Yoga Teacher

Movember by Donation Classes in White Rock

Movember by Donation Classes in White Rock

Jeff, Live Yoga, White Rock

By donation Hatha Yoga classes this weekend in support of Movember Canada. All proceeds to this very good cause.  Classes taking place at Live Yoga in White Rock-  www.liveyoga.ca

Help Jeff raise funds for a worthy cause. He’s growing his ‘stache in support of Movember Canada and raising money for prostate cancer research, a cause dear to his heart.

Bring your Mo brothers and Mo sisters for a by donation MO YOGA MOVEMBER Hatha class.

Two Mo-mentous classes to choose from — come for one or both and bring your friends!

Saturday, Movember 24
Sunday, Movember 25

4:30-5:45pm both classes

By Cash Donation – pay what you can, or what you want (suggested donation $10).

All proceeds go to Movember Canada’s fundraiser for men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer research.

Live Yoga
www.liveyoga.ca
778-545-9918
15186 Buena Vista Avenue
White Rock, BC
V4B 1Y3

Vancouver Yoga Teacher Profile: Kat Wong

Vancouver Yoga Teacher Profile: Kat Wong

Kat Wong has been instructing Flow, Hot & Core Yoga classes since 2008. Her students love her energy, her voice, and the experience she gives them. She keeps her students challenged with new ideas, engaging them with music, props & visualizations. They explore movements of strength while keeping the mind calm and centered. Students leave her class refreshed and ready to embrace life’s challenges.

With a strong passion in health and fitness, she found yoga as the perfect adjunct to balance her busy lifestyle.  Kat found she could connect with her inner self by coming to her place of solitude, her mat.  She has learned to understand the power of the breath as a tool to calm the mind and relax the body.  As a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer, she feels that an individual’s health is vital to enjoy life to the fullest.

Man sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die,
and then dies having never really lived”
~ Dalai Lama

She hopes that her students’ journey in health and fitness will not just be for self-improvement and discovery, but will also offer them a tool for self-creation.

Email Kat Wong at [email protected] and catch a class with her at:

Transformation at Kushala Yoga

The yoga studio formally known as Kula Yoga has recently changed their name to Kushala (Kushala is Sanskrit for well-being). This change is perfect timing as they are celebrating the expansion and grand opening of their new Port Moody location in Suter Brook Village.

Along with an amazing view and masterful instructors, the new location has two studio spaces, a retail shop full of yoga goodies, a tea lounge and a wellness center! There are also rumors that another location will be opening in early 2012!

What I love about Kushala is that they offer a wide variety of classes, so there is definitely something to meet everyone’s needs. Some of their more unique offerings include: Sunrise Hatha at 6am, Wild Thing Wednesdays (a class designed for more advanced yogis), Yoga 101 (for the beginner yogi) and Pre-Natal Yoga.

Kushala Yoga also specializes in teaching the philosophical side of yoga with courses such as: Prana 101 (students learn meditation and breathing techniques) and the Dharma Series that takes a closer look at Eastern philosophies.

What I enjoy most about Kushala is the extremely warm and inviting atmosphere that only a great yoga studio can provide!

For more about Kushala, please visit:

http://www.kushalayoga.com/

 


A “Hip” Guide to Happier Movement: The Hamstrings

A “Hip” guide to happier movement continues, and this week we take a look at the hamstrings. As we know, the hip flexors and hamstrings are two groups of muscles that need to work in symmetry, in order to maintain proper balance, distribute load and stability through the pelvis. Many believe, or look at yoga, as merely a means of increasing flexibility, and that the more flexible you are, the less susceptible to injury you will be.

Way too often I find students moving into a posture while trying to achieve a version of a certain posture exerting too much force than their muscles can bear, thus “cranking” into it and moving beyond their normal range of mechanical alignment. When it comes to postures involving the hamstrings, this is all too common.
The truth is, sometimes being too flexible can increase your chances of sustaining an injury, as the muscle and associated joints are now in a constant state of  slack and with this comes instability of the joint, thus stability needs to be ascertained. This is the dynamic duality of our systems. Where there is an increase in mobility – there needs to be an equal force of stability to create symmetry.  Yoga is about achieving a balance between flexibility and strength, and mobility and stability.

The Anatomy:

The hamstrings groups is comprised of four muscle parts ; the first two are the Biceps Femoris (long and short head). The biceps femoris’s function is to flex and laterally rotate the leg and extend and laterally the thigh. The short head has it’s same origin at the lateral hip joint, then only crosses the knee joint and functions to flex and laterally rotate the leg.

The Semimembranosus originates in the ischial tuberosity and inserts into the medial tibial condyle. The Semitendinosus muscle also originates at the ischial tuberosity and inserts into the upper part of the medial surface of the tibia and medial tibial condyle. Both these muscles, extend the thigh and flex and medially rotate the leg.

The ideal length of the hamstrings is achieved at 80 – 90 degrees of hip flexion, which most often is questioned because students get wrapped up in “what the pose should look like,” rather then what their bio mechanics will and should allow. Where the emphasis is then placed on becoming too flexible in order to achieve the pose; however, when we push too hard into a pose, the tension has to be re distributed somewhere and this energy is most likely going to pull at the musculotendinous junction or strain at the hip and knee joint.

This can then not only lead to injury, but to faulty movement patterns that will persist off the mat. Remmber the fascia systems? When we change one meridian line, we uniquely impact them all. As I mentioned in the previous article pelvic alignment plays a crucial role in balance, load distribution and locomotion; therefore, when we think about how many  muscles stem from the ischial tuberosity, you can see how critical it is to focus on balance and symmetry of mobility vs stability and flexibility vs strength.  Two of the main joints at the pelvis are referred to as the sacroiliac joints. When the hamstrings are stressed some students can exprience hip, as well as knee injuries. Tightness in the low back can also contribute to excessive stresses on the hamstring attachment as well, or lack of hamstring mobility.

When working with hamstrings in any health modality, always remember the hamstrings are never alone they are part of the posterior muscular chain, the back line of the fascial system and are a huge primary mover of many movement patterns; therefore, respect the hammies and your mechanics within postures.

Some tips to avoid over stretching and creating better balance mechanics in your postures:

  • Always Aim to Keep Your Pelvis Level
  • Practice your postures only within your natural alignment (no cranking ~ leave this for hitting trails on your mtn bike)
  • Keep the thighs active and engaged
  • Distract at the hip joint
  • Bend the knees if needed, especially if you are a beginner
  • Work within your genetic limitations
  • Use props; such as blocks and straps if needed
  • Stretch your hip flexors
  • Listen to your body, never work through pain

Now hit the mat and enjoy!

Meghan – Semperviva Kits Beach

It was my second time taking Meghan’s Monday noon class at Semperviva-Kits Beach location.  She teaches a kick your butt Vinyasa Power Flow.  I like that she is not afraid to try some of the more difficult postures.  She creates a lovely, fluid flow that seemlessly melts into one another as if you were doing a dance.

She starts the class with a small chat.  Today’s topic, how the people in your life reflect what you need to learn about yourself.  After the chanting of three OM’s she gets right down to business.  It is a non-stop Power Flow from then on.  The class is warmed up nicely, climaxes with some harder postures and is slowly brought down to Savasana.  You finish the class feeling that you really accomplished something.

This girl knows her yoga and obviously has a regular practice.  If you are looking for a more challenging Power Flow, this class is for you!

Retreating!

In Vancouver we are usually lucky with a beautiful summer, this year Mother Nature seems to be on vacation. As the rainy days continue to pound down on us and the torrential rain pounds outside the window, I’ve begun to look deeper into sunny and warm yoga retreats.

{Source: www.yogaretreatgreece.com}

Not only are there many studios locally who offer there own annual or semi-annual yoga retreats, there are retreats offered world wide, so where do you begin. Here are some tips to think about when planning a yoga retreat;

  • How much can you afford?
    Set yourself a budget, start here and set yourself a budget. Most retreat costs do not include airfare, keep this in mind.
  • Who are you travelling with?
    Many retreats are based on double occupancy and the price increases if you are a single occupant, while others offer shared accommodations. Decide if you are looking for a solo journey, a journey with you partner, friends or use it as an opportunity to make new ones.
  • Meals;
    Make sure you read the fine print and determine what meals are not included in the price and that you will be responsible for.
  • Type of Yoga:
    If you are going to take a retreat with a teacher you have never practiced before, find out as much you can about the teacher and what style they teach. Many retreats offer two classes a day, are you going to be happy with the teacher.
  • Other Activities:
    What other activities are included in the retreat? Tours, events etc?
  • Free Time:
    How much free time do you get to explore and be on your own?
  • Where do you want to go?
    We are lucky living in Vancouver to have places like Galiano and Salt Spring Island to find a retreat close to home. Decide where you want to go; somewhere far (Europe), somewhere closer (California), somewhere tropical (Costa Rica) and see what’s in your budget.

These gloomy rainy days have got me looking deeper into the yoga retreat wish list. Here are a few that are on the top of my list;

Have you been on a yoga retreat? What did you like or not like?

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.

Join The Kula At Kushala Yoga In Coquitlam!

Join The Kula At Kushala Yoga In Coquitlam!

I move around a lot as my partner is in the military, but I have found a family in every city I have lived in. I find my family in yoga studios as they are filled with like minded individuals who are ready to welcome in any new student that enters their door.

I recently spent the last 4 months in Coquitlam, my hometown, to complete yoga teacher training. The first thing I did when I arrived was find a nearby studio to practice in. Thankfully Kushala Yoga studio is very close to my parents house, where I stayed,  and I was able to convince all my family members to join with me!

From the first class I went to at Kushala I felt like I belonged there, as opposed to just being a temporary guest. The yoga teachers are so friendly and approachable that I couldn’t help but want to engage in an after class chat with them. Even the students are beginning to catch on that Kushala Yoga is much more than just a place to practice yoga. During a Power Flow class I was greeted by another student who was introducing himself to the people on the mats around him and arranging an after class coffee. The yoga teacher/ owner half jokingly said that this student was the social coordinator for Kushala. The studio also hosts such activities as movie nights and Hike n’ Yoga to further foster their growing community of yogis.

Kushala Yoga has 2 locations, one in Coquitlam and one in Port Moody, with 2 more on the way. They offer classes for all levels from more relaxed classes such as Slow Flow and Restorative Yoga to more vigorous and advanced classes such as Power Flow, Hatha Core and my favourite Wild Thing Wednesdays with Andrew Colyn.

Weather you visit the warm, soothing studio in Port Moody or the bright and open studio in Coquitlam you are sure to find a class that suits your needs and make several new friends!

Tour of Kushala

Images from http://www.kushalayoga.ca/

Getting Into The Flow

I am currently going through a phase where I really like Flow Yoga.

With all the different types of yoga out there you might be wondering what exactly is Flow Yoga. According to About.com Flow yoga would be classified under the broad umbrella of Vinyasa Yoga. A breath synchronized class where poses or postures are strung together smoothly. Following your instructor’s lead you are asked to match your inhales and exhales to a specific posture, flowing from one pose to another creating a very rhythmic meditative dance.

Some instructors are very good at creating this illusion of a dance; their choice in poses is well thought out, they synchronize smoothly, the inhale & exhale comes naturally and their choice in music complements the overall feel of the class.

I have run into all different types of Flow classes. That is the beauty of Vinyasa Yoga; it allows for so much diversity in teaching styles that you would never get bored. It does require you to come with an open mind as you might find it can take a few tries to get the teacher you like.

One instructor’s choice in music was not to my liking, but I learned a lot about Plank pose, and Chaturanga. I have found that even if I don’t like everything in a class, there is always something I have learned that I can take from the class.

This past week I was lucky enough to catch a Yyoga flow class with Christie Baumgartner.  She is a wonderful instructor. A beautiful soul packaged in a tiny dancer’s body; playful yet welling with good informational tips on posture and proper alignment.

Her arrangement of postures seems to flow naturally, allowing for maximum breath and ease of motion. Without even thinking, your inhales and exhales seem to flow naturally with each pose she suggests.

This is where the dance begins. She varies her Sun Salutations with enough freshness that it never seems to get dull. She builds each pose upon the previous so that the muscles slowly warm up, yet you do not feel fatigued. From beginning to end I feel as if I have been skilfully guided to achieve what I set out to do; experience my body in all its beauty of movement, to breathe with fullness and to awaken to a new sense of calm.

You can tell that Christie is very passionate about yoga, her enthusiasm is contagious. She makes you want to strive higher, not for her, but for you. To push yourself just a little more in order not to miss a step in the dance she is sharing with you.

She makes yoga fun! She laughs through-out her class and truthfully I appreciate that. Why not have fun?

I have yet to disagree with her choice in music. I literally caught myself singing along.

Even though you will sweat through-out her class, you will be so engaged that you’ll hardly notice until the end; at which time you will be very grateful for those Yyoga showers.

If you get the chance try out one of Christie’s Flow classes at Yyoga Flow Wellness on Burrard Street; I highly recommend it. She just might make you fall in love with yoga all over again.

(Source: jameswvinner.com)

A Day with Sadie!

A Day with Sadie!

Saturday was a blissful Sadie Nardini filled day. Having watched a few of Sadie Nardini’s FREE YouTube video’s over the last few months, when I heard that she was coming to Vancouver, I knew I had to go.

Sadie had several workshops at yyoga (various locations) throughout the weekend, but I was only able to attend the Saturday sessions at Highgate (Burnaby).

{source: www.sadienardini.com}

If you are not familiar with Sadie Nardini, she is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga.  Based out of NYC, she travels internationally, has her own Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga teacher training program as well as retreats and offers hundreds of free videos on YouTube.

Saturday consisted of two two hour workshops at the beautiful Highgate Yyoga with some fantastic Core Strength Vinyasa yoga. The basis behind Sadie’s Core Strength Vinyasa yoga is a new way of looking at asana’s and simplifies how to use our “core” more efficiently when practicing. A practice that left me feeling it the next morning, which is the best kind in my opinion. But that’s JUST the yoga!

We all know yoga classes offer us so much more than just the yoga, and what makes us enjoy the asana even better is a fantastic teacher, which Sadie most certainly is. A real, down to earth type of person, who gives you the impression that going out for coffee with the woman would be fun and insightful all at the same time. She has a raw presence about her, and after conversations about “what is the point?”, why do we do the things we do when we really don’t want to? Why do we feel we need to please other people, when it doesn’t please us and why do we feel the need to not tell these people or look out for ourselves? She encouraged us to respectfully but honestly speak our truth, don’t give everything you have to somebody else and leave nothing for yourself.

I find that my most favourite teachers or yoga classes are the ones that give me a piece of self reflection that stays with me as I walk out the door, oh and the soreness the next morning. Take Sadie’s truth message posted on her Facebook account this morning, “THIS week, start saying what you really mean, respectfully, and yet honestly…to yourself, and those around you. Why hide, if you really believe that you’re OK just as you are, that ultimately you don’t need anyone’s acceptance to be passionate and happy and your truth is equally as valid as anyone else’s? Hmmm…”

Brilliantly awesome! Thanks Sadie for a fabulous day of learning how to move through asana’s with more ease and core strength and that little bit of self reflection I needed to start off a new month! Looking forward to your return for the Vancouver Yoga Conference in the fall.

YOUR PATH TO PRANAYAMA

breathe deep and relax

We know that the word “prana” means life force and “pranayama”  in Yoga means “breath control” or deep diaphragmatic breathing; which is crucial to both sustaining life, as well as relaxation.

But did you know your diaphragm does more then just help you breathe deeper and cultivate prana? 

Deep breathing establishes the mind-body connection needed to regulate our autonomic nervous system (ANS); which can become under-active or over-active with higher levels of stress, tension and the daily hustle and bustle of our urban lifestyle.

The ANS is comprised of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and the sympathetic Nervous System (SNS); which are responsible for regulating the body’s involuntary functions; which includes the movement of the diaphragm, breathing, circulation, muscle contractions and how you got into the Yoga posture you are practicing right now!

When we meditate or sleep all of these processes slow, along with our breath and we reach a steady state of deep breathing, which is controlled and methodical.  

However, daily stress, tension, muscle fatigue and anxiety can obstruct the fluidity of breathing leaving us with shallow, rigid breathing patterns. This results in unbalanced or impaired autonomic responses that restrict the flow of energy in our body, thus weakening our prana.  

Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises engage the diaphragm, abdominal wall and rib-cage which improves the inner space within the abdomen for the organs to move freely.

Practicing your pranayama helps to circulate freshly oxygenated blood throughout the system, improves mental clarity and activates the PSNS by stimulating the vagus nerve; which induces the relaxation response, and provides a healthy respite from chronic stress.

Your Path to Pranayama can begin in a relaxed seated or supine posture. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly:

  • Steady your mind.
  • Breathe more slowly.
  • Breathe more deeply, from the belly.
  • Exhale longer than you inhale. 
  • Cultivate Pranayama

Happy Breath makes Happy Prana!

Sources:

*  Full Path to Pranayama article can be found here:  “The Da!ly Muse” YogaFORM’s official blog site.  http://gimmedailymuse.wordpress.com/  

* Yoga Anatomy: author Leslie Kaminoff and The Breathing Project, Inc – NYC

YOGA: DO YOU MOVE WITH INTELLIGENCE?

A  well worn “Post-It” sits on my bedside table adorning this phrase; “Action is movement with intelligence” by B.K.S Iyengar; a mantra or better yet a metaphor for pretty much anything we do in life, on and off the mat. 

Question is…how often do we practice it?

Last night I stumbled upon an intriguing article from the NY Times called “Stretch/ When Yoga Hurts” by Lizette Alvarez and it reminded me of how necessary it is to take the time to move with careful precision and be mindful of limitations in our body.

 The foundation of her article outlines the exponential rise of injuries in Yoga over the last several years. Her top 2 findings below are agreeably valid:

1. The overzealous, eager student (we have all been there).

2. Poor alignment and bio mechanical asymmetries.

 As a YogaFORM teacher, Movement & Performance Coach I work daily with clients on corrective strategies to become more kinesthetically aware of their own unique mechanics, and it makes a world of difference on and off the mat.

Yoga is one of the best forms of therapeutic movement; as it provides an atmosphere where one can practice internal awareness, and become aware of their limitations while working towards methodical corrective mechanics.

 Therefore, to build upon my “Post-It’, intelligent action and movement implies focusing on improving the responsiveness in the body for an all encompassing awareness.

This means that each movement we make and the corresponding transitional movements require exquisite observational skill and mastery to cultivate alignment and prepare the body for automatic responsive sequencing. As you continue to observe, adjust and integrate into your postures, this will lead to less strain on the all the muscles, bones, joints, (CNS) Central Nervous System and (PSNS) Parasympathetic Nervous System responses.

When we move and act with intelligence and intention we open channels within our structural framework that results in improved alignment, a nurturing sense of balance and steadiness in postures for better symmetry overall. 

How’s your form? Do you move with intelligence?

Sources:  

NY Times article: Stretch/ When Yoga Hurts, by Lizette Alvarez: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/24stretch/

 YogaFORM Links: www.fittotrain.com.  Blogroll: http://gimmedailymuse.wordpress.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.

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