Equinox Newsletter

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Community as the new Guru

I’ve heard this mentioned throughout the years, that the new Guru is community. Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh put it, the new Buddha is a community, not a person.

In sanskrit, Gu = Darkness, Ru = Light, Guru, also often the word used to refer to a beloved teacher or master, also refers to the movement from darkness to light, or even the balance and interdependence of darkness and light. Interesting to contemplate as we enter the Equinox and welcome the balance of dark and light. As the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the sun’s rays and reaching the tipping point, we can now start to welcome more LIGHT into our days.
As we welcome more LIGHT in our days, we welcome the bursting forth of Spring, and a rebirth in our Selves as we emerge from winter hibernation, or in my case, emerge from sabbatical journey in the tropics …

I recently attended the epic Envision Festival in Costa Rica, and taught a yoga workshop about integrating the

expansive energy of the festival into the body and into present moment awareness: it was such a deep honour to be a part of this amazing world renowned festival. One of the missions of Envision is to inspire community and celebrate the potential that we have to envision and create change on the planet.

I was deeply inspired by the talks, workshops and panel discussions all from amazing game changers on the planet. One of the inspirations that flowed through is how important and necessary it is to be in community. I feel incredibly blessed to have some sweet community in Peterborough, and I feel that we have potential to grow and thrive even more.


My vision for the new yoga space Peterborough Living Yoga (PLY) is to create a gathering space for community to form, beyond a ‘yoga studio’; my hope is that PLY is a space for learning, laughter, and connection, stillness, silence, and contemplation, singing, dancing, and creative expression. I envision a place for deepening our experience of yoga and wellness, for our inner and outer world. YOU, the community, are integral for this to succeed. Please stay tuned for our Spring Offerings.

Some things to look forward to….

  • Opening Celebration on April 10 featuring a Live Music Yoga Class with the Om Shantis and Shantdeep
  • Weekly classes in all levels and diverse styles of Yoga
  • Weekly meditation
  • Continuing Education for Yoga Teachers
  • Deepening Workshops for all of us
  • 200 hr Amrita Living Yoga Teacher Training
  • Live Music Yoga, Kirtans, Ecstatic Dance events and more
  • Superfood Lunch Yoga program partnering with Dan Ledandan Foods

Looking forward to connecting with everyone!

Healing the nervous system with Yoga

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Here is an article that I wrote about yoga for the Greenzine, published in Peterborough, Ontario:

Shoulders are tight and slouched, mind is frazzled and nervous system is on the fritz. Day to day life makes us stressed, whether its challenges in the workplace, at home, in relationship, with health, or just the daily grind of a fast paced culture of go go go and push and pull.

The reality is that stress is a factor in most people’s lives, however it shows up. It’s not just something that rears its head during intense life events or drastic change. It’s something that has become pervasive in our society (Stats Canada says work absenteeism due to stress has increased by over 300% since 1995!). There are also many studies revealing the links between stress, and health in body and in mind, with 75% to 90% of all visits to the doctor being for stress-related complaints, according to the American Institute of Stress. In other words, we have a lot of healing to do individually, and culturally…

So how do we do this healing? There are many paths of healing for the nervous system, including meditation, yoga practices, and other forms of movement and breath work. The common response to stress is a ‘fight or flight’ activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the same response that arises when your life is in danger. Practices of yoga, meditation and breath work help us to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest’ response.

If you have ever tried yoga, you may be familiar with that sweet sense of relaxation and ease that you feel when a class is over. It’s that state of relaxation that is transformative because, with practice, we start to carry it out of the studio, off the mat, and into our day to day lives, into those moments of tightening and anxiety that occur within the day to day stresses. We can learn to breathe and relax our awareness in the midst of the sometimes turbulent flow of life just as we learn to flow with awareness in yoga postures.

Yoga teaches us to breathe into sensation and experience, to find a state of equanimity or acceptance in a relaxed and open way. The benefits are immense for stress relief, and as we practice breathing into all those little stresses throughout the day, becoming even just a bit more relaxed and at ease, it prepares us for the big moments: Divorce. Illness or Injury. Losing a job. Death of a loved one. As we cultivate the ability to meet each moment with ease, without pushing or pulling, yoga helps us to lean into the moment, even when the stress response strongly wants us to panic.

Breathing, creating space, cultivating ease and presence. These practices that you may experience in a yoga or meditation class go way beyond the mat or cushion, and the benefits go way beyond the physical. I invite you to open up to the teachings of yoga as a way of opening up to a more stress free life, so you can live fully and meet the challenges with the most ease possible.

Reflections on Taking a Retreat

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Right now I am living in the jungle at my winter home, The Enchanted Forest in Guiones, Costa Rica. I spend my days teaching at The Nosara Yoga Institute and Harmony Healing Centre, taking classes, walking the beach, floating and swimming in tide pools and waves, watching the sun set over the ocean, and lounging around in a hammock. I also try and get business stuff done; some days it comes naturally and other days I have resistance and a hard time getting to it.yoga-beach-tide-pools

I have learned that the key to being good at making business happen is feeling inspired, and then letting that inspiration flow into the business. Hence, taking 3 months of the year to focus on healing and inspiration 😉 Here’s what’s flowing today: I’m thinking its about time I tell you a bit about my experience on retreat this year.

Feeling inspired moment to moment takes practice, and it takes really deeply feeling what is present, a willingness to dive in. When we feel fully the experiences of our life we come face to face with who we are. For example, I gave myself the immense gift of going to an ecstatic dance and yoga retreat over New Years this year, less than 3 months after my mother passed away.

Here is a little bit about what it was like to take a retreat, at a time of very potent grief. Thanks for reading 🙂

I walked onto a dance and yoga floor where the primary intention was to create a space for ritual and healing, led by two people who I adore, Amber Ryan and Kevin Courtney. They are teachers who I admire, and feel a pull to be around, which is a rare feeling that I believe is worth following and celebrating. I was also on board as part of the work team, so I was helping hold the space, which is a huge honour. I love them!

At the retreat, I had to meet myself fully in the pain of losing my mom, and the practices of yoga and ecstatic dance, with sacred guidance, created a container in which I could go into all of it.

For many years, dancing has been a refuge for me, a medicine and something that often led to bliss and high high feelings. I am used to entering a dance floor and feeling like I am just in it, in the rhythm, in the moment, and communicating with the most authenticity, and often having a lot of fun. I have known and experienced dance as healing medicine, and was looking forward to having the opportunity to let go and feel like I have a body again.

I have learned what an immense gift I gave myself to commit to a retreat at a time of major life change.

The inertia of grief is strong.

I have never felt like moving was so difficult. The pain of loosing my mom on this plane of things, combined with the rhythms of daily life being overall pretty full on through the fall, had manifested in some pretty epic layers of physical and emotional tension.

I have a friend who also lost her mom and she said it took her 2 years before she could dance again. I understand that: I can’t put words to how difficult it was to move my body to music at a time of such deep sadness. But I did. And it was so hard. But the fruit of this challenge was that I was able to move some of the pain that was so layered in body, and give it space and form, and really honour the depth of it. Lots of crying, and dragging myself through the inertia for many days until I actually got to the space where I was free and open and feeling a little more one with the divine. (In the 5 Rhythms practice, this is referred to as Lyrical, and it is a sweet sweet experience to actually be in the Lyrical Rhythm). Through the practices I faced my fears of not being able to access my Mom anymore, and I opened up to connecting with her on a deeper level. This is something that has changed my life and will continue to transform me as I commit to staying open.

Kevin Courtney’s mom was a part of the retreat, which was so sweet and really reminded me of the time that my sweet mama attended my retreat in Costa Rica. What an amazing blessing that was, and if you can go on retreat with a beloved family member (or by yourself, go on retreat people! Such an amazing opportunity!) at some point in life, I highly recommend it. Life is short, sometimes shorter than you would hope for, and we’ve got to make every moment count.

Overall, I am immensely grateful to my guides Amber and Kevin, to my family because it’s you who I dance and pray for, and grateful to myself for giving myself the time and space to face all of it full on, a radical act of self love. Infinite thanks to my Mom, who I know is with me in Spirit.

Embodied Spiritual Beings!

Tiina Kivinen Blog

In the inquiry of the body. Why do you practice yoga postures? Why do we, as a culture, deeply benefit (or not benefit) from asana practice….

The whole system of yoga is made of many dimensions, they are synthesized in a text called the Yoga Sutras, and described as 8 Limbs of Yoga. Asana is one of the limbs and its the one that the west has grabbed on to as the main focus of Yoga in the dominant culture….. although the other layers of practice are sometimes present in classes, trainings and workshops, and sometimes they are not present at all.

Personally, in my life and practice, I am very much in the inquiry of the role of postures in accessing Yoga or Unity Consciousness. The other day while practicing, the knowing kind of dropped in in a deeper way, much like it does in those movements of connection when some kind of understanding is felt about the great mystery of life… ‘aha moments’ … in this moment I could really feel what it is to be an embodied spiritual being, to have a body that is a vessel for spirit and love to shine into the world.

The body is a part of the multidimensional self; body, mind, ego, emotions, energy, wisdom, witness, spirit, oneness, divinity…. the body is a part of this whole being, and through it we can open to a free flow of spirit and divine connection. It’s like, through the body I can access spirit because the channel is open and clear, but if a practice becomes souly about being in a body and perfecting a particular form, we create a loop of ego and narcissism that is counter productive and reaffirms the ego tendencies of a false self, and it can even cut us off from the stream of sacred energy that is abundant and available to all beings.

It’s a strange time to be an embodied spiritual being, a time when yoga is sold as a weight loss technique and people take endless selfies of themselves in yoga poses and get really preoccupied with fashion accessories. No judgement of course, just the inquiry, ‘isn’t this interesting’.

I”m really really grateful that my practice facilitates moments of clear connection with spirit, and I am motivated to create opportunities for others to open up to the vastness of their own potential as an embodied spiritual being, to create spaces where bodies are loved, cared for and deeply respected as vessels for higher wisdom and divinity.

Big News, and the tricky thing about New Years Resolutions

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Happy New Year and happy new beginnings!

I hope you had wonderful holidays with family and friends! As you may know, I am now in Costa Rica until the spring, and I am happily spreading the word about my friend Natalie teaching a few of my regular scheduled classes in Peterborough while I am away. For more information see my Schedule page, and contact nataliesrosso@yahoo.ca for registration and questions. Also, see the end of this e-mail for a special meditation gift!


Starting April 1st I will be launching a YOGA STUDIO, taking over the space at 394 George St. (above Hasseltons Coffee Shop)! Stay tuned for a flow of yoga and meditation classes, workshops to inspire health and wellness, continuing education for yoga teachers, 200hr Yoga Teacher Training and MORE in our new home, Living Yoga Peterborough ~ Studio and School.I will also be renting out one or two treatment rooms, part time or full time, so please spread the word to holistic practitioners who need a lovely space to practice downtown with great visibility.

New Years Resolutions and Intention Setting

As we flow into a new year I’d like to share some ideas from yoga philosophy related to setting your new years resolution intentions:A new years resolution can be a tricky thing, because it is easy to fall into the idea that once we have what we want in life, we will be happy. Yoga teaches us to let go of striving, to accept what is, in the moment, and surrender to the will of the universe, Ishvar Pranidhana.

Yoga offers us a way of setting intention that is not about striving for something or needing to change. A San Kalpa is a sort of personal resolve that one makes to align with and channel energy toward a higher purpose. The word San refers to our highest truth, and Kalpa, a Vow. Thus, a San Kalpa is a resolve or intention that we set that is a vow or commitment to actions and a life path that is aligned with your dharma/purpose, and your higher self.

A San Kalpa is a vow or commitment to something that is already inherent in your being, already a part of you. Rather than an idea of some kind of lifestyle habit or change that, if fulfilled as a new years resolution will somehow bring you the happiness and fulfillment you need for the year, a San Kalpa is more like an affirmation or an intention that is already true and real, but needs to be nurtured and fed in order to shine brightly and strongly.

Follow this link to a meditation I prepared just for you about opening up to your own San Kalpa (right click the link or CTRL+click and then click “Save Link As” to save to your computer). This is my gift to you, and for a limited time (one week), it will be FREE for download. Look forward to more digital recordings becoming available on my site in the coming weeks! Happy New Year!


Yoga and unity consciousness

Tiina Kivinen Blog

We enter into yoga postures not to complete some perfected image or gesture, but rather to wake up the intelligent union of mind, body and heart.~Michael Stone


Hi Everyone!

I honour that everyone has their own unique entry point into the practice of Yoga; to de-stress, for physical fitness, meditation… or perhaps curiosity about what is this craze that people seem to love? The benefits are diverse, I often hear of my students exclaiming in wonder that they have experienced a major decrease in discomforts from previous ailments (like sciatica, osteoarthritis, digestive issues…), and of course stress relief.


Yoga teaches us to calm the mind and cultivate moment to moment awareness. Practicing postures with safety, curiosity, and respect for the body has great benefit on many levels, but it doesn’t end there. Yoga in its truest form is actually a meditation that bring us into a state of unity consciousness. Which means less push and pull, a state of relaxed being with what arises rather than attachment to what is comfortable/ pleasurable and aversion to what is not.


Usually in these newsletters I relate the teachings of Yoga to some kind of personal life practice that is present for me. Since losing my mother on the physical plane last month, I have gained a new depth to my meditation practice. Being present with what is, through intentional relaxed awareness while practicing yoga or meditation, is a practice that comes with me off the mat, off the meditation cushion, and into Life, as it is. As uncomfortable as grief can feel, meditation and yoga help me to stay with the sensation, feel it fully, and remain open to the depth of the experience.


Costa Rica Yoga Retreat
In other news, just in time for winter, we are offering a massive discount on the Costa Rica Yoga Retreat (check out my new Event page)! From now until Monday, Dec. 1, take advantage once again of the first early bird price, which is $300 off (using the code HOLIDAY at registration)! Due to technical issues, the date has been extended one week from what was originally announced 🙂 You deserve this gift! (or maybe there’s a loved one in your life who does too!)Join me for a week by the pacific ocean in Costa Rica, to deepen your practice in Yoga, meditation, and relaxed awareness. This life is too short not to take adventures that are deeply soul nourishing!


Yoga Teacher Training
We are over half way finished the 2014 Yoga Teacher Training. The depth of practice that is arising in our group of trainees is absolutely inspiring! I am beyond grateful for the manifestation of an incredible group of trainees, as well as an amazing co pilot, Ally Boothroyd of Sarovara Yoga in Bobcaygeon. We are currently working on the schedule for the next training in 2015, so if you are feeling the call to take your practice to the next level, apply here.


Weekly Yoga Schedule
We have 4 weeks left of our current schedule of weekly yoga classes. You are welcome to join for the remaining weeks for a prorated cost or drop in anytime. This winter I will be away for some time down south, and I am thrilled to announce that my dear friend Natalie Rosso has decided to run a winter series of all the classes that I have been doing in my absence. Contact me if you’d like me to put you in touch to register 🙂 She is a wonderful teacher! I will be back in April to take over classes once again.
Soon enough I will also be making a very exciting announcement to you all….. just to peak your curiosity, it is a new endevour for me that will enhance your yoga practice and community in down town Peterborough…. curious… ? Announcement Coming Soon!




An Exercise in Trust and Surrender

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Grief does not change you, it reveals you.

I would like to extend heart felt gratitude to my students and community for holding space for me while I have moved through my mothers end of life care, and into the new phase of letting go. On October 10, 2014, my beloved Mom passed away in our home in North Western Ontario, surrounded by loved ones.

Throughout these last few weeks and even longer, many of you have been nurturing me with your kind words, your hugs, and your willingness to go with the flow of substitute teachers. I trust that you were able to source new wisdom from your practice while being guided by a new voice and a new energy. Gratitude to those wonderful teachers who stepped in, sometimes last minute, to offer a class in my absence. I am grateful to have been able to take space at this time, and I’ll see you this week in classes!

Ishvar Pranidhana: An Exercise in Trust and Surrender

I’d like to share with you a yogic teaching that is alive for me at present. A teaching from the Yoga Sutras, within the Yamas and Niyamas (first two limbs of Ashtanga, 8 Limbs of Yoga, Observances and Restraints) Ishvar Pranidhana. Ishvar Pranidhana is a practice of letting go of control, a practice of surrendering to the mystery, surrendering to Life, the Divine, the Will of the Universe.

Ishvar Pranidhana teaches us to let go and trust in the unfolding, to accept what we cannot change and trust in the divine. This practice has been alive for me throughout my Mom’s illness, in consistently needing to dwell in the mystery; not knowing what would happen with her cancer, not knowing a timeline, or how it would feel to have her pass, surrendering to what is, and cultivating trust. Throughout her illness, Ishvar Pranidhana helped me to stay present and let go of control. Now that my mom has transitioned, Ishvar Pranidhana reminds me that she is still with me as a part of creation itself, to trust and let go into the knowing that she is at peace in Oneness with the great mystery of spirit.

Perhaps you have experienced loss, or change that is not expected. Perhaps in these moments you feel like you are losing control, or what is dear to you is slipping out of your grasp. These moments remind us to loosen our grip and surrender; let it be. Open up to the mystery and above all, TRUST. Trust that as you loosen your grasp, you will surrender into an even deeper state of Oneness.

I wish for you deep trust in this unfolding dance of life, death, and rebirth, each breath as a reminder of this natural cycle, and the knowing that our ancestors, our loved ones, and our angels and guides are here, in our hearts, in spirit, joined in union with all that is.
Peace, Peace, Peace

Change and Transitions

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Welcome Fall, the season of coloured trees and cozy sweaters. Change is all around us. A time to reflect on the cycles of nature, and letting go. A time of transition.

Lately I have been meditating a lot on transitions. In the busy pace of life, how I transition from sleeping to wakefulness, the transitions from one part of the day to another, maybe with little time to get from one yoga class to the next. How do we make these transitions with ease and peace?  When you are relaxing in the sweetness of savasana at the end of your yoga practice, you roll to one side, sit up holding the peace within and then eventually you have to leave the practice space and transition back to work, home, kids, traffic, responsibilities and everyday demands.

How about the transition from one yoga pose to the next? When I am in a backbend such as Ustrasana, the Camel, if I quickly come out without mindfulness, I feel light-headed and ungrounded, whereas if I arise with the core strong, slow and with awareness, I can then move into the next pose feeling fully what is present, rather then rushing through it all and missing the full feeling and effect.

And then there are the big transitions. Being laid off work. Having a baby. Getting divorced. An injury or illness. Moving to a new place, or a new career. Kids move out of the house. Saying goodbye to a loved one.

In yoga class I call it an ‘awareness pause’. Moments of integration. Pausing and absorbing the full feeling and experience. Sometimes we need to give ourselves extra space for the transitions in our lives, to intentionally pause and tune in to the present. Take time and space to fully experience change and give it lots of room to breathe, and to be.

I invite you to consider transition in your life, and take lots of deep breaths when things are changing. Trust and move forward without rushing. Absorb the moment, and open up to it, with gratitude. These moments are precious, we must cherish them.

In the Present Moment, is Yoga, Part 3

Tiina Kivinen Blog

Embrace the Moment

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” — Osho

Welcome September!
The month in which we savour the sweet lingering summer moments, like watching the final light of a sunset over the horizon. We prepare to welcome the Autumnal equinox and manifest new rhythms in our lives. For me, this season brings a new teaching schedule, new location for public classes, the launching of my yoga school and teacher training, prioritizing family, and building (and hopefully soon taking) a sauna at our farm. Amongst all of it, my personal goal is to stay balanced and centered, and to embrace what lights me up; to cultivate rhythms of joy and connection.

As life tends to speed up in September, remember to consciously slow down and really appreciate what this summer has awakened and inspired in you. As we move toward the fall, savour these final moments of exquisite summertime energy and lush nature… if possible, smell some of the late summer flowers and arise early to enjoy the morning light. Open your self to the peace and joy that arises when you give your self space to just be in the moment and do what you love.

The fall usually brings with it a movement of organizing, new endeavors, perhaps busyness and scheduling… so how do you stay centered within it all? What small rituals can you cultivate each day to remind you of your capacity for joy? Take some deep breaths of gratitude for the simplicity of just being… and open your self up to the joy that arises when you follow your heart into new rhythms that the fall will bring. Carry the afterglow of summer with you.

Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

Looking ahead to the inevitable turn of the season into winter, I invite you to join me for the 3rd annual Rhythms of Joy Costa Rica Yoga Retreat. For one week in March 2015, journey with me and a group of like-hearted friends, to a magical beach side oasis on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

If you feel an inner calling to travel and have an adventure of a lifetime, while deepening your yoga practice and taking time for yourself, then please consider joining me for this retreat. It’s affordable, the weather will be beautiful, you may see whales and you will see monkeys and other wildlife, swim in the ocean, get sand in your toes, gaze at the sunset, breathe, meditate, stretch and feel gloriously alive. I have designed and organized this retreat for YOU, so you can take time out of your life and sink into another kind of rhythm, with an afterglow that you can take back to your home, work, family… Register and secure this rate with your deposit.

All in Love,

In the Present Moment, is Yoga, Part 2

Tiina Kivinen Blog Leave a Comment

This is a follow up to my last blog. Right now I am writing this newsletter from North Western Ontario, where I am busy preparing for Fall offerings, taking in the great northern energy, swimming in the most wonderful clear lakes, and supporting my family through a challenging illness. There’s nothing like cancer to bring up fear, pain, worry and stress. I know I am not the only one who has had a family member or friend go through something like this, and I am amazed by the support I have received from loving friends and comrades. But every day is hard.

Not knowing what is going to happen next. Being in the void, the mystery, trying to stay present and feel everything without pushing anything anyway. I am finding that the practice of being present and coming back to the breath is sustaining through the difficult moments.

Yoga teaches us to be Present, to lean in to a situation or experience rather than away from it. There is no way out, but through. I am forever grateful for the teachings of Yoga, both on the mat and out in the great experience of Life. Yoga reminds me to come home to the Present, through the breath, through the body, and with compassion. Within the present moment lives wisdom and clarity. This Moment is the perfect teacher.

Pema Chodron says it well…

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
Pema Chödrön

She wrote one of the recommended books for the upcoming Yoga Teacher Training, which has been an inspiration for me during this difficult time.

See my previous most recent blog post for some further musings on the deeper teachings of Yoga.

Meditation Exercise

Try this: A Meditation for Feeling Into the Present with Compassion

Lie down in a comfortable position, if possible right on the soft earth.

Allow your eyes to be softly closed and relax the face.

Give the weight of the body over to the Earth. Imagine yourself being completely accepted and held by the Earth.

Feel a wave of relaxation flow all the way from the crown of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes.

Simply notice the sensation of the breath.

From this breath, focus your awareness, and relax into the experience of just being here, as you are, opening up to whatever feelings and sensations arise, with compassion.

If your attention wanders, let the breath bring you back, again and again, and again…..