The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’…

The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’. It relates to the unity between mind, body and
soul – meaning, one cannot be affected without the other aspects affected, as well. It also refers to the inherent connection between all living beings. It literally means ‘we are all one’. This can be translated in a couple of ways. I believe it means that underneath our life circumstances, our conditioning and everything else that has wounded us or caused us to build walls around our heart, we are the same. Our essence is one of love and compassion. Another way to look at this is that we are all equally capable of incredible goodness as well as unspeakable evil. That both the light and the shadow exist in all of us. Yoga and meditation are practices that help us face ourselves and peel away the layers of illusion that separate us from others. A powerful practice to help you experience unity is to silently say to yourself each time you walk past another soul or encounter another person is ‘you and I are one’. When you do this, notice your inner reaction to these words. With some, the words and the feeling of connection may come easily. With others, you may feel a sense of resistance or even repulsion. These are interesting feelings to ponder. If we all contain all qualities, then each person is a mirror for us to see ourselves in.
– Katie

 

All you have to do is bring YOU!

One day, I woke up and read a beautiful piece from The Kundalini Institute, who I receive daily newsletters from. I wanted to share this with you because I found this particular message to be beautiful and so reassuring. It felt meaningful because it spoke to the issue many of us face regarding ‘finding our life’s purpose’ or ‘dharma’.
For much of my life I have lacked clarity around what my life’s purpose is, and at times have lost touch with my inner voice. I’ve looked outside myself for direction and validation and have sometimes felt almost paralyzed by indecisiveness. It was this lack of clarity that brought me to yoga in the first place, as I knew this was a practice of self-reflection and cultivating knowledge of the Self, or soul. Coming to my mat has connected and reconnected me to my inner compass. Over the years a certain truth has been revealed to me: Life isn’t made meaningful by WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.
What kind of attitude and mindfulness do you bring to your daily activities, whether you pump gas for a living, or run a large company? How does your unique ‘flavour’ touch and affect those you come into contact with? I used to think there were many things I should not bother doing (make aromatherapy lotions, teach workshops, write a memoir etc) because these had already been done by others and therefore I had nothing new to contribute. But I understand now that there is only one Katie and that my voice is unique and has value. In fact, there will only ever BE one Katie and my time on this earth is finite and shan’t be wasted!
I hope you enjoy the message below and remember, whenever you are feeling lost on your life’s path, whenever you feel like your are climbing a mountain in a thick fog and cannot see the summit, all you have to do is bring YOU and your uniqueness to whatever it is your doing, and know that your path and purpose will be revealed as a result:

‘What the world needs now is you. Please hear that deeply. What the world needs now is YOU. You see, you are here, and nothing in the Universe is out of place. You are awakening, and no one awakens before their time.
Just by being you, and I do mean really you, not the you that society wants to see or that your colleagues expect, not the you that your family thinks you are or your friends believe is you. But the YOU of it all, the you that you are in the quiet spaces of your heart. We need YOU. We need you desperately. With your light and your love and your special alchemy of gifts, you are bringing something to this world that no one else can. Please do not hide your special light.
Remember Yogi Bhajan’s words, “You can make your world prosperous and happy by being you.” Today, pledge to be as authentically you as you can be. Speak from your heart. Heal with your words. And bring your spark to us, lighting the world on fire with the magic of YOU. Thank you for being!’
– Ramdesh

Positively change the way you feel about yourself

I have been giving public talks lately on the topic of practicing self-acceptance and self-love in one’s life. One of the quickest and most effective ways to positively change the way you feel about yourself and the way you present yourself to the world is to STOP GIVING A VOICE TO YOUR NEGATIVE SELF TALK. Getting rid of the negative thoughts? That is a much taller task! The repetitive derogatory thoughts we say to ourselves can be deeply ingrained patterns. In yoga philosophy, any type of repetitive thought pattern is called a ‘samskara’. Much like the needle on a record that gets stuck and skips on the same spot, over and over again, a samskara is a thought or neural pathway, that repeats itself until it gets stronger and stronger. We must use the practice of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to pick up the needle on the record and start it on a new track. By not speaking negatively about ourselves, we start to weaken that neural pathway we have created. When we complain to our friends about how stupid, fat, clumsy, awkward and inferior we are, we channel potent energy in that direction and manifest those perceived negative qualities as our reality. If we can learn to internalize the negative self-talk, some of the energy around these thoughts starts to dissipate and weaken. Soon, we find we aren’t critiquing ourselves internally as often as we used to. Soon, we start to step into a new way of being in the world. We begin to become the person we were always meant to be.

I do slip up, but try to get back on track immediately. This simple commitment has made an immeasurable difference in my self-esteem and self-worth. I am with you!

Learning how to practice self love!

A couple of months ago, I had the honour of giving a talk at YogaFest. I spoke on the topic of self love and acceptance and more specifically, how to actually practice self love in one’s life. For me, learning to make friends with myself and all of my flaws and forgive myself for my mistakes, has been key in recovering from drug addiction and cultivating a successful, purposeful life. In this talk (please excuse the poor video quality!), I give four key ways in which you can start practicing self love right now! Don’t waste another day at war with yourself. ❤

 

When life is good…

You are not meant to practice yoga and meditation when times are tough. It is unrealistic to think you should have the energy during times of grief or hardship for spiritual practice. So, don’t feel guilty for not practicing when you feel you ‘should be practicing’ or ‘need it most’. When life is good, practice as much as you can so that this will act as a life raft during the periods of stress or grief. – Peter Marks

 

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‘Til Death Do Us Part

I am in a wonderful, tumultuous, complex and yet fulfilling long-term relationship… with yoga.
We started dating 23 years ago when I was a blushing young maiden of 18. Yoga came into my life and swept me off my feet with promises of handstands and enlightenment. Indeed, the rewards and breakthroughs came fast and easily, as long as I gave yoga time and attention.
After a few years, my yoga mat’s shine diminished and the bouquets of flowers and candlelit dinners became more sporadic. I seemed to reach a plateau in the advancement of physical postures and we settled into a comfortable, yet at time unstimulating routine. Hours-long practice sessions filled with primal sweat and increasingly higher states of consciousness eventually cooled to 20-minute “quickies” interspersed with frequent naps. When we argued, I often left with hurt feelings, and once in a while, physical pain.
At times I questioned my commitment to yoga, feeling like it wasn’t giving me what I wanted and that perhaps it was time for me to move on.

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My mother (a long-time yogini and married to my dad for the last 50 years) has always taught me that if I get bored in a relationship, not to stray or look elsewhere, but to make the commitment to go deeper. She has often reminded me to not go around digging shallow wells. I recognized that if I were to stay interested and engaged, I would have to put in the time and effort to go deeper with yoga. We took romantic vacations together (yoga retreats), saw couple’s counsellors (David Swenson, Paul and Rachelle Gold, Jill Miller, Seane Corn, Dharma Mittra) and made the commitment to greet each other every day with fresh eyes, curiosity and loving gratitude.
While friends of mine flirted with and dated-Tae Bo, belly dancing and Zumba, yoga and I stuck it out. Sometimes we would feel old fashioned and prudish as we witnessed trends like Chocolate Yoga and Disco Yoga sweep the nation.
My commitment paid off, and our love has deepened to one that I know will last a lifetime.


I have come to depend on my practice to keep me grounded, honest and healthy in all aspects of my being. When everything around me is chaotic, my ujjayi breathing and familiar movements reconnect me to my truth and my purpose. Yoga lovingly holds up a mirror for me to see myself and to investigate where there is inner work to be done. The best part about this long-term relationship is that although I am committed to yoga, I am not serious on the mat. My practice feels light, joyful and goal-less. The advanced poses come and go in my practice and that is just fine! I celebrate each moment, thankful for this friend and teacher who has entered my life and plans to stay the course with me.
Cheers to many more years together, my love!