Have you checked out this gem of a queen's classes yet? She teaches regularly on Monday nights at 8:30pm - a strong and fun Vinyasa Flow at the South studio.
Get down to her playlist, we got her to share her secret sauce with us.
Have you checked out this gem of a queen's classes yet? She teaches regularly on Monday nights at 8:30pm - a strong and fun Vinyasa Flow at the South studio.
Get down to her playlist, we got her to share her secret sauce with us.
Ready for the holidays... it's December. we can start putting those tunes on, do our little dance while we wrap up some Christmas gifts.
Check out this holiday tune list. Not so traditional Christmas music.
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 email@example.com 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.
"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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Before completing her shifts at the studio, we just had to get one last story from Taylor regarding a major accomplishment in her life, completing the Ironman Triathlon. Taylor gives us a detailed account of what it's like to be in one of the most esteemed triathlons in the world. Congratulations Taylor!
My alarm goes off, but it wasn’t necessary as I had maybe slept for 30 minutes total since 9pm the night prior. Cue the anxiety attack. Everyone is now awake and getting ready. Me, on the other hand, am crying and considering handing in my timing chip. At this point I’m too afraid to race, I don’t feel ready. I force myself to eat something but I think I might vomit.
We’ve finally reached Alta Lake via the shuttle busses. There are athletes everywhere in the transition area. I feel a little better but still want to bawl my eyes out every few minutes. We get our bikes ready and put our wetsuits on. It’s time to say goodbye to our friends and family as we head to the lake to warm up.
It is 5 minutes to the swim start. Everyone is floating in the water. I then realize I have misunderstood the swim course and am at the front of the line. In reality I wanted to be near the middle as I am an average swimmer.
There are people everywhere, so there’s no chance for me to move farther back.
The cannon goes off and instinctively I start swimming. I am literally in a human washing machine; there are people everywhere. I’m getting kicked, pulled, grabbed, and shoved. I know I have to stand my ground or else people will swim over me. The course is a two-lap rectangle, so I know I just have to endure this until the first turn. Once there, I decide to swim on the outside of the course. I know it might slow me down, but it’s a better alternative to swimming in the flurry of people. I end up swimming 4.5km, and am 10 minutes slower than what I originally wanted.
Swim to Bike transition:
Everyone is running out of the water to his or her transition bags but I decide to walk. In the swim I didn’t use my legs so I’m still feeling a little shaky. I grab my bag and make it to the change tent.
Let me just say now that the volunteers for this event are absolutely amazing.
A volunteer finds me and helps me with whatever I need. Trying to put on compression socks out of the swim was probably a bad idea. I don’t think I’ve ever had that much difficulty putting socks on. I get the rest of my gear on and run out to find my bike. Volunteers lather my arms with sunscreen.
Now it’s off to bike 180km.
Bike Km 1, Alta Lake to Callaghan:
There are cyclists everywhere. This was my first triathlon and cycling event so I was for the most part, unaware of what was in store. I pass people, and people pass me. The first portion of the course was mostly downhill which gave me enough time to settle into the new demands that my body was putting on me. I started off easy on my nutrition, waiting for my body to adjust.
Km 25 Callaghan- Whistler:
This was the first real climb of the race. 12km uphill to the top of Olympic village where the ski jumping venue is. But what goes up must come down. I had biked this portion once before in May so I knew what to expect.
What I didn’t know was how my body would fare going 180km. The farthest I had biked before in training was 100km, once.
I went with the philosophy of taking it one hill at a time, and to not push myself too hard.
I made it up Callaghan at a good pace. Going downhill Callaghan was a nice break for the legs. Once at the bottom of Callaghan was the climb back up to Whistler. This wasn’t too hard as you had some downhill moments to rest. I made sure to maintain my nutrition plan: 2 gels, 1 bottle of electrolytes every hour. If I had any inkling of a muscle cramp or GI issues, I took a sodium capsule right away.
Whistler to Pemberton:
Biking through Whistler was the first time I saw my friends and family since leaving Alta lake. You only see them for a few seconds, but it gives you a boost of energy. At this point I was three hours into the bike and was on track for my goal time. Whistler to Pemberton was essentially all downhill with the exception of a few small climbs. 1500ft drop in elevation to be exact. This was once again an opportunity to rest the legs to prepare for the 80km you had left once you reached Pemberton.
Pemberton Out and Back:
I finally received my special needs bag. Mine had an endurance drink, dried mangos, ibuprofen, sodium capsules, gels and skittles. You’re probably questioning the skittle part, but if I was in serious risk of bonking, I needed a rapid sugar dose. Skittles do the trick. I took everything from my special needs bag and put it wherever I could on my bike.
Once you leave Pemberton there is a 25km out and back of dead flat road in the valley.
This was the most boring part of the course. That turn around point could not come soon enough. I knew I had to fuel and pace properly on this portion because the last 30km of the bike was the most difficult. I wanted to bike at my original goal pace, but I knew if I pushed too hard, the rest of the bike would be a suffer-grind fest. It felt as though a hundred people passed me. I just had to remind myself that I was doing my own race and I was on pace to make the cut-off.
Pemberton to Whistler:
I have been dreading this all day. I had done this portion of the course back in May, and let’s just say it went less than ideal, as in I had to walk up a few hills. There was one last aid station before the climb so I stocked up on everything that I could. I had saved a few espresso gels from the special needs bag. These gels would be my saving grace: just enough of a caffeine boost to keep you going when there’s no fuel in the tank. I went into the climb saying I would take it one hill at a time, just as I had done earlier. Everyone who passed me in Pemberton, I caught up to.
It was 32 degrees and there was no shade. People were dropping like flies.
There were people on the side of the road, walking, vomiting, and a select few receiving medical help. My legs felt good and I knew to just take it easy. I ended up staying with a few other cyclists. We all talked to help distract us from the constant stream of hills that never seemed to end. I kept drinking as much fluid as I could. At one point even my water was so hot that drinking it made me feel uncomfortable. I just knew I had to keep going.
Reaching the final aid station was like finding water in the middle of the desert.
I knew I only had 10km to go and that the end was near. I just kept biking but by this point I felt like I was going to bonk. I ate whatever fuel I had left and popped sodium pills like they were candy. I finally saw my family back into Whistler. I had made the bike course before the cut off; I was ecstatic.
Bike to run transition:
I don’t think I have ever been so excited to get off of a bike in my entire life. If you ever want a free bike you should wait by the athletes at the end of the bike course on an Ironman.
After being on that bike for 180km you don’t want to see it ever again.
The volunteer who relieves you of that bike is an absolute savior. I get into the women’s change tent to switch to my run gear. Once again the volunteers are incredible and help you with whatever you need. I change my gear and head out onto the course.
Run Km 1-21:
I get out onto the run course and am surprisingly jogging. Well, more like shuffling. My jog pace was a fast speed walk at best.
I had 7 hours to do the run, but I forgot to put ibuprofen and sodium in my bike to run bag and I needed it badly.
I wouldn’t get any of those items until the halfway point, in my special needs bag. I just knew I couldn’t stop moving. At every aid station I drank pepsi or chicken broth for sodium and ate a gel. There were people everywhere on the course cheering you on which helped.
I finally have my sodium and ibuprofen, which helped immensely. Every step I took pounded into my knees. I knew I had done some damage but I wasn’t exactly sure to what extent. I had done the first half in just over 3 hours so I knew the odds were in my favor to finish. I had just less than four hours to do a half marathon.
They were going to have to pull me off the course before I would willingly quit.
By KM 30 my dad had caught up to me (he was also racing). We sped walk the last 10ish km and ran on every downhill. We were close to the finish line and could hear the music and crowds going wild. We were so close but it all felt so far away.
The finish line:
We had finally made it into the village area. I tried to jog but I could barely sustain it, even with everyone cheering me on. I made the last turn and there it was, the finish line. Suddenly any pain in my body had disappeared. After over 16 hours I had finally made it to the runway of the finish line.
Everyone was cheering for me.
One person stuck out their hand to high five me, and the next thing I knew everyone was doing the same. Running down that finish shoot was Euphoric, a culmination of raw emotion and exhaustion. Cameras are flashing everywhere to capture your golden moment and the announcer tells everyone your name. I crossed that finish line, and for the first time in over 16.5 hours, I could finally stop moving.
Crossing that finish line is an experience that I will never forget. It makes all the hardships endured completely worth it. I believe that it will be a source of inspiration for the rest of my life; if I can make it through an Ironman, what can’t I do?
Brandon's final classes were today, Saturday, August 16, 2014. He felt compelled to write one last thank-you to the Yogalife community.
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.”
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,
Hundreds of festival-goers grace the Gallagher Park hillside, creating this iconic view that is EFMF. Image used from festivalseekers.com
Festival City: Edmonton Folk Music Festival
The Edmonton Folk Music Festival (EFMF or Folk Fest for the veterans) is a four-day outdoor music event held the second weekend of August annually since 1980. Though named a "folk music" festival, EFMF boasts a ton of different acts and genres. You can find Celtic, bluegrass, blues, gospel, roots, and worldbeat acts performing on the multiple stages, through the day and into the evening. Staged in Gallagher Park in the Cloverdale community, Folk Fest is truly one of the largest highlights of the Edmonton festival collection.
The 2014 line-up is looking stellar. Acts include Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Blue Rodeo, and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Find the full performer roster here!
The festival gates open at 4:30 PM on Thursday & Friday and 9:30 AM Saturday & Sunday. During the daytime hours of the festival, there are six active stages hosting workshops and concerts with one stage devoted solely to children's entertainment. Face painting, street performers and roving acts are just some of the treats you'll find in between the stages. This festival is so kid-friendly they have put free entry in place for festival-goers 11 and under. There are dozens of food vendors, ranging from carnival fare to vegetarian and world cuisine. The green onion cakes and elephant ears are two EMFM classics! A large tent houses craftspeople and there is a CD tent where the performers' albums can be purchased.
"Like most festivals, the experience needs to be lived to understand why this festival continues to be one of the premier music events in Canada. The Folk Fest manages to create an atmosphere that goes beyond the music, into an experience in itself. The entire production—from the setting, of the stages, to the volunteer staff that keep it going, and even the festival goers themselves—generates a feeling we look forward to experiencing again and again." - festivalseekers.com
Are you going to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this year? Send us your pictures and stories for a festival recap! firstname.lastname@example.org
Foundation Friday: Drishti or Gazing Point
Drishti (meaning: "full seeing", vision, point of view, intelligence or wisdom)
Pratyahara: sense withdrawal
"The eyes play a predominant part in the practice of asanas." - BKS Iyengar
Drishti, or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. It relates to the fifth limb of yoga concerning sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb dharana relating to concentration. There are a total of 9 drishtis and each yoga asana is associated with one. There are many yoga systems that use this practice and differences regarding which are used for specific asanas, but drishti is mainly part of the Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga traditions.
Why do we practice drishti?
Focusing your gaze as specific points allows your concentration and intention to flow in a circular manner. The gaze first comes from within and is then directed outward to a specific point. This intense focus creates an energy that is reflected back into your body to hold your concentration. This allows the 'looking' to reflect inward, creating a withdrawal of the outward senses and a connection to Self. The directed gaze also gives the mind a focused visual stimulus; wherever your eyes go your mind will follow. Drishti allows the mind to be singularly focussed and balances our internal and external practice. In a visually addictive world, our attention is like currency. Spend it wisely!
Drishti may help...
In Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose), for instance, we gaze at the nose tip: Nasagrai Drishti. In meditation and in Matsyasana (Fish Pose), we gaze toward the Ajna Chakra, the third eye: Naitrayohmadya (also called Broomadhya) Drishti. In Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), we use Nabi Chakra Drishti, gazing at the navel. We use Hastagrai Drishti, gazing at the hand, in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). In most seated forward bends, we gaze at the big toes: Pahayoragrai Drishti. When we twist to the left or right in seated spinal twists, we gaze as far as we can in the direction of the twist, using Parsva Drishti. In Urdhva Hastasana, the first movement of the Sun Salutation, we gaze up at the thumbs, using Angusta Ma Dyai Drishti. In Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I), we use Urdhva Drishti, gazing up to infinity. In every asana, the prescribed drishti assists concentration, aids movement, and helps orient the pranic (energetic) body.
In some cases, an improper drishti can actually be harmful, like shoulderstand where the head should not turn to look left or right. Keep this in mind when working with drishti in your practice.
Let the drishti be your guide in to the unseen, to your source, your truth. Allow the flow of your gaze bring you into your true balance and nature.
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.
"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
"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:
"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
"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!
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!
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
William Arthur Ward
We want to send our deepest gratitude to you, our readers, friends and fellow yogis. We love writing for you, sharing our pictures and stories and hearing yours. We are thankful for the opportunity to speak from our hearts to our community.
As we've been discussing in the past weeks, gratitude is something to cultivate, practice and share. Adopting and embodying a new attitude or skill takes practice, so remind yourself to weave these tidbits into the fabric of your life.
Be voracious in your efforts!!
Stand up for that bursting feeling of love and thanks. Spread the word and follow up with those you share with. We truly believe that this attitude of gratitude will elevate our planet to greatness.
Remember, everything starts within; being incredibly kind and gentle with your thoughts and actions towards yourself allows you to shine outward.
Stay tuned to see what's coming up next on our blog.
Looking forward to sharing with you all summer long!
You may have noticed a bit of a theme on the Yogalife blog this season—this spring is all about cleansing, detoxifying, and removing what no longer serves you to make way for what does. Spring cleaning might take place in your home, your heart, or, as we’re focusing on today—your body.
Juice cleanses are an especially great way to scrub your insides clean, scouring out all the heaviness from winter and making room for the lightness of the coming summer.
That said, they’re not always a piece of cake (wait, cake? Where’s the cake?!)—so here are our tips and tricks to peacefully get you through your juice fast, from the brain of one of our elixir-sipping yogis.
Many of us may feel the need to have a grandiose “last supper” before starting a cleanse—reveling in a plate of nachos, wine, or chocolate at 11:59 p.m. the day prior. Although it may be tempting, a night of negligent noshing sets us up for a rough day ahead—there’s more to cleanse! Think of quitting smoking—a gradual wean off is far more attainable than going cold turkey—it’s much easier on the body to make a slight transition and avoid throwing your body into shock. If you can make time, try to focus on smoothies and salads—especially those including lots of raw fruits and veggies—the day or two prior, likewise for the day or two after. The cleaner your diet is already, the easier the transition will generally be.
Avoid scheduling your juice cleanse on a night where you’ll be out socializing at an event with food—or worse—when you have dinner plans. You’ll spend all of your time gazily hangrily at your friends’ or colleagues’ plates rather than their faces. See if you can instead set aside some time to relax and read a book, go for a gentle walk, or spend a few hours curled up with Netflix. Better yet, find a buddy to juice with—you can support each other and maybe even go out for the wholesome kind of liquid lunch. At all costs, avoid hanging out in the kitchen (unless you have a padlock handy for your fridge).
Spend time in the morning prepping all of your precious nectars, and have them on hand throughout the day if you can. Keep a cooler in your car or carry a few juices in your purse with an ice pack—plans can change, meetings can be delayed, traffic might have you sitting with nothing to think about but your rumbly tummy. When hunger strikes (and it will—oh, it will), it’s best to find yourself prepared with a healthy beverage in hand—not running to the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet.
4. Sip mindfully
Though midway through the day you may be tempted to start chugging back your liquid goods like it’s college all over again, remember that our bodies digest and absorb best when we take things slow. So prepare your body for the meal it’s about to take in—sit down, take a few deep breaths, and sip. You can even “chew” your juice to get your salivary amylase (that’s your mouth’s own digestive juice) going. Just like you might bless a meal, appreciate and be grateful for the liquid provisions you’ve had rather than cursing yourself—and your body—for signing up for this in the first place.
5. Know when to stop
You there. Yes, you—the one with the eyes and the nose and stuff. Is this your first juice cleanse? Well first off, hat’s off to ya—we love that you’re working on you! But a thought, if we may. If this is your first liquid rodeo, you don’t have to do a 3, 5, 7-day or longer juice cleanse. Try a day. See how you feel. Maybe try incorporating some raw foods (they’ll taste like heaven) or a simple smoothie—after all, we’re here to make positive changes in our lifestyles, not restrict to the extent that all we want to do is lay in bed hugging a tray of lasagna for dear life. A few days of clean eating in addition to juices is going to help you feel great, too.
Your body is a powerful teacher—so listen up!
We hope our humble advice can help have you feeling light all the way through your juice cleansing-experience. So what about you—have you done a juice fast? What was your experience? Do you have any tips or suggestions for newbies?
You may have noticed a little twist in your yoga practice here at Yogalife lately. It is by no mere coincidence that many of our instructors have been focusing on twisting poses in practice—as the seasons turn, so should our bodies.
Spring is an excellent time for detoxification and cleansing, clearing out the old to make room for the new.
Just as we might spring clean our houses—scrubbing out the dust bunnies and packing the warm, thick layers away—it is also important to spring clean our bodies, removing the heaviness and slowness of winter to make room for the lightness of the warmer months (and since we claim residency in Edmonton—home of the long winter—we have plenty of work to do!).
In yoga, a great way to aid and promote cleansing the body is through twisting postures. Similarly to the way you might wring out a wet washcloth to squeeze out all the water, twisting our bodies helps to “wring out” our internal organs, facilitating a more efficient cleansing process.
Twists temporarily restrict the flow of blood throughout the body. When we release a twist, our now freshly oxygenated blood floods through our veins. This enhanced circulation helps bring fresh nutrients and oxygen to our internal organs and provides them with the tools they need to do their job optimally. Spring is the best time to support the liver, as it is our body’s main vehicle for detoxification. If you subscribe to traditional Chinese medicine, this is the time of year where the liver is the most sensitive—prime time for us to focus on keeping it clean and working like a champ.
The compression of internal organs through twisting helps to move along stagnated digestion and bloating, promoting the cleansing of our digestive tract for a happier, healthier belly. For anyone who has struggled with digestive upset, twists—alongside strong pranayama, or breath—can help to ease discomfort and facilitate better digestion and absorption.
In addition, deep breathing has a cleansing effect, as we are able to bring in the new—fresh oxygen—while releasing the old—stale, depleted carbon dioxide. In combination with deep twists, long inhales and exhales further aid the body in its gentle purging process. In whichever variation of a twist you might practice, try using your inhales to lengthen your spine and broaden your chest, and your exhales to gently bring yourself into a deeper expression of the pose.
Alongside their detoxifying effect, twists can also aid in properly aligning the spine, releasing the muscles and pain or discomfort through the spine all the way down into the hamstrings, increasing or maintaining range of motion in the back body, toning the abdominal muscles, and helping to release tension, stress, and anxiety stored in the chest, shoulders, and back.
You might twist from your feet, the floor, atop a bolster, or even balancing on your hands—different poses and variations make twists accessible to every body. Do you have a favourite twisting pose? Do you have any spring rituals or routines for cleansing the body? Let us know!
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 guest-post from Yogalife Studios sponsored athlete Joe Byram, swimmer extraordinaire. We couldn't be more proud of you! Amazing work.
Click here to read more on his placement on Team Canada.
After focusing all year on performing at Trials, I managed to qualified for the Canadian Senior National Team going to the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, taking place in late August.
The year was a tough balance, with a training schedule that consisted of approximately 16 hours in the pool (on the low end for swimmers), 3 hours in the weight room, and 1-2 hours in the yoga studio. Meanwhile, I took four courses in the fall, five courses in the winter, to pursue an honours degree in Political Science. We focused on recovering from workouts this year, rather than overloading and overtraining, to ensure that I could perform at meets without resting or shaving (yes, swimmers shave all their body hair…ALL of it...)
At our CIS Championships, I performed well considering that I was one of the only athletes at the meet that wasn’t shaved and tapered. So although my times were circumstantially good, I placed lower than I had hoped. As someone who strives every day to put myself on the podium, it was hard to take. But all sights were on Trials, so I re-centered myself, and focused on training for 6 weeks.
The patience paid off.
I swam to a personal best of half a second, winning a bronze medal in the 100m backstroke. While I was .02 from 2nd, I was happy with my performance, winning my first medal at a “trials” meet, and adding to my bronze from last summer’s nationals.
Because of my young age, and a complicated selection process, the swim was enough to put me on the team heading to Australia this summer. While I missed out on Commonwealth Games in Scotland, I am grateful to have achieved this major step in my development as an athlete. It gives me the motivation to swim faster, while enjoying a bit of validation for my hard-work and dedication to the sport I love.
Now I am focusing on finishing up my third year of school, and getting back to training. If the snow ever goes away, I add in running, stairs, and tennis (and of course more yoga!) to my program, to spice things up. I am heading down to Vancouver for a competition in May, then to California for a meet or two in June. It’s going to be really hard this summer…California, then Australia…What a hard and boring job I have…!
Making the team fuels my passion to succeed, both for myself, and now for my country. Yogalife has helped me balance this sometimes overwhelming desire to win with a satisfaction in my current self.
Being able to overcome personal boundaries while my entire body is dripping with sweat (and Sara’s tauntingly cheerful core sequences…) helps me to become a better athlete, and to enjoy all the little moments in training, and in racing. It helps prepare me for unexpected stresses and complications in life, and to be able to find calm, even when trips to exotic destinations and high-profile competitions are on the line.
I’ve developed into a more mature and centered athlete through yoga, and will continue to build on the lessons of sport, yoga, school, and life, to help me achieve my goals both in and out of the pool.
Stay tuned for more updates on Joe's successes and experiences throughout the summer!
Check out this video we created awhile back introducing Joe to the Yogalife Studios Athlete Sponsorship Program.
Core work has the potential to place us in moments of spontaneous and unavoidable vulnerability. It’s that quality of the practice alone that has me so drawn to it. My core practice has unraveled parts of myself that needed to be loved, seen and acknowledged.
Through the offering of ‘Core Shri - Core Work As A Spiritual Practice,’ my intention is to offer tools for you to empower yourself. In the winter months, I was granted an opportunity to put the teachings of yoga into practice, and what I was given as a result of my willingness to go into the discomfort, was massive self empowerment. My body craved deep core movements. However physically demanding my practice would be, the energetic quality of those movements helped me redefine what being in my center meant for me.
Through that willingness to be in discomfort, and surrender into the pain and tenderness of what I was going through, I had discovered an enormously powerful place within. For the first time, maybe ever in my life, I fell in love with myself.
Core work as a spiritual practice means allowing yourself to be so in the flow with Spirit that you are constantly empowered in each moment. However that may look or feel. Through getting into your core practice more deeply, you not only strength your body, but your capacity to hold space for your own radical transformations and shifts in life. Getting grounded in your body with a core practice is such a powerful tool to be consistently living the life you deserve. The tools offered in this workshop can be translated into your yoga practice, as well as the way your create your own reality off the mat.
The goddess archetype Lakshmi is the embodiment of radiance and luxurious self love. So, in the midst of core intensity, the invitation in this workshop is to soften into that place within that is inherently self nurturing and accepting.
Where can we lovingly invite awareness into places within that may have been disowned or pushed aside and instead, fearlessly acknowledge those shadow aspects of the self? We’ll invite this powerful archetype into the practice with some mantra and a short meditation. Simply tools to invite the remembering of that which all ready is.
You are already abundant, radiant and magnificent!
As movement is highly medicinal, so is knowledge. Charging the core is valuable, but so is an understanding of how these muscles work to get to that place of strength. Simple break downs of your core muscles and the way they work with your breath will be offered to build an even more clear foundation for empowerment. I’ll provide you with take home worksheets that will complement your existing yoga practice, whether it be in studio or at home.
How can we each stand stronger within ourselves to offer the gifts and radiance we were truly meant to offer this planet? Where are we holding back from standing in our power and really owning our strengths? Choose to step into yourself and boldly offer your gifts. All via your core practice!
Join us for an afternoon of transformation and empowerment Sunday, April 20th from 2:30-5:30 at Yogalife Studios South.
If you’re seeking any clarification or have any questions on this workshop, please contact Brittany at email@example.com
In the empowered radiance of Spirit,
Every so often there seem to be these "all the rage" foods that come along and flood our radar. The current superstar on the block? BEAUTIFUL LEAFY GREEN KALE! Whether you're ordering it at a restaurant, cramming it in your smoothie or massaging it for salad, there is a reason this vegetable is getting serious attention. Here's 10 facts about kale that may get you on board or confirm what you already know.
1. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. With its high fiber content, it aids in digestion and elimination and is also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium.