Monthly Archives: August 2010

Spectacular Change

I’m obsessed with menopause.  Hot flashes, cataclysmic hormonal shifts, wonky sleep patterns, periods run amok before periods gone altogether – I feel I’m on the verge of something spectacular.  My cycles became iffy for a time in my early 30s and… Continue reading

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“The quality of my life is determined by the quality of my questions.”

I love that quote for a million reasons. 1. Curious people are alive. This is what i want to be. 2. I can easily fall into asking questions like, “Why can’t you take the garbage out this week? Why is … Continue reading

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Flight Plans

It’s back-to-school time. The leaves are turning, and the geese are gathering on the beach to discuss flight plans for the fall.  I saw my son off this morning. At 21 years old, he’s off to Montreal to theatre school,… Continue reading

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A Beginner’s Love Letter To Yoga

If I were to write a love letter to yoga today, it would go like this:Dear Yoga,I know, I know, we were just on the mat together, but there’s something I’d like to say before we meet again tomorrow.We live… Continue reading

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Yoga Trolls

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The other day, my sister’s friend invited her to a different yoga studio for a class. 

“I can’t do it”, said my sister. “I’d love to, but I’m not good enough. I suck.”  

Fear shows up in funny ways. Tory pictures an entire class pointing at her and sneering.  
This made me laugh for about four seconds. Then I realized that whenever a new challenge comes my way – going back to class after weeks away, trying a new kind of yoga, going to a different studio – my immediate, insane response is, “I can’t, I’m too fat.”
This is obviously absurd. There is no sign posted anywhere in yoga that says Stay Out If You Think You Are Pudgy.  Nor have I met a yoga mat that hasn’t welcomed my solid thighs. (Oh my god, the mats are too small for my lardy bum! I’ll have to put four of them together!)  Nor, come to think of it, have I ever encountered a yoga teacher who raises one eyebrow and says, “Oh, you think so, do you? If you were enlightened enough to be in my class, you’d be thin.  Now stop crying. You can come to my Class For The Fat and Unenlightened.” 
 
Absurd, excessive, twisted, completely un-constructive, I know. But these are the trolls that leap up from under my bridge when I’m facing something new and scary. Or old and scary for that matter.
I like stating my fear out loud. It looks more ridiculous than ever that way. Gives it a loving kick in the head.
I suck. I’m too this, too that. Do you have a fear that yoga brings to light? Would you like to kick it in the head?
Thanks to yoga for showing me where and how I’d like to be more fearless, and thanks to you for the conversation.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (about All Things Wonderful) from North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd or on Twitter at kristinwonders.

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Inner Teachers

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One of you wrote a kind note to me recently in which you encouraged me to discover my “inner teacher” during my home practice. This might involve veering off the straight path I’d been on. What a beautiful idea!

Originally, my home practice was basically whatever I remembered from class, in much the same order we do our asanas in class. Not much imagination involved.

All hell has broken loose, since. This morning I thought, I’ve got to reign this in a bit or I’ll never be able to go back to class. Today’s practice looked like this:

I’m in flannel pajamas, which are far more comfortable than my yoga clothes. I sing show tunes during my Sun Salutations. My secret desire (not so secret now, I guess) is to star in Big! Musicals! I picture some Famous! Broadway! Producer! driving down my very quiet street in Northern Ontario and hearing my voice Soaring! out the front windows, singing, Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, from Annie Get Your Gun. It’s a tough fantasy to maintain given that I am terrified to sing in front of anyone but my dog. I maintain it nonetheless.  

I put henna in my hair today for the first time. It’s mucky, it stinks, and the instructions say keep it on for hours, so I do my entire practice with a goopy head.

Toward the end of today’s practice, which includes some completely invented dance moves (in case that Producer needs a Dancer!, not just a Fabulous! Singer!), I find myself saying, “Oh, yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah”, with each forward bend and each spinal twist.  How did my practice become so loud?

Savasana, at the end of all this, is a quiet relief.

Is this my inner teacher at work? I don’t know. I understand that there is no mention of show tunes in The Upanishads, but something in my practice feels freer and more creative these days. Lighter.

Do you have inner teachers?  Are they serious? Funny? Creative? Are they dancers? Singers? (Do you want to do a musical together?)
  
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, speaker, and workshop wonderwoman in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd.

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Which Part of Me Is Leaping?

There’s this question that nags when I contemplate big changes.  By big i mean changing professions, life partners, countries to live in – the changes that affect me and everyone around me for a good long time. The question that … Continue reading

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The Game

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We’ve been playing a game  all week. Maybe you’d like to play with us.

If you were stranded on a deserted island-it’s a beautiful island, great weather, great food somehow, great books, just no other people-and you could only do one yoga pose for the entire month, what would it be?

After much hand wringing and general hoopla, we’ve decided that Savasana is a freebie. You can do all the Savasana you want. And one other pose.

Another thing. In this game, you’ll be completely healthy at the end of the month. Flexible, strong, peaceful, and beautiful. So the pose you pick is just about the happiness it’ll give you, not about, “oh, god, if I don’t do the shoulder openers, I’ll look like Hulk Hogan by Friday” (no offense to Hulk).

Here’s what we’ve got so far:
My sister picks Upward Dog, because it looks so beautiful.
My lovely man says The Plow. He’s just gone back to it in class and it’s exciting to be able to do it for the first time in decades.
My friend Paul chooses Triangle Pose. I think he’s crazy, but free choice is a part of the game. (He did ask if we were allowed to come out of the pose at all, or whether we have to hold the pose for an entire month. The answer, with rolling eyes, is yes, you can come out of the pose.)
I will do Downward Dog. I love everything about it: the inversion, the use of my entire body, easily a month’s worth of interest.
And if we play again next month, I’ll pick handstand, because it makes me feel like a goddess.

And you? What pose? Why?

Hoho! I can hardly wait to hear.

Thanks to yoga for being so interesting, and so much fun, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, speaker, and workshop wonderwoman in North Bay, Ontario.  These games thrill her inordinately.  Join her on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd, on Twitter at kristinwonders, or at kristinshepherd.ca

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Teaching!

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Uh oh. Who would have guessed that 10 months into my yoga life, I’d lead a class?

Well, a small class. Three of us and a dog named Emma. At a cottage. I may not know what I’m doing when it comes to yoga, but neither did they, and we all felt certain we’d come to no harm. So we gathered on a deck looking over Big Marten Lake on a gloriously blue Saturday morning.

We started with a few Sun Salutations, followed by variations on Sun Salutations. We flowed gently from posture to posture, plank to Chattarunga to upward dog to downward dog. I gave them every tip I could remember (shoulder blades down, inner thighs rotating backward, rooting through hands and feet) and made up several extra.

More than once, Jenni said, don’t you mean my left leg forward? And isn’t it the right foot pivoting this time? (I am far more dyslexic than I imagined.) We moved onto slower poses, a ridiculous rendition of yin yoga – ridiculous given that I have not once attended a yin class.  I watch my lovely man do his poses at home and thought they’d be fun to try with my friends.
Class was a rousing success.

Until day two. During our Sun Salutations, neither Sue nor Jenni can move gently from plank to chattarunga. Not even the first time. Sue says, I don’t remember doing this yesterday. We did, I tell her. We did exactly the same thing.

“It didn’t hurt like this,” Jenni says.
“Hurt like what?” I ask.
“Like hell,” she says, “pointing to her chest and arms.  It hurts like absolute hell.”
“It’ll get better,” I tell them, hoping it’s true.

And through every Sun Salutation (and we only do five), they collapse like big bags of potatoes from plank to Chattarunga. Smack. Slam. Thud. Thwack. Bang. Crash. The new sounds of yoga. We laughed so hard I thought I’d blow a bhanda.

Great lessons from chattathwack yoga:

1.  Yeah for the shoulder and arm strength that comes with practice!!!!
2.  I adore sharing yoga. My only goal in leading the class was for them to want to do it again the following day. They did. Sort of.
3.  Yeah for real teachers, who know right from left, how to start slowly, and how to let us laugh.

Have you taught, those of you who aren’t teachers yet?  I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks to yoga, for fun on vacation, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, speaker, and workshop wonderwoman in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd.

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My Own Branches

I know there are branches of yoga. I know most of us are focused on the physical branch. Some multi-branched yogis don’t love our primary focus on the physical. I think it’s all right. Here’s why:

I began with Hatha yoga. But it doesn’t take long before I realize, without any teaching, that yoga has at least a second branch for me.

Let’s call my two branches outside yoga and inside yoga. The physical is outside. I love its strength and flexibility, its warmth, love the physical buzzy calm after my practice.

At some point on the trip, outside yoga introduced me to inside yoga, a kind of calm, accepting, eyeball-dissolving something, so often accompanied by huge sighs the end of class. And just as the physical branch teaches itself to me, class by class, the inside branch works its way through me, too, telling me a thing or two or twenty that I didn’t see at first.

Like the fact that I don’t feel inner peace after every class. In fact sometimes I’m as relaxed as all get out during class and then my head races during Savasana. Go figure.

And sometimes I find that lovely, floaty peace without doing a physical practice at all. Sometimes it shows up out of nowhere, while I’m driving or eating or scratching the dog’s belly. Today I saw an old man sitting on a guardrail, watching traffic go by while he picked something from the sole of his shoe, and my heart melted as though he were my grandfather.  
Somehow, my yoga practice helps this inside thing happen, even when they don’t occur together.

So. There you go. I have two branches, now. Who knows what will show up next, and what kind of tree I’ll be in the end.

How about you?  How many branches?  What kind?  What’s your current growth?

Thanks to yoga for such gorgeous growth, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, speaker, and workshop wonderwoman in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd.

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