PROLOGUE (not necessary to read and I swear I am okay with this trip, but writing it feels like the a cathartic act just summarising to check I was not making it up):
BRISTOL TO PORTO, 4 DAYS AGO
An EPIC journey to get to Portugal:
19:10 Flight cancellation to Porto…airport uproar…I stay quiet apart from telling Easyjet lady that I AM NOT GOING HOME…book a flight to Lisbon for the next morning from Luton that is full, will possibly be stand by unless I check in. I do…bus to the Temple Meads train station…train to London…underground to Luton….arrive 00:30…sleep 4 hours in a hotel…walk to airport…flight delayed, cabin crew did not show up…eat pancakes and drink coffee and do work…last call for my flight- they forgot to announce it on the board…make it- just…don’t even sleep on the plane, although I feel completely delirious…write out smoothie recipes for my dad…arrive Lisbon…attempt to go through EU electronic passports…the computer says no…realise I am travelling on my Canadian passport…join a 2 hour and 45 minute queue to go through passport control…read some of ‘The Power of Now’ on my kindle…keep passing one guy as we snake around slowly…notice his bag has a tag showing he has come from Nepal…breathe and explore my feet and rib basket…read a bit more…look at the guys t-shirt…it reads ‘WE ARE ALL THE SAME PEOPLE’. I smile and feel absolutely fine. I see a rose a girl clutching a beautiful rose plant on the metro in Lisbon and we smile.
Lisbon has always been my gateway into the mountains so I am hoping that there are not too many challenges ahead. I can not decide if my calm demeanour is sheer will, zen or delirium from lack of sleep!
LISBON, 3 DAYS AGO
Lisbon, although I know it well, does lack the ease that I have accustomed to when I travel but day 2 after a night of deep sleep I head to the park and run and skip and feel like I am connecting back with fun, the freedom of travel and new places. Rather than thinking that everything is happening for a reason, I accept it just is and get into the moment. I skip better than I ever have. Thinking of my inner child makes me smile. Today I skipped even better! Poolside location or embracing the inner kid may be the trick…
LISBON-OLEIRAS-AMIEIRA-MOUNTAINSIDE RETREAT, 2 DAYS AGO
Fast forward to a rescue a day early from Lisbon by Peter and Sue who run Yoga Evolution Retreats, they deliver me to a space to call my own in the cottage on the mountainside. Time with these two is always special and they are why I return to this haven. They mean so much to me, and have been an integral and huge part of my life journey. I have only ever known them in the mountains so to greet them at arrivals in the in a modern airport, eat at the services and see Pete in shoes is quite something! And I readily accept the feeling of being looked after and taken under their wing; after all my inner child would totally be down with that.
And this fairytale bed… Sue’s bedding is always the best! Crunchy linen, lined dried and sumptuous duvets 🙂 , a dreamcatcher, a Shaman stayed here just before me and there is cacao, candles and incense!
MOUNTAINSIDE RETREAT, YESTERDAY
“What does your t-shirt say?” asks Sue erring on incredulity. “You can call me butterfly!?” I burst out laughing. NO!!! That would kind of be weird!! It actually says: YOU GIVE ME BUTTERFLIES. I never really thought about it much before but I did wear it when I started teaching yoga. I go to the town with Sue and Selena. I help them with the groceries. Everything is beginning to look sharper and I love the produce and feeling the connection to the earth. I think I am slowly landing after hectic times.
MOUNTAINSIDE RETREAT, THE NOW
Today, YOU GIVE ME BUTTERFLIES, takes on perhaps the best of all meanings. Because this morning there was an abundance of butterflies dancing, fluttering, crossing my path and landing near and on me. Maybe they were there yesterday. But I never sat, never was still or never mindful long enough to bask in the butterflies of Amieira mountains. Now, I am ready. To watch as I would have as a child. To sit and watch the grass move, the crawl of an ant, the shimmer of a spider’s web, to hear the song of the birds, the buzz of the bumble bees…the butterflies were my message to sit still and watch with curiosity and wonder.
My mind so much clearer, that I can sit and enjoy writing, sharing. I have so much more to explore with our theme of the week back in the studio: BACK TO YOUR ROOTS, and I am not surprised that this is already a theme woven into the week here…circles, journeys, four directions, memories and being children of the earth- feeling in the belly and coming out of our heads. You know, the feeling of the belly where we feel butterflies. No rationalisation and judgements.
Thank you for the space that is being held here. YOU GIVE ME BUTTERFLIES. And right now, I can not think of a greater gift. Only as I put this onto the blog structure and upload my photos and scrolling through my recent pictures, does this fit absolutely perfectly into place…
I had to interview Lyd and her Spring Bootcamp pack. I hear their raucous laughter in the morning and have heard about their stretch and strength gain. The fun, friendship and laughter is the icing on the cake and seems to be an important element of their success. Supporting each other in feeling GREAT. And, of course, this is what are studio grew from and this is what we are all about. A massive shout out to Lydia Bat, who I have to say, is one of the most heartwarming, sweet and quietly strong young women I know. It is an honour to call her a friend and have her in our studio. GOOD VIBES and awesome coaching skills. She is a total dream…
So with the imminent sign up for Summer Stretch & Strength Bootcamp, I invite you to join us in hearing from Lyd and the girls!
Here is the interview with some of the girls:
So, here we are… Interview questions from TJ to myself!
1. You are an extensive traveller and a yogi, Im curious in what ways have you found your outer-world-exploring overlapped with your inner-world-exploring? Or do you find you learn very different things from each form of exploration?
I think the travels were the thing that really helped me to sit within my true sense of yoga. I had felt inklings of true, pure connection and I remember on a bus in Philadelphia, I ended up in what appeared to be a questionable neighbourhood… In my mind I just had the words, ‘The light that is in me, I see reflected in you. The light that is in me, I see reflected in you. The light that is in me, I see reflected in you.’ And I remember having a beautiful dialogue and acknowledgement from another passenger, once I had just let myself not create any projections and judgements. All of this stuff I relate in yogic terms and philosophies because it does make a lot of sense to me. I went and practiced yoga ll over the world, seeking out classes, joining in with so many different communities… from Nova Scotia to Vietnam… it was aamazing. But the true yoga for me was the connections I felt. I think yoga, the physical practice and spiritual practice made me open to all of this. Connecting to the lands I traversed, to the people and to the experiences. I remember not ever wanting to lose the ability to hold space for people, to listen and really hear, to absorb my environment, wherever and whatever that may be.. So now, with a busyness of my present life, I feel that I need yoga as a thing to keep me steady. The openness and acute awareness with a beautiful blanket of peacefulness is not so much of a constant state; it had become so when I was travelling!!! They are very much interlinked for me… Yoga is the moments of connection and true contentment- can happen in practice but a shared smile with a stranger down the street or a beautiful sky is often where I find my yoga!
2. One thing often overlooked about Yin Yoga is that it is incomplete by itself. You seem to very much embrace its need for balance, what are your favorite things to pair with your Yin practice?
Restorative! And a more fluid way of moving… I love the combination of Simon Low style with spirals and flow, strength and grace. I love a bit of Forrest Yoga (are you going to go to Jambo’s workshop?? He is in Washington soon!!!) with Jambo! He sees and connects and makes you feel the yoga thing by a look, a word, a joke, an adjustment, his support. I also love a bit of running and training with some guys I know that have a fitness background. They move in such different ways and with such intelligence. I like a bit of boxing! Fun and such a different mind space.
3. If you were to do a solitary retreat in a cozy secluded spot with no technology for one month what 3 books would you bring and why?
I can honestly say Bernie Clark’s ‘Yin Yoga’ book is one of them. I constantly pick it up and learn again and find something new… I love it. I would take ‘The Web That Has No Weaver’ (a book about Traditional Chinese Medicine) as I have been trying to find the right moments to sit down and absorb but it has not happened. It looks at me every night from my bedside stand. I would take Anne of Green Gables whole series on my kindle! Is that cheating?? A month is a long time and I have not mastered hours of meditation. I read the series on my kindle when I was Prince Edward Islands and then continued as I travelled in to Montreal and across Canada. It made me feel utterly warm, nostalgic and fond of childhood reading and think so positively.
4. What is your most vivid impression or memory from the Bernie Clark retreat we trained at?
For me, being in British Columbia and in Whistler mountains and the beautiful setting we were in was a big thing. I was where I had been born, where I had lived through my childhood, where I had holidayed as a child… I was a1/4 of a way into my travels and I was in Whistler. I loved the trees. I felt British. I felt Canadian. I felt connected. I felt curious. I felt alone. I felt held… It was really lovely all of it. And as I write lots of little things are coming back to me. I do remember landing back in Vancouver City and after a week of retreat and trying to function in the city environment… I felt like an alien. I liked it. Everyone was so fast and I just went slower.
5. What do you feel the Universe created you to experience? Or what is one nugget of wisdom your personal experience of your life has revealed to you?
Ummmmmmmm. DEEP, TJ!!!! That holding space for people is the kindest thing you can do. I know we have both a shared background in teachers of young people. Children and the classroom environment was a beautiful and perfect way for me to develop an understanding of the importance of allowing time and holding space. I was always pretty earthy and peaceful but the big travels really helped me to really feel and get out of my head- that was spacious for myself and in turn other people. Does that make sense?? That is where the real magic began to happen for me…
Join TJ and I for what was meant to be 5 questions each but we already think we need another round… Maybe 3… Interviewing across oceans 🙂 Here are my questions and TJ’s answers!
1 Tell me more about your silent experience. What was the process like?
Its tricky to summarize the experience of the retreat itself. I wrote a lot of poetry that sums it up fairly well. I also spent time during the retreat translating my own version of the Tao Te Ching (which I may have completed in time for the Yin training at Wild Wolf). The logistical process though was interesting in trying to prepare for something that was so different from my regular life. Originally I wanted to take part in a 60 day retreat guided by a teacher I am interested in studying with. That turned out to be far outside of my budget but the seed was already growing in my brain. I was mentally committed to trying this new meditative adventure, to feel the experience, so I decided to simply create a self guided solitary retreat. From that point it was just a matter of finding an appropriate Buddhist center with retreat cabins to host me. The Milarepa Center in Vermont turned out to be a wonderful choice and I am so grateful to that beautiful place. Packing and planning the schedule I would adhere to was next and that was kind of a loose intuitive practice since I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my body and mind for something like this.
2 ~ How did you feel after you came out of your 30 days of silence?
The silence wasn’t as much a factor as simply dealing with the time in general. The way time effects you changes when you know you have so much of it to work with. It becomes very natural to move slower and do everything with less urgency. Coming out of that is very similar to coming out of a single meditation session: you maintain the calm for as long as you maintain that slower perception of time. It is like the world is a moving train and you get off of it to meditate or go on retreat. Coming out of retreat or meditation you have to be careful not to try to get back on the train by just grabbing it as it speeds by, you have to match its speed slowly. I didn’t consider this so I hopped right back onto the train (literally since I took Amtrak home to NY haha) and much of my stillness evaporated. Deep down however a lot had accumulated but on the surface I was right back into the world.
3- What does your martial arts experience mean to you now in relation to yin yoga?
Shaolin Kung Fu is what truly opened my eyes to Chi. I had read a lot about it but like most people I think it remained a kind of mystical concept. My teacher Sifu Shi Yan Ming has a presence and intensity that is infectious and each class the energy of the students was palpable. I started to realize how that energy moved into me and how I gave it back to the class through the intensity I put in. This of course was very Yang training but I felt what Chi was in its riled-up state and so this translated into understanding what Chi is in a Yin practice, how to feel it, how to work with it and what all those books were talking about.
4- After our Yin training that we shared you went very much into the forest of yin, why?
What that first training helped me know (that Bernie’s book made me suspect) was that I was already pretty deep into the Yin forest most of my life. I learned Yoga from a book over a decade ago and always practiced in a slow stretching way (I never liked Vinyasa), even my Sun Salutation cycles were very stretched out, softening into many breathes in each position. Once I realized my way of practicing had a name AND it was informed by Taoism (my fav) I just decided to go all in, it felt so right (like Yin usually does hehe).
5- What drew you to bring your first teaching programme to Wild Wolf’s?
I research A LOT, its one of my favorite things to do. Once I began developing my YYTT I started researching studios around the world looking for unique spaces. A Yin training or immersion is a very special thing and having the right spaces for it is very important for creating the best possible experience for the students (something we will talk about in the training). I had seen your posts on social media popping up in the time since we trained together and always enjoyed your story-centered approach to writing. Once I saw what you were creating with your studio it just fit all of the boxes I was looking for: beautiful minimal branding, a cozy space with character, a community that appreciated the YINside of life balanced with fun Yang offerings, owned by a kindred spirit and with the coolest Yoga studio name I have ever seen
As promised, the granola recipe that I have used for many yoga brunches in the past and then was brought back to life recently… Kitty added some of her Ayurvedic touches for our White’s Botanicals version. Check out this much used scrap of paper with the failsafe granola guidance:
- 40g oil (coconut)
- 120ml honey or maple syrup
- 1/2-1&1/2 tsp flaked salt
- 170g jumbo oats
- 170g grain of choice- rye, barley, spelt
- 200g mixed nuts
- 50g seeds
- 50g coconut shaving
- 1 large egg white (not if vegan)
- sprinkle of nutmeg,cinnamon & black pepper (Kitty’s touch)
Oven 150’C. Greaseproof paper a baking tray. Heat oil, honey or syrup and salt in a pan and cool. Mix dry ingredients with oil mixture. Froth egg white and toss it in (makes it crisp). Bake for 30 mins. Stir to avoid chunking.
We served our granola with almond milk, greek yoghurt and stewed apples in cinnamon and ghee.
Next up: ‘Bliss Balls, Baby’… Kitty made another test batch of bliss balls this week to try and commit the recipe to paper… We snaffled the lot! Washed down with a turmeric latte!
‘Let us allow nature to teach us stillness. Be the aware presence that perceives the flower, the tree, the plant, the animal. Nature is always helpful for people that want to connect with the stillness. Manmade things very often generate more thinking because they are made through thinking. So go to nature…’ Eckhart Tolle
Stillness speaks. For me it is always easier to find in nature. Though I hold space for people to explore stillness in the heart of the Old City of Bristol, these past months I have had to work a little harder to come into spaciousness and stillness. The whirlwind of Wild Wolf’s has left me looking for a little more quietude.
Please indulge my countryside reflections; a blog on the longer and more whimsical side as I sit at the kitchen table and romantically gaze across fields with horses and a slowly setting sun…
A sojourn in the countryside in the nook of a Somerset village, a long overdue sleepover in the care of Mama Wolff… this is where I find the time, the space to finally pull together words. Words that have been swimming in my head, that seem to only ever find their voice in late night stolen conversations with my sister, woven into weekly themes and my meanderings in yin classes.
From City to Country
After our Feel Good Friday blast, I head out of Bristol. I have taken 3 days off. It is strange. It is freeing. I feel tired. The countryside is quiet. My mum’s house familiar, although new. Ruffdog and I climb into bed at 9:00pm after a twilight wander around the village, red wine, an easter egg and my favourite dinner of Mallorcan Cod (can’t decide if this was yin or yang or a perfect blend of both??). I am awoken by birds, not the 5am collection of bottles and glass in the city. I move more slowly and feel more easily present. Not having to nudge my mind away from dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. A different pace in all ways.
From Granola to Eggs
When pondering potential breakfast options, we realise there are no eggs (and I simply can not have another bowl of granola following on from our Good Friday Feeling granola feasting). Last night he tea towel covers the ‘Eggs for Sale’ sign on Christine’s gate… the next morning the tea towel is gone and the sign is revealed. From supermarket shopping to porch purchases, the chickens have laid, the removal of the tea towel gives the message! We take £1.00 and go into the porch with our egg box and swap it for 6 fresh eggs.
Wide open spaces, long walks and drives. Nature, solitude and time with the parents. That space that I long for is always there. Whether in the city or country, speaking with a stranger or my mum. I feel it and know. Space and the holding of space creates a sense of connection. For the moment, nature is a perfect trigger for me to settle into a more peaceful way of being. Hence a morning run on Bristol’s harbourside has become like a daily dose of medicine when in the city.
I get my mum to read the blog and she corrects me on Christine’s tea towel set up. “You know Christine’s gate? Well, it’s not even really a gate to anywhere,” I say to my mum. “Yes,” she says knowingly (although a self-confessed non country type person!). “Yes, there are lots of those in the country.”
From Country to City
So I head back to the Old City of Bristol, my stomping ground. I live in the middle of what once were the gates into Bristol. Definitely the gates to somewhere! Now Wild Wolf’s sits within this portal. Perhaps this is why the building has such a good feeling. Safe and a space which feels rich with time and history. Stillness feels beautiful in there and people that come into the building feel good.
‘Let us allow nature to teach us stillness. Be the aware presence that perceives the flower, the tree, the plant, the animal. Nature is always helpful for people that want to connect with the stillness. Manmade things very often generate more thinking because they are made through thinking. So go to nature…
…And then take this stillness back to busier places; it is also important that you are able to sustain the state of stillness even in the midst of the city.’ Eckhart Tolle
Welcome to the Wild Wolf Pack! In a whirlwind of all things Wild Wolf’s, one thing slipped by: our blog… Almost 6 months later, we are ready to share. In some ways intrigued to see what actually comes up, what our teachers will bring to the blog, what our ever-growing wolf pack will want to hear. What we do know? We are ready to explore our voice in more depth. As much as I have come to love the stories and snippets that can be shared on Instagram and Facebook, here we have an opportunity to delve a bit deeper…
If you been with us from the beginning or if you are just joining us now, the warmest of welcomes awaits. We love our cosy studio in the heart of the Old City of Bristol and we hope you do too.
Be our guest! Join the pack and welcome, welcome! 🙂