yoga

Break It Down: Vinyasa

VINYASA, TRANSLATED:

“To move or arrange in a special way”. It can also mean “movement” or “position of the limbs”. 

Vinyasa, the style of yoga:

refers to a strong, dynamic, continuously flowing practice which aims to seamlessly integrate movement and breath. a.k.a, ‘Moving Meditation’: The relative quick pace of Vinyasa Flow with its emphasis on matched breath/movement and fluid transitions between poses allows many practitioners to relax habitual thought-loops and enter an embodied “flow state” of being. Same same but different? Styles of yoga at Yogalife which are synonymous with, derived from, or closely related to Vinyasa include “Ashtanga”, “Rocket”, “Sattva”, “Flow”, and the “Yang” portion of “Yin/Yang”. 

Prop It Like It's Hot: The Bolster

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Support your practice with the help of a bolster

Photos by Craig Knox

Yoga props are meant to support your practice, whether you are looking to deepen, restore or both! As we continue with our Prop It Like It's Hot series, we're highlighting the bolster, also known as the (usually) largest, firmest cushion in the prop closet. The long, rounded-rectangular design of a bolster is perfect for maximum coverage when you're looking to really melt into long holds or get support from something bigger than a block. Here's a look at some of our favourite ways to incorporate this big beautiful helper! 

The bolster is perfect when you want that little bit of extra height for any seated posture.

The bolster is perfect when you want that little bit of extra height for any seated posture.


Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclined Butterfly

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Nice long holds are such a treat in this amazing front body opener. In Supta Baddha Konasana, try different configurations of your props like placing the bolster vertically up your spine or feel extra supported with cushions/blankets/blocks under the knees. A strap around your waist and ankles is heavenly as well but we'll save that for another post - we're sure this posture will show up in a future Prop It Like It's Hot feature!


Supta Virasana - Reclined Hero Pose

Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero Pose can look daunting and feel unattainable if the prop-er props aren't considered. Variations include placing the bolster under your tailbone or a bit higher into the lower back. You may find stacking a blanket or block in the mix might give you more space to soften as well. Supporting your head is always a nice addition!


Supta Matsyendrasana Variation - Supported Torso Twist

This twist is pure torso heaven! Tuck the bolster right snug to your hip crease on the side body, laying forward and sending your gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. The result is a gentle twist that reaches into your cervical spine. Allow your jaw to soften and breathe into the sides of your neck. You can play around with arm variations to find your sweet spot!  


Supported Stacked Legs

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It can be so nice to just explore on your bolster, finding the exact alignment your body needs. Stacking your legs above your hips is grounding and nourishing for not only the legs but the lower back, up the spine and into the back of the head. The gentle incline created is the perfect prep posture for Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) or Plow (Halasana). 


And finally, Savasana...!

Keep striving for maximum comfort and support throughout your entire practice, especially when it's time to fully unwind. A bolster may be the perfect addition to your well-earned rest. 

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Stay tuned for future instalments of Prop It Like It's Hot! Have a suggestion or favourite you'd like to see featured? Reach out! Namaste. 

The International Day of Happiness

All photos featured in this blog are by Jenn Clara Photography

All photos featured in this blog are by Jenn Clara Photography

The International Day of Happiness was founded by a United Nations special advisor by the name of Jayme Illien, as a means of pushing forward the global happiness movement. Jayme Illien conceptualized the idea for a day that recognized the pursuit of happiness as a human right and “fundamental human goal”. Selected to fall on March 20 of every year, in line with the March Equinox, the International Day of Happiness was developed as a means of highlighting one of the major goals of the UN, which was “happiness for the entire human family”.

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The International Day of Happiness, since it’s inception and first official celebrated day on March 20, 2013 has sparked multiple initiatives centering around happiness. HappinessDay.org is the official website of the International Day of Happiness. Another associated website includes Speakhappiness.com which offers two free workbooks titled “One Day of Fluent Happiness” and “Happiness in the Workplace Every Day” for all visitors to their website.  Finally, The Secret Society of Happy People offers International Happiness Day graphics that can be shared on social networks, and also attempts to define various types of happiness through 31 different categories.


As part of celebrating the International Day of Happiness, we asked a handful of Yogalifers what their “happiness hacks” are. We wanted to get to know what pick-me-ups help our fellow staff-members stay positive, and also see where these happiness hacks fall under in The Secret Society of Happy People’s definition of happiness.


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Caren on retail therapy and dancing like no one is watching:

For Yogalife owner, Caren Hui, her go-to happiness hacks include going for a walk with a friend or lover, online shopping, and dancing, or as she aptly describes as “turning up the music and shaking that booty”. According to the Secret Society of Happy People, Caren’s happiness hacks would fall under social happiness (walking with a friend), anticipatory happiness (the happiness of looking forward to acquiring something in your life such as online shopping), and playful happiness (dancing for the sake of dancing).


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Kristine on good reads and indulgent baths

Kristine’s happiness hacks fall under the category of “Mellow Happiness”. According to their website, feeling mellow includes feeling carefree, and allowing ourselves to be submerged in the moment and enjoy it to its fullest – this includes things like prayer, meditation, taking a walk, diving into a good book or listening to music. For Kristine, a luxurious bath, with a lot of bath salts and essential oils, paired with a good book, and a tasty beverage is a surefire way to get her on the road to happy when she’s feeling down.


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Sarah on giving back to her friends and family

Sarah’s happiness hacks, while considered “Social Happiness” also falls under the category of “Giving Happiness” as well as “Helping Happiness”. Sarah considers her joy to come from making those around her happy, especially when the kind gestures are unexpected. This can include making friends or family their favorite food by surprise, leaving cute notes to bring a smile to their faces, or helping people out with a task that they need completed.

 


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Dean on being creative

As for me? My happiness hacks lately fall under the category of “Inspired Happiness”. To nurture my creative side, I’ve reignited my love for photography, and writing (like putting together a few blog posts), and have sought inspiration in the people and environment around me. This has also given me another avenue to give back to my friends and family in a different way – I’ve found photography a great way to connect with people on another level, helping to facilitate the “Social Happiness” side of my life.


Happiness comes in many different forms, so finding our own version of happiness, and developing a method of acquiring it will be different from person to person. Share with us your Happiness Hacks!

The Yogalife Team wishes you the best on The International Day of Happiness!

For more information on the International Day of Happiness visit their website at:

For more information on The Secret Society of Happy People and their 31 definitions of happiness visit their website at:

Restorative Yoga: Reset for 2018

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For many people, the final month before the conclusion of the year can be one of the busiest, most stressful of the year. Despite the joyful advertisements, the influx of holiday movies, and the cheery music in the mall, December and January comes with its share of challenges. It’s a non-stop push from the very beginning right up to New Years’ Eve, where we’re constantly on the go.

It’s a non-stop push from the very beginning right up to New Years’ Eve, where we’re constantly on the go.

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If we’re not shopping to find the perfect gifts, or organizing quality time with our loved ones, we may be working shifts where multiple colleagues are on vacation, or enduring the challenge that is the retail business during those dreaded sale weeks. At the conclusion of all of this, we come into the New Year, perhaps dreading the credit card bill that will come reflecting the previous months indulgences, and gift giving. Add to this mix that we’re basically doing all this during the weeks where we get the least daylight, it’s no wonder that our bodies would be craving a reset of some sort after all is said and done.


Often, media bombards the New Year with advertisements encouraging people to hit the gym hard to make up for the previous years indulgences. We are by no means opposed to people taking on a healthier, active lifestyle as part of their New Years resolution, but we do think that it’s important to examine the other end of the spectrum as well.

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When we’re coming out of the chaos of the previous year, while we think this is the prime time to make up for lost time by engaging in intense exercise practices, we also think it’s time to try and unwind from that stressful period and release that tension through gentler activities. 

Another is restorative yoga. Restorative yoga works on the basis that our body will benefit from passive, but gentle supported stretches that are held for an extended period of time. This allows the body time to reset by allowing for a soft tissue stretch that is gentle, but aligned using props, or even the wall for support. Below are 5 restorative yoga poses that are sure to benefit anyone looking for a way to relax, but also reap the benefits of a good stretch. Hold each posture for 5 to 7 minutes each.


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Child's Pose

Child's pose in any form is a great way to gently stretch into tight glutes, tight shoulders, and a tight lower back. We like this version, with the arms resting gently at either side, forehead to the ground. If the range in your hips isn't there to bring your bottom towards your feet, place a bolster, or firm pillow under the chest to elevate the upper body. 

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Reclining Hero Pose

For a gentle way to stretch into tight hip flexors, reclining hero pose, especially with a bolster or pillows under the length of the spine to decrease the depth of the posture, is an excellent way to tackle both the iliopsoas complex and the quadriceps muscles simultaneously. 

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Reclining Bound Angle 

Reclining bound angle pose, or reclined butterfly pose is an excellent way to gently stretch into tight adductor muscles of the groin. If your knees do not reach the ground when parted, foam blocks under the thighs just above the knees allows for this posture to maintain a passive nature, while still achieving a stretch. 

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Frog Pose

Another method of stretching into tight adductors is through frog pose which allows gravity to gently push the pelvis between the thighs. If the chest does not reach the ground comfortably, a bolster under the chest, aligned with the length of the torso allows this pose to be more passive.

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Happy Baby Pose

Finally, to get a simultaneous stretch into the adductor muscles of the thighs, as well as the hamstrings, which can be adjusted based on how much you straighten your knees, Happy Baby Pose is an excellent stretch to re-align the pelvis. Modify by grasping the outside edge of the feet if your hips are naturally more open. Peace fingers around the big toes is a modified version for those of us with tighter hips. 

If you're interested in taking a guided Restore and Renew class, please check our class schedule for available times. Below is a link to our information page on Restore and Renew:

Featured Playlist of the Month: by Sol Rising

Got a hit on a really excellent artist, making some magic for your yoga practice. 

Sol Rising

Sol Rising's original soundscapes evoke feelings of bliss throughout an eclectic mix of electronic music and hip-hop.

Born in Vancouver BC, Brandon began meditating at age four with a walking mantra technique. His mother took him to visit numerous spiritual teachers, who inspired him on the spiritual path he walks today. As a teenager, he became a hip hop fanatic.

His rooted interest in hip hop led him to learning the art of scratching — using turntables as musical instruments. Sol Rising soon became one of America’s top scratch DJs, winning second place at the DMC, the world’s most prestigious DJ competition.

After graduating in the top 5% of his accounting class at University of Iowa, he realized accounting was not his path. A journey to India illuminated his true calling — to light up people’s awareness of their true nature through music. This lead him to study audio engineering and production at Pyramind Studios in San Francisco and produce his first album, "I AM Soul."

Now a successful Producer/DJ, with over 4 albums released, Sol Rising plays major events across the United States, including Wanderlust Yoga Festival, Burning Man, Symbiosis and Lightning in a Bottle. He has opened for major acts such as Steel Pulse, and produced official remixes for artists including Jai Uttal, Mochipet, David Starfire, Delhi 2 Dublin, Kirtaniyas, and more. He has also joined forces with Yoga powerhouse MC Yogi and has a fervent following in the global Ecstatic Dance scene. Sol Rising has been featured in major media outlets including the Yoga Journal, Washington Post, and his music has been enjoyed by over one million viewers in a viral YouTube video.

MONTHLY BEATS • More Sunny Days Please

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.
— Plato

It's Edmonton. We get it. Snow comes yet again. Here's to some sunny days and hot weather soon. 

I've put together a little list of upbeat tunes to keep your mood up and get that booty shaking. Upbeat, meant for you to get up and dance, dance the snow away.