Riding on the waves

Occasionally, my husband of almost twenty-five years will tease me by declaring that I am never in the moment. I think to myself, “And who is the yogi here? And who is the yoga teacher?” But when I separate his words from my ego, I get their meaning and I have to admit, if only to myself, that at times my husband is right in some of those moments in time! I am always appreciative of him and especially for his nudges and encouragement to me to keep evolving. Practising being fully present requires diligence and commitment as does remaining consistent in one’s yoga practice. When life gets in the way it is all too easy to slip from these practices but as greater symmetry is developed between life both on and off the mat, mindfulness envelops us in most of what we do. And herein lies the inspiration to keep plodding along.

For weeks, I have been struggling to figure out what feels right to write for my blog. I have missed my connection with my students through my written words, and even with myself through the creative process of writing. For during this past year various demanding situations claimed my attention and absorbed my motivation for writing, even at times influencing my yoga practice. Each challenge seemed to touch my body mind and spirit and brought me head on into the present moment. It dawned on me that writing about what has challenged me, what has sustained me, and where I am right now would make the most sense as I would then be sharing from a place of truth and honest intentions.

After returning home from travelling to India with my daughter last summer, I discovered that I had become afflicted with various intestinal issues and parasites. It took several months and various courses of antibiotics before I regained my health. My yoga practice was compromised because my body simply knew that it wasn’t interested in nor capable of moving in intricate ways. Recognizing that to everything there is a season, patience and acceptance guided me during this time of modified practise. In addition to these physical challenges, my family of origin became immersed in a very emotional business transaction. This stressful situation took an incredible amount of energy and time while I was concurrently preparing over several months for my role as a chaperone on a Holocaust educational trip. This journey was very impactful and truly dominated heart and spirit. While in Poland and Israel this spring with 300 sixteen and seventeen year old teens and eleven Holocaust survivors, we visited cemeteries, ghettos, death camps and death facilities, memorials and mass graves in forests. This was a deeply disturbing and powerful experience. As a chaperone on the March of the Living, I was responsible for the participants while simultaneously living history and experiencing these horrors through my own eyes.

On my personal march through these various transformational experiences something was required in order to manage it all. That something was my yoga. Thirty-two years of devotion to yoga practice has formed a foundation for my life and supports me with what I need in order to feel a sense of well being, wholeness and joy even while coming up against a challenge. Many of the lessons learned and the skills honed over the years from yoga practice enabled me to successfully navigate through the turbulent waters I faced during the past year. For yoga has taught me how to remain present and centered for the ride and I am able to do this because my life and my yoga merge into a single path. When I am riding on the waves I move completely into the present moment. It is my belief that in ways well beyond my comprehension, I was also being asked during the past year to simply trust in the universe and to trust in the Truth.

Processing these recent impactful situations will take a long time. However, finding my passage onto the yoga mat and back to the keyboard feeling inspired and excited, it seems that my creativity is again being sparked. This makes me very happy for I have longed for stillness and solitude and presence in moments that are unbridled with external stressors. By tapping into an authentic and honest place, I can remain true to myself, listen and nurture my spirit and sit still for my creativity to surface. Thus, yoga, mindfulness and creativity are all practices that are inextricably bound to every aspect of my life and for this I am most grateful.

Remember, the door to the sanctuary is inside of you.”

– Rumi

The Value of Teaching Yoga to Children in our Western Culture

Having taught yoga to children for over fourteen years, I wish to share my perspective on the cultural differences that I have observed between students in India and Canada, as well as highlight some of the changes that I have witnessed over time. Just prior to launching the YogaBuds for Kids program in 1997, I began my mentorship with Geetaji in Pune, and have been most fortunate to have her guidance and blessing.

One of the earliest surprising discoveries was that the most frequently requested and favored pose was, and continues to be Savasana! Geetaji felt strongly that Savasana goes against children’s nature, but ultimately I followed the children’s guidance. Perhaps our over-programmed Canadian children’s desire for Savasana indicates a need to learn relaxation skills, and this may reflect a cultural difference. At RIMYI, children’s classes are taught in a very fast-paced, dynamic fashion. Though our children enjoy this, I have found that they respond equally well to a focused and slower class. Another difference is in the student-teacher relationship. In India, students demonstrate reverence towards their teacher, whereas on occasion, I have had to address a child’s lack of respect and their attitude of entitlement.

Children are an absolute delight to teach albeit being a very challenging population to work with. Their infectious joy, love of movement and body, and their unlimited potential for change and growth result in wonderful experiences for all. The double blessings of being able to share yoga with these young students combined with being an intrinsic part of their maturation process is a true gift of teaching yoga to children. I am extremely gratified to have taught several children who have transitioned through the Children’s’ and Teen classes and have then become regular members of my adult classes!

The detrimental impact of technology on these young bodies has been evidenced in my students. Since initiating kids and teen classes, there has sadly been an increase of complaints of headaches, back and neck pain, from children as young as five years of age. I have observed tighter hamstrings, and less flexibility in general, and an increase in symptoms of generalized anxiety and psychosomatic issues. It is likely that the decrease of activity/mobility and the increase in hand-held devices (teens toting their Blackberries into class) have contributed to the worsened posture in young people. Thankfully, the yoga process addresses these concerns and many improvements are made over time.

It is my fervent hope that more children not only find their way to class but develop a lifelong commitment to yoga. It is only over time that the invaluable life skills, self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-management, improved posture and other transformational effects can be truly learned.

Note: to watch a recent Global TV news spotlight on Temmi’s YogaBuds class, go to: