yogi

Featured Yogi || Gabi Weaver

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Gabi - PRINT-3  

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

 


 

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

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

 

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

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

And some famous quotes that have inspired me:

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

 

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

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

 

Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction.

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

 

Tell us about your first teacher training.

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

 

Where's your favourite vacation spot?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Who inspires you?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Where's the next place you want to travel?

Hawaii!!

 

Share your favourite self-healing practice.

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

 

Share one of your life goals.

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

Foundation Friday | Prenatal Yoga

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

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

 


 Pregnancy in Yoga by Emily McNicoll


 

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

 

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

 


Things to keep in mind and at heart:


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


A couple other things to consider:


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

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

Foundation Friday: Malasana

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


Foundation Friday: Malasana


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

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

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

Malasana may help…

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

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So, how do I get there? 

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

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

Featured Yogi of the Month: Sara Cueva

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  If you've taken a class with Sara (or even overheard her giggling in the tea lounge), you know that she really is something special. Dedicated to sharing love and light, this yogi is bursting with both. Sara has a playful love of arm balances and inversions and has lead various workshops in this area at Yogalife Studios.

 

Catch her in her regular classes Tuesday 9am south, Wednesday 6:30pm south, Thursday 9am and noon south, Friday 9am and noon north, Sunday 9am and noon south (all hot flow!)

 

Featured Yogi of the Month: Sara Cueva

How did you get your yogic start? Who brought you to your first class, what was that like, and where was it? I was on facebook one day, and saw that a co-worker of mine had posted that she was going to try out this "hot yoga thing", curious about yoga, I asked if I could join. A few more co-workers jumped on the bandwagon, and the next day we all showed up at Yogalife South. It was a hot flow, and I, not knowing any better, showed up in pants and a long sleeved shirt. Needless to say, I spent a good hour after class laying across the benches in the ladies changeroom, begging my legs to work long enough to get me to my car. I was instantly hooked. After a short period of time, I started to discover that there was much more to this practice than the physical benefits.

 

Share one of your favourite quotes:

 

One of my favourite quotes that I teach from regularly is "If having things turn out the way you planned is the measure of a successful life, then some would call me a failure. What's important is not to be bitter over life's 'disappointments'. Understand that not every day can be sunny. So when you find yourself in darkness and despair, remember that it's only in the dark of night that you can see the stars, and those stars will lead you home. So don't be afraid to make mistakes, stumble, and fall down, because most of the time the greatest rewards come from doing what scares you the most. Maybe you'll get everything you wish for, maybe you'll get more than you ever could have imagined. Who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination" OTH.

 

Favourite music to teach and practice to:

 

If you've ever been to my class, you know I'm all over the board when it comes to music. Any given playlist on any given day will move from Green Day, to Sarah McLaughlin, Nirvana to Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald. But every playlist will always contain a little Bob Marley!

Favourite books - I read a lot of books, but recently read "Yoga for a world out of balance" by Michael Stone and would highly recommend it for everyone! It is a very powerful book that applies yogic philosophy to our world today.

 

Tell us about your first teacher training:

 

My first teacher training was with Clare Newman. Words will never be able to adequately articulate the profound affect that the training had on my life. Suffice it to say, it changed my life. It opened my eyes, my heart, my mind to a realm of possibilities that had once been unfathomable to me. It brought me to where I am today, living a life of utter contentment. I say everyday I love my life, and mean it wholeheartedly every time I say it.

 

Favourite Vacation spot:

 

I love Maui. There is something so serene about the island. However, last year I took a trip to Thailand with my mother, and if only because I had the opportunity to spend 10 days sharing space with her, I think it may always be my most favourite holiday.

 

Next place to travel 

 

The next place I would like to travel? I'm going to Mexico in July, Camping in Alberta in August, Canoeing the North Saskatchewan in September, and have plans for Costa Rica in October, Okotoks in December, Maui in February, Canmore in March, and Belize in April. The world was meant to be seen. Spread the love everywhere you go!!!

 

 

Favourite pose/sequence/area of body

 

Inversions are my favourite poses to work with. 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. Learning to overcome the fear of arm balances inspired such a positive change in my life, off of my mat. 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!

 

Who inspires you?

 

My children are my inspiration. I teach based on the things that are happening in my life, and in the lives of the people around me, as I believe that this authenticity really resonates with students, because when that happens, there's that recognition that we are all going through it together. My children inspire a lot of the talks that I have with my students inside and outside of class. It is their willingness to be open, to innocence, to playfulness, to courage, to resilience, to surrender, to make mistakes, to try again, to laugh until their tummies hurt, to live in the flow of the moment, to love with all their hearts that inspires me, and by sharing that with others, I hope they will too be inspired.

 

Favourite festival to attend:

 

I love festivals. I attend them as often as I can! In July you'll find me at Street Performers, A Taste of Edmonton, and KDays. I'm really looking forward to the Fringe Festival (where sometimes you can find fellow Yogalifer Vlady Peychoff performing), and Heritage Days because the food is amazing, and I love the way our community pours out to celebrate the many cultures of Edmonton!

 

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

 

I would love the opportunity to study with Paul Grilley. I respect the intelligent anatomically focus that he brings to the practice of Yoga. Also, Michael Stone as I respect his teachings on modern society. Recently I had the opportunity to study under Matthew Remski, who I would also highly recommend checking out if you have time!

 

Favourite self healing practice:

 

One of my favourite things to do when I need to nourish my soul is to dance with my children. To get so completely connected in the experience, in the moment, to move to the beat of our music, to hear the laughter in their voices and see their smiles stretching ear to ear. We have a ritual of making food together every day, during which time we dance like no one is watching, and share that space and energy together. The meals taste amazing when prepared in this way! It's a simple way to find that lightness in your heart, in your spirit. I encourage everyone to try!

 

Share a life goal:

 

I have found that teaching yoga is my higher purpose. It is that thing that I love to do, that I am most passionate about. I only want to share that with the world. To show people that you can find santosa (contentment) in the every day, and hope that when people can find that, that we can change the world. My goal is to one day teach people how to become teachers, because the more people that are passionate about their lives, the more they live and lead by example, the stronger our community will become for it, until eventually everyone has found santosa. Everyone can find their higher purpose.

 

Know a yogi that we should feature?  Connect with us!