Eco-Christmas Ideas & New Year’s Manifestion exercise

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

The Holidays have always been such a special time of year for me, and for my family. My dad is Mr. Christmas. He absolutely adores these festivities, and my parents home is the perfect setting. They live an gorgeous cottage just outside Montreal that is nearly 120 years-old. The living room has this incredible cathedral ceiling and a massive stone fireplace. Decked with twinkling garlands and a 10 foot tree, this room is Christmas personified. It’s so nice to spend a few days here.

I am so grateful for all my blessings and my heart is full of joy and exhalation as we come to the end of a most memorable 12 months.  And an incredible year lies ahead! 2012! Amazing. A historic adventure, I’m sure. I pray for peace, compassion, and global tolerance and acceptance.

Made yesterday and full of Holiday cheer, here is my first video in a long time! (Yes, I’m a little rusty in front of the camera…) In this video, I’m sharing some of my own Christmas traditions– my eco-gift wrapping ideas, my make-shift decorations, and a special Alternate Nostril breathing exercise designed to promote energy, happiness, inspiration and love, while relieving stress, fear, frustration and anxiety.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year full of inspiration, creation, light, love, health and wealth.

Much love,
Yasmin

My 30th Birthday!

The police shut down my party on Saturday! It was a blast. Plus, I got the skeleton I wanted!

Today is my actual birthday. Thirty years old! Holy Moly!

Many people have asked me how I feel turning 30, and I have to say I’m so freaking excited! I cried on my birthday when I went from 12 to 13, because I thought that entering my teens meant I was no longer a child. Thankfully, I now know that childhood can last a life time. I feel like I am simultaneously 6 and 108, and this will never change.

In the last year, perhaps more so than in other years, I feel I’ve come into my own. I know and like myself much better than ever before. I attribute this shift of perception to all the knowledge I’m acquiring in Ayurvedic school. I am more understanding and accepting of the things I didn’t like about myself before, such as my tendency to be a stubborn perfectionist. As my good friend Natalie predicted, I am now less interested in trying to be someone I think I should be, and more interested in enjoying myself and just being who I am. This has been an amazing experience, because not only am I more accepting of me, I am more accepting of others too. And I am having so much more fun!

Speaking of fun, I am so grateful to have been able to share my birthday celebration with my friends, family and teacher training students, who got me the six foot skeleton as a group gift (which is killer! Thank you!!). And even thought the police kicked everyone out of the loft at 12:30am, I got to wear a tutu dress and we really had a radical time. (The drums were awesome. James, you rule.)

I am also grateful to be passing my studio on to two lovely new owners and I am excited for what’s coming up: Craig, my beloved, and I going to Paris for ten days at the beginning of Dec. and we will be moving in to our own place hopefully by Jan. 1. Plus, on the professional side, I have two dvds
coming out Dec. 6 in stores across Canada, and I now have my own jewelery collection with Ice.com! So exciting!!

PS If you are one of my lovely yoga students, remember it is customary to do 108 sun salutations on your yoga teacher’s birthday! (Wink!)

PPS Thank you to Craig for all the organizational genius and to Miranda from Ahimsa Yoga for the great space! xo

Selling Yoga Studio Om West & Embracing Change

This is the story about selling yoga studio Om West and how I came to be a yoga studio owner in the first place.

It seems strange to see those words and even stranger to say them out loud. But it’s true. After being the sole proprietor of Om West Holistic Centre for five years, I am choosing a new path. This is no doubt a huge change for me and it was a difficult decision. I have spent 17 years at this yoga centre.

How I came to own a yoga studio

My yoga life began in the dimly lit, carpeted studio at 46 Ste Anne Street in Pointe Claire Village, which is about 25km west of downtown Montreal. It was circa 1996 and no one cool had ever tried yoga expect maybe the Beatles 30 years prior. I’m an awkward teenager working part-time for Gigi, the owner of said yoga studio. With her encouragement/enforcement, my friend and I start practicing Ashtanga yoga with Mark Darby, who is fresh from India and impatient with awkward teenagers. (By the way, Darby is now a renown world-traveling yoga teacher, but he had his Western debut at Gigi’s humble little studio, as did several other yoga masters.) For some reason, I stick with ashtanga yoga, although I distinctly remember not having much affinity towards it back then. 

A few years later, at age 18 or 19, I end up on a deserted island in British Colombia learning yoga from Claire, a spirited 24-year-old who had taught yoga in Costa Rica. I’m mesmerized by her soulful beauty and I wanted to be like her, so because of her prompting, I started teaching yoga to kids. The summer ends and I’m back in Pointe Claire. Gigi puts me in charge of the kids yoga program at her Centre. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I borrow a book from the library and I make it up as I go along. (Admittedly, making things up as I go is a tactic I continue to rely on to this day!)

Two years later and I’m in Australia for a year. I’m at RMIT university. I am teaching adult yoga, and I attempt to record my first yoga cd (alone in a basement radio booth). It’s January 2003 and I’m back again at the Centre in Pointe Claire Village. Gigi convinces me to stay in Montreal and manage her centre. Good call, because in the year I was Down Under, North Americans go crazy for yoga.

My evening classes quickly overflow. Pretty soon and I’m all over the place teaching 6000 classes a week and I LOVE IT, but I don’t really have much formal training. So after briefly flirting with the idea of moving to Norway, I commit to living in Montreal for another year, and register for Mark Darby and Hart Lazer’s 200 hour yoga teacher training. It’s there I meet my best yogi friends Mark Laham and Jamie Lee. I’m extremely tempted to follow Mark’s path of nomade yoga teacher, but when Jamie decides to buy Yoga Source, a studio in the South Shore, getting a studio of my own seems like a good idea. In 2005, Gigi offers to sell me her studio. I say, no. When she asks again in 2006, I say, yes, and acquire a bank loan.

What I discover

I discover that owning a studio is a lot more complex than managing one part-time. Argumentative staff, a dissatisfied client, and big bills, there are moments I am sick with anxiety and stress. Someone says, “Why don’t you try some yoga? Ha Ha,” and I want to scream. However, I then find Marianne, a wonderful mothery manager, who helps me get organized. A few years go by. The studio grows, and my responsibilities continue to increase. I’m overwhelmed and I really can’t think straight. I need guidance. 

I find Lisa Lajoie, a spiritual mastermind, and she and I become pals. “I’m not sure if I want all these responsibilities, and I’m not sure I’m meant to be a yoga teacher. Sometimes, I feel like I poser…” I rhapsodize. Lisa and I talk a lot. But I still I don’t know what to do. I pray for inspiration. I meditate. I write. I decide to embark on an inner pilgrimage, a mala of 108 practices. On April 15, Lisa suggests I start on the 108th day of the year, which is three days later. I protest I’m not prepared, but she shoots me her ‘Don’t mess with me’ look, so I go home and freak out all night. Nevertheless, on the morning of April 18, 2010, I start my journey of 108 daily sun salutations in company of my friend Ron Cherilus, I AM Coach and some of the students of Om West. 

Of course, what transpires next, are the 108 days of surya namasker that are already outlined in the pages of this blog. During this time, it becomes increasingly oblivious to me that I no longer want to run a yoga centre. But I feel like a mother afraid to admit she is too young to raise a child, so I keep my mouth shut, and force my way through hours of tedious administrative tasks. The 108 days end with a 32 hour consecutive yoga marathon at Om West. It’s the most amazing experience of my life. I am doing my favourite thing in the world, I’m in my studio, and I’m surrounded by my favourite people. I am so in love with each moment. I don’t want to let it go. 

Changes and New Studio Management

Marianne and I part ways in the fall and Tasreen joins me as studio manager. Working with Tas is great. Along with my new business advisor, Blair, we implement procedures and systems. I’m learning a lot about business, and the studio is becoming busier. Sales are going up, but I still feel burdened with decisions and tasks. By Christmas, it’s clear I need a radical change. At first, I think getting a partner would be helpful, and I toy with this concept for a few months. Unfortunately, a good partnership candidate fails to appear, so I start exploring other options like selling yoga studio Om West. I sign-on, then quickly sign-off with a business broker. He doesn’t understand the needs of the studio, and I’m determined to find someone who will care, really care about the well being of my Centre and the students who come there. My goal is to find new owners before I turn 30. I don’t know the first thing about the business of selling yoga studio. With no broker and no leads, I worry, then I pray and meditate. 

Selling Yoga Studio Om West

What follows is rather serendipitous. One quiet Friday afternoon in May 2011, I get a Marma Point Massage from Antoine. Afterward, we sit and have tea. He tells me how much he and his wife, Pamela, love Om West, and he says that if I ever consider selling yoga studio, to tell him first as they would be very interested. From there, we meet and exchange non-disclosure agreements. I spend the summer organizing more paperwork that I have in my entire five years of business ownership. But then things fall into place, and here I am. Pamela and Anotine officially take my place as owners Jan. 1, 2012.

I have to say, it feels good to share this story of selling yoga studio. I am grateful beyond words to my parents, my friends, my teachers, my advisors, who have been there for me every step of the way. I have learned so much and grown so much. I feel I understand business now and I want to help other yogi entrepreneurs. I am a little nervous, but also excited, about what lies ahead.


 

The Royal Wedding

{Note to reader: For full effect, engage a posh British accent to review to this textt.}

Countess Yasmina Krystyna Von Ashtanga Yoga here reporting on the Royal Wedding…

 

What a lovely, lavish, luxury to be privy to this historical event today, this day, being the Royal nuptial of HRH Prince William and his beautiful bride Miss Catherine Elizabeth Middleton. A smashing dress, a bunch of trees, some Christmas carols, a quick kiss, and a three-year-old bridesmaid, who adoringly covered her ears, as the crowd in front of Buckingham Palace was just a bit too much for her to bare sans ear plugs. Shortly after the service at Westminster Abbey and the Queen’s Breakfast (I sat with Elton), I begged pardon of her Majesty for I simply had to depart. I had pressing matters to attend to in my land of Om-West-alot The Monarch understood, of course, given that tonight, this night, in the grand land of Om-West-alot was shhhhheduled an extraooorrrrdinary Ashtanga Yoga Conference accompanied by the live performance of the esteemed Sir James Olmstead of Percussion. Graciously, the Queen lent me her enchanted Royal Winged Horse and I arrived right at the cusp of the hour in time to greet my court. And all was well and good.
The End.
 
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All right… Jokes aside for now. I know all this Royal Wedding hoopla is over the top and super fromage, but with all the doom and gloom projected in the news these days, it’s kinda nice to have something else to focus on for a day or two, I mean now that the Habs are out of the playoffs. Right? (psst: did you catch the hockey reference?)
I’m really no wedding dreamer, and I don’t even own a TV, but even I got a little caught up in the festivities today. (Clearly.) Here’s what really went down:
After teaching a sun and moon salutations practice at a big, fun lululemon event in Montreal last night, I drove over to my parents’ house or a sleepover. As mentioned, I don’t own a TV, so my mom  had proposed a sunrise Royal Wedding date on her couch. At the crisp hour of 5:30am, we were up. Reluctantly at first, my dad joined us too, but he came dressed for the occasion. See the Gordie Gow English Wedding bonnet below:
(Knock offs of the splendid Gordie Gow Royal Wedding Bonnet are in the works right now, says a source.)
After the long anticipated kiss, we all enjoyed homemade pancakes fait par maman and then it was off to Om West for yoga teaching at 9:30am. But this time, I wore my best Royal Wedding Chapeau and pearls to the amusement of my students. (See adove and below.)

 

Tonight was Ashtanga Yoga to live music played by James Olmstead. Another packed house, but this time no one had to practice in the hall.

So all and all, a good day with a good excuse to play!

What did you get up to?
Your thoughts?

Surprise Party

 

Let me tell you about some fabulous people I know: My mom, Marta and my dad, Gord.
They are turning 60-years-old this week. Yes, both of them. They were born a day apart on March 8th and 9th respectively.  They are the most youthful 60-year-olds I have ever seen. Active, energetic and still visibly in love even after spending 30+ years together, my parents are something else.
Last night, their ski friends threw them a surprise party, but not just any surprise party. It was themed, because their parties are always themed and a Jay Peak party is not a party without a theme, I was told when I asked why I must were “gym/sports attire” to the chalet. You see, my parents are recently retired physical education teachers and belong to a wild and vivacious group of close knit friends that weekend in Vermont, tearing up the slopes of Jay Peak ski resort. Most have cottages in an area called Alpine Haven, all walking distance from one another, which mean apres-ski festivities are always in close range and held regularly.
I’m a bit of an outsider. Yes, I can ski, but, having concluded that winter is just not my season at age 10, I am rarely seen at the cottage, much less the hill. The running joke among my parents’ friends is that they have a talented freestyle skier for a son, who is always around, and make believe daughter, whom few have met. Of course, I do show my face down there from time to time, so the joke is getting a little old. Anyway, this surprise party was an important event and there was no way I was going to miss it.
Craig and I picked out some great costumes– Craig, a competitive swimmer and me, an eager aerobics instructor– and as my brother drove, we worked on decorating the pinata he had carefully papier-mâchéd earlier that day. 
It was hands down the best party I’ve been to in long time.  To say my folks were surprised is an understatement. They were told they were being taken to a restaurant by the people they share a cottage with, but after cocktails at another friend’s house, they returned home to “pick something up before dinner”. We waited inside the doorway and then popped out screaming “surprise”. Both mom and dad began crying almost immediately. It was very sweet.
The evening progressed nicely. Those people really know how to have a good time. The chalet was decorated with a basket ball hoop, streamers, countless balloons and a giant blow up snowman named “Buddy.” (Apparently, a party isn’t party without Buddy.) The “Alpine Haven Glee Club” performed several songs dedicated to my parents’ aging and the pinata was a hit, litterally. There was tons of food and lots of dancing.  Mid-Lady Gaga, my dad turned to me and said, “I wanna dance like this at your 60th, ok?”
The party only ended because the organizer slipped outside and cracked her head open on the ice. Although clearly concussed, she’ll be ok.
As mentioned in my last blog posting, I’m hardly a party animal, but I really did enjoy myself. It was  special to see how beloved and supported my parents are by such a great group of people.
Despite the fun, I did manage to slip upstairs unnoticed and complete my 11th day of 54 moon salutations. Although this may seem a bit unsocial, no one seemed to mind and it was pretty cool for me to practice amongst all that lively energy.
Speaking of practice, it’s near midnight, I am eager to roll out my mat, so good night, my friends.

Sleeping City in the Sun

It’s a gloriously bright sun-shining Sunday, but Montreal is asleep recuperating from the city’s 8th annual “Nuit Blanche” (White Night) festivities. The whole town went nocturnal: museums open until 3am, music on the streets, open air swimming at the Bonventure Hilton, and over a hundred art installations.
I have a hard time staying up uber late, but despite urge to crawl under the covers at 11pm, Craig  forced me to put on long underwear and venture out into the cold in search for adventure. We caught one of the free “Nuit Blanche” shuttle buses and headed to the Redpath museum for its famed ‘midnight flash light’ tours. Having missed the opportunity to explore this historic McGill museum in past years, I was excited to see dinosaur bones and stuffed creatures in the dark. But alas, after standing in line for 20 mins in negative 15, we were turned away due to over capacity. Oh well, next year.
We walked down McGill College to Indigo bookstore where my friend Darryl and his The River Beauty Band were performing. I love coffee table books, so it was fun listening to live music while turning pages of Andrew Zuckerman’s photography, travel guides in Scotland and Marilyn Moore retrospectives.

Our last stop was the McCord Museum of History, where the party was packed with grinning adults. You see, there is a large interactive toy exhibition with a massive homage to Lego. There were even stations set up for play, so visitors constructed DNA coils, an Eiffel tour and even a Where’s Waldo. On display were Lego replicas of the Millennium Falcon, the Twin Towers and a whole Lego city. Enough to bring out the child in everyone.

We were home around 2:30am. A good effort on our parts, but I’m sure the celebrations continued until sunrise this morning.
I sometimes wish I was a better party person. The night intrigues me, but I have such a hard time staying awake past midnight. I suppose it doesn’t help that my days are also packed with activity and it’s near impossible for me to sleep in. (It’s 8:30am and here I am typing away my thoughts!)
Yesterday afternoon, I did my fourth consecutive day of lunar series in the Lululemon window on Ste Catherine Street (more on that later) and then I co-hosted a cinema night at Om West, which was pretty cool.  We projected a film called “Time Wave 2013”, a really interesting doc about the Incas and the prophecies surrounding 2012, the end of the Mayan Calender. Curious stuff…

That’s it for now. I’m off to enjoy the rest of my day off– maybe brunch on Laurier with coffee (a rare treat), followed by window shopping around my Mile End hood, then Moon Salutes!

Beaches, Palm Trees & Deep Reflection

We have escaped the Canadian winter in favour of a couple of weeks in the Caribbean.  We’ve been in Sint Maarten for just over a week and I’m finally settled in. It takes me a while to get into vacation mode, so I’m grateful that this time we are able to be away for more than a few days.
Sint Maarten or St Martin is absolutely beautiful. The mountainous landscape of tropical forest, stray goats and turquoise water takes my breath away each time our little rental car turns a corner. I am so thankful to be here. The people are lovely. It really is the “friendly island.”
We are spending our days exploring new beaches, walking, talking, swimming, and reading. I am currently entranced in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is divided into four principles or “agreements” that are meant to guide the reader towards personal freedom and that is exactly what I am seeking in the year 2011, or 20-HEAVEN.
Here’s a little summary of the Agreements:
  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word— Use words that heal rather than destroy or harm.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally— Recognize that everyone is going through their own shit and that other people’s reactions toward often have very little to do with you.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions— Instead of trying to mind read and guess what others are thinking, ask questions and get more clarity.
  4. Always do Your Best— Give as much as you can, no more, no less, and know that “your best” will change according to the condition you are in and/or what’s already going on in your life.
I like this format and it makes sense to me. These Agreements seem like an effective way to heal and let go of unnecessary suffering and stress. My Resolution or New Beginning, as I prefer to call it, is just this: I am freeing myself from the bonds of fear and becoming a more confident decision maker.
When I am not mesmerized by the scenery around me, reading or spending time with Craig, I am self-reflecting. I sit or lie on the beach and I contemplate my existence. What am I here to learn? And what can I improve upon? I question the nature of the limitations I place on myself– what is my fear and why do I carry it around with me?
Sometimes I notice that the area around my diaphragm is so tight  I find it hard to take a deep breath. I recognize the emotion sitting in my belly is anxiety or fear, but most of the time, I have no idea where it stems from. These sensation must have been there a lot longer than I’ve been conscious of them. So, I am using the tools I acquired through my practice to help soothe my being and let go of these deep seeded fears, one layer at a time. I close my eyes and I breathe slowly and rhythmically into my abdomen while envisioning the tension releasing itself from my body and disappearing. Some yoga asana also helps me loosen up.
And what are your New Beginnings or New Year’s Resolutions for 2011? Are you seeking to clean up your mind like me? Are you trying to kick a bad habit like smoking, as my beloved is doing? (Congratulations for being smoke free for over a week, my love!) Or are you seeking to start an new project?
Whatever commitments we make to ourselves at this turning point is our New Beginning  and an opportunity to grow. The roads may not always be smooth, but it’s important to stay focused and know why we are heading in a particular direction. Detours are unavoidable. My suggestion? Weave the commitment into your practice and make the yoga work for you. Like a ritual, every breath and every pose can help motivate and inspire you to stay on track.
The Warriors are my favourite poses for this purpose. As I practice them, I imagine I am embodying the courage, strength, stamina, calmness, focus, determination, stability and nobility of a true warrior that can overcome any and all adversity. I know this may sound a bit silly or cheesy, but this really helps me engage with my practice and helps me get more out of it.
For a little inspiration, here are some photos of Craig took of me last night on the beach in front of our pad:
Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I
Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II
Warrior III – Virabhadrasana III

 

“We search for everything we believe we don’t have, not knowing that everything we are looking for is already inside us. We are born with it.”
Don Miguel Ruiz Quote

Jan 1, 2011

Happy New Year!
I know I’ve been a little lax on my blogging lately and I apologize for that.  There was a lot of studio related craziness before the holidays and Christmas was nuts, as it usually is.
I imagine you are recovering from a wonderful evening of toasting and carousing. How did you bring in the New Year? With family and friends? Quietly? Reflectively? Can you believe that I got to bed at 8 am today?! Neither can I. 
We’re staying just outside of Toronto at our friend Ryan’s pad, and we missed the last Go Train heading from the city back to Burlington. So we wandered around downtown T.O. for a while, connecting with friends speckled around the CBD. Eventually, we ended up back at the house party we started at. We rested on our friend’s couch for a couple of hours and took the first train out at 6:45am. I almost never pull all nighters, so I’m feeling a little groggy today. At least the two glasses of champagne I nursed all night aren’t weighing as heavy on me as the beverages consumed by my beloved, who despite his headache is oddly playing Ryan’s Guitar Hero video game…
 
It’s unusually warm outside. I think the temperature is something like +12, and it’s damp and cloudy, so it feels a lot like London. I just finished my first 108 of 2011 and get this, I did a set of 18 outside on the balcony in my pajamas! It was really refreshing and probably could have done more, but I was near the end of my practice.
As with every January 1st, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Perhaps more so this year than previous ones, because of all the extraordinary events of 2010. It really was most incredible 12 months of my life to date. My mom says than what you do on Jan. 1 sets the tone for the rest of the year. It did last year. We were staying with friends in the Eastern Townships, two hours south east of Montreal and I got up before everyone and did 108 sun salutations in the basement then proceeded to do nine consecutive days of 108.
Today, I am happy to be with Craig and Ryan, happy to be writing, and happy to think about heading off to St Maarten tomorrow with Craig for two weeks of beach strolling, lounging, reading, writing, exploring and yoga-ing. Amazing. I am so grateful.
I wish you all the best, my friend.
May 2011 bring you exciting adventures, beautiful sun sets, stimulating conversations, deep contemplations, blissful meditations,  mind alerting revelations, divine inspirations,  cosmic creations, sweet dinner parties, great music, health, wealth, friendship, joy and love.
PS  Vegetarian recipes coming… Stay tuned.

Birthday!

Whether it’s mine or someone else’s, I love birthdays. Always have. It’s such a great reason to see all your family and friends at the same time and celebrate. I’m all about that. It’s sad for me to hear others trying to hide or poopoo their birthday, because deep down I think everyone wants to be acknowledged as the birthday girl or boy. (Thank God for Facebook. Now no birthday child is left behind!)

I turned 108 today! It was a great day.  But alas, I have a confession: no sun salutations… I had every intention of practicing my annual 108. However, a wonderful and late party with friends last night lead to leisurely lounging in bed until noon this morning followed by brunch, a walk up the mountain, and early dinner for 25 people at my parent’s house celebrating four November birthdays, so I had little opportunity to sun salute. It’s also a full moon, and traditionally, we’re not supposed to practice at this time. Anyway, excuses aside, I figured I’d take it easy and ‘go with the flow’.  After all, it’s one day a year I can do whatever I want “because it’s my birthday.”

It’s was a really lovely weekend and I was really spoiled. Friday, Craig and I went to the Centaur Theatre to see the stage adaptation of Don Quixote, which incredibly creative and highly entertaining. Last night, we had some friends over for homemade pizza. Great conversation and great spontaneous live piano music performed by Nico and Andrew. And tonight, it was nice to be with family.

Ok, it’s late. I’ve been officially 29– I mean 108 for 53 minutes! I think it’s time for bed.

Happy Birthday Voltaire, Rene Magritte, Goldie Hawn, Björk, and Cousin Manela!

🙂

Day 71 -G20 protests


I was going to write about The Montreal Jazz Festival, which started on Friday, but with all the chaos that’s going on in Toronto this weekend, I feel I must switch focus and discuss the peaceful protests and the violence.

In case you don’t pay attention to the news, Toronto is currently hosting the G20 Summit, a meeting of the world’s leading financial rulers. According to Wikipedia, 19 countries plus the European Union are represented in this forum, which was established in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Together, the economies of the G20 comprise 85% of the global gross national product, 80% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. It’s been publicized that this Summit cost $1.1 billion and is the most expensive security operation in Canadian history. Toronto has literally been shut down from June 25th to the 27th, the duration of the conference. A boundary was erected around the Toronto Convention Centre (where I taught at the Yoga Show in March) and as reported by the Globe & Mail, 10,000 uniformed police officers, 1,000 security guards, and several Canadian military forces were deployed enforce the rule of law over thousands of protesters.

A lot of people are upset by the cost of the Summit and are particularly infuriated by Prime Minister Stephen Haper’s now infamous ‘fake lake’ that was built inside the Convention Centre as decor and had a price tag of $57,000. But that’s just the tip of the iceburg, the real frustration boils down to concerns over how the world leaders are dealing with the Gulf Oil Catastrophe, world poverty, the ongoing environmental destruction, and all the other human and ecological rights violations that plague on planet.

Personally, I think protests are really ineffective means of instituting change, because in every major protest there is inevitably a small group of assholes who toss Molotov cocktails, smash windows, throw rocks at police, burn police cars. Unfortunately, these misguided individuals soak up all the media attention and ruin the credibility of all protesters. So far, there has more than 500 arrests this weekend in Toronto. There are hundreds of videos circulating online of the violence. Craig’s been following the news closely, so I watched one or two. It made me angry.

To me, protests are really useless. I know this is a controversial statement, but I don’t retract it. I grew up marching in protests from the age of 6 months. My mom is an activist, so she would bring me along. Although I don’t discredit my mother’s efforts nor am I denouncing other peaceful protests, but surely there is a better way to inspire change than to hold a placard scream “No.”

My last protest was ten years ago in April 2000 at the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas Summit in Quebec City. There were approximately 100,000 demonstrators. I, at 18, was among them with my Pentax film camera. My intention was to document the protest for the Canadian University Press. From what I witnessed, the protest was 99% peaceful. I took pictures of beautiful puppets and mothers nursing there babies, but the main stream media only focused on the aggressive Anarchists at the fence around the Summit. I saw them too. Curious, I walked around Vieux Quebec with my other student journalist friends. I remember the tear gas being so thick, we couldn’t see across the street. At one point, I got separated from my group and found myself alone. I was completely disoriented and so I tried to approach a group of riot police. They must have felt threatened or something, because they fired round of rubber bullets at me. I ran full throttle down the cobble stone street and ducked behind a parked car, only to hear its wind shield shatter from the impact of a stray bullet. I was pretty frightened and mostly disappointed by the whole experience. What’s the point of demonstrations, if most people don’t take them seriously?

Since then, I have committed myself and my work to changing the world in a different way. I only work for what I believe in and I devout my energy towards inspiring others to live healthy and conscientiously. I’m still activist, but you won’t find me at any mass protest. I’ll be here, everlastingly soapboxing the way to heal the outer world is to heal our inner world first.

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As for today’s 108, I’m still working out my left shoulder tensions. My neighbor Anthea reminded me of a posture our teacher shared with us that helps alleviate shoulder and neck tensions. Fittingly, it’s called the Banker’s Pose.