Continuity and Change with Time

pexels-photo-210590Continuity and Change with Time at Yogabuds Studio in Toronto

 Music and Yoga: Timeless and Always New 

Many years ago, I took my mother to Massey Hall and surprised her with concert tickets. As she recognized the first of Yanni’s songs, she turned to me with great enthusiasm and said, “That’s my song!” The venue was intimate, the music exquisite and this shared moment in time, very special.

Fast-forward almost thirty years: my 94 year-old mother and I have listened to Yanni many times together this summer. In the past, we listened to recordings on cassettes. Today, we listen to my Spotify playlist on a wireless speaker. This past July, I attend another Yanni concert and noticed that while some things were unchanged, there were also so many apparent differences from when we first saw him in concert years ago.

The Budweiser Stage is large, the population is Toronto at it’s multicultural best and technology prevails enabling us to watch Yanni and his ensemble on large screens. My husband is with me but because of our Yanni connection, I wish to share a taste of the evening and a sampling of his intense and soulful music with my mother. Sending her video Snaps throughout the evening, she texts me back, “Give Yanni my regards.”

Years pass and much changes but in spite of all the change, much remains constant and there is always an underlying unity to everything. For example, each time one steps onto one’s yoga mat, it is always new and different yet the yoga remains as the foundation and the constant element. At Yanni’s recent concert one could easily observe how he has been embraced by so many cultures around the world, and how his beautiful music has spanned the years. I also reflected on how my yoga has carried me across the bridge of time, meeting my needs at every step and junction along the way.

 Learning to Pay Attention at YogaBuds

The syllable gu means “darkness” and ru means “light.” My students often hear my belief that the guru is really an inner source of illumination that awakens awareness and transforms the darkness. I stress that the light is actually the Self within us and that we must strive to access our inner light and become our own best guide.

Yoga is not infallible and the wrong pose or a pose executed wrongly, or an incorrect sequence or practice can result in the worsening of a condition, cause an injury, or create agitation or disturbance in the mind. At YogaBuds, students learn how to pay attention and to bring an acute awareness to all that we do, moment-to-moment both on and off the mat. In turn, we learn to be more present in real time and better able to listen closely, and respond, to our body mind’s messaging. Then our yoga really begins to meet our needs.


A Kidney Stone, Pain and Yoga 

In the past few months I learned that I had a kidney stone. Although the doctors consistently discounted the stone as the source of my pain because it was not causing an obstruction nor passing, I believed otherwise. My yoga training has taught me to be highly attuned to my body’s sensations; to trust in myself and in yoga; and, how to explore and work with pain, my own and others. Listening closely to my body, its messages directed me to what was needed to modify in my practice and how to do it. By being mindful and by paying attention, it became apparent which poses were helpful and which were more likely to be causing irritation, inflammation or pain. For example, when I stopped practising inversions, my pain eased.

In the weeks prior to the shock wave Lithotripsy procedure scheduled to pulverize the stone, I continued to modify my practice. With the intention of trying to bring a sense of ease and softness to the act of breaking the stone, a hard mass, my practice included more restorative yoga poses with meditations focused on the theme of softness. I would never really know if these intentions and practises would help but I knew that it certainly couldn’t hurt! As the doctors settled me onto the table on the morning of the procedure, I began to practise my meditation just when the sedation was being administered and took effect. Thankfully, the procedure was successful and I am once again, pain-free.  Perhaps my yoga truly made a difference.

 Continuity, Change and the Underlying Unity 

Recently, I saw a photo of myself from my early twenties. Even though so much has changed, my personal style, clothing and smile have remained the same as has the environment in which the photo was taken. In fact, the photo was taken very close to where these words are being written. Although photographs freeze time, and the passage of time certainly creates and reflects changes, much remains the same. I am immensely grateful that my sustained yoga practice has been and will be my constant amidst the multitude of changes that life will undoubtedly bring. And through all that is yet to come, I hope to continue to see the underlying unity in everything and go with the flow with awareness and acceptance just as the river waters meander along its many winding bends.

“Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed. To a yogi, freedom implies not being battered by the dualities of life.” –B.K.S. Iyengar

“Life moves. There’s no death. There’s no birth. Life is like a river… moving without any stop.” B.K.S. Iyengar


Iyengar Yoga: What, Why And Where To Practise It In Toronto

YogaBuds Studio in Toronto practising Iyengar Yoga

An Iyengar Yoga Class at YogaBuds Studio in Toronto

What Is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar Yoga is based on the teachings of the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar whose trainings and practice of over 70 years resulted in great innovations in the teaching of yoga. Iyengar Yoga is one of the most widely practiced forms of yoga in the world and is accessible to anyone, independent of their limitations or capabilities.

Props may be used to reach a deeper penetration into the poses, and combined with longer holdings of poses assist students in executing an asana without putting them at risk. There is a lot of diversity of practice and in the safe sequencing and structured progression of the poses, which prevents overuse and injury. The Iyengar approach to yoga is also therapeutic in nature.

What further distinguishes Iyengar Yoga is the emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture (asana) and breath control (pranayama). The very high degree of attention paid to correct anatomical alignment and detail in all poses makes each pose healthy for joints, ligaments and muscles. This combined with the cultivation of self-awareness, intelligent evaluation and deep inward reflection results in also developing the mental benefits of a full meditation in action. Effective alignment helps to achieve balance between body, mind and breath.

In addition to acquiring optimal body alignment, the Iyengar method develops strength, stamina, stability, suppleness, mobility, flexibility, and relaxation through the asanas. Regular practice improves overall health, posture and concentration, and quiets the mind to promote well-being. Students learn to be fully and vibrantly present in the moment.

Certified Iyengar Yoga teachers complete international standards of comprehensive and rigorous certification which take years of study. Certified teachers are able to tailor poses to individual’s needs.

Why Choose Iyengar Yoga?

There is nothing else that comes close to the depth of Iyengar yoga. The clarity, understanding, safety, and fullness of the practise is unique to this methodology. From your first Iyengar Yoga class taught by a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, you will recognize the incredible wealth of information available for the evolution of one’s practise and developing consciousness.

Some Of The Benefits Of Iyengar Yoga:

  • Improve physical, mental and psychological health
  • Improve posture and breathing
  • Increase energy, vitality, focus and concentration
  • Improve balance, muscle tone and structural issues
  • Increase strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and mobility
  • Release emotional tension and stress and experience peace of mind
  • Learn mindfulness and how to be exist fully in the present moment
  • Bring intelligence, awareness, self-knowledge and clarity to all aspects of oneself, mind and body

Where Is The Best Place For Iyengar Yoga In Toronto?

YogaBuds is the best place for studying Iyengar Yoga in midtown Toronto. It is a warm and welcoming home-based studio with limited space so class numbers are small. Small classes create a safe space for each student to learn, as he or she receives a lot of individualized attention. There is a lovely sense of community as well.

YogaBuds director, Temmi Ungerman Sears who has over 36 years of personal practise teaches all the classes. She conveys her passion, insights and understanding of Iyengar Yoga with authenticy, humor and precision.

The studio is unique it that it provides Iyengar Yoga classes for all ages including young children, teens and adults. There are yoga classes for families, as well as for mother and daughter. All classes are taught in the traditional Iyengar methodology regardless of age.

Accompanying traditional Iyengar yoga is a strong dose of creativity. Stories, philosophy and metaphor are also infused in all classes. In addition to the asanas, pranayama and yoga sutra readings and discussions, mindfulness meditation is taught in each class as well. Experiencing meditation in action is a component of the Iyengar methodology.

Students are encouraged and expected to sign up for a full session in order to make the commitment to the practise and thus reap the many benefits from it. All classes are taught by YogaBuds director and founder, Temmi Ungerman Sears, Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and Certified Yoga Therapist.

“The practice of yogasana for the sake of health, to keep fit, or to maintain flexibility is the external practice of yoga. While this is a legitimate place to begin, it is not the end,” says B.K.S. Iyengar. “Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.”

To learn more about YogaBuds, CLICK HERE

Magical Moments of Gratitude and Abundance


Yoga is the flow of energy – within our selves and everywhere. For we are comprised of prana, the life force, and as yoga connects us to our selves we connect to prana. We are made up of our parents’ genes, our unique talents, skills and personalities, to the elements, to one another, and to so much more. With continuous yoga practice, one begins to experience the flow as it is as well as where it may be stuck in our bodies or minds.

Each morning during vacation I practice for several hours with the ocean as the backdrop. The sound of the tide connects me to the rhythm of my own breath and to my movements. For all yoga is attention training. As we focus on the ever changing flow of energy – of our respiration, in and out, of the elements of the pose and all of our subtle adjustments – we then stop, remain still, and experience the essence of the pose and the fullness of the moment. All dualities slip away and we are here. And here in the moment, I experience a deep sense of connection to everything. I feel such gratitude and abundance, and contentment flows, like my energy or prana.

My discovery of yoga in my early twenties was simply a surprise and a blessing. I have never wavered in my practice or studies since my first class 36 years ago. My awareness of consciousness and my appreciation of the vastness and beauty of the minutiae of the present moment continues to deepen as does the connection that I feel to the breath, the pause, the flow. One late afternoon I watched a lone swimmer quite far out in the ocean until my eye could no longer see him. As he vigorously swam for miles I knew that I was witnessing a most incredible expression of the mind-body-breath connection. As I watched his prowess, fluidity, rhythm, speed, and focus, I was amazed. I felt immense gratitude to observe such a incredibly beautiful moving meditation, and another example of the flow of energy.

Recently, I had a very meaningful dream. A white baby goat was the dream symbol that spoke to me as clearly as a bell ringing across a meadow. In my dream, I am sleeping and the goat is curled against my side next to Sarah, my black cat. As I am leaving my dream state and gradually awakening, I am confused and upset for I realize that it is only Sarah who remains next to me, in real time. In despair and still half asleep, I ask out loud, “but where is the goat?” All day the imagery of the goat stayed in my consciousness. I was struck by the contrast between the white and black and thought it suggested dualities. My husband suggested that I research its meaning. As I read I was excited to learn that dreaming of a white goat is a symbol for good luck and happiness and that it further symbolizes balance, respect and grace. But what I found really interesting is that the most common meaning is that of abundance and mirth.

Receiving my morsels along the path of yoga are like the crumbs discovered by Hansel and Gretel guiding them on their journey home. As I meander down my long and winding path tasting the rewards of yoga, I recognize that yoga has taught me devotion and has granted me many gifts: serenity, health, balance and joy. It has also provided me with a space to be – to find stillness and softness, strength and balance. From adolescence to middle age, from being single to married and through three pregnancies and deliveries, with the pillars of love and loss, wherever I am at in any given moment in time, yoga has been my Light and has ignited my own inner Light. I have learned to be present, to find space around my heart, and to connect with others, heart-to-heart. Daily I sit in gratitude and abundance. Perhaps my goat will come again soon to visit.

This Hanukkah Season: Connecting with Your Inner Light


During a recent Shabbat family dinner in which we were discussing Judaism and God, my daughter’s 24 year-old boyfriend Ryan stated, “I’m always questioning and I’m always looking for answers. But I’m also accepting the reality that it’s okay not to have an answer.” His words have helped me to further understand him and the mindset of some young people today.

As tradition tells, when the Maccabees liberated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, a miracle occurred because only one day’s worth of oil for lighting the Menorah lasted for eight days. Hanukkah is probably the most well-known example of the symbol of light within Judaism, as it celebrates the miracle of the light in a historical event that took place in 165 BC. As with the other major Jewish holidays, the festival of lights offers the deeper meaning and opportunity for introspection. Although we may question the veracity of the story when we reflect on the story of Hanukkah, we may also be inspired to simply accept the concept of the miracle that it describes. The symbol of light and the miracle of light are indeed the holiday’s related messages of renewal, hope, and turning away from darkness.

One of my sweetest memories of raising our children involves the excitement and pride that they each experienced nightly during the eight nights of Hanukkah as they would recite the prayers and kindle their own menorah while we would light ours. Sometimes their grandparents shared in a meal, making the evening even more meaningful. Each child’s face was warmly lit both from the reflection of the beautiful light emanating from the menorahs and from within. For as we light the candles, we become like the glowing menorah, casting light in and around us, and lighting up the world. The lit menorah is a reminder of the miracle that inspired the holiday but it can also act as a reminder of the many miracles and blessings that comprise and envelop our lives today. The ritual of candle lighting both on Shabbat and during Hanukkah brings us together and bathes us in the warmth of family, connection, history, and tradition. I personally don’t know what has more meaning than that.

Light is fundamental to Judaism as a sign of God’s spirit and guiding force and when we light the Shabbat or menorah candles, the light represents joy and hope. Historically, light is one of the most universal and fundamental symbols for it is the source of goodness and the ultimate reality, and it has been universally associated with divinity or godliness in almost every culture and civilization. While darkness invoked fear and anxiety, light offered hope and protection to the ancient world. Hence, in every culture you will find the duality of light and darkness personifying God and evil, or order and chaos respectively.

When stress or sadness threatens to overwhelm us, we can choose to access our religious or spiritual beliefs, or practice mindfulness with a focus on our breath and the inner light. When we do this, we have an opportunity to slow down, quiet our thoughts and mind, and visualize the light spreading and permeating each and every cell. Tapping into that inner source of light and goodness and accessing the divine light can truly help to manage or even mitigate the impending darkness or chaos that surrounds us.

In my work with students and clients in both yoga classes and in private yoga therapy sessions, I always strive to draw attention to the concept of light. During the quiet meditation that starts the practice, as well as during the final resting pose, I will often guide and instruct others on how to quiet their brain, open their chest and reflect on the inner point of stillness and light within their heart. Through the guided meditation coupled with their openness and receptivity, my students gradually become more able to access their own inner healing and loving light, even visualizing it spreading beyond them selves. Additionally, it also believed that the Aum – which we chant together to formally begin or end the practice – will illuminate those who are touched by it.

It is believed that when we choose to focus on the light that shines in the mind as pure light, it will then reflect objects accurately and lead to right discrimination, mental clarity, and brilliance. When the mind is free from impurities, the original luster and light for the Self manifest in the mind and illuminates it like the sun that shines in the clear, bright sky. In the body the eyes represent the sun and the moon since they are filled with the light of Self. As the sense organs, they have limitations in perceiving truth. The Upanishads, a collection of texts written between 800 BC and 500 BC that form the core of Indian philosophy, declare that between the eyebrows there is the light of the Self – the third eye – which can see without seeing, and which can perceive beyond the mind and the senses the truths that are imperceptible to them. When our mind and heart are open to the depth and wealth of the inner richness that is bathed in light and love, it not only illuminates our spirit but spreads outwardly to touch those we care about.

As we approach the winter solstice and the days grow longer and darker with the world appearing to be out of balance with frequent and random acts of violence, it is even more important to meditate on the idea of light and enjoy the ritual of lighting the menorah with our loved ones. By maintaining the tradition and having trust in its stories, including the miracle of Hanukkah, we tap into the source within. We may not be able to have the tangible answers that Ryan is seeking but we can find in our hearts the light to brighten our path with humility and integrity, to embrace and illuminate our relationships with kindness and love, and to enhance our lives with faith and meaning.



Inspiring the yoga passion

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When I run into someone whom I haven’t seen for a long time, I am often asked “Are you still doing your yoga?” Fortunate to have discovered it at a young age, I have never swayed from my commitment to my yoga and mindfulness practice for 36 years. In the early days of my teaching career, my husband commented that I was different from others because the majority of people will generally try new things but eventually move on to the next trend. Yet this incredible multilayered eight-limbed approach with its multiple benefits has kept me hooked for almost four decades! My yoga practice has been the foundation from which I live my life. But what exactly is it that keeps me coming to the mat? How has my learning curve been maintained and how has my passion been sustained over the years?

Although this practice is 5,000 years old, it is only in the past fifteen or twenty years that yoga has become an integral part of mainstream society. In the early 90’s I was invited to audition, and was hired for a spot in a car commercial that included a few yoga practitioners in a yoga posture. This was one of the first ads to use yoga as a marketing tool; today yoga is a billion dollar industry. Because my understanding of yoga and the myriad of its benefits runs deep, I often cringe at the commercialization of yoga and the dilution of its essence. For it is the essence of the practice and its value that has drawn me to it over and over again and which relates directly to and informs my life.

The essence of the practice is the single-pointed focus that spreads through one’s entire being and into one’s life experience. Richard Rosen speaks about this in his CD “Pranayama: Beyond the Fundamentals” and I find his words to be very inspiring. He says, “Yoga is simply about attention training, and the goal of all such training is presence. Presence is the essence of what the yogis call the juice, the rasa. Presence and essence arrive from the same Latin word, to be. Simple being is our true nature.” Rasa, a Sanskrit term that means “sap”, “essence” or “fluid” is the juice of the practice, the nourishing energy that infuses us with life. Remaining mindful of the rasa during the practice helps me to keep the spark alive. But to stay present for any length of time is a challenge. Using the breath, focusing on the rasa, and attuning to the alignment, precision and detailed execution of the posture helps to anchor our presence in the moment.

Every time I step on the mat I have the opportunity to ask myself: What do I want to see more of in my life? I can then set an intention to use the energy of the practise to help make it real. And then, the relevance of the practice shows up long after I have stepped off the yoga mat. This is in part what keeps me wanting more and returning to the mat. I have always shared with my students my belief that consistency is key for it is one of the pillars of a strong practise. In spite of the busyness of life and the many challenges that it presents, I have discovered that once committed to yoga, cultivating inner life and mindfulness unfolds. And as these benefits permeate my life, enthusiasm for the practice is naturally ignited. Through learning the philosophies of yoga and practising the 8-limbs of yoga, yoga values such as gratitude, contentment, non-harming, and non-attachment become ingrained. The tenets of yoga create the lens through which I view life and ultimately how life is lived.

The effects of the practice has a direct impact on how you feel, perceive, understand, and interact with yourself, with others and in the world. The amount of postures and breathing or pranayama techniques to learn is truly staggering; I try to approach each practice with an enthusiastic beginner’s mind and infuse the practice with a new level of curiosity. It is as if I am studying and experiencing each posture for the first time because I come at the pose from the inside out, feeling the pose and experiencing sensations all over. Each time I practice the posture, I learn more about myself and experience something different. Self-study or Svadyaya is a Niyama meaning rule or laws and svadyaya is one of the five internal observances or tools. It connotes introspection and “study of self” which results in increased self-awareness and self-understanding. The learning is constant and I am simply never bored with the poses nor the practise.

Creating change in body and mind in order to execute the more advanced postures and breathing or pranayama techniques is an ongoing challenge and process. Learning and refining old or new poses, providing my body mind and spirit with what is needed on any given day, or learning what is needed to facilitate the healing of a specific issue, injury or condition further maintains the learning curve and sustains my interest. Over time, I develop an intense and refined alertness to states of being and to the subtle body, and I experience a greater understanding of how the poses or asanas or poses deeply affect me. Each cycle of breath is different as are the many distracting thoughts that pull me away from my practice. Witnessing these differences and distractions provides an opportunity to refocus my attention and maintain my presence in the moment. Regularity of practice done with intention and focus supports my understanding of myself and the practise continues to deepen and replenish me like a well that is never emptied of its water.

Other ways that I have kept the spark and fire alive have included regular month-long studies with the Iyengar family in India over a span of twenty years, and with other teachers around the world. While on vacation, I will take classes in different systems of yoga to learn both what I like and don’t like and what I might bring from that learning to my practice and to my teaching. When I return home, I happily immerse myself back in my own practice of Iyengar yoga with a renewed sense of freshness and gratitude. Even though the discipline of yoga is serious, it is important to me to ensure that I am enjoying myself and having fun. Other ways I create inspiration may include adding different elements to my practice such as changing the environment or adding something to it. Weather permitting, I will unfold my mat outdoors or I may choose to play music, light incense or candles, enjoy related readings including Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or explore yoga photos from BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” or other books. Undoubtedly, Guruji’s life – his practice, teachings, writings, and profound influence in the dissemination of yoga worldwide – continues to be one of the best inspirations for my own lifelong practice. But ultimately, the greatest inspiration for my yoga is my actual practice! This is what truly keeps the flame alive.

Investment advisors will tell you that you have to accept fluctuations in the market and maintain your focus on the distant horizon line in order to realize the long-term benefits of the investment. The yoga process is the same for when we keep showing up on the mat and continue to make our deposits in our practice, over time our investment grows. Like the market, there may be downturns or occasions when we crash but if we trust in the process and maintain our commitment to it, inevitably even a single spark of passion will stay ignited. We feel its impact as it spreads within us and then outwardly into the world. Passion can be slow burning or intense but when we practice yoga on a consistent basis over the years, the benefits will manifest into our day and we will feel nourished. It simply keeps us wanting more.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius
















Celebrating the small and big moments


When I recently commended my very dear friend on her incredible valiant spirit and positive outlook, she responded with: “Life is just too short.” Her poignant words were as sharp as a glass shard as she fights desperately for more time. I am truly in awe of her for how she has maintained her hope, positivity and strength as she copes with her failing health. She is simply unwilling and unable to stop loving her three daughters and husband as she remains surrounded by light, the support and love of her family and friends. I want to tell her how much I will miss her but I know to do so would mean that I would not be in the moment with her and I don’t want to miss that. For moments are all we have.

We so often become bogged down in the mire of petty disputes, old dramas and current perceived hurts and crises. But it sadly takes a tragedy, either of a personal nature or such as the current onslaught of terrorist acts, to be piercingly reminded of the precariousness of life and its preciousness. It is our challenge – and our responsibility – to remain fully present: aware, attuned and appreciative of each moment, moment-to moment. It is very important to remain cognizant of the importance of cherishing our loved ones, and to experience joy, sanctity and celebration in all the mundane and celebratory aspects of our lives. Yoga and mindfulness provide us with the roadmap for our journey and the skills and tools needed to stay present-focused with the understanding that there is something greater than our individual selves.

For years I had a long-held desire to become a Bat Mitzvah, to earn the right to read from the Torah scroll. On April 22, 2017, I crossed a significant threshold of adult Jewish life and became Bat Mitzvah, reclaiming my rightful place as a full adult member of the Jewish community. As I cemented my Jewish identity more deeply and embraced the totality of my Jewish self, I connected to my congregation, with the historical and current Jewish communities, and contributed to making Canadian Judaism more vibrant.

Standing in front of the congregation, I gazed at the beautiful Torah script and felt these special moments touch my soul. The intense shaking of my hand as it moved the yad or pointer over the Torah surprised me. Yet my mind was completely focused on chanting the words of our ancient text. I chanted from a very inward and centered place, and experienced how history and the present moment merged. I truly felt the strength of the Torah within me and was profoundly moved by the sanctity of the moment.

Of course, this milestone in my journey as a learner was one of the bigger and more celebratory moments in my life. But equally important are the quiet simple ones such as my resent visit with my girlfriend; playing Scrabble with my elderly mother and consistently losing to her; having brunch with my husband and kids, or just relaxing with a coffee and my purring cat. Indeed, life is mostly comprised of the small moments. And it is up to us to choose to experience the sanctity and meaning in all of our minute daily experiences as we also consciously decide how best to react to the lesser things that challenge our balance and equilibrium. Refocusing our attention on our blessings and the abundance in our lives will help to preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind. Over and over I find myself rising to the challenge to embrace all that life presents while staying connected to what is truly meaningful and remaining as fully present as possible.

Walk the Path, Live the Practice


Keeping my yoga and mindfulness practice fresh and inspiring has been very important while sustaining my practice for almost thirty-five years. People often remark about my apparent “discipline” but I don’t see myself as disciplined. Rather, yoga is simply a practice that I consistently return to with awe and devotion. It is a practice in consciousness fostering a deeper connection with our selves while promoting a sense of grounded calm over reactive chaos. Through persisting with yoga practice, self-awareness is increased and is expressed through our actions and behaviors.

During the past sixteen months I have managed many personal challenges and losses including supporting a very dear friend with a rare and terminal cancer. Witnessing the drastic and turbulent changes that are occurring in the U.S. and around the world at this time is anxiety provoking. Recently, I even had a very disturbing encounter with someone at Cosco and his actions included keying my car door. Thankfully, my yoga and mindfulness practice helps me to pacify the inner turmoil and to manage many strong, unsettled and unfamiliar states of being including feelings of anger, sadness and angst. Through my own process of trying to make peace with myself through the practice, I try to inspire others to do the same.

I feel very fortunate to be able to guide others and help them with their various issues and conditions in both my group classes and private yoga therapy sessions. The Eight Limbs of Yoga propose a gentler code for living soulfully. The yamas and niyamas remind us to connect with our true human nature, to try to live in peace, health, and loving harmony with everyone and everything. In actuality, the real benefits of the practice occur when we are off the mat when we can employ the tools that yoga teaches us. Today, as I observe the plethora of ailments that people of all ages suffer from, especially increased anxiety, stress and depression, I truly believe that the yoga and mindfulness path holds the key to so much.

Grateful to have received what I believe to be the highest quality instruction from many wonderful teachers with whom I have studied since 1982, including studying for a month at a time in India over a twenty-year time span, it is a privilege to carry on the legacy and the teachings. Studying at the source with the Iyengar family including the late B.K.S Iyengar, was incredible. I cherish the adjustments, instructions and feedback that Mr. Iyengar gave me when he chose to demonstrate on me or meet with me privately. In turn, I strive to provide my students with excellence in teaching, authentic connection, encouragement and safety.

The 13th –century Persian poet Rumi said, “When you start walking the way, the way appears.” I discovered meditation at age fourteen and taught myself how to meditate from a book while seated in a winged back chair in the family rec room. Drawn to yoga at age twenty-one, I experienced my first pose on an exercise pad at university long before yoga mats were available on the market. During four decades of study and teaching, my practice has accompanied and supported me through: adolescence, adulthood and middle age; three pregnancies and childbirth; raising my children while founding children’s yoga in Canada; and establishing YogaBuds, my yoga studio.

As we navigate the life cycle with a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice we are provided with so many tools to examine, surrender, accept and overcome our struggles and the unavoidable stressors that arise. Though we travel forward on this path, yoga simultaneously freezes time when going inward to tune in and experience a range of emotions and feel wholeness, clarity, self-acceptance, empathy and loving kindness. Similarly, saying Kaddish early each morning last year helped me to find acceptance and peace within as I grieved and missed my father. Approaching my daily yoga and mindfulness practice with an open mind and heart, I begin with the intention to joyfully greet the day with a recognition and sense of full abundance in my life. I also acknowledge and pacify whatever inner angst there is, feeling gratitude and contentment and becoming more wholehearted. To me, this is what it means to walk the path.

To stand steady and comfortable and face the horizon while feeling grounded whether in tadasana (mountain pose), or in sirsasana (headstand) or in a myriad of other asanas (or poses); to listen to, watch, feel and control my breath; to raise my arms as high as they can go…To bend and extend my body forward or backward; to turn and twist it, to lower my brain below my heart and feel humbled… To experience an incredible sense of inner spaciousness, internal peace and oneness with all things, nature, God and people…To practice awareness and mindfulness; to live guided by an inner moral compass; to feel gratitude, compassion and contentment, and to let go and find acceptance…To me, this is what it means to live the practice.

“Life means to be living. Problems will always be there. When they arise navigate through them with yoga – don’t take a break.” – BKS Iyengar


The YogaBuds Path towards Health, Wellness and Contentment


Life can be challenging but we may also discover opportunity for personal growth as we learn to better manage hardships that we are confronted with. In my work as a yoga teacher and psychotherapist, over the past few years I have worked with a marked increase of individuals coping with various mental health issues including depression, anxiety and stress, and various physical conditions. This sadly includes an upsurge in the numbers of children and teens also suffering from anxiety and depression.

Seeking the healing powers of yoga and mindfulness, individuals of all ages come to YogaBuds for group classes or private yoga therapy sessions. By providing support and guidance and building trust with my students and clients, they are motivated to take risks to try new things; to open up to self-discovery and acquire greater self-awareness; to learn new skills, and to ultimately experience sustained change. I have actually been more excited than ever to observe both professionally and personally how yoga and mindfulness meditation has made such an incredible difference in people’s lives.

Long captivated by the precision of yoga in the Iyengar yoga system, I value how it is a perfect companion to mindfulness. These two practices merge with my creativity to inform my instruction, helping me to create an authentic teaching style and unique approach to the change process. When a child or teenager, a young father, middle-aged woman or an elderly person harnesses their desire for change with consistency and commitment, the work that we do together results in learning effective coping skills and tools necessary for solace and change. When my student or client experiences something new such as a wonderful, serene inner calmness and quietude, I liken it to tasting something delicious first-hand. Eventually this experience of accessing, tasting and savoring these tranquil moments becomes like a craving that needs to be satisfied with more of the same.

It is important to know how to access one’s center, remaining anchored and grounded with a strong feeling of core strength and stability. We need this not only for physical health but also to best navigate the small and difficult everyday experiences and interactions, face the bigger trials and demands that life presents, or cope with stress, anxiety, physical pain or a myriad of many other ailments or issues. Core stability is a key element in a healthy asana practice. Breathing is also the center part of the yoga practice. The invaluable learning that occurs on the mat and is felt in a deeply interconnected or holistic way is what repeatedly draws us back to the practice. We hone our ability to be mindful, centered and calm by embracing the eight limbs of yoga, including the practice of focusing to stay fully present moment-to-moment and breath-by-breath. We also cultivate a sense of softness and a capacity to remain in stillness. A wonderful sensation of inner spaciousness opens up and we are there for it. The craving for this endures and we know that with regular practice we are able to satisfy it. Healing and health triumphs!

For almost 35 years, yoga and mindfulness has formed the fabric of my life and has been my footpath. In fact, I often encourage my children to trust that their pathways will become apparent and I urge them to remain open-minded and flexible to notice and follow the markers along the way. I feel especially fortunate to have discovered not only my path but to also be able to connect with and guide others towards awakening their wellness. It is my belief that my personal journey of helping to facilitate change through the timeless traditions of yoga, creativity and mindfulness is my dharma and a gift. It has been a privilege to both participate in and to witness the potency and success of this work. Following my path has truly humbled, stirred and inspired me.

Temmi Ungerman Sears

“Yoga is meditation in action.” –B.K.S. Iyengar

Bridging the past to the future


My father was one of the founding fathers of Beth Sholom. As a young girl, year after year on the High Holy Days, I sat in my seat in our row with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, embraced in the bond of family and cemented in tradition. On Kol Nidre, immersed in the magic atmosphere of the night and the communal bond, I would watch with pride as my father climbed the steps to the bimah with his head held high to hold the Torah. Staring at him swathed in his tallit, I revered the beauty of the Torah, and admired the shining breastplate and crown.

As I matured into young adulthood and then middle age, the essence of Kol Nidre continued to stir my soul; however, feelings of frustration grew as I longed for women to share in these special moments as full participants, not merely as spectators. No doubt I was not the only one. Today I am very grateful to Beth Sholom for becoming more progressive, enabling women to more fully engage with our meaningful and ancient rituals. On this Kol Nidre, almost exactly one year since my father’s passing and weeks after concluding Kaddish, I was given the opportunity to have an active part in the service. I excitedly ascended the bimah and had the powerful experience of holding the Torah during the holiest of days.

Steady and balanced with equal weight on both feet, I wrapped my arms lovingly around the Torah and felt the immeasurable, powerful and spiritual weight of it against my chest. My heart was full as it opened to the beauty of tradition and the potency of change. I felt both humbled and empowered. Memories of my father ran deep and I felt very connected to him, to the past and to the circle of Jewish time and tradition. Touching the Torah also triggered another meaningful connection as I thought about its beautiful script. When I was twenty years old, I learned how to write the Torah Script in calligraphy and this been a significant part of the many Ketubbot and Jewish art pieces I have created over the years.

Standing on the bimah, I breathed deeply and stayed mindful of the sanctity of the service. The overwhelming emotion that comes from the soul-penetrating renditions of Kol Nidre were made even more poignant by my recent loss. As Cantor Moses passionately shared with us the mysterious and magnificent chants and daunting melodies from a very inward place, I was profoundly moved. I humbly stood before the judgment of God. I naturally looked down, gently closing my eyes as I moved inward in stillness. Occasionally, I looked up at the lights wondering if my father was a star in the sky or if his spirit was present with us in the sanctuary.

As I held the Torah, I felt truly honoured with the privilege to be the first woman to break the gender barrier in our synagogue. Standing in my fathers’ place on the bimah, I felt the meaning of l’dor v’dor and was touched deeply by it. I saw myself on a bridge connecting the past with the future. Gratitude flowed through me. Looking outward to the congregation, my eye caught the beautiful faces of my mother and daughter. I gazed lovingly at them and shared warm smiles with each.






Everything is timing. This September marks my 30th year anniversary of teaching yoga. I recently had the good fortune of celebrating this milestone by taking yoga classes with several different teachers in a trendy studio in Venice, California. Armed with years of devotion and practise, I attended class daily and couldn’t help but reflect on the changes in the yoga scene in the same studio that I have gone to for many years when visiting family in L.A. When I first began teaching back in 1986, yoga was not a mainstream practice in North America and most people were not familiar with it but it has since become an integral part of our culture.

Wishing for my practice to be freshly inspired, I happily toted my yoga mat over my shoulder and open-mindedly went to different kinds of yoga classes from the system that I study and teach. Three of the classes I attended were filled to capacity with almost ninety students strong. And strong and fit they were. There was a very high demand; classes were crowded even on an early Sunday morning. In India at the Iyengar Yoga Institute where I have studied several times, well over a hundred students are in attendance. The hall is an open-air pavilion and there are many operational ceiling fans which helps with the intense natural heat; in this studio, the door to the outside remained closed and the fans were not on. Although I found this to be unpleasant, I was still very appreciative of the opportunity to practice and did thoroughly enjoy my classes. However, the discovery of how diluted this popular practice has become from the rich and multilayered practice of traditional yoga was troubling.

As one receptionist said to me, “It’s all about feeling everyone’s sweat and all breathing together.” Is this really what yoga has been reduced to? Indeed, sweat was everywhere (mine as well) and I had great fitness workouts because in most of the classes that I attended the demanding physical practice was the primary focus. Moving swiftly through the vinyasa, the sequential movement that interlinks postures to form a continuous flow, I noticed that many students were able to sustain poses or asanas for fairly long holdings, including balancing poses. Yet in spite of physical strength, I also witnessed a lot of shaking in postures and realized that stability was lacking for many. It appeared that for some students endurance was strength-based without any softness of breath, quietness in the facial expression or quality of mindfulness or ease of any sort. Occasionally, a teacher would instill good messaging but I was skeptical if the valuable ideas offered were truly integrated. For example, stillness was a concept mentioned by many of the teachers but with the constant movement or flow of the practice, time for reflection or resting poses were not given in order to actually taste or access the stillness within. Nor was there an opportunity to feel the sensations of the body in a pose which is such a fine part of the practice.

As much as I personally enjoyed these practices for the physical benefits, some of what I observed triggered concern if this practice was the only kind of exposure to yoga that these students experienced. I was somewhat perturbed because of what I perceived to be the absence of conscious attention or intention as well as some of the missing essential teaching skills that are so much a part of the Iyengar methodology (including its vigorous teacher training and certification process) which ensures a safe practice. Ultimately, I fear that the combination of the sheer volume of students practicing without safe guidance may result in some students being at risk for injury, and also that their overall health may become compromised over time.

Some teachers had a really wonderful teaching presence and offered great ideas and even played great music but during the practice I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be a lack of deeper understanding to ensure the safe execution of a posture or asana, or a smooth and safe transition between postures because of some of the sequencing. In some classes, the teacher rarely left the platform from which he or she taught and there were no demonstrations given of any pose. Alignment is very important to me but the information provided was more about moving through the flow of postures rather than knowledgeable instructions for creating correct alignment in a posture or asana. On one or two occasions, I even heard a teacher downplay the importance of alignment. The instructions were generally very clean and simple but more often than not, it seemed that the teacher was not really observing the students’ bodies in the poses to see how the poses were and as such, mistakes were not addressed.

In part because of my training in yoga therapeutics and psychotherapy combined with my intuitive responses, providing individualized modifications for my students and especially those with special conditions or needs is very important to me. Interestingly, there were a few pregnant students and likely many others with unique requirements but suggested modifications were rarely given. When students were left to their own discretion to choose between various options for the advanced inversions and backbends without even one word of guidance from the teacher, I was surprised. The final resting pose in class, Corpse or Savasana, is an integral part of yoga for it is when relaxation and stillness are experienced and when the entire practice and its many benefits are assimilated into one’s being. I really enjoy guiding students into this place of quietude and stillness but verbal guidance into Savasana was not a part of the teaching in most of the classes that I attended.

With the focus solely on the physical body and the trend being more about a workout, much of the inherent value and transformative potential of practicing the eight limbs of yoga and studying Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is lost. The exciting and expansive reach of the traditional practice of yoga remains evasive as the opportunity for stillness, calming and stabilizing the nervous system, self-reflection and personal growth is not provided. Without the fullness of the practice including mindful awareness, I believe that the true essence of yoga is simply not experienced. Yet in fairness, the students that I practiced with were also very engaged, fit and focused on their routine. Although it is different from my belief system, perhaps it simply comes down to what one desires from one’s yoga: a physical workout or a more mindful and deep practice? It is like selecting what to eat. One can choose to go to a fast food restaurant and get one’s fill even with a diet empty of good nutrition, or one can select to make time for a balanced approach to eating and skillfully cook a nutritious meal with all the elements that combine together to ensure good health and support a balanced mind, body and spirit.

I experienced many positive outcomes from my L.A. yoga experience for I really enjoyed being a student without having any concurrent teaching responsibilities. I continued to feel my strong connection to and gratitude for the pure and organic yoga that I practice and teach. I was also very happy to observe the increasing popularity of yoga albeit my angst about the issue of safety and the lack of any spirituality or traditional and meaningful elements in most of the classes that I attended. But perhaps the most important consequence of my experience was to yet again have a heightened awareness and appreciation for the purity, clarity, richness and depth of the Iyengar methodology which is so very different from the current teachings so popular today. I believe that the brilliance and longevity of the traditional yoga practice and its potential for fostering personal transformation will continue to remain long after the current yoga “fitness faze” fizzles out.

In the final minutes of my final class in L.A., we settled into Corpse or Savasana pose and the teacher said to the class, “Find your stillness now.” He then proceeded to play very loudly “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry for in this land of sunshine, palm trees and very fit bodies, I believe that what is really needed is to somehow put the soul back into yoga. I realized that the message in the song had a double entendre for all I could think about during my time in Savasana and afterwards was that it is yoga that needs the SOS sent out to the world.

Yoga is transforming the fabric of our society and making an impact on the health and well-being of so many. It is a journey of authentic self-exploration and self-discovery that can truly have life-changing benefits. Initially, my intention was to take classes for the benefit of gleaning a fresh inspiration to my practice. Yet from my recent exposure to yoga in L.A., I am now even more motivated to evolve my teaching in order to share the true essence and soul of yoga with my students. It is my hope and aim to continue to share the vast, beautiful and authentic tradition of yoga, with all being well, over the next thirty years!


“Yoga is an art, a science and a philosophy. It touches the life of man at every level: physical, mental, spiritual. It is a practical method for making one’s life purposeful, useful and noble.” -B.K.S. Iyengar

Message In A Bottle by The Police

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh
Another lonely day, with no one here but me, oh
More loneliness than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair, oh

I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life but
Love can break your heart
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah

Walked out this morning, don’t believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone at being alone
Hundred billion castaways, looking for a home
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah
Message in a bottle, yeah

Sending out at an S.O.S.
Sending out at an S.O.S.
Sending out at an S.O.S.
Sending out at an S.O.S.
Sending out at an S.O.S.
Sending out at an S.O.S…