inspiration

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

 

Brittany's Final Words

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Brittany's final classes at Yogalife Studios Edmonton were on Sunday August 10, 2014. She wished to say a few words as her parting gift to the Yogalife community.


 

Yogalife was one of the first studios that welcomed me in my infancy as a yoga teacher. I was so willing and excited to play a role in the growing community and taught a lot that first summer. So much has shifted since I began teaching at the studio over 3 years ago. Not only have I witnessed the growth of the community and studentship at Yogalife, but within our city as a whole.

 

We are truly so lucky to have such committed students and teachers of this practice just within our beloved Edmonton. 

 

I’ve been lucky enough to have had such fun, inspired and lively people in my classes at Yogalife. It would not have been such a memorable and enriching experience if not for the students. From putting holes in the walls in Power Upside Down to bringing us chocolate covered bacon, or even giving me (the yogi on the bus) a lift to the train after class. I’ve laughed so hard, felt so loved, so appreciated and so very inspired by everyone I’ve had the privilege of meeting in my time here.

 

Teaching the Tuesday night hot flow class has become one of my favourite teaching memories.

 

That class was truly unique from week to week, and I always loved showing up to that class knowing you would be making wild animal sounds, dancing in the dark, doing ridiculous amounts of core and purely delighting in your practices. I always felt uplifted after teaching that class, and for that, I am forever grateful.

 

Thank you for allowing me to be but a small piece of your practice these last few years. Words are not even close to being able to express the love I feel for this community. If you would like to reconnect, please follow my Facebook page, Yogi on the Bus.

 

I whole heartedly welcome the notion of crossing paths with each of you again one day. 

 

In Love and High Spirit,

 

Brittany

I AM.

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Written by Brandon Jacobs for Elephant Journal

 


I have always tried to fit into a mold of expectations and perceived perfectionism.


 

I have lived in a world of judgment and criticism. I suppose I still do. A life of caring what others thought of me, and feeling crippled by not being everything to everyone. I struggled in silence for too many years. I have since reached out, but I know there are people out there who haven’t.

 

We feel alone. We hide behind masks. Behind fear. Behind our truths. But we are not alone. The words, “me too” have become extremely comforting to many people struggling to open up.

 


Then there are the two words, “I am.” Those words are very powerful. They may be the most influential and important words you can put together, because there is this massive, powerful, conscious choice of what we choose to put after them.


 

I run a workshop series called Warriors of Change. It is based on healing from the inside out. It is about not feeling victimized. The studio I teach at has us write out our intentions and visions for each workshop. Here is a bit of what mine looks like:

 

“I was inspired to create this workshop series to help people find empowerment in their past experiences, struggles, and wounds. We are not victims, and we are not alone. I am passionate about creating an extremely safe space and environment to allow people to move through whatever they may need. Small or big steps, we are all here together, in support of one another.”

 

“My attempt is to aid people in opening to the possibility of moving towards a higher version of themselves. Through the power of asana, and deep self-awareness, we can become raw and unmasked. We can truly see ourselves, forgive ourselves, and learn to love ourselves. Through acceptance, transformation becomes possible.”

 


But, I am only able to share such a workshop due to some very significant occurrences in my life. Very vivid moments helped to create this. My “I am” used to be very different.


 

To back up. I am 34. I guide yoga classes and workshops. I am a co-facilitator of a Teacher Training school. I also work as a massage therapist (which is really more like a body-work healer in my eyes), as well as a personal trainer. Prior to all of that, I was a K-12 Physical Education and Health teacher. I hold Bachelors in both Education and Physical Education.

 

Within all of this, I developed exercise anorexia. Moving from 195 pounds to 125 pounds in less than a year was viewed as “looking healthy.” I suffered alone from the devastating three words uttered to me: ”You got fat.” Death. That is how I felt in that moment. A long road ahead from that day in 1998.

 


But as a man, we are often told not to let things like this bother us. We are still trained not to show emotion. If we are, we are probably gay. If we are sensitive, we are probably the same. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but still, why the label? Who cares what I am if I am sensitive?


I can tell you, I enjoy a good cry. I have a lot of emotions. I just do. I care. And I love. And I want the best for people. Has that made me “weird” in the eyes of others? Always. Have I been called a few other choice words? Absolutely. I have honed it in, in order to be very stoic for my students, but that has come with very conscious choices.

 

Aside from an eating disorder, I come from two abusive relationships and one abusive and demeaning business partnership. Amidst all of this, I felt like I was a “victim.” Belittled, tormented, spoken down to, hit, sworn at, etc. I have also been recently diagnosed with an extremely rare digestive disorder. No need to get deep into that yet, but it’s been a 20-year battle to have just one person believe me. One person to listen to me and believe me.

 


Within all of this, I found yoga. Or yoga found me. Or both. What matters is this—yoga saved me. Well, that’s what I used to say. And think. Yoga saved me. But the more I started to say that, the more I realized (and was reminded by a very smart person), that “I” saved me.


Me. I did that. I used yoga, but I saved me. This is not an egocentric statement. Not in the least.

 

The point is that I did the work. Me. The deep, hard, gritty, shitty, raw work.

 

Many of us are told to watch our thoughts, for they become words, and these words become actions. Which is not true. It is a very conscious choice to act on your thoughts and words. I chose not to be a victim. I chose to be strong and do the work.

 


My amazing and supportive wife has always told me, “Feel free to use yoga as much as you need. But promise me, once it has opened you up enough, that you will deal with your shit.” Brilliant.


 

The other gift she gave me? She didn’t try to fix me. Not at all. Did she push me? Yes. Too far, too soon? Almost. But she didn’t try to fix me. She gave me something much more powerful. She loved me while I fixed myself. Or rather, loves me, while I continue to do the work.

 


I saved me. How truly powerful is that? Me. I did that. I read, meditate, practice, guide, study, and work, work, work on myself. I feel a duty to give back to yoga what it has helped me to find. It has helped me to find me.


I am most free when practicing all alone to whatever music is moving me at the time. I am more open and raw when I practice than any other time. I have spent many an hour crying on my mat, sometimes for no reason, sometimes uncontrollably. But it has helped me to be real. Completely real. Uncomfortably authentic. It has helped me to be better. Better at everything. I am simply better. I. Am. Better.

 

So, there are these two words, “I am.” What you put after them shapes your reality and empowers you. Me? I am a lot of things. But what I am not is a victim.

 


One of my brilliant teachers always reminded me that the phrase, “this too shall pass” isn’t necessarily true. It’s more like, “this is passing.” You may never really forget, but you have a choice as to how much your past controls you.


We are powerful, conscious, creating beings.

 

So, what am I? Simply and humbly, I am me.

A Hello From Our Wandering Yogi...

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A warm hello, Yogalife Brethren. Graham here, writing to you from about the middle Costa Rica, and from about the middle of my time wandering through Central America. Feels like far too long since I laid a mat down on the floor of the Sun Room, as a student or teacher.


If you don't remember me, I'm the tall bearded one who occupies far too much couch space in the lounge between classes :) I'm also the one who cherishes the experience of slowing down & connecting with people through and after a yin practice. And as it turns out, this softening, clarifying, and surrendering side of yoga has been a medicine that has served me many a time down here in a part of the world that words like 'vibrant,'effervescent' and 'kinda insane' are well applicable to.

After dropping into this 5 month path on the Pacific side of Mexico, where I was honoured to be a guest teacher at Paraiso Yoga in Sayulita (wonderful little surf town, best fish tacos on earth for around $2), my partner Shawna and I started making our way inland, across the continent. The bus systems in Mexico, Belize & Nicaragua are a necessary part of the infrastructure, linking all the small towns to the larger hubs and the coasts, one can travel very cheaply... if one can fold oneself into smallish spaces.


With trips of 8 or 9 hours, frequent was the scene of the two of us spilling out of a bus and flailing our collective limbs with joy, before trying to find the least dusty place on the ground to do pigeon. The hardest part of the pose became trying not to utter groans of contentment that might offend the tender little old ladies selling woven baskets of plantains and avocados in the bus station. Sometimes it had to be done.


Of course, the sometimes discomfort of traveling, the stress of trying to sort schedules and currency in a second language (or the international language of wild hand gestures), the willingness to sometimes consume food that may not be 'Ayurvedic,' may not be best for your 'dosha,' may not in fact look like 'food,' all pale in insignificance to arriving at places like this:

This is a hot springs in the mountains of Central Mexico called Las Grutas Tolantango, and I'm fairly certain that if it wasn't so smack dab in the middle of nowhere, far from the resorts of Acapulco & Cancun, it would be an international tourist destination of the highest regard. If you enjoy the soothing waters of Radium and the Kootenays, the nourishing serenity of this place will feel like coming home, far from it though you may be.

After meeting up with an old friend in Tulum (many of you likely remember Cole as a teacher in the early days of Yogalife, his picture stills adorns the front window of the south studio, and he is just as much the life-affirming ball of happy as he ever was), we made our way down through Belize, which features some of the world's best snorkelling and diving, delicious seafood (recommended: lionfish and conch fritters), and little islands called cayes that are big enough to have reggae bars and yoga studios, but too small to have actual cars. I think the only traffic jam i bore witness to on caye caulker involved a bike and two gold carts trying to get around a mud puddle, and rather than road rage, everyone was just laughing. Apropos for an island whose official motto is 'Go Slow.' We took in many a leisurely sunset in Belize, and since we spent part of our time volunteering at an animal shelter, we always had plenty of canine accompaniment, which we always welcomed. As if we had a choice. Even during an epic gazebo sunset asana photoshoot, they happily wandered wherever. When dogs are having their days, do downward dog :)
And here I now sit, in Costa Rica, after having spent the last week in and around a little town called Uvita, at a little Festival called Envision. Yoga & Permaculture workshops by day, deep dancey music and breathtaking art installations by night. I was blessed to be able to participate in an asana, kirtan (sacred chanting) and ecstatic dance experience led by Suzanne Sterling. She is one of the lights behind a Yoga initiative called Off the Mat, Into the World, and if ever you need some inspirado that our worldwide kula (community) of yogis is manifesting many a wonderful thing, check out her website  http://suzannesterling.com/.
Myself and my friend Josh also led an impromptu vinyasa flow on the beach during low tide, which was attended mainly by people covered in blue volcanic mud. Apparently it's been used homeopathically for generations for skin exfoliation and rejuvenation, all I know for sure is that it's really fun to practice warrior III in. The clay kind of molds to your position and supports you in balancing postures, which we decided was ther best kind of cheating :)

Well, all for now. I'll send another dispatch before landing on the shores of Lake Atitlan for Yogalife's April retreat, led by myself and the inimitably lovely Sara Cueva.


I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to share what I've intuitively received from being able to awake each day, head toward my mat with a new luscious backdrop, and a new's days experiences, both inspiring and challenging, laid out before me. And when I do eventually return to the place I am delighted and humbled to call home, I look forward to sharing space, and a groan of pigeon pose contentment, with all of you.


Pura Vida, & Namaste,
Graham

Self-Love Revolution!!! Eliminate This Word From Your Vocbulary!

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Adapted from Sheryl Paul:

These are statements we often hear throughout the year from friends and family:

 


I should attend that function tonight.

I should feel more excited to see my partner.

I should feel happier over the holidays.

I should spend more time practicing mindfulness.

I should eat better foods.


 

You can probably discern the common word: should. As soon as a "should statement," is made, it signals that someone is suffering from an externally imposed expectation, and inevitably comparing her or himself to a cultural ideal of "good" or "right" behavior.

 

Let's take the statement: I should feel more excited to see my partner. We carry a cultural idea that says that if you're away from your partner and not pining for him or her, it's an indication that something is wrong or missing from the relationship. Our minds then go to: I'm not in love enough, or I'm with the wrong person, and the anxious spiral begins.

 


But you can see that the anxiety originates from a "should" statement, which, again, in an indicator that you're holding yourself to an external standard of "right" feelings or behaviour. There are no right feelings in relationships; there is only what works for the two of you.


 

Let's explore another "should" statement: I should spend more time practicing mindfulness. While mindfulness is proven to increase well-being, if you're practicing mindfulness because you "should" do it and not because you truly want to do it, you'll quickly find the practice dwindling away into a sea of self-created resentment as you resist what's good for you because you now feel controlled by your own externally imposed requirements for being a "better" person!

 

Since so many people grew up listening to a litany of rules, when the word "should" infiltrates into your own running commentary, you will likely respond to yourself the same way you responded to your well-meaning caregivers and authority figures: with resistance (since no one want to feel controlled).

 

And yet another "should" statement: I should attend that function tonight. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was invited to a holiday function at her husband's company. She hadn't had a day off from work in weeks and she was exhausted, but she felt obligated to attend because she knew it was expected and her husband would feel disappointed if she declined. "I just want to go home and have a hot bath," she told me. "

 

So why don't you?" I asked. "That's clearly what you really want to do."

 

But her sense of should-derived guilt overrode her heart's desire and she ended up attending the event, then picking a fight with her husband on the way home (I imagine this sounds familiar to many of you). Since she wasn't able to find a way to attend with true good will, I'm sure her husband would have preferred to deal with his own disappointment rather than spend the evening with a wife who didn't want to be there.

 

Can you imagine how much more lovingly she would have received her husband when he returned home had she spent the evening lovingly attending to her own needs?

 


What's essential to understand is that actions derived from "shoulds" aren't loving to anyone.


Since my friend attended the function because she was trying to be a "good" wife, she was betraying not only herself but also her partner. Now, this isn't to say that there aren't times when we do need to assess the greater good and put our individual needs aside—especially in marriage—but when we repeatedly ignore our "inner no" to please others, the results are ultimately disastrous.

 


To heal from the addiction to should, start to notice how often the word populates your self-talk, and then notice how you feel inside when you fall prey to believing the should statement. When you hear the word should, ask, What would be most loving to myself and others right now?

Then listen closely for the answer.


How Being Mindful Can Help You Stick With Your Goals or Resolutions

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Adapted from Angela Mulholland from CTVNews.ca.

 

If New Year’s resolutions are notorious for one thing it’s that they’re easy to break. Our resolve to eat healthier gets thrown by the wayside when we are stressed by work or home life. Our plans to go for more walks are pushed aside when more important matters compete for our time. Ahhh, time.


It's always about not having enough time. Some days I imagine that is entirely true. Most other days it's the easy excuse, especially since we all are allotted the same number of hours in a day.


Of course children, shift work, family, etc. may get in the way. However, taking more time for yourself isn't selfish. Again, it is NOT selfish. You need to love yourself enough to realize that you can take even an hour for yourself in a day.


If you are always giving to others and do not receive in like kind (or even close to it), eventually your mind and body cannot keep up.


 

Often by the time March 1 rolls around (or February 1st - and it has been stated that after just one week, 20% of people have already given up on their "resolution") - we’re left wondering how we’ve managed to fall back into our old habits.

 

Breaking habits is never easy because, by their nature, they are ingrained in us until they have become automatic reflexes. It’s easy to mindlessly reach for snacks when we're bored, or sit down after dinner rather than go for a walk if that‘s how we‘ve done things for years.  My wife and I just recently watched the following documentary on Doc Zone - (http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episodes/slaves-to-habit). If you have some time, it has some interesting insights on habits/addiction. Three main people are sited: habitual eaters, habitual smokers, and habitual shoppers. All groups are border-lining on possible addiction.

 


Perhaps the key to ending unhealthy habits is developing a skill called mindfulness.


 

What exactly is mindfulness?

 

To psychologists, mindfulness means being fully aware of what is happening at this very moment. One of the ways of maintaining this awareness is through mindful meditation, or mindful practicing (of which our studio offers a quite a few classes).

 


In practical terms, mindfulness meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing the mind on one thing -- often the feel or sound of one’s breath. Then, as thoughts enter the mind, the idea is to take notice of the thoughts but not react to them; simply return the focus to the breath.


 

On the surface, it’s a simple technique; but it’s a skill that takes time to learn. Yet once mastered, mindfulness can have powerful effects, as a growing number of studies show.

 

Research over the last several years has found mindfulness meditation can help with depression by turning off the negative self-talk that often starts the spiral into deeper depression. Other studies have shown it can help with chronic pain and anxiety disorders.

 


Those who regularly practise mindfulness say it does more than just relax them during the meditation itself; over time, they begin transferring the mindfulness technique of “quieting the mind”  into their thought processes throughout the day.


 

Sarah Housser is a psychotherapist who teaches mindfulness techniques to those with depression and anxiety at The Mindfulness Clinic in Toronto. "People often ask, 'Okay, I'm going to follow my breath and then that's supposed to make me less depressed? What's the connection?'" She explains that mindfulness forces us to be aware of what’s happening right now, to fully experience the moment -- and not judge it.

 

While that sounds simple enough, it’s not easy to do, particularly when our minds are used to multitasking or focusing on several things at once.

"Usually, our minds are worrying about the future or the past, or criticizing something or wanting something or judging something," she says. "But what that means is we’re not really awake to the moments of our life. We’re just getting ready for the next thing. Instead of enjoying what we're eating, for example, we're thinking about what we're going to do after we eat. And we miss a lot.”

 


By focusing only on this moment right now, Housser says it gives our minds a chance to take a break and reset themselves.


 

"It's like de-fragmenting the computer or tuning an instrument; it just kind of settles you back to something that is more real -- so that those moments carry on,” she says.

 

Ending negative self-talk often key 

 

Mindfulness also urges us not to react to thoughts that enter the mind during a meditation. When thoughts begin to creep in and distract, instead of getting irritated, the idea is to simply notice the thoughts, send them away gently and re-focus on the breath.


With enough practice, this ability not to judge or react to intruding thoughts becomes a habit in itself.


 

Housser explains that many of us, especially those with depression or anxiety, have a loop of negative self-talk playing in our heads -- even when many of the worries are neither helpful nor even true. PLEASE remember, it does not have to be PERFECT. There are glimmers of perfection in everything, but your changes should not, and cannot be in pursuit of perfection. Since we are always in progress of growing and changing, there is really no endpoint (much like your yoga practice). So give yourself a break!

 

"So mindfulness is a way to come back. We can say to ourselves, 'You don't need to fix everything'," she says.

"The concept I like to think about is that the mind is going to pump thoughts the way the heart pumps blood. We can't stop our thoughts. We just don't need to take all of them so seriously. They're just thoughts and they're constantly changing."

 


Learning to use mindfulness to slow the mind, to take notice and appreciate each moment, and to recalibrate when we are over-reacting to thoughts are all skills that can take a little time to master, Housser says.


 

Self-awareness as a way to shift habits 

 

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions -- which are often about habits -- the first step is awareness of our habits and what compels us to slip back into them (again, watch the Doc Zone) . The next step is convincing ourselves to resist that urge.

 

Housser says mindfulness can help with both.

 

“People can use mindfulness as a way to shift habits because what you're learning is the ability to notice a sensation or a desire, and to just sit with those sensations without reacting to them. If you just sit with the sensations long enough, they will pass,” she says. I have heard it is for as little as 5 minutes, but again, the documentary goes even further.

 


Mindfulness can also help when we fall off the resolution wagon by reminding us not to beat ourselves up over our misstep and by renewing the resolve to try again. A key principle of mindfulness meditation involves acceptance. When the mind wanders during a meditation, the key is to accept that it will. As Housser says, that’s just what the mind does -- just as the heart pumps blood.


 

“Instead of judging yourself, the instruction is just to bring yourself back to the present. The same is true with making goals for change,” she says.

 

“You can try and promise to go the gym more often. But if you find after a time that you've fallen away, you can just start again if you let go of the judging story of: 'Oh God, here I go again, failing at this.' Instead you can say: ‘Okay, I've kind of lost my way with my goal. But I can just begin again,’ ” she says.

 

“What you'll find is what you get is more time. If you’re really awake moment to moment, you get to have each moment of your life instead of missing most of them.

 


“It’s about waking up to your life.”


 

I wish you all a very awakened and mindful year.
Brandon

How to Actually Change

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Adapted from Dr. Frank Lipman and Laurie Gerber

 

Why is it that people find it so hard to make change? Well, the physical aspect of changing a habit of course, but most of us have proven we can break a bad habit when the stakes are high enough. The problem, we’ve found, is mostly in our heads!

 


You’ve got to believe it to see it!


 

It has been found that people often don’t believe that change is possible. And that’s because they are stuck in the same actions-thoughts-feelings-actions loop, but they don’t know it. For example, you have a bad conversation with someone, then you feel sorry for yourself and disappointed and you pick up a cookie and eat it (thinking it will make you feel better). Soon after that, you have another thought like “I have no self-control” and that is followed by another feeling, regret. Here comes the next action: “Might as well have some ice cream.” From there, the thoughts and feelings get even worse.

 


The problem is that nobody is tracing their actions back to their thoughts. Everyone is waiting to “feel like” eating healthy, in order to start taking the right actions. That could take a very long time.


 

How to Catch Your Thoughts

 

Thoughts are mighty elusive but they aren’t uncatchable if you are on a mission. Remember, if you can separate yourself from your thoughts, you’ll gain an amazing power in your life. We do a very specific exercise with clients to help them log and analyze their thought patterns. There is no substitute for writing things down. The awareness causes startling results.

 

Most people find they only have a handful of really negative thought themes, and once they are clearly nailed, better logic is easier to apply.

 


You can make a game of catching your most common patterns in action - becoming a warrior for inner peace!


 

Is Thought Tracking Enough?

 

No. And that’s because even if we can see the mechanism, it’s still hard to stop it. However, like I said above, when the stakes are high enough , we can often change. Unfortunately, we don’t feel the true consequences of many of our poor health choices until it’s way too late.

 


We actually get used to feeling physically and emotionally uncomfortable, or even numb, and so we stop connecting the choices we make to the feelings we feel. But yet, we want to feel better. It doesn’t have to go on this way.


 

Think about what would happen if the natural consequences of poor choices were bigger and more immediate, if you gained 10lbs every time you, say, ate sugar, or got a severe migraine every time you stayed up past 11pm. You’d be way more careful than you are now. But the consequences for most of your poor choices are much more subtle and build up over time, so you don’t notice the harm, except for maybe how crappy you generally feel about yourself, but you don’t connect that to the individual choices. Remember that a little plus a little plus a little equals A LOT!!!

 

Choices and Self-Esteem

 

There is actually a hit on your self-esteem every time you make a choice that is not in alignment with your ideals for yourself. That’s what we do feel. But instead of connecting that to the choice we just made, we blame “something wrong with us,” or think someone else should have loved us more or done better with us, or we blame something wrong with the circumstances of life. We end up “feeling bad” but powerless at the same time. We never connect the self-doubt or icky feeling back to the simple action we took or didn’t take.

 


Making this connection helps inspire change and causes a great increase in self-confidence, if you do something about it.


 

What to Do About It?

 

Because the actual consequences of our choices are not so obvious to us, we recommend that our people design artificial ones. Devise the right actions to take for your health (we call them promises) and then the appropriate consequence to “owe” if you don’t fulfill the promise. For example, you could promise to get in 30 minutes of cardio every day or else no television that day. Or you could promise only two desserts a week or else you have to do your partner/kid/roommate’s chores for the next week. One client had to tell her parents every time she drank more alcohol than she planned. That handled that!

 


It sounds simple but it’s remarkably powerful.


 

Suddenly, with an annoying, imminent consequence looming, your brain becomes so much more intelligent about how to get your promises done. You start directing your thinking and your actions towards your dream, and of course, the yummy feelings follow.

 


Consequences are not punishments, and they should not be harmful or detrimental.


 

In fact, you can see how the examples above could actually be very helpful to relationships and other goals. Consequences can be creative and even funny (one client had to wear bunny ears the next day if she ate things that were not on her food plan) but they have to annoy you enough that you want to avoid them - they also do not need to be so extreme or demeaning. They are simply examples!

 

What if I know I won’t follow through?

 

Like any game, it has no integrity if you don’t follow the rules. But since most of us are capable of cheating, it really helps to have accountability. Left to our own devices or in a community of people who have the same negative thinking as we do, we don’t get very far with our dreams.

 


Find the people who want what you want for your health and hang with them.


 

If you don’t have a coach make promises to someone in your community and ask them to hold you to them for real. The accountability to change the cycle of thoughts, feelings and actions and bring forth your dream for your health rests with you, but having people to answer to makes it much more likely that you will succeed.

 

One of my favorite quotes on change...

 


Sometimes it's not enough to simply say, "I'm sorry." Sometimes you actually have to change.


3 Reasons Why You Need a Restorative Yoga Practice

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Adapted from Mind Body Green

 

Restorative yoga has a wonderful way of allowing our entire physical body to relax.  This practice is an “active relaxation” class where we purposely support the body in yoga postures with props so we can stimulate and relax the body towards balance. Muscle and joint tension melts away, the endocrine (governor of hormones) system will be restored and any residual stress in the nervous system washes away.  We are left with better digestion, energy levels and a good overall sense of well being.

 


Maybe you strive to go to super power core and sweaty, hot Vinyasa three times per week, and run every day after work, but how often do you stop to truly relax and connect to your self?
Here are three reasons why I think keeping a gentle yoga class as part of your weekly practice is so super important.

 

1. You'll relax. 

 

There is a certain relaxation that comes at the end of a sweaty, power yoga class. But what if you could feel that blissful state of relaxation and release for an entire hour-long class?! That’s what gentle yoga feels like to me. Rarely will you be asked to hold a downward dog at all, and definitely not for more than a breath or two at a time.
Gentle classes are typically slow-moving, connecting each deep, lengthened breath with the next as you move deeper into each stretch or twist, making space and then slowly melting in to it.

 

2. You'll connect to the divine. 

 

Whether you have a solid spiritual practice or are looking to delve deeper into your spirituality, gentle yoga is the perfect place for a moving meditation. Practice bringing your attention to the Divine and allowing yourself to be cracked open with every gentle back bend. Listen to what comes up with every hip opener. Be present for what speaks to you.

 

3. It will help with intention-setting. 

 

I was honored to lead a gentle yoga class on the evening of MLK Day here in Austin. I spoke about ahimsa, or non-violence, from David’s Frawley’s Yoga and Ayurveda. I read a favorite quote of mine from the mouth of the Doctor himself:
 


 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

I asked the class to set an intention to focus on ahimsa during their practice that evening. I asked them to imagine, with every inhale, filling up with a bright light, or an energy, that represented non-violence and loving kindess. With every exhale I encouraged the class to release everything else that wasn’t serving them right then in that moment, to allow for focus and attention on ahimsa.

The classroom reverberated with energy and love and at the end of the practice, I felt so uplifted! Many students reacted the same, and went floating out of class for the evening, truly on a yoga high. Imagine the possibility of even the smallest intention, set to your moving meditation and dedicating every breath of your practice to bringing that intention in to being. It is so powerful!

 

 


Yogalifer Emily McNicoll shares her personal insight on this nurturing practice:


"My passion around restorative yoga lies not only in helping people heal their body and mind but to provide a sacred experience in which they can shine a light on the shadowy sides of the self and ultimately feel more comfortable in their own skin."


 

Our upcoming "Rest & Restore" workshop, hosted by Emily, is full to the brim!  If you would like to stay in the loop for the next workshop please email us at info@yogalifestudios.ca

Learn To Fly

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With the new year underway, you may be looking for ways to spice up your practice; dig a little deeper and tap into that playful, creative side that may be a little shy.  Yogalifer Sara Cueva shares her love and excitement for arm balances, an aspect of the physical practice that can intrigue some and terrify others.

 


"Don't be afraid to stumble and fall down a little, most often it's doing what scares us the most that offers the greatest rewards" - OTH

 

I fell in love with arm balances early in my practice.  I've always adopted a playful approach to them, bringing out that innocence of play, that freedom to explore and try new things. These are something that can induce a lot of fear in people.  Arm balances evoke a fear of the unknown (moreso than most asana or poses).  

 

Learning to overcome that on your mat, being able to challenge that fear inspires such positive change in your life, even off of the mat.  To do so, we must acquire a level of trust within ourselves which is developed by learning to place our bodies in intelligent ways.  

 

I love teaching arm balances because I love that moment of clarity, of courage, of light, in a students face when they overcome their fear, when they discover that openness to trying something new and scary, and that victory smile when they realize that they can prevail.    

 


We emerge Strong. Confident. Courageous. Free.

 

- Sara

 

If arm balances intrigue you and you're looking to deepen this playful, strong side of your practice join Sara at Yogalife Studios North on Saturday, January 11th from 3:30-6:30 pm to dive in and take flight! Register here.
 

 

New Years Quote

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 Today is the beginning of a new day. I have been given this day to use it as I will. I can waste it, or I can use it for good. What I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. In its place will be something I have left behind. It will be something good.


This is a quote that I read on New Years Day. It was speaking in generalities, but I have completely personalized it, and have decided to use it as my mantra for the year. I hope that is is a quote that may resonate with many of our students, in the pursuit of become higher versions of ourselves and giving back to the community.

-Brandon