Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Yoga of Emptying a Dishwasher

Yoga can be defined as union. I love the feeling when I have a sense of harmony, and wholeness. My body, my mind and my energy are moving at the same speed and toward the same purpose. I am connected directly to my focus or my purpose.

Sometimes my purpose is to empty the dishwasher. :/

If you hang around my house, you might hear me lament loudly about my dishwasher and kitchen duties. These duties often appear to be endless. I have a small European style dishwashing machine, and I seem to be standing over this appliance much of the day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for this little miracle machine that makes my plates sparkle! I am completely aware that this is a first world problem. My reaction of frustration rightly proves that I am not always in the state of yoga.

The state of yoga allows us to cope and thrive through the ups and downs of life. When we are in the state of yoga, we let the external information come into our mind and consciousness but it does not consume us. When we are in the state of yoga, we have right actions. When we are in the state of yoga there is an efficiency and lightness that wells up in us. One has focus. A soft kind of focus that can overcome disruption, and the usual and unusual happenings of life.

When yoga happens and I am emptying a dishwasher, I notice nothing else around me. The only experience I am having is between me and my sparkling cutlery. I am unconcerned with an email I need to send or even a piece of dirt on the floor. These thoughts float by me to be brought back at a later time. I direct the plates, cups and bowls to their homes in their shelves and drawers. Here is where is gets interesting. With a soft eye, I notice how the plates and cups and bowls are stacked and my body/mind/breath are connected and attentive. Without consciously thinking, my body chooses a specific hand to pick up plates and stack them gracefully knowing the mixing spoon can go in the other hand and then there is no juggling or extra steps to get them to their homes.

I love how much joy I take in this little flow or vinyasa of movement and how the dishes, spoons and pots all find their way back to their places in the most effortless way. When I am in this state, I notice the dishwasher is emptied faster and I am calmer. This chore is very different when I am not in the state of yoga. I am rushing, stomping and, dare I say, grumbling.  These times when I have something else on my mind – the experience is loud and inefficient.

I thought my “yoga of dishwashing” experience was something only I noticed. It so happened that I was hosting a visitors from overseas and she watched me while I cooked a breakfast for a house full of people. She said that she found it interesting to watch me work and she commented that no movement was wasted and each task was fluid and calm. The experience, she said, compared to watching a ballet and it was peaceful and efficient. We know it when we feel this, don’t we? Time flies by. We do not feel tired. She caught me on a good day. A day of yoga.

Being present can be heavy lifting but it is worth the practice. With this practice, we will be most efficient, most calm, and most happy. I invite you to watch yourself and others. Look for a connection. When you see it in others, you will feel calmer. When you focus on only the task in front at hand, you experience it yourself and you will feel more easeful and so will others around you. Start with the small things in your day. Focus on one thing and enjoy it. We are always pushing ourselves to work on the big stuff. Perhaps start with the small stuff like emptying the dishwasher, watering the plants, and grooming the dog to find that sweet connection.

Our yoga off the mat is the most important aspect of our practice. The little things add up. My wish is that you take time to cultivate and enjoy a time in yoga today.

________________________________

Kimberly Mantas

Find Kimberly at Mantasyoga.com. Kimberly is a certified yoga therapist, meditation and yoga teacher and teacher trainer. Contact Kimberly at Kimberly@mantasyoga.com

The Pandemic and my Unusual Turn Towards a Virtual Yoga Community

The pandemic is something I have been tentative to talk about. In part, it is because my feelings are all over the map. I feel there are many benefits to our forced lockdown with the shake up of our daily life patterns. However, I am also experiencing frustration and grief.

Prior to lockdown, I had started an online Nighty Night relaxation running on Monday nights. I loved that I was working from home and I was thrilled that the students were also all tucked in at their home to practice relaxation. I thought it was a brillant gift for all of us and the video was off. Then, all of a sudden we were locked down. All the students and private clients I had were behind walls that I could not access. Like many others, I felt the shock of working one day and then not working at all. The purpose for my day changed dramatically. We were trying to figure out how to get groceries delivered and we spent time checking on friends and loved ones. Something was missing for me. There was a hole and it turns out my friends and students felt the same. We gathered slowly and I was reunited with students from many years past and it felt purposeful on both sides.  It is has continued and developed since those dark days of March.

When my Mom went into lockdown into a small room, I told her that I would do accessible chair yoga with her. She asked, “just for me”? I then thought how I could open this up to anyone who wants to join in. All levels of students love the benefits of the chair practice and now I get to help my Mom and see her more. That would definitely not occurred without the crazy pandemic. That is an example of the small bits of light in the darkness we are experiencing.

Fast forward to September 2020. I have 1 to 4 classes running daily from Monday to Friday with morning and evening classes and private yoga therapy in the afternoons. I am finally and happily recording practices for use by my students. I am also hosting training and series all virtually through Beyond Yoga in Ottawa who, in March, along with pioneering students were brave to go ahead with a weekend training at the beginning of the lockdown.

Here is the unusual turn. I have extreme reservations and shyness of cameras and recordings and I have always preferred to be behind a camera. Whenever asked to contribute online, I have politely declined. The severe landscape the pandemic has produced has brought me out from hiding behind the camera to now spending much of my day communicating on video. What has made me face this fear? Why did I do it?

It is community.

It is sharing.

It is helping.

In fact, I think it goes even far beyond the drive for community and I am still contemplating the deeper reasons for these drives and changes in me. Am I still uncomfortable on video. Yes I am, however, yoga is a lifeline for many of us and I feel I must contribute. Students continue to let me know the availability to practice yoga, meditation and one yoga therapy sessions virtually is vital to their physical and emotional well being.

As much as I need community, my students desire community too. After class, students chat and show pictures of their experiences, they check in on each other and they tell stories. People from different countries look forward to seeing each other, hearing about their days and seeing their animals. It is connection and caring. As I write this, it makes my eyes moist and my heart swell. Some of the students are spending more time out in the community (safely masked of course) and others are spending time very close to home but all can come together for our virtual practice. Our little group has donated over $2000 to our local food cupboard and I have even been offered a loan of canoe so I can get out in nature because they know I am keeping relatively isolated. The kindness, caring and the laughter make me joyful. We need this at all times but we certainly notice its benefits in these tough times. So we have the community, but what about the yoga?

There are so many online yoga videos. You can get a ton of practice hours for free. That’s great, isn’t it? There certainly is a place for it, however it is not a community. I had a few people say that you should get tons of students so you can make more money. Granted, I would like a little more money and a few more students, but first and foremost, I want to know my students. I want them to be able to ask questions and I want to give them options for their practice. I want their yoga practice to help make their lives off better. I don’t care if they can touch their toes. I want them to be their truest selves. I wish for their desires to come to pass. Also, I want to know if they have a injury or they are feeling stress during a meditation practice. A community and a teacher is a support and it is important. Sangha is a term used in yoga that translates to community. We are a community. Learning, sharing and caring.

So how did I get here? From my drive to help, to share, and to be in community. I am happy. My drive for community is greater than my fear of video. We humans are certainly interesting aren’t we!? I can’t believe it took a pandemic and I am grateful for all the teachers, friends, family and students that are my community.

See you soon!

Kimberly

A practice of Patience

Take a moment. Consider how patience feels in your body. Now consider how impatience feels. The difference is incredible. What does too much patience feels like. A little stagnant for sure. The question is how do we move toward balance. This also begs the question that when we feel passion or want to act against injustice, can this be done from a place of patience. One might think that patience means a lack of urgency or importance. Could patience allow for the perseverance to move toward righting injustice?

Patience is defined in the Webster dictionary as “to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain: not hasty or impetuous: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity, and bearing pains or trial calmly or without complaint.”

I struggle with some of this definition but the term that resonates with me is steadfast. Patience certainly is not a practice of non engagement or being passive. One can be in control and steadfast, with purpose and stay in the present moment. Perhaps it would look like taking the time to listen and consider the thoughts and ideas of others, taking the time to express your ideas and wonders and taking the long game towards relationships, personal goals and societal injustices.

More often than not, my mind moves beyond the current moment and it recalls and interprets both consciously and unconsciously the past or forecasts the future. In other words, my mind gets in the way. Consider, when we feel like we have something figured out or we dismiss what we don’t understand. Active listening can be tenuous when patience is out of balance in either direction. When I become quiet and present, I understand that my current abundance or lack of patience comes from several well honed drives and reinforced behaviours. Like a mountain appearing before me, making the changes I desire seems more arduous and multi fasciated. This climb is not without reward.

In yoga, we have a concept called the kleshas and it is defined as an obstacle or an affliction.  Firstly, we have the hurdle that yogis would call incorrect understanding or comprehension. How often do we know for certain that we have reasoned correctly and our perception is without error. We might also feel all other interpretations are flawed at worst or not fully formed at best. One could think of our understanding as illusion. Consider too the ego mind and the many past experiences that have provided each of us with deep patterns of expectation and automatic reaction felt emotionally and physically. Finally, consider that we are unconsciously making decisions toward experiences of pleasure and we are repelled by suffering and unpleasantness.

How do we look to remove these unconscious obstacles? In yoga, we have the practice of focusing the mind. This practice could be meditation and it could also be the active practice active listening, and mindful movement to name a few. Here we learn the skill of being present and that the feelings both good and bad always come and always go.

Only practice leads to new skills. The skills of being present are simple to practice however it does take steadfastness and constant practice to develop patience. Practicing patience to increase patience. Curious isn’t it! Well not so much.

Being present is being patient. Can one be patient and act in the world? It would be the most steadfast, respectful, productive, and self honouring way to do so. This is the mountain and I have some thinking and climbing to do.

Becoming more You – Riding the waves of change

I’m happy you are here! Building the capacity for inquiry is important for our positive evolution. We must learn to discern, evaluate and adapt our yoga and life practices to serve our current needs.

Yoga is a personal experiential practice to me, and my practice is woven within me in a way that brings a comfort that I would find hard to explain. Yoga is personal but it isn’t necessarily solitary. The many beautiful souls and wise people I learn and evolve from, the shared conversations and practices and the time spent in community all make my journey such a joy and a gift. My teachers, students, family and friends all make up my experience where I explore how to become more “me”. I am thankful that you all hold me in your sphere of influence and allow me to learn, grow, question, succeed and fail. If I want to make changes and I am unsure how to proceed I speak with my teachers, my friends and other professionals. I look to make the best decision in the moment, and I endeavor not to “put up” with a lack of function or a physical or emotional difficulty. I want to build new positive patterns.

Do I fail? Yes, I mostly fail, but with each effort I make I am building successful patterns.

Yoga and Ayurveda tell us that everything that is manifest is in transition. The seasons change, our body makeup changes, our mind and thought processes develop and decline. So, if this is the case, why would we keep our practice the same season to season and decade to decade. If we are always changing, then what is best for us is also changing. Then we must try to be aware and in the present to help us make the best decisions and to adapt and grow. Don’t get me wrong, we must have a sustained regular yoga and meditation practice, but we must also evolve with our changing needs. Jumping from idea to idea isn’t a great or productive tactic and it will not serve to help us develop efficiently. That is why during the change of seasons, it is a natural place for me to take a pause and make small thoughtful changes.

I am always evaluating what might be best for me, but during these natural transitions, I take time to evaluate my practice to help me serve my higher purpose and improve my lived experience. I have many considerations I think about to help me evaluate.

As an example, I consider some of the following. You can also take some time to consider your answers to these questions and how your practice on and off the mat is helping you enjoy and manage the ups and downs of your life?

Do I:

-recover and stay balanced with the joys and the sorrows of life?

-have an injury that is not healing?

-feel like I am going in the same circle?

-feel inspired and joyful?

-sleep well?

-generally feel sluggish, or restless?

-feel my body is feeling energetic and without discomfort?

-startle easily or do I feel numb?

-have a good digestion process?

And:

-How is my relationship with myself?

-How are my relationships with others?

-Is there an activity or experience that I would like to do that you can’t do now?

The many practices of yoga are there to help us improve our lived experience. For me, I allow myself to rest in a quiet space and to see how I am truly feeling. Then I make changes to my practice. The considerations I make are not just the change of the seasons but for everything that is happening in my life. Sometimes I get things right and sometimes wrong, but I always make a conscious effort to continue to be patient with myself and others as I navigate becoming the most fulfilled and at ease in my skin that I can be.

One small piece of this change is how our personal doshic makeups and experiences are affected by the seasons. We are moving into Vata season (fall and winter) and this is where we look to counteract or balance the drying effects of the Vata time of year. I make some small changes such as changing my diet from fresh salads to warming soups and stews, and the root vegetables that are in season. I make sure I practice nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breath to balance my bodies and mind making me feel more less scattered and safer.  I incorporate warm oils in and on the body make me feel less achy and dry.

There might be changes you have made that have served you well. You intuitively knew what you needed. Take some time to consider what you need. Consider this statement in a heartfelt way and away from the cognitive process of the mind. You are looking for your ego to not be involved.

Take a moment in quiet meditation where you can rest in the space of acceptance and perfection. There, your most inner needs will unfold. Remember to listen.

Thriving through the kapha time of year

Spring sows a sense of renewal within us. At this time we become acutely aware of the feeling deep within ourselves to move our bodies and to cleanse all that has accumulated through winter.

Kapha season is defined by moisture, softness, and denseness. The earth is awakening. This is the unctuousness of the earth brings growth and transformation. These qualities are needed. However, the qualities that are naturally presiding in kapha can present challenges for the individual if we are not in balance. We must be mindful not to encourage through lifestyle choices that enforce the qualities of kapha such as heaviness, dampness, and congestion.

Often at during the kapha season we take the time to cleanse the body. Just as the earth is becoming soft and moving, so is our bodies and minds. During the kapha time of year there is a tendency toward congestion, runny noses, and colds. Those who are kapha dominant can struggle to maintain balance at this time of year. Consider if you are in balance within your own doshic constitution before making any large changes to work with the seasonal considerations.

Generally, in spring we look to move away from eating warm, heavy stews and consider lighter, cleansing choices for meals and snacks. My friends, my students and I have talked about how we often feel hungry in spring. The need to feel satisfied and content is a hallmark of kapha. We must listen to our bodies and choose to nourish ourselves differently. I include dandelion tea in my diet during spring which is very cleansing and also wonderful for pitta constitutions. Ayurvedic doctor and teacher Dr. V. Lad recommends avoiding dairy and cold drinks and to incorporate legumes, ginger, cinnamon, spinach, honey and spices. The spices should only be incorporated if they can be tolerated within your constitutional makeup as hot spices are agitating to vata and pitta dosha constitutions. Too much oil is Kapha promoting, ghee or clarified butter can be used instead. Light meats are suitable but heavy dark meats and seafood should be avoided as they are heavy on the system.

The kapha season is a time of renewal, to clear away stagnation and to sow the seeds to move into the growth and focus of purpose in the summer. Kapha must have stable nutrients for health to be maintained through the hot, focused, and intense time of the summer. Without a foundation of support and unctuousness from spring, we could feel frazzled and irritated when the demands of the heat of summer are upon us.

Beyond food we can support ourselves through this season by incorporating physical movement and activity. Without the heat of the pitta season, now it the time to find ways to move. I am a proponent of finding something you love to do that is suitable to your health abilities. It could be dancing, cycling, swimming, or hiking. Check with your physician if you plan to start something new. If you love your yoga practice, consider warrior poses, back bends and lateral movements. This is the time to also enjoy a beautiful sun salute practice and long strong holds in your poses. Breath practices needed for this season are cleansing in nature. Consider Kapalabhati or bhastrika breath. Both are cleansing and promote a sense of lightness to the body and mind. You can also consider a hasta mudra or hand mudras which balance that heavy downward movement.

Being mindful is key. Notice what you are feeling in the moment and if you are choosing food, activities and thoughts that increase the heaviness you desire due to the time of year. Take pause and see if you can lighten your meal and move your body to stoke the fire to decrease congestion and the feelings of stagnation in the body and mind.

Winter Yoga Offerings

I am grateful to be teaching several interesting yoga workshops and series this winter and we have some dates and space to hold a community meditation class for charity. These will happen once per month. Please bring a donation for our local Beyond Yoga charities.  Check out what is organized to date.

I am going to have a wonderful winter! Come join me.

5601B7C0-FA01-4814-805A-7511999F863E.png

Recipe -The Art of Less Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

The cat is out of the bag. I love sweet potato. I realized the last recipe post I put up was also sweet potato based. While the last soup was spicy and warm, this version is calming and satisfying. It is also even more simple to make with fewer ingredients.

I appreciate simple flavours. We tend to over complicate our food – we feel the need to make it “fancy”. More and more, I like uncomplicated cooking and flavours.

I have come to realize that while I don’t dislike cooking, it is not the highest on my list of my preferred things to do. I prefer hanging out with people, being outside, exploring yoga, teaching yoga, travelling, working with wool and a whole host of other things before I enjoy cooking. I do like the result of cooking and I am always happy when I have made something tasty, and healthy.  In yoga, I am always looking for efficiency for myself and my students. This recipe ticks those boxes.

In this recipe, paprika is the little gem and it is based on a a couple of different recipes that I had found and amended. I use my pressure cooker, which I would highly recommend but the soup can just as easily be made on the stovetop with a little extra time.

As always, there are some options for this recipe. I prefer it with chicken stock but it is just as good with veggie stock or even water. I have also made it without garlic and it was still lovely. However, if I were to make it with water again, I would add more oil/ghee and paprika and perhaps some turmeric. In the spirit of keeping it simple here, is the recipe.

Simple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 Medium Onion (chopped)
3 to 4 Medium to Large Sweet Potatoes (cubed)
1 clove of Garlic (chopped)
2 tbl. Oil (olive, coconut, ghee)
1 teaspoon of Salt (dependent on the stock – less with high sodium stock)
Pepper to taste
4 cups (give or take) broth (chicken, veggie) or water
1/2 teaspoon (rounded) Cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon Paprika

Directions

Heat oil in pot or pressure cooker. Add onions and heat until the onions are translucent. Next, stir in garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cinnamon and paprika. Stir and cook for another minute. Add sweet potatoes, and the broth.  Typically the broth will just cover the sweet potatoes.

Heat under pressure for about 20 minutes. If you are using the stovetop it will take about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Boil until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked and slightly cooled. Use a wand, food processor or blender until the soup is creamy.

Garnish with a bit of ground cinnamon. Enjoy.

Fall Potluck Lunch at Blue Bamboo

The last pot luck get together was great. So great that we are going to do it again! Join us for some hanging out, chewing the fat, community time and perhaps finding different foods and recipes we might like.

All are welcome.  Please feel welcome to bring a friend to our little BBY gathering. The more the merrier!

Be sure to write the ingredients down for those who have restrictions or desires. We will start gathering after the last morning class on October 4th at 11:30 at Blue Bamboo Yoga.

PS: Whoever brought the beets last time….they were very, very good. Hint, hint, hint.

 

What is a Bandha?

A Bandha is a subtle energetic action or lock with the intention of retaining and directing prana (energy) in the body. The use of Bandha intensifies the agni, and specifically creates Agni and moves prana within the subtle body. Bandha is to be studied and practiced with a teacher.

There are three main locks or Bandhas. They are the Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and the Mula Bandha. Jalandhara Bandha is physical and energetic lock at the throat. Uddiyana Bandha focus in the area between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. Mula Bandha concentrates on the area between the navel and the pelvic floor. Employing all three of the locks creates the great seal of Maha Bandha.

_______________

Email Updates

Get on the very infrequent but always interesting email list here.

Like on Facebook