Start your meditation session out right with 7 Limb Practice

You’ve finally got your butt on your meditation cushion. A major achievement in itself! Now how to begin, to have the best meditation session possible? There is a practice that begins each meditation session in the Buddhist tradition that’s designed to give you the optimum conditions for your sit. It’s called the 7 Limb Practice, because there are 7 steps, or limbs, to it.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to use this method. You can use the 7 Limbs before you move into the body or main course of whatever practice you are working on. You’ll generate positive energy for your practice and remove negativities and obstacles that could get in the way. Think of it as good meditation hygiene!

  1. Ask for help. The first step is to call on some help for what you are about to do. You don’t have to do this alone! Call on the presence of a teacher, guide, mentor or any being who inspires you to be your highest self. This guide could take on just about any form – a holy being like Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed, a historical figure such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Theresa, it can be someone in your life such as a family member or friend or teacher who’s goodness you aspire to.  Ask them to come and sit in front of you. See them come right away. They are so very happy that you have asked them to come and they are very happy about what you’re doing.
  2. Appreciate them. Take a few moments to reflect on the good qualities of your guide. Reflect on the good things that they’ve done or are doing. Consider the many ways that their kindnesses have helped you.
  3. Make an offering to them. Out of this sense of appreciation and gratitude, make an offering to your guide. On your thoughts, you can send them anything that would help them or make them happy – their favourite foods, beautiful music, people they love, piles of riches to fund their projects, blue skies, panoramic vistas. The sky’s the limit. The very best offering you can make them is your practice itself. They really don’t need anything from you – this is all for your benefit, to give you an opportunity to practice generosity and open-heartedness.
  4. Reflect on your shortcomings. This is your opportunity to clear yourself of obstacles and negativity. Think of one thing you did over the last 24 hours that you’re not so proud about. Consider how it was not a super wise thing to do – not because it was “bad”, but because you know it will only cause you problems and unhappiness in the future. Resolve to refrain from that action for a fixed period of time. Be realistic about it. Don’t say, “I’ll never speak with anger again”. Commit to not losing your temper for the next hour. Then decide on a “make-up” – something positive you will do today as a restitution. Allow yourself to be totally transparent with your guide – they already know everything in your heart, and love you unconditionally.
  5. Celebrate. Think about something good you saw someone else do. Buddhists say that when you rejoice in someone else’s merits, you automatically accumulate 10% of their good karma for yourself! Think about something so wonderful that you begin to smile. Take some time to feel good about positive things you are doing in your own life too. Be sure to give as much time to this rejoicing as you did your to confession in the previous step. See your guide enjoying all this goodness with you!
  6. Ask them to stay. Ask you guide to stay with you as you practice – you don’t have to do this alone. Ask them to remain as a presence in your life, continuing to inspire, guide, support, encourage and help you and all other sentient beings. Ask them to always stay in your heart.
  7. Dedicate it. Take the positive energy of what you are about to do in your meditation practice, and dedicate it to your highest spiritual goals. Get clear on why you are doing what you are about to do. Set a firm intention, or sankalpa, for your session.

Now you’re ready to move on to whatever practice you like next. You might take a little wiggle or stretch here before you settle in for “the main event”, whether you’re working on a lovingkindness meditation, focusing on your breath, mantras or a visualization.

You can really take your time to delve into each of these steps, and give a good 10-15 minutes for the 7 Limbs. Or if you are short on time, or would really like to spend more of your practice on the body of your session, you can keep it much shorter. Once you are familiar with the steps, you can move through it quite quickly, taking just 3 breaths for each step of the practice.

If you’d like to experience this and other meditation practices in person and in community, please join me for a weekly Guided Meditation drop-in at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth every Tuesday from 4:30-5:30pm. No experience required. No yoga pants required. Just come with yourself and a curious, open mind. Regular class passes apply. Cushions, chairs, blankets and other props are available for your comfort.


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Meditation Tune Up


So now you’ve got a regular (or even semi-regular) meditation practice going. Amazing! This is probably more than half the battle won right there.

But maybe now you’re asking yourself some questions. How am I doing? Am I getting anywhere? Am I just fooling myself and wasting time? Is this working?

There are no report cards or performance reviews to let you know how you’re doing when you sit down to engage with yourself in meditation. If you’re fortunate – very fortunate – you may have access to an experienced and qualified teacher who knows you well and can give you personal guidance. But a really good guide like is harder to come by than you might guess.

Fortunately for us, the masters of the past have left us with some tools and advice on how to guage just where we are in our practice, and also how to recognize and avoid common roadblocks that may arise on the path. Like what to do if your mind feels like an non-stop 24 hours a day 3 ring circus. Like what to do if you can’t help but nod off during your meditation session. Yes, even the highly realized beings of yore went through these same problems!

Join me for Meditation Tune Up at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth on Sat July 22 from 9:30-11:30am, when I’ll share these tools and techniques with you. No matter what kind of meditation you are practicing, or what tradition you may be following, these are tried and tested methods that you can apply in your own meditation for better clarity and mindfulness.

Just starting out? Or maybe you’re meditation-curious and haven’t quite started yet? Come and learn what it often takes other people years to find out about meditation and save yourself a whole lot of time and grief!

We’ll also have some time for a general meditation throw-down, so bring your burning questions about meditation for an informal Q&A discussion.

Meditation Tune Up

Sat July 22, 2017 from 9:30-11:30am

at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth – 95 Danforth Ave (at Broadview)

$30+hst. Pre-register here.

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Taking the One Seat: alignment for meditation


So you’ve decided that meditation is a great idea, you’ve committed to the time (starting with just 3 minutes a day is great). You are so stoked.

But one of the first hurdles that most of us face is our own body. Aching knees, a tired back, cranky ankles. How to find a comfortable position that we can maintain for the duration of our session, so that the body doesn’t become a distraction? How should I sit? Full lotus? Half lotus? How about “no lotus”? 

yoga-2095502_1920.jpgTaking the One Seat: alignment for meditation is a workshop where I’ll share some of the many options available for your practice – sitting on the floor, on a chair, lying down, using props and more. There are so many more choices open to you. Knowing how to use your body in a variety of positions and settings also means that you can drop into your meditation anytime, anywhere – at home, at the studio, in your office, while travelling and more.

We’ll figure out how what we do with our body affects our state of mind. Explore your sense of alignment from the inside out, inside of fitting your body into a prescribed shape. Then – take that new unique and personal sense of alignment off your meditation seat and into your yoga practice.

Taking the One Seat: alignment for meditation

Sat April 15 from 9am-11am

at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth – 95 Danforth Ave (at Broadview)

$30+hst. Pre-register here.

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Getting grounded after deep practice


This weekend I was blessed to enjoy deep and powerful healing, sharing and ritual with some equally deep and powerful women. One of those gatherings that you didn’t realize how much you needed until afterwards. I’m so grateful that all the causes and conditions lined up for it to happen, and for what each and every woman in the room brought to it. I’m savouring the afterglow, and know that I’ll be moving into the lessons it offered for a very long time to come.

I’m also feeling wiped out from the experience. In the best possible way. But feeling a little tender and raw. I’m craving some stillness and quietude to get back into balance. To integrate where I’ve been. To become grounded.

Sometimes our practice goes deeper than we’re used to, or quite ready for, taking us out of our comfort zones. It can release and stir up powerful energy in our bodies, heart and minds. Our nervous systems are thrown for a loop. With practice, we learn how to stabilize those energies and work with them. With deep listening, we become more familiar with ourselves, and learn what best supports us and what’s not so helpful.

In yoga we use the Sanskrit word prana to refer to this inner energy. The Chinese call it chi, or qi. You could think of it as life force, or inner energy.

The Tibetans call it lung, or wind. The word lung (sounds like “loong”) can also refer to lots of other things – a direct spoken transmission from a teacher (because it comes on their breath), or the breath itself.

They often use the word lung to refer to an imbalance of energy in the body, or a “wind disorder”. Your lung or prana is all stirred up or stuck or just not flowing well. It is quite literally dis-ease. When you experience lung it can show up in an infinite variety of symptoms. Problems with sleep or digestion. Mood swings. Headaches. Skin issues. Spaciness. Sluggishness. How lung shows up is as individual as we are. It could feel like a hangover. Or it could feel like 3 cups of espresso racing through you. You never quite know. The effects may present themselves physically, emotionally or mentally.

Remember how when you took your first yoga classes, you always went home in tears? Or angry? That’s lung. The practice of yoga opens up the channels that the prana travels through, obstructed energy is released – just like opening up the kinks in a garden hose. But until we’ve gained some stability in our practice, our nervous systems are not quite sure how to integrate the new energy that has been made available.

Following a period of deep or intense practice, take some time to check in with yourself and see if you may be experiencing lung. Lung doesn’t just follow periods of meditation, retreat or yoga. You might be experiencing it after an emotional family visit, travelling, caregiving for the birthing or dying, a lengthy speaking or teaching engagement, or a funeral.

The number one message of lung is this. Don’t push.

Listen deeply for what you need in your body, energy, heart and mind. Then, honour that. Be mindful that you are always changing – what worked last week might not be what you need today. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error, and that’s all part of the learning process. Systems such as ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine which respect our energetic health and constitutions can be particularly helpful. But there are are also many ways you can ground yourself and provide some immediate self-care. Here are some to try:

  • Get offline. Need I say more? Reduce sensory stimulation. Put the phone down, shut down the laptop, skip the news. Give your nervous system a break.
  • Get wet. Water is so healing, inside and out. Keep yourself well-hydrated with lots of room-temperature water. Aim for at least 2 litres a day. Minimize your intake of dehydrating coffees and teas. Enjoy a warm bath or shower before bed.
  • Get oily. Adding some oil – inside and out – can also help ground you. Use a body oil after your bath or shower. Traditional ayurveda recommends natural sesame oil (not toasted) or sweet almond oil. At bare minimum, one of the best things you can do to combat lung is to put some oil or lotion on your feet at bedtime, and then cover them with socks. Choose high fat foods like nuts, nut butters or avocados, or drizzle some extra extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil on your food. Sometimes indulging in some greasy – yes, that’s right, I said greasy – food is sometimes just the ticket, especially if you usually eat a light and healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Get moving.  Do something to bring you back into your body. Enjoy a gentle yoga practice, a walk, dancing in your kitchen. The operative word here is “gentle”. Go for a massage, or give yourself a foot rub.
  • Get outside. Enjoy the healing energy of the great outdoors, surrounding yourself with trees or walking by a body of water. Even if you’re stuck in the city you can always look up. Gazing at the sky is a great remedy for lung.
  • Get heavy. Add an extra blanket at bedtime. Put your meditation cushion on your feet while you sit. Or add some gentle weight on your belly during svasana. Sometimes adding some weight on our body helps remind us to let go.
  • Get grounded. Literally.  Put your hands in the dirt and get gardening. Or simply lie down on the floor, or better yet the earth.

For a more in-depth exploration of lung and meditation practice – what it is, its prevention and remedy – check out this article by Tibetan Buddhist nun Venerable Lhundrup Nyinje.

Lung: the Meditator’s Disease

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Calming the inner swirl


We can’t always do much about the outer swirl that we find ourselves in – work, family, media, travel, current affairs, illness, just moving through each day. But we can find a measure of stability on the inside though, so that we’re not so pulled and tossed by the vicisittudes of life.

I’m back at The Yoga Sanctuary this spring with a series of monthly meditation workshops to share ways to calm and still the inner swirl, offering something for everyone. If you’ve never meditated before and are not quite sure what to do. If you’ve had a taste and would like to go deeper. If you have established a regular practice and want to keep it thriving.

Drop into one workshop, or come to all of them. No experience required. Beginners mind encouraged!

Learn How to Meditate – Sat Mar 18 from 9:30am-12noon (repeated Sat May 27)

“Mindfulness” is the buzzword of the day. Together we’ll figure out just what that means, and more importantly why it matters, by returning to the original four mindfulness practices taught by the Buddha 2500 years ago. These are simple and effective tools that anyone can use, regardless of beliefs or tradition. I’ll also share some tips and tricks to get your meditation off the ground (or back on the wagon).

Taking the One Seat: alignment for meditation – Sat April 15 from 9:00-11:00am

Can’t sit in full lotus to meditate? Me either. Half lotus? How about NO lotus? One of the biggest barriers to meditation for many people is finding a comfortable way to be in stillness in the body. How can I still that inner swirl if all I can think about is that my back hurts! We’ll discuss a variety of options that accomodate different bodies, locations and supports like cushions, stools and chairs. Even better, together we’ll explore how alignment can emerge from the inside out, no matter where our bodies are.

Meditation Tune Up – Sat July 22 from 9:30-11:30am

So now you’ve got a regular (maybe even daily) practice going. Yay you! But now the questions are cropping up. Am I doing this right? How do I know I’m getting anywhere?  Or perhaps you’ve hit a roadblock. I’ll share practical advices from the meditation masters of ancient texts in the Buddhist tradition, as well as time for an informal Q & A session.

Sacred Spaces – Sat Aug 12 from 9:30-11:30am

So now WHERE are you going to meditate? You certainly don’t have to remove yourself to a cave on a mountain to meditate. But it does help to bring together some conducive outer conditions. No matter your living situation, it’s possible to find a creative solution and make a space that is meaningful to you. I’ll share what I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) about practice spaces over my 10 years of practice. We’ll cover practical considerations (like time, space and money), enjoy some traditional inspiration, and then consider how to use your space effectively once you have it.

All workshops at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth – 95 Danforth Ave (at Broadview)

Each workshop $30 + hst. Preregister here.




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Practice & Ponder: The 4 Laws of Karma



A big, fat, fancy word that gets tossed around yoga studios and tip jars.


But despite what you may have heard, karma is not a boomerang. And it almost never works instantly.

Having a clear understanding of this foundational philosophy of yoga is important. With it, we can make effective choices in the moment to create the kind of future we want to experience.

In Practice & Ponder: The Four Laws of Karma, we’ll explore the principle of karma through a gentle all-levels yoga practice, through study and discussion. We’ll return to the Four Laws of Karma as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni over 2500 years ago. You’ll leave with a simple, useful and above all accurate metaphor for how karma works (hint – it’s not a boomerang.) that you can put into use in your daily life.

Practice & Ponder: The Four Laws of Karma

Sat Jan 21 from 1:00-3:30pm

at The Yoga Sanctuary Wood St – 1 Wood St (Yonge & College)

$45+hst. Pre-register here to secure your spot.




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More Prenatal Yoga at Evymama


Pregnancy and yoga are a perfect match. The practice of yoga asks us to open our awareness and apply our mindfulness, using the tools of our breath and our body. Many women find that this happens quite naturally with the incredible transformations we go through during pregnancy. Whether you are totally new to yoga, or have been practicing already for years, I’m delighted to share the benefits of yoga during pregnancy with expecting mothers.

Yoga can help to ease the discomforts of pregnancy, while preparing us physically, mentally and emotionally for birth and motherhood. We become more familiar with our breath, while taking time for gentle self-care that benefits both mom and baby.

As a doula, I am especially passionate about sharing yoga with women during pregnancy. My clients have experienced first-hand the benefits that are available. In my Prenatal Yoga classes, I’ll share with you real tools you can take home with you and even into your labour and delivery, while safely leading you through a practice that is geared to your stage of pregnancy and condition.


This fall, I’m super-delighted to be launching Prenatal Yoga classes at Evymama. If you don’t already know Sarah LeMay’s wonderful business, now’s the time to check it out! Sarah and I have known each other for years, having first connected in an online mom’s group that was my salvation when my daughter was a little. For over ten years she’s been the go-to boutique for all things maternity and breastfeeding related, with kind and supportive help. Evymama has just moved to a big new retail space on the Corso Italia. On the first floor you’ll find to-die-for nursing bras, chic maternity jeans, baby carriers and beautiful outerwear that will take you from pregnancy to babywearing and beyond. On the lower level, Sarah has a new space for hosting all kinds of wonderful classes and workshops for parents.

Pre-register now for a 5 week course of Prenatal Yoga, running Wed Oct 12-Wed Nov 9 from 6:00-7:00pm.


Evymama Nursing & Maternity – 1345 St. Clair Ave W (at Lansdowne)


Tues night Prenatal Yoga continues at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth – 95 Danforth Ave (at Broadview)

Every Tues from 5:45-7:00pm

$20+hst drop-in (class passes available)

** Bring a friend and practice for free! (Some conditions apply.)







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Homecoming – Transitions


The second edition of Homecoming arrives on Sun Oct 16! If you missed the first Homecoming  workshop in May, then now is your chance to join us for a full-day workshop of embodied expression with women for women. Our theme this round is… Transitions.

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~ Maya Angelou

Together — through conscious movement, creative expression and connection — we will uncover more about home and transitions home. Home has many layers of support and challenge. We will explore these layers including those of transitions that bring us home, move us between homes and help us feel at home during these transitions. How we move through these transitions may evoke feelings from fear to rootedness. Our day together will be supported by dance, music, art, writing, breath, meditation and conversation. This is a chance to move with other women who are also aching for and coming home.

I’m collaborating with three other phenomenal women, and we are so excited to bring our shared vision, rooted in our shared love of the 5Rhythms® movement practice, to you.

  • Rhondda Snary – Moving Meditation. Certified and Accredited 5Rhythms® teacher
  • Irene Gabinet – Creative Expression. Expressive Arts Facilitator
  • Lauren Clarke – Embodied Gestalt. RSW & Gestalt Therapist

I’ll be bringing breathwork, meditation and perhaps a dash of gentle yoga to the day. No experience is required – just your curiousity – and this practice accomodates all kinds of bodies, regardless of condition, size, shape or age.

Homecoming ~ Transitions

Sun Oct 16 from 10:00am-4:30pm

at The Citadel (The Ross Centre for Dance / Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie) – 304 Parliament St, 2nd Floor Theatre (fully accessible)

$95.00 Early Bird rate – registered and paid in full by Sept. 26, 2016
$115.00 Regular – after Sept. 26

Registration is now open.



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Support for your meditation practice

beach meditaiton

I chat with lots of folks who are interested in meditation, or have started and dropped and started and dropped or started AGAIN, and would like to know how to keep their practice going. If you’ve been meditating for a while, you may have hit rough patches or dry spots, and are asking some of the same questions.

In The Six Conditions this Sunday July 17 from 9:30am-noon, we’ll discuss six areas of life to cultivate “off the cushion” that will support your meditation (or yoga) practice. They are listed in Master Kamalashila’s text The Stages of Meditation. We’ll figure out together how to keep them real and relevant for our busy modern lives. We’ll have some time to do some sitting meditation practice together as well.

If you’ve attended one of the Learn How to Meditate sessions over the last few months, this is a great way to add some more building blocks to your practice. However, no experience is necessary. Whether you’re a total beginner, novice or old hand, bring your “beginner’s mind”.

Sun July 17


at The Yoga Sanctuary Danforth (95 Danforth Ave)

$30.00 including hst

Pre-registration recommended.


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Prenatal Yoga on the waterfront


A new prenatal yoga class has been added to my schedule! I’ll be teaching on Wednesdays  from 6:30-7:30pm at the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (formerly known as the Harbourfront Community Centre), at 627 Queens Quay West and Bathurst. This is a lively community hub in a thriving neighborhood, and I’m proud to be adding prenatal yoga to their offerings.

This class is offered as both a pre-registered course or as a drop in. Registration will open up online on Mon June 20. Classes start on Wed July 4.

But… to give you an appetizer, I’ll be giving a FREE 30 min prenatal demo at WNC’s 25th anniversary celebrations on Sat June 18 from 1:30-2:00pm. Come and check out the beautiful facilities, meet your neighbors, find out about all the amazing programming that is available and have a taste of the prenatal yoga practice  with me. I look forward to seeing you!


photo by Sam Javanrouh


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