Enlighten Up!

Enlighten Up!

“A filmmaker is determined to prove that yoga can transform anyone. Her plan: select a subject, immerse him in yoga and follow him until he finds a practice that transforms him. Her subject: Nick Rosen a skeptical, 29 year-old journalist living in New York City. Before he can say OM, Nick finds himself twisted up like a pretzel surrounded by celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks and entrepreneurs. The more he investigates yoga the more contradictions he discovers, straying further from Kate’s plan. They circle the globe talking to mystics, gurus, mad men and saints searching for the true meaning of yoga, encountering things they never could have imagined. They don’t find the answers to their questions, they find much more.” (www.enlightenupthefilm.com)

Ode To Child’s Pose

yogaflavoredlife.com

We’ve all done it one way or another. Looked forward to the moment in a power class, in between vinyasas or after a long held side plank, that we can gently glide into the one and only, Child’s Pose or Balasana.

Sometimes we hold it longer or choose it over Downward Dog, just to get that wondrous lower back stretch a little deeper. Those hips opening a little wider. The thighs stretching, knees gently bending, head resting. Oh, it’s so good.

But at times, my ego gets in the way of my practice and I think my Child’s Pose tendencies just aren’t good enough. I’m spending too much time relaxing and not enough time challenging myself.

So lately, I haven’t been to many yoga classes, and instead I’ve been riding my bike to and from work. It’s an hour each way and definitely a challenge (for me at least). One thing I completely forgot about cycling is it’s pretty tough on one’s posture. I’m a little hunched forward and my neck is firmly held in the same position as I go over bumps and up and down hills.

I’ve been really  noticing the effects of cardio, which are great, but also the effects of not doing yoga. Unsure as to what stretch would help by upper spine and neck muscles, I went to my default before bed one night. Child’s Pose.

Amazing. Light stretching, deep breathing to really open up my ribs, arms reaching along the ground. I felt better after a few minutes.

I’ve heard several teachers call Child’s Pose one of the most important postures in yoga. So, I decided to explore it’s benefits as reinforcement (not that I need it) to sit back and embrace Balasana for all it’s worth.

I’ve found a nice explanation here: http://www.yogawiz.com/blog/yoga-benefits/yoga-for-child.html in an article called Child Pose Yoga: Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Tension And Fatigue

Here’s  an excerpt:

it helps to restore normalcy to your body’s circulation after performing the pose. Performing this pose is also beneficial for strengthening and toning the muscles in certain areas like the hips, ankles and thighs in particular… In addition to these benefits, the Child Pose also helps provide relief from certain types of back and neck pain.

So as much as our egos may want to throw us into something a little harder on the body, a little more physical, a little more active. There’s nothing quite like curling into that comfortable, beneficial ball with no worries and the ability to be completely present – just like a child.

An Afternoon with Thich Nhat Hanh

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to yesterday’s “Open Mind, Open Heart; Touching the Wonders of Now” talk at the Orpheum with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh {source: http://wkuplondon.wordpress.com/about/our-teacher-thich-nhat-hanh/}

Thich Nhat Hanh, who turns 85 in October, is one of the most respected Zen masters in the world. Also a poet and peace and humans rights activist he is the founder of several organizations, including Plum Village, and has spent his years working with refugees, political prisoners, hungry families throughout the Third World, veterans, and on meditation retreats. Author of over 85 titles of poems and prayers, Thay, as he is known by his students, practices “the art of mindful living” and wrapped up his week in Vancouver with a public talk at the Orpheum.

While I wasn’t able to attend the whole retreat that was held at UBC last week, it was an honour and a privilege to spend a few hours at the Orpheum yesterday afternoon. The afternoon included guided meditation and songs of prayer, along with his lecture that focused on the practices of mindfulness and being happy in the present moment, the here and now.

He explained that being mindful is being present in the here and now, and when we practice mindfulness we are always in the here and now. While the concepts he describes are so simple, so easy to understand we, I know I, struggle with remembering to be in the present moment, to let go of the past & not rush for the future but to enjoy everyday for what it is because “this is all there is.”

Today, I still find myself processing the day looking for the simple ways to bring mindfulness more readily into my daily life, but was left with the overwhelming feeling of content, content in my here and now. If you did not have a chance to hear him speak yesterday or attend the retreat last week, here is a clip on Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings;

Thich Nhat Hanh

Yoga Photo Of The Day: Leaving Hornby Island

Our good friend Krystle’s zen moment in Sukhāsana leaving British Columbia’s beautiful and serene Hornby Island. Ommmmmm… Today’s yoga photo of the day was captured by designer, producer, DJ, and photographer extraordinaire, Davin Greenwell.

Send us your perfect zen moment in time to [email protected] and you could be featured as Vancouver Yoga Review’s “Yoga Photo Of The Day”!

BREATHE DEEP FOR INSPIRATION

“Two poles of a battery between which energy flows – in this way bandhas conduct breath through the body. Working against the force of gravity and achieving lightness; a union between the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms.” – Unknown

Last week well known Strength and Conditioning Coach Carmen Bott  CEO of Human Motion Strength & Conditioning (and friend – shameless plug),  asked an amazing question to her fellow friends and team:

 “Connective tissue then, in its various shapes and consistencies, forms a continuous net throughout the entire body. It contains many specialized structures, but it is really one piece, from scalp to soles, from skin to marrow. – Deane Juhan.

So then, how do we isolate the pelvic floor?”  – Carmen Bott

My extension of this question seeks to explore the answer as it relates to Yoga and the connection between the abdominal diaphragms (the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms), in addition to the activation of the mula bandha (in scientific terms the pelvic floor) through deep breathing techniques.

First let’s look at movement and posture for a moment and begin with the simple fact that “posture” comes from the Latin word placement – it is an action, much like sitting or standing. We are never truly placed in stillness, as we are always moving, shifting, balancing and adapting – even in the stillness of mediation and yoga. Therefore, as outlined in our on-going exploration of the interconnected fascial web – isolation is not plausible.

Secondly,  let’s recognize that the pelvic floor is not solely a muscle; its function is complex as it acts as a diaphragm and plays an integral role in breathing mechanics, but is commonly overlooked.  In actuality all three diaphragms pelvic, respiratory and vocal come together in yoga movements that are coordinated to facilitate the breathing cycle. Feeling how breathing works is a good way to realize the power of the diaphragms working  jointly, or sometimes working against one another, as seen in faulty mechanics.

Today’s article, we  are looking for reciprocity between the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms. When relaxed and in balanced acture, they face each other (like a beach ball) with a top and bottom. Understanding that we are always moving and our posture is constantly changing, the positioning of the shoulders-to-spine and spine-to-pelvis can vary; therefore  balance and reciprocity between these two diaphragms (like a slightly deflated or overly inflated beach ball) can be compromised. Balancing of the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms means an equal balance between 4 main muscle groups; which Tom Myers calls the four pillars.In easiest terms – a  constant balance of the back muscles, psoas complex, and the abdominals with breathing supported, ensures that the pelvic cavity is properly pressured.

In Yoga deep breathing techniques are used to bring about an awareness of the muscles associated with breathing, align proper intra abdominal pressure and calm the body into a state of stillness.

Of particular interest to Yoga practitioners is the action of mula bandha (pelvic floor) or as Carmen Bott’s question asked “So then, how do we isolate the pelvic floor?”

We already know isolation is not truly plausible, but through breath we can engage the pelvic floor and associated fascia– simply by initiating a lifting action produced in the pelvic floor muscles that also includes the lower fibers of the deep abdominal layers through breath.  Mula bandha is an action that moves apana upwards, and works to stabilize the central tendon of the diaphragm and fascial net.  Inhalation, while this bandha is active then requires a release of the attachments of the upper abdominal wall, which then permits the diaphragm to lift the base of the ribcage upwards establishing energetic dynamics of the pelvic girdle and aids to properly pressurize the pelvic cavity.

When relaxing the body in the more supported, horizontal, restorative practices and postures, it is important to remember to release the bandhas and constrictions that are associated with vertical postural support. This gives rise to zen-mode-relaxed breath work!

 Deep Breathing Yoga Exercises:

  • The Stimulating Breath /  Bellows Breath:  which aims to stimulate the pelvic floor/mula bandha and reflex actions of the diaphragm through quick exhalation)
  • The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise: (nurturing and calm meditative breath work to balance out the breath cycle)
  • Breath Counting: (designed to lengthen and strengthen the breath cycle through targeted breath counting)

All of these breathing exercises are adapted from various yogic breathing technique, all of which aim to raise vital energy and increase alertness, a clear state of mind and a physical stillness through movement and unify the abdomen through the respiatory and pelvic diaphragms – your organs will thank you for co-mingling support!

Sources:

Posture in Action, Anatomy Trains: Tom Myers (http://www.anatomytrains.com/)

Breathing Exercises: For a complete breakdown of breathing exercises link to Dr. Weil at   (www.drweil.com)

Carmen Bott, M.Sc, B.H.K,  CSCS: Founder & President of Human Motion Strength & Conditioning (http://www.humanmotion.ca/home.php) Blog: (http://www.carmenbott.com/blog2/)

How To Make Your Own Natural Sunscreen

If you’ve been practicing a lot of yoga outdoors recently, either on sandy beaches or on lush green fields, then you’ve been most likely layering on the sunscreen. The problem with store bought sunscreen is it can get expensive, and depending on the brand, its additives and chemicals could be unwanted ingredients soaking into your body’s largest organ.

The solution? Make your own natural sunblock! It’s cheap, easy to make, waterproof, high SPF, and you know exactly what ingredients (buy organic, if available) you’re slathering on your skin.

You will need:

– tea tree oil (or your favourite essential oil…almond oil’s good for calming itchy skin)

– coconut oil (soothes and conditions skin)

– zinc oxide (sunblocking agent)

– bee’s oil/ bee’s wax (waterproofing agent)

– empty can

– pot of boiling water

Watch the following video to see how’s it’s created:

Post Yoga Thirst Quenching Cucumber Water

On hot summer days, post yoga session, the last thing you want to consume is a sugary beverage. Even sports drinks like Gatorade, supposedly more thirst-quenching than water, leave you feeling like you got chemicals coming out of your pores. What you need is something über refreshing, not too flavourful or sweet, healthy, and quick to make: cucumber water!

What are the benefits?

Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidant nutrients that can help protect the skin from sun damage. Vitamin C boosts collagen and elastin, which helps keep skin looking vibrant while caffeic acid protects skin cells from UV radiation. Cucumbers also have natural anti-inflammatory properties and help to prevent water retention. Cukes also contain silica, an essential component of healthy connective tissue.

For a simple recipe, just combine sliced cucumber to a pitcher of water, add ice, and enjoy! Alternatively, for an augmented version, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Ingredients

8 ½ cups of water

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium lemon or lime, thinly sliced
12 small mint leaves

Let ingredients stand in a large pitcher for a few hours, or let flavors blend overnight for an intensified taste and aroma.

photo via healthesolutions.com

Lauren Roegele – Demonstrating Yoga’s Healing Benefits

Lauren Roegele is an Anusara-inspired teacher with a kind soul and a profound love for the healing benefits of yoga. I have taken a few of her classes before, but had the opportunity to work with her at a deeper level in my teacher training last month.

Source: http://www.muddyrootsyoga.com/teachers/

As part of his 200hr YTT program, Dan Clement hosted local teachers in our classes – a way for us to learn diverse elements of yoga from specialists in the field. Among these speakers were Todd Caldecott (Ayurveda), Carol Wray (Restorative Yoga, Thai Massage, Structural Therapeutics), Naomi Clement (Anatomy) and Lauren.

Lauren came in for several sessions – the most striking of which were the healing and therapeutic segments. To start, she told us her story of being hit by a drunk driver’s car while crossing the road. She told us about the years of mental and physical health difficulties. She explained with profound emotion how finding yoga gave her the ability to heal herself and rediscover her enthusiasm for life.

She has practiced under a number of influential teachers, including John Friend, Christina Sell, Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, Bernie Clark, Sean Corne, Martin Kirk, and David Swenson. She brings her understanding of the body’s limitations and hesitations to a teaching style that is safe, effective and fun. When a student is discouraged and says, “I can’t do this,” Lauren is quick to respond with a warm and encouraging, “not yet…”

Lauren teaches Anusara, Yin and Level 2 at Muddy Roots Yoga in South Surrey (www.muddyrootsyoga.com), as well as a weekly Flow class at Hari Om Yoga in Langley (www.hariomyoga.com).

You can read more about Lauren’s journey, as well as her private session techniques, testimonials and at www.laurensyoga.com.

Stand Up Paddle Yoga Vancouver – SUP Yoga!

Take your Yoga off the mat and onto the water!!!

SUP Yoga Vancouver has combined Stand Up Paddling with Yoga to teach you to breathe, move and be present not only on the water but in your everyday. SUP Yoga will tone your core, build your stability and provide you with a fun learning environment to play and have fun with your practice outside the studio.

SUP Yoga classes will include on land Yoga teachings to prepare you to take your sequence of postures onto the water. On the water we will flow and move while floating and enjoying all the elements of the wilderness and landscapes from snowy mountain tops to beautiful ocean sunsets.

Combining breath with movement you’re sure to find moments of fun, laughter and focus while moving with the water on your board.

*Learn to SUP lesson is a prerequisite for SUP Yoga lessons.
*Previous Yoga experience is an asset – but not required.
*Wear comfortable clothing that you can move and stretch in – dress in layers for the weather and conditions (rain or shine).

For lesson information and pricing, click here, and for the current SUP Yoga monthly schedule, click here. Visit their official website www.standuppaddlevancouver.com, or find them on Facebook. For additional info regarding SUP Yoga, contact [email protected]

For Sharon

blurtit.com - Sharon loved hummingbirds

I recently lost someone dear to me. My boyfriend’s mother, Sharon, passed away from a severe case of adenocarcinoma. In other words, stage 4 lung cancer which had spread throughout her body and into her brain and there was just no stopping it.

I’ve thought and wrote a lot about being grateful and living presently, but never before have I truly felt I understood it until now.

Each moment, breath, day is a blessing. This is reiterated to us all the time in yoga. But do we actually believe it? I don’t think I did until I saw how quickly someone’s life can change for the worse.

Is this why so many good people go sooner than others? To be our teachers, our reminder? To fully take in all we can, enjoy the ride and the bumps that come with it because we never really know when it will end. Be out of reach.

Sharon’s family is doing remarkably well considering they’ve lost a mother, wife, auntie, sister. I don’t know if I’d be so positive. Where does this optimism come from? Seeing the good in this sudden loss which should bring negativity, pity, remorse. And that’s just it. There is no remorse felt by my boyfriend Steve or his family. There wasn’t anything they wished they told her. No more I love you’s or words of appreciation and encouragement. No regret of not seeing, calling, emailing her enough. No grudges left unforgiven. No torturous wondering of how she felt about them. Nothing.

In all the sadness and heartache. Questions of why and confusion. Sharon’s family came out of this sadness with peace.

So I’d like to use this as my reminder and anyone else’s who may need it. To take those silent peaceful moments in yoga or throughout the day and really use them for what they’re meant for. Thanking ourselves, thanking the ones we love, and truly acknowledging how much we have to be grateful for. Finding even a bit of light in a heavy situation because at least we are having an experience and most likely learning something.

Even in the loss of Sharon, her loved ones take the good out of the situation with them. She didn’t suffer for long. Memories of her being herself rather than a sick person are dominant. Now she can always be with us, no location separates us.

Now, I know every time someone passes away, endless kind things are shared. Nothing bad. In Sharon’s case (and I am not being biased) she truly was a delight. A warm, loving, open hearted person. Her family’s gracious handling of her passing proves all the admiration to be genuine.

So now it’s time for a thank you, to Sharon. In this hard time, I learned something sacred. I hope you as readers have, too.

Yogini (And Yogis!) Cleanies

Yogini Cleanies‘ Sunday and Madison are a mother daughter team in every sense of the word.  They are both practitioners of Yoga and have been since Sunday brought Madison to her first class at 8 years old.

During one of her practices, Sunday realized that she wanted a product that would allow her to freshen up after yoga class in order to meet friends for dinner.  She also wanted to keep her mat clean and free of germs before yoga.  She couldn’t find a product that combined the convenience of disposability with the sustainability of bamboo and the natural antibacterial proprieties of organic essential oils, so she made one!

Yogini Cleanies are sustainable, disposable wipes made of 100% bamboo, using the natural antiseptic qualities of certified organic essential oils (available in lemongrass or lavender scents). All Yogini Cleanies wipes are free of paraffins, have no petroleum based ingredients and are bleach free. They’re great to freshen up with after a yoga class, or the gym, and to wipe any dirt or grime off your yoga mat in between regular cleanings.

Yoga Boot Camp at Kushala Yoga Starts Tomorrow

This one-week intensive yoga bootcamp  at Kushala Yoga will stoke your inner fire, boost your energy, tone your muscles, pump endorphins into your blood and help you feel balanced in body and mind.

Jumpstart your practice through this structured, supportive and motivating week to discover your potential.

Suitable for all levels of experience.

Details

Monday August 8th – Friday 12th
6:30am – 7:30am
Kushala Yoga on Austin
$90 + HST
(20% off for unlimited members)

For more information visit: Jessicahamiltonyoga.ca

To register visit: www.kushalayoga.ca

* Description and image from Kushalayoga.ca

1SCHOOL 1DAY: BE A PART OF A DAY OF MOVEMENT “BEND 4 A CAUSE”

 The health and fitness community of Vancouver builds a school for the kids in Ethiopia. Want to be part of the movement? Join us for this special event on September 24th, 2011 at 1pm. This is a great opportunity to get Vancouver Yoga Teachers and their students involved in a one day event geared towards spreading the  our love of Yoga, health and movement AND support education in Ethiopia. 

BE A PART OF A DAY OF MOVEMENT :

Education for all should be a basic human right. In developing countries women and girls are around 70% of the beneficiaries, yet many children, especially girls are not given the opportunity to attend school. An educated child will help form the backbone of a healthy society and  help lift the community from the hands of poverty.

On September 24th at 1pm, participants will come together for an hour (or more) of motion to support education in Ethiopia. Participants will choose where they move from a list of our health and fitness affiliates or  –  create your own and become an affiliate. We will share the experience of moving together and on that evening, a Wrap Up Celebration will acknowledge all the great efforts of our community.

1SCHOOL 1DAY GOALS:

  • To raise $100,000 – the cost of One School in Ethiopia via Imagine1day
  • 5,000 Participants moving at the same time all across Greater Vancouver
  • To unify the Health and Fitness community towards a greater good

CALL TO ACTION FOR TEACHERS & STUDENTS:

I would like to propose a Yoga call to action, “Bend 4 A Cause.”  Many of us live all over Vancouver, we read each other posts, we enjoy each others classes, why not ban together and spend an hour (or more) teaching Yoga. The concept is to have as many Yoga teachers teaching outside or inside their chosen parks or places at exactly the same time, with the same purpose –  to raise awareness and much needed funds for education in Ethiopia. This is a movement for social investment.

As part of the health and wellness movement, our combined power will help bring to the forefront of our time, the importance of health and balance, while creating a social change movement  stemming from a unified front to support and empower our  leaders of tomorrow.

If you would like to be part of a whole day of movement, YogaFORM will be spearheading a Yoga Relay, an entire day of movement starting at 9am and will be looking for teachers to hop on board and create the day with me. How amazing would it be to do a variety of Yoga classes, around the city and  zen-co-mingle, get fit, all that the same time. If interested email [email protected] for more details.

To get involved and become an affiliate with 1School 1Day please contact [email protected]  and join a team of talented individuals who are committed to changing the world.

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