Teachers

REVIEW: LULULEMON ATHLETICA & THE SAN FRANCISCO MARATHON

 As we all know travelling can sometimes put a damper on your routine, especially if you are heading out of country for an event.  However need not fear, where there is a will there is always a way. 

More importantly, where there is a Lululemon, there is always a way!

Tomorrow I run the San Francisco Marathon, my RUN FOR A CAUSE platform has gone global by supporting both the Canadian Mental Health Association of North and West Vancouver and the San Francisco Mental Health Association. I will be running 42km and advocating, educating and supporting those struggling with mental health and addiction, in honor of my mom.

As we all know Yoga is one of the most therapeutic practices one can embody and practice, as it not only focuses on the discipline of the mind, body and spirit, but it also harnesses the power to go inward and process our greatest strengths and fears. When I travel and RUN FOR A CAUSE I always make it a priority to find a local Yoga studio to rest my weary limbs, and the San Francisco Marathon has managed to combine Yoga & Athletics beautifully.

“Karma Yoga, means giving back and investing in one community” Lululemon knows this mantra well and as part of the extensive Runner’s Expo, Lululemon’s Ambassadors & Runner Specialists will be in full force teaching classes all weekend long for all the runners. And classes are even open to the public!

The runner superhero side of my personality finds solitude in every event expo, as I am able to meet participants from all across the globe, who flock to the expo to seek out community, network, pick up any last minute racing finds and prepare for race day. Combining this energetic frequency with the vibration of a balanced Yoga practice (under the same “serene” roof) is a recipe for perfection leading up to any event.

Lululemon has always been at the top of their game, combining Yoga with organic innovation, towards an authentic space from which they can harness the power of balance and sport. More racing events are seeing the advantage of combining the runners asana practice for the body, and the necessary mindful asana of the mental discipline found in Yoga, which mimics the “runners high” we feel when we stride effortlessly on race day.

The Runner’s Expo classes Lululemon provides, along with their ambassadors create a space from which we can set an intention, visualize our outcome and prepare our body, mind and spirit for race day. Tomorrow I will run the San Francisco Marathon with my BIB displaying “RUN4MOM” and I have Lululemon Athletica San Fran to thank for “Namaste-ing” me into action! More importantly, they are filled with runners, like me, who are so incredibly excited for game day, the ambiance was more then inspirational.

Make sure to stop by the two locations on Grant Avenue and Union Street.

My review – Refreshingly awesome, and ready for the marathon!

SOURCES:

RUN FOR A CAUSE: www.sarahmjamieson.wordpress.com

San Francisco Marathon  Expo & Lululemon Athletica: http://www.thesfmarathon.com/

Lululemon Grant Avenue: http://www.lululemon.com/sanfrancisco/unionsquare

Lululemon Cow Hallow: http://www.lululemon.com/sanfrancisco/cowhollow

Will Blunderfield

In Vancouver, we are blessed to have access to countless amazing yoga teachers!  I would like to write about one such teacher, Will!  My friend Tracey took Will’s class a month ago and  ever since she has been telling me that I must take his class.  Finally, I went.  I am left wondering why I haven’t heard of Will sooner?

I see Will before the class and he is wearing a bandana and eyeliner.  I could tell that this was not going to be your “typical” yoga class.  What is a typical yoga class?  That is another story.  Will starts the class as soon as he walks in.  “Inhale, Exhale,” with an audible sigh.  “Let it all go.”  The sighs get louder as we repeat this a few more times.

During the class, Will gets “personal.”  He tells us about his journey into striving to be his authentic self.  You can tell he genuinely likes to teach.  He exudes love and acceptance.  Here are some Will “isms.”  “Shine your light.  If others think your light is too bright, tell them to wear sunglasses.”  “Don’t judge me, but love me.  When you judge others, there is no room to love yourself.”

Will finishes class by singing an amazing rendition of Hallelujah.  Talk about taking Savasana to a whole new level.  I left class feeling detoxed and good about myself.  That might have something to do with having to look into my eyes in the mirror and chant “I am good enough, I am enough, etc?”

If you are looking for a class that is inspirational, uplifting and fun (there was some butt shaking involved).  Try Will’s hot hour at West Coast Hot Yoga in Yaletown.  It’s a judgment free zone that will allow you to express your fabulous self!

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

A Reality of Gratitude

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In yoga, we are reminded by our teachers to take a moment each day to be grateful for all we have. We sit on our mats, eyes closed, and give recognition to how lucky we are. In class, relaxed and clear headed, this gratitude seems easy to find. But each day, outside of our yoga kula, this gratitude is often buried by life and its many happenings.

I recently visited Bali, Indonesia. A getaway I’ve dreamed of for years to make my surfing fantasies a reality. I pictured crystal clear ocean, white sandy beaches surrounded by colourful hibiscus and a peaceful tranquility. Everyone I’d met who visited the tiny island has a love story they attach to it. And I wanted mine.

From the moment I stepped outside the airport and onto a nearby street to catch a taxi, my mental image of Bali vanished as the reality took over. Traffic like I’ve never seen, four person families speeding along the road’s shoulder with no helmets in sight. Rows of run down shacks and empty lots of debris lined the streets.

I thought hopefully to myself, the beachside areas will be better. They were worse. Packs of locals trying to sell you anything from a flower petal to a paper fan chase us along the crowded walkway. Men in rickety boats constantly call to us for a “good price” island tour. Young children, shoeless and unaccompanied, reach for me to give them money, after all, in this part of the world we are rich. Millionaires to be exact.

As much as there is beauty in this very bustlingly popular place, I have never had my eyes opened quite like they were each day in Bali. I’ve never desired to come home after being away. I’m always upset on the last day of my vacations, dreading the routine life that awaited me. This time, for the first time, I looked forward to it. To the clean water, air, streets, and homes. To the opportunity, education, activities, and food. To the mundane job, routine weeks, orderly transportation, and safety.

It’s funny how we often go away to relieve ourselves from our realities only to learn that these realities are a blessing. My recent third world experience reminds me to take my gratitude with me outside the yoga world and keep it from being buried in my daily life.

CYCLE THIS! NOTHING SUPERFICIAL ABOUT THIS MYOFASCIAL LINE

In celebration of the Tour De France, the next myofascial meridian we will focus on is the Superficial Front Line (SFL); which functionally balances out the Superficial Back Line (SBL) in the sagittal (anterior-posterior) plane. *applause*

France is a bit far, but for those of you gearing up for local cycling spec events, listen up! Cycling requires strong quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, but, overusing these muscles without maintaining proper form can throw mechanics off balance and excessive wear on joints can occur.

As we know a common occurrence in medicine is to treat symptoms, and isolate the pain referral point, however, symptoms are not always where the problem begins but rather where they are being expressed, hence the need to prevent, rather then treat.

Road cyclists are susceptible to many overuse injuries. Most injuries usually occur at the hip or knee, with the forward posture of cycling we see many clients with rounded shoulders and unbalanced postural mechanics.

The solution is simple = prevention an take precautions by stretching your fascia.  To understand the structural functionality better, let’s look at the anatomy.  

The Superficial Front Line (SFL) runs on both the right and left sides of the body from the top of the foot to the skull including the shin, the quadriceps group, the rectus abdominis, sternal fascia  and sternocleidomastoideus muscle, connecting to the temporal bone. In terms of muscles and tensional forces, the SFL runs in two pieces – toes to pelvis, and pelvis to head, which function as one piece when the hip is extended, as in standing.

In the SFL, fast-twitch muscle fibers predominate and function in movement to flex the trunk and hips, to extend the knee, and to dorsiflex the foot. Chronic contraction of this line creates many postural pain patterns, pulling the front down and straining the back and neck, thus cyclists are more predisposed to structural breakdowns in this train.

In Yoga,  stretches are focused in backbends and sequenced stretching the front of the body – the SFL.  As with cycling specific muscle recruitment, two obvious muscle group to release are; the quadriceps group and hip flexors. This opens the front of the hip and helps to reduce anterior pelvic tilt, which aids in reducing lumbar lordosis. Other key muscles that can lack functional integrity are the neck, which is  important to release forward-head posture, as well as reducing stress to the SBL.  

The breathing and meditation techniques in yoga can turn your simple ride or intense workout into a moving meditation and can power up your cycling in many ways.

Take 10mins a day, get off the bike and hit the mat. Here are a few key anterior opening stretches and quintessential backbends to implement into your routine:

  • Warrior I and Kneeling Lunge – Virabhadrasana opens hips, hip flexors and abdomen
  • One legged King pigeon Pose Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – hip and SI joint opener
  • Fish Pose – Matsyasana – Opens the chest and throat/neck
  • Upward Facing Dog/ Cobra – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana  –   flexibility of the spine

 Happy Cycling!

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/

A REVIEW: HELPING YOU REACH YOUR PEAK WITH THREE PEAKS KINESIOLOGY

Fascial stretching in Yoga vs Facilitated Fasical Stretch Therapy…. Whats the diff? Well they both rock, but sometimes our body needs a little more hands on TLC!

Fascial stretching and building a strong, flexible and dynamic myofascial web is an integral part of optimal health and wellness. The physical and functional demands of everyday life, work or sports can take a toll on the body, leaving you feeling less energized and more prone to injury.

Over the course of the last month we have started to unlock the benefits and understanding of fascial stretching in a Yoga class format, as an integrated approach, combining spinal mobility and fascial meridian lines with traditional Yin Yoga practices.

We know that Myofascial restrictions arise due to high amounts of pressure exerted on the bones, nerves, blood vessels and muscles which result in headaches, limited mobility, pain and disease., but what about those times when a class just isn’t enough? Perhaps you have a nagging injury or need a quick tune up? If so then you may wish to implement a one on one facilitated fascial stretch therapy session into your routine!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to have my very first Fascial Stretch Therapy session with Paul Turner, a renowned Kinesiologist and founder/owner of  Three Peaks Kinesiology (3pk), the premier facility for myo-fascial stretch therapy in Canada, located in Langley, as well as Vancouver.

Having suffered a dislocated rib a few days before the session and gearing up for the Scotiabank Half Marathon on Sunday, I needed a miracle.  My body was in need of rapid improvement and I had a 2 day window. Being a teacher of YogaFORM and fascial release techniques, I knew just fascial stretch yoga postures were not going to be enough.

One of the most significant distinguishing differences between fascial stretch in Yoga and facilitated one on one fascial stretch therapy was the methods a therapist can use in a one on one setting. Myofascial release is an effective hands-on technique that works in the form of sustained pressure into fascial restrictions to remove pain and result in unrestricted motion.

Hands-on therapy, traction techniques and massage enables the therapist to set the myofascial system back to it’s equilibrium, so you feel freedom from pain and are able to enjoy unrestricted motion of our body.

My experience was beyond amazing! When I walked into Paul Turner’s office, he assessed I had a dislocated rib, a compressed left femur and compressed left ankle; as well as a collapsed left arch (due to a weak lateral line and anterior meridian line). After an hour of blissful facilitated stretching.  I walked out with a new musculoskeletal body – no compression, fully mobile ankle joints and a reset rib cage! On Sunday at the Scotiabank Half marathon I started the race strong and pain free. It was indeed a miracle!

My review – you gotta try it! Private one on one fascial stretch therapy can give you rapid results from pain and restriction, and supports longevity and anti-aging ability and can effectively reduce painful muscle spasms that can restrict your movement; especially if you are an athlete.

Thank you Paul!

For more information on Paul Turner,  Three Peaks Kinesiology and on going courses, visit: http://www.3pk.ca/index.html

PET + POSE 2012 YOGA CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST

Calling on all yogis!  Last month I posted a “Yoga Teaser” on a national event, linking up yoga communities for a global cause. Well, the details are in!

The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary (LAS), an animal rescue group made up of three Canadian singer/writers (Melissa McClelland, Janine Stoll and Lisa Winn) are on a mission, to bring much needed awareness and support to our furry friends.

The LAS sole purpose is to help as many dogs, cats and other domesticated animals in need, and in celebration of the joy of yoga and the beautiful relationship we share with our pets, the LAS is looking YOU to submit a Pet + Pose Photo for their 2012 calendar.

Here is the challenge:

Take your best pic of YOU and YOUR Pet (or your neighbors) – we want to see a beloved pet in the photo with you. The more creative the better, they are looking for anything fun, playful, beautiful, poignant, peaceful… you name it. Anything that expresses your wonderful relationship to your yoga practice & your best furry pal.

The LAS will choose 12 winners from across Canada who will be featured in our 2012 calendar, which will be sold in yoga studios throughout our country. The Grand Prize winner will get the cover photo and all winners will receive a gift pack with yoga and pet related goodies. Alongside your photo will also be a short description of you, your photographer and your animal. The best part of this whole project is that all proceeds from the sales of the calendar will go to helping animals in need.

To enter, please send the following to [email protected]

  • 1-3 photos, ideally 8×12”, 300 dpi (jpeg or pdf)
  • A quick description of yourself, your pose, your pet + your photographer friend (max. 200 words).

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: AUGUST 31, 2011.

So Get Your Best Downdog, Updog, Cat Pose or Pigeon Asana On!

Check out thier facebook page for more details and connect with the Song Birds behind this great cause!

Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Pet + POse Yoga Photo Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218722811484946&ref=ts!

Namaste & Good Luck!

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!

Vancouver Yoga Riot 2011!

In the aftermath of the unimaginable events last week, and the showcase of love for our city and our community the following day, make sure you check out the latest event; Vancouver Yoga Riot 2011!

“Join together as a community to heal and rekindle the beautiful energy of our city using the powerful practice of yoga.”
With a variety of teachers expected, make sure you check out the Vancouver Yoga Riot 2011 details are as follows;

Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
~
Dorothy Thompson

RUN’YIN TO YOGA: A GREAT WAY TO TAPER

In celebration of Vancouver’s upcoming running events; proper running mechanics and prevention of injury are key elements to any runner’s success. Last week we identified fascial elasticity in Yin Yoga, and the benefits aligned with the Spiral Line Meridian (one of many fascial anatomy trains).

Today we look at how Yin Yoga can be a great addition to your taper for an upcoming race. Common lower limb mechanical injuries associated with distance running (to name a few) are  ITB syndrome, knee pain, shin splints and plantar fascitis, which can usually be attributed to  a breakdown in the structural framework of a fascial meridian, most injuries are not muscular in origin.

The Spiral Line myofascial meridian is somewhat more complicated than the other fascial trains, as it forms distinct spirals of deep myofascial connections looping around the legs and torso.  This is a complex fascial meridian and has functional implications.

Focusing specifically on the lower limb mechanics and to jog your Yoga brain from last week; the spiral loop starts at the anterior hip (ASIS), which then follows the TFL muscle and ITB, connecting to the tibialis anterior (shin)  just below the lateral knee to its insertion on the base of the 1st metatarsal. Then continues up the peroneus longus (outer lower leg), to the insertion of the biceps femoris (lateral hamstring) that attaches on the head of the fibula.  It then follows the biceps femoris to its origin on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bone). 

Repetitive load bearing movements; like running can breakdown our fascia and interconnected neuro web, thus placing stress on the entire meridian line; associated joints and muscles. This can cause minor, sometimes major imbalances, that can go undetected until acute pain or discomfort manifests (ie. muscle pain, strain or tears). 

 The result?  A reduction in performance, agility, speed, endurance and power execution, to name a few.

The best way to prevent injuries from even occurring is to invest in fascial stretching and therapeutic movements used in the Yin Yoga style.  Leading up to any race or event your 1-2 week taper period should include at least 2 Yin classes to reinforce fascial elasticity and improve mobility and flexibility within the joints.

 If you are gearing up for the Scotiabank half marathon & 5km next weekend,  try out this sequence for taper bliss:

  1. Start with 3-4 mins of soft tissue work: foam rolling the mid back, glutes, ITB, quads and hamstrings.
  2. Always begin with T-spine mobility (improve upper running mechanics)
  3. Kneeling Lunge (hip flexor/psoas stretch)
  4. Dancers Hamstring Stretch  (toes pointed to stretch shin)
  5. Pigeon Pose (to stretch glutes and SI joint.  Add in thread the needle for rotational mobility).

 RUN. YIN. REPEAT.

Sources: To learn more about fascial elasticity visit YogaFORM at http://yogaform.wordpress.com/

Silence is Golden

No matter where you are.

Vancouver is a wonderful city– beautiful and exciting. It feels small enough to be comfortable but big enough to always be interesting on a Friday night. And the yoga! What an amazing group of studios and teachers. There is really something for everyone here.

Unless what you need in your yoga practice is silence.

I have always been loud. I love raucous music in my classes– two of my favourite teachers at Semperviva Carolyn Anne and Reno rock fabulous tunes in their classes. I love to flow to music, linking posture, breathe, and tunes. I am an avid talker and singer and relish being in the midst of it. But recently I have been craving silence. I want to be able to feel the silence, wrap it around myself and sit with it. Give myself the space to get still and be, contact the silence that is inside me. I have never felt like I could actually be quiet within myself until now.

The search for silence in the city is an undertaking. I have always appreciated yoga studios where people are encouraged to socialize with other students, but sometimes I want a quiet room, a peaceful space. But you can’t have it both ways.

I guess this is where retreats come in for the urban yogi. We can leave the city for a little rural silence, maybe even some darkness or the odd star. Because the truth is, I’m really craving it (silence–what else?). It’s starting to make me irritable– which is silly, because the whole point of wanting to be somewhere quiet is to find my own inner stillness.

So the quest for silence continues… another leg of my yoga journey.

Source: maheenzakaria.blogspot.com

Indecision…

I have been on the fence lately– about everything.

I’m making some changes in my life and it seems that the moment I change one thing, everything else is up for grabs too. I’m thinking about the life that I want to live, and realizing that everything is on the table. What is really important? Not what I think.

Indecision is about balance. It’s not always clear what choice leads to balance. My tried and true way is to go with my heart. Choose the option that makes my heart beat faster. But tonight, the ramifications of going in that direction seem extensive. Striking the balance between what feels best for me and what’s really best for me is daunting.

So I’m indecisive.

And that’s fine. It’s like the moment in a Yin yoga pose when you can’t bear the sensation, but you keep breathing and then your body opens up, like a sigh. It’s that moment– my teacher Cam calls it joyful discomfort. There is such freedom in that place.

Source: softwarebyrob.com

I’m meditating on my indecision. Getting still and breathing, quieting my mind even as it races. Staying with the joyful discomfort of not knowing how to find balance, confident that I will find the opening I need. Using this indecision as a reminder of how free I am.

Really, it’s a gift to be indecisive.

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