Yoga

Prop it Like it’s Hot: Meditation Cushions

All photos in this post by Dean Tumibay

All photos in this post by Dean Tumibay

The yoga world is full of many tools that are used to both enhance and support your practice. The “Prop it like it’s hot” series will review a number of different yoga props, and how practitioners can use them as a base for modifying, or in some cases, deepening your asana practice. For this portion of the series, we’re reviewing meditation cushions.

While the name suggests that this prop is used primarily for meditation, we’ll review how a meditation cushion can also help to enhance more active postures for both beginner and advanced practitioners.


Using the cushion for a seated meditation

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Often, meditation is challenging for people who are starting out, as people find that there are too many distractors to tune out. One challenge is finding a comfortable position to sit in for an extended period of time. Meditation cushions in this regard provide a perfect balance between a firm surface that provides appropriate support for the sacrum, but enough compliance to contour to the shape of your pelvis. While many people assume you sit in the middle of a meditation cushion, we actually encourage practitioners to sit on the edge, allowing the cushion to slightly elevate the posterior surface of the pelvis. This encourages a slight anterior pelvic tilt. By sitting on the edge of the cushion, and allowing the hips to roll forward slightly, we encourage the natural curvature of the lumbar spine into lordosis, allowing us to comfortably stack our shoulders over our hips.

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Using the cushion for forward folds

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Tight hamstrings and general tension in the pelvic region is a common ailment in a culture conditioned to sit for long periods of time. In these cases, seated forward folds, such as paschimottanasana as well as baddha konasana with a forward fold can be particularly challenging. As it does with a seated meditation, sitting at the cushion’s edge can facilitate a gentle anterior pelvic tilt, encouraging a soft forward fold while maintaining proper alignment of the lumbar spine. This encourages proper alignment in our forward folds, and prevents the tendency towards rounding the lower back.

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Using the cushion for twists

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The compliance of the meditation cushion allows it to conform to our pelvis, but it’s equally firm nature provides enough support to allow us to remain grounded in our posture. In seated twists, due to tightness in our hips, often times one side of our pelvis will have difficulty remaining connected to the earth resulting in a lopsided seat that is unstable to perform a twist from. With the help of a cushion, we can have an even distribution of weight through our base to allow us to focus on a deeper rotation through our spine.

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Using the cushion for active postures

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Many yoga postures require us to bear weight through our knees, which for many can be an uncomfortable experience. We can maintain the integrity of these postures, such as a low crescent lunge, with our knees propped on a comfortable surface like a meditation cushion that allows us to go deeper into the posture, without having to endure pain during the hold. For deep postures such as the front splits (hanumanasana) or any modified variation, the meditation cushion propped under our back leg allows for support through that limb, but gives space for the pelvis to go even deeper into the asana.

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We have meditation cushions available for purchase at both our south and north locations. If you have experience using meditation cushions or meditation props in your practice, please feel free to email info@yogalifestudios.ca with your experience! If there are any specific props you’d like to see in our “Prop it Like it’s Hot” series, again please contact us via info@yogalifestudios.ca or our various social media streams (twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

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The Great Canadian Fitfest 2018

Photos in this blog entry are by Dean Tumibay

Photos in this blog entry are by Dean Tumibay

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The Great Canadian Fitfest 2018 was hosted in Edmonton on February 10 and February 11, and once again Yogalife Studios was proudly represented by GSRs and Instructors alike. Best of all, we partnered with our friends from Modern Gravity to have a joint booth, designed to be reminiscent of our yoga tea lounges at both our north and south studios merged with the style of Modern Gravity’s foyer at their space. To read more about Modern Gravity, check out our previous blog on their fantastic float studio here.

The vibe for our booth was chill and calming.

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The vibe for our booth was chill and calming, with interested festival goers meandering into and out of our lounge, stopping to chat if interested in taking up yoga. The vibe for the event itself, was high energy and upbeat, encouraging participation in various types of fitness classes and challenges at different vendors.
Again, over 70 different fitness-oriented businesses were present at this years’ Fit Fest hosted downtown in the spacious Shaw Conference Centre. Many of our very own Yogalifers tried out different obstacle courses and programs available at different booths (you can ask me about my experience with pole dancing and I’ll send you a gif).

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Yogalife got to lead two classes that weekend with Sadie leading the first session on Saturday, and Emerald leading the second class on Sunday.

There's me playing with the booth!

There's me playing with the booth!

Yogalife got to lead two classes that weekend with Sadie leading the first session on Saturday, and Emerald leading the second class on Sunday. We also had passes and product packages up for grabs through a prize draw that we invited all attendees to participate in. All in all it was a fun time with our team, and hopefully some new clients. We even had a photo booth with both still scene and gif options – that was definitely a hit with festival attendees!

There's Yogalife North's Sarah on stage demonstrating for Emerald's Sunday class.

There's Yogalife North's Sarah on stage demonstrating for Emerald's Sunday class.

And the winners of the prize draws are:


One Year Unlimited

Dawn Dextrase!

One Month Unlimited

Michalene Giesbrecht!
Sam Wilkins!

Lululemon Namaste Mat

Shristi Bali!
Dallas Trimble!

2 Seats at the Yogalife Yin & Massage Workshop

Sayla Day!
Nikki Han!
Vanessa Drobig!
Antony Argueta!

Yogalife Swag Bag

Jon Hills!
Jacqueline Degroot!
Geneva Estabillo!
Paul Moffat!

Please contact either of our studios to claim your prizes!
 

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Summer Pass Sale

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SUMMER 15 CLASS PASS

$165

ONLY $11 PER CLASS

LIMITED TIME OFFER

SALE ENDS JUNE 15TH

Summer pass now on sale. All passes expire September 30th, 2016. No exceptions.

Summer 15 Class Passes are not eligible for refund, credit, transfer, hold or extension.

Limited time offer. Available for purchase until June 15th.

You snooze you lose. Don't miss out!

 

Yoga Tune-Up Balls

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Bring the tune-up balls technique to your yoga practice

Created by Jill Miller, Yoga Tune Up is a head-to-toe health and fitness system combining yoga, calisthenics, body therapy and corrective exercises in a way that heals damaged muscle tissue, increases overall strength, and bolsters the immune system. Its restorative techniques create balance and flexibility in the body, while relieving painful injuries, improving coordination, and reducing stress. Yoga Tune Up brings a practical yoga philosophy into the nuts and bolts of healthy movement, challenging the body from every conceivable angle until breakthroughs occur – literally changing the nature of the tissues in the area being addressed.

 

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Yoga Tune Up is built around the three P's – Pain, Posture and Performance. It helps eradicate pain, improve posture and enhance performance by helping to identify and target your "body blind spots"; areas that are most overused, underused, or misused, YTU heals damaged muscle, increases strength and establishes healthy movement patterns to help you live better in your body.

 

adapted from www.yogatuneup.com

 

 

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Yoga Tune Up Balls provide targeted self-massage trigger point therapy by using specially designed high grip rubber balls and focused movement routines that help penetrate through layers of skin and muscle to massage deeply into your high tension areas.

 

YTU Therapy Balls help relieve:

• Stiff Neck & Headaches • TMJ/Tight Jaw • Frozen Shoulder • Sciatica & Back Pain • Tight Hips & Hamstrings • IT Band Syndrome • Plantar Fasciitis & Foot Pain … and much more…

 

Yoga Tune Up Balls also help to improve:

• Flexibility • Strength • Pain Relief • Weight Loss • Stress Reduction • Increased Energy • Improve your existing Yoga Practice • Maintain a continuous Practice • Improve your performance in sports and other activities • Heal and Prevent Injuries

 


Join Kim Wilkinson at Yogalife Studios North for the Yoga Tune-up Balls Workshop

Saturday, November 21, 2:30-5:30 pm

register here!


5 reasons to get your kid(s) into yoga

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edmonton kids yoga Yoga is for everyone, which is why we are so excited to offer a five day teen yoga camp from July 27-31. Join Nicole from Blue Mango Children’s Yoga for a week of yoga movements, discussions on anatomy, visualization, journaling, jewelry making, smoothing drinking, art creating, and most importantly, laughing out loud with new friends.

This camp is designed for youth aged 10-15. This camp will teach you about body image, safe risk taking, trust in self and one another, strengthening courage, goal planning and the art of dreaming big.

 


“Yoga totally transformed me, and I just want to pay it forward and speak to the youth in a way they are going to understand.”

- MC Yogi on why he is a firm believer of spreading yoga to children


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Here's our top 5 reasons for getting children involved in this amazing journey:

 

1. Improves concentration: When your child gets used to the physical practice (asana or poses), they automatically improve their concentration skills. Your child learns how to sit still in one place and focus on what’s important as opposed to letting their mind wander and be distracted easily. This will help them at school, concentrate better, and achieve better grades.

 

2. Increases flexibility and balance: Yoga helps improve flexibility and balance and tones their muscles too. It makes them stronger and less likely to suffer sprains and fractures through accidental falls.

 

3. Improves general well-being: Kids who practice yoga regularly feel good about themselves and are healthier and happier than those who don’t. They feel both mentally and physically rejuvenated after a yoga session and this improves their mental and physical health.

 

4. Boosts confidence: When your child is able to display great agility and flexibility, it does wonders for their confidence. Their improved performance at school also helps boost their popularity and their self assurance. They become more poised and start to believe in their abilities. This feeling provides them with the adrenaline they need to achieve success in all their endeavours.

 

5. Relaxes their minds: Even kids are subject to a great deal of stress these days because of their workload at school and the high expectations that their parents/teachers have for them. They are pushed to be achievers at every single point of their lives, and when they fail, they take it to heart and become depressed. Yoga helps them relax and de-stress when they feel upset or depressed. It soothes their frayed minds and helps them get back to a normal mental state.

 

Kids are more flexible and agile than adults, so the earlier you get kids started on to yoga, the more benefits they gain.

 

About Nicole:

Nicole is passionate about teaching yoga to children/teens and cultivating play with in her classes. She has been working with young children in various capacities for ten years. With her extensive knowledge in early childhood development and her passion for yoga, her classes are educational, active, fun and relaxing. Nicole has indepth training with Next Generation Yoga and Yoga In My School and is currently working towards her Registered Children's Yoga Teacher credentials (RCYT). Nicole loves teaching yoga to children as much as she loves learning from her curious students.

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Yogalife Studios North | Nicole Owczarczyk July 27- July 31: 1:00- 4:00 pm Ages 10-15 $165 for 1 yogi and $300 for 2 Register Here!


Core Cleanse with Sarah Zandbeek

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The following post comes from Sarah Zandbeek, our friendly neighbourhood yogi, acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine magician.  Join Sarah this weekend for Core Cleanse, a two part-offering involving conversation and asana to understand and cleanse your digestive system more deeply.

 


Digestion, the actual breaking down of a whole into its parts so that the pure can be extracted and incorporated into the body and the impure can be expelled.

 


 

We tend to think of digestion as a physical act of our food being broken down and made into usable energy (ATP) for the body, which it is; however, we tend to forget that we are digesting everything all the time.  We digest emotions, reactions, life events, basically anything that is brought in to the body from the external and is internalized needs to be digested.

 

When we don’t slow down enough to allow the body to shift into our parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest, we not only literally put our active food digestive system to halt, we don’t digest life’s events either, both of which get stored in the body in different ways, shapes, and forms, eventually bunging the body up and cause a reaction.

 

Typically IBS, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, indigestion, epigastric discomfort, etc are our digestive tract issues; emotionally we see a restless or dull mind, anxiety, and even depression from lack of glucose able to go to the brain.

 

How to cure digestive woes? It is a life style.  It is NOT a momentary diet, though these can be helpful to get the digestive system back on track.  If we want to truly nourish our health, it is through our food and it is over our entire life span from the moment we choose to be healthy to the moment we pass on.

 

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It is healthy living, it is choosing to love yourself so much that you only want to put good things into your temple/vessel/body.

 

People change their diets when they are pregnant so that the baby has a chance to come out healthy, but why do we ourselves not want to be healthy?  Marketing?  Corporations tell us otherwise?  If you are truly wanting to uplift your digestion, you must uplift your Self first, so  eating healthy comes from a place of truth and yearning for well being, not from a place that wants to be skinny so that other people will think you are perfect.

 

It is meditating so your mind is clear and free of desire, it is avoiding rag mags, tv, and general advertising that makes you think you need to be anything more than your truest self.

 

At the core of your being, you want to live a fruitful, healthy, happy life and I can guarantee you, that truth does not say ” I want McDonald’s.”

 

Amen, Namaste, Om Sarah Z

 


CORE CLEANSE:

The Conversation || Saturday, January 31 || 2:30pm The Practice || Sunday, February 2 || 3:30pm register here


Mommy & Me

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The morning sickness, achy lower back, and fatigue of pregnancy have passed. But for new mamas, a whole other different set of physical conditions often accompanies the bliss of loving your little creation. Luckily, yoga can help address the most common concerns after having your little one. And moms aren't the only ones who can benefit from yoga; a few basic moves for the wee one can make your infant more comfortable and calm.

 


Mommy & Me with Dawn McCorry Yogalife Studios South || January 12-February 23, 1:30-2:30, register here Yogalife Studios North || January 14-February 18, 1:15-2:15, register here


 

Kari Edwards at MindBodyGreen offers these tips for new yogi mamas:

 

1. Focus on breathing.

In the first few weeks after birth your body needs time to recover so the best thing you can do is put your asana practice aside and focus on pranayama and meditation. When you're feeding your baby or in need of a boost after a long sleepless night, practice breathing deep into your belly long and slow through your nose.

Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of the breath as it moves in and out of your body. Even if you only manage one deep breath, your body and mind will thank you. Do this as often as you need throughout the day and it will help focus and calm your mind and enjoy these special early moments.

 

2. Ease into your practice with forward bends.

Provided you are recovering well and had a normal birth, beginning to include a few forward bends around two weeks or so post birth can help to compress your belly and aid in returning your uterus to its pre-pregnancy position. Check with your midwife if it's OK before you begin.

Sit with your legs together straight out in front of you. (You can lie your baby on your legs or beside you if you wish.) Bend forward from the hips, remembering not to push yourself, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths here.

 

3. Before you begin to include asana in your daily yoga practice, wait until six weeks postnatal or until you have the OK from your doctor or midwife.

If your baby allows you to put her down, you can begin with a few rounds (or just one round) of Sun Salutations to get your body moving and stretching again. Include chest and shoulder stretches such as eagle arms to stretch out a sore back from holding the baby and nursing. If your baby just needs to be held, you can practice a few gentle lunges or some standing hip rotations while you soothe your baby.

If you are feeling steady, you can include balancing asana like tree pose while you hold your baby but remember to take things slow and not to push yourself.

The key to transitioning from a prenatal to a post natal yoga practice is to take things slow. Listen to what your body needs as it changes and remember that you don’t need to be on the mat for a 60-minute period to benefit from yoga. Little bite-sized bits of yoga in your day will help to keep you calm and centered and to enjoy the many benefits of yoga.

 

 

Foundation Friday || Ujjayi Breath

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Our Foundation Friday series delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice.  

Find the balance of fierce grace with this essential yogic breath.

 


Foundation Friday || Ujjayi Breath


Ujjayi Breath Pranayama

"Ud" = moving upward, "Jaya" = conquest, victory fire breath, victorious breath, ocean breath

 

“Remember the connection between breath and movement: every movement comes out of breath. Rather than moving with and following the breath, the breath should initiate the movement. Practicing this way, we will be moved by the breath like the autumn wind picking up leaves.”

- Gregor Maehle

 

Ujjayi breath is a pranayama technique that allows you to focus and calm the mind.  Often coupled with asana, this breath will guide you deeper into poses, steady your intention and allow you to experience your yoga more fully.  In your practice, breath is regarded as the teacher; how you move and where you go is paralleled with the rhythm of your breath.  Ujjayi breath is strong, fierce, warming - your pranayamic partner to bring you out of fear, anxiety, or judgement.  Just as the intensity of your practice fluctuates, so does your breath.  You may choose to use this fiery breath throughout your practice, or switch it up with a more gentle nostril breath like sama vritti to adjust the tone of the moment.

* note that Ujjayi pranayama involves breath retention and Ujjayi breath is the steady rhythm, sans retention

 

Benefits of Ujjayi Breath

 

  • increases focus
  • calms the mind
  • builds concentration
  • creates internal heat
  • increases oxygenation
  • tones the lungs
  • facilitates the flow of prana
  • builds energy throughout practice
  • clears toxins
  • creates awareness, especially within transitions of asanas
How do you get there?

 

Ujjayi breath is done through the nose, travelling down deep into the belly and filling up the rib cage.  A hissing or "wave-like" sound is created upon exhale through the constriction of the back of the throat.  Breath is slowed by the diaphragm and by this constriction, resulting in an audible exhale.  The length of inhale and exhale is even and smooth, and intensity of this breath may increase in conjunction with the intensity of asana.  You may liken Ujjayi breathing to fogging up a mirror with your breath with the mouth closed.  Again, intensity can fluctuate but the principle of restricting the back of the throat is key.

 

 

 

 

Featured Yogi of the Month: Emily McNicoll

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"Monthly pedicures, good food, frequent body work, and a daily meditation practice are some of the ways I integrate love and self care in my life. All of these things are a reminder that I am worth taking the time to pause, slow down, and work toward feeling at peace in my own skin." 


Featured Yogi of the Month: Emily McNicoll


Meet Emily McNicoll, Yogalife Studios family member since day one.  You can find her at both studios facilitating drop-in and registered classes as well as workshops.  Her next offering, Restorative & Sound Healing, is coming up this weekend at Yogalife Studios South; November 29th from 2:30-5.  Learn more about the workshop and register here.

 

Emily teaches prenatal and hatha yoga at both studios, enjoy one of her regular classes:

Yogalife Studios North || Monday 530pm hatha, 7pm prenatal; Tuesday 930am hatha

Yogalife Studios South || Wednesday/Thursday 930 hatha, Saturday 930am hatha, 11am prenatal

 

Emily, thank you for sharing!

 


Perfectionism used to drive my self study. Which, in truth means the way I looked at myself was through the eyes of fear. I was never good enough. My inner critic was loud, destructive, and mean.

Now, after a lot of guidance from amazing teachers, a willingness to take a good look at myself, and a good dose of faith, I see through the eyes of love. My heart cherishes the parts of me that I believe to be imperfect and recognizes them as wonderfully unique, beautiful, and the very places from which I can grow. A kindness, understanding, and compassion toward myself has allowed the edges of my heart to soften and ultimately the perfectionist morphed into a woman who practices self acceptance.

Self acceptance and self care go hand in hand. When I take time for myself and really listen to what I need every day, I am saying to myself: "I love you, you are worthy of care, you are enough." I also believe one of the ways we can show the people closest to us that we love them is to take wonderful care of ourselves. When we do, our family and friends can watch us blossom and grow.

To grow will take work. As expansion happens so will struggle and growing pains. As I learn to love myself through the growing pains and dust off my knees when I've fallen to them I inevitably teach from those places. When I speak with a light heart and sense of humour about my own struggles, students relate. May my willingness to love myself through the light and the shadows encourage my students to do the same. May my work be of service to them.

Namaste.

 

 


What are my favourite books?

"The Way of the Happy Woman." By Sara Avant Stover. The author wonderfully explains how each week of a woman's cycle correlates to each season. She offers great meditations, recipes, self care practices, and yoga sequences that I can embody seasonally. Her offering through the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, and Ayurveda encourages me to eat, practice, and live in harmony with the seasons and therefore the cycles of my own body.

"A Painted House." By John Grisham. A wonderful story told through the perspective of a seven year old boy growing up of a farm. I've read this book five or six times and always come back to it on the cold days I want to curl up with a tea and get lost in adventure.

 

What's the coolest experience you've ever had with a student?

I've been teaching prenatal yoga for over four years. One of the most memorable experiences I had as a teacher was seeing a new born child of one of my students. She had been coming to class before she even had a baby bump. To watch her grow, shift, and move toward motherhood was incredible. I'll never forget the day she walked into YogaLife carrying her new baby. Goosebumps covered my body and I just kept saying to the sweet little girl "you've been here before, you were just inside! I'm your yoga teacher." To know that I play a role in helping women through big changes in their lives is a humbling gift.

 

What is your favourite pose/body part/sequence to work on?

My practice right now is best described as "Occupy Armpit" and it makes me laugh. Obviously a spin on the Occupy movements that were happening all over the world, it is about revolution. My chest, armpits, and shoulders are asking for movement and freedom as I sink deeper into seeing myself and the world through the eyes of my heart. Active back bends like wheel, camel, and cobra are feeling great. So is anything where my hips and armpits move in opposing directions like triangle, side angle, and half way lift. I have always embraced the medicine of yin and restorative yoga. I'm loving resting with a block between my shoulder blades and relaxing with my arms at different angles. The nurturing aspect of restorative yoga is bringing liberation into the more active poses I mentioned above.

 

What is my favourite festival to attend?

I have to say the time I look forward to the most in Edmonton is the Edmonton Folk Festival. There is always a wonderful gathering of friends I don't often see and an explosion of artistic expression. I love the ease of the festival and the positive attitudes of the people I encounter there. The music is diverse, the love is free, and the beer is cold. What more could I ask for?

 

What is my favourite place to travel?

Oh, a tough choice indeed. I love to travel and every place I've been has offered something unique and charming. So far though, I'd say Bali has my heart. The sea is my medicine and Bali's beaches are beautiful. What is most endearing to me about the Balinese is the simple way in which they live. Food, family, and faith is at the forefront of their culture and I feel at home there.

 

 


Body Talk

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Body Talk: Are You Listening?


Self study happens on many levels.  Each cell in our body shares our human experience; love resonates in our every fibre, as does shame, guilt, fear and anger.  You may hear the hips referred to as the "emotional junk drawer of the body" or notice that certain parts of your body ache more with certain stresses.  Humans store emotional experiences in their bodies and a yoga practice is a way to not only study these imprints, but to release them.

 

Alanna Kaivalya at MindBodyGreen shares the following:

 

"What we hold in our bodies as tightness translates into what we hold in our bodies as energetic stress and tension. For example, most of us recognize that someone with a hunched upper back has more than just shoulder and chest tightness, they also may have depression, sadness or fear. Other portions of the body store specific kinds of energetic tension that are exhibited as tightness and inflexibility.

 

Energetically speaking, our hips are where we store the emotional stress caused by a lack of creativity, difficult intimate relationships and the coinciding emotional roller-coasters. The hips are the energetic location of the second chakra, which is ruled by emotions, creativity and intimacy. Life stressors in these areas become lodged in the hips, resulting in difficulty opening up - both literally and metaphorically."

 

 

If you're looking to deepen the way you release in your yoga practice, we have the perfect offering coming up on November 22 at Yogalife Studios South.

 


Yin, Partner Massage & Self-Healing with Sara Cueva


 

Join Sara Cueva for a three hour workshop designed to educate you on the various methods to incorporate a more well rounded approach to your existing yoga practice. This workshop will include a short discussion on the relevance of, and importance of exploring, fascial release. Sara will guide you through the various techniques used to incorporate instrument assisted fascial release into your body to ensure the proper flow of nutrients within, followed by techniques for partner yoga massage, and will complete this nourishing journey with a yin practice to focus on the connective tissue of the body. This workshop will involve hands on work, so come with a friend, partner, or spouse, OR ensure you are comfortable touching and being touched by someone you may not know. This workshop is open to all levels (no prior yoga experience is required).

 

Register here!

 

Foundation Friday: Swadhyaya

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Our Foundation Friday series delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice.  Today we are sharing a teaching from Pantanjali's classic yoga sutras, Swadhyaya or self-study.  

 


Foundation Friday: Swadhyaya, Self-Study


Swadhyaya, the 4th Niyama Sva | Self Adhyaya | investigation or inquiry

 

“Study, when it is developed to the highest degree, brings one close to higher forces that promote understanding of the most complex.”

 -The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 11.44

 

Swadhyaya is one of the five Niyamas (daily observances) presented in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  These practices are the foundation of a yogic life; the system of the Niyamas lend to simplifying clutter and observing/attaining stillness.  Pantanjali teaches that these practices progress your spiritual life on the basis that everything you need is inward.  What one looks for is already there.  These 5 observances are a system meant to work in harmony rather than isolation.

 

 

Patanjali also notes that this Niyama involves the study of the ancient scriptures pertaining to Yoga (The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).  These teachings are used to assist us in engaging in life spiritually through self-inquiry.  As we meditate and contemplate our own life's lessons - our thoughts, emotions, reactions - we begin to learn about our true Self.  Reflecting on our own flaws, patterns and stories rather than those of others gives us the opportunity to grow, allowing our mistakes to become lessons.  In your life and within your yoga practice, look at yourself with the same discernment you use with others.  As if you are watching your life on film, notice what happens with your sensations, emotions, feelings, thoughts and breath; feel empowered through your process of self-study.

 

The Five Niyamas

 

The first Niyama: Saucha

Saucha is cleanliness which involves keeping your body clean inside and out.  This includes eating the right food, decluttering your environment, communicating with clean and clear words as well as purification of the mind.

 

The second Niyama: Santosha

Santosha or contentment is the practice of being content with having enough in life.

 

The third Niyama: Tapas

Tapas is the practice of austerity or self discipline. This is a practice for simplifying your life, removing all the unnecessary things that do not serve you. It is a way of reflecting the external into the internal to refine your needs.  The interference of thoughts and emotions can prevent us from seeing our inner stillness.

 

The fourth Niyama: Swadhyaya

The observance of Self allows you freedom to step into your highest form through truth and discernment.

 

The fifth Niyama: Pranidhana

This practice allows us to surrender to the divine or higher reality.  Yoga is a spiritual practice but not a religion - the science and vehicle that enables us to understand our own beliefs better.

Acro Yoga Fundamentals

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Meet Luc Felicidade, Gaiatri Yoga Training grad and acro yoga LOVER, amongst other things! Luc is joining us at Yogalife Studios South to offer Acro Yoga Fundamentals, a playful workshop to learn the basics of acro yoga. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills and deepen the ones you may already have.

 

 

In AcroYoga Fundamentals, not only will you learn the 7 fundamentals of AcroYoga, you will learn how to safely practice at home with friends. AcroYoga Fundamentals will take the foundations of yoga into the air in a fun and playful way. This interactive workshop will include foundational postures including therapeutics.

 

 

If you have been thinking about giving AcroYoga a try, this is your chance.

All levels of yoga and fitness are encouraged to attend as you explore partner yoga poses and take flight in AcroYoga!

No partner required. Only a desire to have fun with others in your community.

If you are registering with a partner, there is a discount!

 


Acro Yoga Fundamentals Yogalife Studios South November 8, 2014 2:30-5pm register here!


 

20 Characteristics Of Self-Love

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Adapted from Howard Falco at MindBodyGreen  

Falling in love with yourself is the TRUEST type of love. It is not selfish, egocentric or unjust - it is the most important relationship you can foster. This love transcends borders, liberates you and connects you to your surroundings.  Today we're celebrating 20 aspects of self-love and the positivity it brings back into you.

 

1. Self-love is appreciative of your journey, struggles, and determination to move forward and overcome.

2. Self-love respects your physical body and its absolute perfection.

3. Self-love understands, forgives, and honors your past for the lessons it has provided you.

4. Self-love understands that you cannot change the past, and can only make new, more empowered choices right now.

5. Self-love is grateful for the gift of life with all its ups and downs.

 

 

6. Self-love accepts the current circumstances and is appreciative of the knowledge every situation offers on how to begin powerful change.

7. Self-love results in a divine respect for who you are, which leads to respectful choices

8. Self-love understands that your existence is the self-evident proof that you matter in every moment.

9. Self-love trusts the process of life.

10. Self-love accepts the truth that all life presents is for you in some divine way.

11. Self-love provides a love that allows you to trust that life will bring you what you desire when the conditions are right.

12. Self-love provides you the patience and faith to wait for the conditions to be right.

13. Self-love allows you to be limitless in your dreams, hopes, and desires, and limitless in the actions you take to achieve them.

14. Self-love gives you a healing and comforting presence around others.

 

 

15. Self-love gives you the peace that is stronger than anyone’s negative comments.

16. Self-love gives you a knowledge that surpasses all fear.

17. Self-love is kind, gentle, forgiving, hopeful, optimistic, and energizing to the soul.

18. Self-love is kind, gentle, forgiving, hopeful, optimistic, and energizing to others.

19. Self-love is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your world each and every day.

20. Self-love is the greatest love of all.

 

<3

Foundation Friday: Uttanasana

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Our Foundation Friday series delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice.  Today we are highlighting Uttanasana, or standing forward fold.  


Foundation Friday: Uttanasana


Uttanasana || Standing Forward Fold OOH-tah-NAH-sah-nah

Ud (उद्; ud) = prefix for verbs or nouns, indicating superiority in location, rank, power, intensity Tana (तान; tāna) = "stretched" Uttana (उत्तान; uttāna) = "intense stretch" or "straight" or "stretched" Asana (आसन; āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat"

 

Uttanasana is an active time-out; your legs release, your feet root and ground you, your head is below your heart, and your spine releases. Taking time here allows your other postures to integrate and connects you to the present moment.  With a variety of ways to execute uttanasana, you can tailor your experience in this asana to suit your intention.  You may choose to dangle and sway, releasing tension from your entire back body, or you may choose a variation including a grip on the toes or hands under the feet with a more active core, spine and legs. Regardless, uttanasana allows you to hang your heart close to your body, a shape that offers inner reflection and the opportunity to create self-love.  As our postures are medicine, this one bows you into your Self, creating a reverent pause to fall deeper in love.

 

Benefits of Uttanasana

 

  • stretches your hips, hamstrings and calves
  • strengthens your knees and thighs
  • keeps your spine strong and flexible
  • calms your mind, soothes your nerves
  • reduces stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression
  • releases neck, spine and back tension
  • activates your core
  • stimulates your kidneys, liver and spleen
  • addresses symptoms of menopause, asthma, headaches and insomnia
  • improves digestion
  • can lower high blood pressure
How do I get there?

 

1. Start in Tadasana (mountain pose), creating a clear connection with the earth through your feet (pada bandha)
2. With your hands on your hips, exhale and fold forward, drawing your navel to your spine slightly to create more space from which to bend.
3. Continue to root down through the 4 corners of your feet and draw energy up the inner seam of your legs into your pelvic floor and core.  Allow a slight bend in your knee if needed to release any hyper-extension.  Lift your sit bones to stretch your hamstrings and take your inner thighs up and back to release your sacrum.
4.  Release any tension from your neck and allow the weight of your crown to draw you deeper into the stretch.
5.  You may choose to grab for opposite elbows, wrap a mudra around your big toes, walk your palms under your feet or place your hands to the sides or backs of your legs.  Follow the pattern of inhale to lengthen and exhale to deepen to continue to surrender in this pose.
6.  You may hold uttanasana for 30 seconds to over a minute, or perhaps as long as you need.  To come out of the pose, bring your hands back to your hips and rotate up from the joint until you are standing strong and tall.  Let the information of the pose land in you as you breathe and observe.

Rock Your Bliss!

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Are You Ready To Rock Your Bliss Edmonton?


www.rockyourblissmovement.com/

Rock Your Bliss debuts in Edmonton on OCTOBER 3rd at Yogalife Studios South. It is a co-designed program — one part yoga and one part life coaching — where retreaters will discover how to “live a radical life rooted in choice, personal power, and sweat” using yoga, goal-setting, music, and laughter.

 


“Come in vulnerable,” LaRue says. “Be ready to show your underbelly, sing karaoke, and drink margaritas!” The goal is for retreaters to leave the workshop feeling empowered, sweaty, connected, ambitious, blissful, and maybe a little tipsy. They should come expecting “everything and nothing,” Carr says.


 

So, what does it mean to “Rock Your Bliss,” and where did such a concept derive? The movement is actually in its infancy. Carr and LaRue met through various work at lululemon athletica. While on a Wanderlust trip in February 2013, Carr, a life coach, and LaRue, a yoga instructor, found themselves sitting on a beach discussing the serendipitous relationship between their two fields. A week later, while back home in Venice Beach, Rock Your Bliss was born, and it’s been on a fast track ever since. In February 2014, Carr and LaRue took 22 yogis to Mexico for an “insanely magical” retreat.

 

However, while on a mission to help others unleash their potential, these two blisscrafting trailblazers have been on a self-discovery mission of their own, all fueled by their travels, encounters, and experiences. For LaRue, creating Rock Your Bliss has helped her discover her own vulnerability. “Learning to speak your truths so it doesn’t build up is the most important thing [to do] while collaborating with another person,” she says. “You have to hold yourself more accountable. You have to show up even when you don’t feel like it.”

 

For Carr, Rock Your Bliss has been about developing trust. “The art of collaboration is like being in a relationship,” Carr says. “It’s all about unraveling your ego and admitting that you can’t do everything yourself. We created this business in such a rapid way, so it was a huge leap of faith to learn how to open my mind and body to trusting Mary Beth. We leaned on each other, and it all just happened beautifully.”

Read more here: http://whirlmagazine.com/ready-rock-bliss-pittsburgh/

 


Rock Your Bliss || Yogalife Studios South || Friday, October 3, 7-9pm register here!


 

Foundation Friday: Balasana

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This post is yet another instalment in a series that delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice. Today's posture is another great addition to our Grounding Series.


Foundation Friday: Balasana


Pose, or Asana Child's Pose bah-lah-sah-nah

Mmm. Child's Pose.

Don't you just love it when your teacher says those words, offering you the chance to retreat inside, to turn inwards, to shut off all external noise and simply breathe? Child's pose, or Balasana, is frequently offered as a break within sequences, a time to re-establish steady breath, calm the heart rate, or return to intention if we've gravitated away from what we've set out to do.

Why is child's pose so grounding and calming?

  1. First of all, the shape of the spine in a child's pose mimics the shape of the spine in a fetal position—and our time in utero was, for most of us, the most stress-free, comforting, and grounded environment we've ever known. It's a gentle reminder to our bodies, and then our minds, to return to that calm, quiet state.
  2. Secondly, all forward folds are—in their physical nature—calming and quieting as our bodies are literally turning in towards themselves. The anatomical action of folding our bellies, chests, and faces into our legs—or in this case, the floor—seals us away from whatever is going on externally so we can only look at ourselves.
  3. Further, the action of resting the forehead down on something (the earth, stacked fists, a block) gently stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve helps to regulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the part that allows us to rest and relax), and in doing so it naturally lowers our heart rate, blood pressure, lessens tension and the stress hormone cortisol. That's why child's pose is also an excellent bed-time posture!

Balasana may help…

  • Opens through your hips, thighs, and ankles
  • Open the shoulders (especially in the traditional variation)
  • Calm anxiety, soothe stress, and relieve fatigue
  • Help move your nervous system into a more relaxed state

So, how do I get there? 

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, lower your knees down, about mat-distance apart.
  2. Touch your toes together, and rest your seat back on your heels.
  3. Fold your torso forward. Let your belly rest in between your thighs.
  4. Extend your arms forward, palms facing down.
  5. Find someplace for your forehead to rest—if the ground is not available, you can use a block, a folded blanket, or even stack your palms or your fists.
  6. Breathe.
*For a more traditional Balasana, work with your legs parallel to each other (hip-distance apart), and extend your arms back, alongside your body with your palms facing up.

We hope this helps you better understand balasana, or child's pose. Please feel free to comment on our Facebook with any further questions. And let us know if you have something you would like to see featured in Foundation Friday!

It's Time To BLOOM 2.014!

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Yogis gather at BLOOM 2013, held at the AGA. This year they've got a new venue and even more to BLOOM you!  


THE BLOOM 2.014 EXPERIENCE: Yoga, Beats, Bliss

Yoga Music Meditation & Inspirational Speakers


Bloom is BACK! This years' festivities are a collection of events all central to conscious expansion... yoga, beats and bliss to get you blooming! The line-up is stellar and includes two of our own Yogalifers, Sarah Zandbeek and Myrah Penaloza. There's a lot going on leading up to big day on October 5th - check out the line-up below to schedule your BLOOM!

 


Together We Bloom: Flower Crown Workshops, Oct. 2 & 3


Together We Bloom is an opportunity to build your own floral crown or headpiece to accessorize, and express your style for this event.

Rock your newest flowered-creation to It’s Time to Bloom! The only other accessory required is a smile and an open-heart. And then literally, Together We Bloom!

 

ANTHROPOLOGIE @ WEST ED

Thursday: 5-7pm

Friday: 7-9pm

Open to ALL ticket holders, register your spot here!

 


BLOOM Opening Gala, Oct. 3, Muttart Conservatory 


Come celebrate the BLOOM festival weekend with our opening ceremony led by native elder Sequoia Truebloom, followed by talks and meditations and pranayama with Rameen Peyrow, Myrah Penaloza, Jacki Carr, Robindra Mohar and Taylor Eyewalker. Once you have had a chance to go through the 4 pyramids to experience a series of musicians, meditations and breathing in the tropical forest, you will arrive in the center foyer where we have converted it into a space to celebrate and dance with music by the one and only Dj Drez.

Appetizers, drinks and desert by Inner Glow Nutrition

Please purchase a separate ticket for this event or include it in your weekend pass!  Ticket info here!

 

 


Saturday BLOOM Sessions, Oct. 4


Be sure to check out the whole line-up here to plan out your weekend.  There are yoga and workshop passes that get you into different events, so pre-plan your path to ensure you're all set to BLOOM!

Highlights from Saturday's line-up include 'Jumping Timelines' with Taylor Eyewalker (kundalini yoga) and 'Maha Sadhana' with Reno Muenz and special musical guest Sheela Bringi - a deep immersion of purification practices, asana, and a deep guided meditative relaxation practice with live harp, bamboo flute and sacred Indian singing.

 

 


BLOOM 2.014: Sunday, Oct. 5


Sunday is the main event!  The day is packed with speakers, classes, music and more.  Again, plan out your sessions to get the most of your experience and save some energy for the live concert that wraps up the weekend featuring DJ Drez and MC YOGI.  MC YOGI’s music is inspired from India’s great epic myths, poems, and sacred texts such as the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita. He’s inspired by the life of Mahatma Ghandi and his message of peace.  Perfect.  We couldn't be more excited to experience BLOOM 2.014.  See you there!

 

Getting Grounded in California

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Enjoying malasana at the beach in Ferndale, California.  Check out the rest of my #happyhips photos at www.instagram.com/ceeevs  


Yogalifer in the Field: Caitlin Varrin


Hi Friends!

Caitlin here, sharing some love from the road.  I'm on my second annual gallivant through California and loving every minute.  It's nice to feel home somewhere when you're far away from your own.  Last year I spent 3 months traversing this vast state and this year is shaping up to be a similar adventure.  What I love most about California is the opportunity here for me to reconnect and ground.  After an action-packed summer including 4 music festivals and the Gaiatri 200 hour teacher training, it's been really important for me to let my knowledge land and be still-ish.  Although my little travelling family does opt for many hikes and day trips, I have my personal time every day to go inward and get quiet with the trees. Heaven.

 

 

My home base is just outside of Eureka in the northern part of the state.  I am in the redwood forest; the trees in my backyard are 200-300 years old and I've hugged ones as old as 2400!  Sitting under these giants is a truly humbling experience; I revel in their majesty.  I've really been enjoying incorporating them in my photos for the Instagram challenge that Yogalife Studios is hosting right now with the lovely Sara Cueva! This place is oh so photogenic and inspiring!  We arrived here in the first week of September after having the best time imaginable at Burning Man in Nevada (that's a whole other article of photogenic and inspiring) and just returned 'home' from some California exploration.

 

 

One of our day trips included the most westerly point of the USA, a tiny community called Ferndale. California has a few little jut-outs along the coast and Ferndale exists on one.  You could say I'm truly west coast right now!  I fell in love with this town immediately; we originally went to check out the beach but got distracted by the most charming Victorian homes of all colours and extravagances... also the hyperbole of yard sales that graced their lawns!  Literally 32 sales in 4 blocks!  If you know me personally you know this is another indicator of heaven.  Some of my stellar finds include a $1 copy of Carolyn Myss' 'Anatomy of the Spirit', a wicked $2 denim jacket and a FREE meditation cushion.  After our tromp around town we did finally hit the beach with our new treasures in tow.  Nothing beats a good read and stretch on the beach!

 

 

I've been to California a bunch of times now and each time I like to cover new ground.  The next leg of our jaunt took us through Sierra County, back into desert-like heat, beautiful lakes and forests.  This was a nice switch-up from Eureka which is almost chilly (hold your YEG comments)!  This area was home to the California Gold Rush and you can still find tiny flecks of gold in the Yuba River (we're rich!).  This is one of the least-populated places in California and we truly enjoyed the pace they were working with.  We spoke with the locals to find the best camping spot and headed through Plumas National Forest to arrive at Goose Lake.  We were the only people there.  Again, heaven.  Camping with a fire-ban means lots of rock-tossing into the lake and really early bedtimes.  Extra chill.

 

 

There is something so special about experiencing different communities and chatting with the humans that live there.  When I first started teaching yoga at a variety of studios, this was one of my favourite things - dipping into communities, seeing how it's done, getting to know people from all over the city... connecting.  You can learn a lot by watching, asking a few questions and listening.  Best part?  You don't even have to leave home to do it.

 

So after exploring this new-to-us part of California we finally we looped back to the coast to my favourite place ever: San Francisco.  I know that my travels will take me to some amazing places in life but for now, 100%, this is my place.  We only stayed for one day and went and saw some epic music.  We'll be back for more at Halloween as it's only 4 hours south of Eureka and again, THE BEST.  The drive up the California coastline is as stunning as you can imagine!  We stopped at this place called Area 101, a sort-of spiritual clubhouse-looking place.  The main building donned amazing murals and beautiful statues of various deities.  There was grassy space with a tipi and a huge statue of Buddha.  So beautiful.  I've done this drive a few times now and have never stopped here.  Now I know to always stop.

 

 

My travels are scooping me home for a few weeks and then back to meet up with my family here and chase summer a little longer.  I plan to teach a workshop at a festival in Southern California that is dear to my heart and continue getting upside down and backwards in the trees.  I have a stack of books to read, an even bigger stack of magazines to collage with, and a bunch of uncharted forest waiting.  Not to mention 38772 more treks to San Fran to really get my heart bursting.

I'll see you in the hot room for a few weeks starting September 30th.  Sending ALL THE LOVE!

xo

Caitlin

 

 

 

 

Foundation Friday: Malasana

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This post is an instalment in a series that delves into the basics of yoga—looking at its postures (asana), breath (pranayama), philosophy, and all the other essentials—giving you the foundations upon which to build a solid practice. Today's focus will be on Malasana, or Garland Pose.


Foundation Friday: Malasana


Pose, or Asana Garland Pose, or "Yogi Squat" mah-lah-sah-nah

Squat, yogi squat, garland pose, malasana

In conjunction with our monthly theme, Malasana is one of the ultimate grounding yoga postures. The rooting through the feet, the closeness of the pelvis to the earth, and the general feeling of heaviness and surrendering to the weight of gravity in this posture all encourage a downward flow of energy. Malasana's energetic qualities are calming, soothing, and quieting for the busy mind, as this asana activates a flow of prana down through the body, towards the ultimate source of grounding—the earth.

Many Eastern cultures are accustomed to sitting on the floor for meals and meetings, or squatting comfortably as they go about their daily activities— whereas In our Western world, we spend so much of our lives seated in chairs, car seats, or on couches. We lose the softness and suppleness of our hips, calves, and ankles, and the strength of our low back, thighs, and core. Physically and energetically, malasana helps to counteract these losses.

Malasana may help…

  • Tone your thighs, glutes, and calves
  • Strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles
  • Open through your hips and inner thighs
  • Aid in digestion and elimination
  • Soothe anxiety and promote calm

squat, yogi squat, pregnant, jana roemer, malasana, garland pose

So, how do I get there? 

  1. Start standing with your feet about mat-distance apart. Turn your toes slightly outwards.
  2. Lower your hips in between your legs. Keep your heels on the floor if you can, or support them with a folded mat or towel. You might even try this posture with a prop—like a block, or bolster under your seat.
  3. Draw your hands into anjali mudra (prayer position) and slide your shoulders back. Press your outer elbows into your inner thighs, and vice versa. If this is too much, keep both of your hands on the floor in front of you for support.
  4. Lengthen your tailbone down towards the earth—like gravity is pulling it lower—but lengthen the crown of your head higher to elongate your spine.
  5. Broaden the front of your chest.
Once you're in malasana, try closing your eyes. See if you can hold the posture for a minute, or maybe even longer. Perhaps you can feel the downward flow of energy moving through your body. Notice, when you come out, if you feel a little more calm, or connected with Mama Earth. If you need some release, a forward fold is a really sweet counterpose.

We hope this helps you better malasana, or garland pose. Please feel free to comment on our Facebook with any further questions. And let us know if you have something you would like to see featured in Foundation Friday!

Meditation 101 (Guided Meditation Audio Included!)

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Starting a meditation practice can be daunting - where do you start? How do you sit? What exactly does it mean to be "in meditation" anyhow? How can you navigate through your inner landscapes with more depth and authenticity? Who am I, beneath all these layers of body and mind? This workshop with experienced yoga & meditation practitioner and instructor, Amanda Ings, provides a space for you to explore each of these questions, and much more. A simple, easily approachable 4-step meditation will be shared and broken down, both in practice and in discussion, step by step. Exactly what we are doing in each step and why, how it works in the body-mind-energy-consciousness field, and how each step can be integrated into your daily life to bring more presence, power, and stillness, in yourself and your relationships with others. This workshop is appropriate for everyone; those wishing to deepen their current practices (in yoga or meditation), and those completely new to meditation and/or yoga. Everyone always takes away exactly what they need.

Amanda will be leading the first workshop of a 2-part series, Meditation 101 this coming Sunday at our North location. Find out more here!

Bonus—for a sample of what you'll learn this weekend, try out one of Amanda's guided meditations here: Guided Meditation with Amanda Ings