Vancouver’s Smiling Yogi Laughter Club

Have you heard about laughter yoga and laughter clubs? Laughter Yoga is a series of playful, interactive exercises designed to stimulate laughter. It provides an opportunity for adults to be playful and to explore and express joy. And a Laughter Club is a non-profit group that practices Laughter Yoga on a weekly basis. Laughter Clubs are run on a drop-in, by donation basis and are intended to fulfill the mission of the Laughter Yoga Movement: “Joy, Health, and World Peace through Laughter.”

Vancouver’s most popular Laughter Club is the Smiling Yogi Laughter Club!

WHEN: Sundays 3-4pm

WHERE: OPEN DOOR YOGA — 1111 Commercial Drive (near Veneables) *enter from back alley

COST: $5 suggested donation

FYI: No need for any special clothing, or yoga mat. Just bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and your biggest smile!

MORE INFO: For a full listing of Laughter Clubs in Metro Vancouver, visit: laughteryoga.ca. For additional information about the Smiling Yogi Laughter Club, contact Farah.

Raincoast Cookies Are Fit For Vancouver Yogis

We attended a media event with EatingInVancouver last night at the lovely home of Lesley Stowe. You’re probably all familiar with her über popular Raincoast Crisps, but she has just launched a new product – Raincoast Cookies!

Yes, just as healthy and tasty as her crisps, I have to say, these cookies are delicious! Why are they fit for Vancouver yogis? Well, these nutritious products were born, raised, and made in Vancouver – the city where Lesley still calls home. “More than a cookie”, they are the perfect post-yoga class refuel. Packed with all natural ingredients like flax, chia seeds, and chicory root, these filling cookies are made without artificial ingredients or preservatives. Offered in three flavours: Dark Chocolate, Tart Cherry & Pecan (my favourite), Apricot, Ginger & Slivered Almond, and Dried Cranberry & Toasted Hazelnut, they no not contain eggs, or dairy products, so they’re ideal for all the awesome vegan yogis out there. We’ll have a full review up at EatingInVancouver, but in the mean time visit the website lesleystowe.com for further information.

Yoga Stew

It’s that time of year again…hearty comfort food time! Here’s an excellent recipe for a “yoga stew” – a Moroccan-inspired vegetarian dish that includes big chunks of butternut squash and red potatoes; it’s packed with nutrition and will keep you full and satisfied. Tips: Substitute butter for oil and omit the plain yogurt to make this meal vegan. Serve over brown rice or quinoa (in lieu of white rice) for additional protein. Enjoy!

Click here to read the yoga stew recipe.

Hang With Angels

Hang With Angels

Looking for some new yoga music?  I haven’t been able to stop listening to Masood Ali Khan’s Yoga Sessions CD, Hang With Angels.  One of the most beautiful yoga CD’s on the planet.  He has combined angelic voices with the powerful, reverberating sound of the hang.  You must experience this CD the next time you are doing yoga, meditating or simply relaxing.  It will transport you with healing vibrations.  It is now available on Itunes.

Namaste.

Fibromyalgia & Fascia: Their Common Ancestory

Fibromyalgia and the Fasical Link

There are several theories about why Fibromyalgia occurs and the best approach for treatment. Significant evidence exists for central sensitization in fibromyalgia, however the cause of this process in fibromyalgia-and how it relates to other known abnormalities in fibromyalgia-remains unclear for the most part.

Many beleive that fascia and  fibromyalgia have a common thread in dysfunction due to various common symptoms and how pain “feels” viscerally.

We know that the fascia system is the body’s protective barrier , the connective tissue and the primal web that supports responses like “fight or flight”. Therefore, when stress is high, our immune system ends up running on auto pilot and/or we when we experience trauma in our lives, its no wonder our central nervous system can switch  into permanent “fight or flight” mode and our body ultimately begins to suffer because of it.

Fascia is like a web that surrounds the bones, tissues, organs, and blood vessels throughout the body , from scalp to toes, head to feet. When the body has a heightened sense of immanent danger or risk of further stress,  we constantly try to protect ourselves from further stress; therefore, its no wonder we don’t feel well, we don’t  digest food as well, we experience a disruption in our sleep patterns ,we experience extremely tense muscles, have a hard time concentrating , and much more.  We are distracted from optimal wellness and the feeling of equilibrium .

Recently, I have been looking at the similarities in myofascial pain syndrom (MPS) and certain autoimmune “dis-orders” or “dis-eases” as the medical community likes to classify, like fibromyaligia.  Symptoms of MPS and fibromyalgia are very similar, making it difficult for medical professionals to properly diagnose many people.

So what are the common signs? The most common sign of myofascial pain is the presence of palpable trigger points in your muscles and around trigger points. Trigger points are areas of extreme tenderness and sensitivity, and usually form in bands of muscle underneath your skin. They are similar to the tender points caused by fibromyalgia. Often, pain is felt in an area distinct
from the trigger point that is actually affected – this is called referred pain. As we have observed before,  bio mechanical breakdowns are much the same. The referral pain or trigger point is usually not the cause of the actual injury – it’s just the breaking point where energy is locked and tends to break down.

So what does this pain feel like? The pain of myofascial syndrome is typically a dull ache,  but can also produce a visceral reaction of throbbing, stabbing, or burning sensation around a given area. Inflammation and dysfunction of the fascia may lead to understanding the common threads found in fibromyalgia, and how we approach treatment. Expanding our knowledge in this area could significantly expand treatment options to include manual therapies directed at the fascia such as massage therapy, fascial stretch therapy, rolfing, foam rolling and transformational biomechanics.

Chris Frederick,  the Director of sports and orthopedic rehabilitation at the Stretch to Win Center™, and CEO of The Stretch To Win Institute for Fascial Stretch Therapy™ Training” explains “t’s best to find a Functional Medicine/Naturopath who treats a lot of patients with this problem so that you become part of a team of professionals that helps your client. In my experience, this has resulted in dramatic improvement such that the client can tolerate stretching & other exercise much more.”

Over the course of the few weeks we will look at different options for helping combat myofascial pain and the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Sources: Chris Frederick: Stretch to Win Institute  http://www.stretchtowin.com

What Is Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga refers to actions designed to remove obstructions involving body and mind. Kriya Yoga covers a wide range of techniques, including mantras and meditative techniques for control of the life-force (prana), bringing calmness and control of both body and mind.

Paramahansa Yogananda founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920 to make available these universal teachings of this sacred spiritual science originating millenniums ago in India. Kriya Yoga teaches the laws of general conduct (yama and niyama), including harmlessness, truthfulness, non-stealing, etc. Kriya Yoga promotes the study of metaphysical principles, physical and mental health, cleanliness and purity. The ultimate goal of Kriya Yoga is to unite with pure Awareness (God/ Universe/ Higher Power).

Gearing Up For The Vancouver Yoga Conference

Source: www.theyogaconference.com/vancouver2011

The Yoga Conference and Show is coming to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre from Nov 4-6! That’s coming up soon! There will be a huge number of interesting booths, as well as a number of celebrated teachers to take classes from. It’s going to be an exciting weekend!

For a $15 show ticket, you can attend the 3 day show and have access to 39 Garden Yoga Classes, as well as 120 exhibitors.  To attend the more in-depth classes and workshops, class costs range from $46-198, depending on the class hours, etc. There are 36 internationally renowned faculty teaching 130 workshops!

A full listing of classes, teachers and other information is available online here. Sign up soon for this great weekend!

Interested in volunteering? Volunteer positions available too! Applications are available on the conference website.

Teachers and presenters to check out (see detailed bios here):

  • Padma
  • Teresa Campbell and Chris Brandt
  • Shannon Cluff
  • Michelle  Cormack
  • Seane  Corn
  • Jason  Crandell
  • Mike Dennison
  • Nischala Devi
  • Sat  Dharam Kaur
  • Maria Garre
  • Ted Grand
  • Susi  Hately
  • Leslie  Kaminoff
  • Devinder  Kaur
  • Martin Kirk
  • Mark  Laham
  • Blake  Martin
  • Djuna  Mascall
  • Kelly  McGonigal, PhD
  • Theresa  Murphy
  • Michael Stone
  • Brad Waites

YYoga Membership 15% Off Sale!

YYoga’s annual 15% Off Sale is coming soon! For one week only — October 17 – 24th — enjoy 15% off their 3, 6 & 12 month full pay memberships.

With a YYoga membership you receive unlimited access to all classes and use of our detoxifying infrared saunas. After practice you can enjoy all of our center amenities like showers and tea lounges. Members also receive 10% off retail, 15% off first wellness treatments and exclusive offers and incentives from YYoga friends and partners through the membership benefits program.

Never experienced YYoga before and want to see what these awesome studios are all about? Try their $35 two week introductory pass (which can be used at any of their six centres) to get started. Choose from a variety of classes and styles and discover what works best for you.

To take advantage of their annual 15% off sale, visit a YYoga location or purchase online starting October 17th, 2011 (mark it on your calendars!). For prices and further information, visit their website: YYoga.ca.

[source: yyoga.ca]

Bikram Yoga Cambie

Bikram Yoga Cambie

I must admit.  I am a little biased.  I have been a Bikram yoga teacher for the past 7 years.  I first started practicing at Bikram Yoga Cambie many years ago.  Naturally, I was very excited when the doors to the new Cambie studio opened on Sunday.

I have taken 2 classes there now.  I have to say…the heat is perfect!   Even though it can get really steamy in the room, you never feel like you don’t have enough air.  They have a state of the art heat/oxygen exchange system. The bonus, there are 6 showers for women.  No more big line ups after class waiting for the shower.

Go check it out for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.  Located in City Square Mall on the corner of Cambie and 12th.  You get free parking for 2 hours.  If you need more time, you can go purchase some fruit after class and get an extra hour for free.

Namaste.

Bikram Yoga Cambie
City Square Mall
#22 – 555 West 12th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
www.bikramyogavancouver.com

The West’s First Yoga Master Of India

Paramahansa Yogananda was the first yoga master of India to take up permanent residence in the West. Born and raised in 1893 in Gorakhpur, he arrived in America in 1920, and proceeded to travel throughout the United States, filling large halls, on what he coined his “spiritual campaigns.”

He founded Self-Realization Fellowship (the first center was located in Boston, MA) to disseminate worldwide his teachings on India’s ancient science and philosophy of Yoga and its time-honored tradition of meditation.

Yogananda’s spiritual legacy has had a lasting impact on Western culture. His Autobiography of a Yogi, first published in 1946, helped launch a spiritual revolution in the West. It has since been translated into multiple languages, and remains one of the best-selling spiritual classics to date.

Yogananda continued to lecture and write until to his passing in 1952. To read more about Paramahansa Yogananda’s biography, visit the site here.

THE RADICAL ROAD OF A SPIRIT JUNKIE

to heal is to make happy. Spirit is in a state of grace forever. Your reality is only spirit. Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.’ ~ A Course in Miracles

 

On Monday night I was joined with many friends and like minded powerful women as we sat and listened to Gabrielle Bernstein tell her personal journey on her North American book tour, “Spirit Junkie.” An event held at the Planetarium and hosted by Conscious Divas, a local company that holds “Dive Date Nights” and events that empower young women to follow their dreams share and tell stories of life, success and well… everything! And as always, the universe seems to unfold when it is needed most.

Touted as a role model for Gen-Y women, Gabby’s writing sets a vibe that draws you in with a down-to-earth tone and she speaks to you almost like a loving sister imparting wisdom for inner peace and joy.

So, how does a New York City publicist and party girl turn into an urban go to guide and inspirational guru for the next generation?

Part memoir and part guide, In her new book, Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles, Gabby shares her personal story of how she transformed her life, offering her spiritual journey as a guidebook for overcoming fear, changing perceptions, and creating a life you’re psyched to wake up for. She has traded self-doubt and addiction for a new kind of high and In 2005 she became a student of A Course in Miracles.

Spirit Junkie is Gabby’s second book of brilliance, “Add more ~ing to your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness was her first, and since then she has been guided to teach those spiritual principles to the next generation of seekers. Spirit Junkie is her personal story that acts to instruct us all on how to “expect miracles” in our own lives, and to Be the Change, by Be-“ing” the Love throughout our own lives.

One of the topics Gabby spoke of most was her delight in dropping the “f” bomb – FEAR. The most important lesson is that we have a choice to live in fear or love. When we make the decision to project our fears onto the world, fear is what we will experience, its that simple. When we begin to shift those fear-based perceptions to love, then miracles occur and we start to make changes that affect the rest of our lie decisions.

I highly recommend this book, as well as checking out her numerous online websites that give you the opportunity to download meditations, inspirational vlogs and of course connect with other hip and fab women co-mingling in what Gabby calls – Power Posse’s!

Gabby Bernstein ~ http://gabbyb.tv/

Her Future ~ http://www.herfuture.com/

Conscious Divas ~ http://www.consciousdivas.com/

Look Up Yoga DVD Series For Kids

Look Up Yoga DVD Series For Kids

Certified yoga instructor, Susie Lopez, strives to enhance the lives of inner-city students across New York City through Bent on Learning. The organization goes into public schools and teaches students how to reduce stress, increase concentration, boost their self-esteem, and improve their overall health. Bent on Learning, which caters to students from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, also offers teachers simple workshops which teach them how to incorporate simple yoga techniques into to their curriculum.

From her success with Bent On Learning with public school children, Susie Lopez, has created the Look Up Yoga DVD series for all youths, anywhere in the world, to use in their homes. Look Up gives kids a fresh way to get moving, learning, and growing, both emotionally and physically, in a fun and entertaining way.

Susie just launched her website www.lookupyoga.com were you can watch a trailer of her Look Up DVD, and it will soon be available on iTunes. For more information about Susie and her endeavors, visit www.bentonlearning.org, and www.fiveforkids.org – which helps children foster healthy relationships with food and empowers them to make positive choices.

Emily Millen

You’re looking to feel like a marshmallow, you say? Perfect, read on!

Emily Millen happens to be one of those people that perplexes me. The first time she wafted into the room I didn’t believe that she was always so soft-spoken and ripple-free. After a year of taking her classes I’ve come to realize that I still have no idea. She could have a penchant to cuss up a storm when away from the studio for all I know. Hey, I know I do.

But I digress. I’ve only ever taken her power and hatha classes and I have to say both are the most consistently mellow practices I’ve experienced. Not that she’s predictable, but you’ll know what to expect unlike, say, Liv Hilde. However, Emily is as equally stable and strong as Liv and floats into inversions as if someone had her on puppet-strings. Seeing her perform these feats you’d be hard-pressed to imagine that she (if I remember correctly) tore her ACL some time ago along with some other knee parts.

Those injuries (fascia-types) can be long-term and extremely debilitating but she told the class one day that mended her injury through sound healing. She proceeded to demonstrate and got all of us to try it; humming the alphabet one letter at a time in different pitches and tones. I admit it was awkward though I can’t deny my back felt oddly loose and limber without actually moving. Oh, and that’s another thing about Emily’s influence; you may feel like you’re not doing much but she’s actually getting you to work every atom in your body. I wouldn’t say it’s effortless (since she’s putting her full effort into the class) but it’s a certain type of minimalism. There’s a cliche that everyone uses that fits here but I don’t feel like typing it.

Bright and beaming is what you’ll always get. (http://yyoga.ca/welcome/our-team/emily-millen/)

With that experience in mind, I practiced both sound healing and minimalism after my eye surgery (PRK) and again after tearing my hip flexor. I wonder how I would’ve handled those recovery periods if I hadn’t met her or the likes of Anila and Alex, two other teachers that remind you to just take it easy. The yoga community is very fortunate to have teachers that stretch the spectrum of pure power and complete softness, and the best ones teeter between the two. Emily is one of those teachers that can effortlessly switch from all-out to wind-down at the appropriate moments. I imagine her injury had a part to play in the  forgiving nature of her practice and how she can do so much while seemingly doing little.

Her power classes on Wednesday (both regular and upside downs) aren’t too strenuous and she normally doesn’t suggest insane postures if there are more than a few newcomers. She’ll put in a headstand in the upside down class as it’s relatively accessible and adventurous enough already. She’s conscious about how intimidating yoga can get and I’m sure it wouldn’t do to traumatize anyone. Her hatha class on Saturday evening is excellent for those looking to start up or veterans to go shake it out. I try my best to attend since it ends/starts any week on a fine note.

After my tearing my hip flexor the first class I went to was hers since I knew her experience could help. It was difficult to move my leg without using my hands, but she showed me all the variations I could do without compromising the tender integrity of my healing hip. That one class provided me with an enormous amount of flexibility and strength the next day, which is excellent because sitting motionless with an icepack on the hip only got me so far. That and I was getting batty from immobility.

The other nice part about her classes is that her way of speaking, her tone, can put one in a trance. More than once I’ve snapped back to my senses at the end of a savasana to realize that I don’t recall doing anything between the starting “aum” and hearing her ask us to sit up from savasana. That may be why her classes seems like a breeze; you’re not aware you’re doing anything at all. It’s difficult these days to come across people such as Emily; people that make you feel at ease without trying too hard to be funny or wax philosophical.

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