Living Yoga

Ganges sunset

Watching the sun set over the Ganga during my pilgrimage to India

What does Living Yoga mean to me? My experience and journey has evolved over the past number of years. Two years ago, I may have said it meant taking a class once or twice a week – becoming better at poses and quieting my mind for a minute or two. Now, it means so much more. Yoga is my spiritual path and practice to connect with my higher self.

From focusing on perfecting poses to connecting with the inner divine is quite a leap. The shift in my experience and understanding of yoga didn’t happen over night. It’s been a slow and organic process of learning and becoming gradually more dedicated to a personal practice. Practicing yoga has heightened my awareness of who I am, who I want to be and the joys of living a fuller life. It’s a work in progress that will span this lifetime and likely a few more.

On May 12, yogis and yoginis from cities and towns in Atlantic Canada will gather to share their yoga experiences at the 1st annual Living Yoga Unconference happening in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Over the past two years, I’ve come to know and practice with many wonderful yoga teachers and students in Halifax. I was also very fortunate to meet many more from all over the US, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and of course India at the Kumbha Mela pilgrimage this January and February.

The Living Yoga conference will be one more opportunity to meet and learn from fellow seekers who are “living yoga” in their own unique way. Hearing Pandit Rajmani Tigunait’s keynote will surely be a highlight. I’m still digesting the many lessons and his inspirational words from the pilgrimage. He shares his wisdom and experiences with such openness, love and a sincere desire to help others on their spiritual path.  Pandit Rajmani lives yoga with an infectious joy and passion. I look forward to learning from him in person once again, and the many others attending the conference.

Ayoni

painting

Ayoni is a collaborative creation by me and my roommate Redmon. Before this painting came to be I’d observed Redmon for the better part of a year, admiring his ability to create with joy and without judgement.

Having worked in communications for over 10 years, I’m forever planning, writing, rewriting and editing to create what I hope will be a perfect end product. Striving for perfection in every piece that leaves my desk has affected my ability to create with abandon.

I’d tried painting a few times before, but paralyzing fear and doubt held my creativity hostage and inhibited any connection with the canvas. One evening while sitting around our living room, I turned to Redmon and casually said  “we should paint a piece together someday.”  He immediately went upstairs and came back down with a blank canvas, brushes and paints.

My inner pushy perfectionist took over at once. She aggressively shoved my dreamy, daring creative self aside. “Whoa, whoa. What’s happening?” she asked, fully not in favour of the idea. “Right now? What will we paint? We don’t have a plan!”

Redmon would have none of it. He set up the canvas and said “come on, let’s paint.” After a bit of back and forth we settled on a chakra inspired painting. I apprehensively approached the canvas with a brush full of bright yellow paint and then stopped short. What if I mess it up? Cheered on by encouraging words, I finally made contact.  And then the creative dance began.

Out of a fiery lotus came a radiant yogini surrounded by swirls of blue, green and yellow and a violet sphere of intelligence and bliss. I felt calm, connected and happy.  Here in this moment there was little evidence that a few hours before I’d been stuck in my head, feeling like a poser.

This experience was special. For the first time in a long time, I’d let go and allowed my creative self to shine. I thank Redmon for his insistence and encouragement.

There’s a funny story behind the name of this painting that I’ll leave to the imagination. But for all of you Google detectives out there, you may easily come up with a hunch or two.

To close this post, I’m inspired to share a poem by Tagore:

Fruit-Gathering: VIII

Be ready to launch forth, my heart! and let
those linger who must

For your name has been called in the morning sky. 

Wait for none!

The desire of the bud is for the night and dew, but the blown flower cries for the freedom of light.

Burst your sheath, my heart, and come forth!