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!

BLOOM READ: A Book Review of Danielle Laporte’s White Hot Truth

As part of our lead up to Bloom 2017, Yogalife Studios' blog will be featuring posts about all things Bloom. Bloom reads (books), Bloom listen (music), and Bloom yoga. Keep an eye for these posts as they will be coming up right away!

Danielle Laporte: Raw, real, spiritual and best of all, Canadian.

Danielle is a celebrated author, inspirational speaker, successful blogger and entrepreneur with a voice that is palatable for those actively seeking a base in spirituality, and spiritual skeptics like myself. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t totally un-spiritual; White Hot Truth wasn’t my first delve into the world of spiritual self-help. My mother was an avid follower of the Oprah book club after all. But I always approached these types of books with a bit of trepidation – how can I relate to people who spend significant portions of their lives talking to shamans, monks, spiritual leaders both famous and unheard of. A few chapters into Danielle’s latest installment eased those paranoia’s almost instantly. It also gets me excited for her visit to our city when Bloom rolls around!

First, let’s establish the facts. Danielle says it herself in this book, that she is not necessarily giving advice on what you (the reader) should do to fix your life – she is merely documenting her experiences with spiritual practices and self-help culture, and her journey through the messier times in her life with the hope that we can relate and apply whatever we can to our own circumstances.

 

One of the most relatable themes in this book was the idea of spiritual selectivity both within ourselves and within others.

 

Simply, is what we’re doing to ourselves, and what we’re adopting from others truly serving us or are we being sucked into a New Age vortex of spiritual trends, or as Danielle puts it “spiritual glamour”? Do we help others by truly listening to their issues and provide real support, or do we simply judge those individuals and throw new age jargon their way thinking it’s helping, when actually it’s seizing an opportunity to demonstrate spiritual superiority?

Much like Danielle says in “White Hot Truth” sometimes when we’re going through the rough stuff in our life, we would rather someone say “that really does suck. I’m here if you need” as opposed to throwing a cliché statement like “hardship is but a creation of our mind, so just change the way you think”.

 

At what point are we using our self-help knowledge to empower others, and when are we actually just being a “New Age Douche” (Danielle’s words, not mine).

 

This is just one of the themes explored in the books, but one that resonated with me personally. Other stand out chapters are understanding how to set boundaries, knowing when we are losing our power, working towards true self love, and knowing when self criticism is productive versus destructive.


As part of our Bloom prep, give Danielle Laporte’s latest book a read. It’s an engaging, raw and real take on the culture around spiritual self help, and how to navigate through our world and find what works to empower us.

 

For more information on Danielle Laporte and to perhaps join the White Hot Truth Book Club visit:

For more information on her talk at Bloom 2017 and tickets to Bloom visit:

Festival Essentials

Yogalife Edmonton Festival Bag

Summer for me generally means gallivanting and getting out there.

There are so many incredible offerings around the city and into our extended backyard to experience through the summer months. Also, as you venture further it really starts getting interesting! It can be draining to spend life out of a bag, but there's a few things I have come to call my festival essentials that make life a little more perfect out in the wild.

From Burning Man to Bass Coast, this is what's in my bag. 


*Note: Always have the sometimes-not-so-common-sense commonalities like WATER, ear plugs, sunscreen and a flashlight. Trust me. A buddy is usually a good idea too! 


Sage wellness oils

Stay Cool With This Mist

A spray bottle is a godsend on those 35+ days, and even more wonderful with essential oils added in. Pro tip? Leave it in your cooler until you're ready to spritz. Hello. 

I love Liquid Sunshine from Saje. Grapefruit, Bergamot, Lime.

This also makes a really nice (and easy/inexpensive) gift to bring along and share. Find small spritz bottles and create your own blends to gift people you meet along your adventures. I remember being given a little blue spritz bottle with water and lavender oil at Burning Man one year - it made me so happy! 

 


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Sunnies Rock

Bring extra sunglasses! Chances are you are probably bringing a few pairs if you're travelling around, but these things seem to always be on an adventure of their own when you need them the most.

Heart-shaped rocks (like the one shown here) are not essential but will always find their way into my bag at some point. I once collected enough heart rocks at Shambhala Music Festival to bring to my entire yoga retreat the following week. Good vibes, man. 


Pure essential oil blend

Pura & Pages

In an ideal world I would bring Pura Botanicals everything along with me, but it's nice to have a little slice of home in the form of this petite sample oil blend. This particular one has peppermint - a beauty for the occasional aches and pains that come along with excessive music, dancing and gallivanting! 

Another essential is a little journal. You will meet so many new friends, encounter new teachers and workshops, hear tons of new music and just generally want to document some of the magic. If you're camping, it's a really fun thing to pass around or just leave out for people to contribute to. Future self will thank you. 

You may also find yourself drawn to hang by the river or up on a hillside somewhere and reflect on these new experiences.


Home Base Blanket

A good blanket to romp around with is key. Depending where you're festivalling, you might be posted up and taking it in for awhile! Having a home base for your crew to ditch their stuff and come back to for rests and reconnects is the way to do it. I love this cotton woven one from Halfmoon - it's pretty and does the job. 


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Snap Snap

Polaroids have gone from fun to essential in my books. I usually have another camera handy, but this one is instant gratification and requires zero turnaround time! These little silly snap shots make such a lovely gift or keepsake for people you meet along the way as well. Just remember to not leave your film out in the hot sun! 


Proper Footwear (or something)

These are my go to "rave shoes" (situation depending!) that I've pranced around many festival grounds in. Yes, Burning Man too. If you're someone who loves to go barefoot but wants a little barrier of protection wrapped up in tenderness and charm, I highly recommend real dance slippers. These are not for the faint of feet though - you will hit rocks and mud and could even twist an ankle. I just love them and wear them out in the wild religiously. Proceed with care!  


As you gear up for the rest of the summer, pack wisely! What makes you most comfortable when you're out and about? How can you feel the most prepared to have the best time of your life? August brings us the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Shambhala Music Festival and Oregon Eclipse, to name a few. Safety and comfort are the biggest festival essentials - what's in your bag?

Wishing you the best time out there! 

Zen Garden

Intentional Gardening is Meditation 


“And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.” ― Shanti

The practice of yoga reaches far beyond your mat; breath and attention create the sense of union that occurs through the practice. The feeling of caring for something is so incredibly healing and the sanctuary of a garden is a powerful place to connect. Whether you have a full yard to mess about in or an assorted array of apartment plants, getting your hands in the dirt and caring for your own slice of nature is a wonderful source of meditation. Even the tiniest shrub reminds us of the cycles of the seasons and the magic and power of our planet.   


"In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous."   ―  Aristotle


 

Here's 5 simple ways to ground into your gardening practice, cultivate relaxation and connect to the craft:

  • Get to know your plants. These living, breathing entities have so much to share. Get close.
  • Sing to them, talk to them. It feels good for all parties! 
  • Create your garden as an expression of yourself. Let this be a creative outlet to connect to your internal landscape.
  • Infuse intention into the food you grow for yourself. Bottom line, you are what you eat. 
  • Reflect your goals and desires into your work. Try assigning a mantra or intention to each piece of your garden and remind yourself each time you water. 

Featured Teacher: Sarah Zandbeek

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If you've been around Yogalife Studios for a bit you've probably had an interaction with Sarah Zandbeek. From her thoughtful, informative classes and workshops to the teacher trainings facilitated each year, she is a staple member of the Yogalife family.  Today we're catching up with this beautiful human; enjoy her words!

Check out Sarah's Facebook page. Although since having a baby, she has taken a break from teaching publicly, she continues to develop and refine the teacher training each year. 


I am a woman with a curious heart and a fierce, graceful edge. I am a seeker, turning over every stone, searching the world and my Self for the truest of true. I am a Lighthouse, holding up a strong pillar, unwavering, bringing light to the depths until the light shines from below. I am a student of life, a deep lover, and a healer. At the same time, I am none of this. I am a girl trying to figure out how to exist in this world, a wanderer having forgotten my way, a student unwilling to see the teacher in front of me, and someone seeking to be healed; yet, I am always a lover and observer of life.

Every thing in its context, every thing with a lesson to be learned, everything in its place.

Om.
— Sarah

Trainings Taken:

200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training with Open Door Yoga in Vancouver 100 Hour Teacher Training with Ryan Leier, Troy Hadeed, and Dustin Fruson 200 hour Advanced Teacher Training in Bali with the brilliant and devoted Tara Judelle and the wildly, unfathomable Scott Lyons Time spent with Stephen Thomas in quiet seat studying breath and mantra University degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture at Macewan University

Share a favourite poem that inspires you:

Self Portrait

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods. I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned. If you know despair or can see it in others. I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you. If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand. I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing. I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat. I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.

-- David Whyte

 

 

What's your favourite music to practice to (or do you prefer silence?):

Anything that takes me on a journey into the deep caverns of this body.

Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction: Radiant Sutras by Lorin Roche Five Spirits by Loris Dechar The Gift - Poems of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky The Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolynn Myss ....I could go on for ever, I am a bit of a geek.

Where's your favourite vacation spot? I use to dream of being a traveller and when I became one, I used to dread coming home. Now, my favourite vacation spot is in my heart. Sounds cliche, but it is true. I like being home, I like being away...everything has its purpose and I mostly enjoy my life and the work I get to do.

What is your favourite meal to make and share with friends? Wine, cheese, crackers, olives, bread and butter and on the other hand, I love me a green smoothie. Kale is King.

What's the coolest experience you've ever had with a student? Any time a student discovers something new for the first time is pretty cool for me. Watching the growth, the mind-boggles, the ripples of awareness seeping in. It's all so cool.

What's your favourite pose/sequence/area of the body to work on? I don't know that I really think about the poses all too much, I am mostly "favouriting" the insides! Get inside, what is happening in there...something juicy surely, something a little ragged, some cob webs, a few intricate disguises, so many things.


Who inspires you? Humans inspire me. It blows my mind often how we are all having a totally different experience and view of the exact same thing. It is all so curious to me.

I am inspired mostly by those seeking their truth through the depths of hell and choosing to keep going. The ones getting pummelled by Life's sweet lessons, but their heart continues to beg the question, "but who am I really." Taking only truth and laying everything else to dissolve. The ones that are curious about something more than what they already "know." The ones willing to give it all up for Love. Those are the ones who inspire me. The ones with fight in their heart and soul that denies nothing.

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What is your favourite festival to attend?

Burning Man....yes, Burning man. Woa.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Trey Ratcliff

 

If you could study with one person who would it be and why? Lorie Dechar, I read her words and hear the refinement and depth of her wisdom.

What is the best concert you've ever been to? Ooo, hard one. Probably Radio Head, outside in Vancouver, pouring rain...total Bliss!

Where's the next place you want to travel? Switzerland :)

Share your favourite self-healing practice. Quiet Solitude steeped with rich conversation with those who have learned to listen

Share one of your life goals. To write a book.

May we share in this practice together.

xo

11 Insights on Taking a Yoga Training

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Yoga teacher training can and will change your life, and here's why.

Our 200 hour Foundational Teacher Training is just around the corner.  Facilitated by Sarah Zandbeek, this course will guide you to transform your practice and deepen your understanding of philosophy and history of yoga.  Moreover, this course is an invitation to self: self love, self knowledge, self illumination.  The following post is from your teacher, Sarah.

For full details on this offering, head here!

Get in touch: trainings@yogalifestudios.ca

Here's 11 reasons to dive in deep with a yoga teacher training.

Any yoga teacher or human I know that has taken a yoga training has said they believe that this should be a mandatory life program.

 

1) Remoulding Reality: There is so much we don’t know about what we know. Having been raised in a culture that deeply values hierarchy and money, we have been secretly trained to hold rules that might be enslaving us instead of propelling us forward. Our idea of success is buried in things that don’t touch the Soul. Yoga trainings begin to ask more, begging the question again and again, “is that true for you, are these ways of existing true for you?” Some how in some way, something opens and all of a sudden the need to hustle and feel stressed about not having enough transforms into “holy shit, I am so taken care of.”

2) Space Holding: Ever feel like no one ever really quite listens to what you are saying? Their physical ear is there, but they’re not hearing the words or the frequency beneath the words? Well, Yoga Training, helps you to not be that friend. As Teachers, we become guiders in Life, whether we chose that or not. When we begin to look at our lives with a higher resolution microscope, we learn things about life and the way it works and in that, we gain empathy, understanding, and compassion. So, when friends and family come to you, you can actually listen with a tuned in ear to the pains they are speaking of without needing to try and push it away with statements like, “it’s going to be all good, he is a jerk any ways, or you’re going to be fine.” Being able to listen is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, your community and humanity.

3) To Live: Yoga training helps you to understand life. In this you gain the courage to really start living it – outside the bounds of who and what someone told you you were suppose to be/do. When we start to observe what the body is experiencing, it becomes a beautiful guide that moves you towards your authentic truth. When we are in line with truth, ease arises, and the dance of life begins underneath our feet.

4) Freedom: I bet you often hear a calling for something more and you have been ignoring it for a while. There is something deep within you that is getting louder and louder, asking you to listen; the Soul’s cry for freedom. Answer that call. The time for change is NOW.

5) Strength and SURRENDER: Learning the pulsation of life can help you move through the tough times with more grace. Unfortunately (fortunately), tough times are an essential part of life and learning; imagine learning from the rough patches in a much less stressful and tumultuous way. Not everything needs to be dealt with head on: yoga can teach us to surrender to that which we can not change and to look a little deeper in order to see the truth of the matter, which is always humbling and filled with powerful teachings.

6) Re-Inhabit Intuition: Living in a society that is mostly based on lies, we have grown to stop trusting our intuition – that which guides us to who we are and our highest purpose. This can lead us to wondering, “what am I doing, what is the point?” Not knowing your purpose can make it really hard to wake up each day, moving through the motions that aren’t moving you. Yoga training helps build Self-trust and confidence to stand up for what you are feeling. It offers a space for others to drop their lies and start moving toward speaking truth and having the strength to say the hardest of things. Moving lies out of the body makes space for deeper movements and more profound moments in life. Life becomes much more juicy!

7) Dissolve Suffering: Suffering exists due to undigested emotional experiences, which tend to inhabit the tissues of the body in the strangest ways. As we practice asana, engage in breath work, and meditate, these stagnancies begin to move. This brings emotions to the forefront, giving us a chance to dissolve past happenings and release them from there grip on our day to day perspective of life.

8) Threshold meets Change: Often, when we reach the edge of something, there is that friction has built and it’s hot, frustrating, and it feels like it might collapse us. We turn around and go back to what we already know and that courageous part of us turtles once again – the cycle ensues. What if we learned to meet these thresholds and had skills to yield through them? We may start to desire these times of great change instead of fear them. Grace may begin to exist as a consistency in our personality.

9) Authentic Self: Who are you? Be that. Scary? Maybe. Impelling? Most definitely. Yoga training can help you begin to move through life guided by what really serves you in all senses: food, relationships, work, and love life. Live in complete accordance to that which you were designed for.

10) Navigation: Yoga training teaches us how to begin chipping away all the built in patterns that we have created over time through our experience in this life. How does one begin to “listen” to the inner guide, to have courage to follow it no matter what, to speak truth even when the voice quivers and the truth is hard. Observing the journey of Yoga in the body-mind-spirit continuum teaches us so much, allowing us to start observing moments in a much more profound way.

11) Life becomes an Offering: Empathy. Through working on your Self, the vastness of what makes you begins to reveal itself. Within that, we start to see that we are all things: crazy, wild, kind, and free. It is only through allowing yourself to experience all of Life’s emotions, that you begin to make space for the uncalculated pathway of others. Each life, each soul is having a different experience than you and your way and learnings may not be their way. Once this is realized, there is space for you to not attach to their experience but rather joyously (and sometimes frustrating) observe them as they unfurl, at their own special pace, way, and time. Not to be corrected or fixed, only loved through the process. The Ultimate offering.

Asanas for the Cyclist

Feature photo by Kassandra Bracken, Asana photos by Caren Hui of Yogalife Studios

Feature photo by Kassandra Bracken, Asana photos by Caren Hui of Yogalife Studios

Many Edmonton locals are choosing to leave the car keys at home in favour of bike shoes and helmets as a means of commuting around our lovely city. As mentioned in a previous post, Edmonton’s warm summers have allowed for the development of a large density of summer festivals (see our festivals post here), and what better way to get to these festivals, and evade what is often a parking nightmare, then to hop on a bike and pedal to your destination.

Those who don’t use cycling as a way to commute may be found in local spin studios, which have grown in popularity within our city with the growth of studios like YEG cycle, Spinunity, Soul Cycle and Tru Ride. If you’re one of these two people, this post is catered to you, looking to provide yoga asanas that help to combat the common aches and pains that may follow heavy cycling.

Image from YEG Cycle's blog

Image from YEG Cycle's blog

Though a fun way to get around, and an easy activity to get your heart rate up, cycling for long distances (or in the case of spin classes, long durations) comes with its fair share of ailments if not balanced with cross training and stretching activities like yoga. Like any repetitive activities, we need to pay attention to the position our body is in for the duration of the activity, and look at what stretches and movements get us out of those postures we hold for so long. We should choose positions that counteract the ensuing tightness that is inevitable when fixed in a certain posture for a long time.

In the case of cycling, first of all we are either seated, or up on the pedals. Both positions keep the lumbar spine in a flexed position forward, with our hands on the pedals. In this position we invite tightness into our hip flexors, and also immobility into our lumbar spine as we aren’t really doing any rotations at that point in our back throughout the activity. Second, the chest is typically bent forward over the bike handles, with our shoulders rolled forward on the trunk, resulting in tightness in our pectoral muscles, and decreased mobility into our shoulders into external rotation. Finally, and most obviously, cycling is a lower body heavy activity – our glutes, our hamstrings and our quads are constantly working in sequence for the duration of the activity, and after long sessions on the bike can result in global leg tightness.


So how do we address these issues? Below are three categories of stretches as well as specific asana examples to work on the potential tight areas following an intense cycle session.

Lower Body Asanas:

Depending on the position of your body over your feet during cycling, you could work almost all major areas of the lower extremity – those who cycle with the upper body bent further forward work the glutes/hamstrings whereas those who cycle with the upper body more upright work the quads in a greater proportion. With the legs, it’s all about the feel of the postures. Whichever postures feel the most challenging and result in a higher intensity stretch are the ones to work on. For all cyclists, make sure you incorporate a hip flexor stretch that works into the iliacus/psoas complex as these are notoriously tight no matter how you cycle.

Low crescent lunge (Anjaneyasana)

This posture is great for addressing hip flexor tightness. Make sure, as you deepen into this posture that you are keeping the hips tucked in, and working towards elevating your chest towards the ceiling. By tucking your hips in and pushing them forward towards the front foot, you will feel a hip flexor stretch into the back leg.

 

Revolved triangle pose(Parivrtta Trikonasana)

Any forward fold, with the knees kept straight will address hamstring tightness. Revolved triangle is a great option for addressing both hamstring tightness and trunk immobility as it incorporates trunk rotation into the posture as well. If this is not accessible to you, a standing or seated forward fold is a great option to address both hamstrings simultaneously.

 

Reclined hero pose (Supta Virasana)

If you find that your quad muscles (the front of your thighs) are big problem makers after your cycle, reclined hero is a great posture lengthen out those areas. Go to a depth where a stretch is felt along the front of the thigh, either to your wrists, elbows, or fully on to your back.

 

Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

An effective way to address the deeper gluteal muscles that get tight during cycling is through pigeon pose. For the greatest depth, keep the front leg parallel with the short end of your mat, and move slowly into sleeping pigeon. If this is not accessible, fire log pose, or the figure four position on your back is a suitable alternative.

 

Upper Body and Heart Opening Asanas

For the most part, while cycling our arms are fixed, grasping the handlebars of our bike. This keeps the shoulders and pectoral muscles in the same position for long periods of time. It’s important to counteract the resulting tightness through moving our upper body in the reverse direction through heart openers.

Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

This posture has the dual benefit of not only opening up those hip flexors, but also reverses the posturing of cycling by moving into lower back extension, while simultaneously opening up the heart and addressing potential pectoral tightness as a result of being fixed over the bike handles.

 

Bow pose (Dhanurasana)

This posture allows for the chest to open, relieving those tight pectoral muscles, while also inviting more mobility into our shoulders. Make sure during this posture that the shoulder blades pulling towards each other is what guides the movement of the arms, not just the reach for the feet. If this is not in your repertoire of postures, modify by interlacing the hands behind the back, and again allowing the shoulder blades coming together to elevate the chest off of the floor.

 

Lower back Asanas

Supine Twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)

A quick and easy way to invite more mobility into the lumber spine is through any supine twist. Laying on your back, with your knees together, drop them to one side making sure to keep the shoulders fixed to the mat. This focuses the twist on the lower body. Choose a leg position that allows for the greatest tolerable depth in this position.


If you are looking for more appropriate postures that can address the specific issues you experience from cycling, don’t hesitate to ask any one of our qualified instructors for advice following your class, or to book a one-on-one session to troubleshoot any issues you think need special attention. General guidelines: make sure the asanas produce a “stretch sensation” and not sharp pain. Muscle tension is good, but pain that is abrupt and cutting is not, and could be indicative of a more serious over use injury. In these cases, take these concerns to your local physiotherapist or physician to get a better diagnosis. Remember to keep all your health care providers and yoga instructors in the know! (see our previous article yoga and physiotherapy here).

Enjoy the ride this summer (and maybe even early Autumn too!) and make sure to keep yourself injury free by balancing out your cycling with a good yoga session!

Teacher Feature | Chris Shewchuk

All photos featured in this blog were taken by Jenn Clara Photography

All photos featured in this blog were taken by Jenn Clara Photography

Don't be fooled by his calm demeanour or his gentle voice in class - when Chris teaches at our studios, you're guaranteed to walk away feeling worked, but refreshed and blissed out. While Chris is a relatively new face on our roster, given Yogalife's long 7 year history of being open, he has already amassed a following amongst our students who seek out his strong, balanced yoga style. Chris continues to contribute his positive energy to both our north and south studios, so we thought now is as good a time as any to fully introduce him to our community! 

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HOW DID YOU GET YOUR YOGIC START?  WHO BROUGHT YOU TO YOUR FIRST CLASS, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE, AND WHERE WAS IT?

The first class I ever went to was at Moksha West Edmonton. At the time I fought wildfire with Alberta Forestry and I had a bit of time off, and one of my fire buddies convinced me to go. To be honest I barely remember anything other than struggling like crazy in the heat and feeling totally lost. I kept looking around to see what other people were doing, and knew that what I was doing wasn’t even close. Very humbling. I hated it and decided yoga wasn’t for me.

Of course a few years later I dropped in on a gentler hatha class in an unheated studio, and decided maybe there was something to all this yoga business after all.

SHARE A FAVOURITE QUOTE, LESSON, OR TEACHING THAT INSPIRES YOU.

My favourite teaching was dropped in a north side hot flow by Cole Williston a few years ago. He had brought up the topic of work, and my attitude toward work at the time was to either avoid it as much as possible (in private), or to overwork and be a martyr about it (in public). I couldn’t understand why life was so hard! Anyway, Cole said something to the effect of “your attitude toward the work that life gives you determines how that work will go”. It was an ah-ha moment, and in an instant I saw how much of the suffering in my life stemmed directly from my resistance to doing the unglamorous work life gave me while seeking the glamorous stuff. Ever since, my relationship with work has been very different.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC TO PRACTICE TO (OR DO YOU PREFER SILENCE!?)

Depends on how I’m feeling… silence is golden, but sometimes you gotta get your jam on. Sometimes the practice is just to dance!

YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS, YOGI-INSPIRED AND FICTION.

I don’t read very many books these days, but I used to love Isaac Asimov. It might sound boring, but all of my yoga books at this point are reference books — if you really want to know, my favourite reference book for yoga is Hatha Yoga Illustrated.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST TEACHER TRAINING.

Ah, it was at Noorish with Jana Derges (Roemer). Things were very weird. I was going through a lot of depressing stuff and trying to figure out if life was worth living. There was very little stability in my life. I sold almost everything (and all of my musical gear) to afford the teacher training, and was bouncing between living in a tiny wood-heated cabin on a farm outside of Edmonton and living with my parents. And I wasn’t even sure I wanted to teach yoga!

In the end the whole process was hugely transformational, and was exactly what I had needed at the time.

WHERE'S YOUR FAVOURITE VACATION SPOT?

That’s a secret. But my second favourite vacation spot is here in Edmonton. There is so much to do! Bike trails, the valley, river swimming, acro jams, festivals, live music, and of course yoga. Plus no packing or expensive tickets required!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL TO MAKE AND SHARE WITH FRIENDS?

Curry stir-fry. Yum!

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

So many people have inspired me along my journey that it’s impossible to list them all. There’s a quality to a person who is living their truth, and it shines through every action and word. These are the people who inspire me.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FESTIVAL TO ATTEND?

There are a couple wonderful electronic festivals at Metis Crossing near Smoky Lake. The land out there is beautiful, and I love returning there to celebrate life and party!

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IF YOU COULD STUDY WITH ONE PERSON WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

There’s no one teacher I feel drawn to. I’m ever grateful for the dedication and knowledge of teachers like Ricky and Melissa, who pour their passion into what they do.

WHAT IS THE BEST CONCERT YOU'VE EVER BEEN TO?

Tough choice. It’s tied between Emancipator and the Cat Empire.

WHERE'S THE NEXT PLACE YOU WANT TO TRAVEL?

I don’t have too much of a travel bug at this moment. The last few trips I’ve taken were painful in profound ways, and I’ve really come to appreciate Canada.

SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE SELF-HEALING PRACTICE.

Of my two favourite self-healing practices, one isn’t family friendly, but the other is getting into nature. The patterns in nature are infinitely more complex than anything we’ve created as humans. They inspire the soul and free the mind of restriction. There is space to think, to be, to breathe. I’ve always felt that cathedrals have tried to emulate the spacious feeling of an old-growth forest, and there is a reason people are drawn to cathedrals to pray.

SHARE ONE OF YOUR LIFE GOALS.

To be free.


Find Chris on our schedule!

Stay Connected: 3 Poses For the Wandering Yogi

With summer in full swing there is no doubt the YEG yoga community will be setting out into the world to enjoy some vacation time! Long hours in the car, sleeping in tents, crashing on couches and airplane rides are all wonderfully balanced out by staying connected to your practice. Here's 3 yoga poses you can do to restore the mind, body and soul of the wandering yogi. 

Edmonton Yogi Travel Poses

TWIST

No matter how you're travelling, your body is going to crave a nice wring-out when you arrive! Twisting comes in many forms: reclined, seated, of the lunging variety, worked into a standing sequence... there's many ways to scratch that itch! Benefits of twisting include relief of lower back pain, cleansing and detoxifying the body, stimulation of circulation and digestion and reduction of stress and anxiety. Bring your breath into the juicy spots along the spine, hips and shoulders. 

Edmonton Yogi Handstand

GET UPSIDE DOWN/PUT YOUR FEET UP!

Inverting is an amazing way to reset and restore the body, and there's so many ways to get there! You don't have to pop up into a handstand or headstand to achieve the wonderful benefits of inversions. A simple 'legs up the wall' will help reduce stress, improve circulation, ease back pain and generally assist in posture. 

Edmonton yoga and travel

SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE

Vacation time is excitement time! Yes, you may plan to relax, kick back and unplug, but you can also find yourself overrun with sights to see, plans and activities. It's always a great idea to remind yourself to take a few deep breaths and reconnect back inwards. The rest of your trip will thank you! 

Wishing you the most epic summer adventures coupled with health and happiness that will carry you into Fall. Don't forget to visit us when you're home! 

Sticking around YEG for the summer? Here's our must see and do events of Edmonton!

Festival City: A Short Guide to Edmonton’s Summer Celebrations

All images featured are from the festival websites and/or blogs.

All images featured are from the festival websites and/or blogs.

Let’s take a short trip down memory lane to 2015, when, along with cities like Singapore, Athens, and even Machu Picchu in Peru, Edmonton was ranked one of National Geographic’s top 10 summer destinations. Though to some it may seem that Edmonton being on this list is like playing a geographical themed game of “which of these doesn’t belong”, to us at Yogalife, we love our “Festival City”. Being natives to this beautiful patch of Albertan soil, we might take for granted how many interesting summer activities and festivals are right in our backyards. For this weeks post, we compiled a short list of just a handful of our favorite festivals to check out, but also link you to a helpful guide to all the wonderful things offered in Edmonton in 2017!

Edmonton International Street Performer’s Festival
July 7 to July 16

Attracting more than 250,000 people to Sir Winston Churchill Square, this festival brings fine street entertainers from all over the world to perform. You can watch anything from stand up, slapstick comedy, to fire stunts, to professional grade acrobatics and stunts.

Interstellar Rodeo
July 21 to July 23

Set in Hawrelak Park’s Heritage Amphitheatre, line up for this years festival includesBroken Social Scene, Aloe Blacc, Serena Ryder and Dan Mangan. Be prepared to indulge in some tasty food trucks as well that include Fantasia Gelateria, Filistix and Little Village.

Latitude 53 Urban Garden Party
July 22

This is the second celebration amongst a unique set of Latitude 53’s summer events. The urban garden party will close down the street in front of Latitude 53 and fill it with plants and greenery sculptures. Come dressed in your finest yellow attire (that’s the colour theme for this party) and enjoy what we expect to be stunning botanical visuals.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival
August 10 to August 13

Our summer Folk Music Festival is one of Edmonton’s most celebrated events, set in Gallagher Park, whose stunning view of the city’s downtown core at sunset provides the perfect backdrop to an assortment of world-renowned as well as local musical talent. Enjoy a day of exploring the park, where you’ll find smaller stages filled with both local artists and headliners jamming together creating a unique musical experience, followed by an evening of enjoying the heavy hitters on the main stage. This year we’re lucky to have artists like City and Colour, Jose Gonzales, Brandy Carlile and The Decemberists stop by our city.

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
August 17 to August 27

Theatre lovers are treated to 10 days of 1600 performances spread over 42 venues and 3 outdoor stages. Venue locations are spread amongst locations along Whyte Avenue as well as within Edmonton’s Downtown core. Explore performances at the outdoor spaces, akin to the street performers festival, or visit one of the indoor venues to get a more traditional theatre experience. There is definitely something for everybody!


Our city is beautiful all year round, but truly comes alive during the summer with the amount of events we’re treated to. There’s much more beyond this list of our own personal favorites. To see a full list of summer events here in Edmonton check out Taproot Edmonton’s website with listed links to all events going on. Link below!