Magical Moments of Gratitude and Abundance

goat-02

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.

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Invest wisely in your health!

Early this morning I heard on the radio that OHIP announced that many changes are coming to how physiotherapy services will be funded. The story focused on a 104 year old woman; however, my thoughts quickly turned to our youth and to the baby boomer population and I thought about how yoga is also such a valuable asset in one’s life. As a long-term practitioner of yoga, I understand first hand the multifaceted benefits of a sustained yoga practise over time. I have also been privy to how quickly new students derive the immediate benefits of the practise as well as seeing the ongoing effects and positive changes for students who have remained on the path for many years.


Canada is an incredible country and we have much to be proud of and thankful for. For example, with governmental support we are encouraged to begin making payments towards RESPs when our children are very young. These are worthwhile investments. Similarly, by investing time and payment towards one’s well being and acquiring the life skills that yoga teaches and reaping its many benefits, we are better equipped to maintain good health (mentally, physically and emotionally) while also engaging in preventative measures against future adverse potentialities. When we consistently practise yoga, we experience how it enhances our life today while also arming ourselves with invaluable tools in preparation for whatever future challenges we may have to face.

I often joke that my youngest student is five years old and my eldest student is 86 years young. Yoga is for all ages and stages and I have been blessed to be able to share this discipline with thousands of students over the years. Having entered my fourth decade of practise, I have observed how the yoga process has continually demonstrated its immense meaning and value for me. I can only hope and believe that for my own aging process, like good aged wine, the richness and rewards of the sustained yoga practise will improve becoming even more pleasing, developed and multi-layered because of the significant amount of time and investment that I have put in.

Don’t wait. Don’t search elsewhere because Iyengar Yoga is the finest system of yoga available today. It is highly refined, safe and thorough, and its certified teachers are the most knowledgeable and well trained in the world. Don’t go to yoga for simply a fitness class or settle for less! Forget the drop-ins; make the commitment to a full session of yoga and sign up your kids, self and loved ones to classes or private sessions at YogaBuds this fall. Surely what you put in to your yoga practise will come back in spades, and your investment towards good health will return excellent dividends. Awaken your wellness at YogaBuds today. Now is the time to invest.

Giving Thanks for the Journey

Having just passed the milestone thirty-year anniversary of my long engagement with yoga, many reflections arise pertaining to the swift passage of time and about the many invaluable gifts that yoga has given me through several life stages, including adolescence, pregnancy, motherhood and into middle age.

As my students share their passages with me, I am humbled by the responsibility to teach this powerful process in ways that are inspirational, authentic and personally meaningful. I feel especially blessed to share the timeless tradition of yoga with students of all ages ranging from four to eighty-five years! In a recent evening class, two teenagers, a twenty-something year old, and men and women in their thirties, forties and fifties were learning together. Regardless of age, gender, life stage, profession, physical capability or intellectual prowess, Iyengar yoga is truly available to all. For those who stay the course and practise with consistency, a wide range of benefits are experienced.

My dharma or path has included the incredible opportunity to share with thousands of others for over twenty-five years something that has been so important to me. The YogaBuds for Kids program is now in its seventeenth year; to help facilitate a child’s maturation process from early childhood to adulthood is a privilege. Helping to foster meaningful connections between parent and child teaching them yoga together has been another gift in my teaching career. Guiding a teenager towards developing greater self-acceptance; supporting a woman through pregnancy; helping a very stiff man to eventually touch his toes; rejoicing in someone’s first moments balancing in headstand, or sharing the pain of loss with an elderly student… Ultimately, the gift that I have been given is sharing the gift of yoga with others while developing meaningful relationships with them.

Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, I am reminded that it is how we use our blessings, not what we say about them that is the true measure of our thanksgiving. Thus, it is through my commitment to continue to “pay it forward” to my students – from all walks and of all ages – that I will express my thanksgiving.

Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.

–Konrad von Gesn

Using Yoga in Healing Practice

In the Fall of 2001, my mother began to experience physical limitations due to osteo arthritis, sciatica and back pain. At 78- years of age, she turned to yoga to maintain her mobility, manage her pain, and soothe her spirit. Due to her serious and oftentimes debilitating physical issues, her yoga has been practiced primarily for relief from aches and pains, and for gaining physical benefits. Supports like the wall, and props such as chairs, wooden blocks and belts, as developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, have often been utilized during her practice.

Due to yoga, her body awareness and her posture have greatly improved. As she practices standing postures, she practices lifting her trunk up as she extends and lengthens her psoas and abdominal muscles. After the first time that my mother practiced a new resting pose on her own, I received a phone call from her. She stated, “You’ll never guess what happened? I fell asleep for twenty minutes while doing this pose!”

Establishing a new routine for someone at this stage of life is not easy and there have been some pitfalls along the way. Yet despite the difficulty in maintaining motivation and consistency with her yoga practice, my mother has remained committed to her yoga. As positive results continue to occur, she has come to enjoy and trust in the yoga process. Yoga has given my mother hope, healing and health. And after a lifetime of selfless giving, it is such a pleasure to see her learning to take time for herself and responsibility for self-care.

When practicing yoga together, my mother, my children and myself may all be in the same pose but in three different ways. Poses may be modified to meet each person’s needs for we each have different abilities and are at different stages of life. At times my children act as my assistants, helping their grandmother in a pose and there is always much laughter in the room. Yoga is a highly individualized process and may mean different things for different people. When doing yoga together, grandmother, daughter and grandchildren experience this ancient healing art nonverbally, and this connects all of us in a deep manner.

As I have become the conduit to carry the gifts of yoga to my mother and to my children, my roles as daughter, mother and teacher merge, and I am an active partner in their journeys. Interestingly enough, a role reversal occurs as I become caregiver to my mother while also being a role-model of living a healthy lifestyle for my children. This unique triad involving three generations practicing yoga together is a very special gift in my life. I feel immense gratitude for the opportunity to touch the lives of those I love so dearly through the yoga teachings. Regardless of what stage of life we are at, we hold the key to achieving balance in our lives. With this, we can practice our yoga on or off the mat.

The Joys and Rewards of Living Life through Yoga

Yoga has provided a baseline and a framework for my life. For the past 30 years, I have never missed a day of yoga practice. I view my world from the yoga ‘lens.’ Yoga is so much more than just the physical process. It has enabled me to integrate all aspects of myself and to strive to live an authentic life in which work, family and personal needs merge and balance.

The yoga philosophies, both ethical and moral constraints, the lifestyle of moderation in diet and all endeavors, walking the middle path, interacting without judgment and with compassion, and understanding the interconnections among all living things are just some of the ways in which yoga permeates and guides my actions and thoughts.

Through my yoga practice, I have been able to create time for myself. While savoring the solitude, the practice provides me with a balance against the myriad of responsibilities I face, as well as the hectic pace of life.

During my practice, I draw inward and access the ‘Divine’ within. I experience my creative spirit, and my intuition. It is from my inner core that I am able to experience my authenticity, my strength, and my stability. When practicing pranayama, or breath control, I connect with my breath, and with my inner organic body. From this point of stillness and integration I feel energized and calmed, and am thus able to interact with others with clarity, patience and compassion.

Yoga has been a gift of health to me in my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It has helped me to maintain my physical strength and flexibility, to increase balance, coordination and grace. It has enabled me to move through three pregnancies with joy, awe and appreciation and has further assisted me in my acceptance of life stage changes and my transitions through them.

I am honoured to be a conduit to pass on the blessings of yoga to my mother, my three young children, and husband, and to my students.

Embracing the two pillars: Silence and Stillness

Driving home from the hospital one evening in April, my cousin asked me in a mildly suggestive tone if I would be taking the summer off. My father had just survived his third heart attack in nine months. My answer was very quick and the decision was made without any conscious thought. Lacking any censorship, I spontaneously replied, “I guess so. Yes. I will take the time off.” My cousin wisely intuited – before I did – that I would soon need to seek the balance that I value so much in my life.

Chitta vritti nirodha
“Stilling the fluctuations of consciousness”
Yoga Sutra I.2

If I am to teach yoga with integrity, I have to implement the teachings in my life. Yogis are committed to consciously and regularly harmonizing their nervous systems. So I packed up, and headed north, longing for moments of silence and stillness. Arriving at the lake, I was as excited as a child opening up birthday presents. Home again, in the family cottage of my childhood. Here, the prana, or life force from the lake and the sky is intense. The changing light, the fresh air, the beavers and Canadian geese… this is truly abundance. Having chosen to disconnect from the usual bombardment of technology in order to reconnect, music plays occasionally but the television and computer remain off almost all of the time. The rhythm of the days is slow. Most importantly, in those special moments of silence and stillness, I feel peace, contentment and joy.

Each day as I kayak, and practise my yoga, I surrender to stillness. The many lessons of almost three decades of yoga studies arise in my awareness. In those perfect moments of unity between my body, mind and emotions, I feel my connection to the Divine spirit, and gratitude for the understanding that all that is really needed is found within. Objects may be beautiful and we do derive pleasure from them but to seek anything more from those sources is to miss the truth. For example, an old dining room table has recently been passed on to us. It has been interesting to observe others feedback (and even judgment) over our decision to leave the table uncovered in order to enjoy the luster of the wood and to appreciate the inlaid handwork. For some, the desire to protect the table for the future takes precedence over appreciating it in the present moment. Experiencing an open heart, appreciating beauty and creativity, living simply, and accessing and sharing all the love that is within, is what creates lasting fulfillment.

Absorbing the silence of the lake, the stilling of the fluctuations of my mind begins to unfold and to reign over the usual distractions. I begin to achieve inner stillness. I feel calm. These changes occur whether I am kayaking, meditating, or practicing yoga. Yesterday, I observed the same gradual relaxation in my son as I guided him through a yoga practise. The sun was soon to set, and the lake was quiet. We were on the deck. His first pose was a relaxation one, and as soon as he lay down on the mat and saw where he was, he liked it. In one of the final poses, he was lying perpendicular to the stairs, and right at the edge of them. He had a blanket roller under his neck and his head dangled freely, resting very lightly on a step. His view was inverted, his perspective changed, and he spoke of his pleasure. The time spent together was really lovely. He said “thank you” at the end of the practise; yet the gratitude was mine, and I felt incredibly blessed.

Silence. Stillness. These are magic words and they are my path to tranquility, harmony and balance. At most times they are a challenge to find for they are elusive. When found, they can be difficult to stay with or to experience. When I recognize that I need to step back, to honour the gift of life that I have been given, and to reconnect with all that is important, I pursue experiences that can provide me with both silence and stillness. In my pursuit of balance and well-being, silence and stillness are the two pillars.

Temmi Ungerman Sears

Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen, and absorb.” – Pythagorus