Restorative Yoga: Reset for 2018

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For many people, the final month before the conclusion of the year can be one of the busiest, most stressful of the year. Despite the joyful advertisements, the influx of holiday movies, and the cheery music in the mall, December and January comes with its share of challenges. It’s a non-stop push from the very beginning right up to New Years’ Eve, where we’re constantly on the go.

It’s a non-stop push from the very beginning right up to New Years’ Eve, where we’re constantly on the go.

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If we’re not shopping to find the perfect gifts, or organizing quality time with our loved ones, we may be working shifts where multiple colleagues are on vacation, or enduring the challenge that is the retail business during those dreaded sale weeks. At the conclusion of all of this, we come into the New Year, perhaps dreading the credit card bill that will come reflecting the previous months indulgences, and gift giving. Add to this mix that we’re basically doing all this during the weeks where we get the least daylight, it’s no wonder that our bodies would be craving a reset of some sort after all is said and done.


Often, media bombards the New Year with advertisements encouraging people to hit the gym hard to make up for the previous years indulgences. We are by no means opposed to people taking on a healthier, active lifestyle as part of their New Years resolution, but we do think that it’s important to examine the other end of the spectrum as well.

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When we’re coming out of the chaos of the previous year, while we think this is the prime time to make up for lost time by engaging in intense exercise practices, we also think it’s time to try and unwind from that stressful period and release that tension through gentler activities. 

Another is restorative yoga. Restorative yoga works on the basis that our body will benefit from passive, but gentle supported stretches that are held for an extended period of time. This allows the body time to reset by allowing for a soft tissue stretch that is gentle, but aligned using props, or even the wall for support. Below are 5 restorative yoga poses that are sure to benefit anyone looking for a way to relax, but also reap the benefits of a good stretch. Hold each posture for 5 to 7 minutes each.


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Child's Pose

Child's pose in any form is a great way to gently stretch into tight glutes, tight shoulders, and a tight lower back. We like this version, with the arms resting gently at either side, forehead to the ground. If the range in your hips isn't there to bring your bottom towards your feet, place a bolster, or firm pillow under the chest to elevate the upper body. 

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Reclining Hero Pose

For a gentle way to stretch into tight hip flexors, reclining hero pose, especially with a bolster or pillows under the length of the spine to decrease the depth of the posture, is an excellent way to tackle both the iliopsoas complex and the quadriceps muscles simultaneously. 

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Reclining Bound Angle 

Reclining bound angle pose, or reclined butterfly pose is an excellent way to gently stretch into tight adductor muscles of the groin. If your knees do not reach the ground when parted, foam blocks under the thighs just above the knees allows for this posture to maintain a passive nature, while still achieving a stretch. 

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Frog Pose

Another method of stretching into tight adductors is through frog pose which allows gravity to gently push the pelvis between the thighs. If the chest does not reach the ground comfortably, a bolster under the chest, aligned with the length of the torso allows this pose to be more passive.

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Happy Baby Pose

Finally, to get a simultaneous stretch into the adductor muscles of the thighs, as well as the hamstrings, which can be adjusted based on how much you straighten your knees, Happy Baby Pose is an excellent stretch to re-align the pelvis. Modify by grasping the outside edge of the feet if your hips are naturally more open. Peace fingers around the big toes is a modified version for those of us with tighter hips. 

If you're interested in taking a guided Restore and Renew class, please check our class schedule for available times. Below is a link to our information page on Restore and Renew:

Free2BMe - Our Next Karma Program Recipient

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Since 2005, Free2BMe Physical Activity Program for Kids and Teens with Disabilities, the youth component of The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement at the University of Alberta has been providing innovative programs for children and youth living with impairment to be active.

 

The Free2BMe credo is to empower kids and teens experiencing disability to:

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• Be more physically active, fit and healthy

• Feel good about themselves

• Experience success

• Have fun doing “kid” things

• Become vital, self-determined adults


Every year, hundreds of kids and teens ages 4-21 come through the program—with demand increasing every year. Children and youth and their families come to develop their physical confidence and competence in our safe, nonclinical environment. We are the one place in the Greater Edmonton area that any child living with a physical, sensory or developmental impairment can come to learn to ride their bike, throw a ball, understand game play concepts, be introduced to a fitness centre, gain exposure to the world of Para-sport, and be a part of the team for the first time. We do this through four models of service delivery: individual programming, instructional group programs, community and school group outreach and community exercise transition.

 

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In addition to providing direct service delivery to the community, Free2BMe provides applied learning opportunities for students at the University of Alberta. Last year, over 180 students from physical education and recreation, education, kinesiology and rehabilitation gained valuable hands on experience within Free2Bme programs. Students go on to become teachers, coaches, rehabilitation professionals, physicians and community leaders.

 

Free2BMe Physical Activity Program for Kids and Teens Experiencing Disability is a one of a kind program providing physical activity, fitness and sport instruction for children and youth living with physical, developmental and sensory impairments.

Founded in 2005, Free2BMe has made an impact in the lives of over 1200 families experiencing disability. Annually, the dynamic program delivered through The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement at The University of Alberta serves 450 children and youth ages 4-21 across a variety of 1:1 individualized physical activity and fitness sessions, and instructional group programs.

 

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If you would like more information regarding the Free2BMe Foundation, please contact:

780.492.3182

www.steadwardcentre.ualberta.ca

Winter Solstice: Reflect, Rejoice, Renew

Welcome In Winter

December 21st marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, yielding the longest night of the year and the official transition from fall to winter. The Winter Solstice: a turning point towards a new cycle. A beautiful, natural time to reflect, rejoice and renew as we set our sights on the year to come, gathering inspiration from seasons past.

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The solstice has been revered as a special moment in the annual cycle dating as far back as neolithic times (about 10,200 BC until between 4500 and 2000 BC). The knowledge of astronomical events would commonly guide activities like crop sowing, animal mating, and monitoring winter food reserves. Many cultural traditions and mythologies are derived from this. In Pagan tradition, the solstice lives as part of The Wheel of the Year with other equinoxes and solstices, an annual cycle of seasonal festivals.


So how can we leverage this day to align our truths and intentions for the cycles to come?

Tuning in with cycles is something we do subconsciously, which becomes even more potent when brought it into our conscious field. The patterns of the moon, the rhythmic cycle of breath, the tides of water on our planet - these all affect our connection to life. Just as we would set an intention for a New Moon or simply at the start of a yoga practice, we can use this time to reflect on what we are sewing for the spring rebirth. 


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Here are some affirmations to bring into your cyclical shift on this Winter Solstice. 

 

REFLECT

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I listen closely and quietly to myself.

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I leave behind that which does not serve me as I move into this new season.


REJOICE

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I accept change and movement forward with a light and joyful heart.

I am light.

I am joy.


RENEW

I have vibrant gifts to share with the world. I am worthy.

I give myself permission to boldly step forward.

I am supported in my decisions. 


Wishing you the most wonderful transition into this new season. Share your goals and exciting new year endeavours with us next time you're in! See you on your mat. 

Holiday Shopping: Last Minute Gifts from Yogalife

All of the products featured in this post are available at both our North and South Locations.

All of the products featured in this post are available at both our North and South Locations.

It's December 20th. You're still searching for that perfect gift for that special someone. We've all been there.

Look no further because Yogalife has got you covered. Our boutique is thoughtfully curated by our staff who stock it with a beautiful range of products from consciously made, healthy hot coco powder, to beautiful scented candles and incense, to skin care products made with natural ingredients.

Let your nose be your guide.

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For the person in your life who loves good scents, we have many different options. For a loved one who enjoys the woodsy scent of cedar essential oil, the Province Apothecary Incense sticks are a great option. Made by hand, this charcoal incense is infused with organic essential oils - each package contains 20 sticks. Province apothecary is head by Julie Clark, mindfully crafted with organic ingredients, and is proudly Canadian sourcing ingredients from each province. For more information on her work, visit her site here.

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Who doesn't enjoy a good scented candle? How about a candle that is made from organic coconut wax, non-gmo soy wax, balsam essential oil, fir essential oil, and clove essential oil. Crafted by a Canadian company, Woodlot, candles will help infuse your loved ones home with a woodsy aroma. Not only are these candles Canadian made from fine ingredients, but they're also beautifully packaged. Check out the Woodlot web page for a complete look at their stock here.

The perfect cup of coco cacao

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For that person who has a sweet tooth, but is also a fan of healthy superfoods, The Gut Lab's Coco Cacao organic elixir oil is a tasty treat made from raw coconut oil, raw cacao powder, lucuma, mesquite, ashwagandha, and true cinnamon. Simply heat 2tbsp with 1 cup of your choice of mylk, and add raw honey to taste. Even the most picky chocolate connoisseur will have trouble saying "no" to a hot cup of this coco! Check out their product line here.

Revitalize your skin

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Give someone the gift of ritualistic skin care, by introducing them to our two-step gift bundle of Province Apothecary's detoxifying clay mask, and regenerating exfoliant. Again, crafted from all natural ingredients from our home and native land, this makes the practice of good skin care a luxury. Anyone who loves taking care of our largest organ will love indulging in the practice of using Province Apothecary's products. 

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Pura Botanicals has made waves in the Edmonton community as a non-toxic, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly skincare and wellness potions centre that is based within our city. A studio favourite, the Overnight Watermelon Mask gives your loved one the gift of an overnight skin ritual. "This creamy, soft pink concoction is luxuriously handcrafted with all-natural silk peptide and pure watermelon extract, which is rich in skin-brightening Vitamins A and C and amino acids.  Use this decadent overnight mask to gently remove dead skin cells, improving the skin’s texture, and enhancing a youthful complexion." See their whole product line here.

The perfect pouch.

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For a beautiful way to package some of your gifts in a stylish, eco-friendly bundle, why not put some of your gifts in a pouch by Bambu? Made from striped cotton or a beautiful cork fabric, these pouches are the perfect size to carry some small skin products, or other beauty tools for that person who is always on the go. A great pouch to carry your post-yoga skin products in so that they remain in order in your gym bag. 

Finally, give the gift of yoga.

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We might be biased, but this is arguably our favourite gift option that can be purchased at our studio. Give that loved one the gift of relaxation, meditation, a workout, and inner peace. In other words stop by our studio to pick up a gift card for your loved one to purchase one of our passes. We have a multitude of options for passes that suit every level of busy lifestyles. Pair it with one of our vibrant, branded water bottles designed to keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold, and you've set someone up wonderfully for their practice in the New Year.

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Again, all of the products featured in this post are available at both our North and South Yogalife Studios locations. For any inquiries please call the studios before hand to check if the items you're  curious about are in stock.

 

Those of us from the blog team wish everyone a Happy Holiday! Happy Shopping!

Holiday Shopping: The Local Gifter

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Holiday shopping comes with its share of challenges. It can be tough trying to find the perfect gift for those special people in our lives. For us we put effort into shopping amongst creators close to home. As a local business ourselves, Yogalifers are enthusiastic supporters of our own Edmonton talent, and truly believe that artisans within our city are the way to go when looking for that perfect gift for that special someone! We took a trip to one of Edmonton’s fastest growing craft fairs, the Royal Bison to peruse some of the coolest, cutest, and most creative gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

For the ones expecting little ones

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AC.Woods is a local wood worker that makes beautiful, classic wooden toys for toddlers and babies. Nothing like locally crafted, hand-made wood goods to inspire creativity in your little ones. We absolutely loved this toddler camera, being photo fanatics ourselves. The best part of AC.Woods is that proceeds from their products go towards the Canadian Association of Medical Teams Abroad (CAMTA) who send medical professionals to Ecuador to work with individuals with orthopedic ailments. To learn more about CAMTA visit there website here. To visit AC.Woods etsy page click the link here.

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From the creative mind of Joel Kadziolka is where Papercut Monsters are born. Joel first begins by designing the fabric through putting together paper collages. Once that fabric is printed, cut and pieced together, a monster is born. Something about these little guys reminded us of the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" and we couldn't help but pick one up for those friends who have a baby on the way. The little monsters are adorable, and have no small attachments so they're safe for even the smallest little ones. Check out his website here

For the man who takes shaving seriously 

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We all know a guy who is serious about his beard care, and post-shave skin routine. Rosa & Lilium, though not restricted to only men's products, is a local apothecary who is based out of Edmonton and Marsden, Saskatchewan who makes beautiful, ethically crafted skin products. This Wild Man, post-shave, skin balm caught our eye as a great stocking stuffer for the special dude in your life. To browse the full line of Rosa & Lilium products, visit their website here.

For the person who values a good bath

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Nothing is better than locally made soap crafted from natural ingredients. Lather Bee Rich is a family owned business here in Edmonton that makes decadent soaps in beautiful tins each with different scents and purposes. The beautiful bar photographed here is called Amazing Grace, which is crafted specifically for those who experiences our dry winters more severely than others. Their website is still under construction, but you can keep track of its progress here. If you'd like to purchase directly from the distributor, they take orders by phone: (780) 479-4572.

For the jewellery fanatic

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Béton Brut, French for "raw concrete" is a local jewellery craftsman that makes unique pieces using brass, concrete, semiprecious stones and various pigments. We loved the simplicity of their chroma pendants, particularly how they resemble miniature planets. These unisex pieces are great for any one on your list who values quality jewellery and wants something completely unique. You can browse their complete line here. They also carry rings, earrings and have started producing concrete holding vessels and candles (in partnership with Libertine fragrances).

For the fashion forward friend

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Flannel Foxes apparel is about as Canadian as you can get when it comes to local fashion. Drawing inspiration from our landscapes, classic logos and pairing it with phrases encouraging buyers to explore their home and native land, you can't go wrong with a piece from their line for that person in your life who loves representing our beautiful country. We loved this vibrant red toque. Visit their website here for their whole line. If you're looking for a beautiful leather piece to add to your fashionista's collection, look no further than Sylvia Soo. A local leather entrepreneur, featured in Avenue magazine, who handcrafts leather goods from quality materials sourced from locations as far as Italy, Sylivia puts an immense amount of care to the details on her products. We adore this buttery soft, change purse. View her entire collection here.

When in doubt, write it down

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Finally, if you're like me, one of the best things you can get as a gift is a thoughtful card. Cards are getting edgier, with cheeky phrases, and sarcastic inserts, and are pretty much now celebrating every possible occasion you can think of. You may have seen Justine Ma's printed work at one of the many locations that carry her stationery. A talented calligraphy artist, her script combined with cheeky sayings makes its way on to cards, mugs, wall hangings, ornaments and even cake toppers. For that friend who loves a good laugh, check out her full line here. When it comes to classic letter press methods, Ochre Lea was one of our favourites, crafting some of the funniest cards we've seen in awhile. Often referencing science (we loved "If you're not part of  the solution, you're part of the precipitate") or just throwing in funny sarcasm such as the card featured in this post, there is literally a card for any occasion. Check out their full line of cards here.

These are just a small sample of the fantastic local talent in Edmonton. We encourage you to check out more local artisans when thinking about holiday gifts this year!

5 Drinks to Warm Your Soul This Holiday Season

I’m not sure about you, but 90% of the reason I can handle the wintertime is because I absolutely adore cozying up to a nice log fire place, wrapped in a fuzzy Costco blanket, holding a hot cup of something steamy.

Not being much of an advocate for chain cafes, I’ve cruised through the Edmontonian café scene and am reporting back to you with some of the best (and original) hot cups of heaven for you to try next time you’re craving a little more than a standard coffee.


Café Mosaics

10844 82 Avenue NW | https://www.cafemosaics.com

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Mellow Yellow.

Choosing just one drink from Café Mosaics may have been the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while, but thankfully, I’m a bit biased in favour of turmeric.

Imagine pumpkin spice, but natural, good for you, and not drowning in sugar. This spiced turmeric latte is going to make you swear off of Starbucks when you taste the kick this latte leaves you with.


Woodrack Café

 7603 109 Street NW | https://www.thewoodrackcafe.com

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White Hot Earl Latte.

This was arguably the best original drink I’ve come across on my Edmonton exploration. This is a lavender London Fog combined with a white hot chocolate; each flavour being extremely delicate and ever-so subtle.

The only downside to most of the gorgeously crafted drinks out there is you really feel like you can’t have more than one. This, however, I reckon I could consume a bathtubs worth in a sitting and still feel pretty proud about my day.


Mandolin Books & Coffee Co.

6419 112 Avenue NW | mandolinbooks.com

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Red Symphony.

A red rooibos tea with white hot chocolate, topped with honey and whip cream.

I’m sorry, what? Whoever created this beautiful concoction must have a sweet tooth as big as YEG itself. Normally sweets are just not my forte (I’m more of a Salt & Vinegar chips kind of girl), but I could not be more than happy that I’ve stumbled upon it. Its perfectly creamy consistency pulling different yet complementing flavours in from every direction made each sip taste like Christmas without feeling like my teeth were about to rot away.


Remedy Café

Multiple Locations | remedycafe.ca

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Almond Kashmire Chai.

Let’s admit it: You can’t have a “Top 5 Hot Drinks” blog post and not include a chai off of Remedy’s list. Although the standard chai is equally as to die for, the kasmire chai just adds that touch of extra love and  delicacy with its added ground pistachios and rose petals that take this hot drink from spicy to smooth and florally.

My tip: change your standard 2% milk out for almond milk to make your chai add some more of those delightful nutty flavours.


Bru Coffee + Beer House

11965 Jasper Avenue | www.brucoffeeandbeerhouse.com

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Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha.

Bru uses 64% extra-bitter Guayaquil cocoa for all of their chocolate based drinks, and when it hits your lips, you will feel a wave of respect and gratefulness for it take over your body. Keep in mind all of the benefits dark chocolate: . You’re doing your body a favour by ordering this.

PS. Did I mention that that it comes with a candy cane and/or mini marshmallows, served in a Christmas mug? As if you couldn’t love a drink more.

Alternative Practices That (May) Shock, Stimulate and Soothe You!

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You might be one of those yogis who has people in your life that are simply flabbergasted by the fact you even practice yoga, let alone when you mention you're working to target a specific organ or energetic system in your body through some "weird" alternative approach. Many healing practices can be seen as a "fad" or even unsafe, which is all the more reason to do your own research, start small and ask for support when you need it.

One of the biggest jobs we have as a human is learning the fine art of taking care of ourselves. There are so many avenues to try, some more daunting than others; we are sitting in an ideal time to dive in and find the best resources, teachers and practices to create our personal health regime. Yoga is an ancient system of mental, physical and spiritual practices - many complimentary health practices follow this same rounded approach. How does this affect my mind? My body? My spirit? What is my intention and how deep am I diving?

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When it comes to these "alternative health practices", it can be a hard path to not only navigate but to engage others in, regardless of scientific proof, testimonials and support. Personally, I like to try things out on my own before I canvass the masses to enlist.

What works for me certainly won't be the answer for the next person, though there is something comforting and inspiring in reaching out to those who have tried the practices you're interested in. Really, nothing is gospel until you've experienced it yourself, within proper and safe guidelines. 

So here's a look at some alternative health practices that are on my radar. May they shock, stimulate and soothe you - and perhaps land a permanent residency in your health practice! 


I SWEAR BY...

DRY SKIN BRUSHING 

EXFOLIATE, STIMULATE, REGENERATE 

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One of my mains areas of health opportunity has always been my skin. I had eczema for years (and years and years) and tried basically everything to rid myself of it. Though the most potent solution turned out to be a colon cleanse (which I have revisited when I felt the itch), I have found a simple routine to keep my skin (and stress levels) mostly happy in the interim. Dry skin brushing is quick, inexpensive and effective in cleansing your bodies' largest organ: the skin! This health practice stimulates circulation and helps to cleanse the body inside and out through the elimination of toxins through the pores. 

  • Make sure your skin brush has organic, natural bristles and a nice long handle to reach your entire body. 
  • Strip down, hop in the tub and begin brushing your body with the dry brush, starting with the extremities and working towards the heart.  
  • You may do this a few times, overlapping areas as you go. 
  • Shower off (using hot and cold water alternating, if you like) and apply a thin layer of oil when you hop out. 

ONE DAY I'LL TRY...

YONI EGGS

The best kept secret of China’s Royal Palace

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First thing's first - let's get some terminology down. "'Yoni' is a Sanskrit word for the female genitalia that means “sacred space.” Its symbol has been worshiped in Eastern cultures since ancient times for bestowing life, creativity and love." A Yoni Egg (also called a Jade Egg or Love Egg) is carved from semiprecious stone, polished, and made to be held in your vagina. Hello! This ancient practice is said to have existed for over 5000 years by Chinese empresses and concubines in the Royal Palace, and was held secret by select Taoist practitioners and the royal family until only recently. There seems to be a wealth of health benefits that accompany this alternative health practice, including the following:

  • Increased libido and awakened sensuality.
  • Increased natural lubrication, even after menopause. Balanced estrogen levels.
  • Tightening of the vaginal walls; awakening of the tissues, organs, and muscles; promotion of new nerve growth, and increased overall sensitivity. 
  • Overcoming issues with infertility.
  • Reduced PMS, menstrual cramps and the duration of your menses.

This seems to be an intimate way to learn more about yourself and perhaps a partner that you are exploring with. You can learn more about this practice here.


LEARNING ABOUT AND LOVING...

GREEN COFFEE ENEMAS

HEALING AND HYDRATION FROM THE INSIDE OUT

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I have always been intrigued with gut/organ cleansing so when Green Coffee came onto my radar I was all ears. Much of my health regime throughout my life has focused on cleansing my colon and other organs to support the cleanest elimination and the happiest skin. I have also yo-yo'd with ever really feeling properly hydrated, absorption of nutrients, and neutralizing an acidic, fiery system. These are all the reasons and more that I decided to give this practice a try. There is TONS of information on Green Coffee Enemas, and I really encourage you to do your own research on this one as it may not be for everyone. In general, you can generally expect to feel relief from constipation and an increase in energy, along with any of the following.

Health benefits that coffee enema supporters have noted:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Increases energy
  • Stops yeast overgrowth
  • Treats autoimmune diseases
  • Removes parasites from the digestive tract
  • Removes heavy metals from the body
  • Treats depression
  • Treats cancer

The best thing we can do is approach alternative health practices as an amazing opportunity to learn about ourselves and what works in our individual systems. Keep an open mind and reach out to professionals in the community who can guide you. Support others that are nurturing their own health and ask constructive questions, free of judgement. What an amazing gift it is to be in control of your own health or taking the steps to get there.

Wishing you so much love and support as you adventure through your health journey! 

 

 

 

Monthly Beats: Christmas Flow

If you're like me, you cannot get enough of the Christmas holidays. 'Tis the season for fuzzy blankets, bottomless cups of tea, and watching Elf on an endless loop.

For those wanting to practice a slow flow, but caught between weathering the winter woes outside and staying in by the warm fireplace, hit play on this perfectly curated Christmas setlist and let the season be bright.

10 More Minutes! 5 Postures to Incorporate Into Your Morning Snooze Routine

Snooze, transition, repeat. 

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"I opened two gifts this mornings. They were my eyes."


If you're like me you love to roll around in bed for at least 10 minutes when you first awaken before bursting onto the daytime scene - hit snooze (a few times) and blink slowly, gently taking stock of the day's outline.

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In my early 20s I was always leaping out of bed, mortified that I was late for something, had slept through a commitment or had forgotten where I was supposed to be. Waking up anxious is a real tone-setter and can throw the course of an entire day; if you continually associate mornings with stress and negativity chances are they will keep giving you that. Rude, I know. 

Enter: YOUR MORNING BED ROUTINE

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By giving yourself that bit of extra slow time before you even consider leaving the womb of warm blankets and dream remnants is a quick, simple and important way to create a more peaceful and directed day. After all, they ARE called sun salutations. There is something wonderful about connecting to Self and surroundings in the first part of your day, thanking nature for showing up again, just as you have, just as she always does. 

To get you in the mood, might we suggest:


Enjoying mornings - alongside enjoying most things - starts with the time and attention you put into it. Here's our quick and easy morning bed routine to ease you into your day and into the world. 10 more minutes never felt so good! 


Supta Baddha Konasana | Reclined Butterfly

You might have even woke up like this, so just go with it. Find support from pillows as you allow breath to flood down your front line. Gently open the hips, soften the upper back, shoulders and collarbones, and maintain your relaxed state for as long as your morning allows. This is a gentle posture to keep you supported and calm. 

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Pavanamuktasana | Wind Relieving Pose

The natural progression from a gentle front-line opening might be to give it a little squish. Not only does this posture (done on both sides to balance) give the hip flexors a nice massage, it is toning for the digestive system and cleansing for the organs. 

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Apanasana | Reclined Knees To Chest

It's a wonderful thing to squish yourself, especially with spine to the earth (or bed). This posture gently restores the spine, compresses the hips and legs, encouraging a sort opening in the shoulders. Plus, it's just so comforting. 

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Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana| Reclined spinal twist

After a night in bed, settled into your bones and fully relaxing, a twist is an excellent idea to restore balance back to centre and to create a little pressure massage in the midline. Notice how your body creaks, don't force anything, and use your breath as a cleanser up and down the vertebrae. You might be able to stay here forever. Cancel everything. 

 

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Balasana | Childs Pose

Maybe this is how you woke up, snuggling your bed and so relaxed you're drooling. This posture is meant to make us feel cradled, supported and held. As you gently open the hips and shoulders you are also connecting earthward in this shape of reverence. Perhaps this is a nice place to set an intention for your day... or fall back asleep!   

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“Listen to the salutation to the dawn,
Look to this day for it is life; the very life of life,
In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of our existence.

The bliss of growth, the splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well spent makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope,
Such is the salutation to the dawn.”
— Sanskrit Salutation to the Dawn

Go ahead and hit snooze, but just be sure to move into the next restorative posture when the alarm sounds!

Mega thanks to my heart buddy Kaitie Degen for rolling around in bed an extra few hours. If you're interested in Reiki treatments she practices out of her beautiful home in downtown Edmonton.

Contact kaitiedegen13@hotmail.com to learn more. 

xo 

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Releasing Your Ego

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“Leave your ego at the door.”

We all hear our instructors say it at least once during class in one form or another, but how often do we actually follow through? It can be hard to release the mindset that we have to do a more challenging asana or class only because we think we are just that good at yoga.

I appreciate the reminder from my instructor to leave my ego elsewhere at the beginning of class, but I would argue that one should abandon their ego well before class starts with that first savasana.

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As an on-and-off yoga practitioner for the past 4 years, I’ve realized how often I let my ego interfere with my day-to-day decisions – whether it be within the class itself, or even allowing it to influence which class I choose to attend.

Thoughts that used to run through my head (and still do occasionally) include but are not limited to:

I should take the more challenging class because I’m more advanced than the basic beginners class.

I should go deeper because I was able to last time. Most people in this class are going deeper so I should follow suit.

I work here; people expect me to be good at this, so I should try all the advanced variations of postures.
— Dean's Mind
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What came as a result of these types of thoughts? Feelings of inadequacy when I couldn’t achieve deeper postures, frustration at pushing myself through an advanced class when my body was protesting, painful muscles and joints that were likely challenged too much, and a restlessness that continued post class where I did not feel relaxed or at ease at all.

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First off, I’m in no way saying that one shouldn’t challenge themselves in class. I think if you feel motivated to try an advanced posture or practice, by all means do it. Just reflect on your reason why. If your reason for going deeper is because you believe you’ve progressed enough in your practice to take on this challenge safely, and you feel it will enhance your mind and body then you’re working towards your own improvement. If your reason for going deeper into a posture, or even selecting a more challenging class is to inflate your perception of your abilities as a practitioner in lieu of serving your body’s needs then maybe your rationale is more ego driven.

When we allow pride to take precedence over doing what we know will feel better for our body and mind is when this attachment to satisfying the ego becomes toxic.

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We start to do postures beyond our capabilities, and take classes that make us feel angry, frustrated and tired. We avoid classes that our body likely needs because we view them as “too gentle to be beneficial”. We side step restorative and instead take a powerful flow class. We avoid yin and instead force ourselves into a high level hot flow and at the end of it all we find the classes we choose because of our ego aggravate physical pains that yoga is typically supposed to alleviate. In this sense, pride can be a dangerous thing.

Again, having an appreciation for your abilities, and rising to a challenge when you feel up to it should be celebrated. The key phrase here is “when you feel up to it”. At the same time, we need to appreciate the role that various styles of yoga can play in our lives, and select classes based on what we feel our body and mind needs, as opposed to satisfying our ego. That sometimes means going to a class labeled “beginner” so that we may move through postures more slowly and mindfully. It means selecting a yin class when we feel the need to slow down, elongate our stretches and focus on our breath.  It means practicing in such a way that we are conscious of when we’ve reached our limit, and allowing our body that respect by listening, and slowing down when we need to slow down.

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It’s tough to let go of our ego wholly, but to be aware of it, and to attempt to release it when it flits into our practice (in the same way a stray thought can move in on our meditation) is one of the most effective steps in catering your yoga practice to what you need.

As a way of allowing our clients the ability to select class based on what they feel their body needs, and keep our students aware of the type of class, and the level of difficulty that each instructor offers at Yogalife, we follow a star system. The number of stars indicates the level of challenge that instructor practices at. This way, to navigating the various styles and practices that our unique instructors add to a class labeled with the same title, such as “Hot Flow” is easier and allows our students insight into what level of difficulty a class might be


1 star: * Gentle to Beginner Friendly

2 stars: ** Beginner Friendly to Intermediate intensity

3 stars: *** Intermediate to Advanced Practitioners


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Remember, your yoga should be practiced in such a way that it serves the body and mind wholly and not just your pride. Invite enhanced consciousness and self awareness so that you may practice in a manner that is safe, and effective for you.

See you on the mat. Namaste.

Wrist Pain & Yoga: Physiotherapy & Yoga Perspectives on How to Resolve

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Yoga is a great form of exercise that not only incorporates stretching, but also mindful awareness of your body through movement.

There are many schools of yoga with a wide variety of different poses. One of the most common schools of yoga is hatha yoga. The movement sequences, or flows, in hatha yoga incorporate exercises where you need to put body weight through your wrists. For example, downward-facing dog is one such pose.

It’s not uncommon for some people to experience wrist pain when doing these wrist-loading exercises. Wrist pain when doing body-weighted yoga poses can be a result from an old injury, a muscle imbalance or overtraining.  Although you may feel your yoga practice is limited because of this, don’t fear!

In this article, Innovation Physical Therapy & Yogalife are teaming up to bring you a complementary perspective on this issue.

Wrist Pain in Yoga

There are a variety of yoga poses that can load the wrists. Downward Facing Dog, Upward Facing Dog, Plank and Chaturanga are among the most common poses especially in a Vinyasa style class.

There are quite a number of bones that make up the wrist joint. 13 in fact! These bones work together to provide flexibility and stability to the wrist. Wrist pain can occur in a number of places, but the most common would be just below the thumb in the small divot that shows up when you spread all your fingers. As well, pain can commonly be experienced on both the front and back of the wrist.

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Yoga Recommendations on How to Reduce Wrist Pain

When starting out in yoga, there is a common tendency to grip like a bear into the yoga mat.  This can end up causing pain at the base of the wrist. When you’re in the plank position lowering down to Chaturanga (or half push up), your elbows need to stay close to your body. Your legs should remain engaged while you lower down to the floor. This will keep your weight distributed throughout the body rather than using only your hands to lower your body.

One of the main instruction cues that yoga teachers remind students during a weighted wrist pose is to focus on pressing down into the base of the  thumb and index finger. This helps to take the pressure off of your wrist. When you’re starting out in yoga, it’s easy to lift your thumb and index finger off of the matt which causes excess tension and body weight to be translated through your wrist.

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Another important strategy to reduce wrist pain is to activate your core a little more so your body weight shifts away from your wrists. It’s also important to not forget your legs. Activating your legs in any pose (even a handstand) will help you lift your weight out of your hands and spread it more throughout your body.

It can also be helpful to stretch your wrist muscles as well as opposing movement to help relieve any of the repetitive strain you may feel when practicing yoga.

If yoga students need to reduce or avoid weight bearing through their wrists then yoga instructors can adapt poses to help reduce wrist strain. This could include weight bearing through the forearms as opposed to the wrists (e.g.baby cobra instead of upward facing dog for instance) or using a closed fist (e.g. during chaturanga) to help maintain the wrist in neutral alignment.

Finally, it may be necessary to look at transitioning to a more gentle class style that has fewer wrist loading poses.

PT Recommendations on How to Reduce Wrist Pain

As physiotherapists, we focus on understanding the root of your pain and it’s no different if you are experiencing pain in your wrists during yoga.

It is hard to say what could be causing your wrist pain since we have not physically examined your wrists or upper body. But assuming no specific injuries, there is one foundational concept we find helpful in those with wrist issues during yoga.

The concept we want to share is the importance of opposing muscles sharing an equal amount of tension and length. Let us explain.

You have muscles on the front of your forearm (that let you grip) and muscles on the back of the forearm (that let you extend your fingers). These muscles cross the wrist. When one group of muscles tightens more than the other, the unfortunate result can be increased strain through your wrist joint.

We do a lot of gripping in life (writing, holding things, opening doors, lifting weights, etc) so it’s likely that your wrist flexors will become shortened in relation to your wrist extensors. This can strain your wrist and you may find yourself experiencing pain with yoga poses.

The solution: Start working on strengthening your wrist extensors. This Youtube video walks you through what this looks like. Low weights are ok (typically 1-3 pounds) and focus on working up to 3 sets of 15.

 

It goes without saying that getting assessed by a physiotherapist is important to understand what is going on. There are many other reasons for wrist dysfunction! Also you may experience numbness and tingling in your hand and fingers. This is something not to ignore and should be looked into.

Key Takeaways

We hope you found this article helpful bringing together two different perspectives on wrist pain during yoga. Here are your key takeaways:

  • Engage your leg muscles while doing yoga poses so your weight can begin to move throughout the body and not just your hands
  • Increase your contract pressure through your thumb and index finger during wrist load bearing poses so pressure through the wrist is reduced
  • Balance the muscles that cross your wrist joint by strengthening your wrist
  • Adjust your poses to take weight off your wrists

Next Steps

Need to dig a little deeper? We’d recommend you give Innovation Physical Therapy a call to get an in-depth assessment of your movement challenges. They have 6 physiotherapy clinic locations throughout Edmonton & Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, Sherwood Park and West Henday (January 2018).

 

For all our Yogalife guests, you can now benefit from Yogalife priority bookings, rates and access to their therapeutic facilities through our new Yogalife + Innovation Physical Therapy priority access program. Simply, provide your Yogalife member number at time of booking. Call (587) 524-8200 to book an appointment.

Disconnect to Reconnect: Taking a Break From Technology

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Technology is likely the most dynamic industry that experiences exponential growth every year. Whole keynote talks are dedicated to the release of a new phone with thousands of people in attendance, and then even more lining up in store to be the first owners of the latest handheld gadgets.

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We are fascinated by social media and the latest apps that allow us to express ourselves on a public platform. However, are we really using social media to be, as the name would suggest, more social?

The interesting, and often ironic observation that has been made by many about technology and the social media movement is it’s inherent ability to both connect and build barriers between people. Take, for example, your cell phone. It has the ability to connect individuals thousands of kilometers apart as if they’re right next to each other, yet when you walk into most coffee shops  these days, people who are physically right next to each other seem divided and buried in their phone screens. Instead of experiencing a concert, or once in a lifetime event firsthand, you often see youth of today experiencing these social situations through their phone screen, making sure to record and document each moment to share later with their followers.

I’m totally guilty of this. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram, it’s almost exclusively concerts, selfies, and food pictures. So rest assured, I am in no way being critical of those who are engaged in this practice, as I am one of them.
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We’re simply adapting to the times. This generation happens to be one that has technology and social media integrated into almost all of life’s circumstances. Life events such as babies being born, to travelling the world, to having dinner with friends, to even purchasing your favorite fall-themed caffeinated beverage with a backdrop of coloured leaves are all being documented with the perfect filter. We are constantly documenting, posting, and reading other’s social media but amidst all this, we lack authentic connections. Humans are social creatures – without true social interactions we are in a way, betraying our very nature.

 

For that reason, it’s important that we, as frequently as possible, take a break from all this information. 

 

While I’ve already admitted to being a consumer and distributer of social media, I know there is importance in taking time away from my phone, computer and television.


So what are some key concepts to help us disconnect from technology to reconnect to ourselves and those around us?

Don’t be afraid of being bored.

In some cases, addiction to social media stems from a fear of being bored. Again, I am a prime example of this. Whenever I have “nothing to do”, my first instinct is to reach for my phone and check Instagram. What have people posted? Should I post? What funny pictures can I find today?

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Some psychologists argue that boredom is a prerequisite for true creativity. As children, who were of a generation that lacked tablet computers and cell phones, when we were bored, we eventually transformed into different people to pull us out of our boredom. Some of us became artists, who painted pictures. Some of us became carpenters who built structures out of cups and popsicle sticks. Others became nature junkies searching for interesting rocks to skip across ponds. This is partly why the advent of adult colouring books has become popular to this generation. We want to return to simpler times.

Get creative.

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“Disconnect to reconnect” doesn’t mean that your disconnected time is solely meditation or time where you do nothing. It just means doing something unplugged. If you like to paint, paint something. If you like to write, grab your notebook. If your a musician  dust off your guitar or piano keys. Do something that comes purely from you that is not influenced by others. Tapping into your inner creativity will help re-acquaint you with your true self. 

 

Give yourself time to “power down”.

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Before bed, give yourself at least an hour or two where you do nothing on your computer, television, or cell phone. Firstly, studies have indicated that light from our devices is perceived by our brains the same way that photons of sunlight during the daytime hitting our retinas are. Essentially we’re tricking our bodies into thinking it’s daytime during the night, thus delaying our ability to go to bed. Secondly, when you don’t have reminders of your “to do lists” or instant access to social media, it allows us to reach a level of natural calm before bed without stressing out over answering those emails.

Keep your phones at bay when interacting with friends

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Probably the most important concept to me personally, is to make sure that I am giving all of my attention to those around me. Getting together with friends, I find, gets harder every year to coordinate, as people’s schedules and personal lives get busier. I want to cherish the moments I do have with those important to me, and make sure I honour their commitment to our friendship by being present whole-heartedly with them in that moment. Put your phone on silent, and put it out of sight. Listen to your friends. It’s so much more important to be engaged with those who matter to you than to post that picture of the artisanal doughnut you had the other day, perfectly plated and filtered.

When you have time, meditate.

Previously we posted a quick and easy guide to starting a meditation practice (see article here) and that falls directly in line with this concept of disconnecting. Silent time with yourself to breathe, and focus inwardly is so important in a generation where we’re constantly stimulated and bombarded with information.

Give yourself the luxury of purposefully doing nothing. It’s such a cleansing practice, and so easy to do. Just find a comfy place to sit, close your eyes, and breathe.

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Seva Canada: Our Karma Yoga Charity

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80% of global blindness is treatable or preventable if given proper care and attention.

The Yogalife community spends a lot of time meticulously sorting through many worthwhile charities to donate the proceeds from our Karma classes to, and the next charity we’ve selected to support is Seva Canada.

SEVA IS A VANCOUVER-BASED CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION WHOSE MISSION IS TO RESTORE SIGHT AND PREVENT BLINDNESS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
— Seva Canada

The focus of Seva is to help the estimated 36 million people around the world who are living with blindness, and the 217 million others with visual impairment – 80% of global blindness is treatable or preventable if given proper care and attention. According to Seva, half of the world’s blindness is “caused by cataracts, a reversible condition that requires a 15-minute, $50 operation”.

Helping to restore an individual’s vision is considered by the World Bank as “one of the most cost-effective health interventions” that can aid people in breaking the cycle of poverty. Restoring vision allows people to take better care of themselves, increases employability, allows individuals the opportunity to acquire an education and can help individuals contribute to their communities.


Seva has 5 main focuses:


Sight for Women

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According to Seva, two-thirds of the world’s blind are women and girls, who in developing countries are far less likely to access eye care services because of multiple socioeconomic barriers that they face. Seva Canada has collaborated with KCCO, based out of Africa who has been researching the gender inequity in the treatment of blindness. Publication of said research was funded by Seva, which is helping to shift the movement of equitable eye care in developing countries.

 

Sight for Children

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Seva looks to expand pediatric eye care services around the world, which is exceptionally challenging as treating children with visual impairments has a higher associated medical cost as more specialized equipment and general anesthetic are typically required in these cases. Seva-funded pediatric programs start in poor and remote countries, with teams helping to organize surgeries and appropriate treatments for children identified as having a visual impairment and also provide education to families on how to maintain healthy vision for the rest of their life.

 

Sustainability

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Ultimately the programs that Seva supports are aiming for ongoing sustainability without having to rely on donations or foreign support. Seva looks to empower communities with the ability to provide on-going access to eye care.

 

 

Training

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Seva Canada funds a variety of strategic training initiatives to enhance knowledge in low-income settings, from the level community health volunteers to highly skilled opthamologists. The knowledge-base needs to be present for these programs to be successful, and Seva hopes to provide a means for the professionals involved in the care of those with visual impairment with appropriate training.

 

Universal Access

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Seva Canada’s largest ambition is to provide universal access to vision care at the farthest corners of globe, continually moving towards breaking down barriers mentioned before, that prevent people from accessing proper care.


Photo by Pete Longworth Photography

Photo by Pete Longworth Photography

As part of our contribution to Seva Canada, we will be hosting a Karma class at Yogalife Studios North on Thursday October 12th (World Sight Day) from 5 to 6 PM called Sweat for Sight. This will be a special blindfolded class that gives participants the experience of the challenges moving with a visual impairment. We hope you can join us for this special event.


For more information on Seva Canada, and to donate, please visit their website at:

BLOOM YOGA: Not-To-Miss Offerings

Find our mats rolled out at these classes at Bloom Festival 2017

photo taken from www.itstimetobloom.com

photo taken from www.itstimetobloom.com

Over the last few weeks we've been sharing our excitement over all the incredible offerings that compose our favourite hometown community gathering, Bloom Festival 2017. Perhaps you were inspired by a book you devoured, drawn to the rich musical component of the festival, intrigued by one of the many amazing speakers and learning opportunities, and the stacked line-up of teachers bringing their juiciest practices. Bloom is for everyone, bursting with world-class inspiration. Check out our top picks for practice this year; we're wishing we could be everywhere at once but we're extra excited to roll out our mats at the following classes:


“We are beyond excited to share with you the Bloom Festival 2017 Line Up . This is going to be a transformative life experience.”

— MYRAH & ROBINDRA

VIEW THE FULL BLOOM FESTIVAL 2017 YOGA SESSION LINE UP HERE


photo taken from www.itstimetobloom.com

photo taken from www.itstimetobloom.com

Balance In Space - Find Your Roots with Ryan Leier

Friday October 6, 2017 9:00am - 10:30am

Balancing postures demand our full, wakeful attention, the mind needs to be quiet to focus on the task at hand; or we fall over! That's why these poses can instill a deep sense of calm even though they require intense, unwavering alertness. Learn the secrets of standing, arm and hand balancing. In this playful workshop Ryan shares techniques to properly ground and center in order to fly high!  

Passionate and inspirational, Ryan Leier brings a creative energy to every class he teaches; whether in his own One Yoga studios or as an ambassador of yoga to communities around the world. We can't wait to have him back in the city and sharing his heart's work. 


Spiritual Graffiti: Finding Your True Path with MC YOGI

Friday October 6, 2017 1:00pm - 2:00pm

MC YOGI always brings an amazing vibe and spirit to the Bloom community and we are so excited to have him back on the line-up this year. 

Join hip hop artist, yoga teacher, and author MC YOGI and his wife and renowned graffiti artist, 10,000 Buddhas, for an uplifting and inspiring practice filled with insights and stories from their own journey of finding yoga, love, and leading a purpose-filled and creative life. 

This is a session that will be geared to the inner city youth that we are inviting to the festival; Bloom has invited 500-600 kids from 4 different Junior High Schools in the city to attend. This is a teaser class for the Spiritual Graffiti Class happening the next day. 


Navigating The Edge with Danielle Murray and Erica Dee

Saturday October 7, 2017 10:00am - 11:30am

Danielle Murray is an Alberta yoga veteran and instructor at Empowered Yoga. You can catch her at Yogalife Studios, freshly moved from Whitecourt! Her Bloom workshop is set to the musical stylings of Erica Dee who offers playful melodies over energetic rhythms with a magnetic presence.

In this 2 hour workshop we will learn to navigate the edge. The edge is an uncomfortable and scary place to be.  As adults we tend to avoid experiences and situations that put us in a vulnerable position. This workshop provides us the opportunity to get comfortable with being uncomfortable at the edge. Yes, we may fall down, we may stumble, we may fail. That is how the greatest lessons are learned. We may also find courage, strength, resilience, acceptance, understanding and even JOY. 


We are so excited to connect with our community in this deep, immersive experience of yoga. See you on your mat! 

8 Ways to Improve Your Immune System Naturally

Anyone who suffers from hayfever will be as qualified as possible to attest to having a healthy and robust immune system. If you’ve got a seasonal allergy to the pollen of plants and grass, you’ll be well aware of your immune system going to work. Of course it’s not pleasant as you sneeze heartily and repeatedly and your eyes water incessantly, but it’s still good to know what your body is guarded against invaders and will dispatch histamines at a moment’s notice when a transgressor is detected.

Rather a shame that those pollen particles are a false alarm, but the immune system’s taking no chances!

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For the rest of us, you’re probably not going to be aware every time you’ve got neutrophils on the march taking on bacteria, viruses, and the like but they go into action pretty darn often. Having a healthy immune system is very important for every human, and there’s natural ways you can improve the function of your immune system. Let’s have a look at them.

While there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that making the following diet / lifestyle choices can help you have improved immunity, with the diet changes being particularly highly recommended by Sherri Danrin, a naturopathic doctor specializing in immunology and a regular contributor at YesWellness

 

1. Eat A Diet High In Fruits, Vegetables, and Whole Grains, Plus Low In Saturated Fat

A very telling fact is that scientists have long determined that people who live in poverty and are malnourished as a result are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. This increased susceptibility is a result of micronutrient deficiencies, and in particular not getting enough zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, B6, and Vitamin E. If you have reason to believe you’re deficient in any of these vitamins (click here for an easy quick-reference chart for vitamin deficiency syndromes) you can address them via dietary sources or quality supplements.

 

2. Exercise Regularly

Getting regular vigorous exercise – which means getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat – is so beneficial for improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, controlling body weight AND supercharging your immune system to defend against viruses and disease. A large part of this is due to the fact that it promotes improved blood circulation, which allows cells and the different substance components of the immune system to move through the body freely and complete their job with maximum efficiency.

Important note; do not push yourself too hard when aiming to exercise vigorously. Know your limits of exertion, and if you need to take a break then take one. If you ever feel faint or can’t handle the strain, stop immediately.

 

3. Maintain A Healthy Body Weight

This point is added here immediately following exercise because one promotes the other, and they’re both helpful ways to improve your immune system naturally. And yes, that’s in large part because your circulation will be much improved when your hearts’ not working nearly as hard to pump blood throughout your body as it was before you lost body weight. 

 

4. Control Blood Pressure

The important thing to understand here is that there is a relationship between prolonged stress and high blood pressure (hypertension), which in turn limits your immune system’s ability to product T-cells, which it uses to fight infections. Maintaining a low blood pressure will prevent your adrenal glands from being hyper stimulated and producing too much adrenaline and noradrenaline, which leads to a rather vicious cycle where the weakened immune system promotes more stress, which promotes more hypertension, which promotes further weakening of the immune system.

You get the idea, keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels and regulated is highly advisable here.

 

5. Get Sufficient Quality Sleep

By getting sufficient AND quality sleep, we mean a) getting enough of it (most people need 7 hours a night) and b), making sure you go through all of the 4 stages of sleep. As regards the second point there, the importance of getting through all of these stages is important as the N3 (3rd) stage is where you get your deepest and most restorative sleep and cellular energy is provided to the different systems of the body, including the immune system.

In order to establish a good circadian rhythm and get the best and most thorough sleep, try to establish consistency with the time you go to bed and wake up each day. Sleeping in on the weekends or days off may be appealing, but it’s best not to.

 

6. Drink Alcohol In Moderation and Don’t Smoke

This one will likely be fairly self-explanatory for you. Drinking alcohol heavily damages your liver, and the liver works to filter contaminants out of the body. When that’s not occurring effectively, the buildup of toxins and the like affects your immune system. And most of the many harmful chemical in cigarette smoke work similarly. 

There’s a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t drink excessively or smoke, and this is just one more very valid one like all the other ones.

 

7. Be Proactive in Preventing Infections

This involves being smart and wary of know ways that viruses and pathogens are commonly transmitted to people. Wash your hands frequently, cook meats thoroughly, etc. Being very cleanly will keep you in good stead and boasting a nice tip-top immune system.

 

8. Be Wary of ‘Quick Fix’ Supplements

Many products on store shelves state that they will boost or support immunity, but in reality there really are not ‘quick fixes’ for boosting your immune system via under-the-counter supplements. Further, boosting the number of cells in your body — immune cells or otherwise — isn’t necessarily advisable. To put that in perspective, consider this; athletes who pump blood into their systems to boost their number of blood cells and enhance their performance run the risk of suffering a stroke. There’s no concrete definition of how many cells or what mix of them allows the immune system to function at its best.

No one likes to have their weekend wasted by the flu, being laid up for a month by mono, or anything of the sort. Your immune system is the last line of defense against all of these misfortunes, so make sure you do all that you can to ensure yours is primed to combat at full force all the time.

BLOOM TALK: What We're Excited For

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Bloom 2017 is just around the corner, and our studio is buzzing with excitement over all the amazing events that are sure to expand the minds of the Edmonton yoga community. Not just a yoga festival, but a music festival (see Bloom Listen), a venue to feature local artisans and vendors, and a space to host some of the most influential spiritual leaders of our generation for a key note talk (see Bloom Read on Danielle Laporte). Bloom has certainly evolved over the past 4 years. There is certainly something for everyone, but what are the Yoglifers looking to check out this year?

Below is just a small sample of the many performances, workshops and events that Bloom 2017 is bringing to our city this year.

Daniela Andrade– An Intimate Evening Concert

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Not a yogi? Not seeking spiritual self help? No problem. If you’re looking for a chill evening to groove to the swoon-worthy vocals of Daniela Andrade, a Canadian Youtube musical sensation known for her smooth covers and original songs, Thursday evening (October 5) of Bloom 2017 is where you want to be. Daniela’s style is stripped-down, raw acoustics with her sultry vocals adding a whole new interpretation to her covers, and enriching her original tracks. Thursday evening will also be an opportunity to shop over 40 artisans and vendors.

 

Guru Jagat – A Keynote Talk on Invincible Living

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Guru Jagat is considered the current face of Kundalini Yoga and is a pioneer in her field having founded RA MA, the Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology – a leading Yoga School in Venice California and Mallorca, Spain. A pupil of Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Master who brought the practice of Kundalini Yoga to the states, Guru Jagat’s keynote talk is sure to provide rich layers of insight into what she calls “Invincible Living”.

 

 

River Valley Hike with Garth Stevenson

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World-renowned, Canadian yoga musician Garth Stevenson will be leading a hike and meditation through Edmonton’s River Valley. A unique experience with aworld class double bassist known for creating atmospheric music used by Yoga instructors around the world with the fall colours of our beautiful river valley as the backdrop? It’s a combination of so many beautiful elements for all the senses. You definitely want to be a part of this.

 

 

Ryan Leier

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Founder of One Yoga studios, trained under the lineage of Krishamacharya Yoga, and currently studying under Father Joe Pereira, Ryan offers a practice that is rich with experience that is sure to expand the yoga of those in attendance. Ryan’s energy is dynamic and empowering, with his talks offering ancient yogic wisdom delivered in such a way that is palatable for the people of today.

 

 


Finally, we’re so excited and incredibly proud to have some of our very own instructors representing our beautiful community on such an expansive platform.


Sarah Zandbeek

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Our very own Yoga Teacher Training facilitator, Sarah Zandbeek will be leading a practice that is sure to immerse you in her world of all encompassing yoga. For Sarah Yoga is everything – how we use our bodies and breath to communicate with the world around us, but also receive the information that the world is trying to tell us.

 

Danielle Murray

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Danielle Murray, a figure of strength in the Edmonton Yoga community, and a facilitator of Empowered Yoga, her powerful practice is sure to get you working hard. In addition to her powerful practice, her insight and experience as a guide of other instructors will have you craving more opportunities to deepen your practice with this gem in our community.

 

 

Cole Williston

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The energetic style of Cole Williston adds humour to a practice saturated with wisdom and experience that he has acquired from multiple certifications, most notably, his over 200 hours of immersion into Acro Yoga. His practice is sure to have you working, laughing and appreciating the importance of play within our yoga practice.


For more information on the amazing yogis, artists, and speakers coming to Bloom 2017, check out their website below!

Balance Desk Stress With These 3 Poses

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It's that time again! September marks the "new year" for desk-related activities: school, work, or just hunkering down into projects as the season starts to change. As humans we spend a significant amount of time rounded forward or hunched into our front body, closing off the anterior cuff of the shoulder and rounding into the upper spine. Even taking a few minutes to stretch and restore can do wonders when you're in go mode. 


Check in with your posture this very moment as you read this and notice how your body sits naturally. 


Posture and general alignment of the body is a conscious effort, and often that gentle check-in or reminder helps us get back in form. This is an amazing habit to get into as you clack away at your desk, along with taking breaks and throwing in some stretches. Here's our top 3 favourite postures to make those long work sessions and study marathons a little more comfortable. 

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Balasana | Childs Pose

Anahatasana | Melting Heart Pose

Tried and true, these two postures give you front body space and release from the ankles up through the belly, heart, shoulders and out the fingers. Balasana offers a gentle compression in the hips, providing release and restoration from prolonged sitting, and by rooting our forehead and softening the face and throat you are invited to relax deeper. Anahatasana is a more active variation to open the front and side channels of the body, offering release through the intercostal muscles surrounding the ribs up through the sidelines of the shoulders as well as the heart and belly. Try the side variation for added space, holding an equal(ish) amount on either side!

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Parivrtta Anjaneyasana | Revolved Lunge Pose

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana is a beautiful compression or wring-out for the spine, organs and digestive system. After sitting, rounding and/or slouching, this is a reset button. Traditionally, this posture has been believed to stimulate the third chakra - the body's centre of energy and vitality. At any modification - back knee down, hands at heart, with a full bind, etc - it is a source of internal strength, confidence and courage.

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Uttanasana | Standing Forward Fold

I've often said a forward fold can change your life. The intention behind this posture can vary, so set it before you begin. Generally, this shape lengthens your entire back line, creating space in the spine and hamstrings especially. Perhaps you need a charge, moving into the posture with engagement and activity throughout the arms, legs and heart. Inversely, you may bask in the restorative side, rounding through the natural curves of the spine and softening the knees. Send clear, clean breath up and down the spinal column with gentle awareness through your crown. Mmm. 

Take the time to stretch, nourish yourself and not look at a screen or pour over a textbook as you return back to the grind of life. A regular yoga practice will ensure you can sit even longer, whether that's in silence or in hustle. Check in with your spine often and don't work too hard! 

Finding Stillness: Meditation for Beginners

Photos in this blog courtesy of Caitlin Varrin of Yogalife Studios, featuring Dayna Der

Photos in this blog courtesy of Caitlin Varrin of Yogalife Studios, featuring Dayna Der

Those unfamiliar with the practice of meditation may look at it as something for the New Age individuals. You know, those who are avid yoga practitioners, who create crystal grids, spend time balancing their chakras and read Rumi or Osho when they have a free moment. However, meditation is by no means a new ritual (with earliest documented practices dating back before the 5th century) nor is it confined to any group or religion. Meditation can (and should be) a purely individual practice, focused on being introspective, and finding a moment to be still amidst an often chaotic existence.


The term meditation is derived from the Latin word “meditatio”, from the verb “meditari” which simply means “to think, contemplate, devise, or ponder”.


Sounds simple enough. All you really have to do is sit and ponder things, or try not to think too much. Coming from a person who is consistently on the go, and always thinking about the next project, or item on a make-believe to-do list, I can say it’s harder than it sounds. You might ask yourself how you should be sitting? Or should you be sitting? Can I do this lying down? Should I have music? Silence?

For those new to meditation, much like myself, first attempts at the practice may involve a lot of fidgeting, twiddling ones thumbs, changing positions, and eventually giving up when one realizes that they still have to prepare their lunch for tomorrow and schedule their appointments before going to bed.

 

So where does one start when they’re so new to meditation?

For myself, it started with yoga. The cues in yoga to focus on my breathing, as opposed to the aesthetic of the posture, is what really first took my mind beyond the physical practice and into the meditative. At the end of the practice, laying supine in savasana, is where the real magic happened for me. The guidance by the instructor to acknowledge passing thought, and then allow it to flow out like the tide going into and pulling away from the shore was what was truly changed my view of meditation. I thought the goal of meditation was the pure absence of thought, but when it turned into an acknowledge-and-release style of practice, that’s when things changed, and it became something I could do on my own. 

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Loving the feeling that I got from that last 5 minutes of yoga class, I sought more information on the practice of meditation, and found a wealth of knowledge in books. For a digestible read, and something to get you started, check out “Unplug: a Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers”. It starts simply, highlighting the common misconceptions about meditation, and then offers a practical approach to integrating the practice into your lifestyle regardless of how busy you believe you are. It's a no-excuses, easy read to help get you started on incorporating stillness into your daily ritual. 

Another resource to get me started on meditation was a meditation app called Relax Meditation. The first week of meditating using this app was more akin to guided lessons that focused on preparing oneself to meditate, focused attention, practicing awareness, and living in the present moment. The audio on this app, as well as the options to add ambient noise, and even low frequency noises geared at stimulating brainwaves was great. It’s also handy to use as a basic app, where you can choose your “nature sounds”, music (or no music) and just set a timer that will chime once your meditation is complete.

 

 

 

 

Finally, many studios (including our very own!) offer guided meditation classes. Apps are great, and an individual practice is a healthy habit to get into, but sometimes, an in-person, guided meditation in a space that is away from home (which can sometimes subconsciously remind us of those to-do lists) is what we need to reset, and unwind from our fast-paced life. If you’re interested in attending one of our guided meditation classes check out our schedule here.


What are my basic tips for starting a meditation practice?

Like any physical exercise you do (yoga, running, cycling, weight lifting) make meditation a priority.

Set aside time in your day for a meditation practice and try to make it consistent. It’s as important as anything else on your to-do list.

Start small.

Maybe your practice starts at 10 minutes a day, where you sit, and just focus on your breathing before bed. Again, your mind is allowed to be chaotic at the beginning. At this stage, try and just acknowledge each passing thought from a third-person perspective, and release it when your mind feels satisfied.

Seek guidance.

Guided meditation was a good place for me to start, as I needed some verbal cuing to tell me how to refocus my mind and release extraneous thoughts. Whether it’s in one of our classes or via an app, some direction is good when you’re first starting out.

Make it a ritual. Make it feel special.

Probably my most important tip. For me I make my meditation practice time feel special. If I have the time to go to a class at the studio, that already is innately special time in a special setting. If I’m restricted to doing a home practice, then I make it as atmospheric as possible. I meditate in silence, but I take this opportunity to light my favourite candle, lay out my soft yoga mat, and wrap a soft blanket I once splurged on at a yoga festival around my head and shoulders. For me there’s something comforting about being wrapped in something during a meditation practice.


Looking to start your meditation practice? Check out our class schedule here for more information on our guided meditation classes!