For The Left Place I created a drum kit by sampling all the available kick drum, hi-hat and clap sounds within Ableton. I wanted a kick drum sound that wasn’t too noticeably toned, because some electronic kick drum samples really end up sounding like a low bass note or something (which is exactly what a real kick drum sound is, but we don’t take the time to tune our kick drums to the key of the song we are playing before playing it… although I’m sure they would do this in most high levels of music production.. Since all drums have a tone to them, After finally deciding which ones to use I moved onto tracking down some audio clips. I was looking for blips, clicks, and shwoops to add to other channels of my 16 button drum pad.
Now onto the bass, I love the Theremin sound that Ableton comes with, and I use it quite often during electron music creation to make those cool sounding video-gamey style lead riffs. This time I had something different in mind for my favorite sound, to use the Theremin as a bass. I like the sound I eventually got with it, but at times it gets a bit strange sounding. But strange is good, right? I then added more to the track by creating additional synth sounds that swell in the background on the on 2 and 4 during certain sections. Then I created some more melodic sounds like the flute playing on the off beats, the spacey sounding keys in the background, and the guitar style plucks near the ending.
I noticed the track needed a bit more stuff in it so I added that really interesting watery sounding slide that comes back a few times during the track. This just adds a bit of additional colour and feeling to the track.
Do you ever dream about diving deeply into spiritual practice? Dream about making something a regular part of your daily routine? Perhaps you try it out consistently for an entire month, or maybe even longer than that. Waking up in the morning and practicing seated meditation. Journaling with consistency every night before bed. Getting to the yoga mat to practice asana everyday. Taking cold showers for some reason… thanks Wim Hof.
Then all of a sudden, the routine ends and you drift back into the regularity of your life. What happened here? Was the practice of showing up daily too much? Did you burn yourself out somehow? This lifestyle dilemma exists for me too.
I think this idea of a routine being the answer is something the health and wellness industry is trying to sell you. A ruse to get into your pocketbook. This is something that is so heavily sold by the yoga industry and often believed in by the teachers and students with steadfast determination.
Life requires balance. One specific thing is never the answer to all of life’s mysteries. Yoga can’t solve all your problems although it can be a pretty good distraction from them.
Yoga can’t fix you, but it sure can be a great window into yourself. This was so important for me to learn, and it helped me start to take control of my self care journey, instead of thinking that my yoga practice would be everything I needed.
One problem that I see in the yoga industry is the price of the average monthly studio membership. They are so expensive, often upwards of $100.00 monthly, which let’s be honest, not many of us can afford. I recently read an article suggesting that most Canadians cannot even afford their basic cost of living (source: here).
It would seem that the majority of the health and wellness industry has become a place for the privileged. Think about it, those of us who cannot even afford to put food on our tables or pay our rent are probably quite stressed out. These people deserve an option for some sort of self care routine they can afford. Yoga should cost less.
I believe that the high cost of the average yoga membership, combined with the common desire amongst us to develop a daily spiritual practice of some sort, has created an high pressure atmosphere among us yoga practitioners. A lifestyle dilemma emerges and we feel we must achieve this daily practice in order to unlock the fullest potential of our healing journey, or just give up on it entirely.
Since our memberships have often cost us so much we might be left feeling a pressure to show up quite regularly, to make it “worth our money”. If a yoga pass was only $20-$40 per month it would be more accessible to those of us on a lower income. Perhaps this lower price would also lessen the pressure of getting so much out of your experience on the yoga mat. It would give those of us who can just barely afford those $100 yoga passes some breathing room and it would make the yoga practice accessible to a many more individuals. Some people can afford those higher prices, and for them a cheaper yoga pass would give them money to spend on other types of physical fitness they might be curious about. You could buy a new bike with that money you saved! Go rock climbing once a month! Explore!
I realize that some of us will continue to come to yoga mat everyday, and I want to say that’s totally fine. For some it’s actually exactly where they need to be for right now. But I know that some of us could use a new model. I know I needed it after teaching yoga in studios for over 7 years. I needed to not hear the narrative that “I can just leave it all on the mat” or that “yoga will fix me”. Those messages often left me feeling a bit disconnected from my own life and the realities I face. For me it is a welcome time to leave the lifestyle dilemma behind and just live my life.
Remember that you don’t have to practice yoga everyday to find a special connection with yourself, there are so many amazing ways you can forge a healthy relationship with your self care routine. In the same breath, for me yoga is still pretty awesome and I really love coming onto my yoga mat when I can.
Well for me, someone who teaches yoga and love yoga I still am going to show up on my yoga mat fairly regularly. But I won’t beat myself up when things don’t feel that great, or fluid during my yoga practice. I won’t beat myself up if I take a few weeks off of the yoga practice when life gets busy.
I just finished teaching a 30 day yoga challenge last January and during the challenge I encouraged my participants to find a yoga practice that was accessible to their lifestyle. The challenge wasn’t to actually do precisely 30 days of yoga in a row, but rather to normalize the fact that it’s okay if we all have different practice goals. Once a week is a huge accomplishment for some of us, and those accomplishments also deserve a space to be celebrated!
Perhaps you too can ease the pressure on yourself to “do it all” everyday, and as this quote from Soto Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki suggests:
Thanks for taking the time to read my musings. Have a lovely and balanced day.
See you soon on the yoga mat, or out on a hike!
The Yoga Pass
My memberships are a suggested cost of $40.00 per month, but I also offer a “pay what you can” membership. Some of my students pay much less, because that is what they can afford and I am more than happy to open my digital doors to them!
Welcome to my special Yoga Nidra course! This five class series will take you through an overview of each of the five Koshas, or energetic sheaths of the body, with each class focusing on one of the Koshas. The first class contains an intention setting period, in Yoga Nidra this is also known as your Sankalpa or deep inner resolve. This intention is then carried through your remaining classes and it is encouraged to develop as you progress. Each of the five classes in this course will contain some journaling prompts to help you to get to know yourself better, some Yin Yoga to help you get to know your physical body better, and of course Yoga Nidra to help you Get to Know Nidra and bring it all together!
For my first few years of practicing yoga I noticed a desire to go further into the poses as my body became more used to the sensations and positions of the postures, I think this is natural for most practitioners but for me soon became a constant search for more in my practice.
I began practicing yoga about 8 years ago and I immediately felt a acceptance from the community of students and instructors. Receiving praise from my teacher was something that I loved to hear, but subconsciously created a complicated environment around the practice of yoga. I remember going further into the posture when my teachers walked past me, I remember letting them adjust me in postures to “help me go deeper”, then after class getting that reaffirming comment from the instructor on the way out the door. “Great job going deeper in Camel Pose today Matthew”!
Although positive on the surface, without the simultaneous teaching of a mindfulness practice, this “going deeper” mentality can be damaging. I recall a specific back bending workshop that I took where the leader of the workshop adjusted me in front of the entire class. In that moment I felt pressured to move deeper into the pose than I normally would be comfortable with. I was also being physically manipulated by the teacher to move my body deeper into the back bend, which I felt I must go along with, so as to not embarrass myself or the instructor. When I achieved what the instructor was trying to get me to do the whole room began to applaud. Nothing hurt in that moment, but the damage that was being done was happening on an entirely different level.
At the time, I think the praise of going deeper in a yoga pose felt better than the yoga pose itself, it was so nice to feel like someone was on my team!
For the first year I continued to practice, thinking that going deeper into the postures was just straight up better, and in those years my ego drove my yoga practice. I practiced relentlessly, somehow thinking that by moving into the furthest expressions of the yoga postures I would unlock some sort of secret power. The secret eventually showed up in the form of a torn hip adductor muscle, pectineus to be exact. I got this injury from pushing my hips deeper and deeper in cobblers pose, thinking that my knees have to touch the ground to get maximum benefit from my practice.
Society often tells us that more is better. The message I see from so many ads is to achieve more. Get a partner, a house, some kids. Get that promotion, get a lot of friends, be liked by your peers. Get more money, a bigger house. Get another promotion, get a new car, get a summer home, a winter holiday. Buy more, do more, be more. The message is everywhere, and the world of yoga is not immune to it.
The practice of yoga became a greedy search for more sensations and I thought that if I was going to spend an entire hour of my day doing yoga, it better well be worth it. Applying this expectation to my practice began to take away the very thing that I fell in love with when I started practicing yoga, the community or as they call it in Sanskrit, the sangha, and the sense of being in the moment. Expectations reduced my ability to be in the moment, I was stuck in an attachment mindset.
Luckily I met someone that changed my yoga practice forever and taught me more about my body than I had ever known before. This teacher is such a gem and taught me so much about bio-mechanics in yoga poses. I am so grateful for her teachings because it shifted the way I do yoga, and the way I teach yoga.
The Buddha talks about attachment and aversion being the two main things that take one away from being present in this moment. It shows up in yoga by wanting to create the same results as the last time one was in the pose, attachment. It shows up by being afraid of feeling something in ones body or mind, aversion.
Going further into yoga poses can be amazing, but so can the subtle sensations of relaxation in the poses, the practice of finding that perfect balance between challenge and ease. The balance between using what you know about your body to practice safely, but also exploring the beginners mind and going somewhere unknown. I think of this as moving into kindness. Offering your body something it didn’t have to strive for, something it didn’t have to reach for, something that was there all along in the quiet space of your heart. Something you don’t have to buy, or try on, or prove to anyone. Nowadays I find myself searching for a different meaning in my yoga practice, one that shows me my subtle side but can surprise me with my subtle strengths as well.
Try it for yourself, start your next yoga practice with the intention of doing the postures with no more than about 25% effort and see what shows up for you. When I practice this way I am able to better feel my needs in the posture, and in the end of class I feel myself drop right into a relaxing savasana because my body didn’t become so amped up.
I pride myself in being a bit of a fantasy nerd, I love video games of all kinds, and I am really into a collectible card game known as Magic: The Gathering, I’ll refer to it as Magic for short. The passion for video games started back in my childhood when I shared a Super Nintendo (SNES) with my brother and we played Super Mario Bros. until our hands were sore. Following the SNES was a Nintendo GameBoy (I’m proud to say I played Pokémon Blue on release week), an N64, GameCube, family PC, Wii and an Xbox. I have happily sunken over 1000 hours of my life playing Diablo 2, and Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 on PC, time I should probably have spent doing homework.
I started playing Magic cards when I moved into a home on Furby St. in Winnipeg. The house had 5 other amazing young adults living there, filling the walls with laughter, parties, cannabis smoke, and the most epic game nights where I was introduced to Magic cards by my roommate, and fellow wizard, Justin. My introductory purchase to the world of Magic: The Gathering was a pre-constructed deck sold in stores called Entangling Webs (each player uses their own pre-made or home constructed 60 or 100 card deck to play the game). I won’t lie, this pre-constructed deck sucked, but it got me thirsty for more. All of that time I spent gaming in my childhood expanded my mind to the possibilities of combos, synergy, strategy, and the overall nerdiness required to sit down at a table of fellow spell slingers.
I worked for CN Rail for a short time and ended up with more money than a 20 year old boy should have, so I spend a lot of it on Magic cards, my collection grew and grew, and then grew some more, eventually topping out at thirty 60 card decks and ten 100 card decks. I really love the deck building aspect of the game, it’s creative, messy yet organizational, full of fantasy and things otherworldly, and best of all it brings people together from all different walks of life, just like yoga does. Nobody cared where you were from, or what clothes you wore, they just wanted to see your creations shine!
Our play group would get together to play every Tuesday, but also on other days to build decks and trade cards with each other. We would encourage each others decks to rise to their fullest potential, helping by suggesting cards and strategies to use to help focus their win condition. Three of the six people eventually moved out of Furby house and found another house nearby in Winnipeg on Lenore St. where the Magic nights grew to an even larger level yet. The basement of our house was perfect for us all to hang out and play cards late into the night, and we did so regularly.
I have incredibly fond memories of those years in Lenore house, the house had an open door, anyone was welcome at basically anytime. Those years were also when I started practicing yoga and playing music in yoga classes (I wrote a whole blog article about my musical past, you can read it here: How Music Brought me to Yoga). I have these warm memories of falling in love with the practice of yoga and then coming home to a full house of my best friends playing my favorite game in the whole world. I am getting teary eyed just thinking about it as I write this, nostalgia can be so powerful.
I recall driving home after hot yoga, perhaps a bit chaotically, just to try and get back to those card games that were happening in my basement, but more than anything just to see my buddies.
These days I have my hands on my Nintendo Switch, my gaming PC and yup, still my Magic cards. My buddies and I play online using our physical cards over a live streamed video. Here are a few photos of my setup, it’s not pretty, but it definitely gets the job done! I use an old cellphone of mine and an app called DroidCam that turns the phone into a wireless webcam and pairs it with your computer, the phone is then held to my microphone stand using good old elastic bands!
The creators of the card game have also developed a really intuitive website called SpellTable in which you can livestream online card games with anyone in the world, and click on their cards on your screen to highlight them to read them easier. It’s quite amazing. So even though I live in BC, and most of my Magic playing friends still live back in Manitoba we can still stay in touch, help each other build new decks, and support one another with our friendship.
Yoga has been a gift throughout all of these nerdy hobbies of mine, most of which involve sitting sedentarily in front of a screen or card table for hours at a time. My body often feels quite crunched up and tight after gaming for long periods, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I enjoy becoming fully immersed in the experience. Yoga uncrunches, untightens, and brings some strength and balance to my body, plus the poses are named after mythical heroes and gods! Take Warrior 1, 2 & 3 for example, also called Virabhadrasana 1, 2 & 3, named after Shiva’s form Virabhadra, how cool is that!
By the way, if you’re a PC gamer, add me on Steam, I am thewarden2002, see you online!
For the last five or six years I have been writing poetry whenever the inspiration strikes. I thought this platform would be a nice way to share some of my poems with all of you. Enjoy!
The island looks alone, surrounded by the darkest blue waters. The mind feels alone, encompassed by an ocean of thought. But, the island is not alone, it remains connected to the earth. Supported, like a birch stand, its fellow trees meters away. Connected.
The mind is not alone, it remains connected to the body. Touch me. Feel my presence. My warmth. I am always here for you. I am beating. I am breathing. I am you.
Island and ocean, mind and body, Seamless.
Fun is a universal language. Fun is infectious but kind. It bubbles up from the put of your belly. It erupts from the tip of your spine.
Laughter is to be cherished. The joy I can see in your face. It bubbles up from the pit of your belly. And you realize…
Everything is already okay. Doubt is something self created. I’m flawed and I’m okay with that. Each moment carries with it an opportunity. To learn from falling down, to embrace your mistakes, to have fun and to laugh, even when you feel small.
Grow deep like tree roots the Earth beneath welcomes you relax now, grow deep.
Reach up like branches the sky above welcomes you reach up now, grow tall.
Think a level deeper, to the space outside of you. Past the deep blue. Through the darkness of the vast unknown. Past asteroids and stars unnamed. Drift past the nebulas and black holes and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how small you really are.
Think a level deeper, to the space inside of you. Past the thin skin. Through the layers of muscle, tissue and bone. Down to each individual cell, each strand of DNA. Past the spinning electrons, the atoms themselves and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how big you really are.
A rock looks to be still from a narrow perspective, but expand your view to that of the rocks entire journey and a new image springs to life.
From the rocks formation into the planets tectonic plates, to being pushed thousand of feet up in the air to form the mountains, to its continuous erosion from glaciers and powerful rivers, and its eventual resting place as a singular grain of sand on a beach or ocean floor. The rock has a fantastic journey!
Where are you on your journey? Take the time to appreciate this chapter of your life, but then notice when it’s time to move on, to explore existing in a different state. To reach for your heels for the first time in camel pose, or to listen to that deep yearning for a longer savasana.
The River of Flow
The flow of a river is much like the flow of the breath. At times the river gets calm and gentle, flowing slowly, softly and with ease.
But the river has the power to build, as does the breath, and shows its power thorough churning eddies, thunderous rapids and glorious waterfalls.
In all of these states there is flow, in every pose there is flow, there is breath.
Every batch of beer is a new brew, a fresh start. Everyday is a new beginning, a fresh start. Every pose is a moment for mindfulness, a fresh start. Every single moment, this second here — and this one now –, each is a fresh start, a moment for opportunity, open mindedness, joy and inclusion.
Patience Under a Tree
Getting to know something takes time. Everyday I could sit under the same tree, and not in a lifetime would I know its whole story.
Can less be more? No electricity, the pipes are empty, the pump is off, the woodstove is inviting. “Do less.” it seems to suggest, “Sit in my warmth. Let me hold you closer.” “I’ve got you.”
I fall fast asleep after the sun sets, both a hostage and guest of the darkness and fire.
I rise as the sun does, at first just a hint of gray creeps through the blinds. The cold from outside continues its steady path inwards. I feel it on my toes.
Thoughts come slower here, where the batteries are dead and the outlets are miles away. Where the water comes from a bucket you dipped into the lake. Put another log on the fire. Stay awhile.
This body so fragile dances upon the earth. Blood Flowing. Pulsing. Contained by but a thin papery exterior. It is pierced. I am spreading. Unconstrained. My blood blends with the dirt beneath the grass. I watch from above. It spills out of me crimson red, darkening from the soil and oxidization.
Where is me?
The boundaries are blurring. To my knees, on my knees. Draining. Sweat builds on my brow. Palms pulse.
Rushing. Slowing. Rushing. Slowing. Slower. Slow. She breaks through my daze with a calm “Hello?”
We rush away. Let me heal. This body so fragile dances upon the earth.
And so we were moved. Seeing all around us. “Journey with us” they pleaded, and so we left our boat decked setting foot to sand and soil. Drawn deeper by that distand call, one that possessed our feet to move. Rhythmically.
And so we were moved. Feeling all around us. “Dance with us!” they encouraged, and so we left the shore, moving inward, setting foot to beat and drum. Driven deeper by our internal rhythm, one that called forth a willingness to move. Artistically.
And so we were moved. Joining all together. We held hands, blending, moving ’round the fire with vigor. The stars above pulling at our attention, slowing our pace.
We synchronize with softness. Floating foot from soil to sky, and from sky to stars. And so we were moved.
Tamed Ground, Wild Edges
Looking out over tamed ground with wild edges. Popcorn sky of clouds casting their shadows upon prairie fields and coulis below.
The wide and powerful river of Peace, cutting deep down through the fertile soil.
We walk trails through canola broken by black bear, past saskatoon berry and chokecherry lunch. Matted grass where she laid down to rest.
The city isn’t calling anymore, I can’t even feel its pull. I could lay down in the grass and fall asleep. Here.
How can somewhere I’ve never been feel so familiar? Is it the prairie air? The taste of the dill in the borscht? Longing for an open field with blowing grass, for hands in soil. I can imagine the crunching of snow beneath my boots.
I feel a calling to this place as I look out over the tamed ground with wild edges.
Looking for that new yoga playlist? Well, look no further, here’s 21 of them!
At some point yoga got epic. I this point was when almost every teacher in the world started playing DJ Drez’s Nectar Drop in literally every yoga playlist. I won’t lie, that song is awesome, but at this point I just can’t handle any more nectar, sorry Drez. It was at this point I began creating a multitude of yoga playlists to fit all sorts of different class styles, themes, intentions, and moods and now I would love to share a number of them with you.
With the amount of verbal instructions a yoga practice has for the practitioners to focus on playlists can become distracting when they have too many lyrics in them, so most of my playlists are instrumental, meaning they don’t contain any lyrics at all.
This is a continuation of my gardening journey, so if you haven’t read my first post titled “Yoga. Like a Garden.“, do that first!
Last, I left you with our plans of ploughing the cleared land with the help of Robin and Maylene, collecting what felt like way too much cardboard (which was actually not nearly enough in the end), and getting our water retention system installed!
On October 31st, Emily and I woke up early, as excited about the plans we had made with Robin and Maylene to plough the land as some of the little kids out there must have been for the evening’s upcoming candy booty! We made steel cut oats for breakfast with canned saskatoon berries and peaches, topped with homemade yogurt and cinnamon. Yum. After breakfast we headed down to the local Farmer’s Market to buy some things for our lunch. We walked right to the Loveland Acres stand where Robin and Maylene stood looking quite bundled and cozy in their plaid fleece jackets. We chatted for a bit then bought some really nice produce from them including a bunch of beets, celeriac root, and leeks. Maylene also threw in some winter radishes for free, they had and amazing taste and a lovely red and white colour inside. We also bought some apple strudel and sourdough bread from Inspired Breads, a local bakery.
We ran home with our market booty and quickly chopped up the leeks, celeriac root, and a butternut squash we already had at home. We placed it all into our pressure cooker for 20 minutes with some chicken stock, pureed and seasoned it, and there you have it, fresh soup from the market!
The plan was to meet Robin and Maylene up at Sue’s house at around 12:30, so we packed up the pressure cooker with the hot soup still inside, bagged up the bread and apple strudels, then we hopped in our truck and scooted on over. They were there when we arrived, ready to unload their small tractor and plough attachment. This thing may look like a rototiller but it is indeed just a very small tractor. It’s got some serious power and when they hooked up the Ground Blaster attachment I couldn’t help but crack a huge smile! The best part is that this thing all fit in the back of their truck, so convenient, though it did take all four of us to lift the machine down!
Since Maylene and Robin had a long morning working the Farmer’s Market, we set up a table outside for lunch before we began working for the afternoon. Emily’s aunt made a pot of tea, and the five of us all sat outside in the Saturday sunlight and enjoyed our soup and fresh bread, with apple strudels for dessert!
Now came the work, Robin and I walked down to the plot of land and I pointed out where the edges of our garden plot would be. He started up the machine then ran a strip down the very middle of the plot, he then began making lines running the machine back and forth on either side of that initial middle line, a smart technique. As Robin ran the machine, Maylene, Emily and I followed him round and round picking up rocks as they got unearthed by the Ground Blaster. I could see how hard it was to run the machine, it definitely took some upper body strength to control it as it hit the larger rocks and roots.
It took us a few hours to get the entire area ploughed, the afternoon sunlight was beginning to dim and our bodies were growing tired. This part of the process had come to an end!
The next step was coming back to form the raised garden beds, plant some garlic and lay out what we thought would be too much cardboard, but turned out to be not nearly enough.
You can follow my teaching journey online and buy passes or subscriptions to my content, this is all on my website at www.matthewcarteryoga.com.