'just a little hippy" in around 1972

Who is Laine Hoogstraten?

I suppose this doesn’t really address the question, but I thought I’d post up a bio I wrote for the International Day of Yoga. It didn’t get used, but maybe that’s a good thing.

ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO

“Each one of us has access to Divine Wisdom and Infinite Creativity. This is the basis from which I teach, and the ground upon which my students stand, as we begin every Kundalini class with this mantra. I believe that every human being has Knowledge of the Sacred rooted within their DNA. Consciousness is the fabric from which we are spun. All we need are the correct inputs to awaken that understanding. This is one aspect of the ancient practice of Yoga, a realization of self for all. The practice of Yoga is like inserting a key into a lock. It is what our bodies were designed for, the liberation of our consciousness.”

Raised by hippies in the wilds of Canada, Laine Hoogstraten is a self-realized healer and teacher practicing Hatha and Kundalini yoga at Chaya Garden Ashram in the Cayo District of Belize. She established the ashram in 2012 with her husband and partner, Evan Anderson, Co-Director of the ashram.

 'just a little hippy" in around 1972


‘just a little hippy” in around 1972

Laine was introduced to yoga as a child, and was immediately drawn to study the practice on her own through books and television. She began formal yoga classes in 1985 at the age of 18 while attending Emily Carr College of Art and Design in the city of Vancouver, Canada.

Moving to Winnipeg in 1997, Laine started volunteering at an Iyengar studio in return for classes. She studied the precise asanas of Iyengar practice under the teaching of Val Paape for the next five years, becoming an advanced student with an innate sense of alignment. At this time Bikram yoga was being introduced in Winnipeg. The heated studio, (110 degrees Fahrenheit), was very attractive as Winnipeg has temperatures below forty for many months of the long winter. A renegade studio had been set up by a private practitioner, as at the time there were no teachers available. People were doing the practice entirely from an audio tape of Bikram’s voice. Within the next few years, teachers were certified and an official Bikram studio opened. This is where Laine started an intensive daily practice in 2002.

“I felt the years of training in alignment with Iyengar yoga were a wonderful foundation for Bikram, who places greater emphasis on effort.”

Laine opened her home as a heated studio in 2007, doing a daily practice with friends and family. Moving to Belize in 2010, and discovering a perfect location near the village of Cristo Rey in the Cayo District, it seemed the most natural thing to open an ashram.

“I had been teaching hatha vinyassa classes in Bullet Tree to guests from the Parrot Nest, as well as doing healing massage. We were located at what is now known as Raw Spa. I began to paint the sign for Chaya Garden Ashram on a whim. Higher Wisdom was directing me.”

Chancing upon Kundalini yoga teacher Caroline Barnes, Evan and Laine began to study Kundalini yoga according to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan in 2011, and three months later arranged to study in residence with Caroline for the next five months.

“I had been hungering for mudra and mantra for many years before I found Kundalini Yoga. I didn’t know that was what I was looking for. Eventually it found me.”

Laine took to Kundalini yoga like a fish to water. Everything began to expand. The instinct for alignment combined with the strength built by years of Bikram yoga were a perfect preparation for Kundalini Yoga.

“Having played the didgeridoo for twenty years, the Breath of Fire was already natural to me. States of altered consciousness had been familiar ground since childhood, and had been flowing through the arts of healing, music and yoga consistently in my life.”

Early experiences with hallucinogenic metabolites opened pathways for psychedelic knowledge of the glands, what Laine calls “the Exploration of the Innerverse.”

Yogi Bhajan says,

I am not here to teach students, I am here to teach teachers.”

Laine began to teach Kundalini yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, at the founding of Chaya Garden Ashram in 2012.

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Laine Hoogstraten today, in residence at the Chaya Garden Ashrm

Laine Hoogstraten today, in residence at the Chaya Garden Ashram

 

Do try this at home.

Our greatest desire is that everyone give yoga a place in their lives

join us in this practice

Most of our current practices come from this awesome manual, which we acquired with a few others in a most random fashion, you might say an Act of God. This is an original from 1978. We are so thankful to have it.

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R-SIZE 2 (640x480) Kundalini yoga starts with this mantra.

ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO

Repeat it at least three times. It means and bestows Infinite Creativity and Divine Wisdom. This mantra also creates each one of us as our own teacher, our own guru. Through the chanting of this mantra we each are linked to the Golden Chain, becoming our own teachers in Divine Wisdom, that which comes from the higher self. In Kundalini Yoga, we are self-initiated, directly linked to Divine Wisdom without the need for a middle man.

This is not to say that the guidance of a teacher is not important, but to say that your yoga comes from you, so go ahead and give it a try. This mantra will protect and guide you on your journey.

This stretch, usually done with the toes pointing toward the face, was totally different and really refreshing with the toes pointed away from the body. People in class commented that it was a completely different feeling than the usual sciatic stretch. It’s effect was quite profound in terms of movement of energy within the body.

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Bow Pose with Breath of Fire  This one was tough for me. I just moved in and out of the pose as I reached my maximum. Give it your best, and come back to it as you can, resting when needed. It makes for a long two minutes. Breath of Fire is a breath in and out through the nose, activated at the navel point by pumping the navel with each breath rapidly. To get the hang of it, you could start by breathing through your mouth, and “pant like a dog” with your tongue stuck out.R-SIZE (640x480)

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Hope you enjoyed the practice! Join us at the ashram by making a donation to our Indiegogo campaign, you can share just by clicking the share button under the video, it’s so easy and we really need to expand our outreach. Give your friends the opportunity to support an excellent cause, the continuation of the ashram under a dry roof, and the unlimited sharing of yoga at a price all can afford.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/10-000-leaves-indie-ashram-needs-new-thatch

If you share or make a donation or both, you will receive a video of the Long Time Sunshine Song, which is the formal end of the practice.

thanks for joining us

Laine and Evan, Directors, Chaya Garden Ashram

 

ten steps to destresss

Yoga blog 05/09/2013

Yoga blog 05/09/2013

I just watched a TED talk from 2009 by a young Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie. The theme of her dissertation was stories. She spoke about how stories, novels, articles, create a particular view, a certain impression in the reader. For instance, being from Nigeria, stories from America gave her a certain impression of life in the United States. When she travelled to the U.S. to attend university, she was continually confronted by the impressions that the people she met had of Africa, because of the stories they had read about how life was there. In Nigeria, there was a single “story” of America, reiterated from all sources to some degree. In America, there was a single story of Africa as it had been presented in the context of American literature and media.

Of course these “single stories” were simplified representations. The single story of America being “the land of the free”.  The single story of Africa being “the horrors of war, famine and dictatorship”. Not to mention that Africa is a continent of many nations of many diverse peoples, and how absurd it is that that huge continent is viewed as having a “single story”. How truly impossible that actually is.

Chimamanda Adichie is involved in opening up the many stories of Nigeria by encouraging those diverse stories to be written, published, and sold planetwide. This is how we break out of stereotypes involving ourselves and others on a global scale, not to mention the person to person power of the internet.

As I watched this lecture, I began to realize that as individuals, we often do the exact opposite. As adults, we begin to define ourselves and our reality through a single story, which we make into the pivotal moment of our life. As we focus more and more on this single story, it becomes the reason for who we are, it becomes the story that happened in the past, but that has shaped the present. Soon, we become blind to everything around us, as we can only see our “single story” to the exclusion of everything else that has happened to us, or that we have done. Many happy stories of love and joy are left to fade and wither within the memory, as the “single story”, usually a negative one, envelopes our consciousness, and becomes the scapegoat for all that we dislike about ourselves and the world.

I have survived the “single story” of my own life, and gone from being obsessed with unresolved negativity from the past, to being the ecstatic owner of Now, the blessed enjoyer of the fullness of the present. The Present is a Gift. All we must do is receive it. And yet how can this be done with the terrible story of the Past looming over us, defining who we will be in the future, as well as who we are in this moment? How are we to overcome all the power we have invested in this single story? This story in which we begin as the helpless victim, and grow to become the victim of the story by which we have defined ourselves, limited ourselves, excused ourselves?

Here is one way that we can again take responsibility, quit making excuses, and redefine our past, present, and future. Within the context of the practice of yoga, this is possible. Take up all the divisions you have created within yourself, detach from them by forgiving yourself, and come into the Union which is Yoga. Here is a meditation from Yogi Bhajan to do this in under a minute.

ten steps to destresss

You may at first read feel skeptical, but just give it a try, you may be surprised and delighted by the result. I have used the first meditation to successfully rewrite some of my worst stories, and now when they creep up, I get the rewrite, and it leaves me filled with love and joyful release, rather than bringing the suffering of the past into the present. This selected text comes from Yogi Bhajan’s teachings in the Kundalini yoga manual Physical Wisdom.