Thoughts

Forget the Apple, Give a Smile to Your Teacher!

Source: http://seeinnerbeauty.wordpress.com/tag/smile/

When I first started teaching yoga classes, I had expected some surprises. I had expected to feel a little awkward, to mix up my sides, to demonstrate at weird angles, and say things that didn’t make any sense. I had expected the odd stink-eye from students who couldn’t follow what I was saying or thought my teaching was silly or, worse, lacklustre.

I made preparations to deal with these encumbrances. I practiced and practiced – both alone and with somewhat willing volunteers (mostly people related to me). I read widely, watched YouTube videos, and attended more classes to get in tune with other teacher’s approaches and styles. Despite my
best efforts, when I actually started teaching I was in for a shocker.

I realised in my first class that when people are doing yoga, it’s with absolute concentration and intensity – total focus and intent with no time or space for smiling! Egad! Students in my classes can even look a bit… ferocious. They are usually working hard, which is good, but at the same time, it can be very difficult as a teacher to sense whether students are enjoying themselves or not. I mean, isn’t that what yoga is about? Improving yourself, reaching your goals and realising a sense of peace and/or happiness?

Trust me, I do not escape blame myself. I have brought attention towards how hard I work for my teachers in class and how little I smile in poses. This has changed in recent weeks. Now I try to grin and laugh, even when it’s hard and sweaty, or I’m trying my best to focus.

My suggestion? Work hard, but bring a little softness around the edges. Instead of an apple, give a little smile to your teacher! They will appreciate it!

THE FASCIAL PROTECTOR: THE EMOTIONAL DIVIDE


Fascia keeps us together in recognizable form. It is a tough, stiff, elastic connective tissue that is the protector – the foundation of our energy force, all our other systems in the human body.  This fascial net serves as a barrier from the outside world against pathogens and transmits immediate feedback to your brain about your surroundings.

In Yoga we practice mindful meditation and asanas to bring peace and harmony to our state of physical and mental being.  As a teacher, coach, and student of Yoga sometimes I find my own practice just isn’t enough to heal my body from the constant compression and mileage I place on my structure day after day. Sometimes, it needs a little more TLC.

As an advocate for an integrated approach and what practitioners are now calling, “structural integration,” it’s no wonder the fascia has gained traction within the medical and holistic communities.

Have you ever thought of the connection of our emotions and thoughts connected to our fasica system?

As we know we have well over 16,000 thousand thoughts per day and that can (and does) affect our bodies. Emotion can be stored as a memory within the body cells and when emotions become trapped within the tissue energy can become blocked, when left can result in physical symptoms, like pain and discomfort, anxiety and interrupted ease, throwing our fascial connections and relationships to our bones, joints, muscles and organs off balance.

In these instances your body is in a self perpetuating cycle. i.e. your mind starts to affect your body and vice versa and thus to break the cycle, we need to change our thought pattern, we need an intervention.

This past week, I spent a few hours with an amazing holistic practitioner, located in Vancouver. Robin Turner is a registered Kinesiologist, who specializes in Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST). Over the course of both our conversation and my own FST treatment we discussed the importance of whole body breathing, emotional restrictions in our tissue,
all of which is connected to the fascia system and reflex receptors.

With any deep bodywork there is a potential to release some emotions or memories stored in the tissue. This is a great opportunity to probe your mind and reconcile with any pent up unresolved thoughts that affect your optimal well being. The slow FST dance your coach takes you through stretches, not only fascia, but also alters the collagen and softens the viscosity, causing greater ease in movement and less pain in your daily existence.

The principles and ideology behind Fascia Stretch Therapy and Yoga are very familiar and they share many commonalities. As part of our own path and duality of life we must understand that the stress we place on our minds and bodies require a balance of this duality (ying and yang), and it is in these lessons where we learn to navigate our path to better, more mobile health and wellness.

Much like after Yoga, after a session of myofascial work it is important to honor the emotions you are experiencing, embrace them and learn from them. When we do this, we open the door to not only better movement and symmetry, but a better relationship with ourselves and our surroundings.

 

For more information on Robin Turner, BHK, RK, CFT-1 and FST, please visit : Body Engineering Personal Fitness Inc. at www.bepersonalfitness.com

Play. Build. Reach. Learn – [email protected] Event!

An amazing conference is taking place today, a conference that will showcase the extraordinary talent, passion and creativity behind our children and youth. That conference is [email protected]!

So what does this have to do with Yoga? Well… absolutely nothing! But I has everything to do with community and imagination!

[email protected] is an extension, an independent community of Ted.com, the globally recognized “Ideas Worth Spreading” phenomenon. Our conference is unique as kids are involved in everything! From filming and production, to photography, to design, to well….everything!

[email protected]  is a platform for facilitating opportunities to empower kids and support authentic learning. Some of British Columbia’s most awe-inspiring kids will share their experiences and inspire others to follow their dreams.

Our vision is to visualize a world in which the kids have been invited to explore their passions. A world in which they’ve been granted the right to influence decisions impacting their lives. A world in which they stand up with adults as equals and use their creativity and skills to make a brighter future for us all!

Each speaker has based their riveting talk centered around one of four themes, and let me tell you – these speakers are amazing! Being a speaker myself (1 of 2 adults), I can say in all honesty – these kids ARE EONS MORE AMAZING THEN ME!

We invite you to Play, Build, Reach and Learn together – Great metaphors for life:

 

 

 

Play is about being adventurous, thrilled to explore, willing to collaborate with others, dreaming — in other words, it is about immersing yourself in the world with the body and the senses.

Build is obviously about being creative, but also being innovative, eager to put your hands on tools and driven by beauty in shaping the world around you — it is about applying the passion and skills.

Reach is about understanding others and self, being compassionate, accepting everyone for what they are, helping those in need — it is about giving from the heart.

Learn is about being curios, inquisitive, thinking critically, courageous to fail, strong to stand up — it is about understanding the world and building the mind; it is about being yourself/being authentic.

If you are feeling in the need for a little inspiration, I encourage you to visit our live stream and watch these amazing speakers. This is the stuff great leaders are made of, prepare to be blown away!

Watch the Speakers Live: http://www.tedxkidsbc.com/

Meghan – Semperviva Kits Beach

It was my second time taking Meghan’s Monday noon class at Semperviva-Kits Beach location.  She teaches a kick your butt Vinyasa Power Flow.  I like that she is not afraid to try some of the more difficult postures.  She creates a lovely, fluid flow that seemlessly melts into one another as if you were doing a dance.

She starts the class with a small chat.  Today’s topic, how the people in your life reflect what you need to learn about yourself.  After the chanting of three OM’s she gets right down to business.  It is a non-stop Power Flow from then on.  The class is warmed up nicely, climaxes with some harder postures and is slowly brought down to Savasana.  You finish the class feeling that you really accomplished something.

This girl knows her yoga and obviously has a regular practice.  If you are looking for a more challenging Power Flow, this class is for you!

THINK TANK REVIEW: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN STRENGTH & CONDITIONING AND YOGA

Tonight I was given the opportunity to attend a “Think Tank” session to discuss the ‘state of the industry’ in health, fitness and sports performance. Carmen Bott, newly appointed Director of the NSCA of BC invited over 30 health professionals to openly brainstorm and discuss strengths within our scope of practice, industry standards, pitfalls, trends and presentation topics, as well as, what we would like to see implemented into the next NSCA Conference. A wish list if you will!

L.A Clippers Blake Griffin, Mens Health Magazine 2011

Who was in the room? Strength coaches, personal trainers, educators, RMT’s a physiotherapist, athletic trainers, FST’s, a yoga teacher (me); and at this networking gig… there was no pink elephant in the room, just unbridled passion for harnessing human potential.

Honored to be invited and to sit next to these leaders in strength and athletic performance, I quietly wondered if this was a little out of my league. Many years ago I made the slow transition out of sports conditioning to Yoga, then to corrective movement; therefore, what could a Yoga teacher possibly bring to the table?

I had a realization.  The goal of a health professional is not to solely enroll in courses, or engage in discussions we already know the answers to, but to continue to learn and evolve our scope of practice, so that we can integrate a holistic approach to better serve our clients and our industry.

A background in the physiology of flexibility, the fascial system and the traditional holistic methodology of “Yoga” would be a very beneficial topic up for discussion in this group and on the flip side, learning more about strength conditioning and athletic based performance metrics would most definitely offer me the chance to better communicate with my clients that fall under the auspices of athlete and strength based populations.

As we know, teaching fascial stretch or Yoga to a rugby player, will be much different then teaching Yoga to an endurance athlete or a dancer. Why? Genetics, muscle tensity, sport performance, gender etc! Our genetic make-up and muscular and fascial composition make all the difference. As a Yoga Teacher, read this next sentence…

“Each has a unique genetic make up that requires a specific repertoire of movement patterns, release techniques and conditioning metrics for improved mobility and stability  for better movement and performance mechanics.”

Now, re-read that sentence if you are a strength coach? Doesn’t it sound like we are trying to achieve the same destination? The answer is YES, we just look at the mechanics a little differently.

This is why understanding the dynamics of strength coaching is so important if you teach to a population inside athletics. Moreover, an integrated approach is so integral to anyone with the goal of improved movement and human potential for that fact.

What is the NSCA?

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has become the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning for athletic performance.  They have achieved this accreditation by supporting and disseminating research-based knowledge and the practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness on a myriad of levels.

This think tank was a great representation of how we can each play a role and impact the evolution of our industry and better serve our clients. The science and the health sectors are constantly changing, and with the integration of holistic wellness outreach, I truly believe there is much to be learned and benefited from when we combine the science of biomechanics and human kinetics with the art of traditional Yoga. A practice that for over 5000 years has been rooted in the very embodiment of human performance potential – mind, body and spirit.

For every Ying, there is always a Yang!

Sources:

To learn more about the NSCA please visit:  http://www.nsca-lift.org/

To learn more about Carmen Bott please visit:  http://www.carmenbott.com/

Ohhhhh That Monkey Mind

Do you ever feel like things are out of control? Your mind is racing with the things you have to get done. Perhaps the left over task you didn’t accomplish the previous day. There are so many thoughts rushing through your head that you cannot concentrate on one specific thing. Add into the mix the judgement we place on ourselves for not accomplishing everything we wanted to do in a particular day. The little negative thoughts that do not help but somehow slip in.

That’s the Monkey Mind; the devious little monkey that chatters away until we cannot think straight. It happens to all of us. I am sure it even happened to the Buddha at least once. Or maybe not, but to us mere humans it is a constant affliction that we try again and again to overcome.

I sometimes find that even on my mat I am surrounded by a cloud of thoughts that swirls out of control.

I try my hardest to bring myself back to the present moment so that I may enjoy my practice. It is a challenge, but eventually I just focus on one thing – my breath.

I try to see the breath flowing from each part of my body.

I try to feel the texture of my breath as it slips through my nostrils; slightly cool on the inhale and a little warmer on the exhale having come from my lungs.

I take myself to my lungs and see if I can image them expanding with each breath; the rib cage accommodating that needed expansion.

I feel my shoulders slowly relax as I exhale – encouraging my body to release and let go.

I feel my heart beat, with each breath it slows down.

I then travel to my belly and try to squeeze it closer to my spine in order to press out any remaining breath.

Then I start over, but perhaps this time I start with my toes – can my toes breathe? Why not?
You can imagine anything; there are no limits to the imagination. Have fun!

The mind may still wonder – again that monkey mind, but I try to imagine those thoughts as clouds in a beautiful blue sky. I acknowledge them and then I let them pass. I place no judgement on them, or value, I just let them go.

Of course, this in on your mat, but I believe that the same principles can be applied no matter where you are. Just bring yourself back to your body and your breath. Allow yourself to focus on something as lovely as the sky – even if it is grey. There are textures to that grey. There are rabbits in those clouds. Or anything else you can imagine. Isn’t this fun? Try not to be so serious, let everything go.

Allow yourself a moment or two to just breathe and remember that your mind doesn’t control you, you are in charge. You can slow everything down by taking yourself to your breath.

And remember to always be kind – the world is harsh with judgements. Try to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

You are perfect in your imperfections.

Namaste(source: dfareviews.com)

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

Anila

My first power class was lead by a very stern and straight-forward teacher. She started with a curt introduction for the new people, myself included at the time, and lit the fuses underneath our butts immediately thereafter. We did some partner work in balancing poses and I ended up in my first full wheel. That was actually the last class I saw my friend in; I think she may have stopped her practice altogether.

For me it was another handhold for my ascent up the mountain that yoga is. That kind of brisk yet solid pacing and concise manner in which she spoke was something that locked me into my practice. She never waffled or forgot her sequences. She made sure we knew where she was taking us. She asks us to build a practice from our experiences in life whether they be ones to cultivate or ones to shed. Instead of reading from a book or notes she gets us to dredge the depths of the self.

Anila Lacroix likes to push the boundaries as much as shatter them. Many of her classes involve doing things that we normally wouldn’t fathom in any given day, say hugging strangers or share personal stories (if you want to, that is) with the class. Odd as they may be she’s just putting the yogic way into practice; to open up and connect in every way.

www.yyoga.ca

Her voice is strong and fierce if not simply bold. Yin classes are ones where people go to in order to relax and be soothed by words and chants. I come out of her classes feeling like I want to destroy a marathon or leap to the moon. She can supercharge your brain by the way she instills you with the facts of life and yanks your inner power to the surface. If you can’t tell it’s quite difficult to describe her aura. I do encourage you to try her ways.

During my recovery period she imparted a very interesting method of resetting the mind. A few days here and there, when my eyes didn’t aggravate me so much, I sat/lay/crumpled somewhere quiet and imagined my brain as a field. I would then imagine a plow running through the soil and scrapping all the old growth and leaving the field bare for new seeds. I’d imagine the new seeds being planted as ideas, sprouting into whatever I wished them to be.

If you get to know her you’ll find out she’ll always have a little something for you to help you through the spats that life has with us. She can revitalize you with a word and spur you with a breath. She’s amazing.

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.

A Complaint Free World

The book, A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen recently came across my radar.  The title really intrigued me, so I decided to ingestigate further.  Basically, one undergoes the challenge to not complain for 21 consecutive days.

A few months ago a good friend of mine gave me a Louise Hay cd on how to use daily positive affirmations.  Shortly after beginning the practice of using  my affirmations, I became very angry at myself for  just how negative most of my thinking actually was.  Here I thought I was a positive, glass half full kind of person?  However, this was a catalyst for me to begin to change my thinking.  I am a true believer that what we think about manifests into our lives, whether they be good or bad.  I believe this is why the book came to me at this time.

“Complaining is thinking about things you do not want rather than what you do want.  When we complain we are using our words to focus on things that are not as we would like.  Our thoughts create our lives and our words indicate what we are thinking.”  Bowen, Will.  (2007) A Complaint Free World (Kindle).  Retrieved from http://www.amazon.ca.

I have decided to embark on my own complaint free challenge.  I will blog about my adventures at http://www.westofyoga.wordpress.com.  Please join me in the challenge.  Maybe we can start a complaint free movement here in Vancouver?



Yoga Arms

Popeye

I miss my yoga arms. I’ve put my pass on hold for the month of August and I’m really noticing some changes in my body. Less strength in my arms mainly, with a side of lower back pain.

So I need to keep up as I’m falling short. I found an extremely helpful article in Yoga Journal called Arms Control by Julie Gudmestad. She thoughtfully shares how to work our biceps, triceps, and upper body to withstand the many poses which require arm strength.

http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/1747

It’s interesting how the more we do yoga, the more change we see in our bodies for the better. Just as the less we do yoga, the more we see changes in our body for the worse. I’d like to be back in the “more yoga” category. Wouldn’t  you?

SEASIDE YOGA: ANCIENT BENEFITS

“Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is never silent, is never still. ” ~ H.P Lovecraft

Regardless of where you practice Yoga, there is always something so serene about practicing Yoga outdoors. Not only is it an opportunity to be more eco-friendly and environmentally sound, but it also offers us a chance to re connect with the beauty of mother natures landscape.

Over the course of the next four weeks, I have been given the opportunity to teach my Yin YogaFORM4athletes workshops outdoors, marina side in False Creek with Le Physique Studio; where my students not only learn about the benefits of Yin and fascial elasticity, but are able to breath in the abundance of practicing seaside.

The ambiance of the sea, cool breeze and practice of Yin to balance out our Yang society evokes a feeling of euphoric calming that not only soothes the soul, but has many therapeutic benefits that go beyond ones practice.

Just take a moment and think that water is the most abundant compound in our body. But what you may not know is the water contained in all of our tissues, cells, blood, etc. is a salty water solution, very similar to the seawater.  

Almost 75% of our body is water:

  • Blood is 83% water
  • Muscles are 75% water
  • The brain is 95% water
  • Lungs are 90% water

Therefore, it is of no surprise that we connect so well with fresh flowing water, streams, rivers and oceans.

One of the largest benefits to practicing yoga seaside; is the abundance of salt in the air. During yoga we focus our attention on the pranyama or breath work; which gives rise to the opportunity to inhale the pure salt air that flows over the water.

Anyone who has enjoyed an ocean swim knows this refreshing feeling! Without salt in our bodies, we would faint due to low blood pressure, as it helps to regulate proper blood pressure parameters.  

Functionally significant to athletes; electrolytes are comprised of sodium, chloride and potassium. These minerals can carry an electrical charge and flow through any part of the body where water resides; which promote healthy cells by carrying nutrients into them and removing any waste as they depart. The main cause of muscle cramping is dehydration. The natural sodium and chlorine in unrefined salt work to maintain body fluids, keeping muscles well hydrated.

We have known for centuries that salt can inhibit bacterial overgrowth and if you are feeling a little under the weather, salt shrinks swollen membranes; congested membranes that can often lead to infections and the common cold. More over, it improves respiratory and cardiovascular functions. Salt is vital for extracting excess acidity from inside the cells, particularly the brain cells, kidneys and liver through sweat and urine.

During the changes of the seasons, salt is a strong antihistamine and combats the particles which cause allergies in the first place. Even in small amounts the salt from the ocean can help to increase circulation and assist in the rejuvenation of the cells, because it naturally aids in healing.

In a Yin practice, as we move and stretch, our fascial and central nervous systems relax and with this the body begins to naturally detoxify our tissues through the process of our asana practice.

Breathing in the sea salt air is just another way to improve your health and your experience of yoga overall. Practicing near water connects us deeper to our own internal water components as water hydrates the body, mind and soul; not only as a physical necessity, but as a symbol of our duality, and in the same time of our unity with all the other elements in nature.  Take time to breath, smell the fresh salt air and connect with your environment.

~Namaste~

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!

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