Yogis

Give Up Lifting Weights For Yoga? Yogi Adam Levine Did!

Rocker and devout yoga practitioner Sting, has a predecessor: Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine (and perhaps Robbie Williams!). One of the current judges on The Voice, Adam has given up pumping iron at the gym and has instead devoted his health to yoga:

How’d you wind up at yoga?
A year and a half ago, my trainer recommended I try working with Alanna to help with my flexibility issues. I’m naturally very tight in lower back and my hips and hamstrings too. My first class felt like someone was ripping my body apart. It wasn’t what you’d call peaceful. But I was excited by the idea that the more dedicated I became the more effortless it would become to relax and give in to that tightness. Yes, the torture subsided a bit over time.

How did your body change?
Physically I have always been on the slender side. When I started practicing I instantly felt more sculpted. Yoga carves you into a different person—and that is satisfying physically.

Did it change how you work out?
I had been lifting weights for years. After our first yoga session, I vowed never to lift another weight again.

Do you believe in the mind-body connection?
I was skeptical, to say the least. I was wary of the cliche´s associated with yoga: spirituality used as a marketing tool or Eastern philosophy sold at Starbucks to disenchanted lawyers and accountants looking for meaning. What I soon realized is that yoga welcomes everyone—that’s extremely appealing.

How do you maintain your practice on tour?
Being a traveler, yoga is by far the most convenient way to exercise while I’m on the road. You don’t need anything but a few feet of space and a mat. And I can always find at least an hour a day to practice. 

(Levine made videos with his teacher to take on the road with him.)

What is your advice to people who think they are too inflexible to do yoga?
Start simple. Yoga will drastically improve you in every way imaginable. But let’s face it, I only practice yoga because the classes are always packed with beautiful women. (I am totally kidding.)

The Elephant Journal has some more risque photos if you’re interested, click here. What about you – do you practice yoga exclusively, or do you like to add weight lifting to your fitness routine?

THE YOGI ATHLETE: FASCIAL ELASTICITY & YIN YOGA

Fasical elasticity and sequencing in Yin Yoga, to prevent athletic injuries? You said what now?!

The practice of Yin can be an instrumental benefit to our fascial trains and fascial net. Yin Yoga is designed to deeply relax and renew the connective tissue of the human body.

But what is connective tissue… and what is fascial elasticity or the fascial net?

Fascia (as a whole) forms the biological container and is the fundamental connector for every organ; including muscles and connective tissues (plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, iliotibial band, thoracolumbar, etc). The fascial trains and net in particular, acts as a single connected unity in which the muscles and bones float, along with smaller connectors where the organs literally hang and co-mingle.

If we take it one step further, and include the neuro myofascial net, which also includes; the blood and blood cells, and other elements not part of the structural cellular “net.” Perhaps the closest term we could introduce all of these elements would be the extra-cellular matrix (ECM), which includes everything in your body that isn’t just cellular; including fibers (collegen weaves), collodial gels or the “glue” that holds and supoprts movement within the connective tissue and lastly water; which surrounds and permiates the cells.

And down the rabbit hole we go… lets bring it back to the benefits of Yin and prevention of injury.

Benefits of a Yin Yoga practice can be immense, especially for students who are also runners or athletes. For example, runners who train fascial fitness and employ fascical elasticity more often (quick whole body movments) will be using less muscle power during their runs, as they ultimatley store more energy in the stretch and then attain it back during the release. Thus, they will be able to run longer with less fatigue.

Therefore including sequenced postures that promote fascial elasticity and resetting the integrity of the trains, post run or training; most teachers and students alike will find these key areas significantly improved on and off the mat:

  • restoring natural bio mechanics settings for posture and function
  • prevention of asymmetries in the body, but addressing small indicators
  • easing the long-term consequences from injury and preventing new ones
  • extending functional movement for longevity

Herein lies, the “Yin” to that Yang, a great Yin practice can balance out the stress of training to prevent injuries and breakdowns. When we reset and maintain elasticity in our body, we move more freely.

Will Blunderfield Empowers Students With “Glee Yoga”

Vancouver yoga instructor and musician, Will Blunderfield, is an empowering and uplifting teacher! Blunderfield teaches what he likes to call “Glee Yoga” (a nod to the hit TV series), which mixes rock ‘n roll and musical theatre with traditional yoga poses. Tamsyn Burgmann, from The Canadian Press, describes a class of Will’s that she attended:

It’s a glistening 40 C in the yoga studio where three rows of students sitting cross-legged on mats wait patiently, hands at heart in prayer.

“Let’s begin by singing three times the bonjo-vi chant,” says the instructor, “followed by ‘Om.'”

We prepare with a deep, cleansing breath.

“Whooah, we’re halfway there,” he belts out, surprising newcomers to the drop-in class. “Whooah-oh! Livin’ on a prayer.”

Yay Jovi! 🙂 You can read the full article here.

Courage To Fall

blogs.forbes.com

In a conversation with my pal Jennifer before class started last night, she filled me in on some changes she is making in her life. Risks she’s decided to take because the saying, you never know until you try, deems to be true (funny how clichés tend to be true). Yet, making a big change, or trying something foreign or different often brings a sense of fear along with it.

For instance, I find myself going to lengths of comparing pros and cons before I make a big decision that will bring change to my life. I’m unsure if the idea for change sparks from a right feeling or desire, or the need for a challenge. So I weigh all the thoughts surrounding the risk for change and take my time before making a final verdict. Then I stop and ask, who cares?! Why do the things we lean towards need to be justified if they feel right?

Last week in a Vinyasa Power Flow class, I took several risks. My shoulders and arms violently quivered as I attempted four arm stand and side crow over and over again. I pushed myself because it felt right. I was determined that my body could manage. I knew the worst that could happen was I’d fall, and I did. Flat out like a pancake I just splattered onto my mat. My body, at that point had enough. But instead of harping on my decision to take this risk with my body, I laughed. Falling is actually kind of fun. Instead of beating myself up over failing to do the pose, I gave myself credit for trying and making progress.

Why is risk taking in yoga, when if done improperly could result in injury, so carefree? So unruffled? We will inevitably fall out of the pose, but we hold our dignity while we do it. We know that after falling, we’re merely right back to where we started and nothing less.

This notion is so simple in our yoga Kula, yet so hard in our outside community. How do we incorporate the courage to fall into our daily lives?

To quote the risk taking Jennifer, I’ll always have what I have now, so if this change doesn’t work out, I’ll be right back here. And here, the now, isn’t such a bad place to end up.

How do you bring your yoga mentality into your daily life?

YOGA. BELOVED PETS. SONG BIRDS UNITE! A 2012 CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST

HOT OFF THE PRESS: An opportunity for yoga teachers and students to get involved in something revolutionary AND play with their pets?! You bet!

Three songbirds of renowned talent and compassion; Melissa McClelland, Janine Stoll and  Lisa Winn founded Ladybird Animal Sanctuary, a multi-tiered safe haven for abandoned animals, a means of advocating for our furry friends, and a call to action in our communities Canada wide to help reduce the extraordinary number of cats and dogs euthanized each year.

Social Change meets Yoga once again; and Ladybird Sanctuary is pioneering a great marriage of sorts, by combining our devotion to Yoga and the devotion to our beloved pets to help animals everywhere! 

Leveraging their talent as musicians, songwriters and singers; they have co-created the Yoga Calendar 2012 project; which is generating a huge blissful buzz amongst Canada’s Yoga community!

Ladybird is currently calling for submissions across Canada; photos that capture and convey the playful, poignant, relationships we have with our pets and our yoga practice. Take a photo of your best downward or upward facing dog, cats flow, pigeon pose or any other pose displaying you and your lovely pet and you could win a spot in their 2012 calendar and be featured on their website!

Proceeds from the 2012 Yoga Calendar will go towards a safe haven/ rescue adoption space for animals to help take the load off local shelters bursting at the seams, as well as therapeutic programs for animals, community outreach programs and workshops on important topics; such as spaying and neutering your pet.

 If you don’t have a pet, but advocate for the protection of our furry friends you can still take part! Full spectrum of contest guidelines can be found by visiting their website or Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ladybirdanimalsanctuary  or by simply emailing [email protected] on how to get involved!

 What a great way to combine Yoga, your beloved furball and social change for the betterment of all creatures big and small!

Sources:

Ladybirds Animal Sanctuary: http://ladybirdanimalsanctuary.com/

Melissa McClelland:http://www.melissamcclelland.com/

Is Yoga Better On The West Coast?

Is Yoga Better On The West Coast?

It is no secret that Vancouver, especially Kitsilano is yoga heaven. The birthplace of  Lululemon has studios on every block, filled with highly experienced teachers and master teachers from around the world. My Vancouver friends are often surprised to learn that the other coast, particularly Halifax,  also has a booming yoga scene. With a large population of  buddhists and a long history of a deep connection to the land and it’s resources, the yogi lifestyle is a natural fit for many Hailgonians.

For a relatively small city, over 400,000 compared to Vancouver’s 2.2 million, there are a plethora of studios with well trained teachers in a variety of different styles.  It is clear that yoga is on the rise here as there are more studios popping up annually. Yoga is getting so big here, that the Halifax Regional School Board has made it an elective in high school, Yoga 11. As a result, many school teachers are becoming certified yoga teachers to help facilitate this program.

While Halifax does not have the line up of  yoga “rock stars” that Vancouver does, they do have their share of workshops with master teachers such as Michael Stone, Coeli Marsh, Ryan Leier, Hart Lazer, Nischala Joy Devi and David Swenson coming later this year!

If you do ever find yourself in Nova Scotia, check out some of my favorite studios:

All Yoga– Located in Dartmouth is a very inviting studio that has something for everyone!

Halifax Yoga– Offers many styles including Baptiste Flow!

The Yoga Shala– Traditional Ashtanga from highly trained teachers!

108 Yoga– All levels

If you are ever here I would love to see you at one of my classes, www.jessicahamiltonyoga.ca!

Yoga Teacher Telesummit

Have you heard about the 2011 Yoga Teacher Telesummit?

If you haven’t, you don’t want to miss out. It’s completely free and a great way to connect to a variety of yoga teachers from Mark Whitwell, Sadie Nardini, Rolf Gates and many many more.

”Telesummit is designed to motivate, inspire, and educate yoga teachers and dedicated students from all over the planet; to connect and share and inquire; to provide tools for teachers, studio owners, and other yoga-related entrepreneurs to become more authentic and more sustainable, to broaden their reach and focus their attention on what really matters; to create a dialogue between many different styles, traditions, and schools of Yoga to find our common ground, the shared pscyho-spiritual ‘trunk’ that roots the yogic tree into the cosmic ground of our being.”

You can register for FREE on their website at; http://www.yogateachertelesummit.com and view the daily call schedule. They will send you email reminders about the upcoming call with login information, but don’t worry if you can’t make the time, all the call are recorded and available for download.

What an amazing opportunity to hear some fantastic teachers share their insights, without having the cost of attending a weekend workshop. Don’t miss out calls with Mark Whitwell and Susanana Harwood Rubin have already happened.

Yoga A-holes Unite

Define Yoga A-hole you may say? If you read Lia Aprile’s April 19th article with the Elephant Journal, How to Tell if You’re a Yoga A-hole, you may find yourself in many of her descriptions. I know I did and I hate to say it Vancouver, but yoga a-holes are all over this city.

My definition of a yoga a-hole is a self proclaimed yogi who doesn’t actually live up to the true yogi lifestyle . We open with om, stay present with our Kula, maintain gratitude throughout our classes, smile, breathe, sigh. But the moment we step off that mat, we leave our yogic mentality at the door. Rushing to leave the studio, pushing our way through the doors, we don’t smile, our breathing quickens, and we begin to create mental lists of all the things we have and want to do.

In class, we preach we don’t need anything. We could go on living without ever getting any more than we currently have and we’d be fine. Completely fine. But in reality, want and need become interchangeable. We strive to gain. Push our limits. Try and taint fate. And all the things we claim to believe during our practice mean nothing in our real lives.

We talk about being present and gracious. We write about it, share our stories with family and friends, recommend it to those who will benefit from it– but do we live it as we preach it? I know I don’t.

I cannot list the amount of times I have told someone he or she should go to yoga. It will help you stay present, focus on what’s truly important, teach you how to breathe, make you feel better about yourself and your body, place you in deep relaxation…as if I’m more enlightened than them because I practice this in the studio. This make me an a-hole. We must practice this in our daily lives to have the  benefits come to light.

How do we turn off our brains as we do in class and listen to our hearts? How do we carry the skill from our lessons  into the world? I don’t know about you, but I feel I’m in need of a good ass kicking to banish the yoga a-hole from my being and actually practice what I preach.

PLAY. BUILD. REACH. LEARN! How do you practice sustainability in the real world?

Ideas Worth Spreading.  Riveting Talks By Remarkable People, Free The World!

Does this sound familiar? If you guessed Ted.com, then Namaste to you!

Over the course of the last decade through the art and science of Yoga I have sought out Dharana (inner conceptualization and compassionate awareness). Through the service to others and much like Yoga intends – found a place of union with something larger then myself; which we know to be the basic fundamentals of the yamas and niyamas of Yoga teachings. Yet, it is no easy task as the landscape of the global revolution changes daily.

At a cross roads I continually find myself asking, how do we practice sustainability in real life?  Today I ask all those who embody the Yoga way to take their practice off the mat and consider this opportunity…

Imagine for one moment, if we could harness that potential as kids? Imagine for one moment the potential if we START with our kids? And lastly, imagine for one moment we could return and re connect with that child-like potential as adults?

It takes a community to raise a village, therefore empowering kids’ means they don’t even have to be your own! We live in a generation where; yoga, get your green on and sustainability are part of our evolutionary process, WE are passing these teachings onto the next generation! Humanity’s framework is always under construction.

This is what [email protected] is preparing to achieve on Sept 17 2011.  Vancouver will host the conference’s first home. [email protected] is a platform for facilitating opportunities to empower kids and support authentic learning. A gathering of remarkable people with young hearts will aim to share their captivating stories borne from genuine curiosity and bold ideas. Much like Ted.com conference, except with the color and vibrancy of play, build, reach and learn and as adults, I say we embrace our inner kids!

In a recent Ted.com video with Jacqueline Norvogratz, called “Living a Life of Immersion,” she coined this closing statement, and I ask each of you to meditate on it for a moment during your next Dharana practice…

Robert Kennedy once said, “few of us have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and it is in the total of all those acts that the history of this generation will be written.”

If you know a speaker, nominate them! If you have a story to tell please apply @[email protected] Story telling, this is one way we create sustainability in the real world!

Sources:

Ted.com: www.ted.com

[email protected]: www.tedxkidsbc.com/

KARMA YOGA: DO YOGA, DO GOOD

Yoga for Social Change! 

Karma (meaning to do or action) Yoga (meaning union):  in its simplest meaning literally translates to selfless service, the discipline of action or the union through action; which ultimately brings us closer to dharma.

A growing trend in the West, Karma Classes have been gaining momentum at a steady Vinyasa. More importantly, karma classes are finding their own place amongst social change makers and the Sports Philanthropy Movement; harnessing the Ying to the Yang in the therapeutic sense. This movement is designed to engage industry leaders and professional teachers in a dialogue about the value of sports/therapeutic philanthropy and aims to connect them with social change tools and causes that best fit their passions, recognizing their efforts to inspire others.

About a month ago I posted an article on Yoga & Activism, and karma class, my Yogic friends is the vehicle from which the compassionate-asana is driven! Karma classes also allows for a unique space, where the energy from inside a class is solely dedicated to a greater purpose!

From a business perspective the Yoga Industry can leverage their business in a socially responsible manner and showcase great grassroots initiatives/causes that can have a deep impact towards sustainable, positive change; both locally and internationally. More over; foster social change from a place of hope, opportunity and positive prana on a larger scale.

You can find a karma class at almost any Yoga studio these days, but if you are looking for a larger unified front, this has recently come across my radar and I felt compelled to share…

“Why stretch when you can reach?”  – The Engage Network

…is their tagline. Founded by Sean Crone, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling” Off the Mat, Into the World ® (OTM),” is a non-profit program of The Engage Network, and is dedicated to bridging yoga and activism and is geared towards communities around the world who collaborate for social change. Understanding the idea that we are stronger and more powerful together then we are apart, making a difference starts from the foundation, our roots.

As Yoga teachers and advocates for compassion, a karma class is an incredible tool in our toolkit to bring awanress to social change and connection to our global community!

Sources:

 The Engage Network: http://www.offthematintotheworld.org/community.html

 Charter for Compassion: http://charterforcompassion.org/site/

 SAVE THE DATE: Camp Moomba Yogathon & Blissfest, July 24th Vancouver BC.

Oh Lordy, Yoga For Forty Part 2

I felt muscles in my legs I didn’t even know existed. I felt more ribs move with every twist. More pressure in my fingers with every downward dog. More strain in my Achilles tendons as I tried to perfect my Warrior one. I had to stop going to my weekly Kundalini practice to ensure I could maintain my strength for upcoming classes. My basement suite became dustier, laundry grew higher, bus rides seemed longer, and sleep time felt shorter.

As tough as it is to dedicate your body to practicing every day, it is even tougher to dedicate your time.

Was it awful to give up other routines and dedicate my spare time to yoga? Not at all. It was a challenge, but I grew to like it. My daily practice became what I looked forward to during each work day. Knowing I had a welcoming, comfortable, and relaxing place to be in a few hours made the dull days shorter.

That tired, restless feeling most of us get after a poor night’s sleep and an even poorer day on the job was eliminated during my daily practice. It energized me rather than drained. I spent less time wasted on watching mindless TV or checking email and more time being productive. My time was better spent because it became more crucial. Don’t get me wrong, I began to miss staring at the Food Network, but I put more effort into taking care of myself instead.

I enrolled in the course I never got around to registering for, I completed four cover letters for job applications I was procrastinating on, and I got myself into bed earlier and in turn, was able to wake up feeling more rested, despite that I could always keep sleeping.

Time became more precious, which I soon learned may be the point of this whole challenge. A focus on time, the now, and gratitude for the precious time we have.

But how about those precious physical changes? You know, the ones to our muscular frame. As much as I didn’t think it was going to happen, it did.

To be continued…

Mindfulness And Me (3 Tips)

I’m thinking about walking the talk more. As I work towards being mindful in my yoga practice, I’m exploring how to be more mindful in my life. It doesn’t make any sense to be committed to being conscious and thoughtful on my mat and then float through the rest of my day on auto pilot. So I’m going to take my mindfulness practice off the mat…

How? you ask.

I have some thoughts:

1. Turn off my laptop more. Can I do this and keep my identity? Probably. It may be hard, but I bet I could do it if I made more of an effort (“I am not my mind, I am not my mind, I am not my mind”).

Less time reading the New York Times online would probably be good for me.

2. Slow down. Looking out the window is not necessarily a waste of time.

3. Pay more attention to food and drink. I need to remind myself that eating is sacred, not something I do for entertainment, and it’s not just fuel. My heart loves to enjoy and savour food, but sometimes I forget.

So in May I am going to start living my yoga off the mat one mindful moment at a time…

(source: www.mindfulconstruct.com)

Oh Lordy, Yoga For Forty – Part 1

smokefreewisconsin.blogspot.com

“Oh no, there is no way I can do that,” I respond to my best friend Brenna, the yoga teacher, when she asks me to do Semperviva’s Forty Day Challenge with her.

She looks at me calmly and replies, “why not?”.

The excuses flowed faster than a Vinyasa Power Flow class. “Well, I’m taking that night class and I have lots of homework. My weekends are tied up enough as it is. I won’t have time to cook dinners. My body can’t handle it – you know, I’ve had that sore hip for months. I don’t have a car anymore. I’m trying to find a new job right now. And I’m not good enough at yoga to do it that much.”

“Ok then,” she says unbothered, “I’m going to do it.”

In reality, if anyone doesn’t have time to do this yoga challenge, it’s Brenna with her schedule of volunteering, yoga teaching and training, overtime working, and wedding planning to name a few. Her question of “why not?” stuck with me the whole rest of the night. It’s called a challenge for a reason.

But why forty days? I asked. It seemed like an eternity. Semperviva’s website (www.semperviva.com) states, Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. Knowing full well that I could use something to break the repetitive question to myself: “What am I doing with my life?” I chose to try and sustain my mind from all the foreseen opportunities within my future and focus more on the now. Something I do well temporarily, but making it last is a recurring problem.

I started off strong. The first week of March 13-20, with momentum and positivity, I counted every class with pride. A few friends and I were in it together and created a routine support network.

Slowly after week 2, fourteen straight days of yoga, I began to feel the benefits of practicing every day, but these weren’t felt without pain. Strong, rooted stiffness which I took as good pain, but pain nonetheless.

To be continued…

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