Consider This...

January 16, 2017

Last week I listened to an interview on CBC about stress and mindfulness.  After hearing it I thought I would share a recent journal entry that I wrote over the holidays on a long flight.

Just Notice.

I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.  Inflow and outflow.  It has a mesmerizing quality and holds me in just this moment.

Inhale: The sensation of expansion.  The rise, the lift, the widening.
Exhale: The fall.

It transports me to a place where just sensation exists.  The mind calms – becomes more still.  In and out.  Belly rises, belly falls.  Slow and gentle.

Then, airplane turbulence.

Breath shifts.  Higher, tighter, faster.  It feels pinched, more restricted, tighter.  The mind follows.  It becomes more agitated and begins to create stories.  Imagination.  Anxiety.  Trying to shift the breath takes work.  It does not feel comfortable or gentle but eventually it settles again, brings me back and I feel anchored in the simplicity of the moment and the gentle rise and fall of the breath.

And so, part of the discussion on CBC talked about recognizing our own stress signature.  In other words, how stress shows up for us in our own bodies.

The person being interviewed – Rohan Gunatillake - has just written a book called Modern Mindfulness and, somewhat paraphrased, he says:

When we know what our own stress signature is we can use it as an early warning system deliberately relaxing those hotspots whenever we notice them starting to tighten.

He goes on to say that if you don’t know what they are for you, deliberately pay attention to what it feels like when you are caught in stress.  Good places to look are your face, jaw, shoulders, chest, belly, hands.

It can then be useful to give these areas extra care even if you think you are not feeling stressed.  So, if your signature areas are say, your jaw and shoulders, consider making sure they are supple and relaxed as often as you remember to as it can head off any future tension from accumulating.

Sometimes this simple awareness of sensation – just noticing – is enough to take the edge of the stress reaction helping to move us a bit more towards a state of calm.

December 12, 2016

The magic of the first snowfall and December finally feels like it is really here!

Through the busyness of the holidays consider finding time for you!   Moments of stillness - moments where you connect back to yourself.

Maybe a slow delicious moment in the middle of your day to stretch out in all directions.  A moment to savour the sensation of opening and expanding and drawing fresh energy in.

Or, discover the power of following your breath.  Let the simplicity of awareness to the inflow and outflow of breath bring you back to a place of stillness.

A hot cup of tea, a soft blanket, a good book.  Moments that are deeply nourishing and restorative offering rejuvenation, re-connection to self and a deep sense of peace.

Best Wishes for the Holidays to you and your families.

The last class for the season is Friday December 16th.  The first class in January is Friday January 13th.  Another Restorative Yoga will be set for January or first thing February!

Peace and Namaste,

June 19, 2016 - Summer Solstice & The Strawberry Moon!

Tomorrow - June 20th is the summer solstice!!!  It is that point in the year where the light remains the longest.  This year is especially auspicious though as it is also the full moon – a very rare occurrence!

The full moon in June was originally known as the Strawberry Moon by early Native North Americans.  A very poetic name which linked the moon to the harvest and the best time to pick strawberries!

Solstice originates from a word meaning “that point at which the sun seems to stand still”.  So lovely… sort of an invitation to pause in this space and reflect back on your journey since the winter solstice.  A time to connect to this turning point in the earth’s yearly cycle.  Since the winter solstice, there has been the slow movement of growth and expansion.  Now though, as we stand at the doorway to the second half of the year we have an opportunity to pause and reflect before the cycle turns and everything begins to slowly withdraw within.  It is a time when we can take that energy of growth and renewal in order to energize the paths that lead within.

At the same time, with the full moon shining, we can also release all that which no longer serves us.

So, for tomorrow, consider taking a moment to pause and focus of that which you would like to nuture and bring into your life and, if it feels right to do so, set an intention for what you would like to manifest during the second half of the year.

Happy Summer Solstice and Strawberry Moon!


May 10, 2016 - Consider this sentence – “Our Practice mirrors the way we live our lives”

Last few classes we have been exploring that balance between strength and flexibility.  This has led me to read more about Sthira and Sukha.

In the Yoga Sutras there is a quote that reads Sthira Sukam asanam or translated, the pose is steady and comfortable.

The word Sthira is more than just steady.  It translates as stable, strength, challenge, endurance.  It is the ability to be present – physically and mentally to be in the pose, find stillness – a controlled, fully engaged body and a focused mind.

The word Sukha translates as relaxed, easy, pleasurable.  It is the part of the pose where we honour the principles of self-acceptance and non-harming.  Where we can let go and really find the space within the pose.

When we practice yoga asana we enter a space where we become fully present to the experience and where we balance effort and ease.  A place where we find both deliciousness and challenge.  Where we balance and embody the qualities of Sthira and Sukha .
Often times we need to emphasize one of these qualities more depending on our personality.  So, as an over-achiever, you might need to bring more ease – more Sukha to your practice.  In fact, that act of letting go might be the hardest part of the pose.

Or, your personality may be such that you need to bring more challenge, more fortitude or more focused attention to your practice – more Sthira.

Finding that place of equilibrium between Sthira and Sukha/ between strength and ease becomes the practice – both on the mat and off the mat.  And this is where the phrase “our practice mirrors the way we live our lives” really shows up!

Namaste Friends!

April 26, 2016 - Smudging

So, sometimes, when you arrive for a yoga class I know that it sometimes smells like I have just smoked some weed.  A quickie before class!!  But nope…. I have been burning sage.  Clearing the space…. cleansing the space….. in preparation for practice.

I was recently reading an article and thought I would share….

The practice of burning sage or herbs is rooted in prehistoric times.  Traditionally, the practice was used to clear the emotional and spiritual negativity that had built up within a body or within a space.  It is still used by many people for this purpose today.  Of course, there are many skeptics!

The interesting thing though - a recent study found that the burning of sage and other medicinal herbs actually reduces airborne bacteria!  In fact, this study found that airborne bacteria within the measured space was reduced by 94% and that the next day the space was still found to be disinfected!  Cool eh?!!

So, when it is dusty here…. please know that it is always well disinfected!!!

Namaste :)

April 18, 2016 - Love Those Feet!!

Ok, so during class on Friday we talked about the many easy things we could be doing to support our bodies.  We chatted about this as we worked with the yoga handshake!  Jen, you suggested that I challenge you to incorporate something small into your week.  So… here goes.  I will give it a try!  Hopefully, one small thing a week J

Our feet, Our Foundation!  Consider giving them some TLC this week.

Seriously, we give them little attention and yet there they are – our very foundation.  Just a little bit of lov’n can be felt not just in the feet but through the hamstrings and into the lower back.  In fact, they are the starting point for stiffness in the body.

Take a few minutes and massage the sole of your foot!  It works the fascia and begins to create more mobility in the toes, especially when tightness and ‘stickiness’ between the fascia of the smaller toes narrows the foot and contributes to the development of bunions.

Then, create space between the toes with a Yoga Handshake!  Take the palm of your hand to the bottom on your foot and thread each finger between the toes.  Work the toes back and forth in a sort of yoga handshake.  This further works on the ‘stickiness’ of the fascia between the toes.

Finally, take each toe individually and give it a gentle wiggle and pull.

That’s it!  Do one foot and compare how it feels to the neglected foot.  Alive, stimulated and awake,  yes???  Now do the other.

Have a good week!  See you in class J

Namaste Friends.

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