Check out my article, ‘ Yoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal on The Elephant Journal

YogaYoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal (Click Here)

I hope you enjoy it! Much love and namaste.

xxoo Jess

My Leonard Cohen Experience

Leonard CohenI loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but now it’s come to distances and both of us must try,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

I’m not looking for another as I wander in my time,
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it’s just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

– Leonard Cohen

I went to see Leonard Cohen at the Air Canada Centre last night here in Toronto. I had been told that it would be a life changing experience. I had no idea what that meant until the show began last night. From the moment I heard his voice, the music strumming; I was mesmerized. I honestly felt like I was at church having a religious experience. I laughed, I was brought to tears, I felt connected to the human race. Connected in that we are all one. His voice was soothing to the ear. His generosity as a performer undeniable. He said, “Friends I don’t know if we will see each other again, so we’re going to give you everything we’ve got.” I can confirm that he kept his promise, and am I ever thankful for the experience. Profoundly affected. I am.

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

Forgiveness

DreamcatcherWe are swimming with the snakes at the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what’s more we never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free
I heard them ringing the bells in heaven and hell
They got a secret they’re getting ready to tell

It’s falling from the skies
It’s calling from the graves
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed

It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line
As usual we’re having ourselves one hell of a time
And the planes keep flying over our heads
No matter how loud we shout

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey
And we keep wavin and wavin our arms in the air but we’re all tired out
I heard somebody say today’s the day
Big old hurricane she’s blowing our way
Knockin over the buildings
Killing all the lights

Open your eyes boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes boy, we made it though the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air
And we were blessed

It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
It’s hard to give
But still I think it’s the best bet
Hard to give
Never gonna forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

Patty Griffin Patty Griffin

It’s the beginning of December. We are on the verge of completing a year. It is a time of stress, intense emotions, anxiety, fear, and doubt. It is a time of reflection. It is a time to shed old skins to prepare ourselves for the new. Letting go is complicated. Forgiveness is hard.  When looking at the process of Forgiveness, each of us could list off reasons as to why someone may not deserve to be forgiven. It’s not that you or I are wrong, it’s not that you or I are right. You have been hurt, as have they. The feelings that you feel are your right to experience. What makes Forgiveness so challenging is the lack of acknowledgement from both parties. It’s true giving space to a situation is a good thing to do. However, when someone constantly refuses to take responsibility for the part that they played in the scenario it is hard to leave emotion and the “making it personal” out of it. The good news is that we all have the ability to forgive ourselves as well as the individual who has hurt us. The truth is that there are many unresolved relationships whether it is a family member, a lover, or a friend. It, for the most part is due to lack of communication. With all of the resources that are available in today’s world, access to tools that help us better navigate who we are and what we present to the world; how does one adapt? There is unfortunately chaos all of the time due to poor communication skills.

DreamcatchersIf you are looking at how your year has gone, asking yourself if you did all of the things that you wanted to do? If you are asking why you can not seem to let go of a certain relationship and are losing sleep over it?  If you are wondering why you feel down all of the time? If you are questioning what you have done, where you will be going based on the choices you have made thus far – NOW is the time to figure out your process of Forgiveness and letting go. Each of us is different. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Investigate. Where and how do you feel safe? This includes the people that you will/are working with, be it a therapist, yoga class, energy/body work, reading material, workshops, ect. Sometimes writing letters to people and tearing them up is extremely therapeutic. How do you unhook yourself? How do you get complete about your year? Investigate. Explore. Find out and be specific. I’m committed to doing something every day for my well-being. I’m on the road to getting complete with my year. Lets do it together.

The PathWritten By

Jessica Hinkson

Yoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal

When I enrolled in the Yoga Teacher Training Program at YogaSpace, I had never entertained the idea of having a home practice. As I entered the studio for my first day of training with Kathryn Beet and Patricia White that was what we spent the entire first day establishing. Kathryn and Patricia introduced us to a basic wall series. The postures may have been basic, simple, and easy to understand, however they were also extremely active. There was a lot of moaning and groaning sounds throughout the day along with muffled laughter at ourselves. On a personal level, it was surprising to realize how tight my body felt on all levels. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. To say the least, I definitely had my homework cut out for me. As we were wrapping up our first day, Kathryn and Patricia  reinforced that establishing a home practice for self was of the utmost importance. Why? I simply like to look at that old saying, ‘Practice What You Preach.’

How can I be asking people to breathe, to scan their bodies from head to toe investigating places of stored tension when I myself am not?  How do I create a safe environment for my students if I haven’t learned to establish one for myself? If I am not continuing the investigation of myself to become more open as I stretch my tight muscles, massaging my internal organs, moving blocked energy, than how is it that I have a right to be leading anyone else, if I can’t lead myself?

Establishing a home practice is hard. It is easier to be in a classroom. In a classroom you cannot escape and attack those dirty dishes or re-organize your closet. It’s easy to get distracted at home and not do your practice with the idea that you will do it later. Trust me. I am an expert at procrastinating. So what are some tips for establishing a home practice that works for you? It took me a while to find out what worked best for me. I thought I’d share my tips with you.

1. What form of Yoga do you love to practice? Restorative, Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, or Flow? Find out by being open to attending a variety of classes with different teachers, especially if your practice is new or if you feel unsure about your favorite form of Yoga. Once you are feeling confident in your practice in a class environment, you are probably ready to begin designing your home practice. For me, Restorative Yoga is my absolute favorite. I often refer to it as magic time. I also use books for guidance sometimes. Here are a few of my favorites!

The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

Relax & Renew, Restful Yoga For Stressful Times by Judith Lasater

2. What works best for you? Is it morning, day, or night? When first beginning your home practice make sure that you do try practicing at different times of the day. Some days, I like to practice as soon as I get up, jumping right in to my sun salutations to wake up! Sometimes afternoons are great for a gentle practice combining both Hatha and Restorative instead of a nap. I love doing a Restorative practice right before bed at night. My mind slows down, my breath becomes steady and calm, and I am ready for a deep sleep by the time I am finished. Unless, I already passed out in Savasana. A successful practice in my books!

3. Setting up your space. What makes you feel warm, cozy, and great? My living space is sacred, as it should be for everyone. How everyone establishes that sense of sacredness, of feeling safe is dependent upon the individual. What do I do? I light a ton of candles, I role out my mat in the center of my living room and line up all of my props ( 2 Bolsters, 2 Blocks, 1 Eye Pillow, 3 Blankets). I put on whatever music it is that I feel my body is craving to listen to. To me, there is no right or wrong music. Your body knows what it needs, trust yourself that you are right.

4. Have fun! If you feel like laughing, DO! If you feel like crying, DO! If you want to make sound, stick out your tongue, stay in child’s pose for twenty minutes than DO it! Leave the idea of what you think you should be doing outside to the naked streets. My first Yoga teacher Maher Benham used to get my entire class to say, ‘I take the puppet that is of myself, and I fling it against the sky.’ – Emily Dickinson

We all thought that she was nuts! We couldn’t figure out why she would have us say that phrase repeatedly as if our lives depended on it! Until one day, I had an “aha” moment. What I realized was that she was trying to get us to realize that who we were as individuals was enough. To not try and be the person we thought we were supposed to be, but the person that we all already were.

“Today more than ever, it’s crucial that we include practices in our daily lives that promote health and spiritual growth. The state of the environment, the stresses created by the world’s ever-increasing population’s demand on dwindling resources, and political unrest are signposts of the critical state we face. If we want a world worth living in, and worth leaving to future generations, we need to take responsibility by creating well-being in our lives and by supporting others as they choose healthier lives. In other words, to transform the world, we first have to transform ourselves.”

~ Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph. D., P.T.  

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

For the Love of Miss Kaia. The Most Lovable Dog.

In December 2004 I was at my Christmas staff party. I was waiting for my then boyfriend to come who had been stuck at work. I took my phone out of my bag to see if he had texted/called. I listened to my voicemail. I did have a message from him that he was on his way, but I also had a message from a friend of ours, RJ who had recently got a golden retriever puppy. In the voicemail RJ said, ‘He had another female golden retriever puppy at his house who was in need of a home. Were we interested?’ I wasn’t sure why he had another puppy, but I got very excited and of course immediately wanted to meet her. We called them back and went over to the house right after dinner.

When we arrived at our friends’ house, we walked up the stairs full of excitement, anticipating what this puppy would be like that we were about to meet. We walked in to the kitchen and there she was. She was a beautiful golden red color with big brown eyes. As soon as she looked up at me my heart melted.  After a few minutes of us gushing over her, talking in that weird baby voice that we all swear we will never do, we sat down at the kitchen table to find out some more information about this little three-month old beauty whose name was Kayla.

“RJ told us he had received a call from the breeder the day before asking him if he could go rescue Kayla. The breeder was not able to get in contact with the family and was concerned that something was wrong. RJ agreed to go get the puppy. When he arrived at the house, he went inside and found Kayla sitting alone in a corner. The woman who owned the house was a single mom with three young girls. The house was filthy. Kayla was dirty and had gum matted in her coat and was not she being fed.”

As I was listening to RJ tell the end of the story I looked over to find Kayla nestled up asleep in my then boyfriends’ lap. She came home with us that night. We also changed her name to Kaia. Over those first few weeks Kaia slowly began to reveal little bits of her personality and being a new parent, I had no idea what I was doing. On Boxing Day a group of us had gone for a big hike. It was dark by the time we began to head home. Kaia was in the back seat wrapped up in a towel, but she was cold so she walked up to the front seat and crawled in to my lap. In that moment I bonded with her in a way that I hadn’t yet. Nor did I know in the months to come how she would forever change my life, and I hers.

Over the next few months we had moved and I had begun to realize that my relationship was not working. That Spring my relationship came to a tumultuous end. A few days after the breakup, I began to notice that Kaia’s eyes looked weird. She was blinking a lot and it looked as if her eyeballs were beginning to lodge out of her eye socket. I took her to the vet right away. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her and sent me over to the Animal Critical Care Group. Kaia knew that something was wrong and kept hiding under my legs. I was an emotional disaster to say the least. With my relationship ending and now the possibility that I might lose her too. I couldn’t bare the idea of it. They ran a bunch of exams including an ultrasound of the eyes. They concluded that she was suffering from one of two things: Extraocular Muscle Myositis or Retrobulbar Tumors.

Extraocular Muscle Myositis is a rare inflammatory disorder of single or multiple extraocular eye muscles, but it would treatable with a drug called Prednisone. Retrobulbar Tumors are tumors that formed behind the eyes. If it was cancer there wasn’t much I could do. I did not have the money, and at that point it would also be pretty advanced so that means there wouldn’t be much that they could do either. After a few more tests results they were able to confirm that it was Extraocular Muscle Myositis. I was thankful because this disease could be cured with the treatment of a strong drug. From there, the real journey of Kaia and I began.

Within a day she had had an amazing reaction to the Prednisone. I, once again was thankful to the universe. Throughout the next couple of years we were in and out clinics. She was always puffy. She would get brown patches or rather lesions on her skin, not to mention constant diharrea, sometimes vomiting.  To meet her, you would have never known. I was living in Vancouver at that point. I would take her to the beach every day sometimes twice. Regardless of what time of year it was she would be in the ocean swimming to find her bright orange ball only to be curled up by my side hours later. This dog of mine has an undeniable everlasting spirit.

After being on the Prednisone for close to three years, my vet at the time decided that it would be good to lower her dose significantly so that we could slowly move her off of the drug. I was shocked. I thought that she would have to be on this steroid for the rest of her life, and as much as I was excited, I was terrified. Once again though, Kaia responded amazingly! Over the next few months her dose was lowered until the vet decided she was good to stop taking the drug altogether. She was three years old, she is now nine, and she has never had to go back on Prednisone. She is a healthy middle-aged dame rocking it out every day!

Some of the things that I love about her daily; she smiles at people. She is extremely vocal. People have asked me over the years what is wrong with her, why does she cry like that, ect ect. I have always encouraged people to speak their truth; I guess Kaia caught on. Or, as my friend Dawn used to say when people would ask those questions, ‘Kaia can’t help it. She’s the daughter of an actress!’  It’s true, she is. I refer to her as my magic little pony. She doesn’t walk down the street but prances with her head always held up high. I love when she looks up at me with her big brown eyes. That when I put The Cure on she knows it’s go time, and as I begin to let my freak flag fly dancing like a crazy person she is right there with me. Although as I have said to her many times, she gets a little carried away. Who mosh’s to The Cure? Apparently, she does.

I love that every time I get on my yoga mat to practice she thinks this is the best idea ever and proceeds to lay directly across the mat underneath me as I am in downward dog. My dog makes me laugh. When I am sick or having a bad day she will not leave me for one second. For all of this, for her I am thankful. She is a dog. She is my dog. She is Miss Kaia always.

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

 

 

 

I Don’t Know Where I Stand

Funny day, looking for laughter and finding it there
Sunny day, braiding wild flowers and leaves in my hair
Picked up a pencil and wrote “I love you” in my finest hand
Wanted to send it, but I don’t know where I stand

Telephone, even the sound of your voice is still new
All alone in California and talking to you
And feeling too foolish and strange to say the words that I had planned
I guess it’s too early, ’cause I don’t know where I stand

Crickets call, courting their ladies in star-dappled green
Thickets tall, until the morning comes up like a dream
All muted and misty, so drowsy now I’ll take what sleep I can
I know that I miss you, but I don’t know where I stand
I know that I miss you, but I don’t know where I stand

~ Joni Mitchell, Clouds

Fear Is Like A Wilderland

Daylight falls upon the path, the forest falls behind
Today I am not prey to dark uncertainty
The shadow trembles in its wrath, I’ve robbed its blackness blind
And tasted sunlight as my fear came clear to me

I think I understand
Fear is like a wilderland
Stepping stones or sinking sand

Now the way leads to the hills, above the steeple’s chime
Below me sleepy rooftops round the harbor
It’s there I’ll take my thirsty fill of friendship over wine
Forgetting fear but never disregarding her

Oh, I think I understand
Fear is like a wilderland
Stepping stones and sinking sand

Sometimes voices in the night will call me back again
Back along the pathway of a troubled mind
When forests rise to block the light that keeps a traveler sane
I’ll challenge them with flashes from a brighter time

Oh, I think I understand
Fear is like a wilderland
Stepping stones or sinking sand

~ Joni Mitchell

Trust Joni to get right to the heart of your soul. Her beautiful poetic songs have been filling the rooms in my house once again. I seem to go through phases when I listen to Joni a lot. Each lyric I choke back with a breath wondering where I am going next, what else does my path hold for me? To say that these last few months has been lovely would be a untruth. There have been moments of great uncertainty, and of waking up with fear deep in my belly. Life doesn’t work out the way we plan, I have learned this repeatedly. Sometimes I laugh at the mystery of the world and in other times I find it hard to find my breath. I find it hard to find the ground, to feel my feet in the earth. People get taken away from us to early; unexpectedly. There are friends of whom we hold so near only to be faced with the possibility of them not being here nor there. There is heartbreak among the tragedy. There is hope that is lost. Through the dark of the nights, of whom is it that we can call upon, when we can’t find sleep or peace in our dreams. Once again, we are reminded to go to ourselves. To go deeper inside, to keep searching, to regain hope. For as far as we each may fall at times, the rise is that much greater. So, as Joni so wonderfully says, ” I think I understand. Fear is like a wilderland. Stepping Stones or sinking sand.” Need I say more?

Be safe. Be beautiful. Be bold. Breathe.

xxoo Jess

I Ride, and I Ride.

Iggy Pop
“The Passenger”
_Lust for Life_

I am a passenger
And I ride and I ride
I ride through the city’s backside
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, they’re bright in a hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight

I am a passenger
I stay under glass

I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city’s a rip in the sky
And everything looks good tonight

Singin’ la la la la la-la-la la
La la la la la-la-la la
La la la la la-la-la la la-la

Get into the car
We’ll be the passenger
We’ll ride through the city tonight
See the city’s ripped insides
We’ll see the bright and hollow sky
We’ll see the stars that shine so bright
The sky was made for us tonight

Oh the passenger
How how he rides
Oh the passenger
He rides and he rides
He looks through his window
What does he see?

He sees the sided hollow sky
He see the stars come out tonight
He sees the city’s ripped backsides
He sees the winding ocean drive
And everything was made for you and me
All of it was made for you and me
’cause it just belongs to you and me
So let’s take a ride and see what’s mine

Singing…
Oh, the passenger
He rides and he rides
He sees things from under glass
He looks through his window’s eye
He sees the things he knows are his
He sees the bright and hollow sky
He sees the city asleep at night
He sees the stars are out tonight
And all of it is yours and mine
And all of it is yours and mine
Oh, let’s ride and ride and ride and ride…
Singing…

Tomorrow is the second full moon of the month. August was all about power. Being empowered as opposed to dis-empowered. It was a month for everyone to reflect on the relationships we have in our lives on all levels and really investigate what works versus what doesn’t work. The investigation is indeed life long and sometimes above and beyond any challenge that we foresaw in our young past. In our youth we are all untouchable at one point. Our futures predicted. All dreams a reality because we stated it so, out, in to the big wide universe. As we begin to leave our teen years, moving in to what we think is young adult; our twenties, we realize that life is a wide jagged path, and, no, there isn’t a fairy rock god to grant us our dreams. There is work to be done. Have you asked yourself lately what that work is, that you still need to do?

I have been asking myself all month. There has been an ongoing conversation amongst a few friends, and, I about life. Where are we going? What is next? I feel like am the passenger…I ride, and I ride. I feel like I have been riding by myself and that my higher self won’t get in to the car with me. I realize that it is because I have been being inauthentic to myself. I still try to do things that aren’t a true representation of who I am, which leaves me feeling unclean. Over these last few weeks I have really had to take a look at myself and figure out what it was/is that I was still refusing to look at. I figured it out, and I’m not doing it anymore. What is it for you?

Best To You,

Jess

Smells Like Nirvana-I’m With The Band

It was the nineties, I was a teenager, and I had just returned from LA where I had been spending my summers training. A few other dancers from my troupe and I had heard that auditions were being held at the Vancouver Public Library for Weird Al Yankovic’s upcoming show. He needed dancers for “Smells Like Nirvana” his parody of Nirvana’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Just like video they wanted a couple of dancers in cheerleading outfits and sneakers. I loved my grunge rock bands, and I thought this was an amazing opportunity. Touring with Prince would have to wait. We arrived at the audition and to my surprise there were not very many people there. I mean, obviously Weird Al was definitely not Kurt Cobain, but that’s why the power of imagination is so crucial! Besides, who doesn’t want to get up on a stage and perform in front of thousands of screaming teenagers, even if the screaming isn’t for you?!

Z95.3 FM was hosting the audition, so it was live. We quickly learned the choreography and performed it a few times. I won or rather was chosen along with one other girl. They interviewed us, I told them what a great honor it was to receive this opportunity, and that I was so excited to be a part of the show. I walked away and couldn’t believe the BS that was coming out of my mouth…once again my imagination was getting the best of me. In the weeks leading up to the concert, my name was all over the radio station. I felt like a local celebrity, while trying to keep my composure at the same time. I would run in to people, I would wait for them to bring up the fact that they had heard my name on the radio, and then I would pretend it was no big deal. I was always told in the face of success, it’s better to be humble.

The night finally arrived and I had been given two front row tickets. My mother and my aunt claimed them. I made my way downtown to the Pacific Coliseum and when I arrived backstage they had a pass for me with my name on it, and showed me to my dressing room. The other girl arrived and we were talking about how much fun the show was going to be! An hour in to hanging out, fixing makeup that didn’t need to be fixed; we received a knock on the door. The band was stuck at the border and the show may be cancelled.  I began panicking! This wasn’t supposed to happen it was my night to shine! I demanded that we go over our routine. The show wasn’t cancelled yet!

Half an hour later we get another knock on the door and one of the roadies drags a trunk into our dressing room, telling us to get dressed. The show starts in half an hour. Excited that the show was back on we opened the trunk to take out our costumes; more like almost puked and passed out. The stench that came from this trunk was disgusting. I picked up the bra top and it was drenched in cold sweat from the girl who had worn it from the night before. Slowly we began to change out of our clothes and put on the Sweaty Betty costumes. As were just about dressed we heard this stirring noise coming from behind us, it was Weird Al standing there. Besides the fact that he was obviously weird, he was nice and polite. We exchanged a few pleasantries and just as fast, he was gone.

The show had started, the music was loud, and adrenaline was now beginning to pulse through my veins. There was a hard knock on our door. Another roadie had come to gather us for our shining moment on stage! As he was leading us to the stage, the music getting louder and louder, my adrenaline pulsing higher, I instantly felt this surge of energy I had never experienced before.

The ecstatic clapping and cheering from the thousands of fans was explosive and overwhelming! The roadie saw my face, had a chuckle, and pointed me towards the stairs of the stage. As we were standing there, the lights flashing, the bass going, drums kicking, Weird Al(being weird), the crowd cheering, I thought I was going to puke. I noticed the puke buckets that were strategically placed on either side of the stage, now understanding why they were there. All of a sudden I felt a hard shove on my back telling to me to, ‘GO!’ I had gotten lost in a panic ridden daydream. I am not sure what came over me but I when I got out there I went NUTS! We did our routine, which wasn’t very long and then the other dancer and I looked at each other having a telepathic conversation.

‘Oh my god! What should we do?’

‘I don’t know! Oh MY God!’

‘Mosh?!’

 My answer was a combination of shaking my head YES frantically while looking like I was in the Exorcist at the same time as I began to flail my body all over the stage. At that moment no one could doubt my commitment to my craft! I could see my mom and aunt cheering, so proud they were! I was having a fantastic time bouncing all over the stage, feeling the heat of the music!

At that moment in mid air, something compelled me to open my eyes. I did, as did the bass player! We both realized that I was a millisecond away from landing on his jugular! I had a Oh F**** look as did he, and again with a telepathic conversation I tried to torque my legs’ to try and change how I would land, he thankfully rolled out of the way of disaster! I have to give him all of the credit he saved his own life. I was an out of control mosher. The song finally came to a finish and our job was done. My sweat had now become one with all of the other girls sweat in the costume from their obviously hard but committed moshing from previous shows. I felt high, I felt like I should have been a rockstar!

The show was done, our job was done, and we put our drenched costumes back in to their home; the trunk. With a little pat saluting the costumes as they made their way to the next show; I met up with my mom and aunt. They were still disinfecting their faces from Weird Al spitting on them during the show. A perk to being in the front row, but hey, at least he didn’t pee on them!

Written By

Jessica Hinkson