Meditation

A MOVEMENT MEDITATION

“With a body made joyous through movement, the mind is able to relax. With mind/body balance, we can take the power of feeling good and generate compassion.” —The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche (Zen Buddhist)

Movement frees the body and mind. It is one of the most natural and functional movements the body can harness, as it propels us forward in life, literally, as well as metaphorically. Running is often the form of exercise chosen to reduce stress, which brings us greater perspective in connecting us directly with the wisdom and appreciation of our body mechanics.

Most runners will naturally agree, that running is a form of mental therapy, their time to just be… free and joyous.

This begs the question; does the practice running and the practice of mediation have similar affects on the body and mind?  The answer would be yes, and when nurtured can not only improve your state of running, but your state of mind.

The art and practice of meditation and yoga can offer similar benefits; which aid us cultivating stillness and nonjudgmental awareness of the mind’s activities. Even though one is sedentary and the other is not, they both require consistency and discipline. They both are a form of training and both are benefited when the student uses the skill of visualization and control within the moment.

As a  an ultrarunner and founder of RUN for A CAUSE, meditation and yoga are a significant part of my training all year round, as well as for those I coach.

When the mind is trained, the body follows and as many runners will convey, there is a moment in every athlete’s state of performance and consciousness when there is this sense of union within the body. All your senses are heightened and you feel free, even in the presence of fatigue.

Running can be seen as the extension of a basic meditative practice. The next time you head out for a run focus and meditate on your intention and don’t forget to hit the Yoga mat post run for a good stretch.

Next week lets look at the art of meditation in exercise as a preventative tool in prevention of injury and rehabilitation.

My Favorite Little Mantras.

The word “mantra” is a Sanskrit word consisting of two syllables: “man” (mind) and “tra” (deliverance).

Mantras are energy-based sounds that can have great psychological, spiritual and transformational effects. Mantras help to manifest intent, overcome obstacles (and remove inhibitions), instigate energy (prana), create awareness, relieve stress, help calm the mind and eventually elevate our consciousness. They can be written down, thought, whispered chanted, sung and breathed

I think it’s also important to mention that there are several interpretations and translations, but that it is possible that through practice, we all can gain an understanding that goes beyond words.

Here is a little bit about my personal favorites.

SAT NAM (sut nahm)

This mantra is widely used in the practice of Kundalini Yoga. Sat means the Truth while Nam means to call upon or to identify with. The meaning of the mantra is something like this: I recall upon the eternal Truth that resides within all of us. It is said that chanting this mantra awakens the soul.

SOHAM (soo hum)

This mantra is said to be a universal mantra vibration that identifies oneself with the Universe or ultimate reality. In Sanskrit, it means ‘I myself’ or ‘It is I’. This mantra is said to act as a ‘natural’ mantra to control ones breathing to achieve deep breath and to gain concentration – Soo the sound of inhalation and Hum the sound of exhalation.

OM NAMA SHIVAYA (aum num-ha shi-why)
Also called the five-syllable mantra is known to be a powerful redeeming mantra, it means ’I bow to Shiva.’ Shiva being the supreme reality, or inner self, is the name given to the consciousness that dwells in us all. This mantra is said to lead to self-realization. The five syllables are said to represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space.

OM MANI PADME HUM (aum  ma-nee pahd-may hum)

This mantra means something like ‘aum to the jewel within the lotus.’ It is said to bring you joy and peaceful vibrations, invoke wisdom and compassion and to free us from the negative emotions of the mind and speech.

OM (aum)

A mantra that is often used in yoga is a symbol of the deep realities of the Universe and the individual human being. It is also said to be a roadmap to Self-realization.

What is your favorite?

My Doctor Told Me To!

Things are rapidly changing not only with yoga but in life itself, and views of yoga and meditation practices are slowly becoming a recommended form of “self maintenance” and an over the counter prescription. 

{Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com/}

Yoga and meditation is not only being brought in to businesses at Lunch or after work, it is used to help cancer patients, children with autism, prenatal yoga and baby yoga, depression or anxiety and much more, the list goes on and on. After reading an article on www.myhealthnewsdaily.com, it appears that doctors are beginning to recommend yoga and/or meditation, as they continue to become more accepting or perceptive to the ideas of alternative medicine or organic alternatives, yoga naturally makes it’s way into the mix.

According to the article,

“the 2007 National Health Interview Survey found more than 6.3 million Americans used mind-and-body therapies due to provider referral. That compares with 34.8 million who were self-referred.”

One comment in the articles states that while most patients are referred as a last resort when other options have failed;

“It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health care system, and possibly, better outcomes for these patients.”

Similarly, the Harvard Medical School released a publication titled “Yoga can blunt harmful effects of stress, from the Harvard mental Health Letter” in April 2009. According to the report;

“Yoga appears to blunt the harmful effects of heightened stress by influencing the body’s response to stress. This is reflected in slower heart and breathing rates and lower blood pressure, all of which are good for the body. There is also evidence that yoga helps increase heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s flexibility in responding to stress.”

While not all doctors may be on the Yoga/Meditation band wagon yet, it appears that they are beginning to take a closer look at the benefits and how yoga is not only a means of helping somebody with health problems but also in preventative maintenance.

Interestingly enough, when researching the Internet I did not come across any representations of yoga being harmful or damaging except for the occasional post of an individuals experience.

If you practice yoga, you most certainly have noticed these benefits in yourself from feeling less stress, less anxiety to eating healthier, all which of improve our overall health. So, if yoga has been around so long what has taken them so long to figure it out? Perhaps yoga and or meditation should be covered under our Medical Services Plan (MSP) or Extended Health Benefits just like Massage Therapy, perhaps that’s not too far down the road, here’s to hoping!

To read the full Harvard Medical School Report, visit; http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/Yoga-can-blunt-harmful-effects-of-stress

To read the full My Healthy News Daily report, visit: http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/complementary-alternative-medicine-yoga-mediation-doctor-referral-1488/

What do you think, should more doctors’ recommend yoga and meditation for their patients? Has your doctor or another medical professional recommended yoga to you?

Learning To Meditate

“When your mind finally becomes quiet, the stunning thing that happens is your heart opens.” – A Life Worth Breathing: A Yoga Master’s Handbook of Strength, Grace, and Healing

A couple of weeks ago my yoga instructor announced that we were going to finish the class with 10 minutes of an active meditation followed by 10 minutes of a seated meditation. My first though was, “oh my gawd, what am I going to do for 20 minutes while everyone meditates?” I closed my eyes for the first few minutes, finding my breath, my mind then went on to what I was going to eat for dinner and preceded down my to-do list. About 3 minutes into it, my eyes popped open as I was curious about what the heck everyone else was doing. They were ALL still, quiet and peaceful. All 40 of them were meditating and no one else but me was looking around the room! It became very apparent, that although I feel I am disciplined in my physical practice my mind could use a little TLC.

I have been reading an amazing book titled, A Life Worth Breathing, by Max Strom.  It has really highlighted the benefits of a daily meditation practice as well as a physical practice.  Max Strom believes that while meditation can seem like an inconvenience and unnecessary if already doing yoga regularly, it soon becomes a profound part of daily life. He explains in A Life Worth Breathing that, “meditation can provide direct access to peace, to your most authentic Self, to spirit and to the Universal Consciousness.”

He also lists several good tips on how to start:

– Find a comfortable, quiet place that minimizes the chance of interruption

– Sit for 3 minutes to start and gradually increase the time

– When your mind begins to wander, for example you are thinking about going for dinner, instead of eating in the restaurant envision yourself sitting down in the restaurant and meditating, do this for all day dreams and eventually your mind will just give up and allow you to sit in meditation.- A Life Worth Breathing

– Instead of trying to quiet your thoughts, focus on your heart. Imagine your heart center as being the source of all that is good in the world ( kindness, love, compassion etc.),  breath into it and imagine the exhale releases love into the world.- A Life Worth Breathing

I have committed myself to doing 40 days of  a daily meditation practice. So if I seem more peaceful and more like myself you know why!

JESSICA HAMILTON is a yoga teacher, boot camp instructor and elementary school teacher. She loves writing, reading, healthy vegetarian cooking, and traveling. Starting next week she will be a regular Vancouver Yoga Review blogger. Welcome Jessica!

MOVIE REVIEW: FIERCE LIGHT, WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION

What does Yoga and Activism have in common?   COMMUNITY!

Last night I watched the ground breaking documentary, “Fierce Light, When Spirit Meets Action” an in-depth look at the power that is released when our spirituality/belief and activism meet.

Sparked by the movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu,  Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mandela, by igniting a global movement of positive, compassionate action. It is a global journey of social change motivated by love, and the necessity to save our world through ethical action.

When asked by students what my message is, I say I am an Activist for Compassion, thus my message is to be an activist for compassion.

It is here, where we see a direct correlation between Yoga and Activism; both deeply rooted in community. The growing popularity of yoga at this time of global transformation and shift of inward search for our own humanity is not a coincidence.

If we look at the definition of a Yogi it is someone who strives to live in harmony with the earth, our environment and embracing the connection with another; which is at the heart of belonging.

A yogi seeks self-realization through the practice of action to become a more centered and rounded partner of society. By living in an other-centered way rather than a self-centered way, the yogi lives harmoniously with the earth, with all beings and things, and ultimately with oneself. This is the very way of life that is reflected in our leaders who have taken compassionate action towards a better world.

The practice of yoga on the mat can provide us with very practical skills to enable us to dismantle our present negative culture, a culture of dis-ease, based upon the exploitation of the earth and injustice of our fellow human and to act with non-violence to shift the paradigm towards social change.

So the next time you are on your mat, think about how you can transfer the loving, compassionate traits evoked from your practice and take them off the mat.  Imagine individuals and organizations connected by a shared commitment to compassionate, positive action….that’s most definitely Fierce Action!

Transform.  Inspire.  Enable

Coming Back to You

Among the many benefits of yoga, I believe the most important is it has allowed me to be more present in my life; to be more present within me.

From the moment I step into the studio I feel myself connect more fully to my body. I feel my shoulders relax.  I concentrate more on my breath. I start to notice the tenseness in areas I didn’t realize until I took a moment to listen.

All throughout our busy day we shut the voice of our body down; we don’t have time to listen to what it is telling us; the slight twinge of an achy hip, the tense area between the shoulders, the pull of the muscles down the back, the knee that continues to slightly throb. All these tiny voices of the body are being drowned out by the mind. I have to get this done; I need to pick up groceries, what am I going to make for dinner? When will I have time for me???

Within the yoga studio, I am there only for me. I am there to feel my body move. I am there to listen to what it tells me I can and can’t do. The instructor at the head of the class is only making suggestions; only I know what my body needs.

But listening to the body takes practice; it takes time. The mind has huge expectations of us. It criticizes, it judges, it sets goals from out of nowhere. If you take the time to listen and believe in what your body tells you, you will find a sense of peace; a calmness that allows you to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Your body is perfect in its imperfection.

Sometimes when I come out of a yoga class, I am more aware of that wonderful body. The placement of my foot upon the sidewalk; how the ball of the foot takes the weight transferring it through the arch and on to the heel. As I shift the weight from one foot to the other, I feel my body sway from side to side.  The expansion of my lungs as I take in a full deep breathe, the rise and fall of my chest, the long deep exhale. The slight soreness coupled with the deep heavy relaxation, the calmness of the mind.

I exist here and now.

It doesn’t matter that I have laundry to do or that I need to get groceries. That my taxes are waiting to be done.

For those precious moments after a class I can feel a deep sense of connection to the earth as I take in the lush green grass, the profusion of new buds on the cherry trees, the magnolia that are blossoming.

I find myself looking at the quality of light; how different it can be from dawn to sunset. The cool blues of the morning, the deep golden oranges of the afternoon into the sunset; the golden hour, and finally the magenta blues coming just after the sun has set.

What the rain sounds like as it hits the leaves of a tree. How the earth smells different after a light rain.

All the senses of my body are alive with the beauty of life.

The world is a plethora of sights, sounds and smells which I find myself so grateful to be a part of.

Even if I can’t find the time to practice I know that just a small walk out my door allows me to be present in my life. From the knowledge I gathered throughout my practice, I can take a few precious moments a day to breathe; to come back to me.

What does yoga bring into your life? What do you do to bring yourself back to you?

(source: realliferealyoga.blogspot.com)

YOUR PATH TO PRANAYAMA

breathe deep and relax

We know that the word “prana” means life force and “pranayama”  in Yoga means “breath control” or deep diaphragmatic breathing; which is crucial to both sustaining life, as well as relaxation.

But did you know your diaphragm does more then just help you breathe deeper and cultivate prana? 

Deep breathing establishes the mind-body connection needed to regulate our autonomic nervous system (ANS); which can become under-active or over-active with higher levels of stress, tension and the daily hustle and bustle of our urban lifestyle.

The ANS is comprised of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and the sympathetic Nervous System (SNS); which are responsible for regulating the body’s involuntary functions; which includes the movement of the diaphragm, breathing, circulation, muscle contractions and how you got into the Yoga posture you are practicing right now!

When we meditate or sleep all of these processes slow, along with our breath and we reach a steady state of deep breathing, which is controlled and methodical.  

However, daily stress, tension, muscle fatigue and anxiety can obstruct the fluidity of breathing leaving us with shallow, rigid breathing patterns. This results in unbalanced or impaired autonomic responses that restrict the flow of energy in our body, thus weakening our prana.  

Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises engage the diaphragm, abdominal wall and rib-cage which improves the inner space within the abdomen for the organs to move freely.

Practicing your pranayama helps to circulate freshly oxygenated blood throughout the system, improves mental clarity and activates the PSNS by stimulating the vagus nerve; which induces the relaxation response, and provides a healthy respite from chronic stress.

Your Path to Pranayama can begin in a relaxed seated or supine posture. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly:

  • Steady your mind.
  • Breathe more slowly.
  • Breathe more deeply, from the belly.
  • Exhale longer than you inhale. 
  • Cultivate Pranayama

Happy Breath makes Happy Prana!

Sources:

*  Full Path to Pranayama article can be found here:  “The Da!ly Muse” YogaFORM’s official blog site.  http://gimmedailymuse.wordpress.com/  

* Yoga Anatomy: author Leslie Kaminoff and The Breathing Project, Inc – NYC

Uncovering the Patterns

I went and saw the movie “Limitless” this weekend and I got to thinking about the “subconscious mind”. The idea behind the film is that as humans we only utilize approximately 20% of our brain power, but imagine if were able to use 100% and what we could accomplish. The movie briefly touches on the patterns that are embedded into our subconscious mind and how they can govern our lives. We also refer to the subconscious mind in yoga and meditation and how these practices can help us to uncover the patterns and thoughts that lie there.

Source: http://www.subliminalgateway.com

This idea of the subconscious mind is not a new thing, nor strictly linked to yoga, and has been brought up and researched by the likes of many scholars throughout history. If you google, “Subconscious Mind”, you will find many articles on how uncovering these patterns can help us to be more successful and happier.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, divided the mind into multiple categories, including the conscious, subconscious, ego and super ego minds. But for our sake, we will just look at the subconscious mind; also referred to as the unconscious mind. The subconscious mind contains all of our feelings, urges, memories or our thoughts that are outside of our awareness, all of which can influence our behaviours and experiences even though we are unaware of their influence.

The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life. – Carl Jung

As yogis, we know that by practicing yoga and meditation we can begin to train our subconscious mind and discover the patterns that lie there and perhaps do a little “housekeeping.” Many of you may have discovered, through an intense practice or a meditation practice, you feel lighter “more free”, shed a tear or two, or find anger boiling you to the point that you want to scream. These are elements of our subconscious that we have ultimately “stirred up” and can begin the process of dealing with, cleaning out and then moving on!

The patterns that lie in the subconscious, have been there since the day we were born. These feelings and thoughts have influenced our decisions and have played an important roll in who we are, however they may have also steered us away from things that we want, due to fear and anxiety that “we cannot” do something for risk of failing.  Take for example an example from the book Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power;

“Think about an elephant. They say elephants never forget (neither do people). Have you ever wondered why a huge two thousand pound elephant will stand so obediently in one place, tied to a short stake in the ground, held only by a thin chain around its ankle? The elephant doesn’t try to move, because he has been programmed to believe he can’t. How? Simple. The baby elephant is tied to the stake when he is very young. Whenever he tries to move, the chain bites into his leg. He can’t get away, because he’s not strong enough. Every time he tries to move, he gets hurt – a lot. The elephant very quickly catches on to the fact that moving is painful. In order to avoid getting hurt, he gives up trying. Even after he has grown to full size, and could easily tear out the chain, along with the post, and probably the whole circus tent, this gigantic, powerful elephant doesn’t even try to get free, because he believes he can’t.”

When the book The Secret was released, it focused on the fact that we can access our subconscious mind utilizing the Law of Attraction. The Law of attraction briefly states that; like attracts like! You attract yourself to whatever you give your focus, attention or energy to whether wanted or unwanted. While this isn’t a new philosophy and tends to be pretty self explanatory, it makes us see how our thoughts and beliefs can manifest our lives.

The subconscious mind makes no distinction between constructive and destructive thought impulses. It works with the material we feed it, through our thought impulses. The subconscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by fear, just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by courage or faith. ~ Napoleon Hill

If we look at both the scenario of the elephant and the Law of Attraction and back at our lives, we may notice similar “ideas” or “perceptions” we may have about our own reality. Our yoga and meditation practice helps us to battle our stresses and to “unlock” the ideas of our subconscious mind and by doing so we become more aware of our “self” and begin our journey to the ultimate goal of yoga; enlightenment!

Back to the movie, while it has nothing to do with yoga & would certainly not be the best way of discovering the patterns in your subconscious, it shows you that by unlocking your potential you can become everything you want to be and so much more. The power of thought, and the power of believing in our true selves can help to make us bountiful, beautiful and blissful and live the life that we have always imagined!

What patterns have you unlocked in your subconscious mind through your yoga and meditation practice?

How To Start Your Day Calm & Relaxed – Without Yoga

I have a confession to make: I am not a morning person – never have been and probably never will. Most of us don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, so here are some tips to start your day calm and relaxed when you don’t have time to fit in a morning yoga class:

  • Get Some Sun: Wouldn’t you love to be awoken soothingly by a gradual brightening of your bedroom and have a gentle ray of sunshine warm you face? Ok, you’re thinking, how do I experience that every morning in Vancouver? You can’t. But, take advantage of the mornings that do provide you with sun. Step out onto your deck or patio, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Be present in the moment, be still, relax, and feel gratitude for this rare occasion.
  • Get Some Fresh-Air: Open your window take a long, deep breath of fresh, crisp morning air. Feel your lungs expand while you nourish your body with oxygen.
  • Take A Moment Of Peace: Take some time to experience your own personal moment of silence. Before you reach for your iPhone to check your emails, before you go wake up your kids, before you say good morning to your partner, take time to just “be” – don’t do anything or think of anything but focus on your breathing: This will calm your mind and body.
  • Read A Positive Quote: This could be an inspiring piece of advice from friends or family members, or quotes you have collected from literature. Keep them by your bedside table, or on a sticky-note attached to your bathroom mirror. Say them out loud, or to yourself, to positively affirm your intentions for the day.
  • Drink Warm Water With Lemon: Most of us are addicted to some form of caffeine – either tea or coffee. Try drinking a warm cup of water with fresh-squeezed lemon as an alternative morning beverage. This powerful concoction provides you with a shot of vitamin C and stimulates your digestive tract. It is also an alkalizing drink, helping to wake-up your liver and aiding in flushing your systems of toxins.

Now you’re ready to start your day calm, relaxed and ready to take on the world!

[Source: haberdasheryandhome]

Thich Nhat Hanh Coming to Vancouver

Thich Nhat Hanh a Buddhist monk, teacher, poet, author and peace activist is coming to Vancouver in August. Born in Vietnam in 1926, he entered a Buddhist monastery at sixteen and became a founder of the “Engaged Buddhism” movement and he now has dedicated his life to revealing how the trans-formative practices of meditation & mindfulness can be a basis of social change in our lives and in the world. Now 84, he travels the world extensively to share his message and peace with the world.

The Vancouver event includes a week long retreat from August 08-13, 2011 at UBC which will include daily talks and meditations with the theme of “Awakening the Heart” and aims to have attendees practice as a community and learn to embrace fears and sorrows with mindful living & healing & transformation. After some research and a visit to the Facebook Event page, it would appear that the week long retreat is already almost full.

On the Sunday August 14th, there is also a couple hour talk that is being scheduled for the public on “Open Mind, Open Heart: Touching the Wonders of Now.” The afternoon talk will include a guided meditation & healing chanting with monks & nuns along with a community of people who are all dedicated to live & be instruments of peace & compassion. While ticket and location information has yet to be released, it is certainly going to sell out quickly. To stay up to date when ticket information will be released you can visit the Facebook Event page for the Public Talk.

“We have the power to decide the destiny of our planet.
If we awaken to our true situation, there will be a change in our collective consciousness.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

This is for sure to be an exciting event, whether you are a practing Buddist or not, this promises to be a very powerful learning experience. I’m hoping to be able to attend the Public Talk and look forward to experiencing this “apostle of peace & non-violence” for myself.

For more information about the event, visit the event website at www.tnhvancouver2011.org.

Meditation Matters

You might have read articles about a recent study – conducted by the University of Massachusetts on 16 participants for 8 weeks  – which showed how meditation can change the brain and increase grey matter in certain areas linked not only with learning and memory, but also awareness and compassion.

Sometimes, these scientific conclusions offer a good opportunity to challenge the sceptical side of our mind, which resists practices that it associates with new age. However, it can just as easily equate  to: ‘meditation actually works, it’s now tangible, it’s all there on the MRI scans’. Hopefully, new evidence like this can incentivise us to develop new habits, and that’s precisely what a lot of meditation relies on:  routines.

It is the same with asana practice: the more you do it, the more you will want to do it and, before you’ve realised, it becomes one of your everyday needs. How many times have you craved practising yoga? Personally, I notice it when I find myself standing in tree pose when stirring a sauce in front of my hob. I know I need meditation when the buzzing of my emotions and thoughts takes over my mind.

If it is not in your daily life and you don’t know how to start, it could be slightly intimidating and puzzling. What does one really do when meditating? So, why not book a class or a short retreat, or drop by your local Buddhist center to learn Metta – the loving-kindness meditation –  or mindfulness meditation, for example. Also, maybe look out for meditation workshops at your favourite yoga studios.

There’s a book I find quite helpful and simple to use, in the same series as The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown, and it’s called The Meditation Bible by Madonna Gauding.  The first sentence reads as an invitation: ‘If you are new to meditation, you will feel comfortable here. And if you are an experienced meditator, you may find renewed inspiration.’

[source: store.higherheart.com]

The first part of the book is a guide to meditation, the ‘what, why and how’ of it, then the author leads us through 140 different meditations, from all sorts of traditions. They are categorised, which can help for days when you have a specific focus in mind: ‘calming and centring’, ‘get moving’, ‘love and compassion’, ‘problem-solving’, etc. Some might sound a bit esoteric, but 140 is plenty to choose from!

Finally, I’ll leave you with Bob Weisenberg‘s fantastic effort of compiling the Bhagavad Gita around different themes, issues and questions. This week on Elephant, he gathers the Gita’s best quotes on The Yoga of Meditation.

Anything Is Possible: A Weekend Workshop with Camilla Bergstrom

Yoga has the potential to become something much more than just exercise, and for many of us this exercise is exactly where the journey begins. Our body starts to tone, strengthen, open and then all of a sudden we start to think differently. Eventually the connection is made: as we work on the body, we are working on the mind, the two inseparable.

When we become aware of our bodies and connect to what is happening physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, anything is possible, according to Camilla Bergstrom: when we are in sync, when we are in harmony with mind and body, we experience the strength and confidence that will lead to the feeling of I can do this and eventually the wisdom that goes beyond it.

Camilla’s 11-hour weekend workshop tested this theory.  Students were offered an opportunity to find their boundaries by examining the thoughts behind the seemingly challenging or impossible. As Camilla put it, ‘the first step is to become aware of our thoughts. Thoughts create an emotion and emotion creates a reaction. If we change the negative thought into a positive, the body will respond and we will find strength we didn’t even know that we had.’

Offering a masterful sequence of inversions, handstands and a variety of standing poses, Camilla teaches a simplistic fusion of yoga style combining self-healing with her experiences, various teacher influences and philosophy. Her teaching approach was challenging, passionate and contagiously courageous. She also took a great deal of time to focus on alignment and individual needs.

The workshop was complemented with breathing techniques and meditation. Students were invited to elongate their inner experiences by writing down and sharing their inner dialogue, as, according to Camilla, there’s more to just feeling yoga in our shoulders or our hips, much, much more, and when we write it down, it helps us to become even more aware of ourselves; it helps us to figure out which plane we are living on. Are we too much in our head? Are our feet on the ground? When we write and share, the experience becomes deeper, more profound, and when we speak it, it almost becomes an agreement.

No stranger to the element of fear, Camilla helps students acknowledge their own veil’s through the process of taking a step back, finding the discipline in their fear and committing to it versus separating from it. Camilla believes that if it means something to us, if it’s important to us, it’s going to happen and we are going to move forward. When the veil is lifted, we find purpose and within purpose we find simplicity: the result of stability, honesty and acceptance.

If you are looking for a life-altering experience, I highly recommend Camilla. You’ll be guaranteed a powerful physical journey and perhaps discover a deeper sense of your own true nature.

The Anything Is Possible weekend workshop took place in December 2010 at Hamsa Yoga Studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. Camilla currently resides in Los Angeles, California and offers local and international private and group classes. She has a podcast and much more information on her website: http://camillabergstrom.com/.

Namaste.

(Photo of Camilla above)

Stayed tuned for next week: Part II of ‘Where the heck did my motivation go?’

Blissful Burbs; Vital Energy Yoga

Well I have to start off by saying I may be a little bias when reviewing Vital Energy yoga as I have recently just started to teach there, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the space.

I first discovered Vital Energy Yoga in “old, historic” Port Moody, driving by on my way for dinner at the Boathouse at Rocky Point (only about a block away), and I literally had to circle around the block to get another look. Situated in an old heritage house, across the street from other heritage houses filled with bookstores, flower shops and restaurants, it is the perfect neighbourhood to “get your bliss on”.

Vital Energy Yoga www.vitalenergyyoga.com

The studio is small, but has a wonderful energy with all of the history that the building holds. With beautiful hardwood floors and old antique windows to the old fashioned sink in the bathroom, I am in love with this space.

Class sizes are small, and classes offer a wide spectrum to suit all students. From Plus Size Yoga, to yoga for the Super Stiff, from Kids yoga to Teens Yoga and of course your regular old Vinyasa Flow to Meditation classes, there is something to suit everybody.

The studio has taken a new persepective and offers a place where you can come to grow both in your practice and in yourself by offering you a place not only to delve deeper into your practice but to have the opportunity to understand what is happening to you and why, why do you feel these sudden bursts of emotion or tension or pressure that you may feel or that may come up during your practice. Learning how to access this vital energy that is available to all of us & to have it in your life always. Vital Energy offers workshops that help you learn more about the practice of yoga and how it affects you.

The studio has only been open for a few months and has a few fabulous promotions on to get you started, with either your first class FREE or your first two weeks for $30.00. Plan to come to saturday morning class & walk to starbucks after for a tea and scone or come for an evening class before dinner and head to the fabulous Rosa’s directly across the street for a yummy pasta dinner or even better, make your way down to Rocky Point before or after class for a stroll around the inlet. Vital Energy has opened up in a beautiful little community that has so much to offer and is the perfect fit.

Join them at their Open House on December 02, 2010 or for an evening of Kirtan on December 11th. More information can be found on their website at www.vitalenergyyoga.com

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