edmonton yoga

Featured Yogi || Gabi Weaver

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Gabi - PRINT-3  

Gabi joined the Yogalife Studios family in November 2014. She's brought along an awesome, bright energy and a unique skillset with her training in therapeutic yoga. Her classes are fun, energetic, and informative. You can check out her class schedule here and read more about her therapeutic yoga classes here.

 


 

How did you get your yogic start?  Who brought you to your first class, what was that like, and where was it?

I took my first Yoga classes in Vancouver from a pretty woman named Susan, in 1997. I took the class at the advice of the personal trainer at the gym where I went to work out. The class was in a beautiful spare room, and luckily, Susan was an excellent teacher, so I kept going. From the very first class, I knew I wanted to become a Yoga teacher. I felt the power of yoga coursing through my veins, my heart, my soul. The great tragedy of this moment was that I was in my mid-twenties, had a lot of student loan debt, and was just starting my career in Marketing. I knew that yoga would be in my future, but at that time, I could not afford to pursue it. It was difficult to find yoga classes, never mind a teacher training. Thankfully, that has all changed. Almost 10 years after my first Yoga class, in 2006, I became a Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher. It was a life-changing moment in every way. I do not know of any other job that could bring me as much joy and contentment and gratitude. I absolutely LOVE teaching Yoga, and I love everything about our field. I think it is the best job in the world!!

 

Share a favourite quote, lesson, or teaching that inspires you.

My own beliefs about life are to: “Treat everyone you meet with love and respect, we are all equal.” “Be humble, be kind, be open, be soft, be sincere”. “Make goals, write them down, and never, ever give up.” “Do less, live more, breathe, stop and smell the roses.” “The way you treat those closest to you, says everything about you.” “ When you start living your truest life, the people and circumstances to help you make your goals and dreams come true will magically appear. “ Learn from your mistakes and past, only you can decide to treat them as lessons, and the reasons for your success, rather than reasons for your failure.”

And some famous quotes that have inspired me:

“If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Mother Theresa “The meaning of Life is to find your gift. The Purpose of Life is to give it away”. African Proverb “Live as if you were to die tomorrow” Learn as though you were to live forever” Mahatma Ghandi

 

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

I love to practice to great music, and my tastes run all over the place- world music, Afro-cuban, Latin jazz, Bohemian ethnic music, Canadian alternative, instrumental, singer/songwriter,etc. One of my secret disappointments is not being a musician myself. I must content myself with being able to make a great playlist, and being able to use music to inspire, energize, and relax students in my Yoga classes. That said, I think the best yoga practice is when there is no music, but the steady and sweet sound of my own Ujjayi breath.

 

Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction.

I read voraciously, and always have. I like to read about Yoga, Travel, Cooking, Nutrition, Food, Farming, and Healing. I tend to choose books that are funny, wise, and inspiring. I enjoy memoirs, some of my favorites were Mahatma Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela. I have read some great Yoga memoirs: Yoga Bitch, by Susan Morrison, May I be Happy, by Cyndi Lee, Warrior Pose, by Brad Willis, Do your OM thing, by Rebecca Pacheco, Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, by Stephen Cope, and Hell-Bent, by Benjamin Lorr.

 

Tell us about your first teacher training.

I was lucky enough to study with a true Yoga master, Karen Claffey, in Montreal. She had certifications in practically everything, and was very wise, thoughtful, and supportive. She taught us more than just yoga, but a way of life, as she lived and breathed the teachings and philosophies of Yoga. It was a life-changing experience, and I feel very blessed to have had Karen as my first teacher.

 

Where's your favourite vacation spot?

Every year, I travel to Sivananda Ashram, on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It is very different from staying in a resort. It is incredibly beautiful, and rustic. I go alone, stay in a tent, connect to nature, meet amazing new people who become life-long friends and enjoy the healthiest vegetarian food. I take programs and spend my days learning. Everyone at the ashram must attend the two daily Satsangs, which are made up of meditation, Kirtan, (group singing in Sanskrit) and presentations from the many visiting program teachers and spiritual leaders at the ashram. Our days start at 5:30 am, and are busy until 10pm. I always make time for a couple of daily swims in the breathtakingly clear turquoise ocean, and walks on the pristine fine white sand beaches. My yearly trips to the ashram are completely rejuvenating, nourishing and life-changing, both mentally and spiritually.

 

What is your favourite meal to make and share with friends?

I am a huge foodie, and love to cook many ethnic foods that require hunting for exotic spices and ingredients. I love Vietnamese, African, Japanese, Brazilian, Indian, Mediterranean, French, Turkish, Lebanese, and Czech cooking. My meals can best be described as simple, very fresh, well-seasoned, very tasty and healthy. I could easily be a Chef, if my own Mom (herself a European-trained Chef) did not constantly dissuade me from a life of cruel hours and intense pressure.

 

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

I have been lucky enough to have formed some strong and very honest friendships with some of my yoga students. Many of my students have hugged me and told me that I had changed their lives. I am grateful to be able to teach Yoga therapeutically for people in recovery in treatment centers and people suffering from eating disorders, severe PTSD, and intense anxiety and depression. I have been lucky enough to have influenced many people on their path in life. Each of these experiences has taught me about the real meaning of life, how to love, how to forgive, how to heal, how to overcome great tragedy, and become all that you are capable of.

 

What's your favourite pose/sequence/area of the body to work on?

I could never just pick one! But, I do love inversions, and I’m pretty sure I spent more time upside down than right side up as a child.

 

Who inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere, in my closest family and friends, complete strangers, and even in a bad situation, I try and see what I am meant to learn from it. I think it is so important to live consciously, mindfully, and to surround yourself with inspiring influences and people, and to constantly step outside your comfort zone and grow into the person you are meant to be.

 

If you could study with one person who would it be and why?

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. There are so many wonderful and talented teachers. I would have loved to have studied with the great masters of Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabi Jois. However, I would love to study with Kathryn Budig, and Kino Macgregor. They have qualities as teachers that I greatly admire. Tenacity, kindness, honesty, acceptance, humor and how to be humble. I would also love to study with some well-known Therapeutic Yoga teachers, Bo Forbes, Amy Weintraub, Timothy McCall, and Kelly McGonigal, among many others.

 

What is the best concert you've ever been to?

Jake Bugg, who is an almost unknown but very gifted and dynamic singer/songwriter from the U.K.

 

Where's the next place you want to travel?

Hawaii!!

 

Share your favourite self-healing practice.

Yoga, meditation and pranayama has always been my way to heal, whether it is body, mind or spirit.

 

Share one of your life goals.

To consistently make the goals and choices that will lead me to living the life that I have always dreamed of. To live consciously, simply, and from the heart.

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!


Foundation Friday | Prenatal Yoga

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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're sharing tips on prenatal yoga.  

Our post today comes from Emily NcNicoll (who you may remember from Monday), our prenatal-passionate yogalifer. This piece was written specifically for teachers and is equally important for an expecting yogi to understand the limits of her body and practice.

 


 Pregnancy in Yoga by Emily McNicoll


 

Although it can be intimidating to have a pregnant lady walk into your class, it is a wonderful chance to serve a woman that is going through a lot of change and would likely appreciate your support. Remember that knowledge is power and keeping educated with simple guidelines can make a big difference to your teaching experience and the way in which you serve your community.

 

Just like asking people about injuries, being informed about a pregnant woman in class is important. A simple “If you’re pregnant, come have a chat with me before class starts” is a good way to let a woman know she is seen and cared for by her teacher. Also, talking with front desk staff at the studio can be a good way to stay informed. Knowing the basic do’s and don’ts about practicing yoga while pregnant is a great way to build confidence as a teacher and a great service to all potential students.

 


Things to keep in mind and at heart:


Pregnant women produce high levels of a hormone called Relaxin. One of the roles that this hormone has is allowing for the ligaments around the pelvis to relax therefore allowing the bones of the pelvis to shift for childbirth. In terms of any exercise that involves stretching, it is very important for a pregnant woman to stay away from acute sensation in her joints (i.e knees) as Relaxin can make her ligaments and tendons more susceptible to injuries than a person who is not pregnant. My advice to the woman is to engage firm foundation of hands and feet (hasta and pada bhanda,) avoid hyperextension, and ease away from any painful sensations.

 

Pregnancy tends to induce heat in the body as it is literally working to grow life. With this in mind, encouraging woman to ask the teacher to cool down the room when she is feeling too hot is really important. A cooler room is often a relief to a pregnant woman as her internal temperature is high. I often bring a sweater when I teach prenatal so all the woman can remain comfortable, myself included!

 

Just like paying close attention to painful sensations and her own temperature, encouraging a pregnant woman to set her own pace and listen to her body is important. Teaching modified postures first and then offering more challenging variations is a great way to allow a woman to empower herself with choice. One day she meets her mat she may be up for a lot of physical challenge and the next day it could be different. This is why as a teacher being educated in modifications and prop use is really important.

 

When a woman asks about other classes that she can attend, going through a studios schedule with her and advising her of a few “don’ts” is really important. Here are the things she should know when exploring her yoga practice:

 

Always talk to the teacher before class to inform them of the pregnancy.

 

No hot or warm yoga. As explained above, a pregnant womans body temperature is on the rise. It is important not to aggravate this further. Also, pregnancy is thought to be a good time to introvert and build the bodies energy. Hot yoga can easily exhaust energy reserves which are needed for childbirth and being a mother. This is another great reason to encourage a woman to go at her own pace as only she will truly know what she’s feeling and her own personal needs.

 

No core yoga. A little bit of core engagement is encouraged (like 20-25% of her capacity) as it helps to tone and strengthen the pelvic floor and support her spine and hips. A core yoga class would not be recommended.

 

No arm balances. Unless a woman already has a strong inversions practice, staying away from arm balances is a safe bet. The risk of her falling out of the posture must be considered. Keeping her and her child safe is obviously important. Likewise when doing one legged balancing postures. Pregnant woman should be encouraged to use a wall when getting into and out of the poses with the option to play with taking hands off the wall. Some women find their balance to be way different when they are pregnant and the wall is there for her safety.

 

No deep twists. Gentle twists are a great way to lengthen and restore the spine but deeper twists with core engagement are a great way to encourage elimination. Keeping a soft lower belly and lots of room for the uterus is important.

 


A couple other things to consider:


The feet in forward folds should be a little wider than hip distance apart. In the beginning stages of pregnancy it will leave space for the womb and with in the later stages it will be the best way to accommodate the babies growth.

 

In the second and third trimester laying flat on her back is not recommended. The baby can put pressure on the mothers aorta (a main artery) and cause loss of blood flow to the brain and heart. Modifying reclined postures like savasana with bolsters is a good way to keep her more upright. You can also recommend resting on the LEFT side with a bolster between the thighs and one under her head. The left side is important due to the position of the aorta.

 

Know your oils! Some essential oils can cause uterine contractions. If you’re using oils in class be aware of the contraindications and when in doubt, don’t use them.


If you're interested in prenatal classes at Yogalife Studios, please get in touch with us at info@yogalifestudios.ca or by calling either of the studios.

Our next round of prenatal yoga classes start December 4th at Yogalife Studios South with Sara Cueva and December 5th at Yogalife Studios North with Emily McNicoll.

 

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.

Foundation Friday: Abhyanga

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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.  As this month is geared towards self-care, we are taking a look at the basics of Abyhyanga, or self massage, and sharing the foundations for you to give back to yourself.  

 


Foundation Friday: Abhyanga


 

Abyhanga is the Indian tradition of self massage, done ritualistically to honour one's body as a temple.  In India, this practice is done with babies until they grow old enough to do their own self massage and help the elders.  Different oils are used for different doshas, the three human constitutions in the system of Ayurveda, or depending on climate and time of year.  Sesame oil is the most common; be sure to opt for an organic, food-grade product as you are applying it to your largest organ.  This Ayurvedic practice is traditionally performed in the morning, before your bath or shower, to facilitate the release of toxins that may have accumulated during the previous night.  Self massage is perfect after dry skin brushing, another step in honouring your temple inside and out.

 

Benefits of Abhyanga

 

  • Increased circulation, especially to nerve endings
  • Toning of the muscles and the whole physiology
  • Calming for the nerves
  • Lubrication of the joints
  • Increased mental alertness
  • Improved elimination of impurities from the body
  • Softer, smoother skin
  • Increased levels of stamina through the day
  • Better, deeper sleep at night
How do you do it?

 

1. Warm your organic oil by placing the bottle in hot water for a few minutes.
2. Lightly apply your oil to your entire body, waiting around 5 minutes to let some of it absorb into your skin.
3. Massage your entire body, using even pressure with your whole hand.
4. Use lighter pressure on sensitive areas - chest, abdomen, heart.  You may choose to use more oil and spend more time where your nerve endings are concentrated (soles of feet, palms)
5. Use circular motions over rounded areas like your head and joints, and straight strokes on straight areas like your arms and legs.
6.  Remember, the longer the oil is on, the deeper it penetrates.  Let your oil do its work!  Relax as long as you can before showering off.

 


If you're interested in learning more about Ayurveda, we have an upcoming workshop at Yogalife Studios North An Ayurvedic Approach to Food Digestion & Cleansing with Ian Hayward November 1 || 11am-6:30pm

register here!


 

 

 

 

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.

Lindsey's Final Words

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Lindsey's final classes were on Saturday, September 6, 2014. As a parting gift to the studio, she wished to share a few final thoughts on her experience here as a Yogalife instructor.

Teaching at Yogalife was the reason I decided to quit my job and do yoga full time, which was the best decision I ever made.  Over the years not only have I grown so much as a student, a teacher, and a person, but I was blessed in watching the massive growth of our community.

Seeing familiar faces in my classes, and witnessing the amazing progression of each student reminded me everyday how lucky I am to be a yoga teacher.  

I received so much joy from being at the studio that I never wanted to leave!  I used to joke that I spent more time at Yogalife then I did at home, which wasn't much of a joke as it was absolutely true! (The couches are quite comfortable to sleep on really.)

There are so many great experiences that I will take with me as I transition into the next chapter of my life.

The friendships I made within the community, practicing and learning from the incredible teachers, ridiculousness and laughter with the amazing front desk staff, my forever loyal PUD crew, and so many more fantastic memories, that I will cherish for lifetimes.

The last 4 years have been beyond a rewarding experience for me.  

I truly feel that the energy and teachings that I offered, have been given back to me in exponential amounts by the students and community at Yogalife.

It has been a gift and a blessing to get to know each and every one of you, and I do hope that our paths will cross again.  

With infinite love and gratitude.

Lindsey

Brandon's Final Words

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Brandon's final classes were today, Saturday, August 16, 2014. He felt compelled to write one last thank-you to the Yogalife community.


 

Gratitude.

 

I am thankful that Yogalife was the very first studio that I was able to teach at. It’s actually the only studio I have taught at so far. I am thankful that a chance was taken on me, even though I was very early in my teaching career. I am thankful for you, all of the students, who have generously allowed me to guide you, share with you, and grow with you. Even share a quote or two. I am thankful for all of the knowledge I have gained over the past two years.

 

I am thankful for all of your support.

 

For attending my classes so diligently. For following me to the North Studio when I would teach there. For coming to my Warriors of Change and Art of Massage Workshops. For joining my wife and I in Nicaragua.

 

I am thankful for your trust.

 

Thank you for trusting me enough to feel as though I had something to offer you. My hope is that I have helped even one of you in your journey through yoga and life. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be even a small part in all of it.

I poured my heart and soul into this studio and everything I was involved in, and I promise to continue to do that for the yoga community.

If you want to connect with me, or find out where I end up and what I am up to, please follow me on Facebook at Brandon Jacobs Yoga.

 

“Letting go and moving on means to come to the realization that some people and some places are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.”

Highest Regards,

 

Brandon

 

Welcome Back Meghan Currie!

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We are SO pumped to welcome back Meghan to Yogalife Studios July 25 and 26.  This time she is here to share her juiciness on LOVING.EVERY.MOMENT.

 

Every moment is a magical recipe of sorts. Even the most sour of flavours are important and serve purpose. We can collect and assimilate nutrients from every flickering moment if we chew slowly and stay present to the complex flavours of life. This weekend is an opportunity to indulge in all the flavours of You. To simmer in your own experience and let it take you to where you need to go. The classes weave together to create a complete transformational journey, taking your practice to another level of deliciousness!

 

Perfectly Imperfect

 

You are here. We begin here, as we are. This is where all the power lives. In truth, rather than in ideas of perfection. How is this all not perfect, as it is? Once the contraction of the idea of perfection relaxes, expansion can then occur. Prepare to sweat and have fun. We flow, opening up the corners of our bodies. Hips + upside down + gentle hearts

 

 

Surf School

 

Swim on air, surfing the breath in each moment. And whatever arises from each moment, we surf that too! This is where we discover the grace and power that comes to our practice from listening to each moment with sweetened ears. Arm balances + deep twists + hearts

 

A little bit about Miss Currie~

 

she loves...

handstands, motorcycles, smells, grafitti, safety pins, bicycles, pigeons, music, moss, languages, books, beets, mud, dancing, hydro lines, diagrams, sewing, teaching, surprises, shaking, yard sales, anatomy, instruments, sleeping outside, wisdom, nonsense, sprouts, spoons, body parts, seeds, insects, fears, rocks, giving, essential oils, foods that vibrate, photos, ocean, laughing, naps, spinach, crying, sewing machine parts, singing, love, wrinkles, long walks, good talks, all creatures, trees, apples, raspberries, learning, breathing....being...

 

Visit Meghan's site to get more acquainted!

 

Join Meghan at Yogalife Studios South || register here!

Perfectly Imperfect || Friday, July 25 || 7-9pm

Surf School || Saturday, July 26 || 2:30-4:30pm

 

Foundation Friday: Savasana

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  This post is the first in a new 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. First off, we’ll be taking a look at the quintessential yoga asana, or pose—savasana.

 


Foundation Friday: Savasana


 

Asana

Corpse Pose, or “Savasana”

(sava=corpse, asana=pose)

sha-vass-a-na

 

 

Savasana is the most important—and perhaps, the most difficult—pose in yoga. While it may appear that someone in savasana is simply setting up for a nap, the goal is not actually to fall asleep—rather, savasana intends to mimic the restful effects of sleep by rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit while the practitioner remains conscious. Since we are not distracted by sensory sensation in this restful position, we are perfectly prepared to lie in quiet awareness of our breath, of our mind, and our humble presence. Without attaching any judgment on to our pattern of breath or to any thoughts that may arise, we may simply be conscious of them.

 

Why do we practice savasana?

 

Savasana is a perfect place to pause and find some peace before yoga, to settle our minds and bodies, to get ourselves into a quiet space, setting the tone for our practice. After asana practice, it is so important to take savasana—savanasa is where our bodies make sense of everything that happened throughout practice. This is the time that we can integrate any new sensory information throughout our bodies—where we can soak up all the goodness of practice and let it sink in. It is also an exercise in calming the nervous system, and just like any muscle in our body, the more we can train our brains to find quiet—to slow down and simply notice things the way they are—the stronger our brains and nervous systems will be at mimicking the same quiet, stillness, and calm throughout the rest of our lives.

 

Savasana may help…

 

• Decrease your heart rate • Lower your blood pressure • Alleviate muscle tension • Lessen anxiety • Heighten your ability to concentrate or focus • Increase your energy levels

 

 

How do I get there? 

 

  1. First, lie on your back. Lay your feet outstretched from your body about hip-width distance apart, with your arms outstretched a few inches away from your side body, palms face up.
  2. Let your toes relax to the sides (your feet may rotate outwards slightly).
  3. Slightly tuck your tailbone under to lengthen your spine.
  4. Tuck your shoulder blades underneath your body to open across your chest.
  5. Slightly tuck your chin in to keep the back of your neck long.
  6. Close your eyes.
  7. Relax and soften everywhere that you can in your body.
  8. Release any breathing technique you may have been using in class—breathe naturally.

***Note: comfort is essential in savasana—find whichever variation of savasana is the most relaxing to you, so that it will be easier for you to avoid distractions.

If this position is uncomfortable, you can:

 

  • Keep your upper body the same, but bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall wide
  • Place the soles of your feet mat-width distance apart and rest your knees together (helps if you are experiencing lower back discomfort)
  • Place a bolster under your knees (also helps with lower back discomfort)

 

We hope this helps you better understand the concept of savasana. Please feel free to comment with any further questions. And let us know if you have something you would like to see featured in Foundation Friday!

 

 

Astral Harvest: Yogis in the Field

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Four Yogalifers, Five Workshops, A Million Smiles!

 

This year marks the 7th annual gathering of beautiful souls for Astral Harvest: Mythic Roots // Binary Skies, July 3-6th in Driftpile, Alberta.  A homegrown festival with the roots of the crew hailing from Edmonton, this is a quick-growing shaker with something for everyone.  With daytime workshops as a central focus for Astral, it's no surprise that four of our own will be sharing their skills with the festival-goers.  Graham Parsons, Jessica Saulnier, Jennie Musani and Caitlin Varrin are rolling in with five different offerings over the weekend.  They couldn't be more excited to be a part of this magic.

 


Graham shares:

"My favourite part of astral is sharing chai with a best friend you weren't acquainted with till that afternoon, as you leave the chill dome at 3am and both smile at the part of the sky that never really got dark, & know that you still have several more days of warm friends, mindful yoga, inspiring art & immersive bass.  Welcome to Now"

Join Graham Friday, July 4th // 10am // Sacred Vibration Vinyasa AND 4pm // Laughter Yoga

 

Jennie shares:

"To me, Astral Harvest means freedom. I'm most excited to just be. <3"

Join Jennie Sunday, July 6th // 12pm // Yin Harmony


www.astralharvest.com gives you all the background info a festival-er could need, and here's a snippet from their blog to illuminate the vibe of this gathering:

 


Astral Harvest Music is not your ordinary music festival - it is a feast for your senses!

We bring in international and local DJs and acoustic acts, powered by the ever-impressive PK Sound. Our 4 unique stages and incredible lineup brings world wide recognition. But Astral Harvest goes beyond the music scene with an emphasis on daytime activities. Astral Harvard conferences are sure to inspire new thoughts and ideas. Learn a new skill or practice at a workshop, cool yourself in the river at the beach or take in one of the many live art shows or interactive performances throughout the weekend. Our atmosphere is part of the magic - a playground and children's activities will keep your Little Harvesters engaged and entertained!

 

Nestled in the beautiful boreal wilderness of Northern Alberta, admission includes 3 nights and 4 days of camping, free water and firewood, and access to hot, coin-operated showers. Take a stroll through our funky and renowned marketplace and support local artists, merchants and bountiful food vendors.

Come celebrate music, art, knowledge, community and the human experience - Home is where the Harvest is.


 

A little more from our other two yogis in the field:


Jessica shares:

"Astral Harvest to me is yet another opportunity to experience oneness with all, while providing the freedom to express individuality through music, dance, movement, fashion, art, and performance. If one word could describe the spirit and beauty of the festival grounds, the amazing stages, the friendships made, the love and light shared between fellow humans, the informative workshops, yummy yoga, epic dance sessions, and hilarious camping adventures, well my friends, that word would be MAGIC." Join Jessica on Friday, July 4th // 1pm // Gaia Flow

 

Caitlin shares:

"Astral Harvest is community: home, heart and harmony. It's reunions and connections, so many smiles and jokes, family. My favourite people, land, music, art and movement. Harvesters are truly and deservedly spoiled :)" Join Caitlin on Thursday, July 3rd // 1:30 // Simple Pleasures~Hatha Flow"


Big thanks to Luke GS Art & Photography for the beautiful photos!

Guest Teacher Lisa Cohen

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Yogalife Studios South is excited to welcome guest teacher Lisa Cohen, joining us from Arizona.  

Lisa will be leading Melissa's Ashtanga class this Sunday June 29th at 12:30pm.

 

A little bit from Lisa:

 


Yoga came into my life when my father and sister took me to their Ashtanga yoga teacher, Anthony "Prem" Carlisi, in 1998. I did Primary series, all of Primary series in my first class. I couldn’t move after class or the week after. I was humbled. I knew that I would practice yoga for the rest of my life. I didn’t know that I would teach, but Prem passed the torch to me when he moved away. After 15 years on the mat, I am still a lifelong student, still humbled  and still in-love with the Practice.

 

Yoga opened me up to many ways of seeing and learning, communicating and growing. Yoga is opening, loving and evolving. Yoga is an ego corrective experience. Finding yoga has helped me practice gratitude everyday in every way.

 

My class is appropriate for all students willing to try something new and step out of what they might think is possible, ordinary or routine. With guidance and love I try to challenge each student while nourishing the body with breath and awareness and clarity of alignment.


 

To learn more about Lisa visit her site  www.flowinwithcohen.com See you Sunday!