Instructor Stories

Featured Teacher: Sarah Zandbeek

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If you've been around Yogalife Studios for a bit you've probably had an interaction with Sarah Zandbeek. From her thoughtful, informative classes and workshops to the teacher trainings facilitated each year, she is a staple member of the Yogalife family.  Today we're catching up with this beautiful human; enjoy her words!

Check out Sarah's Facebook page. Although since having a baby, she has taken a break from teaching publicly, she continues to develop and refine the teacher training each year. 


I am a woman with a curious heart and a fierce, graceful edge. I am a seeker, turning over every stone, searching the world and my Self for the truest of true. I am a Lighthouse, holding up a strong pillar, unwavering, bringing light to the depths until the light shines from below. I am a student of life, a deep lover, and a healer. At the same time, I am none of this. I am a girl trying to figure out how to exist in this world, a wanderer having forgotten my way, a student unwilling to see the teacher in front of me, and someone seeking to be healed; yet, I am always a lover and observer of life.

Every thing in its context, every thing with a lesson to be learned, everything in its place.

Om.
— Sarah

Trainings Taken:

200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training with Open Door Yoga in Vancouver 100 Hour Teacher Training with Ryan Leier, Troy Hadeed, and Dustin Fruson 200 hour Advanced Teacher Training in Bali with the brilliant and devoted Tara Judelle and the wildly, unfathomable Scott Lyons Time spent with Stephen Thomas in quiet seat studying breath and mantra University degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture at Macewan University

Share a favourite poem that inspires you:

Self Portrait

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods. I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned. If you know despair or can see it in others. I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you. If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand. I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing. I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat. I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.

-- David Whyte

 

 

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

Anything that takes me on a journey into the deep caverns of this body.

Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction: Radiant Sutras by Lorin Roche Five Spirits by Loris Dechar The Gift - Poems of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky The Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolynn Myss ....I could go on for ever, I am a bit of a geek.

Where's your favourite vacation spot? I use to dream of being a traveller and when I became one, I used to dread coming home. Now, my favourite vacation spot is in my heart. Sounds cliche, but it is true. I like being home, I like being away...everything has its purpose and I mostly enjoy my life and the work I get to do.

What is your favourite meal to make and share with friends? Wine, cheese, crackers, olives, bread and butter and on the other hand, I love me a green smoothie. Kale is King.

What's the coolest experience you've ever had with a student? Any time a student discovers something new for the first time is pretty cool for me. Watching the growth, the mind-boggles, the ripples of awareness seeping in. It's all so cool.

What's your favourite pose/sequence/area of the body to work on? I don't know that I really think about the poses all too much, I am mostly "favouriting" the insides! Get inside, what is happening in there...something juicy surely, something a little ragged, some cob webs, a few intricate disguises, so many things.


Who inspires you? Humans inspire me. It blows my mind often how we are all having a totally different experience and view of the exact same thing. It is all so curious to me.

I am inspired mostly by those seeking their truth through the depths of hell and choosing to keep going. The ones getting pummelled by Life's sweet lessons, but their heart continues to beg the question, "but who am I really." Taking only truth and laying everything else to dissolve. The ones that are curious about something more than what they already "know." The ones willing to give it all up for Love. Those are the ones who inspire me. The ones with fight in their heart and soul that denies nothing.

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What is your favourite festival to attend?

Burning Man....yes, Burning man. Woa.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Trey Ratcliff

 

If you could study with one person who would it be and why? Lorie Dechar, I read her words and hear the refinement and depth of her wisdom.

What is the best concert you've ever been to? Ooo, hard one. Probably Radio Head, outside in Vancouver, pouring rain...total Bliss!

Where's the next place you want to travel? Switzerland :)

Share your favourite self-healing practice. Quiet Solitude steeped with rich conversation with those who have learned to listen

Share one of your life goals. To write a book.

May we share in this practice together.

xo

Featured Yogi || Amy Stuparyk

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Amy Stuparyk came through the doors of Yogalife Studios right when we first opened and has been a part of the family ever since. When she's not gallivanting the world she's teaching nearly everyday at our south location. Amy is sassy and hilarious, something that shines through in her classes. For a spicy practice, check out Amy's 'Arm Balances & Inversions' on Tuesday nights at 8:30! See Amy's full schedule here.

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

My very first yoga class was a registered class at the Devon Community Center when I was 14 years old. And I absolutely hated it. It was too quiet, and too slow. I was a dancer so naturally, I wanted to move more. 3 years later, I quit dancing and was looking for something different to use to stay fit because I really disliked the gym. A friend of mine told me about Yogalife opening up and the free week they had, so I came in for their very first class with a few friends. I thought maybe hot yoga would change my perspective of yoga. And it did. It was so much fun. I remember trying to jump to the top of my mat and jumping so far I fell forward like 3 feet of my mat. And the next day, I felt like I got hit by bus! I made myself go everyday the free week and after my third practice at the studio I asked the teacher, “How do I do what you do?”

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

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up,totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming .... WOW what a ride.”

“You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.”

We attract the energy that we put out into the world so I always try to have fun and keep smiling.

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

I like to practice to electronic dance music when I’m doing a faster practice and just playing around, and when I do a yin practice, I find random slow songs on YouTube to throw on quietly in the background, mainly trying to focus on my breath.

Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Fierce Medicine by Ana. T Forrest

Tell us about your first teacher training.

My first teacher training was very interesting. I spent a month in Montezuma, Costa Rica at Anamaya Resort. The resort was beautiful! The staff were amazing, the food was delicious, and the view was epic! The instructor should not have been doing teacher trainings though. There was a complaint put in 2 weeks into the training so for the last 2 weeks they brought in another instructor and we had to choice to learn from her, or from the original. I basically had 200 hrs of training packed into 2 weeks and only learned how to teach because of all the time I put in practicing. Now because my training wasn’t the best, I ended up taking another 200 hr a year and a half later through Gaitri yoga with the amazing Ally Bogard and Jana Derges (now Roemer). This training changed the way I teach and the way I practice. It really made me the teacher I am today.

Where's your favourite vacation spot?

I am happy being anywhere with a beach, but my favourite place I’ve been to so far is Thailand. I cannot wait to make my trek back there.

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

My mom’s homemade potato salad!

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

Some of my closest friends now, were my students first. I even met my best friend through teaching. She was one of my regulars when I was teaching full time in Leduc. We were chatting one night before class, ended up finding out we had the same birthday, and the rest is history from there!

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

I have so many favourites! I always love to play with inversions and arm balances, especially handstands! Dancer's pose has been my favourite poses since the beginning of my yoga journey, and I have come to absolutely love side plank. It would be easier for me to name off the few things I’m not a fan of doing, rather than what my favourites are. I love it all.

Who inspires you?

So many people inspire me. My parents, my best friends, my boyfriend, my brother, my students, and even my dog!

What is your favourite festival to attend?

I haven’t been to many festivals, yoga or music related but I loved Boonstock when it was around.

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

I would really love to practice with Ana Forrest. I read her autobiography, and she had such an amazing life that made her the yoga teacher she is today. She teaches on how our emotions are connected to tension in the body and uses yoga to help release that emotion which is something I love teaching and learning about! Also, I would love to practice with Paul Grilley. I just love the way that he teaches Yin.

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

I’m not a huge concert goer but the best concert I’ve been to would have to have been the K Rock Bash with my Dad. Trooper, Kim Mitchell and Tom Cochrane.

Where's the next place you want to travel?

South America. Specifically Machu Picchu in Peru

Share your favourite self-healing practice.

Sleep! I have to make sure I always get plenty of sleep. Daily naps are a must! :)

Share one of your life goals.

I want to travel and see the world!

Our Top 5 Favourite Post-Workout Snacks

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healthy post-workout snack

Yogalife staff shares their favourite post-workout snacks

 

Every good workout deserves a great snack. Today we're sharing our top 5 go-to favourites, recipes included! From a simple glass of chocolate milk to a savoury simmered Kimchi Ramyeon, these are the dishes that we love after we sweat.


Kimchi Ramyeon, Melissa's favourite

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This recipe calls for gochujang and kimchi, which you can find at any Korean market. If you are vegetarian or vegan, Earth's General Store sells Kimchi without fish oil, or you can make it yourself. It is very healthy for the stomach!

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Makes 2 bowls

for soup 3 cups veggie stock or mushroom stock 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes ) 1 teaspoon Korean chili paste 2 shiitake mushrooms sliced 2 cloves of garlic finely grated

for kimchi stir fry 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1/2 cup well-fermented kimchi, chopped 2 handful bean spouts 2 teaspoons gochujang 1 teaspoon soy sauce

for serving 1 teaspoon crispy shallots (deep fried minced shallots)


To make the ramyeon soup, add veggie stock, soy sauce, chili flakes, gochujang, shitake mushrooms and garlic into a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Aside from the mushrooms, you don’t really need cook anything in the soup, so after it comes to a simmer, turn down the heat until the noodles and kimchi stir-fry are ready.

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sesame oil. Add the kimchi and bean sprouts and stir-fry until the bean sprouts are cooked and the kimchi is heated through. Add the gochujang and soy sauce and continue frying until the sauce has coated the kimchi. To serve, put a serving of cooked noodles into 2 bowls. Split the soup between the two bowls. Sprinkle each bowl of ramyeon with the crispy shallots. Top with the kimchi stir-fry. Put a mound of shredded scallions on top, and drizzle a teaspoon of sesame onto each bowl. Eat immediately or the noodles will get soft.


Chocolate Milk, Suzi's favourite

suzi recipe

Simple and delicious, this classic favourite hits the spot!

Refreshing Delicious Chocolate Milk

1 cup Whole Milk (or use any dairy-free alternative you wish) 2 tsp Organic Unsweetened Cocoa powder, or to taste 2 tsp Vanilla Sugar, or to taste

You can mix all the components in a blender or simply shake them up in a jar with a secure lid! Recipe borrowed from www.chefinyou.com


Root Vegetable Medley w Quinoa and Pumpkin Seeds, Caitlin's Favourite

caitlin recipe

This dish is healthy, hearty and colourful. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and is one of only a few plant foods that is considered a complete protein. High in iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber, this makes a great meal to balance out a workout.

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makes 2-4 servings

3 beets, cubed 1 zucchini, chopped 1/2-whole onion, diced 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds 2 cloves garlic, minced coconut oil 1 cup quinoa, cooked

Sautee everything in a pan and serve over quinoa. You may choose to cook the beets a little longer, or blanche them first for tenderness. The pumpkin seeds may be thrown on raw or fried first for extra crispiness, depending on your preference. Add an extra protein such as tofu or chicken to round out the dish.


Fruit with Nut Butter, Jessica's Favourite

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This snack is super quick and easy for post-workout munchies. Bananas and apples pair especially well with a scoop of organic peanut/almond/cashew butter. Jess also loves a good smoothie with banana and spinach post-workout. Learn 25 powerful reasons to eat bananas here!

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Popcorn, Jane's Favourite

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There are so many ways to enjoy popcorn! Jane uses an air popper and drizzles avocado oil and some Herbamare, a healthier/less salty choice for seasoning. She may choose between brewers nutritional yeast (vitamin Bs!) or black pepper, or Mrs. Dash or whatever strikes her fancy. Not craving savoury? Try brown sugar and cinnamon!

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Thanks to our friends at www.nuts.com for starting the conversation for this post. Check out their 'healthy snacks' page for more information. https://nuts.com/healthy-snacks


Journey To Self-Healing

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Negative self talk & self criticism is an ongoing issue for many of us. Whether it be through constantly comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our flaws, or caring too much about others opinions of us, we eventually tear ourselves down to the point of self loathing & unhappiness.   As a result of obsessing over her "imperfections" & consuming her thoughts with continuous negativity, Courtney Kennett struggled with every known eating disorder, body dismorphia & major depression. However, through Journalling, Meditation, Mantras, Breathwork & Yoga Asana, she has overcome many of the horrible habits that trapped her for years.

 

Join Courtney at Yogalife Studios South as she helps you explore a path of Yoga that will guide you towards self healing, self worth & self love! From struggling with many issues herself, Courtney has found ways to integrate Yogic techniques to calm the mind, repair the body & uplift the soul.

 


Journey To Self-Healing w/ Courtney Kennett Saturday, January 10 || 2:30-5:30 pm Yogalife Studios South register here


 

The following is borrowed from Courtney's "Yogi of the Month" piece from October's month of self-love.

 

For years (and even to this day) I struggle with that constant battle of negative self talk & the never ending strive for “perfection”. Although it is a positive thing to set goals & to be productive, this can also be a very slippery slope that can result in a damaging outcome. But how do we draw the line? And how do we Love ourselves even if we aren’t quite where we want to be? These were questions I asked myself for years & after submersing myself in the true roots of Yoga I have finally been able to show gratitude, love & positivity towards myself!

 

Below are a few things I have learnt that have helped transform my perspective on practising Yoga.

 

1. Rather than thinking of Yoga as a way to “burn calories & workout” I started looking at it as a healing modality… It’s became a time for me to disconnect from my worldly commitments/distractions & an opportunity for me to focus on my journey towards becoming a calmer, kinder, patient individual.

 

2. Instead of letting my mind wander towards envy of the girl with the “flat abs & perfect head stand”, I’ve learnt to set a personal intention & create an individual Mantra every time I step onto my mat. If my thoughts start to shift in a negative direction I gently remind myself of my Mantra ” I AM BEAUTIFUL & I AM ON MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING MY BEST SELF”.

 

3. Speaking of Journey, I often tell my students “It is called Yoga PRACTISE, not Yoga PERFECT”. As a result, we must realize that teachers do not expect us to be perfect or to never fall out of a pose… And if they do, then please find another instructor lol ;) I purposely try to fall in class & make a fool of myself when I teach, just to show my students that it’s ok to slip up & struggle at times (it makes us human).

 

4. Lastly, I encourage everyone on their Journey to take what they’ve learnt in class & start applying it throughout their day. For instance, if I learn about a new Pranyama (breathing technique) to calm my mind, then I try to use it when I feel agitated, nervous or hard on myself.

 

Yoga is an amazing tool we can all use on our “Journey To Self-Healing”.

 

Featured Yogi of the Month: Emily McNicoll

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"Monthly pedicures, good food, frequent body work, and a daily meditation practice are some of the ways I integrate love and self care in my life. All of these things are a reminder that I am worth taking the time to pause, slow down, and work toward feeling at peace in my own skin." 


Featured Yogi of the Month: Emily McNicoll


Meet Emily McNicoll, Yogalife Studios family member since day one.  You can find her at both studios facilitating drop-in and registered classes as well as workshops.  Her next offering, Restorative & Sound Healing, is coming up this weekend at Yogalife Studios South; November 29th from 2:30-5.  Learn more about the workshop and register here.

 

Emily teaches prenatal and hatha yoga at both studios, enjoy one of her regular classes:

Yogalife Studios North || Monday 530pm hatha, 7pm prenatal; Tuesday 930am hatha

Yogalife Studios South || Wednesday/Thursday 930 hatha, Saturday 930am hatha, 11am prenatal

 

Emily, thank you for sharing!

 


Perfectionism used to drive my self study. Which, in truth means the way I looked at myself was through the eyes of fear. I was never good enough. My inner critic was loud, destructive, and mean.

Now, after a lot of guidance from amazing teachers, a willingness to take a good look at myself, and a good dose of faith, I see through the eyes of love. My heart cherishes the parts of me that I believe to be imperfect and recognizes them as wonderfully unique, beautiful, and the very places from which I can grow. A kindness, understanding, and compassion toward myself has allowed the edges of my heart to soften and ultimately the perfectionist morphed into a woman who practices self acceptance.

Self acceptance and self care go hand in hand. When I take time for myself and really listen to what I need every day, I am saying to myself: "I love you, you are worthy of care, you are enough." I also believe one of the ways we can show the people closest to us that we love them is to take wonderful care of ourselves. When we do, our family and friends can watch us blossom and grow.

To grow will take work. As expansion happens so will struggle and growing pains. As I learn to love myself through the growing pains and dust off my knees when I've fallen to them I inevitably teach from those places. When I speak with a light heart and sense of humour about my own struggles, students relate. May my willingness to love myself through the light and the shadows encourage my students to do the same. May my work be of service to them.

Namaste.

 

 


What are my favourite books?

"The Way of the Happy Woman." By Sara Avant Stover. The author wonderfully explains how each week of a woman's cycle correlates to each season. She offers great meditations, recipes, self care practices, and yoga sequences that I can embody seasonally. Her offering through the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, and Ayurveda encourages me to eat, practice, and live in harmony with the seasons and therefore the cycles of my own body.

"A Painted House." By John Grisham. A wonderful story told through the perspective of a seven year old boy growing up of a farm. I've read this book five or six times and always come back to it on the cold days I want to curl up with a tea and get lost in adventure.

 

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

I've been teaching prenatal yoga for over four years. One of the most memorable experiences I had as a teacher was seeing a new born child of one of my students. She had been coming to class before she even had a baby bump. To watch her grow, shift, and move toward motherhood was incredible. I'll never forget the day she walked into YogaLife carrying her new baby. Goosebumps covered my body and I just kept saying to the sweet little girl "you've been here before, you were just inside! I'm your yoga teacher." To know that I play a role in helping women through big changes in their lives is a humbling gift.

 

What is your favourite pose/body part/sequence to work on?

My practice right now is best described as "Occupy Armpit" and it makes me laugh. Obviously a spin on the Occupy movements that were happening all over the world, it is about revolution. My chest, armpits, and shoulders are asking for movement and freedom as I sink deeper into seeing myself and the world through the eyes of my heart. Active back bends like wheel, camel, and cobra are feeling great. So is anything where my hips and armpits move in opposing directions like triangle, side angle, and half way lift. I have always embraced the medicine of yin and restorative yoga. I'm loving resting with a block between my shoulder blades and relaxing with my arms at different angles. The nurturing aspect of restorative yoga is bringing liberation into the more active poses I mentioned above.

 

What is my favourite festival to attend?

I have to say the time I look forward to the most in Edmonton is the Edmonton Folk Festival. There is always a wonderful gathering of friends I don't often see and an explosion of artistic expression. I love the ease of the festival and the positive attitudes of the people I encounter there. The music is diverse, the love is free, and the beer is cold. What more could I ask for?

 

What is my favourite place to travel?

Oh, a tough choice indeed. I love to travel and every place I've been has offered something unique and charming. So far though, I'd say Bali has my heart. The sea is my medicine and Bali's beaches are beautiful. What is most endearing to me about the Balinese is the simple way in which they live. Food, family, and faith is at the forefront of their culture and I feel at home there.

 

 


Anatomy of the Spirit, reviewed

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Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss www.myss.com


In 1996, Caroline released Anatomy of the Spirit, a New York Times bestseller that has been published in 28 languages and has sold over 1.5 million copies. Through the investigation of the underlying reasons why people sabotage their healing processes, Caroline identified a syndrome she calls "woundology," characterized by a person's reliance on the power of illness for manipulation of his or her world, as opposed to attaining an independent, empowered state of health.

 

 

The following article is a personal review of the book I completed for my final project with the Gaiatri Teacher Training program this summer.  I still find myself revisiting the dog-earred pages of this amazing book and realizing how the teachings are sinking into my life.  It is an important read for everyone, especially those looking to dive deeper in the journey of self-study.  Enjoy!

- Caitlin

 


 

My life was changed from the second I started reading this book. Normally when I start something I have to go back and re-read, get confused or lost. Anatomy of the Spirit had me hooked from the beginning because I knew it was what I needed to be reading at this moment in my life. I would put it down for a few days and know exactly what was going on when I resumed because it was that important to me. It was constantly going through me. These teachings will be with me forever.

 

Myss takes the reader through her history, which is why I was so enthralled from the start. She shares her fears, limitations, and failures alongside her gift, realizations and wake-ups. She is humble and honest, a real person with real thoughts and emotions, though I couldn’t imagine keeping my shivers down if we were in the same room (just reading her words was an emotional rollercoaster! Not her fault…). Right away Myss’ “energy language” becomes apparent, and I have totally reframed how I think about energy after being introduced to it this way. The thoughts and language we use are so pertinent to our energy, a point that Myss drives home frequently.

 

Anatomy of the Spirit breaks down our energetic self into 7 sacred truths, using the symbolic power of the seven chakras, the Christian Sacraments and the Ten Sefirot. This combined wisdom lays out the map for understanding our souls. Myss explains that these truths “pulsate within us, directing us to live according to the right use of its power”. She explains that energy is in fact the power our bodies need to survive; “that which serves our spirit enhances our bodies. That which diminishes our spirits diminishes our bodies”. This is communicated throughout the teachings through the entire book.

 

 

Myss uses examples from her practice to drive home her teachings, and a lot of these stories must be familiar to the masses. I often found myself saying “I can relate” or “I’ve been there” or “I’m there”. The energetic community that Myss opens up through Anatomy of the Spirit is really important for people to understand the big picture. To know that if you do not fix this it will kill you is such a powerful lesson and I have taken this all to heart.

 

This book covers so much, from faith to self-esteem; all the issues that are hiding in our tissues get touched on in some way. I feel like this book should be read in high school, and then again in university, and then again each decade of your life just to check in and remind you of its power. Through practical medicine, ancient wisdom, and spiritual consciousness, Myss creates a teaching that is so important it cannot be ignored. Our spirit is our currency, it is our duty to get in check with ourselves and those around us so that we can live free and healthy lives. I am grateful for her knowledge and am now passing this book around my friends.

 

Read, learn, love, om.

<3

The Wealth Inside

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This month we're sharing insights and highlights of self-love - the most important thing you can learn in your practice.  Understand your wealth and use it to love everything you can to the fullest extent.  The following is a post from Yogalifer Caitlin, who shares some insight on how self-love and her yoga practice helped her with anxiety.  

 


The Wealth Inside


 

8 or so years ago, after getting a new job at lululemon, I went to my first yoga class.  I knew right away I had found something special.  I don’t want to say I “suffer from anxiety” but I have anxiety and that is a fact.  Since starting my practice, it no longer has ME.  At that time in my life it was almost unmanageable.

I was experiencing a total loss of control, daily panic attacks, and a deterioration in my personal relationships.

I was able to remain somewhat peachy on the outside, but the internal core of my soul was crumbling.  I learned quickly that the peachier you are externally, the more you compromise yourself internally.  Looking back it seems so logical, but isn’t that always the case.

 

It was interesting, I took the job at lululemon on a complete whim.  This was a serendipitous sign in my life that things really do unfold the way you need them to.  I had never even been in the store before, nor had I practiced yoga.  I am so thankful my boyfriend took extra long at Foosh that day, driving me to wander into this new stretchy-pant place.

 

Cut to a few months into practicing…  the thing that kept me coming back was the knowledge that there was a quiet place within me that offered me a source of control and patience with myself I had never quite been able to harness.  I guess you could simply say it offered me SOURCE.  I absolutely felt the desire to transcend my human condition, which spawned later to my dharma of transcending the collective human condition.

I found that even when I was off my mat I could slip into this place and enjoy my inner sanctuary.

I knew that this was too important to me to not share.  I set the goal that I would be a certified yoga instructor by the time I was 25 and on May 22, 2011, I completed my first 200-hour teacher training (I turned 26 on May 23 of that year!  Goal crushed with one day to spare!).

 

As yoga has become a huge part of my life, it is most certainly a deeply-rooted impulse to honour why i'm here.  I absolutely fall off course, have the occasional panic attack and most certainly have bad days, but I know deep down that the place I first fell in love with – that sanctuary in my heart – exists.  As a teacher, I go on, perhaps endlessly, about the value and importance of self-love.  For me, my inner space guides me through anxiety; it’s my crux and I own it and accept it.  I don’t expect everyone in my class to resonate with the story behind my words, but there is a sense of connection that comes when words truly come from the experience of the human condition.  Teaching people to find ways to love themselves is at the core of my existence because I was taught also.

And really, love is the most healing medicine one can be offered.

Beautiful Words from Dean Tumibay

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The following is a beautiful message from long-time Yogalifer, Dean Tumibay.  For me personally, Dean made my transition into the media team so easy; he was always there to field my millions of questions and frustrations over technology... there to lend a hand wherever he could.  Dean will ALWAYS be a Yogalifer and we are ecstatic to see him grow into his career.  Best of luck, thank you for all your hard work, support and silliness!

You are a true gem Dean.


 

I came to Yogalife a week after it opened, April 2010, in the hopes of finding a yoga studio nearby that I could complete a self-induced 30-day yoga challenge with my cousin, Michelle. I had done hot yoga before, and heard about these 30-day challenges at other studios, but never committed to one. I decided to give Yogalife a shot.

 


Just like many of you, I was first blown away by the sheer beauty of the space.


 

Polished white floors, warm tones, large windows, complimentary tea – what more could one want in a space? With bright smiles, the two owners greeted me at the front desk. They warmed up to me even more when I explained that I was doing a personal 30-day-challenge before they even had established an official one for their studio.

 

My cousin and I became familiar faces in this space, chatting constantly about what we loved and in some cases, hated strongly disliked about classes. Near the end of my challenge, I found myself sitting in the lounge, alone, quietly reading a magazine when one of the owners approached me. With a bright smile on his face, he asked if I’d be interested in a position at the studio. I was elated and within a week of submitting my resume, I was behind the front desk of Yogalife Studios South.

 


At the time, I didn’t realize how accepting this offer would define 4 years of my life.


 

Yogalife became a second home to me. In this space, I laughed until my stomach hurt, held warrior 2 until my legs burned, cursed under my breath during a tough core sequence, danced to the greatest hits of the 90s while the rest of you were in class, played a didgeridoo, unclogged a toilet and folded a million towels. It was perfect.

 

Yogalife provided me an opportunity to let my creative juices flow, after being stagnant for a number of years, getting caught in the regimented schedule of being a University student. I became a part of the media team, shot many of the videos on the Yogalife blog, and made a point to expose our amazing crew on a deeper level to our beloved clients.

 

 

Though it was my home, Yogalife exposed me to a world in Edmonton that I had no idea existed despite having been here all my life. The wonderful individuals I met in different communities outside our own enriched my life and opened my mind to so many alternative practices.

As my employment here came to a close, I began to observe all the beautiful things that I’d miss when that faithful day came, where I’d walk through the doors as an employee for the last time and hand over my key to Caren, the studio owner. I embraced the bright sunshine in the empty lounge, softened by the frosted windows, the smell of my favorite tea brewing, the warm air of the Sun studio, the bright hallway lights, the cat pictures on our computer desktops, and most importantly the anticipation when clients and instructors would walk through the front doors.

 

Many of you came in, often stressed from work or school, but walked out with a smile on your face, responding to my question, “How was your class?” with an exasperated “A-ma-zing…”

Beautiful.

 

I always dreamt of a job like those you see on T.V. The places where everyone knows your name (go ahead, sing the Cheers theme song), where those same people are genuinely interested in the on-goings of your life, and just happy to share space with you, even if just for a brief moment.

Yogalife was exactly that.

 

It was my goal to get to know as many of your names as possible, and if I ever fumbled with a pronunciation, please accept this as my apology. I am grateful for every interaction I’ve had with each and every one of you. I loved knowing your stories, celebrating your successes, and being present as your yoga practice grew. I loved that because of you, Yogalife became a place I could go when I needed to escape any stresses I ever experienced.

 

To the amazing instructors and GSRs I’ve met, you have become such an important part of my life, inspiring me in ways that I could never fully express in words. I’m grateful to call many of you friends, and look forward to where this next step in this journey takes us.

 


I walk away from this studio, holding dear to me the sweet memories of serving this community, and wish all of you nothing but love.


 

The absolute highest in me honours the highest in you and bows to it.

 

Namaste.

Getting Grounded in California

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Enjoying malasana at the beach in Ferndale, California.  Check out the rest of my #happyhips photos at www.instagram.com/ceeevs  


Yogalifer in the Field: Caitlin Varrin


Hi Friends!

Caitlin here, sharing some love from the road.  I'm on my second annual gallivant through California and loving every minute.  It's nice to feel home somewhere when you're far away from your own.  Last year I spent 3 months traversing this vast state and this year is shaping up to be a similar adventure.  What I love most about California is the opportunity here for me to reconnect and ground.  After an action-packed summer including 4 music festivals and the Gaiatri 200 hour teacher training, it's been really important for me to let my knowledge land and be still-ish.  Although my little travelling family does opt for many hikes and day trips, I have my personal time every day to go inward and get quiet with the trees. Heaven.

 

 

My home base is just outside of Eureka in the northern part of the state.  I am in the redwood forest; the trees in my backyard are 200-300 years old and I've hugged ones as old as 2400!  Sitting under these giants is a truly humbling experience; I revel in their majesty.  I've really been enjoying incorporating them in my photos for the Instagram challenge that Yogalife Studios is hosting right now with the lovely Sara Cueva! This place is oh so photogenic and inspiring!  We arrived here in the first week of September after having the best time imaginable at Burning Man in Nevada (that's a whole other article of photogenic and inspiring) and just returned 'home' from some California exploration.

 

 

One of our day trips included the most westerly point of the USA, a tiny community called Ferndale. California has a few little jut-outs along the coast and Ferndale exists on one.  You could say I'm truly west coast right now!  I fell in love with this town immediately; we originally went to check out the beach but got distracted by the most charming Victorian homes of all colours and extravagances... also the hyperbole of yard sales that graced their lawns!  Literally 32 sales in 4 blocks!  If you know me personally you know this is another indicator of heaven.  Some of my stellar finds include a $1 copy of Carolyn Myss' 'Anatomy of the Spirit', a wicked $2 denim jacket and a FREE meditation cushion.  After our tromp around town we did finally hit the beach with our new treasures in tow.  Nothing beats a good read and stretch on the beach!

 

 

I've been to California a bunch of times now and each time I like to cover new ground.  The next leg of our jaunt took us through Sierra County, back into desert-like heat, beautiful lakes and forests.  This was a nice switch-up from Eureka which is almost chilly (hold your YEG comments)!  This area was home to the California Gold Rush and you can still find tiny flecks of gold in the Yuba River (we're rich!).  This is one of the least-populated places in California and we truly enjoyed the pace they were working with.  We spoke with the locals to find the best camping spot and headed through Plumas National Forest to arrive at Goose Lake.  We were the only people there.  Again, heaven.  Camping with a fire-ban means lots of rock-tossing into the lake and really early bedtimes.  Extra chill.

 

 

There is something so special about experiencing different communities and chatting with the humans that live there.  When I first started teaching yoga at a variety of studios, this was one of my favourite things - dipping into communities, seeing how it's done, getting to know people from all over the city... connecting.  You can learn a lot by watching, asking a few questions and listening.  Best part?  You don't even have to leave home to do it.

 

So after exploring this new-to-us part of California we finally we looped back to the coast to my favourite place ever: San Francisco.  I know that my travels will take me to some amazing places in life but for now, 100%, this is my place.  We only stayed for one day and went and saw some epic music.  We'll be back for more at Halloween as it's only 4 hours south of Eureka and again, THE BEST.  The drive up the California coastline is as stunning as you can imagine!  We stopped at this place called Area 101, a sort-of spiritual clubhouse-looking place.  The main building donned amazing murals and beautiful statues of various deities.  There was grassy space with a tipi and a huge statue of Buddha.  So beautiful.  I've done this drive a few times now and have never stopped here.  Now I know to always stop.

 

 

My travels are scooping me home for a few weeks and then back to meet up with my family here and chase summer a little longer.  I plan to teach a workshop at a festival in Southern California that is dear to my heart and continue getting upside down and backwards in the trees.  I have a stack of books to read, an even bigger stack of magazines to collage with, and a bunch of uncharted forest waiting.  Not to mention 38772 more treks to San Fran to really get my heart bursting.

I'll see you in the hot room for a few weeks starting September 30th.  Sending ALL THE LOVE!

xo

Caitlin

 

 

 

 

Lindsey's Final Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With infinite love and gratitude.

Lindsey

Brandon's Final Words

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


 

Gratitude.

 

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

 

I am thankful for all of your support.

 

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

 

I am thankful for your trust.

 

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

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

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

 

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

Highest Regards,

 

Brandon

 

Brittany's Final Words

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


 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

In Love and High Spirit,

 

Brittany

Taylor Nystad: Ironwoman!

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Yogalife Studio South GSR (Guest Services Rep!) Taylor Nystad is taking off on July 23rd to complete her first Ironman Competition in Whistler, BC. We couldn't be more proud of this huge undertaking, and we want to share a bit of Taylor's story with you.

 

For those of you that aren't familiar with the parameters of the Ironman, it consists of the following:

 

Swimming 3.8 km

Biking 180 km

Running 42.2 km (a full marathon in itself!)

 

She has 17 hours to complete the three components.  Taylor has been training on average 15 hours a week, and only started running 2 years ago. She is excited to see what she's capable of and we know she's going to ROCK it!  Check out what Taylor has to say about this experience below:

 

 

Taylor talks about her journey towards the Ironman in Whistler! from Yogalife Studios on Vimeo.

I AM.

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Written by Brandon Jacobs for Elephant Journal

 


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


 

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

 

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

 


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


 

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

 

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

 

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

 


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


 

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

 

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

 


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


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

 

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

 


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


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

 

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

 

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

 


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


 

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

 


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


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

 

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

 


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


We are powerful, conscious, creating beings.

 

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

Cleansing Your Vessel

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I just finished my lunch and it was DELICIOUS.  I chewed slowly and enjoyed every single bite.  This was day one back on a regular eating schedule after a 9 day colon cleanse that included 5 days of no solid foods.  During this 5 days I only ingested a powdered combo of bentonite clay, psyllium husk, apple pectin and ginger shaken up in 8 ounces of organic apple juice followed by all the water in the world.  I dumped this stuff down my throat starting right when I woke up in the morning and then every 3 hours after, 5 times a day.  I would consider this an extreme form of cleansing but my conditions that led me here were also extreme and this was sort of my last resort.  We'll get back to that.


In hindsight this was one of the best things I have ever done for myself and will complete this same cleanse at least once a year.


Let's rewind a moment and start thinking about the idea of cleansing and restoring the body.  As we move into Spring (internally and on the calendar, not outside) we are entering a time of renewal.  After a long winter of hibernation and perhaps lethargy, it feels really good to start sloughing off some of the excess.


In winter we nourish and conserve our qi (life force) so we are ready to burst into this next phase of growth and awakening.


Various healing methodologies (Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine) know that  our energy mirrors that of the changing seasons.  Just as little green buds (eventually) pop from the trees and bring new life, our internal regeneration process is craving detoxification and cleansing so that we too can emerge with new buds.

So back to the colon cleanse...  I chose Blessed Herbs (available at Noorish or online) which comes with a shaker jar for my 5-times-daily concoction, all the little packets easily divvied up as well as digestive stimulator capsules (a fancy way of saying laxatives) and my user's guide.  This cleanse is intended to be simple and straightforward and I really appreciated the amount of positive feedback and testimonies (alongside some serious pictures of people's "success") available on their website.

In the past two weeks I have learned tons about my colon and have delighted in sharing this knowledge with others (perhaps against their will!).

In most vertebrates, the colon is the last part of the digestive system.  It is responsible for three functions: absorb sodium and water, incubate beneficial bacteria and eliminate waste.  Amazingly is it a little more than five feet long and hosts ten times the amount of bacteria in the intestines than there are cells in the human body.  THESE are the kind of facts your friends and family can't wait to hear!!!

The following is information that I found quite fascinating from my user's manual:

It is common after years of eating to build up mucoid plaque on the walls of our intestines.  This plaque greatly lowers our ability to absorb nutrition and makes our bodies much more toxic.  Mucoid plaque may be a layer or many layers of adhesive, hardened mucus lining the inner walls of the digestive tract.  It can be from less than one-sixteenth of an inch to several inches thick.  It is usually compacted with old fecal matter, bound up toxic waste, 'bad' bacteria, and/or unwanted guests.  The plaque can vary in length anywhere from a few inches to, amazingly, over three or four feet.

Even re-reading this information gets me so excited that this CRAP is out of me!  (I had to have at least one pun in here, come on.)

But seriously, better out than in.  My main personal reason for completing this cleanse and thus starting on the road to cleaner eating in general (including no wheat or dairy) is because I have suffered from eczema for years and years: 15 of them, on and off.  Often, the state of your skin is a reflection of what's going on in your digestive system and how well your body eliminates waste.  After this past few-month bout with eczema I am surprised I even have skin left on my arms to heal... but this body, just like yours, is an amazing vessel.  When you let yourself be healthy and give in to what actually needs to happen, IT WORKS.   I am ecstatic to report that my eczema is 95% GONE and I feel more energetic and alive than ever. When you make a commitment to health, you heal.

 


"I easily release that which I no longer need.  The past is over and I am free" - Louise Hay


 

If you have any other questions about colon cleansing, eczema, eliminative diets, cleansing in general, never hesitate to email me at caitlin@yogalifestudios.ca

 

Is there another cleanse you'd like to see featured on here?  Let us know!

A Hello From Our Wandering Yogi...

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


Pura Vida, & Namaste,
Graham

Featured Yogi of the Month: Suzi Bird

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This month we are featuring one of our very own Yogalifers, Suzi Bird.  You can check out her full bio here AND catch her at both our North and South studios weekly.  

Below she answers a variety of questions, both silly and soulful.  Namaste Suzi!


 I found Yogalife Studios because long time friend Sara Cueva found it and introduced me shortly after she started practicing there when it opened. I teach Tuesday and Thursday nights at south 8 and 9:30 and sunday mornings 9 and noon at north.  I've been at Yogalife for just under a year and have been with them solely because I just love everyone so much :) - Suzi

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

My brother took my to my first real yoga class when he was living in Vancouver, it was a brand new hot yoga place. It just about killed me, but I felt so good after I had to go back the next day, and the day after, and the day after..........
Share a favourite quote, lesson, or teaching that inspires you.
If you're doing it right, it never gets easier.
What's your favourite music to practice to (or do you prefer silence!?)
I love listening to really uplifting music, stuff that just brings a smile to my face and makes me want to throw my hands in the air.  I listen to a lot of Faul, Xavier Rudd, DJ Drez.  I also like anything with a good sexy beat to it, Dr Toast, various house music and whatever else comes my way from Bastille to Ed Sheeran.
Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction.
I love Jodi Picoult books.  My favourite yogi book is The Tree of Yoga by BKS Iyengar
Tell us about your first teacher training.
My first teacher training I lived in a tent in the desert next to the ocean.  It was 30 degrees during the day and 5 at night, it had some of the best food I have ever tasted in my life and there was a rattlesnake living under my tent!
Where's your favourite vacation spot?
My heart belongs to Chaig Mai Thailand
What is your favourite meal to make and share with friends?
I love to cook, anything, everything, for everybody.  My specialty is ribs or stuffed chicken.
Biggie or Tupac? haha
Tupac
What's the coolest experience you've ever had with a student?
When I first started teaching I had a karma class where only one student showed up.  I was really nervous but the one on one really showed me how much I really knew and we were able to laugh and have a lot of fun together for the hour.
What's your favourite pose/sequence/area of the body to work on?
As much as I hate working on hips and hamstrings it's where I need the most work, so I see the progress very clearly and it always feel like an accomplishment, even for the tiniest improvements.
Who inspires you?
My mom
What is your favourite festival to attend?
I have only been to Folk Fest, and that was only once.  I have always wanted to go to Wanderlust.
If you could study with one person who would it be and why?
I would love to spend more time with Meghan Currie.  She is just so free and playful and loveable she reminds me that I always need to live my life with child like abandon
What is the best concert you've ever been to?
New kids on the block.  I'm not even lying
Share your favourite self-healing practice.
A cup of tea, puppy kisses and a good book can always make any day feel better, but my mat is always there when I need it.  A soulful heart opening practice to some of my favourite tunes will always set me free
Where's the next place you want to travel?
The next place I would like to go is either Cuba or Argentina.
Share one of your life goals.
I would like to do the splits some day.  As a kid I always wanted to, and as an adult I can now see how to get there.

Learn To Fly

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


We emerge Strong. Confident. Courageous. Free.

 

- Sara

 

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

 

A letter from Yogalife's owner, Caren.

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Dear Yogalife students, teachers & yogis,

Happy Happy New Year!!!

 

How should I start.... ;) If we haven’t had the chance to meet yet, let me introduce myself. My name is Caren. I was the very first Yogalifer pretty much ever. I have had the pleasure of seeing the growth of this little studio become what it is today. Thank you for all the love and support that you show our Yogalife family everyday just by showing up.

 

My resolution this year is to start 2014 with clarity, integrity and intention. For me, 2013 has been a full year of shifts and lessons, of opportunity and growth. I am so fortunate and blessed to be part of such a rich yoga community, to be able to find abundance in the relationships I have made and to love what I get to do everyday. Thank you for showing up and helping me see that.

 

It might get long… so thank you for continuing to read this.... : )

 

Gratitude to the teachers who pour their heart and soul out in every class they teach, gratitude to them for helping us inspire health, strength, vibrancy and more in our community.

 

Gratitude to the front desk yogis who keep up with the cleaning and the laundry with vigour so that we can practice comfortably in the studio. Gratitude to them for making our day a little brighter with their warm smile or when they offer tea as an alternative to when we show up late for class.

 

Gratitude to the social media yogis for crafting beautiful reads, photos and videos to keep us motivated, educated and excited.

 

And Gratitude to all the students who keep showing up for classes and workshops, ready to move, ready to breathe and ready to learn. Your determination and exuberance fills me with humility and pride.

 

It’s already 2014! It’s hard to imagine that life moves so quickly and that Yogalife has been open for almost 4 years now. No, it doesn’t feel like just yesterday that we opened our doors, but my body definitely still remembers that "night before open foot fracture", and the space boot that came with it. My foot still hurts when it’s cold out…

 

This year our intention is to craft classes, workshops, and blog content that will inspire you. So we are offering a January and February filled with workshops dedicated to motivating your resolutions and goals. Perhaps there’s a workshop that will move you, challenge you, and make you smile.

 

Share your thoughts with us on how you felt about 2013. What do you want to see this year and what interests you?

 

These past 4 years have been a wild ride! I can’t wait to see what this upcoming year brings. Feels like it’s going to be… wait for it…. LEGENDARY.

 

Love,

Caren

Pratyhara

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Connecting the Mat to the Stage

 

Pratyhara deals with the present moment. Savasana, corpse pose, is a key asana that usually associates itself to Pratyhara. After an arduous routine our body craves a calming pose. Savasana allows the body to align with the mind to “take in” the practice. Specifically, the posture enables a Yogi to attune with their inner self so much that a rapid sensory adaptation envelopes the body where you can lose track of time. The relaxing (parasympathetic) nervous system calms the mind making sure to alleviate the effects of the flight or fight (sympathetic) nervous system.

A Yogi can feel so intertwined in the present moment that for an instant the five senses seem out of reach to the moment.

Personally, after transitioning to a group ohm from savasana I have experienced yoga bliss where you feed off the energy of others. There is an energy that stems from the core and shoots to the top of the head and tips of the toes. This phenomenon seems slightly neurotic and crazy right? Right? RIGHT?

Wrong. This same phenomenon has happened to me on multiple onstage occasions. From singing a high note in the last song at the end of the show, the core feeling does not seem to disseminate to thin air. There is an element that connects pratyhara to the stage: vulnerability. On the mat you can be surrounded by up to fifty sweaty bodies where physical contact is inevitable.

At first, it can be difficult to let go and trust a group of complete strangers. Strangers that can see you work through a supressed subconscious. But in a Yoga class you work as a team, feeding off of the communal energy.

Similarly, in acting you delve into bizarre circumstances you need to wrap your head around. You’re experimenting with your emotions and sharing it to a vast dark laughing or crying abyss. Although, there is something surprising about both disciplines.

They allow you to confront who you are at face value.

Vulnerability allows you to explore different spheres your mind and body can reach. There is no cost in being submissive to vulnerability because there is a reward. What is the reward? Basking in the ephemeral savasana and basking in the onstage chemistry with your cast mates, or connecting with strangers on a meta level.

 

-Vlad