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Monthly Archives: October 2013


“Therapeutic work can reverse the downward spiral and replace it with an upward spiral.  But, this is where we have to understand yoga as being more than just stretching and more than just alignment. Yoga enters realms of energy that involve feeling, responsiveness, and intention that brings this reshaping.  It’s a process in which mind and body must communicate with one another, rather than one simply acting upon the other.  The vicious cycle came about largely through a disconnect by which the body suffered; healing through a virtuous cycle comes about with a conscious reconnection.”

– Doug Keller

To register for Doug Keller workshops at Octopus Garden, click here!

A Recipe For Change – Lisa Mitchell

Source via PinterestI recently had the humbling experience of radically altering my diet. For the past month, I have embarked on a rigorous Candida cleanse. No sugar, no fruit (ugh), no raw honey, no maple syrup, no refined grains, no coffee and no alcohol. What is left, you say? That is what I discovered. This was my very first cleanse, ever. Up until this point, I have pretty much been a Canada’s Food Guide kind of girl; a healthy eater who could obviously make some improvements. As I embarked on the cleanse, I was flooded with strong feelings. I felt overwhelmed. The whole exercise seemed daunting. It was an involved process getting prepared for it – shopping at different grocery and health food stores and talking to merchants as I tracked down unusual supplements and food items.

As I pursued the cleanse, I consciously tried to step back and witness my own process. I have always been fascinated by how and why people change. What does it take to adopt a new behaviour? It was an illuminating experience to watch myself experiment with a new way of eating within the context of a busy family.

As I reflected on the process that accompanied my cleanse, I came up with a list of ingredients that helped make this diet happen. A recipe if you will. I believe these ingredients are applicable to changing behaviour in general. The behaviour could be adding yoga or meditation to your life, incorporating a walking regime, or quitting smoking.

The Ingredients

Step 1:  We require a spark to ignite action. We need a compelling reason to change. This reason provides us with the motivation to move forward.  In my case, there was a health issue driving me. Know why you want to change. In yoga, we call this “intention”.

Step 2:  We need information/resources. We need to educate ourselves and become familiar with the task. This is the preparation phase. For me, this meant consulting with a doctor of Oriental Medicine and a Holistic Nutritionist. It also meant seeking out new recipes and buying a new cookbook. Maybe you need to mobilize funds to pursue your new behaviour.

Step 3:  We need to build skills. In order to change behaviour, we are letting something go and adopting a new way of being. This may require us to build capacity in a certain area. I became intimately reacquainted with my kitchen. I had to learn how to cook new foods and recipes outside of my comfort zone. Perhaps you might take a workshop or a course.

Step 4:  We need to enlist support. There is absolutely no way that I could have completed this cleanse on my own. I needed advice, encouragement and the practical assistance of my husband in the kitchen when I grew tired. I frequently texted my holistic nutritionist with questions, i.e. Are you sure I can’t eat popcorn?

Step 5: Examine attitude – cultivate patience and perseverance.  Whew! – change is hard.  Change is also a process. Sometimes we slip up, and that’s part of growth, which is not linear. Be kind to yourself.

Step 6: Celebrate your successes. Cheers!

In case you want to know, I feel great. As I wrap up my cleanse, I am setting an intention to continue on with many of my new ways of eating. That said, I’m looking forward to my first gluten-free beer on Saturday night to mark the end of this journey.

For information on the Candida diet, check out Holistic Nutritionist Kathrin Brunner’s website, http://www.fortheloveofbody.


– Written by Lisa Mitchell

Lisa teaches yoga at Octopus Garden Wednesday’s at 1 pm and is leading a Yoga Foundations workshop for 3 consecutive Mondays from 1-2:30 pm beginning October 21st.  For more information click here! 

“Handstands” by Liz Huntly


Adho Mukha Vrksasana. Downward Facing Tree. Better known as handstand. What I wanted to learn in the 300-hour Effective Teaching program was handstands. I expected to work hard. I imagined myself at the studio every day kicking up against the wall over and over and over until I didn’t need the wall anymore, until I didn’t need to kick up anymore. I wanted to be taught the specific mechanics of this challenging pose. I wanted to spend 6 solid months training my body to find and hold it’s lighting rod shape.

Adho Mukha Svanasana. Downward-Facing Dog. What I did in the training was downward dog. For six months, I learned its structure, the way the spine stretches down through the crown of the head and up through the tail bone, the way the front ribs hug in as the lumbar spine lengthens. The exact placement of the fingerprints, the knuckles, the upper arm bones, the way the shoulder blades sit firm against the back. How the breath fills the low back ribs, how the belly draws in as the breath leaves the body. I learned how to feel downward dog in my own body, how to look at it, how to adjust it on other bodies. How to explain it in words. How to explain it with touch.

Actually I wasn’t really learning about downward dog, although I was practicing it a lot. I was learning about the spine, about it’s relationship to the rest of the body, it’s relationship to the breath. And by learning about those relationships I was learning how to construct any pose. Downward dog. Upward dog. Handstand.

I went in to the Octopus Garden 300-hour Effective Teaching program thinking: now lets learn the advanced poses. What I learned was: You don’t know anything. You don’t even know downward dog.

The advanced teacher training is all that an education should be—it teaches you how to learn. It takes everything you think you know and everything you think you want to know and reduces it to the size of a pinhead, and then says: “Now, learn the landscape of the pincushion.” It turns you upside down, shakes out all the shiny desires you’ve been hoarding in your pockets, and says: “Dream bigger.”

Like any good education, the first lesson is always this: Go back to the beginning. Learn to build a strong foundation. Learn to stand on two feet. And then flip it over, and you’ll see you already know how to stand on two hands.

I’m on my hands a lot these days. Bakasana. Kundinyasa II. Mayurasana.  For brief, still shaky moments, Adho Mukha Vrksasana. I practice on my hands. I teach from my hands. And every time I come to the mat (metaphorically speaking—my use of a mat is sporadic at best), I start with I don’t know. I approach my own practice open to the experience of learning. My classes hold the expectation of being taught as much as teaching. I begin each one thinking: “I don’t know the bodies that are in front of me. Even when the faces are familiar, I don’t know how these bodies feel today.” I let the class evolve as I find out. I constantly refine my cues, learning what works, what doesn’t. As I make adjustments, I learn by observing how each body responds uniquely to each touch. When students ask me questions, I can say: “This is my experience. This is how I feel it in my own self.” When the answer is beyond the scope of my expertise, I’m ready to say: “I don’t know.”

Sometimes I feel like a fraud as a teacher, with all this uncertainty. Part of me wants to be authoritative, wise. But that’s just another shiny coin dream. Mostly I want to keep hovering around the edges of knowing, so that every time I step into a practice, I step into adventure. Like an explorer forging deep into the exotic jungle, we start by naming. We name the birds—crow, crane, pigeon, peacock. We learn their exact shape and anatomy. As we gain awareness, we learn their habits, how they draw breath into their feathered skins, how they take flight. Yet the depth of the jungle remains infinite, the birds just one of many layers. We learn the sheaths of flora and fauna—the tree, the frog; we start to unveil the fine web of connections that tie them all together. And still the jungle is elusive, secretive. We spend our whole lives approaching Her dark heart, but we never truly arrive.

That 300-hour training is many months, many miles away now. In reflective moments I’m able to observe the distance I’ve traversed—in myown practice, in my teaching. I’ve grown. I’ve transformed. The seeds of education germinate, blossom. In moments of radiance I think: I understand. And then the season shifts, the landscape changes once more. The bloom of knowing fades, dormant seeds settle to collect another winter’s wisdom.


Liz Huntly is a mover and shaker, a barefoot philosopher, a collector of languages. She mostly lives in Cologne, Germany, but feels at home anywhere she can comfortably get into vrksasana. She’s infinitely curious about the body & the breath, plants, art, magic, beauty, failure, and how to find the sweetness of being lost in the world. She’s writing a book that she’ll probably never get around to starting. She wants to watch you fall in love with yoga. For the multiplicity of ways to follow/get in touch with her visit

Doug Keller at Octopus Garden – Nov. 1-4th

“My husband was in Iceland, land of mystical horses, thermal baths and crystal clear water.  I was in Dayton Ohio, birthplace of aviation!  It wasn’t the intriguing car ride along the Interstate 90 that brought me to Dayton, it was Doug Keller.  He is hands down the most complete, whole teacher I have ever worked with and if the purpose of yogic study is to bring us closer to our whole and full potential then I couldn’t think of a better person to spend the weekend with.  He can seamlessly interweave the teaching of the Vedas into a Therapeutics class.  It is Doug’s ability to approach every class he teaches with an open and generous humility that allows the information to settle in the body.  This is the adjective that I would use for Doug’s teaching – a settling – it reaches deep inside and it sticks.  Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Therapeutics, Philosophy, humour.  Doug Keller is simply the whole enchillada and should not be missed.”
– Natasha Priest
Doug Keller will be gracing us with his knowledge in a full weekend of workshops at OG in November!  Click HERE for information.