Friday, January 5, 2018

BoT Yoga in 2018

2018 with Break on Through Yoga

It's a New Year...

Our 2017 together (you, me and BoTYoga) was pretty great, wasn't it? 

We had a number of moms and daughters here at the studio. They either join in my regular classes or they make classes of their own. That's the beauty of booking sessions-not only can they be made to fit into a busy schedule but they can be made to fit into any lifestyle as well. 

This mom of seven and her second daughter enjoyed a moment together in partner Warrior II. 

Personal Yoga sessions included students looking for a moment to themselves and couples looking for time together. I particularly enjoy these private sessions (booked here in my studio and at Forge Training Centre), because they give me a chance to get to really know the people I'm working with. 

As always, group sessions here at the studio and at Forge Training Centre allowed  me to connect with several people at a time. 

Toronto Yoga Mamas Postnatal Training

In November, I travelled to Toronto with a colleague for a three-day Postnatal Yoga Training at Toronto Yoga Mamas. If you are ever in Toronto, make sure you visit this studio. It's a treasure. The atmosphere is blissful and they have so much to offer, especially for mamas (but are welcoming to everyone.)  
Now, I can offer yoga to mamas and pre-crawlers! I haven't added classes to my schedule but am happy to book groups or individuals for these special classes.

the lovely ladies in charge of our postnatal training and me, third in.

We Rise By Lifting Others

In December, I visited Kettle Point Youth Centre to teach a week-long daily class to a group of wonderful, welcoming ladies as part of a "Women on the Move" Christmas program. We did everything from seated and reclined meditation to yoga using the wall for support to chair yoga during our week together. I also enjoyed a few meals with the ladies, happily driving home afterwards with a full belly and a full spirit.
a gift from the "Women on the Move."
me with some of the ladies in a quiet moment. 
I left them with these little gifts at the end of the week.

Looking forward...

Now, I'm busy coming up with new things for this year. I'm back at Forge Training Centre, after a short Christmas and New Year's Eve break.

and continuing classes at my studio...with some new, fun additions! 

my family surprised me with three yoga boards for Christmas!

Though I can only offer classes on the boards to two people at a time (maybe three, if I don't get on one), this should be a fun new way for us to practice (I'm envisioning couples on balance boards! ...Valentine's Day, anyone?) The boards have rockers under them, so they move slightly as you move on them, challenging balance and increasing strength. 

Something to Leave You With...

my response to an Instagram challenge.

I am enough. Let's silence the mind-stuff that says "I am not" and focus on "I am." I am enough, I am happy, I am strong, I am...

Take this moment. Inhale slowly, exhale even more slowly. Now just be...just for a moment.

Now, tell yourself "I am enough"; what does this mean to you? 

So ham.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Some thoughts on Sun Salutations and a Lesson in Pictures

I recommend sun salutations as a good way to get a quick yoga session in if you're away and can't make it to my classes or if you just have a little time to yourself and aren't sure what poses to do.

Here's a quick explanation in pictures of how to do sun salutation.

This is just one variation of sun salutation; you can add on poses to shake things up. I like to add warrior III after forward fold, for example, or three-legged dog before stepping through to bring the leg forward before forward fold. 

The secret to being able to add on to the basics is simple; learn to control your breath to calm your body, brush up on your technique and know your foundation poses (mountain, downward dog, forward fold, etc.) 

Eventually, once you have the basics figured out, you can really have fun with poses or sequences, jumping forward instead of stepping and switching out upward dog for cobra or adding in a few yoga push-ups. 

Sun salutation is the perfect use of foundation yoga postures, combining everything that yoga is: balance, breath, flexibility and strength. 

Until next time...


Monday, October 2, 2017

October at BoT Yoga

Where Did August and September Go?

Somehow, August and September got away from me. What were we up to? Let me count the things!
We were busy camping, going to events and parties and visiting in August. Then, we got ready for school and the grand opening at Forge Training Centre, where I now have classes three times a week. 
In September, the kids started school. Two of them were in classes that got completely rearranged in the second week ("the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry...")and got back into the swing of things by the end of the month. 
We also have three September birthdays in our house and a few relatives' birthdays to celebrate. Lia even got her own pink yoga mat. 

In September, I started my classes at Forge, where members have helped me to feel welcome and things have been going great so far. As soon as I set up my mat and my little Bluetooth speaker there, I felt like I was in the right place. My husband, kids and my best friend (and her hubby) have been so supportive; I don't even know how to express how much it has meant to me to look out at my classes and see them there. 

And now it's October...

Moms and Daughters, Dads and Sons

In September, I had a few new additions to my classes. A mom and her daughter joined one of my weekly home studio classes and my oldest son and my husband joined another at Forge (he brought our youngest once but, as much as she loves yoga, we thought maybe she should wait just a little bit longer before she comes again.) 
As we neared the end of our sessions at Hopkona Farms, we had grandparent night at the farm; the grand-kids didn't join for long but it was fun seeing grandparents, kids and their mom all on their mats as the sun went down over the fields. 

Though I don't offer yoga for younger kids at this time, I love seeing families in yoga, enjoying quiet internal reflection but also time together, with their mats side-by-side. 

Speaking of that...

In November, I'll be travelling to Toronto to take a course in postnatal yoga, so that I can offer yoga to parents/caregivers and babies. I'm looking forward to spending time with two of the girls I did my 350-hour training with again and also to learning something new. We'll be focusing on learning how to incorporate babies into yoga practice and also learning about areas such as the pelvic floor, the core and diastasis recti. 

Looking Forward

That brings us to October...
In September, we focused on meditation and gently reminding the wandering mind to return to the breath. We also worked on alignment and balance. 
We worked on accepting the challenge Forge's mats add to our balance, accepting that sometimes we have to let go of our wish to control the balance, drop our feet and just switch sides. My own teacher taught me that, and though sometimes I really want to just hold a balancing pose, I know that it's not always possible. Some days, I just feel more balanced than I do on other days. 
In October, we'll continue focusing on breath and meditation. As always, I will try to balance flexibility, strength and balance in my classes, offering a blend of the three. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July at BoT Yoga

A Question and Truths

#CrystalGrayYoga asks "Are you called to serve a previous version of yourself?"

I took some time to digest this question before writing about it. First, who IS the previous version of myself? Before yoga, especially the yoga I've experienced over the last 4 or so years with my current teacher, I was mired in a state of anxiety. There are things I can do now that I could never do before. In the past 2 years, a couple of things I've done are: I've gotten my driver's license (the first part anyway) and I have received my 350 hour yoga teacher certification.
Even the thought of the 2.5 hour drive with anyone but my husband would've been out of the question a few years ago. Even the thought of sitting in class for 20 hours a weekend would've been out of the question as well. The very thought of teaching classes would've been completely and utterly out of the question. Now, I not only rode with a friend to and from Toronto for 8 months, but I enjoyed it and had no issues at all with anxiety related to the drive. Now, I not only sat in class for 20 hours a weekend, but I enjoyed it and made lasting relationships with the other teachers in training as well. Now, I get in front of people and I teach (still working on the comfort level of that one, but I EVEN taught in front of my teacher training teacher, who is brilliant and amazing and I was terribly nervous to teach in front of her.)
So, am I called to serve the previous version of myself? Yes, and more. I want to give others what my teacher gave me. I want them to breathe easier, to find bliss in their daily lives, to find themselves content with who they are. Basically, I want to help people past anxiety by giving them the tools to breathe and meditate, even while in the middle of circumstances they might find difficult, just as I have learned. What do I mean by "and more?" I am not going to stop at people with anxiety, because that is not everyone (lucky ducks!) I serve the previous version of myself, and everything in between.
Will I be perfect at it? No. I'm learning as I go, just like everyone else. What is the hardest part about that? Telling that previous version of myself, "You are enough." Even when I make mistakes, when I question what I'm doing, when I give in to fear, I have to keep remembering to tell that previous version of myself, "You are enough."
Maybe, just maybe, it's sinking in...

Bodysensing Meditation

Do you feel like your body is reacting very strongly to stress? Bodysensing meditation, as described in Yoga Journal, is a technique that teaches us to notice the body's more subtle cues so that we can avoid the more distressing or harmful stress-related conditions, like crippling anxiety or high blood pressure.
Let's try it with a meditation I put together that focuses on the joints:

Lying down, start to notice your breath. In and out through the nostrils. Focus on the breath moving in and out of the nostrils for a minute or two.
Then start noticing the body, the joints, slowly going over each. To slow it down even more, go over first one side and then the other (left foot, left ankle, etc.)
Notice your toes. Notice the feet. Wiggle the toes, bend the toes. Flex and point the feet. Notice the sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you feel there without judgment or reaction (they simply ARE. Accept what comes without putting a label on it, such as good or bad or painful.)
Notice the ankles. Circle the ankles and turn them side to side. Notice the sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the knees. Bend the knees. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the thighs. Rotate your thighs in the hip sockets by circling the leg around. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the hips and pelvis. Move the hips side to side or circle them around. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Move over the belly, the chest and up to the shoulders.
Notice the shoulders. Circle them around. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the elbows. Bend the elbows. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the wrists. Circle them around. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the fingers. Bend them. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the neck. Nod. Turn the head side to side. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the jaw. Open and close it. Notice any sensations in them. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the skull. Notice the joints at the back of the skull, just at the base. Turn the head side to side. Notice any sensations there. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Notice the spine. Run your thoughts down each vertebrae. Move your torso side to side. Notice any sensations in the spine. Welcome any sensations you find there without judgment or reaction.
Now, use the breath to drop into the body's subtle tensions, making your way over each joint again. Watch the breath at each point, inhaling and noticing any tension without judgment or reaction and exhaling as you imagine release the tension with your breath.

Come to stillness. Notice how you feel without judgment or reaction.

Monday, June 5, 2017

June at BoT Yoga

Hopkona Yoga

Yoga on the farm has been fun so far; we have ducks, chickens and a very hands-on cat visiting us during our sessions, causing a bit of distraction but in a funny way. The group has been growing as word spreads about our weekly outdoor yoga sessions and so, the laughter grows as well.

(a picture before class)

Letting Go of Expectations and Attachments

In May, we worked on deep inhalations and long exhalations, letting go of expectations and attachments. It is easy to become attached to the spiral of our thoughts; letting go of our thoughts, just letting them come and then go again, has been the focus of our meditation. Letting go of expectations for our practice, for our poses, and enjoying our practice without attaching to an image of what it "should" look like has been our focus. 

See if you can practice now, closing the eyes, letting the whole body release into your chair or mat or bed or couch.

Breathe in, deep into the belly, drawing in energy, drawing in positivity.
Breathe out, a long exhale, letting out all of the air, letting go of expectations and attachments. Let the thoughts come but let them go by like the clouds in the sky. Let them float by without attaching to them or judging them. 
Breathe in, feeling the back of the throat lifting, drawing in loving kindness.
Feel the pelvic floor lift as your breathe reaches the apex and then exhale a smooth, steady exhale. Release expectations for your practice. Release attachments.
Breathe in, drawing in energy, ready to face your day.

Graduation Day...

Yesterday, the group of lovely yoginis that I've spent the last 8 months with and I graduated! Some of the girls have one more test to do, but essentially we're all EWYT-RYT200 certified! It's crazy to think about it-where we all started our trek into our 350 hour training and where we are now. It seems so long ago that we started but, then again, not so long ago. There is always so much more knowledge to take in. Yoga is never-ending practice and study. 

(Hand to hand, supporting each other. I'm near the front in red)

(We had a vegetarian potluck in between classes)

So, congrats to us and here's to a lifelong love of learning about yoga!

Looking Forward

There will be some pricing changes coming up in the next month or so. They will not affect regular classes but private class and travel (to your home) pricing will see a small increase (and maybe some great offers as well!) If you haven't tried a one-on-one (or two-to-one) session, do consider the benefits of individual attention. One-on-one sessions allow for more discussion and routines tailored to participants' needs or requests. Additionally, parents can take advantage of inviting me to your homes for very affordable one-on-one sessions during nap time.

This month, we will continue to delve into meditation, relaxation and release in our practice. 

(from the app: Unique Daily Affirmations)
Remember: You are enough.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Little Shift...


Something we haven't discussed before is yoga and pregnancy. Though I haven't shifted into allowing pregnant participants into my classes before now, I am slowly evolving into a wider and more inclusive focus in my teaching. As I expand my knowledge more and more, I am excited to share it and my love of yoga with more and more participants.
My teacher has taught me many things that will come in handy, both for me and for pregnant participants. Here, I'll share some of them with you as well.

Some things to remember:

  • Everyone is different. Some women have pregnancies with little difficulties. Some women have pregnancies fraught with difficulties. As a yoga teacher, my first goal is to be of service to my students. As a pregnant yogini, listen to your body and I will be here to listen to you, making your practice as wonderful and comfortable as I can.
  • Consistency in your practice is important. Yoga practice is most beneficial when regular.
  • Great goals for your practice during pregnancy are: lessen the discomforts of pregnancy (mindfully use the poses to make your body more comfortable as your baby grows), get ready for delivery (de-stress, breathe steadily and calmly, strengthen muscles used for delivery), increase post-partum recovery (yoga can help build your stress immunity for delivery), use variations and modifications for your comfort and stability.
  • If you are tired, rest in child's pose or lie on your side, doing deep, diaphragmatic breathing at any time during class. Do your kegel exercises.
  • Many pregnant women suffer from nausea. To prevent nausea, try not to have your head down for too long and come in and out of poses gradually. If the poses are strenuous or fast-paced, like Sun Salutations, rest. Vigorous yoga can cause the body temperature to rise too high. 
  • Use legs up the wall for ankle swelling or leg cramps with a pillow or rolled up mat under the seat, elevating the hips. 
  • Stick with open twists. Skip the closed twists. Skip bridge pose, shoulder stand and plow after mid pregnancy. Dog pose is a great strengthener but can be increasingly difficult as pregnancy moves along. Try puppy pose or wide-legged child's pose with a bolster for support instead. Maybe you'd prefer cat/cow instead? We can figure out what works for you.
  • Meditation and relaxation are both helpful for enduring labour.They help to improve your focus and all-over body relaxation. 
  • If you feel any dizziness or faintness, chest pain, excessive shortness of breath, painful uterine contractions, any "gush" of fluid (suggesting premature rupture of membranes), please stop exercising and consult your doctor!

During poses:

When doing standing exercises, stand with feet apart for a wide base of support and good balance.
Come out of forward fold by bending knees and using hands on thighs for support.
Bend your knee to support your elbow or use a chair for support in triangle. In other standing and balancing poses, use the wall or a chair for support. For prone backbends (on the belly), look for modifications that work for you, like child's pose, table, cat/cow, sunbird, pigeon, or plank (modified on knees.) Use a pillow or bolster for seated poses, both to sit on and to learn forward onto. Be sure  not to lie on your back for more than a couple minutes. During reclined poses, alternate lying on your side or seated and lie on the right side for relaxation. 

Pregnancy is a time to do what feels great and, above all, feels safe. 

Before you know it, your little one will be born and growing like a little weed!

                                                                     (Lia, age 2...ish)

This Month 

This month, we grab our mats to start outdoor Tuesday night summer yoga on a farm! The view is going to be pretty outstanding. Let me know if you want more information on that. 

We'll focus on our breath linked with movement and alignment, as always, but with a particular focus on Classical Hatha Yoga. 

With that, I wish you a beautiful night and offer a quote I use often in classes: "I rule myself. No negativity can touch me." (Kathryn Budig)


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April at BoT Yoga

Just Breathe

Last month, I promised to look further into the breath during our classes. We focused on noticing the breath, where it expands and contracts. We used weighted, warm bags to focus our minds and our breath to specific spots in the body. We focused on letting our thoughts fall in the space between the breaths.
Have you put more thought into your breath this month? Have you noticed it as it expands and contracts in the body? As you stand in line at the store, have you found yourself thinking about the diaphragm lifting on the exhale and dropping on the inhale? Have you found yourself in bed trying to fill the lungs, expanding in the back against the mattress and front body, feeling the body open up and loosen tension?
The breath is essential to letting go of tension. It can help you focus your mind and once you can focus the mind, meditation practice begins. In her book Yoga Cures, Tara Stiles says that meditation sets off the vagus nerve, which sets off signals in the body that make you happy. Put simply, slow, steady breath calms the body and a calm body means a calm mind.

Speaking of the Mind...

Looking forward into April, we can continue to think about the mind and how to settle it into stillness. First, we still the body. Then, we still the mind. 
Not an easy task, I know. It takes time. It can take years. The rewards though? They are worth the time. 
A few years ago, there was no way I could have sat in front of a class to even just say hi. Now, I sit in front of classes weekly to guide movement and breath. I got here because of breath and meditation. I learned to control the fight or flight response my body naturally falls into when I'm faced with scary things like standing on my mat in front of a group of people and talking them through a class. I learned to breath steadily and focus my mind rather than falling into a panic. I am still dealing with anxiety, of course, and won't be giving any speeches in front of a large crowd anytime soon, but it has decreased in such a way that I conquered several goals in 2016/17 that I NEVER thought I would. 
What are your goals? Could a calmer, steadier breath and a still mind help you to achieve them? What are your experiences with meditation and pranayama? 

Namaste to all of you,