About Amy H

Amy loves doing yoga, teaching yoga, learning about yoga and, of course, writing about yoga! She teaches Yin, Flow and Hatha in the lower mainland. When not teaching studio classes or taking sessions with other teachers, you'll find her nose in a book, preferably at the beach.

Posts by Amy H:

Set Yourself Up For Success

Adhering to a regular, consistent yoga practice is difficult at the best of times. It takes dedication and commitment, love, sweat and hard work. It can be almost impossible to find the time to attend yoga class when things get busy. And this time of year is very, very busy.

Today is the last day of August. Although the weather isn’t great, many people have been desperately trying to take advantage of every sunny day before the September crunch starts. Back-to-school preparations are well underway. A general sense of business and fret are circulating with the impending sense of another fall.

What I have found is that my practice hasn’t remained the same as usual. My body wants gentler routines, my mind wants them shorter. Rather than promising myself to “start in September” or “do more next week,” I have promised myself to continue my routine, but in a way that suits my needs right now. I am setting myself up for success.

What does this look like? I am practicing more at home right now. Sometimes my sessions only last 20 min. Sometimes they are quiet and easeful. Sometimes all I have time for is Legs up the Wall and a bit of breathing. That’s OK. The important part is to show up on your mat and make the commitment to spend a little time every day to love and cherish your own self, body and mind.

In this busy week before back-to-school, try not to put off your yoga practice until later. Negotiate though—figure out a way to absorb some practice into the little gaps of time you have. Pick the 5 poses your body absolutely needs and practice them with love and intention. Take a little time for yourself no matter what. Breathe. Smile. Appreciate your little victories.

Source: http://www.wellonecoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/team-jump-for-joy.jpg

Leap, and the Net Will Appear

Leap Source: http://gabistevens.blogspot.com/2011/05/last-week.html

Blessed to be living with a kitten, I am compelled to watch little Dusty as she explores her very big, mysterious world. As I wrote in a previous post, the kittens were a litter of three – her two brothers have since found a home together. Dusty is now a permanent fixture in our house.

Watching Dusty sniff, scratch, run and jump is an amazing journey of discovery. The most mundane of objects become wildly interesting to her. I often catch her staring with absolute intensity at something, and then realize with laughter that she is analyzing the ceiling or a sock. Her inquisitiveness is infectious.

On the weekend, I was enjoying some sun in the backyard when I saw her climbing a tall tree: climbing, stumbling, swatting at her tail, ignoring her mother’s cries below and climbing more, into the heart of the tree, far above what her mother thought safe.

Then she squatted low and considered a jump. She bounced a little to test her feet. Then LEAPED and landed with a bounce on the grass below. Unbelievable! My first thought was how reckless and dangerous an act that was. The arrogance of youth right? She could really hurt herself!

But after those first few panicked thoughts, I realized how important it is to leap sometimes. So often in our lives and yoga practices, we refrain from doing things because of a dull, uninformed concern or fear of the unknown – we hesitate to try new poses, we stop before reaching our true limit, or we tell ourselves that we’ve found our “edge,” but really we are well within our comfort zone. We don’t take our yoga practice to new places, because we don’t know what’s out there or how it will treat us.

Sometimes taking risks doesn’t work out how we hope. But sometimes it yields results far more stunning than we can imagine – Dusty’s delight of flying for the first time, the feeling of wind and space, before the pat of soft grass under her paws. Sometimes we need to leap, and trust that the net will appear.

Teaching Your Teacher: Sharing the Love

Source: http://www.leeanncareyyogashopping.com/stretch-one-on-one/

My saga of being a newly certified teacher continues! Yesterday I taught a 20min segment to my very favourite teacher – it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

After all the coursework, readings and practical teaching exercises in my summer Yoga Teacher Training, I was feeling pretty good about things. I was getting great feedback from friends and students about my teaching. My youngest brother had a sore calf, which I helped out with using my new therapeutic techniques and a couple of well-considered (and well-taught!) stretches.

I was feeling pretty good – until my favourite teacher in the world asked me to lead her through a short class so she could get a sense of my style. Yikes!

Last week I devoted myself to planning and fretting. I practiced and prepared. I visualized her loving it – and hating it. I’m usually pretty balanced and confident in front of people, but when I placed my mat down and she rolled hers out in front of me, I wondered how such an amazing teacher could even start to enjoy my teaching. How can I, her student, measure up as her teacher?  I became a little undone— I’m not going to lie.

When the music started and I launched into my routine, my voice was a little shaky and my instructions a bit garbled. I realised though, that teaching my teacher was a great opportunity to share my love for yoga in an expression that she hasn’t seen from me before. Not only that, but I could get tips and pointers from someone I respect and admire a great deal to apply to my teaching!

I realised that I should just do what I’ve been compelled to do all along – share my love for yoga in my own way and hope others will feel inspired and drawn to practice it with me. We both had fun!

Lauren Roegele – Demonstrating Yoga’s Healing Benefits

Lauren Roegele is an Anusara-inspired teacher with a kind soul and a profound love for the healing benefits of yoga. I have taken a few of her classes before, but had the opportunity to work with her at a deeper level in my teacher training last month.

Source: http://www.muddyrootsyoga.com/teachers/

As part of his 200hr YTT program, Dan Clement hosted local teachers in our classes – a way for us to learn diverse elements of yoga from specialists in the field. Among these speakers were Todd Caldecott (Ayurveda), Carol Wray (Restorative Yoga, Thai Massage, Structural Therapeutics), Naomi Clement (Anatomy) and Lauren.

Lauren came in for several sessions – the most striking of which were the healing and therapeutic segments. To start, she told us her story of being hit by a drunk driver’s car while crossing the road. She told us about the years of mental and physical health difficulties. She explained with profound emotion how finding yoga gave her the ability to heal herself and rediscover her enthusiasm for life.

She has practiced under a number of influential teachers, including John Friend, Christina Sell, Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, Bernie Clark, Sean Corne, Martin Kirk, and David Swenson. She brings her understanding of the body’s limitations and hesitations to a teaching style that is safe, effective and fun. When a student is discouraged and says, “I can’t do this,” Lauren is quick to respond with a warm and encouraging, “not yet…”

Lauren teaches Anusara, Yin and Level 2 at Muddy Roots Yoga in South Surrey (www.muddyrootsyoga.com), as well as a weekly Flow class at Hari Om Yoga in Langley (www.hariomyoga.com).

You can read more about Lauren’s journey, as well as her private session techniques, testimonials and at www.laurensyoga.com.

Teacher Appreciation

As I have mentioned before, I am in the final stages of my very first Yoga Teacher Training program. Yesterday, I delivered my final practicum: a 60min Flow sequence designed by yours truly.

Despite having taught yoga before in a number of informal contexts, nothing really prepared me for teaching a group of 10 people staring at me wide-eyed and awaiting instruction. I learned something yesterday—teaching yoga is really hard! Harder than I had imagined.

As a teacher, you have to anticipate the mood and abilities of the students in front of you with every step they take. You have to make decisions about what to do next and how, all the while giving instruction aloud and making verbal and physical adjustments.

You have to modify the routine for particular students’ needs and time the class appropriately, which may mean diverting from your very secure, well-planned and typed-up sequence.

The teacher has to make sure that what happens on one side, happens on the other. That what you open, you also soften. That you provide safe and effective guidance, while creating a fun and uplifting atmosphere.

Today, after teaching my sequence and reaching the culmination of many weeks of training, reading and learning, I am thinking of the teachers who brought me to this point. I have had so many brilliant, kind, thoughtful and extremely talented teachers!

I am very excited to be able to give back some of the passion that I have received in my classes. I fully appreciate now that my journey has a teacher has just begun and it’s going to take a lot of hard work!

Source: http://www.google.ca/imgres?q=yoga+teacher&um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbnid=WLp3SqRvYmbo-M:&imgrefurl=http://froglotusyoga.com/events/teachers.htm&docid=8hdpImeyDRTwkM&w=360&h=312&ei=D1AwTt2jOpTXiAKHttAr&zoom=1&biw=1342&bih=716

Sound Journey with Matthew Kocel

This week was brilliant. I finished the second part of my 3-stage yoga teacher training certification. The highlight? After 8 straight days in class, our teacher Dan Clement arranged to have the Vancouver-based sound healer, throat singer and energy worker, Matthew Kocel, spend an afternoon with us before our 2-day break.

It was marvelous.

After a short intro about his journey and his work, Matthew explained that all matter is composed of dense vibrating energy. Combining the pure sounds of a harmonium, crystal and Tibetan singing bowls, conch shells, throat singing and mantra, Matthew creates sound that resonates in our bodies at a very tangible, energetic level.

He then invited us all to lie down on our mats and “go on a sound journey” with him.

Words seem so deficient for explaining the depth of experience we all felt. Without attempting to explain and thus limit the range of sensations my peers and I encountered, it was clear that something wonderful was happening. I was being moved by sound, my whole body was light and vibrating.

Matthew’s website is www.omshaman.com I strongly recommend attending one of his sound journeys – you will be amazed by the effects of sound on your body, mind and spirit.

Matthew trained as a massage therapist and attained his Reiki Master Level while in Colorado. He has delved into other energetic healing practices (see his website for more details, as well as music and events). He performs sound journeys routinely in the Vancouver area, as well as one-on-one healing sessions which combine all of his healing arts.

Matthew Kocel, www.omshaman.com Source: http://omshaman.com/fr_musicforawakening.cfm

More is Not Always Better

Today marks Day 11 of my month-long Yoga Teacher Training certification. With so much information – anatomy, philosophy, alignment, adjustments, sequencing, etc – every day is a densely-packed amalgam of more and more elements to learn.

I have been practicing on my friends and family outside of class, because with so much fun stuff floating around in my head, I just want to share it all! I want to use juicy, dynamic language, create amazing and inspiring sequences, give my students the best physical adjustments and verbal cues. I want to do it ALL!

Source: http://www.fabianpattberg.com/2010/01/important-for-sustainability-and-csr-keep-it-simple/

The other day I learned a very valuable and humbling lesson in my foray as a yoga teacher: more is not always better. My partner Andrew graciously volunteered to let me practice teaching a 15min beginner’s sequence on him. He worked so hard and I fumbled a few bits, so when he climbed into Savasana, I really wanted to treat him with something nice – a sweet shoulder adjustment. I’ve been practicing this on my classmates every day.

But I really wanted to give him the BEST adjustment possible. “How to do that?” I thought. I reasoned that the adjustment feels so good is because of the shoulder blade being pulled down the back. So I decided to give him MORE shoulder, so he could have a better adjustment. Not good. It was too much for his body and I tweaked a muscle in his shoulder/neck. Oops.

Feeling quite sheepish now, I have been volunteering my massage techniques (sweet and simple) to help him with his soreness. I’m glad I learned this little lesson now (sorry Andrew!) rather than with a student in class. I definitely have a better appreciation for the importance of keeping things simple and moderate. Next time I find myself thinking, “more would be better here,” I will definitely take a moment to remember that sometimes it just isn’t.

Teaching is Learning

Last week, I started my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certification at Live Yoga in White Rock. Dan Clement is running the course, with guest speakers (Todd Caldecott!!) leading specialised components.

Today is Day 6 of the training. I am completely blown away by the amount and depth of information there is to soak in! With every day comes a huge and boisterous variety of new theory, practical applications and teaching methods to learn and apply.

Before coming in, I had no idea about the detailed philosophical and cultural trends in yoga’s history. I didn’t know about the joints and their movements. I had never heard of the acromion process or what it meant for movement in the shoulder. I knew how lovely physical adjustments were, but not how to do them. I knew what “Downward Facing Dog” looked like, but not how beautiful it sounds in Sanskrit.

With every day compounding more and more inquiries and explorations, the trainees are voraciously taking in as much information as our muscle memory and minds can contain. It is brilliant as a teacher-in-training to have the exposure to someone as amazing as Dan. He always seems to know the answer to every question and never gets impatient with our endless queries (he is teaching public classes at Live Yoga through July – check out their online schedule!).

I am realizing with every passing hour that teaching yoga is all about learning. Yesterday, Carol Wray came in to teach us Restorative Yoga and said, of learning, “it never ends.” She proceeded to lead us through a two-hour practice, before teaching us some of the ins and outs of Restorative Yoga. While I am very excited to learn more about the different styles and how to teach them, it was simply marvellous having an afternoon of supported poses, where my body and mind could relax and feel the simple sweetness of yoga. This practice has so much to give.

Dan Clement, Source: http://www.indigoyoga.ca/

Seeing as if for First Time

Shrimp, when his eyes were open but still blind. He is such a cutie!

My mind is abounding with thoughts of yoga teacher training and newborn kittens. Yes, it’s true. All in the same month, I have the joyous fortune of playing with three kittens while undertaking my certification as a Yoga Teacher. Plus, the training takes place in White Rock (beach!!!) in summertime. How could the month get any better really?

I live with my sister and her husband-to-be in a house near Aldergrove. None of us had realized that a 6-month old cat could get pregnant, until she did. Although the actual birth of the kittens was something I will never forget (how slimy and amazing!), the event that most resonated with me was when they opened their eyes for the first time.

Just after their 10th day of life, the kittens’ eyes started to creak open. I had thought they would suddenly come apart, all in one day. In actual fact, it takes a few days for the closed eye slits to gradually peel apart from the sides, until the whole lid is unobstructed. My next shock was finding out that kittens with eyes recently opened, do not actually develop sight for a few days after that!

Inside their comfortable closet-hidden laundry hamper, the kittens developed full sight a few days later. Their retinas developed, pupils responsive to light, they look up at us wide-eyed and intrigued. Literally everyday, these kittens see something they have never seen before. They approach each new vision with playfulness and curiosity.

I can only hope to take some of their playful newness into my teacher training this week. How precious to approach every new day like it’s the first time you’ve seen it, to explore every new lesson with awe, to undertake adventures that you’ve never had before, to learn and live with wonder. I can’t wait for the upcoming month. It’s going to be perfect.

All three kittens, with full sight. Looking and walking around (albeit on wobbly legs).

Sweating with Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow

My favourite teacher just got back from training with Shiva Rea in Venice Beach, California. In the last two weeks, she has brought her new lessons back to her Flow class on Thursday nights – her classes, though  typically marvelous, have since been nothing short of challenging, sweat-inducing brilliance!

Shiva Rea. Source: http://shivarea.com/about-gallery

Shiva Rea teaches a unique style of Vinyasa called Prana Flow which is an “energetic, creative, full-spectrum approach to embodying the flow of yoga” (www.shivarea.com). It is indeed an “embodied” style –it encompasses breath-driven exploration of effort and a wave-inspired fluidity of movement that gets your heart pumping.

On a normal day, I can work up a sweat in my practice no problem. During a Prana Flow class with one of Shiva’s students, I feel immediately like I’m firing on all cylinders – the prana is moving no doubt! My teacher called me a “wet seal” when she saw me smiling and dripping sweat all over my mat.  This is a freeing practice, with lots of lightness and dynamism to get you through a tough practice. Glorious!

Clara Roberts-Oss Source: http://pixieyoga.net/id3.html

Valeria Pongracz (Hari Om Yoga, Langley) and Clara Roberts-Oss (Semperviva, Yaletown Yoga, Flow Yoga and Wellness, Vancouver) are two of a very select few teachers in BC working towards certification with Shiva Rea. They both teach a rocking class that, if you haven’t already, cause you to fall in love with movement.

Clara teaches classes and hosts workshops primarily in Vancouver. Check her out on http://pixieyoga.net/ for a full listing. Clara will be out in Langley’s Hari Om Yoga for a one-week Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training and Immersion in late September (more info available on www.hariomyoga.com).

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s Prana Flow class!

Everyday Expressions – Yogic Gardening

I frequently find myself talking to people who have never tried yoga and are thinking about it. I repeatedly invite my friends or family to class, or end up talking to strangers about why yoga is SO great. A common question that comes up is, “how will yoga benefit me?”

At times the answer seems so obvious it’s almost hard to answer. At other times, I am at a loss because if you invited someone to play hockey or go swimming, their first response would not be “how would that activity benefit me?” They would just go for the fun of it!

Although I often find myself ruminating about the mystique of yoga that seems to cause so much trepidation to newbies, on the weekend I was slogging away in my sister’s garden when I found myself alternating between yoga poses to ease my weed-pulling discomfort. And a thought jumped into my head – this is a practical application!! This is an example I can cite next time someone wants a measurable, practical explanation of the benefit of yoga!

Source: http://www.christinepredd.com/quiltingontheedge/2010/05/my-bella-yoga-garden-sculpture.html

It seems so obvious, but when you’ve got a million weeds in front of you, Garland Pose is not a bad way to start. Getting sore in the hips? Pop on up to Wide Legged Forward Fold – but the same yogic principles of alignment factor in here: use your core and keep a straight back! Warrior II or Extended Side Angle poses could be used for those hard to reach brambles out to the sides.

Assuredly, some expressions of Cat-Cow or Child’s Pose would work too, but my personal preference is to avoid touching all the worms that my digging provokes! 

Any other yoga poses spring to mind when you’re weeding the garden?

Head Over Heels for Langley’s Hari Om Yoga

Head Over Heels for Langley’s Hari Om Yoga

Langley has a gem of a yoga studio that you all should know about! Not only because I work there, (and yep, it’s a wonderful place to work), but also because it’s a stunning studio offering everything yoga-related you could need.

Valeria, one of the owners of Hari Om Yoga, hard at work Source: http://www.lululemon.com/community/blog/meet-strategic-sales-partner-hari-om/

Hari Om Yoga in Langley is a multi-style studio – from Restorative and Gentle classes, to Yin, Anusara Inspired, and Prenatal, to Flow and Hot classes  – there is something on the docket for true beginners, as well as for the fit and yoga furious.

 Bamboo-floored and immaculately clean, the studio is tucked away from the traffic, blissfully quiet during Savasana, and overlooks a mass of green treetops. I have watched the sun set at the end of class – I am certain there is very little that beats the feeling of a warm glow during the cool-down of a great practice!

As mentioned Alison’s review, Hari Om even features its very own yoga cat! A loveable “big boy” (a Maine Coon weighing almost 20lbs!), after eating and sleeping, his favourite activity is greeting students after class for a belly rub.

Housing a beautiful studio and a large retail space with your favourite brands in yoga apparel, Hari Om Yoga is a pinnacle yoga hot-spot in the Lower Mainland. You can use your Passport to Prana here, or new members can sign up for 2 weeks Unlimited Yoga for $30!

Celebrating their 3-year anniversary, Hari Om Yoga and its staff and teachers will be hosting an Open House on June 18th. With free classes all day, sales on retail clothes and yoga class cards, as well as food and drinks to chat over, it will be a fun day and perfect chance to introduce yourself to the studio and all it has to offer!

Hari Om Yoga's retail space Source: http://www.lululemon.com/community/blog/meet-strategic-sales-partner-hari-om/

 

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