Yogis

21 Beautiful Benefits of Yoga

There are many positive and wonderful benefits that we can gain from the practice of yoga. On a physical level, yoga cleanses and strengthens the body. However, these physical benefits are simply a side effect of this powerful practice. Yoga also harmonizes the mind and body making them work in sync. When this happens this opens up the opportunity for us to attain what we thought were unattainable feats. We are so often unable to perform optimally due to stress, confusion, negative emotions, self-doubt and other conflicts of the mind. Yoga can help to correct this.

Here are just some of the tangible benefits that can be achieved through the practice of yoga.

Yoga can help to…

  1. relieve anxiety, depression and stress
  2. increase self-confidence
  3. improve your mood
  4. alleviate anger and hostility
  5. improve concentration and motivation
  6. improve memory
  7. improve reactions times
  8. improve metabolism
  9. improve posture
  10. improve your sleep
  11. improve balance
  12. prevent migraines
  13. delay aging by stimulating detoxification
  14. relieve constipation
  15. alleviate allergy symptoms
  16. reduce blood pressure and pulse rate
  17. help prevent disease by massaging internal organs
  18. help improve your immune system
  19. heal the body and prevent injuries
  20. make you more flexible and strong
  21. enhance a sense of awareness, overall consciousness and gradually lead us toward self-realization

What have you experienced?

Spring Cleaning With Yoga

I can feel spring in the air, which means I’m restless and full of energy. What does this mean for me as a yogini? This year it means letting go of all the junk that has built up over the winter. It’s not just dust in my apartment– as we all know. Junk builds up everywhere; in my body, my mind and my heart. Each day as it warms up I go back to my mat to open myself up and clear myself out. Getting into those stuck places with breath.

I’m spring cleaning with yoga this year.

Spring is about rebirth, but that means many things. Spring is an opportunity to change up my yoga practice and experiment with new styles of yoga and postures that have seemed challenging in the past. This year I want to use the energy that spring offers to try new things and let go of old habits of mind.

This is a bit scary, too. Trying new things also holds the possibility of failure. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us to let go of the fruits of our actions, because only the actions matter. For me this means really going for it and becoming comfortable with failure, both in my yoga practice and in my life.

So I’m working on Pincha Mayurasana (forearm balance). Every time I go upside down I learn something new about failure as I fall out. But I also learn about letting go– letting go of my expectations and fear of failure. One day (maybe soon, maybe not) I’ll stay up there.

It’s okay if it takes a while because falling out is part of my spring cleaning.

Jail Crow: Yoga for Inmates

You might have recently read the thought-provoking article on Elephant Journal, Do Prisoners Deserve Yoga?, featuring striking pictures of inmates practising yoga in jail by Robert Sturman. There is something incredibly fascinating in seeing those heavily tattooed men perform yoga poses gracefully, with this sense of restored dignity.

If you did read it and you’re teaching yoga, you might have also asked yourself if you would be prepared to embark on this kind of project. Before reading the article, I had wondered if yoga was taught in prisons and how deeply it affected this different breed of yogis; the ones to whom freedom has a whole different meaning.

Bakasana (crow) (c) Robert Sturman

Michael Stone – who I’m quoting abundantly lately, as I feel he gave us food for thought for the year ahead –  envisages what prisons would be like if run like monasteries. Inmates would learn how to meditate and grow their own food. Meditation, he suggested, would help solving one of the major issues in jails: noise.

In the US, an initiative called the Prison Yoga Project, created 8 years ago, brings yoga and meditation to prisons and rehabilitation facilities. Also, the Prison Yoga Project organises a teacher training – in Austin, New York and San Francisco – aimed at working with incarcerated communities.

The testimonial page could at first sight read like any other endorsements to the benefits of yoga. These inmate letters, however, are written with an eloquence and filled with a poignant humanity that our conditioned minds wouldn’t easily associate with the prison environment. They describe the journeys of transformation and the confidence in a better life to come in unique voices:

‘With the barrage of negativity in prisons, they are unyielding breeding grounds for intense suffering, chaos, noise, overcrowding, violence, ineffective medical care and poor food. But occasionally, every so often, friendship, kindness, compassion and programs of meaningful substance come along. The Yoga program is a life-sustaining and meaningful one that I nurture and value because it is not only positive, it supports my growth and success as a young man. Yoga helps me navigate my life as a good and successful person. This practice is life-changing and will continue to enhance my life.’ – K.L.

”For those of us sentenced to a life term, time is inexorable. We are challenged to draw vitality and meaning from our circumstances. Yoga has helped me to understand that it is in quietness and stillness that time becomes an ally not a foe. It is in stillness that I realize the things that are important and those things that really do not matter.” – S.L.

Closer to home, the charity Freeing the Human Spirit based in Toronto is an organisation who teaches yoga to inmates as well as prison staff in Ontario, and also trains teachers willing to volunteer.

If you too are interested in taking part, you might want to contact Yoga Outreach in Vancouver, as they have several programs for teaching in correctional facilities and addiction centres.

Also, if you want to see more of the wonderful photographs by Robert Sturman, do visit his Facebook page and have a look at his various series on yogis behind bars:

5 Excuses to Skip Yoga And 5 Reasons to Do It Anyways!

Although most of the time I have a lot of motivation I find myself sometimes lacking the discipline that could so nicely compliment it. This lack of discipline can lead me into a lot of trouble, but I’m working out ways to really listen to my body as to when it’s best to simply rest and when I should muster up both the motivation (and discipline) to persevere. As we know, if we want to really reap the benefits of yoga, we have to consistently practice and keep our focus.

1. I’m tired. This is probably the biggest excuse and the most frequently used (and probably the most valid given that a lot of us work a full-time job. Yoga a mere compliment to everything else we do). But, there are ways to get past fatigue. One of those ways is to get moving. Taking a few minutes for sun salutations to simply warm the body up could be all it takes to re-energize and prepare for a full practice (5 Sun Salute A’s and 5 Sun Salute B’s and a nice 5 minute Savasana could do the trick). Another way is restorative poses. Staying in a few restorative poses for 5-10 minutes can help to restore some lost energy (supported backbend for savasana, and a personal fave, supported legs up the wall pose). There are times when it’s best to refrain from practice all together (some refrain during their period, a new moon, full moon or sickness). Given these times, it’s most important to listen to your body and to do what’s best for it. And, let us not forget about meditation! We don’t always need a yoga practice to meditate!

2. I ate too much. This one has sabotage written all over it. You pretty much know when your class time is and if you have a home self-practice, well then, you have no excuse really as you can wait until your belly is ready. If you aren’t eating during the day because your life is too busy, then it’s probably a really good time to bring some balance (and nourishment) back in so as to not miss a class that can be so good for someone who is so busy (and possibly frazzled).

3. I don’t want to leave the house. For whatever reason, we all feel like we want to be hermit (or feeling shy) from time to time. In those instances, and if you don’t have a home self-practice, there are A LOT of great teachers who offer online classes. And, not that the online classes should replace the real thing (as we could miss out on great adjustments, the connectivity, etc), but sometimes online classes are exactly what we need when we don’t feel like going anywhere or perhaps when the weather isn’t great for driving, walking or cycling.

4. Oh I’m a little sore. Perhaps we’ve done a bit too much of this or that that has left us a little bit sore. Well, yoga is just the thing for sore muscles (of course listening to your body in order to not over do it). Yoga helps to relax tight muscles and helps to remove lactic acid build up (the stuff that makes muscles sore). Yoga can actually help the body recover faster from whatever other training sessions we endure.

5. I’m feeling depressed. There’s nothing that can’t turn that frown upside down like some yoga can. Yoga has been proven to help elevate mood and help with temporary phases of depression. Some of my favorite postures for when I’m feeling blue include, all-levels backbends (upward bow pose, bridge pose, camel pose and upward facing dog). Sometimes a good Vinyasa or a sweaty Ashtanga class can also help get you back in the swing of things.

What are your experiences, excuses, and reasons to keep going?

Photo credit: http://www.iyogalife.com/.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

It’s no secret—especially here—that dedication to yoga leads to mental and physical health.  Beauty on the inside leads to beauty on the outside, and not just during your 20s.

“My students call yoga a natural face-list,” says Larry Paye, PhD, a yoga director at Loyola Marymount University.  “It cleanses, relaxes, and restores.”

Why Yoga Makes You Younger

Although exercise in general promotes good health, over-exercise is a prime cause of debilitated skeletal structures later in life.  Because yoga is gentle yet appropriately strenuous, it promotes strength in addition to flexibility, balance, and perhaps most importantly improved circulation—at any age.  Blood circulation tightens muscles and tissues, thereby reducing the slackness of skin.

People Who’ve Reaped the Benefits

Many are catching on to these anti-aging benefits of yoga, especially with the recent spotlight shed on former model and actress and currently 92-year old Tao Porchon-Lynch, who’s taught yoga for over 40 years across the globe.  Doctors told her that her total hip replacement at age 84 would rob her of most of her previous flexibility.

“I’m very stubborn about it,” she confesses with a mischievous smile.  “When people say it can’t be done, I have to do it.”  See one of several videos of her on YouTube from a few years back.

Yoga is not the only manifestation of her unquenchable thirst for life.  “I love to waltz.  I love to jitter-bug.  I like to do samba. . . .  All the crazy ones.”

Berlin’s Swami Yogananda is another testament to yoga’s anti-aging benefits.  At 100 years old, Yogananda wears no glasses or contact lenses, is missing no teeth, and has been practicing Sukshma Vyayam since 1948.

Reap the Benefits Now

We can only hope to live so long with such fine spirit and health, but yoga sure can’t hurt our chances, right?  Even sequences as simple as sun or moon salutations paired with appropriate breathing techniques will tilt the odds in your favor.  Do them at least three times a week if not every day.

Add variety to the basic sun salutation by incorporating some of the following poses for the best anti-aging benefits, as advised by Prevention Magazine:

  • Warrior II
  • Warrior II and Side Angle
  • Tree
  • Sphinx
  • Child’s Pose
  • Seated Twist
  • Inverted L or Shoulderstand
  • Savasana

Author Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she’s been researching College Grants and blogging about new scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3.

Quaint Kerrisdale

Last Wednesday, the 16th, I realized how bloody spoiled I’ve been. I started my yoga adventures at YYoga and did a tour through Semperviva as well. Their spaces are quite large with white-washed walls, cushy lounge areas, change rooms, and other amenities. I knew of smaller studios, but never had the time to really seek them out. I go to YYoga because of the familiarity (with the space and the people) and its proximity to where I do my business around town.

During the reading break of last week I was able to book an excursion to Kerrisdale Yoga. Unfortunately, I was only able to hit 2 of the initially planned 3 classes. Don’t let that dampen your mood though, because (for my part) it was a blast through and through. Situated between 45th and 46th on East Boulevard, the studio was a small walk from where I dismounted the public limo on 41st. I would’ve driven if I knew parking was relatively easy to find, but that’s neither here not there.

The studio-front. Quite attractive if you ask me, as simplicity and cleanliness reigns.

Elisa Wakabayashi, owner of the studio, took me through Yoga with Spinning. It’s 30 minutes of cycling followed by 30 minutes of yoga, both of which are not ridiculously destructive. Actually, it was the calmest yet most effective spin class I’ve had in a while. You know, instead of the hardcore sprinting that leaves you crippled the next day sorta deal. Elisa taught both parts of the class, being a personal trainer as well, and then laid out the studio for me.

She noted that a small independent studio is great in that there aren’t many “big deals,” in that the world won’t end if someone forgets something. After the hustle and bustle of YYoga, I could see clearly what she meant as the studio has a laissez-faire quality as there isn’t corporate pressure or strict codes of conduct. I’m not saying that there’s a lack of professionalism or anything, but the air is very different. At YYoga I find people tend to quickly zip about, where at Kerrisdale there’s a bit of meandering and lingering.

The all-important yoga room, which can comfortably fit about 10 people I believe.

As one can imagine, the class sizes are relatively small. Yoga with Spinning totaled 4 people excluding Elisa, and the Kundalini class was 6. It’s a far cry from the average 15-20 yogis I’m used to, but there’s something nice about a bit more intimacy. Instead of feeling the energy of a myriad of other yogis, with only 4 people it’s easier to notice your own and really tap into your comfort zones.

The yoga and spin rooms are not sealed off from one another, with a gap between the ceiling and wall between them offering a better airflow. Though it also meant it was colder than what I was used to, the cool fresh air that cycled around the studio was very welcome. There’s also more natural light here as the windows facing the back for yoga and facing the back for spin are generously sized. My first go at Kundalini was also here, and I was supposed to try out Iyengar as well. I lament not being able to make that last class.

All the props and whatzits.

Tucked in the back are 7 cycles for some spinning.

And here be the video tour, guided by Elisa:

Yogis that live in Kerrisdale probably know of Elisa’s studio, and though I travel through and hang out in the neighbourhood often I didn’t know of the studio until I jumped on Twitter. Oh, the miracles of social tools. Elisa is a blast of an owner, being very relaxed and applies no pressure on her guests. From what I noticed inside and outside of classes she has a solid connection to those that practice with her. Small groups tend to notice and remember the schedules and tendencies of their compatriots, and the community/family feelings is quite evident.

It’s a very nice space, in a great neighbourhood, and owned and staffed by fantastic people.

Instructor Review: Jack Black as a Vancouver Yogi?

Instructor Review: Jack Black as a Vancouver Yogi?

Okay, I know the title of this post is a bit alarming… Jack Black as a yogi? In Vancouver? Jack Black as a yogi, period, seems an odd enough thought, right?

So, okay…here’s where I’m coming from on this one.

This morning, Taya and I attended a class at Semperviva’s newest location — 4th Ave and Yew — and the class was instructed by Dan Lindsay. It was our first time taking a class from Dan and, truth be told, our first class in a while. We’ve both been so wrapped up in our lives, that yoga has sort slipped off of the regular schedule. But today we changed that and, now that I’m back in town for a while, we’re making the effort to get back into the yogi groove. Yet, today, as Taya and I limbered up, freeing our muscles from too many days without yoga and flowing with Dan’s very well planned class, I couldn’t help smiling for a completely different reason. Sure I felt free and happy to be in that moment, as one should be in any yoga class…but my mind was also drifting off somewhere else…to Jack Black.

I couldn’t help but thinking (and internally giggling a little at this thought) that Dan reminded me of Jack Black…if Jack Black were to become a yogi, that is! Dan’s hair is a bit lighter, he’s surely fitter, and he wasn’t cracking zany jokes…but the basic similarity in overall build, hair length and facial features were definitely there. More than anything though, it’s the voice that got me. As Dan expertly guided us through the hour’s many moves and flows, I really couldn’t stop thinking about how much his deep voice and strong articulations were so much like those of Jack Black (and reminiscent of Jack’s character meticulously instructing his students during “School of Rock.”) Yes…if Jack black were to go healthy, lighten his hair a bit, pull it back in a yogi-tail and strike a warrior pose, you’d be looking at Dan!

Believe me, I know. It’s more than a bit crazy of me to be thinking of Jack Black while doing yoga! But I’ve always been one to attach people’s voices and overall looks to celebrities. People are always reminding me of one celebrity or another. It’s sorta my thing. So, of course, this is all just my crazy opinion… You may not agree. So, you’ll have to attend one of Dan’s classes and decide!

Dan’s classes are a great blend of hatha stretches and flow with some yin stretches thrown in at the end. I felt very gradually limbered up and invigorated from the class! Jack Black references aside, I highly recommend attending one of Dan Lindsay’s classes! He’d probably make my Top 10 list of favorite instructors in Vancouver, in fact! So, go check out his class when you get a chance (and leave a comment below with YOUR thoughts on it)!


PS — You’ll note on Dan’s Semperviva bio that he is a very musical guy, having loved music his whole life, and going so far as to say  “I always seem to have my own internal soundtrack playing in my mind as I move through life.”  So is Jack Black. (And this comment actually sort of reminded me of Jack Black’s character as a soundtrack writer in “The Holiday”!) Maybe I’m not so crazy after all…?

Online Yoga Class Review

For the times when we can’t make it to our weekly yoga class, there’s always the online alternative. I thought I’d capture and provide a few words to some of the online classes I’ve come across. Here goes!

Yoga Today – search, stream or download yoga classes!

There are three teachers featured on Yoga Today: Adi, Neesha and Sarah. They each offer various yoga styles, levels and focus. Classes range from Ashtanga, Anusara, Kundalini, Hatha blend and Vinyasa and provide for the novice to the more advanced guru. The website has over 200 one-hour video courses all shot in beautiful backgrounds and settings (mostly outdoors in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA). Each class has typically two students, along with the teacher, so it’s great to see adjustments and the different variations they offer based on ability. At the end of the class, you can rate and provide feedback – you can also check out what others have written. I’ve tried classes with each of these teachers and there’s no doubt about their expertise! I’m a fan! You can choose to download individual classes or purchase a membership. Annual unlimited membership is 89.95 USD. The site offers a weekly free class! www.yogatoday.com

Yoga Download – also a search, stream or download!

Yoga Download offers a pretty huge range of yoga classes in addition to various levels. Yoga classes range from Forest, Office, Prenatal, Hot, Restorative and Vinyasa yoga (and much, much more – some I didn’t even know existed!) to also offering Pranayama classes. You can choose between 20, 30, 45 and 60-minute audio or video classes. In addition, each class offers a downloadable pose guide. The site has around 28 yoga teachers. The site also offers music by chosen music artists and yoga products. Each class is typically set up with information regarding to style, theme (ie weight loss), intensity, props and a rating. You can preview a class even if you are not a member! Annual unlimited membership is 89.95 USD. The site offers 20-minute audio and video classes for free. www.yogadownload.com

Yogaglo – stream on your computer or HD TV!

Yogaglo offers a range of yoga styles and teachers from Anusara, Hatha, Restorative, Basics, Yin, Pre and Post Natal and Vinyasa. They also offer meditation classes, tutorials, lectures and workshops. Levels start at one and climb to three. In addition, they offer a choice for class duration starting from five minutes to 225 minutes. There are over 800 yoga classes to choose from and a choice to stream from your computer or HD TV. You can get a sneak peak of the yoga classes as well as comments from online students. There is also a beginner 7-class series for chosen yoga styles. Monthly membership is 18 USD. The site offers a 15-day free trial! www.yogaglo.com

Would love to hear your experiences and any online classes you’ve checked out!

We’re All In This Together

Michael Stone came to Semperviva last weekend and brought with him a whirlwind of very inspiring thoughts. For all of us who attended the workshop, he wanted to plant seeds of change.

On Friday evening, he presented his latest title Yoga For A World Out Of Balance, which I haven’t read yet, but will review as soon as I do. Also, once I’ve read it I might be in a better position to make sense of all the wisdom he has so generously imparted this weekend, those who were there know what I’m talking about!

I’ve been to my share of book signings in my professional life, but this was the first one that started with a seated meditation, instead of a traditional glass of sparkling wine.

[source: Semperviva.com]

Afterwards, we were all relaxed and ready to be utterly captivated, and so Michael Stone discussed a vast array of ideas for a better world that really resonated with his audience.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes sit in front of the computer, a documentary, a book, or a newspaper and anger and sadness rise. All these tales of greed, injustice, corruption, cruelty and pollution come into our daily lives and we sometimes can’t help feeling powerless.

We could turn off the media and ignore this constant flow of bad news, but as Michael Stone pointed out this would be a rather nihilistic approach. Instead as yogis, we should draw our attention to them and convert our intentions, our yamas, into actions.

He explained how everything is connected and that karma is causality, so all of our acts matter. So we could put our living-room anger to a good use and help out around us by being more mindful and compassionate and maybe take it a bit further all the time. We could try and broaden our neighbourhood, i.e. our field of action. Michael Stone quoted one of his mentors: ‘choose battles small enough to win but big enough to matter.’

He added that as yogis we are part of a community, even if sometimes, practising in a studio can feel rather anonymous. Belonging to a community can help us grow, maintain good ethics, and maybe help restore a bit of balance in the world.

We can all be a bit shy, but why not befriend with your yoga mates a bit more? We are all in this together, so let’s get to know each other!

Also, I know that after the workshop, some people discussed plans to create communities with the help of Michael Stone, so feel free to post details in the comment section!

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?’

Yogalutions!

All of a sudden the holidays have appeared out of nowhere, I have spent the last week thinking that we still had time, but alas there are only mere days left. Not only with the holiday season and the hustle & bustle, but we also have the daunting task of creating our New Year’s Resolutions as 2011 is right on our doorstep.

One trick I have heard from many people and one that I now practice myself is to write down these resolutions or goals, it seems to make them more doable. Not sure what to resolve for 2011? Here are some ideas;

Bob Clyatt’s Scorpion Pose; http://www.clyattsculpture.com/yoga.html

  • Develop a regular yoga or meditation practice, perhaps you only make it once a week or four times a week, whatever your practice is, stick with it, or maybe even bump it up, perhaps you want to add a 2nd class to your week or even a fifth.
  • Go deeper into your practice, perhaps a pose that you want to play with for 2011, master or even perfect…things like headstand, handstand, scorpion, side crow…
  • Sign up for the yoga teacher training program you always dreamed about or take a yoga retreat vacation
  • Set goals for the rest of your life; work, family, health, happiness!
  • Take your dream vacation or at least plan it!
  • Practice Santosha, Contentment or Satisfaction, being content with your actions and with what one has, what one is, where one is, and with what one has done or what one is doing.

If you take a peak across the web there are lots of handy tools to help make your new year’s resolutions actually come true. Here are a  couple;

” Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than be the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

‘Hi, I’m New In Town!’

I seem to have said this a lot recently. My boyfriend and I left our jobs, flat and friends in London and we moved to Vancouver a month ago to start a new life.

Downtown from Jericho Beach

I worked in publishing back in Europe but I’ve decided to make the most out of this change of continent and follow my yoga path further by taking the teacher training. I had heard that Vancouver is possibly the best place where I could train. Now, from first hand experience, I’m entirely convinced: it has so much to offer to yogis.

In less than 3 weeks, I have attended 12 classes, with 9 different teachers, in 5 styles. This has been incredibly exciting. Everyday I study class schedules and I’m often overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches.

In London, in my nearby leisure center, I had a limited choice of 3 fantastic teachers, one little studio and 4 classes a week. Suddenly here, I have plenty of marvellous teachers, different styles and big studios to choose from, and I feel like a spoilt child in a candy shop.

At Yyoga, I’ve opened my heart in Anila’s Anusara class, and rejuvenated fully with Mike’s restorative yoga. In Semperviva’s studios, I had a great Flow session with Alli, I found strength in a chilled atmosphere in Reno’s Power class, and practised deep awareness in Bernie’s wonderful Yin and Hatha classes.

So far, it has been a truly wonderful experience, and I’ve learnt more in three weeks than I would ever have dreamt, on yoga, on the mind, on my body and on myself.

Also, I’ve felt so warmly welcomed by teachers and students that somehow I feel a bit more at home here already.

Any other new yogis in town? I’d love to share first impressions!

4-Minute Yoga At Your Desk

If your job requires you to work at a desk for long periods of time, then you might find your back getting stiff throughout the day.

Here is an excellent video by world-renowned yoga instructor, and Gaiam Yoga Club developer, Rodney Yee.

(We were fortunate to take a class from Rodney and his wife, Colleen Saidman, at last year’s Yoga Conference in Vancouver.)

Try the following routine for some instant upper and lower back loosening.

What tips do you have for keeping your body moving at your desk-job?

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