Day three, the Saturday before the YTT begins is all about the final preparations. Teacher’s Training courses are like sailing: You’ve got to have all your knots tied, supplies and courses charted before you leave port. I’ll be runnings sessions all day, everyday for the 13 days straight until our break. There is no chance to create new course materials now, especially in my case where 100 percent of the contact hours are with me. I remember a decade ago when I was up at night creating manuals after long days of teaching and I reached new levels of exhaustion.
Now, we’ve got a 300 page manual and it keeps growing. I am also supported hugely. In fact, my last big preparation was meeting our epic assistants this year, Leanne, Gina and Gillian. Of course Ellie is always around and Christine Edwards our Anatomy Geek is arriving in a few days.
We met in yet another stellar Bali veggie eating establishment taking in some serious bowls of prana and kale-coconut smoothies. We spent hours setting intentions and making game plans for transformational experiences.
After that meeting, my whole attitude shifted into relaxation mode. It wasn’t that there wasn’t still plenty to do. The preparation could never end for this course, but instead of feeling like a student pulling an all-nighter cramming for an exam, Iwent the other way and chilled out as much as possible.
It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn. When I was younger I tended to rely on passion to carry me through. Because I had a mountain of passion inside me, I could do this. The tagline for Blissology is “Love is the Ultimate Renewable Resource.” This partly means that love doesn’t exhaust itself. Like the wisdom parables suggest, you can light a thousand candles from your candle and it doesn’t diminish your flame.
This is very true to a point. But, I’ve learned that sometimes the biggest gift you can give to others comes from self-care. This is really what a yoga practice is all about. It’s really me-time, not time to take care of others. But because we take this time to restore our energy, our candles burn brighter. The me-time serves the we-time.
I watched the sunset, more kites with their invisible lines. Then I took advantage of the plethora of $20 massages in Bali. It launched my own little silent retreat that still continues to this moment.
George Washington once said if “I had ten hours to cut down a tree, I’d take the first six and sharpen my axe.” I love this. But I wish he was a yogi and then we would have added that he would have taken 10 minutes to relax, meditate and practice pranayama!
Preparation is key and it has been done. Relaxation is Power. These are today’s lessons.
Posted On: April 30, 2016 | 2 Comments »
My Friday started early here as I plan ever day to do. I’ve committed to these 4am wake-ups during the next month to get my lesson plans sorted, to keep one eye on my business projects, to write these blogs and even work on a book. It’s my favorite time of day in Bali. The peace and clarity is extreme as I type under the stars.
I’ve been amazed this trip at how easy the jetlag is to deal with. My friend once told me, “when you travel on an airplane your body moves at the speed of a plane but your soul moves at the speed of a donkey. It takes that long to catch up.”
My soul must be Pegasus because this has been a breeze.
Part of it, I realize is that I’ve cut out wine and beer from my diet recently. I am not a big drinker but I did start drinking one of those incredible craft beer IPA’s in California a day.
My friend asked me “what’s it like living in the U.S.?” thinking it must be radically different than Canada. I told him, “Oh, it’s just like Canada except the Whole Foods has incredible craft beers!” (grocery stores in Canada can’t sell booze, for those who have never been)
The point is, I’ve consciously cut out this habit. Partly because I want to get rid of my love handles and mostly because even though I love the taste of beer and wine, I always regret it later when I sleep. After even one drink, I sleep better for the first two hours and shitty in the middle of the night.
I know people use alcohol as a traveller’s crutch and I watch people downing free drinks on the airlines pretty much from the moment they get on the plane but I really advise against it. I’ve learned this trip.
It’s not just the clean, booze-free system that has given me my super jet lag avoiding powers. I’ll be the first to admit that getting in the ocean surfing and doing yoga in the tropical heat help. But there is more; it is pure passion and stoke.
This is really the theme of yesterday. What life is like following your bliss.
I’m a professional “bliss-follower.” I make my living from my bliss which is not just yoga; my ultimate interest is in creating deep, authentic human connection to Nature and Community (my working definition of Blissology.)
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t work my ass off yesterday. I am sure I spent 8-9 hours in front of a laptop. Sure a lot of what I work on I am passionate about like lesson plans and creating new course materials but mostly I do a lot of menial tasks. I am continuously buried under emails and a trillion small details that keep the filing cabinet of my brain over stuffed.
I know people think I am just doing yoga on the beach like my instagram feed suggests but the reality is “Bliss” and “Bills” are almost the same letters just rearranged to form some kind of cosmic joke.
I work a ton. But I am so inspired!
A large part of the upcoming Blissology YTT course is finding what we call our “Life Mission.” Mine is to be a Conduit for Love.
It’s just such an amazing feeling even when you are going cross-eyed behind a computer like Ellie and I did yesterday (Ellie is our awesome program manager for Blissology trainings who lives in Bali) to know that all of those spreadsheets and schedules will light a fire in the hearts of many; to know that what you do is a contribution to the flow of positivity.
It is incredible medicine for the combination of jetlag and computer drudgery.
Luckily Bali, especially Canggu (pronounced Chah-n-goo) has an incredible amount of tasty cafes and hip, organic restaurants. I can’t even begin to describe how it blows anywhere else in the world away for the number of hipster eating establishments per square meter. The closest I’ve seen is Abbot-Kinney in Venice Beach, L.A. but this is a whole other scale over here.
If you are an entrepreneur working behind an Apple laptop on a creative business, the café culture of Bali (and the more commonly known Ubud) is your Shangri-La.
There is a shadow side to this cushy, hipster ex-pat Bali life and that is the rampant disappearance of the rice patties. Like a mushroom out of control, L.A. hipness is transplanted where rice used to grow.
Ellie and I made the circuit of a few of those cafes. I’m definitely going into this training feeling insanely prepared. Stoke is one thing but preparation is the key for the A-Game.
As I scootered home during sunset, as often happens here, I stopped checked out the Bali sky. I am saying that wrong: I didn’t stop. I was stopped in my tracks and could not avoid taking in the stunning light.
They fly kites here in Bali in the April breezes. I sat for a few minutes and stared up at a kite in the Bali sky. It was one of those moments where you are lost in time and don’t even realize you are doing what you are doing.
When I left Ananda and Insiya at home, we always tell each other about the “invisible line” that connects our hearts to each other. I look at the kite at the end of the string and think how lovely that we have people in our lives that make our heart fly like this.
In this spontaneous moment of gratitude overwhelm, I sent them a silent prayer and toasted the strings that bind us all.
Posted On: April 29, 2016 | 3 Comments »
I’m blogging my journey through Bali during our Blissology YTT! This is always such a transformational journey for everyone including me so I thoughtI would keep a little blog/ diary and share it every day. Check in and share in the adventures. Here is the first post.
Bali day one: The Journey
It took a whopping 35 hours door to door from Santa Cruz, SFO to Denpasar Bali. The plane ride wasn’t so bad largely because of an extra large dose of gratitude I gave myself just to be on the flight! It left at 1:15 A.M. – I decided to take advantage of couch I spotted upstairs by the boarding gate. I set my alarm on my iphone but didn’t hear it. I woke up with a start and made it to my gate with about a minute or less to spare.
Besides this elation for just making my flight it wasn’t as brutal as I thought it could be for these reasons. I scored good karma seating with three seats to myself on my first leg from SFO to Hong Kong. I woke up in the morning and did airplane yoga in the 1st row while in front of zombified travellers attempting the inhumane art of sleeping vertically. I also worked on my manual for the trainings especially the “Commit to Bliss” lifestyle program (I’ll explain more about this in future blogs). I never watch TV but somehow I got addicted to Game of Thrones and loved watching Nicole Kidman’s Queen of the Desert. Normally I am the king at picking movies which are popular but turn out to be brain numbingly stupid but this movie was amazing.
I also did some rocking yoga in Hong Kong and Singapore. It felt amazing to stretch out. My jet lag was kicking in but you have got to keep your chi moving while travelling. Some superflow and handstands did the trick.
I also help long, deep stretches and that felt so felt amazing. I feel like we are over emphasizing standing poses and not floor stretches in the new school yoga I see. Headphones on, ugly carpet, I dropped into the zone of bliss right overlooking the boarding gates.
After reaching hot, humid Bali not surprisingly the 9pm the traffic was horrible. People who haven’t been here are surprised to hear this. “What traffic on Bali?” Oh yeah, it took about 2 hours to drive 20 miles to our villa
I passed out around 10:30 after a quick Facetime convo with the fam. I was trying to not think about what time it was on the West Coast but Ananda was leaving for school which meant my biological clock should be saying, “time to wake up.”
Well, I had probably the best jetlagged sleep of all time – I woke up at 4:15 AM and all the sounds of Bali brought me right back. We have been spending about 3 months a year here over the last 9 years or so and I usually wake up at 4:15 – it’s cool for one but there is so much magic then. Once you step outside your villa in Bali, you are treated to open sky. Even the kitchen has no walls. I paused and took in the moon, Jupiter and the Muslim call to Prayer from a local mosque. I made coffee, unpacked all my clothing, surfboard and props for the YTT making my little bliss army pad ready. It’s a “Joglo” imported from Java I rented on Airbnb. I love these old houses.
I watched the sky turn bright orange with the first rays of the sun on the huge, nuclear explosion style clouds of Bali, took in the Hindu temple music about 100 meters away. After all these years sounds like cacophony with droning chanting and bell which seem to have no rhyme of reason how the rhythm is created.
Yoga in Bali felt amazing because of the humidity. Hot Yoga? Not required here. Yoga was born in the tropics and I see why.
I followed it up with a surf back in the warm Indian Ocean and lunch with Ellie who lives here and has really helped me organize the upcoming training. We have 35 people in the course and 5 assistants including Ellie. I’ve never felt more prepared for a YTT and I am so stoked to share what is about to go down in the next month over here.
Over lunch one of the highlights was when Ellie told me about her trip to
East Bali to LINI where we are running our Blissology EcoKarma Coral Restoration project. They are so appreciative. The dates are April 14 so watch that day on the Blog for sure.
What was cool is that as a global yoga ambassador for lululemon we can allocate funds to charity of our choices. I allocated some of that funding to LINI and they are training five local girls in the small village of Les where LINI is based. For 3 months, they will train these girls at LINI’s Aquaculture and Training Centre to learn skills that could either help them to earn a living elsewhere or continue to work with LINI. These girls are young mothers in the community who would not otherwise have any way to earn money or learn new skills
More updates tomorrow! Check back
Posted On: April 28, 2016 | 2 Comments »
By Michelle Naklowycz
Name - Donna Williams (more commonly known in blissology circles as Donna Prana! )
Where in the world you can find me?
At the Canadian Club in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where I’ve just arrived; at Innercityoga (www.innercityoga.com) when in Geneva; and always at Emergencyoga (https://emergencyoga.wordpress.com) on vimeo and soundcloud wherever you are!
What originally drew me to yoga?
Meditation. I meditated for years before I even knew what an asana was. I think I liked the idea that I could enjoy my mind more, be a more peaceful person. Then I took a yoga asana course at a local buddhist centre when I was working a job where it felt like I fired someone every day. I really did just turn up for the savasana in those days.
Blissology to me is…family, it’s also peeling away the layers to really, deeply connect with each other and with our planet, it’s the place, the way I feel “the most me” version of me
My life mission is…world peace, one love at a time. I believe it to the very depths of my being that every moment we increase the amount of love in the universe, whether that be with ourselves or with any other living thing, we take a step towards world peace.
The most important thing yoga has taught me is…that the still place inside me is always there, unchanging, untouchable by others, waiting for me whenever I need it.
When I’m not on the yoga mat, I’m…outside as much as possible enjoying whatever our planet has to offer wherever I am. I’m also spending my days as a humanitarian working for the Red Cross.
The cause / project I am most passionate about is…Two things: Emergencyoga which is a project I started with my friend Nicola to bring free yoga classes to humanitarians working in tough places. You can take these classes online and I’m just about to try live streaming a class from Sri Lanka with my Red Cross colleagues working in Central African Republic, Gaza, Yemen, Myanmar and Syria.
I’m also a big advocate for women’s safety and our right as women to walk the streets confidently without fear of being harassed, catcalled or worse. My two favourite organisations right now are ihollaback.org where you can report street harassment and Rape Crisis Counselling which is a start up developing an app to teach people how to support others immediately after they have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Given your work in humanitarianism, what has been the more unlikely location you have taught a yoga class?The thing about teaching yoga with humanitarians is you have to be willing as a teacher to offer bite size, accessible yoga whenever you have a chance. Generally humanitarians are a group of people who are too busy helping others to look after themselves and so you have to take your chance to inject some yoga whenever the opportunity arises. This has included pranayama in Malaysian meetings, mindfulness moments in Jordan, asanas in Sudaese living rooms and out in the Israeli desert, pool side yoga classes in Thailand and roof top yoga in Sri Lanka. One of my favourite moments was when I ran a yoga ‘team building’ session for United Nations colleagues. Let’s just say that the Blissology dance party was more than welcome. Giving people that space to let go and be free and vulnerable is crucial in a world where you spend your days being strong for everyone else around you 24/7.
How does yoga benefit those in your profession?
In so so many ways. Working in the humanitarian sector usually means we are experts at serving others. Yoga offers a time and space for us to serve ourselves in a way that is accepted in our humanitarian world. It’s ok to tell someone you’re heading out to see your yoga teacher, less cool to tell colleagues you’re going to your therapist. We know it shouldn’t be taboo to seek help from clinical professionals but the reality is that admitting you need support is still not widely accepted in the humanitarian world. Yet how can we be there for the world’s most hurt and vulnerable people if we never take the time to look after ourselves? Yoga provides a safe space to look after our bodies, minds and souls and a place where we can create community and connection when we are away from home and family.
What I want to teach others (through yoga)….is to love and accept ourselves more so that we can feel more confident and capable of spreading that love and the peace that goes with it across the planet
Most inspiring yoga related experience…..when someone I don’t know walks up to me in my humanitarian (work) world and says ‘thank you for being my yoga teacher in ….(insert crazy war torn place here)’ It’s incredible and humbling and yet inspiring to think that people feel such a connection with you and the yoga you offer even when you’ve never met.
Favorite yoga pose? Usually meditation is my favourite yoga ‘pose’ but I just found a new yin prep for getting into grasshopper so all of a sudden this complex arm balance has become more accessible to me and it feels like so much fun, like being a kid again – kinda how handstands always make me feel, like I’m 8 years old and back in the school yard
Best way to fuel up after yoga? Post morning yoga is fruits, eggs and a real Italian coffee, post evening yoga is quinoa, greens with toasted seeds and coconut oil
Yoga and music are….what will together bring you to a high level of consciousness and connection that you never thought possible
I create community with Blissology by….hugging my students and making space for them to hug or connect with each other and by deliberately incorporating nature’s cycles and seasons into my classes and how we practice together.
I am most grateful for…life. I had a moment once where I thought it would be taken from me. Every day I wake up grateful to be alive, for all that life brings me, the people I share it with, the choices I have, the planet for supporting me
What advice do you have for aspiring yoga teachers? In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’. And on a more practical note nail your asana sequencing so people feel awesome and finish your class on time. Oh and finally – you are perfect just as you are
Connect with Donna at:
Blog/ website: https://emergencyoga.wordpress.com
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Posted On: March 30, 2016 | 1 Comment »
By Michelle Naklowycz
Fire only burns as bright as there are flames to continue keeping it alive. Our Blissology Yoga Teacher’s Collective is burning bright and we are so excited to share the first of our Bliss Blogs on some of the amazing spirits and shining lights who are continuing to speak, connect and inspire their Bliss. Thank you Ann Green for sharing your light here.
Watch this space for more inspiring Blissology Teacher Features.
Where in the world we can find you?
This SHiNE filled yogi / mermaid can be found in Barrie, Ontario, Canada and around the world teaching,leading, loving and surfing her BLiSSOLOGY vibe! I teach at BLiSS Ann Green Yoga in Barrie, Ontario. You can find me surfing my groove on the mat most everyday in studio unless travelling to teach in NY or Mexico, Costa Rica or Nicaragua. I teach loads of Yoga Teacher Trainings, foundational and graduate work, when not wandering in the love + lust of adventure and travel.
What originally drew me to yoga?
The breath, the movement, the shape change. I started yoga at a really young age to cope with stress, for training and because I was drawn to the beauty in the anatomy.
Blissology to me is…
A humble happy approach to aligned yoga that infuses love! Blissology to me is a pathway for my SHiNE; pure free love in action.
My life mission is…
My life mission is to be a conduit of SHiNE…to serve happiness in neighbourhoods everywhere! This is closely supported in the cross pollination of SHiNEE … sharing healthy integration naturally elevating education!
The most important thing yoga has taught me is…
To be myself. And that myself is incredibly diverse, talented and beautiful all in the simplicity of being. There is no attachment to outcome needed. I’m liberated in my own authenticity. Not because of any achievement or job…simply being me.
When I’m not on the yoga mat, I’m…
Educatin’ Elevatin’ Celebratin’
I am working towards my own compilation/book which will illustrate my approach to yoga and my personal philosophy, as well as video and digital experiences to compliment this. I am teaching at Education Conferences, continuing to develop student and youth athlete programs, spreading the good in my community, loving nature, life and my family. I continue to do research and support the spread of integration with and for a life of playfulness and humble healing leadership complimenting therapeutic yoga – MiYoga.
The cause / project I am most passionate about is…
Service… To be a light to others to overcome adversary and make health available to all!
and…Water appreciation and providing clean water for all beings. Go with the flow!
I am learning to…
…create and keep the space. To take things less personally and embrace the amazing lessons of bliss and grief the universe administers through and with me. And to keep the glow!
What I want to teach others (through yoga) is to
…have freedom and ease in the body. Be able to open your heart and tissues, to move freely without restriction or pain.
Most inspiring yoga related experience
There are so many moments in yoga that have rocked my bliss. But, I would have to say while on a retreat in the Catskills, I was in absolute nature appreciation when a mamma deer and her two babes decided to sleep beside my tent for a series of nights. I was scared so incredibly at first but when I realized the grace of the family beside me, it was amazing. She was protecting me. I found my space, invested in my exhale and enjoyed the now of the experience completely. This was the first time I had been away from my child, my son of two years old at that time. It was truly the power of nature connection in tapestry and cross-pollination of the miraculous + love. Oh, and I met the Dalai Lama that retreat too. Absolute mind blowing the ecstasy of yoga.
Favorite yoga pose
Handstand. Inversion love affair. Getting upside down on land in air under water and all the relations in nature getting my hands so Mother Earth can support!! Best way to fuel up after yoga A delicious smoothie or medjool dates, pitted and almond butter stuffed inside…yummm!
Yoga and music are…
intereconnected. Yoga is the music of the body and music is the expression of how your body is feeling and moving. A song of the soul
I create community with Blissology by…
I share Blissology with my community through my teaching and my leadership. I lead with love and insight, ahimsa, inclusivity and celebration for all. I love this life and I am filled with gratitude and humbleness, beyond the reaches of the universe, for souls such as Eoin, my friend, my colleague, my teacher.
I am most grateful for…
My life, my family and most importantly my son.
What advice do you have for aspiring yoga teachers?
Teach from your heart and your experience. Be open to seeing by observation all the powerful lessons your teachers (students)bring you. That you are incredible being present teaching from your heart.
That is enough.
You are powerful beyond measure in your authenticity.
You can contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Ann at: