jackie and the House of Love


Last year  I was in Jamaica assisting Seane Corn at the Cabribeann Yoga Conference. On the last day of the conference, a woman attending asked Seane and I if we wanted to meet an incredible woman doing amazing work not far from where the conference was held.  Sister Jackie was doing something amazing. She has been creating a home for abandoned and orphanged children,  kids with various degrees of physical and mental disabilities, HIV positive children, young mothers, and any children in the area that needed a meal and refuge at what Sister Jackie calls the "House of Love". She provides food,  shelter, education and love. Its sparse, but its a beautiful created family.   Thats an even larger challenge to education in Jamaica because each child is required to pay school fees, and their is bus fare daily, and money must be sent for lunch.The surrounding community, (and as I grown to learn actually a lot of the island knows) knows every well whom Sister J is. She is a bright, vibrant and loving woman and I was moved by her joy, strength and connection to spirit.  She has an awesome sense of humour and has such a powerful presence. I was very moved by my brief time at Sister J's place last year. An age range from new babies from teenage moms, teen girls, young boys, toddlers and  a handful of elders over the age of 90. About 14 children leave there full time, others pass in and out.  Jackie has been taking in these children for nearly a decade, but community work for most of her life.  Some have come to her, some children's stories were told to Jackie and she rescued them, many have lost their parents to AIDS.  Some of them have been with her many many years, others passing thru in times of need. The whole community knows that if there is need, Sister Jackie's house of love is always open.  Twice a year she hosts a camp. One over Christmas time where she has upwards of 60 kids  and a summer time camp for some of the most disadvantaged kids from all around the island. Some of them stay with her for the whole summer as it ensures that they have a meal and a safe home. I am floored that she says so easy that 60 kids are coming thru, with so much ease and peace. She is a remarkable woman.

I checked in with Sheila,  the woman that originally introduced me to Sister Jackie to see if there was anything we could bring to Sister Jackie's House of Love when we came as a small group from Vancouver to study Yin Yoga. Sheila said one of the big expense in the house was soap, TP, women's product and diapers. This got me thinking about waste as well as when I was last in Jamaica, when I saw such an abundance of trash, and alot of it burned.   I was very curious to have the conversation about woman's cycles with Jackie

I checked in with Lunapads because I was very aware of the great work they were doing with girls around the world and I was curious if they had never done a project or made donations in Jamaica.  I met up with Madeleine Shaw, one of the co-founders of Lunapads. We had a great conversation about cycles, Pads4Girls and how empowered cycles for young woman mean empowered choices for all women. Lunapads happily shares the patterns for their snap into your pantie cotton pads with various inserts for various flows, adjustable sized panties with a little slide in fabric pads, or a few for heavier flow.  Lunapads donated 20 kits for Sister Jackie's house for teen girls and new moms. I was so stoked to share this with the girls and with the

I wasn't sure how Sister Jackie's girls would feel about talking about menstural cycles with me.

I am personally interested our natural moon cycles as sisters of this world and the amount of waste that is created with a disposable period, as well as how unattached to this cycle we are. Somewhere along the way  we have lost the connection to our cycles, and have started to see it as a dirty and uncomfortable burden, instead of a wonderous wealth of information and direct link to the moons, oceans and world around this. We may have forgotten that its in fact a deep and spiritual honour I believe to be a woman, to be so deeply connected to Mother Earth.

I checked in with Lunapads because I was very aware of the great work they were doing with girls around the world and I was curious if they had never done a project or made donations in Jamaica.  I met up with

Sept 29 2013: Yin Yoga: Variations and Assists

Join Danielle freshly home from completing her 500 hour Yin Yoga teacher training with Paul Grilley for an examination of the ways we which we can modify our yin practice to really transform. Come fill up in yin nerding land as we examine variations of shapes that are suitable for our bones and can differ greatly from person to person. Learn different ways to use props to really create a powerful practice just for you and the tools to offer this knowledge to your students if you teach.  All levels, All LOVE.

Counts for CEU with Yoga Alliance.

Unity Yoga

Sept 29th, 2013