After 8 years of yoga practice, in 2011, I left my stable career of 10+ years in an advertising agency to teach yoga. It was the best thing I’ve ever done, but definitely
not the easiest. Some people (myself included) considered it a risky move
– something out of the ordinary.
But I wanted to follow my heart.
That heart feeling fed my soul and created a domino effect of life changes in me, and the people around me. I received emails and Facebook messages from previous colleagues who had also been inspired to listen to a deeper calling.
Things were changing for the better, so I kept listening.
I was led to study energy work via Reiki, a Japanese system of energy healing. I found my teacher Ellen in Savannah Georgia where I received my Reiki Masters, and a Masters in Seichim Energy. Once back in Toronto, I studied my Masters again (I wanted more!) with Tara Antler. Following that, I was gifted the first set of the Munay-ki rites and was inspired to begin offering Reiki courses.
I was soon led to study with Anna Verwaal (international birth advocate) and she awakened my passion to help women understand and feel empowered with their labour and births. I became a DONA trained doula, inspired by the instinctual power of women at each and every birth I attend.
My heart has currently led me to my newest teacher, ALisa Starkweather, for a 9 month long women's mystery and empowerment school. I can't tell you much about that (I have to hold the mystery!) but I can tell you that she's got me confronting my fears like nothing has before.
I'm grateful daily for the move I made in 2011 that has me walking fully on this path. The challenges are tangible but
I’m proud to say that each one is 100% worth the experience of following my
heart. I survive in this city no longer by having a job, but instead, by
sharing my passions.
Workplace & Private Yoga
Workplace & Private Yoga
Yoga helps offer balance to workplace demands. It reduces stress, enhances awareness and boosts health while strengthening the body.
Having spent 10+ years in a corporate environment, and over 10 years studying yoga, I understand how to seamlessly marry these two aspects of life.
1: Yoga classes - $140* per class with student numbers unlimited. Class times
are determined based on your workplace’s needs.
2: Yoga Transformation Program: See my sister company, Spirited Health for a transformational program for your workplace including Naturopathic information.
Contact me for details – I’d
love to help.
Whether you feel like deepening your practice or simply beginning one, private yoga classes offer you a chance to discover a practice tailored specifically to your needs.
You’ll receive personal alignment and therapeutic exercises specific for your body type. Learn how to speed up the healing of injuries and take away a practice you can work with between our sessions.
This can take place in your home, your hotel room, or another location we work out together. It could even include some of your friends. Reach out with questions! I'd love to hear from you.
While my classes are Vinyasa & Hatha based, they're graced with Anusara & Ashtanga elements. I teach a soulful class that will open your body and your mind. You can expect to be challenged while put at ease. Classes are a mix of poses that require presence and stress relieving postures. You'll be sweating with a smile.
"I had only taken three yoga classes in my life before I attended Donna Wilding's. Right from the start, she made me feel welcome. Whether you've been doing yoga for years, or (like myself) are fairly new to it, Donna treats each of her students equally...spending the time to ensure they get what they need to make each class work for them, amidst a safe and relaxing atmosphere.
It may be a cliche, but you truly do get out what you put in. Donna certainly puts her heart, her soul, her caring, and her experience into each class. What more could you ask from a teacher?"
- Peter Campbell, Copywriter, Leo Burnett
"Technically, Donna is an excellent teacher. She really knows how to describe how to get into the pose so that you don't hurt yourself and that you become stronger every week. I have back and hip issues so that makes a big difference to me.
But the thing you have to understand is that Donna is more than a good teacher. I've had good teachers before but they didn't motivate me like Donna can. I'm not sure how to word this next part but here goes:
Historically I have not been a big fan of the airy fairy bits about yoga. I find that the practice is meditative and helps me focus but that i drift during actual meditation. I admit it, I'm not particularly evolved. But here's the weird thing. What strikes me most about Donna's class is that it's very inspirational. I find that her take on life and how it applies to yoga motivates me well beyond to what I am normally capable of. These classes are helping me to understand that mind-body thing others are always going on about. This is what makes a Donna class special - spine and shoulders above other classes. (yep that's a pun. I'm not apologizing for it either)
Just hire her. You'll see." - Lon Schwartz, B.Sc.
"Donna Wilding is a terrific teacher. Engaged, thoughtful and with a great sense of humour and amazing yoga music. I'm a beginner with some chronic physical challenges but she never allows me to feel inadequate or slow. That support encourages me to go back and improve!"
- Charlotte Mickie, EVP, International Distribution, Entertainment One
"I always look forward to my weekly yoga class with Donna. Not only is Donna an excellent teacher, she provides an extra dimension by offering an inspirational theme at each class to motivate her students to reach deeper inside themselves and to look at the world and their relationships in new and different ways.”
- Janet Newberry, Coordinator, Governance, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
"Donna’s yoga classes are one of a kind. Each class leaves me refreshed, calm, strong and inspired to be the best person I can be."
- Carley Smith, Senior Coordinator, Development & Communications, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
"Donna is very passionate and it shines through in her classes. She helps me find peace thru yoga in my everyday fast paced routine."
- Ariel Pagliuso, Art Director, Leo Burnett
I am a DONA trained doula and lover of the natural power of women. I have studied with Anna Verwaal (international birth advocate), and believe the way we are brought into this world is of utmost importance for our lives to come. Whether that way be natural, with pain medication or via c-section, my work as a doula is to empower you with knowledge of choice every step of the way.
I feel deep respect for the birth process and view it as one of the most transformational life experiences both physically and mentally - after all, you’re shapeshifting from the role of a maiden to the role of Mother.
My approach is one of deep support through empowerment, release, relaxation and breath techniques.
Birth Doula Package - $800
What You Receive:
Initial consultation via Skype. No obligation - so we can determine if we're a good fit together.
Unlimited phone and email support.
24 hour on-call care for your labour & delivery.
Full attendance of your labour and delivery. I cancel everything to be with you.
Preparation & education help with your birth plan.
Resources of interest for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
1 postpartum visit in your home.
Back up doula in the unlikely event that I am attending another birth.
Spiritual Birth Prep - $70 per session
What You Receive:
45min - 1 hour session (tbd on how it flows for you).
how patterns of life can come up in birth.
ways to deal with the waiting period of late third trimester.
meditation techniques and mantras for birth prep.
the use of labyrinths as birth prep.
the way out IS the way in (staying in your body, moving towards the surges and working with them).
attachment to any ideas you might have surrounding birth.
your biggest hope & your biggest fears
the death of your 'ego' as a 'maiden' and the birth of you as a mother.
CEREMONY & RITUAL OFFERINGS
A belly blessing, or blessing way, is a celebration focusing on the transition into motherhood and on supporting and preparing the mother spiritually and emotionally for the event of childbirth.
The Mother may invite anyone she wishes, although traditionally these blessings are women only. It begins with clearing and setting space via sage burning and inviting in spirit guides for both the Mother and the baby. We then invite the Mother to share her birth vision so she can be witnessed and held in that vision. The following rituals are included in this special blessing ceremony:
- Massage with flower blessings:
All of Mama-to-be’s attendees grab a bit of massage oil and give Mama some love! Following this, each person grabs a flower, removes a petal and places it on the Mama-to-be with a blessing (spoken out loud).
- Candle blessing:
We pass around a large candle so each person can envision the Mother’s birth and offer a blessing. Each person receives a candle to take home that they will light when they are informed that the Mother is in labour.
- Ancestral bracelet ritual:
We connect everyone present with one long string symbolizing our connection and support. As each woman wraps the yarn around her wrist, she names her mother, grandmothers, and/or daughters (I am Donna, daughter of Annette, granddaughter of Anne) and offers a piece of wisdom learned by one of the women named. After, we cut the string and tie as a bracelet. The bracelets are worn until after the Mother births.
Belly Blessing Rituals are 1 - 1.5 hours in length. I will come to you to provide facilitation and organization of the event along with a few supplies. Mother’s will receive a surprise gift, organized by myself but with the input of each of her attendees.
Investment: $200 (Flowers and candles are not provided. Each person is asked to bring flowers and purchase a small candle for the event. The Mother should choose a candle that feels sacred to her.)
'JOIN US BABY!' RITUAL
This ritual is a celebration of inviting your baby into this world. It’s a wonderful and comforting ritual for Mother’s who feel very ready to birth, or who have gone past their due date.
The Mother invites those close to her. The ritual begins with space clearing and setting via burning sage and inviting in the spirit guides of both the Mother and baby. The Mother’s main support person should be present for this ritual.
We will honour both the baby’s timing and the Mother’s needs via sacred words, poetry, candle lighting and chanting/singing.
‘Join Us Baby!’ Rituals are 1 hour in length. I will come to you.
Please reach out if you'd like to learn more.
"I will start by saying that without Donna we would have not been able to achieve the natural birth we hoped for. Donna's guidance prior to the birth and her calm reassurance, physical presence and her creativity during labor enabled me to birth my daughter naturally and without medical intervention despite giving birth in a hospital setting known for its high epidural-use rates.
Prior to our labour, we had multiple phone calls, emails and meetings, during which she helped us clarify what we want for the birth of our child. She educated us about our options, helped me write and revise my birth plan, and taught us many helpful techniques for pain management. She left us with "homework" - books to read and movies to watch, exercises to practice, and most importantly difficult questions to mull over - why is it that we choose natural birth, what is it that we fear - opening ourselves up to different scenarios and the unpredictability of labor.
She provided us with support, physical and emotional strength. When I reflect on this last hours of labor, I am surprised that even though the pain was incredibly difficult to endure, the thought of taking any pain medication didn't even crossed my mind - I felt secure and strong even during the most overwhelming waves of pain. As the contractions came faster and stronger, I remember her telling her eyes filled with compassion, giving me strength to continue.
I really believe that if it weren't for her and her presence in the labor room I wouldn't have been able to go through the experience. She provided me with additional strength and my husband with ideas on how to help weather the pain; her calm reassurance, touch, and smile made those last difficult hours manageable as our daughter arrived into the world.
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for Donna's guidance and for sharing with us the wonders and hardship of bringing life to the world. Using mundane words that cannot attest to my deep and heartfelt gratitude, I will simply say THANK YOU." - Alma Mikullnsky
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a holistic Japanese, energy healing technique. Working as support to the body, Reiki re-establishes a healthy energy flow throughout the system. It supports any medical or supplemental healing method. Dis-ease always begins in our energy field so when we keep our energy body healthy using Reiki, and our physical body healthy with good nutrition and exercise, we're able to remain at our best.
The client is usually lying down and remains fully clothed. The practitioner places her hands on or near the client's body in a series of hand positions. Reiki energy flows from the practitioners hands into the client. Treatments are usually 60 minutes.
I was first attuned to Reiki levels 1 & 2 when I was 18. 14 years later, I've been attuned to the Reiki Master degree in both the Usui system and the Seichim systems of healing. I've seen it work and felt it for myself - it's a wonderful healing complement to any lifestyle.
60 minutes: $85
60 minutes: $75
"Every day I think about the beautiful impact that you have made on my life and the lives of all those you touch. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your loving instruction of the Reiki course and your gentleness with my dear daughter Alison. You have given me a great gift and set me on a path of love and kindness. What great teachers you are. You are both so very dear."
- Mary Anne Chown
I'm currently on mat-leave with the most precious baby, falling head over heels in love. Back soon!!
This teacher training will be a life changing, unforgettable experience. You will dive deep into your own practice, learn to observe others in yoga poses, learn to teach yoga, study yoga philosophy, enter sacred space for ritual and ceremonies, practice and lead meditations, and learn the business of yoga. A good teacher training should inspire you, shake you, and open your heart. We plan to do just that.
Specific details coming soon. Spaces will be limited.
You can also check the events page here to find me!
Did you know babies are born without tears? The tears come somewhere between 3-12 weeks and this baby girl’s have arrived. It’s so hard to hear her cry… my insides weep along with her; I sweat, I tear, milk drips. This love is so big it hurts.
I’ve been contemplating and feeling#allthethings - specifically, what does it mean to be a family? I’m discovering the importance of checking in with not one, but two other humans (and a dog) before doing anything, including having a shower.
Win! Knocked out…by my knocker. The little things have taken big space in my heart these days. Sometimes the smallest of steps, the tiniest of accomplishments, and the barely noticeable shifts are so worthy of celebration it almost hurts. Hurts real good that is.
It’s noon. My Osteopath gives hopeful news. “Your body is soft and ready. I’d be surprised if you don’t birth in the next 48 hours.”
FINALLY. ‘Cause I don’t know how I’d wait any longer. I don’t feel confident about caring for a newborn yet so I’d be lying if I said my only motivation was to meet her. That was there, yes, but really, I wanted to be done with being pregnant.
It’s 1:30ish. We stop at a park to eat lunch. I don’t feel like eating but I try. I should be hungry. I feel hazy and super relaxed. In fact, I feel a little horny.
(I remember this park time as the moment I began to discover labour. I was so happy to sit under a tree and watch the tall grass sway while I discovered contractions.)
I text my girls; “Guys these are actually time-able. A clear start and clear end!”
Contractions are 5-6 minutes apart for the hour at the park. Really?! But I’m totally dealing…
It’s 2:30 and we’re at our scheduled midwife appointment. I’m 80-90% effaced and only a fingertip dilated.
“We’ll likely see you in the morning!”
It’s 4:30ish - I’m in the bedroom trying to nap. Caio is making our planned birth meal of lentil soup while he sets up the birth pool. It feels like 5 minutes go by before I start having contractions that wake me the eff up.
I don’t tell Caio what’s happening because I need that lentil soup and I need the birth pool. I don’t think to call my doula because I’m sure I have a long way to go.
So I labour alone.
It feels like strong pressure in my sacrum and tailbone. When a contraction hits I swing my fist back and try to get my knuckle in the spot that’s hurting. But I can’t find the spot because it’s all over. I end up rubbing with my knuckles as hard as I can while I hold myself up and breathe. I’m totally dealing but I’m on all fours, pounding the bed and moaning thru.
Caio can’t hear me because he’s got the stove fan on and the air pump going. He’s singing away.
I text my girls:
At some point I poke my head out of the bedroom to let Caio know it’s time; “This is so intense.”
I text my girls one last time:
I shake all over. However, I’m still not convinced I’m far along. I’m having back labour and I know back labour can be the most intense. I’m sure what I’m feeling can’t be a reflection of where I’m at. I do however, feel as though things are moving quickly.
My friend offers to come and help. Yes yes yes. I figure I’m not far enough to call the doula and well, this is intense. She arrives and feeds me a bowl of soup. We figure we should start timing.
3 minutes apart, for one minute each and for one whole hour. 3-1-1! This is when to call the midwife! I can’t remember who called but it wasn’t me.
My midwife says “But I just saw you! Take a bath and see if labour stays.”
7:00pm -ish: I’m in the bath laying on my side. Another hour has gone by. Contractions are still 3 minutes apart. We call again and while doing so, I feel pressure in my bottom. What a feeling! It feels very grounding but at the same time like my structure is being rocked. It also feels much nicer than just the back pain I’m having.
The midwife is in slight disbelief. She says she’ll make her way over in an hour to check on me. My doula says she’ll be here in 30 minutes.
7:17pm - Contractions are about 2.5 minutes apart. My doula has just arrived. I hear her coming into the bathroom because she’s wearing jingly bracelets. Ugh. And then I stop hearing them - another contraction.
I’m laying in cold water. She tries to heat it up and I state rather annoyed that I’m already hot.
“Let’s walk” she says.
My first contraction standing I feel a little panicked. Where do I go? What do I do? I knew what to do in the bath but not in the kitchen. It was overwhelming to think about how to deal. She feels this; “Just find a wall, a table or a chair, widen your legs and breathe.” I think I remember during that first contraction, her foot swinging between the inside of my ankles to encourage me to widen my legs.
No words, just energy.
We pace the house like this. But not for long. I wanted to sit down. I try the birth ball for one contraction and that brought pain I didn’t want to deal with. I stand up and kick it; “I hate this thing!”
And I need to pee. My water breaks on the toilet. She calls the midwife.
I have another contraction and use the wall for help. She asks me after if it felt more intense and I have no idea. I really don’t. I’m just in it.
I’m not in this world.
I’m fed chia pudding and drinks throughout. At one point I drink too fast and gag but nothing comes. This pulls me back into the room for a moment and I open my eyes to see my dear doula’s hands ready to catch what might’ve come up; “Can I get a bowl please?” Bless her.
8:30pm-ish: The midwife arrives.
“Fuck yea!” (I can’t even tell you how satisfying swearing during labour was.)
Shortly after, my body pushes. Yes my body. My mind didn’t have anything to do with those first pushes - they just happened.
“Caio, fill the pool!”
“Let’s move into the pool Mama.”
“Can someone help me get my supplies out of my car? I need to call the other midwives!”
“Call the photographer - she’s 40 minutes away!”
9pm-ish: I labour on my knees in the birth pool. The water feels good, I think. I’m so far along I don’t quite notice. Caio is behind me; his help is so loving and seamless - he’s right with my groove.
Our midwives trickle in while I feel and learn how to push. It’s really hard work.
I’m told to push into my bottom, as if taking a poo. So I do. And I do poo. I have no idea until the air doesn’t seem so fresh. And since fresh air is all I have to work with, I get pretty loud.
It swiftly gets removed.
My photographer arrives! She made it! I open my eyes, I think I say hi, and I remember my friend is still there because I see her in the corner. She’s staying out of the way - she wasn’t part of the original birth plan, but there she is, watching, loving and humming my birth song. I didn’t know I was using her hums until I saw her again and what she may not know is that I’m so glad she’s there.
Again, I’m labouring in cool water. They try to warm it up and I’m too hot to have any of it.
“Donna, you can’t bring a baby into cool water. Let’s labour on the bed for awhile and we’ll change the water and then come back.”
I see the daunting task of getting out of the pool and walking to the bedroom. That pool is up to my thighs and I’ve got a baby head pushing my structure apart.
10pm -ish: I’m on the bed pushing harder than before. I’m tired of the whole process and at this point give it all I’ve got.
11:11pm - ish: I don’t even think about crowning…until it happens.
This. Is. Birth.
For the first time I’m not dealing well. I shake my head and weep “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” I look at Caio - his eyes are holding all kinds of emotion.
I hear my midwife sternly say: “Donna! Gather yourself! You need to push into the pain!”
I hear her. I know this. But the last thing I want to do is make it worse. It burns, it stretches, I’m totally maxed out. So I push.
11:14pm. And it’s out. It’s OUT! SHE’S OUT!
I feel relief, shock, surprise, and a weight no longer in my belly but on top of it. She’s slimey, covered in olive oil, water, and all things nature intended.
“You’re real!” is what comes out of my mouth. I’m still, somehow, in slight disbelief.
I hear her taking deep breaths. Then a whimper and a small cry. It’s so pure, so fresh, so amazing!
“Donna, can you respond? Are you with us?”
I grunt. I can’t move. I’m bleeding. My mind is scared. Really scared.
I feel my body and it’s so heavy, so relaxed. The most relaxed I’ve ever felt in fact - I feel like I’m inside the mattress.
I hear voices and they’re not of this world. I can’t decipher what they’re saying but I hear them and in my mind, I let them know I’m listening. One is whispering in my right ear and another by my left foot. They are circling the bed. I kind of want to stay here.
I can still hear the midwives too.
I’m between worlds.
I remember my baby.
Sometime between midnight and 5am:
I’m stable. I’m weak. I’ve got an IV. I’m still at home. I’m being fed soup.
It’s after 5am. Everyone has left but I ask Caio if they’re still here because I’m still hearing voices. I’m in and out of sleep. My baby is on my belly.
I can only lift my head.
It’s noon the next day and the midwives are back - we’re all doing well. I’m weak and haven’t gotten out of bed since before the birth. The midwives encourage it. It takes me a long time to sit up. My heart is racing from the work. I stand and feel my feet in a whole new way. I’m using furniture to help balance. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again, because I am.
5 weeks: I had a dream. Before I took the test. But I already knew. I felt it.
My response was to cry. Not happy tears though. Tears of fear, of the sacrifices yet to come. I’m going to be a Mom.
5.5 weeks: The sickness was so intense. It came from way down. Nothing would come out, yet, my body was so powerfully heaving. No sleep that night. No food or water the next day. Morning sickness?
I call the doctor and ask about Gravol. He gives me Diclectin (anti-nausea). It’s illegal in the states - I’m reluctant to take anything let alone, something that’s not approved somewhere. Maybe I can just be sick for longer? But I can’t keep water down.
I take it, fearfully, but also with hope for relief. I ween myself off it four days later.
It doesn’t feel like this time is magical. I just feel sick, so sick.
9 weeks: Sometimes I feel crazy. I cry when others laugh. My breasts are tender. My nipples are itchy and darkening. I’m either bloated, nauseous or tired - often all three. And then sometimes I feel great and it scares me - am I still pregnant?
I’m excited to meet the baby and hold them. Sometimes I feel connected and other times, disconnected. I can feel my womb constantly. Like a spiral of energy. I like to unbutton my jeans after eating now.
12 weeks: Whirlwind. Holy. I’m so happy to be coming out of the first trimester of nausea and exhaustion. There were times when I had no idea how women have gotten thru. How can one feel so sick, and so tired yet keep on keepin’ on?! One evening, I fell asleep eating. No joke. Face in bowl.
Even though I’m feeling so much better, this weekend I’m held back from my travels to the USA because of health issues.
A sacrifice. Motherhood has begun.
I unexpectedly can’t urinate. After time, a few tests, and my own internal adjustment, everything is fine. On the drive home, also unexpectedly, we find a new home.
There seems to be a plan…
16 weeks: Sleeping amongst boxes ready to move. My heart is in the new home but my body is stuck in this old house. So much anxiety right now. Moving while pregnant is not fun so far, yet, I’m excited to be somewhere that will fit our new family.
My practice is to trust.
18 weeks: Expanding in so many ways and faster than I thought. The removal of my bellybutton ring feels so significant; growing out of the role of ‘maiden’ and stepping into the role of Mother. I’m not sure I feel ready quite yet.
20 weeks: (Half way!) Time feels equally fast as it does slow. My centre of balance is totally different - obviously. Feeling excited, overwhelmed, terrified and deeply blessed - all at the same time.
We’re in the new home! I washed and folded my first set of baby clothes - they’re so small how do you even fold them?!
Pregnancy comments are…interesting. Such body judging revealed:
“I thought you were really letting it hang out!”
“You don’t even look pregnant - good for you!”
22 weeks: I don’t understand how to merge my life with a baby and be a Mom in a way I can feel good about. In a way, I’m pre-mourning the loss of friends. I have to keep reminding myself that it’ll be more of a shift in how we interact, not so much a loss.
23 weeks: This is getting harder! It’s a funny thing to be growing a belly that moves, kicks and off centres itself. How is it that there’s a whole new human in there?!
Motherhood feels daunting. My body is pregnant but my mind not quite yet. How can I prepare? I try to imagine the future and its so foreign I can’t. Who will you be? Who will I be?
I can’t wait to feel love deeper than I’ve ever felt.
23.5 weeks: When your wolf shirt becomes 3D - celebrate!
6 months: I even surprised myself with this practice! Some days sitting in stillness feels amazing. Other days, like today, I wanted nothing more than to be upside down.
I feel a major shift happening; there’s more excitement and less terror. I can do this thing called Motherhood. And it helps to have caught my husband in a private moment holding a onesie to his heart. When he saw me he said ‘I don’t know where all the love is going to go - my heart feels so full already.’ Aho!
6.5 months: Belly and sunset blessings from the ocean! Resting, reading and sunshine feel so good right now. So good. We saw dolphins and I cried. A lot. But it was a happy cry. So grateful for dolphin medicine and this play time.
7 months:I was told no more planks or hands & knee positions as my abs have separated (this is common and normal) - 'front loading’ positions can make it worse. The pursuit is on to find yoga poses that I can do safely, while feeling challenged.
And.. the belly officially has a mind of it’s own! It’s amazing and bizarre all at the same time.
The call to be at home just gets deeper and deeper. I’m cancelling travel plans moving forward - that was no easy decision. The ‘old’ Donna wants to go, but my current self is happy at home. It’s no longer a sacrifice.
30 weeks. Only 8-12 weeks left of sleep ins… for a very looooong time. Also, I have a cold and can’t take anything for it.
32 weeks: I feel huge - I’m not sure where the rest of the pregnancy will fit into my body? And.. I know it just will. Sleeping is getting harder, baby is getting smarter. And.. we’ve got the best name picked out. Best name ever.
I still have a cold.
33 weeks: Preparing the house now. Baby has hiccups often and responds quickly to my husband’s voice with active movement - almost as if excited. We still have the best name picked out. Best name ever.
I still have a cold.
34 weeks: My category of belly down yoga poses has grown exponentially.
Feeling almost ready but not quite yet - this pregnancy is growing me as a Mother as well. Singing and reading to babe before bed has become so sweet. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Love is overcoming all however.
I still have a cold?! What the…
Almost 35 weeks: Today, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to have 1.5 months left. Or even 1 month for that matter. So for now, breathing in the sunshine and practicing calm.
My lips are swollen.
My ankles are swollen.
My feet hurt like crazy.
And, I’m okay.
My cold is gone, but it lasted one whole month. Jesus.
People are asking if I’m having twins.
35 weeks today: It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Staying home is very exciting to me now. When I’m away from home, I just want to be back home.
There’s a new energy moving in. I dream every night of birth starting. Braxton & Hicks contractions are frequent, but not painful. They just make me feel like I have to pee. Sometimes they’re even 4-5 minutes apart.
My dreams are meaningful and confusing.
36 weeks: Almost there. I keep thinking of the moment I’ll meet this being - the first glance, our first moment of eye contact. What do they look like? Do they have hair? Chubby cheeks? I can easily fall into an endless state of wonder thinking about this moment. As of now, it feels like it might be similar to that moment in E.T. - first touch, fingers coming together, light all around.
36.5 weeks: Belly blessings served up by the bestest friends ever. Taking it all in, loving it all up. Such sacred times carrying a brand new human within - words fall short for all the magic and mystery.
37 weeks: There’s no baby yet, but the time has come for me to stay home. Earlier than I thought, but I’m listening…
It seems as though I have high blood pressure and the midwives have invited me to stop working and start resting. A lot. I’m quite afraid that this might get in the way of the home birth we have planned. I’m feeling afraid and I know this doesn’t help my blood pressure.
Last night my husband and I sat face to face and invited the baby to come Earthside. We lit candles, held hands, sang and chanted to let our baby know how welcome they are to join us.
38 weeks: I think. I’ve lost track. I’m so ready. Yes I know baby will come when they want to come and yes I know it’s a waiting game and yes I’m hanging in there - but this might be some of the deepest yoga I’ve done yet. And I know it’ll only get deeper.
I don’t feel like going out, talking much, or even seeing my friends. Who am I?!
So much anxiety. How do I just forget about the high blood pressure and move on?? This is now my yoga…
I’m afraid I won’t know how to care for a newborn. I’m afraid how much this will change my life. I’m afraid of ‘failing’ at a natural birth. Failing who I ask myself. Failing the image I have of myself as someone who ‘should’ be able to do it. This is an ego death.
Pregnancy brain is in full force. I can’t quite orient myself. I can’t quite find words.
I’m using acupressure, nipple stimulation, sex - all to build oxytocin and encourage labour. Trying deeply to respect when our baby wants to come too.
LOVE is my mantra. Loving it all up. It calms me although I often don’t feel in love with the anxiety/fear, saying I do does help. I’m praying that when labour starts I’ll drop in, ground and focus.
39 weeks: This is going to come out right?! Limbo is a weird place to be. Between worlds, old and new. I’ve left the familiar shore and am crossing over to the other - but don’t yet know how or when I’ll get there. Do I co-create or surrender and let it all happen on its own? I’m not looking for your answer, I’m looking for mine…
This waiting is so hard. And my blood pressure is still high.
Swimming was an absolute gift.
Heartburn is an absolute drag.
I’m putting castor oil on my belly now (not drinking it) in hopes to encourage labour. My girls and I sat together tonight calling in this baby. C’mon baby!
The filtered, ready-for-Facebook pic:
The unfiltered, should-I-even-share-this pic:
39.5 weeks: It’s nice to get out of the house for short trips here and there, especially when I’ve been resting for days. However when I do get out, it’s as if people have never seen a pregnant woman before. Seriously. Yesterday was the first time a woman commented as well.
Comments range from “WHOA!” to “You’re ready to POP!” to “It’s a boy/girl!” to “That’s the roundest thing I’ve ever seen!” to “You’re huge!” to “Holy shit!”
It’s been a great reminder how much our society is concerned with body image and a certain look. Body comments, of all kinds, are not okay - ever. Not when someone has a great ass, or is really thin, or pregnant, or disabled, or old etc. Strangers, please use your inside voice.
40 weeks: It’s my due date today. Everyone warned me about not keeping that date too close to heart. Why didn’t I listen? I am getting better at this limbo thing though - colouring books are my new best friend.
I’ve now been told to side-lie. My Osteopath thinks this will help with my blood pressure and it has so far. It’s still high, but low enough to try for a home birth. Feeling blessed with that news.
40.1 weeks: Passed my due date. Yesterday I had acupuncture and drank black and blue cohosh tea to help induce. Today it feels like my sacrum is splitting in two. C’mon baby! Feeling introspective and motivated.
I had major eyebrow gratitude this morning during my yoga practice. The room was packed full of people, mat to mat, all sweating through their Mysore practice. It’s beautiful and inspiring when this happens; the breathing in the room begins to sound like ocean waves. I close my eyes to imagine standing next to the ocean only to have my fantasy interrupted by… rain?!
I saw drips slinking down the walls and hanging from the ceiling. It was condensation and…sweat. It drives me nuts when a few stray drips make their way into my eyes seriously challenging my practice of drishti. My focus turns to all the potential eye drops waiting in my hairline and on my forehead. But then it happens. I notice my eyebrows working overtime and I was overwhelmed with… eyebrow gratitude?!
“You guys are saving me from so much stinging. Look at the way you guide those drops to the side so effortlessly. Brilliant you are. Just brilliant.”
I went on like this in my head for awhile - and I felt great while it was happening amidst gruelling poses. But in all honesty, it wasn’t my eyebrows that were making me feel great. It was a spontaneous practice of gratitude.
It could be interpreted as the direction the eyes are pointing, but it means so much more.
There’s outer and inner drishti. My eyes can be focused somewhere (outer drishti) while I’m thinking of something completely different (inner drishti).
Holding both inner and outer drishti simultaneously is hard. Focusing your eyes isn’t all that hard, but keeping your mind focused is on par with walking a tight rope…at least for me.
I can assure you there’s times when my gaze appears focused but all I’m thinking about is the hair on my mat, the noisy breather next to me, and the whimperer behind me (the studio dog of course). My outer focus is nothing unless my inner focus is, well… focused.
My focus in each moment is my practice for the next moment.
I don’t want to be practicing being annoyed (that damn noise next to me!!) - I’m already pretty good at that. I want my practice to be about love.
True focus, true drishti, will break age old patterns of mind. Once you recognize them, you’re on the path to breaking them. To get past these patterns, I come back to drishti.
I breathe deep. I focus my eyes and my mind. I remember to love. The more I focus on love, the more I remember love, the more I feel the love. And eventually, I won’t even have to remember. Ahhh…
Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.
The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.
To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.
“All of the forms disappear into the lake of emptiness, and yet they are not lost. It’s at the edge of the lake that someone whose path is the path of the heart will say, “I am experiencing the presence of God,” for one more step into the lake and the experiencer and the experience have merged, and we have become God, and the concept of God is long gone.”
And still, one is as unimpressive as they ever were.
Sitting here at home in a faded T-shirt,
typing words into an empty screen
in a world where nothing ever happened.
Strange how we keep meeting like this.
And still such joy,
“Whether you possess a simple heart or the ambitions of an Amazon, whether you are trying to make it to the top or just make it through tomorrow, whether you be spicy or somber, regal or roughshod - the wild nature belongs to you. She truly belongs to all.” -Estes
This is the lotus mudra, honouring the opening of the heart centre. It feels goooood! Try it!
I’ve recently been asked to describe my beliefs in a nutshell (if that were possible) and totally enjoyed the process. I choose to share them as an exercise in facing my fear to be exactly who I am, regardless of judgement from others.
“Because our beliefs are so important to our survival, we have a tendency to hold those beliefs very strongly, even when presented with opposing opinions or facts. Yet the brain is also capable of changing beliefs if we are open to new ideas and respect the beliefs of others.” - Andrew Newberg
I believe we are all all forms of energy and therefore, all connected at the most basic and complex levels. In fact, I believe we are one and the same.
I believe in awakenings.
I believe in reincarnation.
I believe in entities/spirits existing in different realms.
I believe mermaids, unicorns and fairies are real.
I believe in animal guides and messages from them.
I believe Mama Earth is alive and conscious.
I believe the Universe and this world is a reflection of our collective consciousness and therefore,
I believe, if enough people were to envision love, we would change the world and
I believe if we as a race get lost enough, there could be a natural disaster as a reflection of that.
I believe that when it thunders, my brother with Down Syndrome really does talk to God.
I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe I am exactly where I should be.
I believe time is a concept, not a reality.
I believe Jesus, God, Krishna, Allah, Shiva are the same - just different strokes for different folks. I believe that seeing them as different creates a large amount of suffering in the world.
I believe we choose our life before we enter this world for some soul purpose that is not totally clear to our human mind.
I believe fear of death is a cultural issue - not a human issue.
I believe the way someone is brought into this world wholly effects their life.
I believe there is a plan. I also believe there is no plan.
This saying echoed throughout my trip to SE Asia a few years ago. It started with a 2 year old in Bali; She was examining essential oils and after much sniffing said “same same”. Her Mom added “but different.“ The next day our taxi driver used it to describe his way of life in Bali vs. ours in Canada. This expression continued throughout the trip; a monk in Thailand said it while comparing lifestyles, a villager North of Chiang Mai used it, it was written all over t-shirts in Cambodia.
"Same same, but different.”
For me, this expression defines the word community.
We need each other to survive. Sure we’re different but we’re also the same. We breathe the same air. My inhale is your exhale and vice versa. We coexist. We need each other and our differences to evolve and when we come together as a community, we’re at our best.
One of my teacher’s says that the next Buddha is the Sangha. Meaning, the next enlightened one isn’t one, but instead a community of ones. I love that idea.
“We all need community, because to realize our potential as human beings we need the love, the support, and the evolution of valuable conversation. As yogis we mean to engage deeply, to yoke ourselves. To what? To each other, to the things we understand to be of worth and value, to the possibilities a universe so vast offers. … We become better, greater when we realize that we can accomplish more together, far more, than we could ever achieve alone. Enlightenment is a collective experience.“ Douglas Brooks
“It is far more important to listen with the depth of one’s whole being, than to indulge in merely superficial explanations. If we can listen in that way, with the totality of one’s being, that very listening is an act of meditation” - Krishnamurti
Words don’t come close to describing the experience you gifted me, but I feel like there’s so much beauty to remember that I wanted to try.
(art by Damien Leggett)
You laboured for 18 hours.
You pushed for 1 hour.
I saw strength, raw emotion, faith and surrender. Yet, the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of Elisa’s birth is grace.
You birthed a beautiful baby girl, and you birthed yourself as a Mother.
When you looked at me in active labour, you had the brightest eyes I’ve seen you have yet, but you were tired. You said “Donna, this is very hard.” I heard you, yet as you said this I also heard a deep trust and a depth of wisdom that I hadn’t seen from you before.. and I knew you were going to be fine.
At 7:30pm you were 5cm dilated.
At 8:30pm you were 9cm dilated.
Within this hour, you did everything you needed:
You rested between contractions with moments of deep sleep.
You turned inward.
You energetically asked for silence; the room listened.
You tapped into the ocean within you - you went with the flow.
You instinctually switched your breathing.
You guided myself and Sean on how to move you with your breath.
Instinctually, you switched from quiet and introspective, to a roaring lioness.
And then you needed to push.
When you felt the doctor wasn’t coming fast enough to check your last centimetre of dilation, you raised your voice just enough to send the nurse out of the room immediately after that contraction.
Your ability to stay clear and connected to exactly what you needed had me in awe.
The doctor arrived and after a lesson on how to push, you nailed it. “Push into the pressure” is what you were told. You likely didn’t notice, but all the medical staff’s eyes lit up with that push. They were impressed. I was beaming.
It was an hour of hard work, but there were moments where I saw your Mother, hands on her cheeks, pushing right along with you. I saw the same face in both of you and it was then that I saw the true beauty of womanly wisdom moving through the generations.
Between pushing, you had to catch your breath. It was in one of these breath catching moments that I had to catch mine. It took everything in me to hold back tears of sweetness when I saw you turn to Sean, catch your breath, kiss his hand and whisper “my love.”
Breathless I was. But not surprised. His depth of support was awe-inspiring. He held your head, massaged you, fed you ice after every contraction, rocked you, and counted for you to name a few. His support was so unwavering I felt the need to make sure he was taking care of himself. He was. He was so solid. I think I took doula lessons from Sean that night.
Baby Elisa’s head was half out at this point. The feeling was so intense you went with the doctor’s suggestion and instead of waiting for another contraction, you went to push. Deep breath in, Sean lifted your head, you gazed down and instead of pushing said “Oh my God! Oh my God!” It was your first sighting of Elisa. The innocence of the moment made everyone chuckle, but it made you push Mama.
(art by Damien Leggett)
And it was with that push that Elisa graced us with her presence.
Sean revealed her gender to your total surprise; “Oh my God, we have a baby girl! We have a baby girl!” To say the moment was emotional was an understatement. And this is where Elisa’s Grandmother knew to step up, showering both of you with love.
Annie, you beat the statistics at the hospital and you birthed without drugs. You didn’t even ask for them. Your strength was awe-inspiring.
Thank you for letting me bear witness to this beautiful event. That night, you birthed me as a doula.
When Christ says “Had ye but faith, ye could move mountains,” he’s not putting you on. This is not some lovely metaphor saying it’s hard just to lead a good clean life. That isn’t what it’s about at all. He’s just telling you how it is: that were you at a certain level of consciousness you could move a mountain, literally. But the way it happens is very far out. It only happens when you have transcended that in you which is separate from the mountain, so that you are, in fact, the mountain, and then you move. I’m giving it to you straight. You can say it’s nutty. I’m just telling you how it is. Later you’ll know, if you don’t know now. To the extent that you are the mountain that moves, you are also the being that put the mountain there in the first place. He neglected to say that could you move mountains, you probably wouldn’t because you put it there in the first place. That’s the added part of the thing, which is the final place you go out.
“The only reason a totally free being would choose to stay within the illusion is to relieve the suffering of all beings. … The moment we choose to come back, we have to push against that force that is drawing us in to merge. We are pushing against God. That is the sacrifice. The sacrifice that Christ made is not the crucifixion. The change for a conscious being to leave his body is bliss. The sacrifice was leaving the Father in the first place and becoming the Son.” - Ram Dass
This past week there was a death in my family. My Grandfather, at the age of 98, passed in his sleep. I’m grateful for so many reasons: 98 was a beautiful, long life. 98 made it easier to understand that death was near. And 98 years gave us ample time together - which made his passing hard. No matter the age, it’s hard to loose someone you love.
While Gramps passing was much easier than my own Father’s, it did kick up memories of sadness from that time…and fear. Deep seated fear for my own inevitable passing.
The great sages refer to every aspect of life as practice; practice for the peak of life. Cue the reason I get on my yoga mat.
My mat is a mirror to my life. It’s a reflection of how I react to everything, including challenges. Through practice, I’ve learned my first reaction to stress is fear and through practice, I’ve given myself tools to deal with this fear - all in preparation for the greatest moment of life, the pinnacle of it, the greatest ecstacy:
“One who has become capable of witnessing life has become capable of witnessing death because death is not the end of life; it is the very culmination of it. It is the very pinnacle of it. Life comes to its peak in death. Because you are afraid, you miss. Otherwise, death is the greatest ecstasy, the greatest orgasm there is.” Osho
Did you know your heart can effect a bowl of yogurt?
Your heart is magical, absolutely magical. Not just the fact that it keeps you alive, although that’s pretty amazing. Your heart emits an electromagnetic field that carries information about your emotions - specifically, what emotions you’re experiencing. Studies show that this field of information effects something as simple as yogurt. Imagine then, what the field of your heart can do to the people and pets around you! Talk about connection baby!
States of joy, love and peace all emit a positive effect not just for you, but to those around you too.
Background: I’ve been practicing yoga for 10+ years, but more seriously in the past 5. I had what I would call a fairly advanced practice; Urdhva Dhanurasana is no problem, headstand without a wall is all good, drop backs are a bit scary but totally do-able. I don’t practice in the heat - ever. I did a full yoga class 3x per week and scattered yoga poses through out my day - until my 1 month Ashtanga challenge.
Here’s a real time account of my personal Ashtanga challenge at AYCT.
Day 1: Kinda nervous. Practice is shorter than I expected as I’m only given up to Parsvottanasana so I can memorize the sequence.
It’s hotter than I thought and the room’s smell reflects it.
Day 2: The heat! I learn I’m not allowed to bring my water into the room with me. “This is going to kill me” is what goes through my head. I start a habit of drinking half the bottle before my practice and leaving it at the back of the room for when I’m finished. Up to Pascimottasana.
Day 3: Barely making it through. Struggling with the heat, and the idea that I may dehydrate… or die.
Day 4: Fighting panic attacks in the room due to the heat - no one knows but me. The thought that I may die crosses my mind too many times; my mouth is dry, I’m sweating a ton and it’s hot - it’s so hot. I have to look at the older people in the room for inspiration (and to convince myself that I won’t die).
Day 5: Still fighting panic attacks in the room. They’re all in my head. Why are people cross eyed?!
Day 6: I can’t stand the sweat that runs into my eyes - new (least) favourite focus, other than watching the weird assists.
Day 7: I bring a towel into the room to wipe the sweat from my eyes- new favourite past time during practice.
Week 2: Teacher tells me to stop wiping my face so much and focus more. Still fighting panic attacks from the thought that I may die from dehydration or heat stroke. Once I’m out of the room and practice is over, I realize I’m being completely dramatic.
I'm ridiculously tired and nap at least 3x during the week. Sore. So. Sore. Left knee seems tweaked.
People actually get sat on in the practice room. I dread that assist!
Week 3: Up to Janu Sirsasana C. Still sore and still napping after practice. My left wrist is showing signs of injury. I no longer consider my practice advanced. This style is schooling me!
Can’t get the smell out of my clothing. Having to soak clothes, then wash them. They don’t even smell like me - they smell like the room!
Week 4:Almost done my 1 month challenge.Up to Bujapidasana, then to Urdhva Dhanurasana with drop backs on my own. Getting schooled on keeping my heels down in drop backs. I can’t do it - it’s uncomfortable in my low back and I just don’t understand the muscles required to keep my heels down yet.
Left knee is better. I’m noticing major changes in my practice; I’m much stronger and dare I say, the practice may be getting easier? Left wrist is better, right wrist is sore.
I tried to press up to handstand (not kick up) at home against a wall - my feet lifted off and I freaked out from the feeling. Fell out of it, and ran to jump on the bed. I’ll try again in a few weeks.
Loving the forward fold assists daily and working on my own cross-eyes. Drishti baby.
Week 5:Given Supta Kourmasana assisted. Jesus - how does one breathe in that pose?!
Forgot to drink half my water before practice and still survived.
Marichiasana D needs an assist on both sides in order to bind.
Can’t stop now. One month challenge is extended until…? Plus I’m head over heels for the studio mascot, Bambi.
Week 6: Up to Garba Pindasana. Can’t even get my finger tips through my legs - no matter the amount of lubrication. The rolling around part feels so ridiculous.
Able to place focus on things like keeping my foot arches lifted - no longer just barely making it through. Panic attacks are gone. Not even bringing my water to the back of the room anymore.
Week 7 beginning: Hands are through in Garba Pindasana! Boom! But now I’m tipping when I try to roll around. So frustrating! I have a love/hate relationship with the practice.
Week 7 end: Forearms through in Garba Pindasana! Major bruises on my inner elbows however. Rolling around with more control, less tipping. Jump throughs are coming! The key is to reach my chest forward as I jump!
Complained to my teacher that I can’t get my arms through past my elbows in Garba Pindasana - he kindly reminded me that I was complaining not long ago about my fingertips not going through. The grass is always greener!
Week 8: Convinced my husband to try it out. He’s coming daily now too.
Tweaked my right knee in Garba Pindasana. Can no longer do ½ lotus with the right leg - need to let it heal and modify through the practice.
Week 9: Bruises on ankles from jump throughs are constant.
Week 10: Marichiasana D to the left without assist!
Week 13: Convinced that drinking ½ a coconut water before practice makes my practice better. Putting this to the test. Have my husband in on it too.
Ankle bruises seem to be diminishing.
Week 14: I’m light! Floating through better than ever. Catching air on the jump backs too. Have no idea how or why it’s happening yet. Just started happening one day!
First drop back with my heels down happens! Coming back up does not happen.
Right knee finally feels better. Back with Garba - forgot how much of a pain that pose is. Arms go through easily, but stuck at elbows. Back with the elbow bruises!
Month 4: Baddha Konasana a & b is given to me. Forgot to drink ½ coconut water before going into the practice room; thinking Mula Bandha is easier without a liquid filled belly.
Frustrated at coming up from drop backs without flinging myself into the person in front of me. Feeling annoyed at the lanky, overly flexible man next to me in practice. His legs are all up in my space.
Gave it a good go on coming up from drop backs. Must have let out a noise or loud breath because the lanky man offered a whisper of encouragement: “That’s good! You’ve almost got it”. I wanted to cry - I was previously thinking mean thoughts about him.
Month 4, week 2: Tweaked knee again. Back with modified Garba Pindasana. Tweaked right wrist, feeling sharp wrist pain in jump throughs and jump backs. Jump throughs and jump backs are on hold. Working on patience in full force - not going so well.
Month 4, week 3: Back with Garba Pindasana. Tweaked left shoulder when compensating for my right wrist. Back is hurting in drop backs - I seem to have a vertebrae that’s pushing inwards. Drop backs are assisted again. Feeling pretty low about my practice with all the modifications these days.
Month 5: Up to Urdhva Mukha Pacimottanasana. Hard pose - what on earth am I supposed to balance on?? One pose left until I complete the Primary Series (Setu Bandhasana)!
Month 5.5: Back is starting to feel better although I can still feel 1 vertebrae pushing in. Discovered that keeping my first finger, middle knuckle down supports my wrist. Building forearm strength to really keep it down now.
Loving the dedication and devotion that the practice brings to my life. I feel more settled after my practice is complete in the mornings. I do miss other poses from other styles (pigeon, side plank, wild thing, Hanumanasana (splits), handstand to name a few) so I’m trying to do one other class per week to keep this side of me happy. I’m also doing some of these poses at home on my own.
I love the community at the Shala and I love my teacher David Robson! Super glad I started this personal challenge in the first place.
1. Check out different teachers and different classes regularly.
Different teachers will offer you different flows, different poses and different alignment cues. If you're open to it, you'll always pick up something new you can use. If you find a teacher/style that challenges you like no other, stick with them for awhile until that changes again. Then repeat this step.
2. Time your poses.
Interval style. Try 1 minute holds, then up it to 2 minutes. It’s one thing to make it into a pose but completely different to hold that pose. Try it out!
3. Break routine or find routine.
If you don’t have a routine, starting one can deepen your practice. Try doing the same poses daily for a month and watch the progression! If you already have a routine, adding poses to practice will give your body something new to work with. Change up your patterns as well such as what side you do first, what leg you kick into handstand with, and what leg you put into lotus (or a cross legged seat) first.
4. Find your edge.
…and play it. Your edge is a place of fear, possibility and breakthrough’s. The best yogi’s know how to fall, and how to get back up.
You of all people know exactly what you can do to deepen your practice. Just listen to your body and your mind. It’s likely the things that scare you a little, are the things you need more of. Listen to your inner guide and step into your own light.