Beauty ...You ARE that

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Thursday, September 01, 2016
"And what a beautiful mess this is
It's like picking up trash in dresses..."
- Jason Mraz

A composer and an old piano.
A writer and a blank page.
A painter and a white canvas.
A yogi and a mat.

Each of these a creator, and a space for creation.
Each one, at their very fingertips, holds an intricate repertoire of notes
Of words
Of colours
Of movement,  breath, and of stillness.
Each one, inspired
Open, present and allowing to what muse may come.

As each creator breathes their objet d'art into existence -- their symphony, their novella, their Mona Lisa, their practice -- they pull from the dissonant minors  as much as the angelic majors;
from language that churns the gut as much as the poetry of the heart;
from deep shades of darkness as much as the illuminating brights, 
from soft, inner vulnerability as much as muscular, physical strength. 

Though the initial impulse to create rarely assumes a perfect thing of beauty as the end result, a melody still evokes tears,
a paragraph steals our breath,
a painting captures our imagination, 
and a practice awakens every cell in our human form. 

Everything that makes us ache with its beauty is born regardless of the mess, the fear, the excitement, optimism or apprehension it may have started with because it touches the tenderest chord of our humanness. 
The beauty we perceive and the beauty we have the capacity to create is one in the same.
Next time you find yourself gobsmacked by a beautiful creation, know that its beauty is a reflection of the colourful, musical, poetic, living, breathing, and timeless masterpiece that is your soul.

-Allison Goundry Beautiful Branch of the Tree 

Black was is the absence of light

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Friday, July 15, 2016
Black was (is) the absence of light. by Catherine -Champion of Color, Light Bearer and Mother of the Tree

In May 2009, at the Whistler Yoga Conference, I attended a workshop with Shivani Howe: Taking Your Yoga off Your
Mat and into Your World. As we sat in group at a workshop and discussed chakras, energy and our yoga practice,
the “color” black came up. Shivani mindfully responded, “Black is the absence of light“. I heard this and BAM!
Something began to bubble up deep inside my heart. As a woman who had worn black, head to toe, EVERY DAY for
over 30 years, this really rocked my world. Not only did the statement “Black is the absence of light “ send my mind
into a whirlwind, analyzing my cloak, my veil, my signature style, but something began to wake up inside me.
I decided to take a personal “no black challenge”. No black, only color! Surely I would need a whole new wardrobe...

I began by cleaning out my closet! It was really difficult to let go of all my “beautiful black clothes”. Three big bags
of black left things a little thin in my once bursting closet, yet what I discovered was that buried amongst all the
black clothes were some beautiful colored pieces I had completely forgotten about - a very telling thing I think. How
often have I forgotten about the things that make me beautiful and vibrant? Maybe I didn’t need a new wardrobe
after all... Maybe I just needed no black... No black period. “No black” became my new mantra. At first, this was
very unfamiliar and weird for me. Being the Queen of Black for 30 years, my brother-in-law use to call me
“Johnny” as in Johnny Cash (often referred to as the man in black); but suddenly, something shifted. I began to feel
excited and creative and within the month, no black; only color, became familiar and became my new normal...
my vibrant style!

Since then, dressing has become, and still is, a very mindful practice for me. Color inspires me and makes me feel
bright, uplifted and free. Wearing color, and no black, has become a new source of energy for me. I found myself
noticing and being drawn to color like never before. No longer was black my lover; red, purple, orange, fuchsia,
green and blue are dazzling me and dancing me through my days! My friends, family, fellow students and teachers
all comment on how beautiful and vibrant I look and I feel lighter, brighter and so much more clear-then I did in my
days of only being in cloaked in black.

The positive difference in my spirit continues to impress me and my zest for life has been inspired and fuelled with
the vibrancy and energy of color. I feel alive! I shine bright ! It’s been 7 years since I took on this colorful path
and I no longer gravitate to anything black. I see the world in HD Color and move towards it; life draws my
spirit in, fills me up with beautiful light and I light my way. I shine!

Sailing on the Ocean of Challenge

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Thursday, June 09, 2016

Sailing on the Ocean of Challenge  

by Allison Goundry Mother, Yogini and Sailor of the Ocean of Challenge

"If the seas were always calm, we would never build a better boat."

~ Author Unknown

Close your eyes...

Picture yourself on the shore of a vast ocean.

The air around you is alive with the steady roar of the pounding waves in the distance and the soft lapping of water onto the shoreline. A thin wash of salty water rhythmically splashes over the tips of your toes and quickly retreats, gently lifting and displacing tiny grains of sand and delicate seashells around your feet.

You lift your eyes towards the horizon -- a line no thicker than the mark of a pencil -- that defines the boundary between sea and sky. Nestled here, between the finite depths below and the boundless heavens above, a tiny sailing vessel rocks on the deep, dazzling blue. From where you sit, it appears no bigger than the tip of your thumb.

The boat -- in your eyes, no larger than a toy -- has a skillful navigator at its helm. The navigator has taken to the seas with enough knowledge of what the day may hold to know she is safe enough to sail. She also knows far too well that Mother Nature's powerful forces are apt to change drastically and quickly, sometimes without fair warning.

The sailor intimately knows (and whole-heartedly embraces) the unpredictability of the sea. This sailing vessel is carefully outfitted with whatever she needs to weather rain, shine, storm, or calm. She cannot predict what she may face on this beautiful day at sea, but she trusts deeply in herself.

She trusts her skill and craft.

She trusts everything with which she comes equipped.
And though the ocean may be a fickle maiden, she knows her place: deep in the moment.

She knows her task: to listen and respond as the ocean speaks, no matter how conditions may swiftly change in and out of her favour.

She knows her challenge: to stay anchored within herself though waves may tower and skies may open, and to trust this boat, trust this path....and if or when all else fails, to send a signal for those who are there to catch her when tides have jump...and to swim.


30 Day Yoga Warrior

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Monday, May 30, 2016

30 Day Yoga Warrior by Qinyan Wang-dedicated yoga warrior and mountain conquerer

2015 was a good year and also a bad year for me. I started the year 2015 with a serious knee injury, as a result of a
hiking incident. I thought I’d never get back to hiking. Then things changed... I found the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre on
January 12, 2015.

Due to my knee injury, I had a hard time doing easy poses like table top and pigeon when I first began. It was
painful and frustrating. My new teachers at the Bodhi Tree modified the poses and encouraged me for each and
every small bit of progress I was making. It was slow going... painfully slow for someone who is used to being
so capable in their body. Now I am doing full wheel and a modified hand stand! Two poses I had never dreamt of

doing when I first began. Since then, I have been practicing yoga five times per week on average.

It has changed my life.

I completed two 30 days Challenges in 2015 (February and October). Catherine calls me a Warrior. I know now that
I am a warrior. My experience is that life always throws curve balls at us like my knee injury and we will need to
take on those challenges. This is like tackling the 30 Day Challenge. There will be times we do not feel like doing a
practice; however, if we toughen up and keep doing it, we will be transformed! It’s the journey of finding the pot of
the gold at the end of the rainbow.

The Bodhi Tree is such a caring and loving community!

Now- a year later – I am fully recovered from my injury and resumed my hiking capacity. A dream come true, one
I thought was over for good. Although I have received other treatments, I believe and know that my time with Yoga
Therapy and regular practice on my mat sent me back to my love – hiking and being in the mountains!

I hope that my experience can inspire you to know that anything is possible – that you can do it!

The Bodhi Tree is a life changing experience. Have fun with the upcoming 30 Day Challenge!


Catherine Nelson-Reid - Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Nurture-by Allison Goundry 

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."   
~ Marcel Proust

We are born out of a spontaneous act of nurturance. In the soft bed of our mother's womb, nature's brilliant design follows its ancient, mystifying blueprint of creation. We grow instinctively out of all the stuff that can already be drawn upon to feed us, and everything after that is taken in as fuel. As we are nurtured, and as we come into our human form, we align with all of nature's greatest creations; a living organism that breathes into life, grows into purpose, thrives into vibrancy, and eventually, must return to the earth.

Our nature is to grow and be grown. Like seeds in soil, we need to be taken care of. In childhood, to be positively nurtured feeds and forms our bonds and connections. We reach out for the support and tender care that allows us to feel safe and confident in the world. As we mature, that nurturing is just as vital; what differs are the sources that we have to be nourished by. The children within us may still look outwards to those who can nudge us closer to what we need most (more self-care? A change of scene? A leap of faith? A reassuring hug?). We also need to draw from (and trust!) our own inner resources, to give ourselves the green light to seek out and receive the most effective soul food only we know we need -- an afternoon of solitude, time on our mat, a walk in the mountains, a positive self-pep-talk...With one radical act of nurturance towards ourselves, we can see a glimmer of the light we are seeking...

Watering the seeds once will not a garden make.
A flower wouldn't have as strong a chance to bloom into brilliance without the gardener who tends to it.

Trust that there are gardeners all around you...but the gardener to turn to now is the master of all...


My First Kundalini Class

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

by Marie Simpson, Kundalini Teacher

I know my first kundalini yoga class was an intimidating experience. People were dressed all in white, they knew all these songs, and, seriously,  what were these movements we were doing? Where was my warrior II?

Not one to be easily thrown off (read: I'm stubborn), I went with it. And even though the class was a far cry from the other forms of yoga I'd spent so much time practicing, the feeling of connection I'd come to expect from a yoga class was still there, and it was strong.

So I kept going, and I began to thoroughly enjoy the playfulness of this practice, the opportunity to do things I don't normally do, the chance to be silly. I came to love the singing, the breathing, and the sweet, sweet moments of stillness. Mostly, I relished in the way I felt after class: grounded, refreshed, clear. Alive.

It is truly a pleasure now to get to teach this thing I've fallen in love with. And in an effort to make your first kundalini experience more comfortable than mine, I tell you this: I LOVE teaching beginners. It may feel different in the way all new things do, but if any parts of the class don't feel right to you, don't do them - this is all about the experience you are ready and able to have!

The kundalini class iteslf is a series of dynamic movements (called kriyas - and there are hundreds of them) designed to do some serious energetic house cleaning and to bring balance to the body's nervous, glandular, and immune systems. Benefits include weight control, relief from stress and insomnia, enhanced creativity, lymphatic cleansing, liver detoxification, balancing the heart and mind, and developing will-power. Among others.

Each class is distinctly difference and may involve vigorous breathwork, chanting of mantras, and repetitive physical activity mixed with periods of meditation. All bodies and all levels are always welcome - so please come join me, wearing whatever the heck you want to wear, and see for yourself. You never know - it just might change your life.

Join Marie for a Kundalini Experience: Nerve of the Soul on Sunday, September 27, 2015 from 7-9pm at the Bodhi Tree!

10 Things Yoga Students Wish Yoga Teachers Knew

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Monday, September 01, 2014

by Allison Smith, long time Bodhi Tree yoga practitioner

I’ve been practicing yoga for over ten years now. Various styles; various studios. Throughout these blissful years of practice, I’ve had many thoughts about how the yogic experience affects not only myself, but other students. And I’ve long wondered if yoga teachers really know – or remember – what it’s like to be a student of yoga. It prompted me to come up with a “Top 10” list, if you will, of aspects which I hope yoga teachers know.

1. We Deeply Venerate You

Students of yoga have the utmost respect for yoga teachers, and we hold you in the very highest regard. Your skills are varied; you must be equal parts anatomist and humanitarian; an awe-inspiring blend of tour guide, safety officer, story-teller, and steward. We may not show it, but we honor you deeply.

2. Our Silence Should Never be Taken for RudenessOften, yoga teachers will ask questions – even ones as simple as “How is everyone doing?” – and that can occasionally be met with abject silence. I’ve seen exasperated looks on the instructor’s faces, as if to say: “Anybody..?” Personally, if I’m really calm and ready to practice, I’m already so inward that speech seems like an intrusion into my serenity. I talk most of my day – this is my time to power down vocally. Also, most of us are so hugely adherent to basic yoga etiquette, that it seems almost blasphemous to speak in the yoga space. As much as we would likely never leave anyone “hanging” if they asked us a question outside of the studio, sometimes we’re too in the zone to answer. That’s all.

3. We’re Likely Not as Comfortable as You Are (or the Adjustors Are) with Touching Others

I get the theory behind partner work. I totally understand that it’s a bonding, team-building exercise with our fellow practitioners. It enhances a feeling of community, and puts us in the perspective of seeing someone else’s practice at close range, and being able to assist them. However – unless I’m being assisted by a qualified instructor or adjustor (who has signed up – by their very career choice -- to touch sweaty people) – I really don’t want another fellow citizen to encounter my sweat. Or I theirs. This professional indifference to sweat – and even just the act of touching someone else – which yoga teachers must possess and don’t think twice about – is not necessarily something we feel comfortable with. I’ve also had bad experiences where partners have not spotted me properly or have put me in a dangerous situation more than once. I’d rather be handled by the pros.

4. We’re Here to Work

Too many yoga instructors will apologize for teaching a demanding class, or say things like: “Only one more -- I promise”. It’s not a dental appointment. We want to be there. And unless we’re having an extraordinarily tomasic day or we’ve realized that we’re in way over our heads and we’ve decided to take a 90-minute Child’s Pose – we’re there to work. No apologies needed.

5. Sometimes, We Want to be Alone in Savasana

There are times when an instructor comes along when we’re in Savasana and gives us some extra love in the form of repositioning the body, massage, or gentle manipulation. It can be quite heavenly when we’re in the mood. And then, there’s the other times. I still don’t know where I “go” in Savasana – it’s kind of an odd twilight area somewhere between consciousness and sleep. I do know that when I’m very deeply in it – and I’m floating in that liminal state -- someone touching me can startle me, and disrupt my journey to that nether world. I wish there was a way to communicate which extreme I’d prefer. I only know that sometimes – even knowing that the adjustment is a rare and beautiful treat -- being touched is the last thing I want.

6. Good Cueing Makes Our Practice Grow

I think everyone’s been in a class where the cueing seemed....odd. Too slow. Too inexact or confusing. Those times – I’m happy to report – are rare. More often than not, the cueing is so expertly done, so incredibly subtle, it seems like a voice in our head. We’re moving naturally and organically to the instructor’s cues – like a musician playing fluidly to sheet music. Like a heart – which beats flawlessly without us even having to think about it – good cueing makes us better practitioners.

7. We Appreciate an Environment Where We’re Free to Edit Our Practice, Bypass, Opt Out, and Take Care of Ourselves

I was in a class once where students were reprimanded for taking a water break which wasn’t sanctioned by the instructor, and I never forgot how angry that made me feel. The instructor also pointed out students who were taking an unscheduled break in Child’s Pose, or if someone decided to linger longer in a pose which felt good to them. We appreciate – from the bottom of our hearts – the majority of the instructors who encourage us to listen to our own bodies and to give ourselves what we need – even if that means a rest, an extra chathuranga, or a sip of water if we feel that would serve us.

8. There a Reason That We Practice Here, Instead of at Home With a DVD

We feed off the energy of others in the class, and that’s a huge part of why we choose to practice as a unit. Teachers have told me that they’re had a lesson plan in mind before class, but promptly had to abandon it due to the “energy” or “feel” of the class – they just knew the class was going to go in a different direction than they had planned. And so it is with students: to my delight, I’ve arrived feeling low-key, and have been instantly bolstered by the energy of my classmates. As much as we think we practice in a bubble, or on our own little rectangular island, we really do draw on the energy of those around us, and take our cues – both physical and mental -- from both them and the instructor.

9. We Care About Anatomy – To a Point

I think we’ve all been in the situation where the instructor’s explanation of why we do what we do (and how we do it) has been a little too in-depth, technical, and has compromised the rhythm of the class. We’re definitely interested in anatomy as it relates to us practicing safely and effectively – but we’d prefer that the explanation isn’t too long, detailed, or compromises the flow of the class.

10. We Don’t Mind The Spiritual Aspect of Yoga

In fact, when it’s just about the poses, it becomes technical....a workout. I don’t think the art of yoga *can* be separated from its spiritual underpinnings and rituals. Personally, I love hearing the Sanskrit words for the poses, the folklore behind the asanas, the meditative aspect to it, and that lovely, resonant “Om” which feels like it aligns all of us in the room. Some instructors are resistant to go too far into the ethereal side to yoga – and defer almost too much to those who might be uncomfortable or offended by it. I think most of us welcome that side to the discipline. We’re inwardly practicing together all at once – sharing an experience that’s extraordinary and beautiful and difficult and freeing all at the same time; and we love it. And we love you, yoga teacher.

We thought you should know.

A Divine Love - Krishna

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Monday, September 01, 2014

by Lisa (Shillolo) Ewan, yoga teacher and newlywed!

I wasn’t ever really interested in getting married regardless of the fact that I had been in a long term relationship with a man I loved for over 7 years. I had the belief that nothing would be different by signing a piece of paper and putting a ring on your finger, so why bother? What’s the point? I remember chatting with a friend shortly after she got married, “Something changes” she shared, “it’s hard to explain but it just feels different, it’s deeper and it feels right and hmmmmm just different.” I didn’t fully understand that comment until I felt the shift for myself when I got married last month.

Krishna is one of many incarnations of lord Vishnu, Preserver of the Universe. Krishna is a favourite among the Hindu deities, a much loved avatar with many personalities. He is a playful, mischievous child that is known for stealing ghee and playing pranks; a charioteer and guide to master warrior Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, which is an epic story of war where Krishna offers his famous advice on action without attachment; and my personal favourite form, a charismatic, vibrant and extremely attentive lover.

During Krishna’s youth he lived in northern India amongst the cowherds with many, many gopi’s (the maidens who tend the herds). Krishna had multiple relationships, in fact, he was a lover to ALL of the gopis, making them happy with his cosmic dancing and the soulful music he played on his flute. This may at first seem scandalous and promiscuous yet when we consider that Krishna’s love is unconditional, abundant and pure, it serves as a symbol within the Hindu folklore of the loving interplay between God and the Human Soul. There are no boundaries for love, it flows with abundance. The more you give out the more you get back and that is exactly what Krishna represents; the incredible depth and limitless flow of love that provides an inspiring fuel for this human experience.

Radha was Krishna’s favourite cowherdess and their love affair is the most commonly known, winning the hearts of millions striving to find the same amorous connection with another human soul. Radha’s love for Krishna is rapturous like a quest for union with the Divine, a connection that fills and unites your entire being with joy and bliss. Their love together is a symbol of devotion in it’s purest.

Standing in front of our friends and family this past July, my now husband and I chose to devote our lives, with all its ups and the downs, to each other forever. That moment in time created a bond that my mind had simplified so many years ago, and as I spoke the words, “I do” my spirit finally understood. On the outside, not much has changed, we continue to live with room-mates, pay rent and carry on our lives as before. However, what I now feel for my husband is an unspoken completeness, a committed desire to dive deeper into a steady flow of love that I know from the bottom of my heart is reciprocated fully and unconditionally. I can be myself without any concern of being mocked or ridiculed, abandoned or shamed and we can explore the sweetness of this union as it ripens each day we share together. I am fully aware that this “honeymoon” stage will not last forever, things will waiver at times for sure, however this new found depth of love holds a steady foundation for me to love him back even more than before.

From your mat this month when sitting in Gomukasana (cow face pose), notice any resistance you may feel while settling into this deep hip opener. Do you feel that no matter how long you sit, it won’t make a difference in the discomfort or spaciousness felt in the hips or shoulders? Choose to make a commitment to yourself to stay in the pose, feel everything, soften, open your mind and your heart to love yourself and everything that makes you, you. Welcome the sweetness that grows over time uniting yourself with the love that will always surround you and hold you steady if you choose to lean into it.

Durga - Mothers Nature

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Friday, August 01, 2014

by Kristen Beaulieu, devoted mother and inspired yoga teacher

Over the past couple years I have walked deeply into the role of motherhood as a stepparent to my husbands now 13-year- old daughter. As this journey began many mothers, new and experienced, were drawn into my life, and it seemed, whether you birthed these beings yourself or were gifted them through a relationship the role of mother was full of hesitation, doubt and unwavering devotion. During a particularly tumultuous time it was suggested to me to create a daily Sadhana to the hindu goddess Durga, to help me traverse this daunting path.

Maa Durga is the big Mama of hindu gods and goddesses. As the tale goes, she was created by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura, as they themselves were powerless against the demon. Embodying their collective energy Durga is both derived from the male divinities and the true source of their inner power. She is also greater than any of them. Durga presents a fierce menacing form to her enemies with her 8 arms wielding weapons of destruction and creation. Mother Durga rides in on the lion, master of it’s symbolic qualities of power, will and determination. She defeated the buffalo demon and is celebrated as the ultimate power inherent in all creation.

If we were a tribe Dugra would be the matriarchal head of the tribal family. The big kahuna of Shakti power. She is the mother of the world. Like a parent, with her many arms she protects her devotees in all directions, from the evil and miseries of life.

In calling on Durga, you can’t help but ignite her fierce momentum. Like all paths of creation, the process is tumultuous and at times painful. The process will forever change you, propel you into a new being with greater power and purpose than before.

Health Tip of the Month - Herbs

Catherine Nelson-Reid - Friday, August 01, 2014

by: Corinne Ellams R.H.N. Holistic Nutritionist and yogini

It’s summer time and fresh herbs are abundant so head out to one of the many farmers’ markets and select some fresh organic herbs which are packed with nutrition and healing properties. Next spring consider starting an herb garden in your yard or in pots on your deck or balcony.

Parsley, the world’s most popular herb, is a digestive aid. When Peter Rabbit had overeaten Mr. McGregor’s vegetables and “was feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley”. Parsley supports the bladder, kidneys and stomach, helping regulate water imbalances and eliminate toxins. It is an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant packed with vitamin A and C. A sprig of it also freshens the breath. Use it as garnish, add to salads, dressings, soups, sauces, crackers and as a vibrant ingredient in steamed vegetable dishes.

Cilantro, one of my favorites for it’s detoxing property, is either adored or repulsed by people. Cilantro supports the spleen, stomach, bladder, and lung meridians. It helps regulate energy and treats urinary tract infections. It helps with nausea, inflammation, headaches and mental stress. Cilantro is used like parsley as a garnish and flavoring herb. Use it sparingly with delicate ingredients or it’s flavor will overpower. Or use it in large quantities in strongly flavored sauces, salsas and guacamole.

Dill, is an aromatic herb with delicate lacy leaves that helps calm the spirit, aids digestion and insomnia due to indigestion and relieves hiccups and intestinal gas. It provides free radical and anti-bacterial protection, is high in calcium, has a calming effect and helps manage headaches. Add this herb to fresh salads, sauces, breads, fish and pickles. Check out my web site for a delicious, easy to make cucumber, dill salad.

Basil, is tender and pungent with distinct flavors and aromas. It supports the kidney, liver, stomach, spleen and large intestine. Basil sharpens the memory, combats colds, flu and herpes, eliminates infections, is antibacterial, removes phlegm, relieves mucus, and acts as an anti-stress agent. Basil is especially savored as a pesto ingredient and goes great with tomatoes, fish, bean and egg dishes.

Oregano, has a punchy, almost peppery and slightly bitter flavor and is a powerful herb with unique healing properties. It has antioxidants for immune support, anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, support for upper respiratory infections and cancer fighting effects. Oregano is great in Greek and Italian dishes, especially tomato based ones like pizza or pasta dishes. I enjoy adding lots of fresh or dried to a Greek salad, steamed vegetables or eggs. One of the best uses of oregano in cooking is adding it to your meat prior to cooking which may help to reduce the toxic components created during the cooking process. Oregano oil is a wonderful addition to your natural medicine chest.

Thyme, is a balmy, aromatic herb with slender woody stems and gray-green leaves. It helps relieve lung congestion, candida, flatulence and indigestion. It is an all purpose savory herb great for flavoring soups, stews, crackers, stuffings and sauces.

For most nutrient value and best flavor, use herbs fresh and if using in cooking add towards the end - as late as possible. So add in fresh herbs to Upgrade your salad, sauces, soups and other culinary delights!