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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yoga Voyages: Yoga Absolute Goes to Assissi

Here is a Guest Post from my friend and colleague, Yeshie Palmo. When she is home in Vancouver, Yeshie Palmo teaches yoga and meditation at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver.

For the past several months she has been away on a meditation retreat, and is currently in Italy visiting Assissi and Rome.

Check her website for more details about her yoga from a Buddhist perspective and meditation trip to India in April 2009.


So far, my best Italian is the greeting line above! I always love a multi-functional word. I have to admit it is a bit intimidating to be here on my own and not among any other tourists. Being in a new foreign country can be quite difficult to figure out and normally I am either near someone I know that knows the way around or other tourists that do not know their way either, but at least we can figure it out together. The house is so far away from everything, I do not get a chance just to duck out to the streets and check it out and slowly get more familiar with the lay of the land or the language. So I am going to dive right in and take the train to Rome next week - the next sunny day.

Other than that, things are going well. I am finally over the jet lag and the flu that I had and have finally started doing some yoga. The house has so many books that I can really read whatever I want. Yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, Renaissance Architecture, History of Italy, India, Tibet, etc etc. Actually I do not know what to read! I am reading a book that the owner of the house published about his teacher,Anandamayi Ma. I had not heard of her, but she was a pretty amazing self realized Indian female master. I have included some photos of the house, Assisi and Perugia (about 15 minutes from Assisi - quite a pretty little town that is across the valley from Assisi).

From here I am leaving soon for London. I tried to go to the Putney Sivananda Center last year but it is really far from my friend's home in Kings Cross. Maybe I will try again this time. I love checking out all the centers around the world. I usually have my uniform with me when I travel and try to teach a class but I did not bring it this time. I did not think that I would venture out of Italy! Instead I have not really ventured in Italy! Hahaha! One of my big reasons for going to London is to see a very close yogi friend of mine. I go to as many of his classes as I can. He is an amazing master. I met him a few years ago in Rishikesh and since he has moved to London. He is now building an Ashram in Vrindavin. I think he will come to teach a retreat in Vancouver sometime this year. He is quite something, this Himalayan Yogacharya Yogi Ashokananda.
I hope you have a nice holiday season and are not too snowed in!

If you have been to a wonderful place on our planet to practice yoga, send me a few pictures and a description in 200-300 words, and I would love to post you as a Guest on Yoga Voyages.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Written Inc.: Thematic Photographic 30 - Holiday

Written Inc.: Thematic Photographic 30 - Holiday

Holiday in Canada

In the West Coast Rain Forest of British Columbia's Lower Mainland, Boxing Day is usually balmy and the busiest day of the year for retailers, but in 2008 we had snow. Again. The third blizzard in a week, and the snow is now so deep cars are buried half way up the doors.

I live on a hill and did not put on snow tires this year, so I left my car parked and walked to the mall, stopping along the way to watch people spinning their wheels as they tried to get up the road. Whole families came out to shovel and push their visitors' cars uphill to help their guests home. I joined a few pedestrians more than once to help, random acts of kindness for drivers unskilled in snow.

But as I am walking, the scenery is beautiful. Douglas Firs soar into snowclouds and cedars' fragrant boughs droop over the sidewalk, dropping a load of snow as I brush against them.

Robert Frost's words run like a mantra in my mind:
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep..."

No, today I would not rather be barefoot at the edge of a tropical pool.
I pause and listen to the salmon stream running over stones down Burnaby Mountain.
The air is clean and still, not silent yet calm. As the city shuts down around me, I feel the moment unfold its perfection, and I am happy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Meet Us On the Mat: 24 Hour Yoga Relay 2008

Thank you to all the yogis and yoginis of Burnaby, Vancouver and around the Lower Mainland who met us on the mat for World AIDS Day and participated in the 2008 24-hour Yoga Relay. For 24 hours from 4 pm Nov 29 to 4 pm November 30 in participating yoga studios and at the Croatian Cultural Centre, participants of all ages practiced yoga and collected pledges from families, friends and sponsoring businesses.

Together we raised over $70,000 for Unicef to help children around the world whose lives have been changed forever because of AIDS. Orphaned, infected at birth, or infected through sexual activity forced on them by war, disaster or poverty, these children need help. The money this project raises each year helps Unicef provide them with shelter, food, medical care, education, and hope.

At the Croatian Cultural Centre, volunteer yoga teachers taught back-to-back classes in various styles of hatha yoga, including Sivananda, Kundalini, power, flow, yin, yoga nidra and others. Some people practiced every class; others came for one or more, and left when they needed to. In their breaks participants could cast their intention into the Wishing Well of Intentions, bid on the Silent Auction, eat a snack, meet their friends in the conversation alcove, nap or meditate in the silent room, or mark the OM canvas with their fingerprint.

If you missed us this year, mark your calendar for next year. December 1 is World AIDS Day. The 24 Hour Relay usually runs the weekend before that. Check the Yoga4 Kidz website for updates and for how to get yoga into your child's school.
Free Yoga Day and Open House on Saturdays from 12:30-5 pm: January 10, February 7 and March 7
2010 East 48th at Victoria at theSivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver.

4 levels of yoga DVD for practice at home, on business trips and vacation so you never miss yoga class again

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Glamour and the Real

We live in a society that glamourizes youth, and women as well as men face pressure to mask signs of aging. Whatever form of falseness you choose to invest in--botox, breast implants, liposuction, hair dye and more--it is all available at market rates. But if you paid me ten million dollars, I would not want to live my youth over again. For me the time I shook hands with my own power began after thirty, when I met a retired nurse from Arizona named Rose and began a journey that is awakening me to my soul's purpose and the reason I was born.

I would never claim to be awake, like some enlightened beings, self realized masters of various spiritual lineages who have completely actualized their human potential through their practice--Jesus, for example, or Buddha, or Sri Aurobindo, or Swami Sivananda--to name only a few great avatars who have appeared at times of humanity's great need to teach, to serve, to heal.

But before I met Rose and practiced yoga for the first time, I was in the wilderness in my life, alone in darkness and unconnected with a great ideal to serve. In all the material abundance of my Canadian upbringing and surroundings of the 60's, 70's and 80's, I was in despair beneath a patina of social cheerfulness, for my life felt purposeless and empty. I had dreams of darkness, yet more than dreams, for when I woke up the darkness was still there, imbuing my life, distancing me from everyone with apathy and exhaustion, although on the surface I seemed to be doing all the right things--running laps, running Marathons, winning prizes, graduating from university, working. I dreamed of falling into dark pits, unable to climb out, of watching my own face being eaten alive by ants, of drowning, snagged on underwater trees, of being shot through closed doors and watching my own blood spatter the blue kitchen wall behind me. Each night as I prepared to sleep I prayed I would not have those dreams, but the other ones that sometimes came, the dreams of liberation, of flying over colourful carpets of autumn forest, over blue water lapping white towns, my body immediately responsive to my thoughts to float up cliffs effortlessly, and to hover and dart at will.

Rose by no means rescued me, but taught me a practice that I felt ignite within me and open deep channels that have been purifying and healing me ever since. Every morning at the meditation retreat I had joined, she led us in a yoga class, and in these ancient postures, the twists, the inversions, the forward bends and back bends, and the corpse position of perfect stillness, I experienced a quality within me I have never known in any other life experience I have since encountered. I knew this was my practice. I knew this was my way home. Without doubt, fear or question I felt yoga resonate within me and I knew this was the most priceless of pearls, this was what I had come into the great bazaar of life to find, to remember, to embody.

I have had moments of transcendence in life, like on the cliffside in northern Scotland above Achiltibuie overlooking the Summer Isles and Ullapool, when the mist swirled beneath my feet, the sheep bleated above me on the mountainside while the sea petrels cried below me as they soared on the wind and sought fish to dive for. In the stillness after days of near-fasting and silent meditation, I felt my energy open near the base of my belly and suddenly I expanded. For some timeless period I was the wind, I was the mountain, I was the light of the gleaming sea and the blackness of the Summer Isles silhouetted on the shining path of the sun. I was huge, eternal, and Real.

For me yoga is a discipline which offers a path to what is real. In the face of life's vicissitudes and all the suffering each human life encompasses, yoga gives a way to stay connected with the hugeness of all that is. Of course it is not really a path back, for in fact we have never been separated--only our minds and the barriers of our own ego make us believe we are separate, that we are our bodies, our names, our social personality, our job or role in life, our money, our vacations, our hair colour, our physical youth or beauty. But yoga teaches us that what is real is not any of these things. These things of time and change, of beginnings and ends are "asat," unreal, and only the things that were never born and never began and will never end are real--the stuff of spirit, or "brahman" in the vocabulary of advaita philosophy which yoga comes from.

As my practice matures and deepens, once impossible postures become easy, my focus shifts to cultivating the inner qualities of yoga, and I begin to understand that the more I learn about this infinite practice, the more I know nothing. Along the way I have become a teacher and to my amazement students look to me as if I have something to teach them. Compassion, discrimination, non-attachment, non-violence, recognizing one Self in all that is, these are the real lessons yoga offers humanity. Our teachers are all around us--not only on the yoga mat, but off, in our fears, our perceived threats, in the angry bosses, the bad news bankers, the crying children, the enraged drivers who cut us off in traffic.

Shaking hands with our own power is something that we can only do for ourselves, for the only power there is, lies within us. It is not in money or fame or beauty or any form of empire we may choose to establish. As I stand now on the final side of menopause and feel the liberation that brings, I remember old dreams of flying and know I am living them now. I watch my daughter move into the circle of life as I step back from it; I see the generations pass. I share this now in the wish that every daughter in the world, and every son too, might find the way to experience this for themselves. The best part of yoga for me is the feeling of joy it has brought to my life, the deep sense of purpose and knowing that even if I die tomorrow, it won't matter, that I will have done my part to keep the teachings alive for humanity, and that others will continue to carry on the work.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Managing Workplace Stress: Corporate Trust and Team-Building

Are employee stress, illness and burnout reducing quality and productivity in your workplace, and increasing mistakes? Are stress and job insecurity undermining trust among regional managers in your organization?

Research shows that North American businesses lose about $12 billion each year due to stress related disorders.
  • High levels of work-related stress result in lower levels of performance and commitment from employees.
  • Illnesses resulting from stress lead to increased rates of absenteeism.
  • Workplace injuries can increase as stressed workers may lack the concentration and alertness necessary for safety.
  • In Canada and the US, employees are now taking more stress-leave absences from work that ever before.
  • Lack of trust among regional and district managers blocks communication, reduces team effectiveness, and impacts customer service.
You can avoid this in your organization!! Email me at to receive a free newsletter about my three-day Corporate Trust and Team-Building Workshop that uses values clarification, communication strategies, yoga and relaxation techniques to build trust and unblock relationship patterns in your organization.

How does Yoga help increase manager and employee effectiveness?

Yoga is not only a physical activity but also a meditation, which can increase strength, flexibility and body awareness, boost immunity, develop concentration and mental focus, and reduce stress. Because yoga teaches relaxation and life skills for managing stress, it helps managers and employees improve performance on the job and in customer relations; because it boosts immunity, it helps reduce absenteeism due to illness. Moreover, yoga is a practice that can be sustained into old age, with cumulative benefits; it is a non-competitive, portable, low-cost activity that appeals to many people who do not enjoy other forms of sport.

Does this sound like a program you would like for your organization? Email me today at to receive a free newsletter about my three-day Corporate Trust and Team-Building Workshop that uses values clarification, communication strategies, yoga and relaxation techniques to build trust and unblock relationship patterns in your organization.

If you want a free newsletter with pictures of ten minutes of yoga you can do in the office in business clothes to ease tension in your back and neck from computer work, email me at

My 4 levels of yga DVDs to support your practice at home or on vacations or business trips out of town are available at Banyen Books in Vancouver, at the Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver, and through my website at

I teach yoga classes in Burnaby on Wednesdays 8:15-9:15 pm near Lougheed and Gilmore and in Vancouver on Tuesdays 8-9:30 pm, Thursdays 4:30-6:00 pm, Fridays 1:45-3:15 pm and Sundays 10:30 am-noon at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver, 2010 East 48th Avenue at Victoria Email me for details.

Enjoy my blog!



Monday, September 22, 2008

YogaVoyages: Yoga Cruise to Alaska August 2008

If you have been to a wonderful place to practice yoga, send me your guest post in 200 words or so and a few pictures. Let's share this transformative practice with every human being that wants to know!!

In August I took a group on the Celebrity Mercury up the Alaska Inside Passage from Vancouver and back for 7 days. We practiced yoga together every morning at 7:30 in the Navigator lounge, then spent the rest of the day enjoying the ship.

The weather was cool and rainy so I didn't get to practice outside--the first morning I went up to the 14th deck to practice at sunrise, but I was freezing, so I moved inside. Next time I will take the group somewhere hot, like the Eastern Mediterranean and practice up close to the wind and the stars in the warm dawn.

The scenery was spectacular, with snowy mountains, old volcanoes, green forested islands in the mist, and dolphins at sunset leaping through the wake. We made a few stops along the way and got off the boat to look around. There were opportunities to do shore excursions like walk on the Mendenhall Glacier in Ketchikan, watch carvers at work in Juneau and visit the Russian museum, the totem park or the eagle rehabilitation centre in Sitka. We cruised into Hubbard Glacier Bay one afternoon and saw this huge wall of ice which is rapidly shrinking as the earth's climate warms.
Sea days were pretty relaxing. I took a lot of naps. I watched movies like Casino Royale and The Queen. We could take some dance classes, hang out in the hot tub, have timeless conversations with no hurry to end and race off to some other agenda. That was the best part--to have time to share the spiritual journeys and life histories of people I have been teaching and practicing with for years without ever knowing very much about each other.

In the evening we met for dinner and ate food that was art on the plate and on the palate. In the late evening people who like to stay up late could watch a show, dance in the nightclub, hang out in a lounge with their friends, gamble in the casino, watch a late night movie or run laps on the 12th deck track for exercise before sleeping.

I am planning a group cruise next summer, July or August 2008, in the warm part of the planet. Probably Eastern Mediterranean--Greek Islands, Turkey, Adriatic Sea. Email me at: or
if you want to be on the mailing list for info as I work out the details.

My 4 levels of yoga DVDs to support your home practice or to help you relax and sleep soundly on your business trips are available through my website

I teach regular yoga classes near Burnaby at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver,
Suite 280-2010 East 48th Avenue at Victoria. Free parking and easy access by transit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yoga Voyages: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver

If you have been to a wonderful place on the planet to practice yoga, send me your guest post in 200 words or so and a few pictures. Let's share this transformative practice with every human being that wants to know.

In Vancouver we have so many wonderful choices about where to go to practice yoga. Almost every style and lineage is represented here and even yogis and yoginis from the suburbs no longer have to travel in to Kitsilano to find a yoga class, but can practice in their communities, in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Mission and more.

If you like classical hatha yoga in a bright pranic room filled with inner and outer light, try the Sivananda Centre at 48th and Victoria. The studio is small, about 700 sqare feet, with a bank of windows along the east wall and heirloom carpets on the floors in the form of mandalas. The second floor view looks over the parking lot and the rooftops of the next-block neighbours, so as we prepare to practice we see sky, sunset bronzing clouds, cherry trees in springtime, and sometimes on a clear day a distant snowy glimpse of Mount Baker.

The Sivananda practice is meditative and relaxing, with variations to suit all levels of practice. Here we begin as we end, relaxing on the back in Savasana and allowing the mind to settle into stillness and inner focus. We chant the opening mantras, ancient Sanskrit verses which are energetic keys embodying a certain power of sound, and begin pranayama. In every class we practice the Shining Skull Breath, Kapalabhati, and the Alternate Nostril Breathing, Anuloma Viloma. These breath practices purify and balance the energy system and have healing physical effects as well.

Three to six pairs of Sun Salutations bring the class into unison with synchronized motion, breath, and mental focus. They stretch all the major muscles, get the blood moving to every cell and organ, and open and lubricate all the joints to increase flexibility and strength.

The class moves through a series of asanas that are arranged to open the energy system from the top of the head down through the seven main spinal chakras, or energy centres. At the same time these postures fold the spine forward and bend it back, squeezing and then stretching all the organs, and keeping the spine flexible as we age. These postures include headstand for those who practice it or want to learn it, shoulderstand, plough, bridge, fish, forward fold, slide, cobra, locust, bow, half twist, crow, standing forward fold, triangle, tree and sometimes other asanas for variation and growth of the practice.

Because we hold the postures for ten breaths or longer and relax in Savasana in between, there is a deep feeling of stillness in the Sivananda class. The class can be very strenuous without being busy. By the end of the practice, final relaxation feels like paradise.

This is a wonderful studio to come to in the late afternoon or evening as day turns to darkness, and the thoughts, like the crows alighting to roost in the cherry trees, come to stillness. Make a point to visit for a yoga class or for Satsang, meditation and chanting, on Sundays at 6 pm. Plan to attend the Free Yoga and Open House Days on Saturday, November 1 and Saturday, December 6 from 12:30-5:00 pm with sample yoga, meditation and chanting classes, door prizes and vegetarian refreshments.
Regular schedule and rates are on line at:

Mats and equipment are there. Parking is free. It is easy to reach by bus #20 from Commercial Station (15 minutes) and by bus#49 UBC from Metrotown (10 minutes).

2010 East 48th Avenue suite 280, Vancouver V5P 1R8 604-321-9039

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Angles of Incidents

Which draws us, angles
of incidence, angles of
reflection or
equals signs that yoke
these two in one?

Life incidents construct us now and here,
the child's moan
the siren's wail
the chattering shattered glass:
sudden shards of the heart.

But learning logs in later
in grateful solitude when
scrutiny reflects awareness
upon an inward eye.

I strive to live here now.
I mark time in breaths
of quiet stillness, when I hold
the inner voice yet not surrender

shine incidents
upon the mirror of my mind
and seek the angle,
this geometry of angles,
this geometry of joy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your Sadhana

Thursday, August 28, 2008

If you don't have time everyday to practice yoga, try adding fifteen minutes to the end of your workout. If you walk, run, cycle, swim, work out at the gym or regularly do a form of exercise, an extra fifteen minutes of yoga will help you cool down, stretch and relax.

Yoga is a form of moving meditation. It quiets the mind and helps us manage stress as it also keeps the spine flexible, all the joints healthy and mobile, and the organs toned and functioning as we continue to age.

Investing in a yoga practice daily, however long or short you can manage, is as important an investment in health as cardio-vascular fitness. This is your personal practice, or sadhana. Yoga will quiet your mind, keep you lean and limber, help you manage stress. Start to practice yoga today and notice how much better you will sleep.

Try these postures after your exercise routine. Hold each posture for 5 to 10 breaths. Breathe deeply and relax into the exhalation.

Want to practice with more guidance?

My yoga DVDs levels 1-4 to support your home practice are available with Paypal on my website

Level 1: Gentle Yoga for Seniors and Beginners
This is very relaxing practice, mostly seated, lying on the belly and lying on the back postures. I teach a lot of guided breathing. this is really good to relax before sleeping.
"I love this DVD. It's like being in a class with Janis. Her quiet voice completely relaxes me."

Level 2: Yoga for Beginners and Early Intermediates
This is a basic hatha yoga class, with the classical standard seated, standing, lying on the belly and lying on the back postures. It includes some standing balances, but no inversions and no sun salutations. This one is good for people who are learning the alignment of the postures and want to stretch and stregthen as they develop flexibility and breath awareness.
"Janis teaches variations so I can do the easy variation and move to a harder variation as I get better."

Level 3: Yoga for an Advancing Practice
This DVD includes two variations of Sun Salutations and more advanced postures as well as more advanced variations of postures already taught on previous DVDs.
"I love this DVD. It is a work out but leaves me relaxed at the same time."

Level 4: Advanced Yoga for Strength and Flexibility
This DVD is fast and athletic. It requires previous experience with yoga. Working with this DVD in between classes with your teacher will advance your practice quickly.

If you travel for business and want to ease stress from travel and sleeping away from your own bed, pack a DVD to carry with you and practice in your hotel room. You will sleep better, focus better, and feel radiant and loving with the human race. Your clients will profit from your serenity.

I teach regular yoga classes near Burnaby in Vancouver at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver at Suite 280-2010 East 48th Avenue near Victoria. Free parking and easy access by transit. See schedule at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yogablog Begins

Hello, everyone!

My name is Jithamaya Janis Goad and I live in Burnaby, BC, in Canada. This is my blog! I am learning how to do it so if I make mistakes as I go along, remember how it was when you were learning.

I will love it if you send me comments and emails from wherever you are in the world.

I teach yoga and English as a Second Language, and most of my blog is going to be about yoga, travel, world cultures and sometimes my other interests like the plants I love in my garden, my cats, movies I've seen that I like, or books.

One of my favourite yoga poses is this one, Reverse Pose, where you go upside down and hang like a bat, perfectly balanced, relaxed and still. With eyes closed or half closed, just hang there, hovering on the breath and find stillness. It is lovely. When you come down you feel recharged.

If you want a free newsletter with pictures of other yoga poses you can do upside down, or ten minutes of yoga you can do in the office in business clothes to ease tension in your back and neck from computer work, email me at

My 4 levels of yga DVDs to support your practice at home or on vacations or business trips out of town are available at Banyen Books in Vancouver, at the Sivanada Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver, and through my website at

I teach yoga classes in Burnaby on Wednesdays 8:15-9:15 pm near Lougheed and Gilmore and in Vancouver on Tuesdays 8-9:30 pm, Thursdays 4:30-6:00 pm, Fridays 1:45-3:15 pm and Sundays 10:30 am-noon at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Vancouver, 2010 East 48th Avenue at Victoria Email me for details.

Enjoy my blog!