Winter Solstice

As the year comes to an end it is wonderful time for shopping, good cheer and spending time with family, and friends. However, it is also a special time for reflection. December 21st marked a very important date in Vedic Astrology with respect to the full moon and the eclipse.

The winter solstice is not only the shortest day of the year but a lunar eclipse took place. And this, by the way, only happens ever 375 years. With the moon at its highest point in the northern hemisphere the energies of Shiva (male) and Shakti (female) are said to be vital and strong. It is also a full moon in Gemini representing improvements in communication both in the written and spoken word.

Usually in the camps of Ashtanga-yoga, practice is not taken on both full and new moons. My teacher Yogacharya once said he did not follow this. However, while in India we strictly followed many note-able dates in which there was no practice. These were Krishna's birthday, the Ganesha festival and others. I guess you could say all of India was following these except for the "spiritually uninclined" in which it was a bank holiday.

At the end of this year, it is a time to reflect and give thanks for what has taken place, what has been accomplished and who have been a part of it. My students are a big part of the school. And without them there would be no school at all. Sounds obvious, but it is true. It reminds me of an e-mail I wrote to a student thanking her the gift she gave me.

I wrote, "We should start a "Thank you, No, thank you" group."

On the other side of things, however, it may become easy to see how much there is still left to do...and/or what lies ahead. Yet practising to be grateful for whatever comes up and to the many obstacles that may arise in practice (yes, the obstacles), in life or otherwise is all a part of the path. A fitting Sanskrit line is that of:

Jai Ma! Jai Ma! (Glory to all)

Sorry if I sound like a recovering Hindu or a converted Christain. I am not, however. Once during a lecture at a private school in Toronto I was asked by a high school student if I was Hindu. I wished I had said,

"No, my mother would kill me!"

Instead, I said I was not. (Sorry to disappoint.) I wish I had said, "I am an un-Hindu". This is actually what a great spiritual teacher said when he was described as being a 'Hindu'. He also went on to say we should "undo" many of our hidden or rather deep-seated issues that might be undoing our progress in some of the important areas of this life.

These areas are: love, relatonships and love.

So with the passing of the winter solstice and the end of the year it is a good time to look within. We can look to the many great teachings and the teachers. But as a friend of mine recently told me,

"Don't look to the lofty ideals of the Vedic teachings but to the daily interactions you have. These will tell you more about how much you are progressing than anything else and/or how much home-work you have yet to really do."

On this wise note, so long 2010...and hello 2011.


The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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