Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy 2017!

Thank you for taking the time to read "Kali's Kitchen"!

I'm so grateful for the time we've shared in 2016 and all we've learned together.  I look forward to seeing you in 2017!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu!

"May peace and harmony prevail."

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


One of the foundational practices of yoga is Aparigraha, or non-hording.

This is a challenging time of year to practice, with all the sales and pretty papers and bows.  It may also be the most rewarding.

Note: I didn't say perfect... let's just recognize the fine line between "want" and "need".

Here's a video that hits the nail on the head.  Its an oldy but a goody about our aquisitive habits and their results:

Caution:  There's a bit of foul language but plenty of good chuckles:  George Carlin "Stuff"

Take What You Need, Give What You Can

Image Source: Will Cook For Friends

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Ganesha trying to get some rest!
Depression is at the top of the WHO's list of stuff most likely to negatively affect your health.   And let's face it, this is a tough time of year for many people financially, and emotionally.

If you're still shopping for Christmas gifts, you might like to check out this article.  It could be the inspiration for a caring gift for someone on your list, or a practice for yourself.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Chant for World Peace: Om Namo Narayanaya

Peter Max and the Peace Plane

Swami Vishnudevananda was well known for flying a psychedelic Cessna into war-torn and disputed border territories in an effort to unite people and demonstrate the absurdity of violence in the name of man-made borders.

That beautiful plane, now housed at the Sivananda Ashram in Val Morin was painted by Peter Max.

Peter Max Paints the Peace Plane

Yoga Kirtan with Swami Vishnudevananda

Wow!  I had no idea this recording existed until today!

Well worth a listen... ummm well, except maybe the first four minutes or so.... but thanks to the wonders of technology you can just skip ahead!

Yoga Kirtan with Swami Vishnudevananda Part 1

Swami Vishnudevananda: In the Name of Peace

Swami Vishnudevananda on the wing of his Peace Plane
Today, November 9, is the anniversary of the Mahasamadhi of Swami Vishnudevananda.

Swami Vishnudevananda has been an inspiration to millions of yogis and yoginis around the world, breaking man-made boundaries and encouraging "Unity in Diversity".

He taught that a daily yoga practice including proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet, proper relaxation and positive thinking is the way to inner peace and world peace.

It seems particularly timely today to share this movie about his life and mission:

 In the Name of Peace

In this video my teacher Swami Swaroopananda talks about his Guru, Swami Vishnudevananda:

You can also read here about Swami Swaroopananda's first lesson from Swami Vishnudevananda.

Finally, check out this BBC report about Swamiji flying over the Berlin Wall.  His comments are as meaningful  today as ever:

Om Bolo, Swami Vishnudevananda Maharaj Ki - Jai!!!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Happy Navratri 2016!

Image Source
Every Autumn, my Mom and I participate in a festival known as Navratri or "nine nights".

It is a celebration of the feminine principle, or Divine Mother personified in the multiple forms of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.  This year it takes place from October 1 - October 11.

In India, it is popular for ladies to wear colorful clothes as an all-day reminder of the beauty and power (shakti) of creativity.

During this auspicious and exciting time, delicious sweets are served, ancient stories are retold, dancing and celebrations spread happiness and the Goddess is said to shower blessings and fulfil wishes.

If you wish to attend local celebrations check out the schedule of events at the Bhartiya Cultural Society of Alberta.

May you (yoginis AND yogis) unleash your creative potential and shower the world with compassion, abundance and wisdom!

Jai Mata Di!

Mahatma Gandhi, Saluting the Great Soul

Image Source
October 2nd is the day we celebrate the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi, known the world over by the honorific title Mahatma or great (maha) soul (atma).

Each year the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace hosts a garlanding ceremony at the statue of Bapu (an affectionate term meaning "Papa" or "Father") in the plaza immediately south of the Stanley A. Milner Library in downtown Edmonton.

The event takes place at noon on Sunday October 2nd, 2016.

It is free of charge.  All are welcome to attend the brief talk and ceremony, to offer a Mala (garland of flowers) and wishes for peace.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

International Day of Peace, September 21, 2016

Image Source: Wikipedia
Did you know that this Wednesday, September 21st is World Peace Day?

How will you participate?

Click here for events around the world including an Inner Peace Guided Meditation, access to the new film UPLIFT, and a Global Synchronised Meditation!

In Edmonton, please join me at Providence Renewal Centre from 7-8pm for their annual Labyrinth Walk for Peace.

Tibetan Bazaar September 24/25 2016

Friday, 9 September 2016

Small Things with Great Love

Image Source: Wikipedia
Last weekend, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, one of the greatest Karma Yoginis of our time was officially recognised as a Saint.

Having visited Nirmal Hriday, Mother Teresa's Kalighat Home for the Destitute and Dying in 1999 I can tell you it is the most terrifying place I have ever been.  The sickness and suffering of the patients was unforgettable, but the faith, kindness and dedication of the volunteers was truly the most awe-inspiring and unparalleled gift of Karma Yoga, or selfless service that I have ever had the privilege to witness.

As a small token of my thanks, respect and admiration for Saint Teresa and the countless volunteers and donors who have made her mission possible, I share the prayer which is said to have hung on her wall for many years:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies,
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you,
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight,
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous,
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten,
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough,
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway.

Here is a beautiful quote you can print and color to remind yourself that every small thing done with great love makes an impact:  Saint Teresa Quote Coloring Page

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta ki - Jai!!!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Across the Universe

Everybody needs a dose of the "Big Wow" once in a while.

I'd like to thank my brother and his two sons for introducing me to the videos of Col. Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space and to command the ISS (International Space Station).

A few nights ago, we stood gazing at the stars in awe and witnessed not one, but five satellites moving across the tiny portion of the universe visible from our back yard.

The largest of them all, we mused, may have been the ISS from which Col. Hadfield broadcast a fantastic series of videos in 2013 including How to Make a Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich in Space.

If you haven't watched them yet, please do, you won't be disappointed!

It turns out Col. Hadfield is also a talented musician!  These two videos brought me to tears...

Chris Hadfield performs David Bowie's "Space Oddity" from the ISS

Chris Hadfield performs the Beatles, "Across the Universe"

Jai Guru Deva!  Wahe Guru!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday, 20 June 2016

This is Perfect

The Isha Upanishad begins with a beautiful verse sometimes called the "Perfect Prayer":

Om Purnamadah Purnamidam
Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya
Purnameva Vashishyate
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Purna may be translated as perfect, but also, whole, complete, infinite.

This is a beautiful sloka to chant when we feel gratitude for the synchronicities in life.  

Alternatively, it is also valuable in those moments when we feel our experiences are imbalanced or imperfect.

Here is a sweet and soothing rendition by Shantala.

And here is beautiful traditional version for those of you interested in learning to chant along:


It is an exceedingly rare event.  For most us, maybe even our parents, and certainly our children, it will only happen this once, here, in our lifetimes.

Tonight the full moon rises on the longest day of the year.

Here in Edmonton, the "longest day" is a whopping 17 hours, 2 minutes, and 47 seconds, nearly two hours longer than Toronto!

What am I drawing from this?  Besides the spectacular cosmic display, the long warm hours for wild rose petal picking, memories of treasured childhood books read late, late into the evening by the light of the setting sun...

Hatha, ha/tha, sun/moon, balance in the pairs of opposites.

And purna, fullness, wholeness, completeness.

Potent cosmic forces reflecting the potency of the prana in our own nadis or inner channels, and all the opposing and complementary qualities of our Selves.  Or perhaps more accurately, our microcosmic experience reflecting the macrocosm.

It seems to me, this is an opportunity for meditation on the universe and my place in it.  For contemplation regarding what "balance" means and how to achieve it.  For acknowledging that there is a time to every purpose.

I'm also recognizing that my experience of life is purna/full/complete/whole only when I acknowledge the value of both lightness and darkness, good and bad (whatever those mean), activity and stillness, and the divine timing that allows it all to "Turn! Turn! Turn!".

As you draw down the moon and bask in the sun today, what are you reflecting?  What are you reflecting on?  How do you embody union/yoga?

Friday, 17 June 2016

International Yoga Day 2016

June 21, 2016 marks the second International Day of Yoga!

All around the world yogis and yoginis will be participating in events that honor and celebrate this ancient practice.

Even if you can't attend a live event in your city, you can join in by doing your own Sadhana, or by checking out the Indian Government's Official Yoga Protocol.

You can even watch this statement from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and share in the following practice:

How will you be celebrating International Yoga Day 2016?

Chant the Gayatri Mantra for Enlightenment

As the solar energy approaches its peak for the year, it's the perfect time to chant mantras that salute the radiance, warmth and brilliance of the Sun... and of our own highest Selves.

I've featured the Gayatri Mantra previously here, but it's time to share a few new links to keep you shining.

Listening to them will brighten your day, singing along will illuminate your intellect and uplift the world.  Try it and see for your Self!

The ideal times for chanting the Gayatri are dawn, noon and sunset.  For maximum benefit, chant 108 times, and when pressed for time, 3, 9 or 12 times with devotion.

I recommend the first link in the morning, when your mind is bright and uncluttered, the second in the mid-day to maintain energy and enthusiasm, and the Deva Premal version to soothe you to sleep.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

University of Alberta, PAC 156 Guest Lecture

Mahamantra written in Devanagari
This is a special post for the students of the University of Alberta PAC 156 class.

Welcome to Kali's Kitchen!

Thanks for having me in last Thursday to guest lecture on the Language and Literature of Yoga!

I hope you find these reminders and resources helpful in your studies, it was a joy meeting you!

The Language and Literature of Yoga

Sanskrit is the primary classical language of India, and the original language of Yoga.

The word Sanskrit means "perfected" or "refined" and has a rich tradition of creative, scientific, philosophical and religious texts.

Although it is no longer widely spoken on a daily basis, it is still used as a ceremonial language.

The beautiful script (pictured above) is known as Devanagari, or the "vehicle of the gods".

You can see and hear the individual letters pronounced here.
You can find a short glossary of 108 yoga terms defined here.

Transliteration Vs. Translation

Transliteration is transposing the sounds of one language into the script of another.  The use of standardized diacritical marks allows for accurate representation of sounds unique to a language.

Translation is converting the words of one language into the words of another to facilitate understanding of the meaning of words or phrases.

Sanskrit in Modern English

English is a member of the Indo-European language family, one of several great (great great...) granddaughters of Sanskrit.

Many words in English (jungle, pyjama, suture, jugular etc.) are borrowed or derived from Sanskrit.

Many Sanskrit terms specific to yoga are becoming well known in English through the names of postures, authors, teachers and gurus.  Because their meanings may become lost in translation, more and more often the original words are simply being adopted into our modern language.

Here is a list of English words of Sanskrit origin.

Hints for Pronouncing Sanskrit Words and Names

Here are a few tips for wrapping your tongue around long unfamiliar terms:

- transliterated letter "a" is pronounced "a" as in "around" rather than "a" as in "after"

- there is a short "a" sound behind each consonant unless modified by other vowels

- recognize the difference between unaspirated and aspirated consonants ("b" vs. "bh" etc.)

- Sanskrit has no "th" sound, as in "think" or "th" as in "this".  Therefore the word "Hatha"is pronounced "ha-tha" (aspirated "t" with a puff of air) rather than the common mispronunciation of "Ha" (as in hat) "tha" (as in thug).

- longer words are often compounds of shorter words, try breaking them down.

Here is a helpful guide which reiterates the tips above plus several we didn't have time for.

Foundational Literature

Foundational texts are works of world literature which achieve a certain status for their presentation of ideas representative of a culture or philosophy.

The Foundational Texts of Yoga

The Vedas

Meaning "wisdom" or "knowledge", the Vedas are the revelations of sages during deep meditation carefully preserved and considered to be the roots of Indian philosophy.

They are among the oldest sacred texts in the world, written approximately 1700-1100 BCE.

They were transmitted by oral tradition alone until around 1000 CE and emphasize formal ritual and rites of passage like marriage, birth and death.

They also introduce dana (compassion), karma (action and reaction), sacred dance and Ayurveda (sister sciences of yoga).

The Upanishads

Upanishad means “to sit at the feet” [of a guru]).

There were approximately 200 Upanishads written between 1000 BCE and 1500 CE including sections on philosophical theory and the practice of virtues like satya and ahimsa later elucidated in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The main topics include consciousnessbrahman, atman and maya, or the Source, the Self and the illusion that keeps us from seeing them as the same.

Of the great statements or mahavakyas, in our class we focused on Aham Brahmasmi, or loosely translated, "The Self and the Divine are one and the same."

Arjuna and Krishna, the main characters in the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita

Written approximately 400 BCE, this text is just one chapter of an epic poem called  The Mahahtarata, which I affectionately refer to as "the original soap opera".

It highlights themes like Dharma (duty and heroism), Yoga (and the paths of yoga, Karma, Jnana and Bhakti), and Moksha or liberation from suffering and the cycles of suffering or the "battlefields" of life.

The key definition of yoga in this text is:

Yoga karmasu kaushalam (Yoga is skill in action.) found in Chapter 2 verse 50.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Written approximately 2000 years ago, 200 BCE – 200 CE, Patanjali was the first to codify the teachings of yoga into a written format known as Sutras.

Patanjali's key definition of yoga is in the second line of the first chapter:

Yogaschittavrittinirodhah (Yoga is the stopping of the disturbed waves of the mind.)

He also outlines a strategic "eight-limbed" path of practice which moves from external practices (yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara) to internal experiences (dharana, dhyana, and samadhi) known as Ashtanga or Raja Yoga.
Krishna playing his flute

Stories and Songs, Enhancing the Practice and Presentation of Yoga

Yoga is an oral tradition, traditionally passed from person to person.  This method keeps the teachings both alive and lively.

Storytelling is used widely as a teaching tool for students of all ages.

Music and sacred sound are often employed to attract the attention, maintain focus, reset dissonant physical and mental vibrations and uplift the environment.

You can enhance your own enjoyment of yoga, and in teaching make your lessons more motivating and memorable through the use of instruments and voice.

You can read more about my Shruti Box here.

In Conclusion

I hope that I have passed on to you some of the reverence and enthusiasm I feel for the roots and traditions of yoga.

Each person is unique, and different approaches are suitable for different students.  I wish you a lifetime of curiosity and exploration into the techniques of yoga that appeal most to you.

Please post your questions and comments, your feedback is precious.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Happy Spring 2016!

Image: Shutterstock
Spring has sprung, and with it, wonderful new beginnings!

Raja Yoga Spring Session:

Wednesdays 7-8:30 pm until June 8
Drop-ins are welcome.

Email for details.

I'm also excited to announce my first workshop at Mystical Stone in Stony PlainLet's Start with Ganesha!

Saturday June 4, 1-4pm.

Mystical Stone Yoga Studio
With his colorful clothing and elephant head Ganesha is one of the most recognized and beloved deities in any spiritual tradition. In Yoga he is heralded as the "remover of obstacles" and is saluted before beginning any path of study or new endeavour. 

Are you ready to make a change in your life? Do you have obstacles you wish to overcome? Begin by celebrating your own inner wisdom, strength, and sense of humor, symbolized by Ganesha, through stories, songs, mantras and balancing the Muladhara (root) Chakra.

Raja Yoga Summer Camp 2016 is coming soon!

This is our fourth year of Wednesday evening gatherings and special events including study nights and field trips to local temples and cultural events.

Email at and I will be happy to put you on the e-vite list.