Musings from the Mat, a Blog


Oxygen Mask Theory - Self Care as We Pivot Online

You know how some people are happy no matter what happens to them?There is no trick to happiness. It’s something we can learn to make a habit.

What you put in your body, the people you socialize with, and the activities that you do all affect perception of yourself, and the world around you. A healthy mind is crucial for a healthy body, and a positive attitude is the foundation of positive emotions. Happiness is available when you are able to receive it with a rested heart.

Habits of Happiness

You know how some people are happy no matter what happens to them?There is no trick to happiness. It’s something we can learn to make a habit.

What you put in your body, the people you socialize with, and the activities that you do all affect perception of yourself, and the world around you. A healthy mind is crucial for a healthy body, and a positive attitude is the foundation of positive emotions. Happiness is available when you are able to receive it with a rested heart.

What is a Teacher

We are given a time to live. We are given a time to let go. Autumn teaches us how beautiful it is to let go.

It was a difficult and sad year with losses of longterm friends who have been influential in my journey of yoga over the last 30 years. This yogic journey has now been more than thirty years, which at this point, is greater than half my life. With these transitions, it is a reminder of the Buddha’s teaching on impermanence and letting go.

Lighting the Fire of Practice

This past December, I attended the Centenary Celebrations for B.K.S. Iyengar in Pune, India. Although I’ve taken more than 7 trips to India, this was my first time to the Iyengar Institute, the heart of Iyengar Yoga. It was an amazing gathering of 1,300 people representing 56 different countries showing the diverse populations that were there to mark the 100th anniversary of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengars birth.

Geeta demonstrated a lifetime of sadhana — sincere effort, preparation, and devotion to spiritual guidance. She had promised she would teach for her Father’s 100th birthday on December 14, but nothing more. She kept her promise despite failing health. She passed away peacefully in the early morning of 16 December in her home.

Welcoming the Light of Spring

Spring is when energy starts to build and grow. Animals come out of hibernation, green sprouts everywhere as buds begin to bloom. Our bodies feel the brighter, longer days, and we want to  get Ch’i moving.Some days may seem mild, but it’s critical to stay warm to prevent getting sick. Changing activity level, diet and noticing  your emotions can make the transition easier on body and mind. Here’s some tips to keep energy up this season!

Yoga for Balancing Chi  invigorates for Spring! Here’s a Yoga sequence to tone and calm the Liver.

Chinese Astrology – Find Your Animal

Chinese astrology (shengxiao – ‘born resembling’), is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year represented by an animal and its personality attributes. Chinese associate each animal with certain characteristics, and it’s believed that people have the personality of their birth year’s animal.

We determine a person’s Chinese Astrological Animal by birth year based on Chinese New Year’s Day. You cannot determine your Chinese Astrological Animal by birth year only. Most Chinese astrology birth charts don’t include Chinese New Year’s day to calculate the animal!

Summer Heart Sizzle

Chinese Medicine is based on balancing opposites in nature; dark and light, hot and cold, masculine and feminine , Yin and Yang.  All seasons have associated tastes, colours, body systems and emotions which effect health. Summer is the most active Yang time of year, with flowers blooming, vegetables ripening and our own holidays and outdoor activities. It is a time of expansion, growth, joy, activity and creativity. Cultivate Yang energy in spring and summer, while protecting Yin energy in autumn and winter.

Rest is the Story

Chinese philosophy believes good health is a harmonious balance of the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. These five elements shape the principles of Feng Shui, Qi Gong and Martial Arts. They form the underlying structure of acupuncture and herbal remedies in Chinese Medicine.

Getting in touch with the elements can help us feel more connected to the natural world, and find balance in health and wellness.

Luang Prabang LAOS - Indochine Dream

Vietnam plants rice, Cambodia harvests rice, Thailand sell rice, and Laotians listen to the rice grow. 

Luang Prabang is the charming and serene spiritual capital of Laos, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since coming in 2009, I fell in love and still have a piece of my heart here!

Nestled at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, amidst a backdrop of jungle-clad mountains, Luang Prabang is a most sacred and scenic spot.

Essential International Packing List

If you’re getting ready for an international destination, you probably feel like there’s so much to do, but so little time. Your bags need to be packed, and if you leave something behind that is essential to your needs, you may not be able to find it overseas.

So what to pack? The checklist needs to be broad to cover essentials, but detailed to include  things you may forget.Your destination and how long you will be away will play a part in deciding what you need to pack.


What is Range of Motion (ROM) in Joints?

In a recent conversation with my good friend, teacher and mentor Judith Hanson Lasater, the degrees of movement in the spine came up as a topic. Yes, yogis do really have dinner conversations about this!

We were discussing a pose, and I was describing my surprise when I looked up the average and normal range of movement for the shoulder girdle.

This got us onto the topic of standard anatomical Range of Movement (ROM), She suggested I look up the numbers and share them with my students. So in this virtual world of yoga online and global student base on the web, I am following up with a post to share what I have found.

The ROM of Major Joints

In my last post What is Range of Motion (ROM) we discussed ROM and how it is measured. It is something that is interesting to note, as we often assume in Yoga that all joints can move in all directions and degrees in all bodies. I have often heard one “should” get to blah blah in a certain pose. Have you ever considered the length of limbs, torso-to-limb ratio, height, weight, age etc. and how that might impact a pose, and everyones ability to be in a shape.

We often say that Yoga is individuated, and yet also say that we “should All be able to have 90 degree arms in chattaranga” and other myths. As I have continued my own study of anatomy, I’ve discovered my own truths about myself and others. Additionally, I have grown older, had injuries, illnesses and other aspects of life that have changed my view on asana.

The Power of Rest - Restorative Yoga as Treatment

There is growing evidence that Yoga is an effective rehabilitation tool. In many cases, fatigue and poor sleep contribute to slow rehabilitation, and can affect quality of life, and the body’s ability to repair. Restorative Yoga has proven helpful for rehabilitation, which helps to reduce tension, improve respiratory function and help patients find much needed rest.

From a yogic view, disease is created by insufficiency or blockage in life force, which creates loss of immunity, which leads to disease. From a medical view, we understand lack of immunity is often the cause of disease, as it disables the body from fighting infection or other disease.

Ahhhh, Savasana

Stress Relief
There are some things in life that are universal. Some are helpful and some are not. Stress is something that we face more and more in modern day life, and most of us have experienced the weight of it on our bodies, mind and spirit.

One of the best things about yoga is the element of stress relief, and for me, one of the best asanas to practice is Savasana! We all know Savasana is a good release after an active practice. What is the new news about that?

Have you taken Savasana on its own? Can you imagine a world where everyone took 15 mins of Savasana a day? Would the world shift? I think it might!

Preventative Yoga

What is Therapeutic Yoga?

Yoga focuses on working with mental and physical conditions. It utilises yogic techniques including posture, breath work, meditation and pose variations created for a unique need and/or individual.

Modern life can over stimulate us, creating anxiety and stress, leading to stress disorders like fatigue and insomnia. Combining the healing of Yoga and the quiet awareness of meditation to slow down, we can find our own personal levels of good health.

What and how we practice can vary depending on day, season, emotional stability, illness, injury, or if we are stressed, lethargic, depressed or anxious.  All variables need to be considered in choosing appropriate techniques to apply them beneficially.

Yoga and Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is particularly close to my own heart, so to speak, as everyone in my maternal lineage had a battle of one kind or another with breast cancer, and I myself am on a list of very highly susceptible. The rate of breast cancer in traditional China was low to non- existent in my great grandmother’s day, and for her to have had an issue was considered very rare.

Breast Cancer Today
Over the years, I have had friends and family diagnosed, fight, survive and lose the battle with breast cancer, and it has coloured my life, yoga teaching and my own view of health and well being. With a personal cloud of breast cancer on the horizon, and watch my body change and shift with the illumination of aging, I am increasingly interested in finding ways to work with yoga and aging.

Seasonal Detox and Cleanser

Since childhood, my family has used herbal elixirs and tonics to help heal the body and mind, and I remember my beloved Grandmother making strong ginger root tea for menstrual cramps or snow fungus and goji berries for winter health.

I made an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant drink that has helped me fight the flu, colds, and bronchial attacks in this cold Winter. It is made of some favorite spices including Turmeric, Ginger and Cayenne.

This is a great tonic to help cleanse the winter blahs, and support you in the upcoming Spring Liver Season.

Entering Autumn

Autumn brings the harvest of crops, shorter days and preparation for winter. It is a time of ripening, withering, and completion. This is a process of moving inward, and the inclination to hibernate is this season’s natural rhythm.

There is a concept in Chinese Medicine that wind has the power to bring illness into an unprecedented body. A “cold” in Chinese medical vocabulary is called a “wind cold.” As the weather changes, the body must adjust, and outward energy begins to move in.