The holidays are a busy time for us all, and self-care is usually the first thing that gets pushed aside amidst the flurry of activities. Even when you think there isn’t enough time to take care of yourself and to practise yoga, it is so worth making time for it. Practice can help you to reset and feel grounded again, so that you can be more fully awake and appreciative of whatever this joyful season brings. David and I hope you can join us for a Kirtan at Yoga Public on Friday, December 18th, 7:15-9:00 pm ($15). The winter solstice will be a few days after, so we will be marking the passing of time with chanting and music. Hope to see you there!
Hi everybody! For those of you that subscribe to our newsletter, the latest one was sent out just this morning! It is a special one, as it includes a message from my better half, David Quiring. If you have come to a kirtan before, he is the one holding down the beat with the djembe. Not only possessing a great sense of rhythm, David is a multi-talented fellow who has been studying the craft of photography for several years. While I might be biased, I think he takes some pretty awesome photos. He’s also very dedicated to his meditation and yoga practice, which he fuses into his approach in photography.
David’s prints and greeting cards are available online at his Etsy store (it’s almost December, hint!) Many of the images express the beauty of our Canadian wildlife and landscape. You can also sign up for his newsletter here to stay up-to-date with his photographic adventures. Check it out and use the coupon code HOLIDAYS to get 10% off your order until December 24th, 2015!!!
Here is how David describes his conscious integration of mindfulness into his art:
Focus, awareness, and equanimity; these are the things we work to cultivate in our mindful meditation practices so that we can live more engaged lives off our cushions. The thing is, our pursuit of these goals need not, and should not, be limited to only practice in the traditional forms. In a modern world, where we aren’t practically able to retreat from society, meditation practice needs to be extended into our modern lives. In all of our varying situations, there are unique ways that we can find to integrate practice.
For myself, photography is one of these ways. The act of taking a photo can be a deeply contemplative practice when approached with reverence and attention; one that allows me to see the world in a clearer light, whether a camera is with me or not. In this respect, I see it as entering a dance with life’s fleeting moments…recognizing one’s role in the greater picture, relinquishing imagined control over things, seeing with clarity and understanding, and making choices from this space. Here, as an attentive observer, creating a photograph becomes more than just a mechanical or artistic endeavour. In this place of presence, you create a snapshot of the world as it is and never will be again.
Given a room of meditators pursuing similar foundational practice, the manifestation of the fruits of each person’s hard work will be as unique as each of them. Photography happens to be one of fruits, and if you give some thought I’m sure you can come up with a few for yourself as well. Celebrating each and every friend’s, student’s, and teacher’s fruits of meditative labour brings me so much joy and hope. In unique integration lies the key to how we bring positive change into the world. By being in the world we share ourselves with the world, and inspire others to do the same.
This quote from the film Waking Life sums it up: “Film is a record of the ever-changing face of God. This moment is holy, but we walk around like it’s not holy. We walk around like there are some holy moments and there are all the other moments that are not holy. [But they are] and film can let us see that. Film can frame it so we can see that, Ah! This moment. Holy.”
Join us for an evening of chanting and music! Our friend Bahram is hosting us in his space at 3-1200 Portage Ave (between Erin and Wall Street) on Friday, November 20th, 6-8 pm. Kirtan is the practice of call-and-response chanting rooted in Bhakti (devotional) yoga. All are welcome and no experience is necessary. If you have one, bring a meditation cushion to sit on. There is no pre-registration; it is $25 at the door and free parking on the street. See you there!
Hi everybody! Prairie Yogi is hosting their second Prairie Love Festival at Fort Whyte Alive (Winnipeg, MB), September 12-13th, 2015! I am very excited to be a part of it, as I will be leading a Kirtan on the Sunday evening, 6-7:30 pm. Earlybird passes are sold out, but you can still get tickets here.
To get our hearts and minds ready for a wonderful weekend in the fall, here is an article I wrote for Prairie Yogi Magazine that talks about the sacred symbol, Aum, and its significance in the practice of yoga and Kirtan.
Hope to see you at the festival!
What’s it Aum about?
by Adrienne Shum
originally in Prairie Yogi Magazine
If you go to enough yoga classes, sooner or later you will probably be asked by the teacher to chant, “Aum” (also known as Om). If my own experience is relatable to others, you will be obedient enough to go along with it, but quietly wonder what it means and what the point of it all is.
The practice of yoga is a study of dichotomy: the word, “yoga” is often translated from Sanskrit to “union,” or the bringing together of two parts. We tend to begin our yoga journey with a physical practice of asanas (postures) and breath work, and with those tangible aspects we uncover and connect to deeper layers of ourselves: the fluctuations of our minds, and the rollercoaster of our thoughts and emotions. We may discover that those thoughts and emotions cause us grief. Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or emotions like jealousy and fear limit us and cloud our internal vision. Expectations we have on ourselves or situations may be unfulfilled, leaving us feeling empty and disappointed. Through the practice of yoga, we recognize our patterns and learn to accept ourselves as we are, and to accept others as they are as well. As we unite body, breath and mind, we learn to make peace with ourselves and others.
Amidst all the downward dogs and forward folds, there might be some chanting of “Aum.” This is a glimpse into one of many possible paths that ultimately lead us to a place of deeper surrender and compassion. When we chant Aum, we are able to clean the body, mind and spirit, thereby reawakening our connection to the most truthful, innermost part of ourselves. The vibration of the sacred syllable Aum shakes off the dust covering our hearts and minds so that we can love with more clarity, honesty and fearlessness. Aum is made up three syllables: “A” symbolizes speech, “U” symbolizes mind, and “M” symbolizes breath of life. All together, Aum is the symbol of serenity, divinity and universality.
The practice of Kirtan is an aspect of the yoga practice that is focused on spiritual and emotional healing. Through the call-and-response chanting of Aum and other mantras, we devote ourselves to uncovering Isvara, or pure awareness – that place inside that is unconditioned, unbound, and unlimited.
As wonderful as it is to feel strong and flexible in our bodies, let us also feel strong and flexible in our hearts and minds. Let us have the dedication to move towards greater compassion and deeper connection to others. Let us take care of ourselves in body, mind and spirit, and may we inspire others to do the same.