CONNECT to your big plans now

You’ve got an idea, a vision, a big pile of plans for how you want your life to be. You can feel that energy building in you, that desire growing and taking shape. Amazing - that’s the creative force driving you to live the life you’ve always wanted. 

When nature wants to take a huge pile of potential and make it real, it starts with two simple little cells that CONNECT, become synergetic, and begin to create something that, over time, will grow into a self-sustaining, alive and amazing new thing.

When you first imagine your life teaching yoga, you may not have a perfectly clear image of what it will look like, where it’ll go, how it will develop. That’s okay - all of those things become through time, invested energy, and experience. Right now, all you need to do is CONNECT, start to bring that idea to life. 

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training is a rich resource for you to build your network, deepen your knowledge of yoga and teaching, and begin to practice being the kick-ass yoga teacher you know you are. We’re passionate about facilitating your journey. There’s such freedom in teaching yoga for a living - so many ways you can take your career. Pranalife Yoga helps you identify how to successfully bring YOUR vision for your career to life. 

 

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training begins May 3rd. You're exactly where you need to be, and just in time - APPLY TODAY 

The poetics of practice

Standing at the top of my yoga mat, turning my attention to my breath and spreading my weight evenly across the foundations of my feet. Getting to this point in a self-led practice like Ashtanga is half the battle. Now that I'm here, I feel my energy conspire to support right action.

I inhale my arms overhead and the newness of today's practice begins to meld with the thousands of previous moments when my body has made this movement. Fresh and familiar, my yoga practice comes alive again, over and over, like the seasons.

Energy builds in the sun salutation series, my body warms to the postures and continues where we left off in teaching me what I still have to learn. Don't push into forward folds. Listen. Open spaces in your body and move into them instead. That neverending depth of Downward Dog, so intricate and powerful, so changeable. That mystery of the hip movements in Warrior A, my body still not fully understanding. Still more to learn. Always. Like a child, always.

The Standing Series allows me to return to simple movements. Don't pull, Asia. Allow. Trust. Breathe. Let go of striving; create the space with your breath. Can you? "I love you, I love you, how can I support you?" These words from an everwise Pranalife YTT student wash over my back and through my mind. Relax your grip. Practice and all is coming.

Sinking my body deeper to the ground for the Primary Series. Ever folding, ever forward, each vinyasa with a burst of Upward Dog like the opening of a new day. I meet my body's limits each and every time I come to the mat. Long ago I gave up wanting that to be different., yet my heart still yearns to feel the freedom other bodies feel in these folds instead of the resistance and instability of my own. I meet myself with satya - truthfulness - and I simply breathe, I move, I practice. This is MY practice.

The mysteries of each posture are in part held in the posture before it, so as I notice where my limits lie I also notice the promise of something more in each of them. My skin glistens with sweat, my breath feeds every cell. I am fit for this, even when I don't fit into this posture. I simply must be stronger, as Kino said to me, as Guruji said to her. Stronger: not desperate, but always creating the opportunity for change. Over thousands of hours of practising and teaching this series, my faith that change can happen is firmly rooted in this years-long experiment. So much has changed. I remember. 

The Finishing Sequence. Clarity. Energy. Excitement. Here's where the consequence of action plays out. If I have practiced with integrity, if I've been strong, focused, if I've stayed with it to here then here is my reward. Wheel - my heart and gut and power centre break open again and again and again. I have limits, yes, and I have this posture. I remember Mary-Jo, my teacher trainer, with the most beautiful and unlimited practice I'd ever seen, now finding her freedom within the confines of her wheelchair these many years. She finds her limits, and she transcends them - not always physically, but in spirit. The real limits are in our minds, where our "shoulds" stick. Headstand, pure joy and strength. That strange space where everything is upside down but all feels just fine. I must stay attentive. The final three, and I feel myself content. I am here.

Savasana. My heartbeat booms, coming down from the burst of Utplutthi. The yoga body stone. Change. Life. This is life in all its twists and turning upside downs. It's connecting to the ever-present flow - of breath, of movement , of consciousness - along the path of temporary positions in which I find myself. It's digging up the deep crevasses of old habits and practicing love. Everything in me wants to forgive, to let go of negative influence. Nothing is ever perfect. I am never perfect. I am never transported out of who I am or where I am. The practice isn't escape; it's acceptance. I am here, now. I am this. This is just as it is. And I move through it. I stay with myself. I become fit for living.

 

Why the world needs you

Pranalife Yoga training has contributed to massive changes in my life. I feel like you bridged this gap between my regular life to something beyond that.

~ Kimmi Luu, Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training graduate

 

Who you are and what you have to offer
is exactly what the world needs. 

 

I'm not easily won over by nice-sounding but unfounded ideas that aren't grounded in reality. Now that we have that clear, I want to say this again:

 

Who you are and what you have to offer
is exactly what the world needs. 

 

See, the world needs people who are passionate, self-aware, thoughtful, kind, who want to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. When you dedicate yourself to a complete yoga practice, it helps you become this kind of person. Then, no matter what your specific interests and talents are, you'll offer them to the world as this kind of person = exactly what the world needs. Pretty damn sweet.

So what's a "complete yoga practice" and how does it lead to you being so awesome?

First of all, you're already awesome - you may just not know how to express it fully yet. This is what Pranalife Yoga's upcoming course Living Yoga is all about. In this week-long, daily immersion into yoga's philosophy, we'll explore the basics for clearing and strengthening your mind, supporting yourself, loving others, and seeing intentions through to successful actions - all of which add up to you living as your best, brightest, boldest self. 

Living Yoga is an approved course for Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training Certification, though you don't have to want to teach yoga to take it; just be ready to start rocking your life, inspiring others, and finally feeling free and happy every day. Really.

Learn more about Living Yoga here.

Ready? Sign up here, and then pay here.

Can't join us for the entire week? Sign up for any or all of the 1hr Yoga Intensives, which run 5-6pm Sunday through Thursday. 

 

I can't wait to see you there and be a small part of your big, bright, beautiful effect on the world.

Namaste,

Asia

 

Why this weekend's CORE 2.0.1.4. Workshop is exactly what you need right now

 How I wish winter workouts would've gone ... and how they did.

How I wish winter workouts would've gone ... and how they really mostly went.

 

We've all just survived a pretty crappy winter, and I suspect more people than you and I chose to stay on the couch once in a while instead of going through the rigmarole of bundling up for and trenching out to the gym or class. 

Saturday's CORE 2.0.1.4. workshop at Moksha Yoga Waterloo is about re-starting your goals and learning new ways to build strength without wasting your energy or being thwarted early on by injury. Learn to do core work efficiently and pain-free.

In any advanced practice from dance to decathalons athletes learn how to visualize, set intentions, and connect their focus and breath with movement. We'll learn visualization techniques used by the best, and then layer on options for physical challenges. 

Come and reconnect with yourself - and maybe, eventually, your six pack. ;)

Get the details HERE. See you there.
 

Meet our Spring 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship WINNERS!!

 

Pranalife Yoga has two new scholarship WINNERS for our spring Yoga Teacher Training course!

As always, the scholarship applications were inspiring, heart-felt, and articulate. It's such a joy to learn about each person who applies, and so difficult to narrow it down to only two winners. I'm honoured and humbled such wonderful people choose to take this next step in their yoga journey with Pranalife.

And now, I'd like to introduce you to our Spring 2014 Scholarship Winners: Christine Cumming and Kelly Brown:

 

Christine Cumming

I am a 44 year old mother of 2 teenage boys. I work as a Child & Youth Worker and as a Reiki Practitioner. Almost 5 years ago, I chose to release everything in my life that wasn't in my best interest and bring in what was. It has been an incredible period of learning and growth.

Becoming a Pranalife YYT certified instructor will allow me to inspire other people to push past self limiting beliefs and struggles in order to create the body and the life they dream of.

My life for the past five years has been an incredible transformation and I am so excited to see the growth and changes that come from this new experience!!! Asia's reputation, matched with her dynamic personality, teaching style, and best of all class schedule was a perfect fit for me. Receiving this scholarship gift guarantees that I can move in the direction of this dream.   

 

 

Kelly Brown

I am a recent graduate of the Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Waterloo. After recently reigniting my love for yoga I decided this would be a very good time in my life to take my yoga practice to the next level.  

I would like to become a Certified Instructor not only because of my deep love and appreciation for yoga but also my need to help others. Yoga instructor certification will provide me with a platform to improve other’s health and wellness through yogic practice, something I am very passionate about.

I know that becoming a certified yoga instructor will be one of the best things I will ever commit to doing. A scholarship towards this dream will lessen some of the financial strain that I will feel during the course of the certification training period. 

 

 

 

Becoming a Pranalife Yoga Certified Instructor: The Step-by-Step Guide

 

 

Become a kick-ass yoga teaching superstar.

 

It can be overwhelming: You've probably Googled a dozen teacher training programs and different instructors and they all have different guidelines and program details. It can get hairy out there when it comes to figuring out who to study with, whether you're going to get the right qualifications, and how this whole thing actually gets done.

Below we've created a step-by-step guide to the Pranalife Yoga certification process to make it easy for you to see what you need, what you get, and why you'd choose to do this awesome thing with your life.

If there's still something you don't find here, contact us and we'll be happy to help you out. Enjoy!!

 

STEP ONE: Read through this page

You'll get a good overview of the Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training program from this page. If it feels like you, you're on the right track.

You'll find:

  • details on what you'll study,
  • requirements before you begin,
  • program details, including days/times when the courses run, what each course covers, length of the program, etc.
  • that we are an HRSDC Certified Institution (which means you get tuition tax credits!) and match the Yoga Alliance requirements for the 200hr YTT
  • that we donate 5% of your tuition to Pencils of Promise - READ WHY
  • and some really lovely testimonials from our previous graduates.

STEP TWO: Check out our pricing options

This is a valuable investment you're about to make; you've got to be sure it's the right value for you. Pranalife Yoga has a number of payment options; consider which one suits your financial situation best so you can feel secure about your commitment. 

Need financial support? Pranalife offers scholarships of $540 towards tuition (six per year, one per student max) Sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of this page) to get the details before each course.

STEP THREE: Apply

This application doesn't commit you to the training; it introduces you to us, lets us know you're considering YTT, and puts you in contact with Pranalife so we can get'r done together. Once you've applied, you're no longer doing this alone. 

 

Once we have your application we'll send you an email with your next steps, which include buying your books, connecting with us on Facebook so you can stay up-to-date with the latest news, and taking care of payment if you haven't yet. We'll work with you the whole way, answer any of your questions, and make sure that you KNOW this is the training for you.

That's it!

A final note to you - You're about to embark on an amazing journey, meet a new crew that will become like family, and possibly change the course of your career. We think this is the greatest thing ever. It's our honour to become an integral part of this journey with you. Namaste.

Now - get on it. ;)

 

Get info on Pranalife Yoga classes, trainings, events and retreats. Plus: EXCLUSIVE giveaways, scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training and FREE yoga classes.

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Practice Failing

Practice failing, because it's the best way to get better.

 

Practice

= doing it the way you were taught + doing it the way you feel like you want to do it + playing around with how *not* to do it + doing something that looks nothing like it just for the fun of it, and noticing if you learn anything about doing it the way you want to do it + doing it over and over without getting bored because you're paying attention to the new thing you learn every single time.

Failing

is not the negativity we attach to failure. Failing is just trying something and not getting quite where you'd planned. What we usually think of as failing is just the bullshit we attach to not getting where we'd planned. Don't get stuck in negative self-talk, quitting, judging yourself, or deciding that you're terrible at this. Try. Fail. Learn. Rinse and repeat until you get where you were hoping to go. 

Because

creativity is a lot like failing, in the sense that it often involves going somewhere you hadn't planned our couldn't have known from the outset. Creativity and practice are not antithetical; they feed each other, they balance each other. Failing is creative practice.

It's

almost always useful to do it rather than not doing it if you want to do it, no matter how it turns out. If you do it and you learn, or you discover something new, or you just get moving, or you meet someone new, or something happens that's good that wouldn't have happened before, then AMAZING. If you do it and it goes badly, you'll recover and you'll have learned and discovered something new and you'll have gotten moving and maybe you'll have met someone new and maybe something actually happened while that thing was going badly that isn't bad and wouldn't have happened before and then ALSO AMAZING.

The

reason you risk failure in practice is that, in the process, you inspire yourself and you feel more alive with the newness of all that happens when you do that thing over and over again with a fresh perspective. Each repetition of it makes it new.

Best

often means competition. If competition inspires you to try even when you might fail, use it. If competition makes you hard, makes you forget to do no harm in the process, or makes you feel bad about yourself, forget "best" in that sense and think only about "your best". 

Way

beyond those first few steps that feel so awkward or scary is this incredible adventure that you'll only see once you've taken those first few awkward, scary steps.

To

get where you're going, start moving in the right direction. Where you are when you start will probably look nothing like where you are when you finish. So just start and don't worry so much about what it looks like. 

Get

moving. Start anywhere. Remember to be kind to yourself always. Enjoy yourself. 

Better

= easier, more fun, masterful, inspirational, more creative, evolutionary, improving on how it's done now in some cool way

 

Untapped Potential

Yoga teaching in North America today seems overwhelmingly led by twentysomething, uber-bendy former gymnasts with means and/or lifestyle options most of us don't have access to, and it seems they're setting the standards for what "yoga" is. 

This isn't the full story, of course. Many excellent yoga teachers don't fit this description (and fitting this description doesn't mean you can't be an excellent teacher) but you'd almost never know there were non-white, non-twentyish yogis out there if you check out what's hot and trending in yoga media or walk into any yoga studio in North America that's enjoying booming success.

[There are awesome exceptions.]

The business of yoga in North America has built up extensively around this demographic. With yoga teacher trainings costing upwards of $5,000-$15,000 and requiring that students leave their lives for a month or more at a time, it's inevitable that the majority of people who will be able to participate are those with lives and means that allow such a sabbatical from daily life. Unfortunately, this tends to exclude single moms or people in full-time professions, people with limited finances or in many cases large swaths of cultural groups for whom such an excursion isn't realistic or welcoming

And this has meant that the priorities and experiences of this set of people have set the tone and definition of yoga today: Increasingly complex postures indicating the "depth" of a practice, a focus on the physical with an absence or lack of understanding about the other seven limbs of the practice, the image of "yogi" as a fit little (usually female) package with perfect (usually white) skin and an "ohm" tattoo. 

Now, before comment section shit starts to hit the fan, let me be clear: I *am* a fit, female package with white skin and my tattoo doesn't have an "ohm" but it does take up the entire upper half of my back. I *am* the stereotype, and I love the current energy of yoga spaces with these women and men consciously moving toward greater freedom and health through their own good sweat. I'm not looking to push these people out; I'm craving that more people be welcomed in. 

I believe our yoga community isn't as great as it could be because we lack diverse leaders who in turn would draw in more diverse fellow practitioners.

So, I've set about to do my part by changing the parameters for becoming a yoga teacher, in hopes that we'll see our yoga community enriched by guides from a range of histories, cultures and experiences.

Here's how:

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) courses run on Saturdays and Wednesday nights in the spring and fall and as a nine-day intensive in the summer, in my home city of Waterloo, Ontario. Anyone with family obligations or a day job can more easily schedule in training that lets them stay near home and runs outside of standard work hours. Few people stick around for the entire summer, so a summer intensive lets them fit in the course and still be able to travel and/or spend time with family.

I've also done what I can to encourage an environment of inclusion. I offer two scholarships of 50% off tuition for every course in the program (i.e., two scholarships are awarded three times a year). My regular classes and private clients include high-demand kids and their families, 40+ bodies, LGBTQ, and most definitely geeks (I love my fellow geeks). Many people who sign up for YTT come from these classes and private/corporate sessions; hence, the Pranalife YTT crew is always a mix of young and experienced, university students and single moms, different cultures, sexual orientations and interests. We're a loving motley crew that become a loving motley family.

What happens when these people become certified? Well, for one, they're more aware of the issues facing different groups of people who may feel excluded by the current yoga environment, and are more able to make their own classes welcoming to everyone. Then there's the magic that happens when a 40something single mother of an autistic son decides to run a class for other parents of autistic kids. Suddenly, there's a passionate, authentic teacher creating a class for a group of people who could definitely use what yoga has to offer, and will now get it because they have a leader who sees and understands the need. 

This kind of integration and inclusion is, I believe, vital to the future of our yoga community. It's important to me that Pranalife Yoga be a part of the solution, along with others in the community who've identified these issues and are also working towards greater inclusion and diversity. 

  

Get info on Pranalife Yoga classes, trainings, events and retreats. Plus: EXCLUSIVE giveaways, scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training and FREE yoga classes.

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Sign up - it's easy (and awesome)

 

Asia's Interview on Yoga and Art on CKWR's Culture Soup

 

Culture Soup's Jennifer Gough (of MESA artist fame) sits down with Pranalife Yoga Founder Asia Nelson to talk about the cross-sections of yoga and art. It's a great taste of what Asia's all about. Enjoy!

http://www.ckwr.com/the-art-of-yoga/

 

The interview breakdown - 

1:30 - The time I traded bodybuilding for yoga

3:52 - How is yoga an art?

7:40 - How yoga changes how we live in the world

8:55 - Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training : the beginnings

10:10 - Achieving goals by using yoga to “unlearn” and trust

12:18 - How yoga and art make you brave

14:17 - Facing the blank canvass

18:10 - Creative immersion, tripping on “yoga LSD”, and how yoga keeps us honest

24:04 - The one thing I want you to know about yoga

25:25 - What’s next for Asia and Pranalife Yoga 

27:50 - One of the greatest songs ever performed

 

The Latest News from Pranalife: Workshops & Teacher Training 2014

 

New yoga workshops for 2014, Yoga Teacher Training dates for 2014 and more:

Check out our latest newsletter!! 

 

Get info on Pranalife Yoga classes, trainings, events and retreats. Plus: EXCLUSIVE giveaways, scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training and FREE yoga classes.

We love to spoil our subscribers (can you tell?) 

 

Sign up - it's easy (and awesome)
 

 

 

Pranalife Yoga & Pencils of Promise send 40 kids to school for a year!

 

UPDATE: As of December 2013, Pranalife Yoga and our generous supporters have donated $2082 USD toward our goal of $25,000 to build a school! Thank you all for your continuing support. Read on to find out how you can be involved - 

 

Every person has potential; education unlocks it.

Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training extends immediately beyond the mat: Pranalife Yoga donates 5% of its profits from every teacher training course to Pencils of Promise. We understand the value access to great eduacation holds for every person. That's why we've chosen Pencils of Promise for taking learning beyond our mats. 

JOIN US! Just $25 allows Pencils of Promise to give a child an education for one year. Pranalife Yoga's $25 000.00 goal will support an entire school - kids, teachers, building, supplies - for an entire year. Start your own journey beyond your mat by joining us for our next Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training course, or donating directly via our Pencils of Promise page.

To all of you who have become part of this incredible opportunity to go beyond your mats, Namaste. 

Six Weeks of Ultimate Yoga Teacher Training Bootcamp!!

It's T-2 weeks to the ultimate Yoga Teacher Training course: Pranalife Yoga's Foundations of Great Teaching. Just finished whiteboarding the main sections for the next six weeks. So pumped I could squeak. This is going to be really, really cool - 

(Psst - Not registered yet? Get in on it!)

Meet Our Fall YTT Scholarship Winners

 

I'm humbled every season by the triumphant human spirit I see in the scholarship applications for each Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training course. I'm SO grateful for the opportunity to get to know people on this deeper level and to extend a bit of financial relief to make this training possible. 

This fall, our course Foundations of Great Teaching will be a mix of new personalities, blended with those who have been the core part of Pranalife YTT's amazing crew. I'd like to introduce you to two of those new people, our Fall 2013 Scholarship Winners: Cathy Benjamin, and Alison Longstaff.

    

Cathy Benjamin

Having lost 130 pounds over the last two years, I've learned what my body can achieve physically. After discovering yoga, I've been shown what I can achieve mentally. Yoga helps me be the very best version of myself that I can be.

After discovering my passion for yoga, I knew I wanted to be able to guide others into this beautiful practice and community. Every day I work harder during my home practice to enhance my own knowledge so when the time does come, I will be the best yoga guide I know I can be.    

 

 

 

 

 

 Alison Longstaff

I have wanted to do YTT with Asia since I first became aware that it was a possibility. This course will deepen my wisdom as a pastor and as a practitioner of spiritual practice and discipline.  It will move me closer to my dream of including the teaching of yoga into my church leadership skills as well.

The practice of yoga has transformed my outlook, rolled back my aging by several years, and helped me fight the depression that has plagued most of my adult life. SO glad I can do this at last!!

 

 

 

Meet our Summer Course Scholarship WINNERS!

 

One of the best and toughest parts of my Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training is the process of choosing two Pranalife Yoga scholarship winners for each course. The level of intelligence, passion, courage in the face of challenges, and vision I read in the pages of each and every scholarship application always blows me away. 

Out of a pool of simply excellent, amazing people, our winners for the Summer Yoga Teacher Training course "Living Yoga" are Christine Jensen and Aga Wyrzykowska. Congratulations to both of you!! I can't wait to have you be a part of the magic that is our upcoming course. 

Here's a bit about each of our winners:

Christine Jensen

Yoga has transformed my body into a body that I trust and respect. Through this physical practice I have also started to incorporate other aspects of yoga into my life and practice, including meditation, self trust, and mindfulness.

The past year has challenged my dedication to yoga. Through a combination of stress and time limitations due to the completion of my MA, I have allowed my yoga practice to be weakened. I see the Pranalife YTT Course "Living Yoga" as an opportunity to reawaken, strengthen, and grow my practice as I better learn to (re)integrate yoga into my life.

Pranalife embodies everything I want in yoga instruction: a comprehensive methodology, inclusiveness, encouragement, and humour. My partner has already started the Pranalife YTT, and up to this point we have taken this journey into yoga together. The opportunity to continue to study and grow with one another under Asia's leadership is a dream come true. 

 Aga Wyrzykowska

"I am ready," said the inner child in me, "to teachYou've been teaching in your own subtle way for a while now."  

When I first started yoga I was in my early 20s. I was a quick learner, the poses came naturally to me, flexibility seemed to just pour out of me. Now in my mid 30s, I find myself to be less flexible, much harder on myself than when I was young and free. I knew that in time I would benefit from the physical practice, but what I’ve learned is that yoga is more of a spiritual journey of myself.

The scholarship would allow me to stroke off one of my main goals in life: to become a yoga teacher, to share my passion not only for the physical aspect that yoga brings but more importantly for the spiritual wisdom it ever so softly touches me with.

Why Pranalife Yoga? That is simple: Asia Nelson embodies a glow about her, she can relate to her students, can laugh at herself and understands limitations. This makes her humble and a great person to learn from. Asia Nelson reminds me in many parts of Seane Corn, the first person to ever get me interested in yoga. Like Seane Corn, Asia has the magical ability to let each student feel like she is talking to them directly.

 Pranalife Yoga scholarships are awarded to those who express

  • need for financial support for the course,
  • a clear vision of why they're taking Pranalife Yoga training,
  • dedication to following through with full YTT Certification,
  • a desire to make an impact as Pranalife Certified Instructors in their communities and the lives of those around them. 

Get the inside scoop! Be the first to hear when our scholarships are announced by signing up for our newsletter:

Get info on Pranalife Yoga classes, trainings, events and retreats. Plus: EXCLUSIVE giveaways, scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training and FREE yoga classes.

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OrganicsLive.com recipe of the week: asparagus bok choy frittata

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil (coconut, olive, or sesame - whatever floats your flavour boat)
    3 scallions including green tops, sliced thin
    1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 small head bok choy (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
    3/4 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    9 eggs, beaten well
    1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparation:

Heat oven to 325°. In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick frying pan, heat cooking oil over moderate heat. Add scallions, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add bok choy and stir in until leaves wilt (about 2 minutes). Add asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are almost tender (about 3 minutes more).

Evenly distribute vegetables in pan and add eggs, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook frittata without stirring until edges start to set (about 2 minutes). Place frittata in the oven and bake until firm (about 25 minutes). Drizzle sesame oil over the top.

 

Pranalife's Profitable Promise

 Pranalife Yoga Founder Asia Nelson at SOS Villages d’Enfants in Mali in 2001

When I was 14, I smuggled medical supplies into Vietnam. It was the beginning of a life-long commitment to creating positive change in the world, one action at a time. 

In 2001, I hosted the television travel show My Global Adventure, which took me to 24 countries in eight months. I met people in a spectrum of social, political and economic situations beyond what I could've understood from inside the comfort of Canadian borders. I became even more committed to doing what I could to make life better for as many as possible in a viable, meaningful way.

When I founded Pranalife Yoga in 2006, I wanted to expand my definition of "profitable" beyond just making money; I wanted my business's success to extend to others. I committed to sending a portion of profits from my Yoga Teacher Training courses to a cause I could get behind. Having experience with respectable teams like Samaritan's Purse and Mercy Ships, I had specific requirements for the organization I'd support: 

  1. They had to be locally driven. Minimal to no imperialistic planting of foreigners with their own imposed agendas.
  2. Their work had to be sustainable within the community they'd impact.
  3. They had to be fiscally accountable, transparent and responsible.
  4.  If possible, they needed to do something related to education, as I believe it's the cornerstone of personal freedom.

I'm excited to announce that Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training is booming, and I've found an organization I can get behind: It's called Pencils of Promise. It's an innovative crew building schools and helping integrate education into local communities. Get a great summary of what they're about via their founder in the video at the bottom of this page.

Be The Change

Beginning with our upcoming summer module "Living Yoga", when you sign up for any Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training course (and you're welcome to take any and all of them, even if you're not planning on teaching), 5% of the fee goes directly to Pencils of Promise to send two kids to school for a year. Beginning in 2014, Pranalife Yoga will be fundraising to sponsor an entire classroom for a year, which includes funding for books, teachers, supplies and education. 

When each Pranalife course opens, we'll let our newsletter subscribers and followers on Twitter and Facebook in on a 5% early bird discount offer for a limited time. Many of our students opt to donate their 5% discount to Pencils of Promise as well, sending FOUR children to school for a year through our joint efforts. That's all kinds of awesome.

I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity to create real change, on our mats through our training courses and off our mats in the lives of kids who are about to discover the world of learning in a way they've never known before. Thank you in advance to every one of you about to become a part of this new Pranalife Yoga project!

Scholarships, New Courses, & Great Yoga - oh my! Our Latest Newsletter

 Get all of the latest information on teacher training courses, scholarships, new workshops, and our classes in our latest newsletter:

JUNE with Pranalife Yoga

 

OrganicsLive.com recipe of the week: kale and artichoke dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 3 ½ ounces kale 
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened (gently heat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Veganaise)
  • 6 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups shredded, four-cheese blend (Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice


Preparation:

Preheating oven to 400°F and lightly mist a small/medium-sized baking dish (about a quart size) with cooking spray.

Cut tops off garlic to expose clove. Drizzle with olive oild and wrap tightly in foil. Roast in oven for 40 minutes;

While garlic is roasting, place a medium-large pot of water over high heat. Once it comes to the boil, turn heat off and add kale. Immerse with tongs and allow kale to very blanch (about 30-45 seconds). Drain and immediately plunge it into an ice water bath to “shock” it for a few seconds. Drain kale well, squeezing out excess water, and pat dry with paper towel. Chop finely, removing tough “rib” pieces. Set aside.

Once garlic is roasted and soft, remove from foil and allow heads to cool. Squeeze garlic out of the cloves, and using a fork, mash cloves into a paste. Set aside and turn oven up to 450° F.

Mix softened cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise (Veganaise) in a medium-large bowl until blended smooth. Add chopped artichoke hearts, chopped kale and roasted garlic paste, along with ¼ cup of the shredded four-cheese blend. Mix. Add parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice, blending mixture thoroughly.

To bake, turn the mixture out into prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of shredded four-cheese blend on top and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the top is golden. Serve with your choice of chips.

OrganicsLive.com recipe of the week: avocado grapefruit salad

 Avocado & Grapefruit Salad

via 

Ingredients

    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup good olive oil
    4 ripe avocados
    2 large red grapefruit

Directions

Place mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl & whisk vigorously.

Cut avocados in half, remove the pit (hack a heavier knife into the pit to 'grab' it, and then pull out), and carefully scoop the avocado meat out of the shells. Cut each half into 4 thick slices. Toss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown.

Peel off the grapefruit (remove all the white pith) and cut into segments.

Arrange the avocado and grapefruit onto a plate. Spoon the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

OrganicsLive.com recipe of the week: zucchini, banana, and flaxseed muffins

 

Ingredients

• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (teff or rice flower work well)
• 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
• 1 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (from 1 large zucchini)
• 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (from 1 large banana)
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a standard 12-muffin tray with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add zucchini and banana and stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined (do not overmix).

3. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let muffins cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

Teacher Training & Workshops begin MAY 2013

 

 

 Turn the yoga practice you love into an opportunity to express your unique talents, build confidence in your abilities, and connect with others who share your passion. 

  

I will never forget YTT. It has contributed to massive changes in my life. I feel like you bridged this gap between my regular life to something beyond that.

~ Kimmi Luu, Pranalife YTT graduate

 

For all the people in the area who think you’re going to travel and it’s going to be a big deal, we have a treasure. We have a brilliant teacher here in Kitchener-Waterloo. You don’t need to go to Toronto. 

~ Carolynne Willis, Pranalife YTT Graduate

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Meet our Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship WINNERS!

 

WOW. 

We are so impressed with the applications that came in for our Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training Scholarship. Thank you to every single person who took the time to tell us your story and what yoga teacher training will mean for you. It was humbling and inspiring to hear how so many people came to love yoga, and now want to share that love of yoga with others. 

Our two winners for this training are Julie Stevenson and Sherryl Drury Tarnaske. Check out these summaries of their amazing stories, and how they plan to use their training to change the world:

 

Julie Stevenson

My father passed in February 2012 and my mother in December 2012. During this challenging period, I saw the lack of alternative therapies provided for those with chronic illness and chronic pain. How can a body heal or be well if it’s not moving?

Being in these environments day after day for hours on end reminded me of how yoga created this connection for me. Through the mind/body connection, it provides a chance to heal the body, make one more aware of how you use your body and most importantly - to listen to your body.

It is my hope that ... I can help people with chronic pain and chronic illness live healthier and more comfortable lives.

 

 

 

Sherryl Drury Tarnaske

My seven year old son, Owen, is a high functioning autistic child who sees and interacts with the world differently. He is challenged by things "average" people like us take for granted. To support his development we've started complimenting our Judo practice with yoga.

I have been keeping an eye out for a way to get my teacher training. I'd like to get more involved with the community and help other kids like my son.

 

 

 

 

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Asia's Ashtanga Flow Classes @ Moksha Yoga Waterloo

Infuse your Ashtanga practice with extra energy!

 

Come to Waterloo's most beautiful yoga studio to infuse your practice  with heat, laughter, and challenge. Each week we move through Ashtanga-inspired creative classes, integrating flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, and strength in a rejuvenating total mind-body workout.

When: Fridays 4:30-6:00pm

Where: Moksha Yoga Waterloo (Map)

Sign in for this week's classes right now! (available a few days before each class)

 

Just Get Started, Right Now, Right Where You Are

It was -25 C for those entire ten days in January, 2003. A few months earlier I'd started studying with this fabulous yoga teacher,  Jennifer Steed, when she said to me, "You should do my teacher training. I think you'd love it." I thought, Me? A yoga teacher? I'm not sure I'm ready for that. But there I was, mid-January in the freezing Calgary cold, walking into a house and an experience that would alter the course of my life.

It was in my teacher training that I learned the Ashtanga sequence. Yup, that's right: I hadn't studied Ashtanga before my training, though I had done many of the postures. It was in teacher training where I realized that yoga was a brilliant guiding philosophy and life art. It was in teacher training where I met an amazing community of yogis who would become lifelong friends and mentors, where I had realizations about myself and my practice that still resonate with me today, where I discovered pure joy in my practice for the first time, where I caught a glimpse of a future that looked meaningful, fun and fulfilling, and where I came to understand something fundamental to every success I've had since: 

Jump when your heart says 'yes' even if you don't feel ready.

We rarely feel ready for big change. We're not wired that way. Our instincts help us survive, not thrive; risk freaks us out. But risk and change are what make us evolve. I'm willing to bet that many of the best things you've experienced in your life involved at least a little risk, a little faith, and a small step outside of your comfort zone.

Today I have a full-time, thriving yoga business I love. Every morning I spend 10 minutes in metta meditation, sending good vibes to the amazing people in my life and expressing my gratitude for being able to live my passion. Out of thousands of hours of teaching, my favourite piece of my passion is having created Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training. I've seen many Pranalife YTT grads go on to have great careers as teachers and change the course of their lives for the better. Nothing has been more rewarding than seeing the impact that the Pranalife YTT has had on so many people.

If you've been thinking about doing our training, I'm here to encourage you. Does it feel like too much to spend? I know that feeling. But you know what? You're worth the investment. Not sure you have the time? I know you can make time for the things that matter to you. Not sure you want to teach? Neither was I at first. There's no pressure to become a teacher when you're done, but there's no option to become one if you don't start.

Just get started, right now, where you are.

Namaste, and see you on the mat,

Asia
Pranalife Yoga Director & Teacher Training Creator

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Do You Fear More Than You Trust?

 

Asteya is yoga's principle of "not stealing". This isn't just swiping cash from a found wallet: Asteya addresses a deep fear you might hold that tells you that who you are is not enough. When you look at the world as something you have to take from rather than something you can give to, you're living without the benefits of asteya

Practicing asteya means giving up the belief that you have to steal (time, attention, energy, ideas, friends, respect, reputation, trust, etc.) to survive. You don't. Even when times are tough, you have what you need; you just need to trust yourself

"But you don't understand how [poor, hurt, vulnerable, desperate, inexperienced, insert fear here] I am!" Yes, I do. My life is mostly excellent these days, but it hasn't always been rosy. For years before I had the brilliant system of yoga to help me tap into my own strengths, I struggled with depression and a sense that my life was going nowhere. Pranalife Yoga has grown to be a vibrant business, but when I started it in 2006 I was making less than $500/mo, living in a friend's basement and surviving on oatmeal and miso soup while I learned the hard way what being an entrepreneur really meant. I've made mistakes. I've felt deep fear and insecurity. I've felt like I didn't have it in me, and I've certainly felt insistent about my 'need' to take, rather than confident in my ability to give.

When you're tempted to be smaller or justify an action you know isn't based in love, you're fearing the circumstance of the moment rather than trusting who you can be at any time. Can you, when it's hardest to do so, find a way to give instead?

Who are you when you are afraid? Who could you be if you weren't? 

Asteya is a way to access the deep, rich resources that do reside within you. Pay attention to moments where you feel afraid, insecure, or doubtful. Ask yourself, "Do I feel a lack in me that I want to take from the world to fill? Can I find a lack in the world that I can give from myself to fill instead?"

The world needs the bigger, greater version of YOU, not a smaller, lesser rip-off.

Trust yourself and see how you can share your talents with the rest of us. 

 

 

 

Get info on Pranalife Yoga classes, trainings, events and retreats. Plus: EXCLUSIVE giveaways, scholarhips for Yoga Teacher Training and FREE yoga classes.

We love to spoil our subscribers (can you tell?) 

 

Sign up - it's easy (and awesome)

The #1 way to get further in your yoga practice (and your life)

 

Are you ready to take your yoga practice to a whole new level?

Do you want to learn how to clear your mind, stop suffering, and feel empowered in your life?

Would you love to connect to your deepest purpose and live at your full potential? 

If you're curious, then you're ready:  

It’s time.

 

If you want to connect what you practice on your yoga mat to how you live your life off of it, you have to understand the simple but profound principles of the yoga practice. Pranalife Yoga Intensives and Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) teach you how to use yoga to live well, whether you want to teach or not.

It’s not important whether you can do full lotus; it’s important that you want to feel more powerful physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. This training is about becoming more physically fit, no question. It's also about becoming fit for life and, if you choose, fit to teach.

Living yoga takes training and mentorship to do right. Very few people take the opportunity to get that right foundation, but those who do are transformed. What you gain with Pranalife Yoga you'll have forever.

Pranalife Intensives and YTT will deepen your personal practice exponentially, and if you choose to teach you’ll be well-equipped and confident to build a vibrant, abundant career. As the lead instructor for Pranalife’s teacher training modules I know the value they hold as some of the most well-designed and wickedly fun courses available. 

Take the first step - Go to our Yoga Teacher Training link to get more information about our upcoming modules. 

Every adventure takes an initial leap of faith. Jump when your heart says 'yes' - it's the only way to fly.

 

“If you want to master somethingteach it.” - Yogi Bhajan 

 

Do yoga to stay healthy and live longer. Really

There are always a number of factors that affect life expectancy, including social status, genetics, access to resources, and personal health choices. Still, check out these eyebrow-raising facts about the founding teachers of modern yoga:

 

Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (father of modern yoga):

  • Born 1888. Died 1989. Taught until his 101st year.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois (recognized father of Ashtanga Yoga):

  • Born 1915. Died 2009. Taught until his death at 93.

Belur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar (creator of Iyengar Yoga):

  • Born 1918. Still teaching, writing, travelling and inspiring great teachers at 95.

Indra Devi (Krishnamacharya's first female student, yoga teacher):

  • Born 1899. Died 2002. Taught late into her 103 years.

TKV Desikachar (son and student of Krishnamacharya):

  • Born 1938. Still teaching around the world at 75.

 

Average current life expectancy in India, according to the World Health Organization's 2013 data:

  • 66 years.

Average life expectancy in India in the mid 1950s:

  • 32 years.
  • In 1950, Krishnamacharya was 62, Jois 35, Iyengar 32, and Devi 51.

Average life span of yoga's founding teachers:

  • 93 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sri K Pattabhi Jois at 91 years old. 

 

About Pranalife Yoga

 

Prana [Sanskrit]: "life force," yoga's version of chi. The powerful, subtle energy that brings us all to life.

Pranalife Yoga was started in 2006 by Advanced Yoga Instructor Asia Nelson and has become one of Kitchener-Waterloo's best sources for yoga and yoga teacher training. Pranalife is for people who want to do more than go through the motions of life. We engage in living yoga - moving bodies, minds, and energy so you become fit to create the life you've always wanted.

Read more ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Well

Spend five minutes every morning sending good vibes to others.

Live so you can look yourself in the eye for a full minute without feeling anything negative.

It IS hard work: don’t let that stop you. Become fit for it so it’s less hard and more enjoyable.

Let the quality of your experience be the measure of your success. 

Look outside yourself for information, not answers. When you find something called ‘an answer’ it’s simply the experience of another.

Trust that who you are is greater than you may currently see; this is faith.

Stay focused on your goals and vision, even in the dark times; this is hope.

Work at feeling alive and engaged; this is love.

Trust. Have faith. Have hope. Live in love. It doesn’t have to look like anything that can be graded.

Guest blog: Observing without opinion, by Holly Lotz

 “If one knows what the particular disease is there is the possibility of curing it. To know the particular limitation, bondage or hindrance of the mind, and to understand it, one must not condemn it, one must not say it is right or wrong. One must observe it without having an opinion, a prejudice about it--which is extraordinarily difficult, because we are brought up to condemn.

-J. Krishnamurti

 

First, this is amazing because it gives me faith that I can cure my Crohn’s Disease, contrary to what modern medicine believes. I know, or believe, that the active state of my CD is influenced, if not directly affected by stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise. I don’t know if I can completely ward off flare ups by controlling the above; I do believe I can have an affect on the severity though, which is why I began my ‘62 Days of Summer’ challenge, to develop a lifestyle that is balanced and sustainable for the long haul.

 

Interesting twist though; here I am being told that in order to cure, one must observe without judgement. I have not mastered this aspect, of being non-judgmental to my own body, especially when it is sick and letting me down and taking me further and further away from where I think I need to be to reach my goals. Basically J. Krishnamurti is telling me that I can not hate my intestines when they are on fire inside of me if I want them to heal. It makes sense though, how can I expect my intestines to heal and stay healthy when surrounded by hate. Observe without opinion.

 

This can be transferred in to any and all aspects of life. Observe what your stomach is telling you while eating without opinion. Observe what your body is telling you during your yoga practice without opinion. Observe what you mind is telling you while in that fight over who is right or wrong...without opinion...let go of the ego.

 

“The ego asks a thousand questions for which there are no answers.”

-A Course in Miracles

 

Try it with me this week :)

Sadie Nardini's Root Chakra Flow

It’s impossible to explain in words how amazing Sadie’s workshop in Keswick this weekend was. I can’t even attempt to summarize everything I’ve drawn from the two hours with her, but I will share a couple things that really stuck with me. 


She spoke about the first three chakras and how one of the main demises of these centers is fear. We talked about the fear of diving head first into your passions and what you really want in life in because you’re scared of failure and (in turn feeling pain), having to do the extra work involved and that of adjusting to new situations etc. But she then laid it out in a big picture sort of perspective for us: what “pain” is really worse? The pain of making yourself vulnerable, or the [chronic] pain you constantly hold with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week because you are essentially always tied down in chains?

Think about it.

Physically, I got a few fundamental lessons from Sadie’s core programs. She taught us that solid core strength stems from proper pelvic alignment – the pelvis should never be tilting forwards or backwards for a solid, stable middle. You can apply this rule to almost every pose as well as use it to your advantage for arm balancing - Sadie got me into a solid straight armed crow for the first time! Here’s how:

DO NOT

Start crow with bent arms. Your center of gravity is too low to begin with and your weight is already too far forward. It is much more difficult to raise yourself to straight arms in this sitch!

DO

Lift straight up from your core balancing on your toes, low belly draws to the back of your spine. Your energy is drawing straight up so your center of grav
ity is already where it needs to be. Simple set your elbows into your arm pits, shifting your weight only slightly forward. And always remember to look forward in front of you and not to the ground to avoid a spill on your face (I learned this the hard way).


Crow pose is the foundation for all arm balances. Get your crow down and all of the other fancy stuff will follow in a flow.

Namaste!
Kimmi

 

Why I Live Yoga (instead of just practicing it)

Yoga is, at its core, a deep-seated trust in one's self.  ~ BKS Iyengar, yogi and guru

Yoga is more than moving, breathing, stretching or relaxing. It's a tao, a way to stop suffering and be free. I have found this to be both true and more valuable than I could have understood when I began my practice 14 years ago.   

Before developing a complete yoga practice, I dramatized my life, living in all kinds of self-created stories. Before knowing the true power of yoga I often felt lost, angry, frightened, defensive and powerless. I roamed restlessly through my life unsatisfied, nursing old wounds and replaying older habits. I didn't know who I really was. Before I found yoga I was, in short, suffering.

But through yoga I began to create space for myself. In that space came a calm, centered sense of confidence. By finding balance between the forces of life I'm now able to access the power of all of them without being powerless to any.

Want to take your own yoga practice further? Sign up for our next Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training.

You Are Invincible [Asia's latest Elephant Journal article]

 

"Recognizing that we can handle what life throws at us with grace and strength means we can approach life with the intention to love more, harm less, let go, hang on and learn. That’s powerful. When we understand our invincibility, we cease to react; instead, we simply choose."

Read the full piece on Elephant Journal -

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/invincible--asia-nelson/

You never know when a Seane Corn is in your class

One of the toughest things about being a yoga instructor is that yoga is such an intensely personal process, it's difficult to know whether your students are tuning out or going through major shifts inside. Experienced teachers can read some of the signs - tightening or softening in the jaw, quality of the breath - but unless the student is willing to share what's happening, it's a bit like teaching to a room full of black boxes. A teacher can come to wonder whether their classes are really making a difference.

For years after I started practicing yoga I doubt I gave any indication that anything my instructors taught was landing. My body was tight and my sarcasm was sharp. I was driven to accomplish something physical in class without understanding that it was my mind and heart that needed to be worked on as much as my hamstrings and core. Yet there were moments where I would break open, get it, be inspired, change. In the midst of looking like I wasn't getting it at all in those classes, I was.

At this point in my teaching career I've learned to assume that, as Morpheus says to Neo in The Matrix, "Some of these people are not ready to be unplugged," but I know from my own experience that some are ready for what they can become through yoga, even if it doesn't seem so from the outside. Before every class I teach now, I take a breath and remember how grateful I am for those classes, those instructors, those moments where I came onto my mat a human mess and had the opportunity to experience the deep transformation that yoga brings. My dharma is effortless when I start from that place, because I know that someone about to devote an hour of their time to this practice could be on the cusp of a change that will forever alter their course, heal their wounds, open their eyes, or give them a sense of true peace and stillness. It is my passion and greatest reward to create moments of opportunity for people to be transformed through this practice.

Below is a video that expands on some of these thoughts, from Seane Corn, who is one of my favourite teachers and someone who has walked this path and guided me along it in the process. Enjoy and Namaste.

 

 

New York, Old Challenges

Just got back from a week in New York. Here’s a taste of how it went:

Building on Bond

Went to a taping of Iron Chef America (cheers to the most delicious item in that kitchen, whose name rhymes with Heaven Crush, for getting us in, and for being an integral part of why the week was so good); ate some amazing food (so many places, but two words direct from Bob Blumer: Vai Spuntino. Go, and thank me later); spent coveted time with one of my longest-running soul mates and met a handful of new people I plan to love for a lifetime; enjoyed the heat of a Central Park meander in July; explored Brooklyn for the first time (if you love funky design go to Building on Bond, and thank me later), drank some smashingly good cocktails night after eventful night, my fav being a little ditty called Absinthe Minded (if you’re a cocktail connoisseur, hit Employees Only, and thank me later); and indulged in a handful of other pleasures that make NYC one of my favourite places on the planet. Oh, and then I ate a whole lot more food.

Before someone asks, yes I went to Eataly. I wanted to shoot myself in the eye. What a gong show. We got there at 7:17pm. We got the text telling us space was opening up and we could come on in at 10:04pm, at which point we’d already contentedly diverted to Otto Enoteca. I’m sure the new beer garden is amazing; I will enjoy it when it’s not so high on the NY Hot List.

So what of this vegan+yoga challenge you may ask? The yoga is easy, especially because I had my own apartment in Brooklyn with plenty of space for some salutations and warriors, but I won’t lie: I had a tad more than one cheat meal a day while on this trip. I did scope out some very good vegan/vegan-friendly joints - Sacred Chow being a fave - but more than once during the week I dove gleefully off the wagon and into steak tartar or Alaskan crab or ribs from Spice Market. Oh my, those ribs …

New York street

For me, going to New York and avoiding meat is like going to an art gallery and purposely averting my eyes from the Picassos. But also great food makes me very happy to be alive, and I need some of that these days. It has not been an easy year, which might be the understatement of the year, and NYC was a delicious reprieve from which I did not want to return. In fact, at JFK on my way home it took an invite to the Sky Lounge for a few drinks from a charming man named Scott to keep me from flat-out sulking. This year has been full of ‘taking my lumps’ and I wanted to taste la dolce vida instead in all its forms, even if just for a week.

That being said, after a few days I did find myself voluntarily wanting to get back to my vegan options. I do actually want to make the personal revolutions in my life that this site is about. It’s important, even more important than New York beef it seems. If you know me, you know that’s a pretty big deal for me to say.

So now I’m home and reality is once again setting in with a thud. Yet I am more contented than ever to chose a grapefruit over a cupcake. Let the revolution continue …

What I learned from going vegan for 30 days

Going vegan this month has been a refresher course in essentials. What can be pared away to get back to the very basics - of food, and of us? Eggs Florentine is a delicious development in flavours; simply enjoying steamed kale with a dash of salt reminded my taste buds what each of those two flavours were and what they were together. In the same vein, my life at 34 is a combination of sweet and bitter, well-cooked and raw. With so much of it stripped bare now on my plate and in my life, what have I tasted of each day’s essentials?

As always human, I had forgotten as of late the value of those simple experiences, the basic tastes of life. I was upset that my bread lacked butter, that my meat was not cooked just so as I like. I looked for a cook to blame. I felt sorry for myself when my wine ran dry.

As always human, I then began to remember the delicious simplicity of flavour, what can be tasted directly from its source like a berry freshly plucked on a summer’s walk. I have this year been struck with reminders that winter is always on its way. When I heard it I went silent. I appreciated. I recalibrated.

Fruits change in flavour depending on what stage of development they’re in. If they’re plucked too early, they’ll be sour; too late and they’ll have lost their flavour’s power. Still-sour, I rest in the sun now and wonder: will I ripen or rot? Do I die, or do I dare?

The value of going vegan

When asked by the myriad people who seem confounded that I would go vegan why I would make such a choice, I finally articulated my best, truest response this weekend:

Going vegan is like drilling deep and narrow instead of grazing shallow and broad. I focus on certain foods and I get creative learning how to enjoy them. Honing in on the healthiest segment of my diet helps me easily emphasize it when I’m back to eating an array of food.

Gutsy Yoga Challenge: I'm the one I've been waiting for

Day 3: I can officially blog with a clear conscience now that I’ve done my run + workout + yoga (originally planned for 7:10am but snoozed through). All felt awesome, I’m happy to report, but even better is what followed - 

I did a brief seated meditation after yoga, and about halfway through I had a subtle, profound experience. I felt a connection to what meditators call my ‘third eye’. My mind instantly went quiet.

Meditation is a weird and often wandering path to insight, but I’ll give it this: It works.

So what did connecting to my third eye feel like? At first it resembled looking into the face of God. I felt myself seeking assurance that I would not be given up on, that I was worth the time and effort my enlightenment seems to be taking. Then it seemed to be the face of a ‘Divine Coach’, and I felt myself wanting confirmation that I have what it takes to make the team.

Then, as I stayed focused on my breath, observing, present, it ceased to matter whether I had Divine approval - from a God or a Coach of any sort. If I know I won’t give up on me, and if I trust I have what it takes to live the life I’m imagining, that’s all I’ll need.

“We Are the One’s We’ve Been Waiting For”

A Hopi Elder Speaks

“Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

— attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder

Hopi Nation
Oraibi, Arizona

Meditation Utilizes Neuroplasticity to Our Great Advantage

For the last three days, I have been viciously eating this book alive. 

In summary, it is a fascinating concoction of stories, experiments, and case studies that prove NEUROPLASTICITY: the theory that the human brain can change it's physical structure from not only incoming stimuli from the environment, but also from IMMATERIAL thoughts and imagination. Stroke patients can be cured, people born with half a brain can be fully function, and an elderly person can have a memory just as intact as a twenty-five year old. It's true. We can exercise our brain just as well as we exercise our muscles. And the hypertrophy is all about more neural networks.

From a meditator's standpoint - this is GREAT NEWS;
Here I present to you the many benefits of meditation based on the fact that our brains are as flexible as play-doh:

  • For the general population } Improved attention, senses, and ability to feel compassion. This article sent to me by Pranafriend Kristina Lekin - {This is your Brain on... Meditation} - goes indepth on how this works.
  • For the chronically stressed } Meditation lowers levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It also decreases activity in the amyglada, an area of the brain responsible for stress and anxiety.
  • For those experiencing chronic pain } Pain is felt not at the site of defect, but in the brain. In some odd cases, pain is not an accurate representation of the damage in your body; you could be feeling pain long after the damage site has healed. This type of pain can be treated with cognitive therapy - in summary, simply imagining movement of the damaged part with utmost strength can cure chronic pain. No pain killers and liver damage needed. Just meditation!

He knew about yogis who relieved suffering with meditation and walked barefoot across coals or lay down on nails. He saw religious people putting needles through their chins.

[...]

He has transposed a sense of wonder from the streets of India to Western neurology,

[...]

What is a trance but a closing down of the gates of pain within us?

~ The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, Page 195

  • For injured athletes } A study was done with two groups who trained a finger muscle for 4 weeks. Group A did actual physical training while group B simply visualized doing the training. Group A ended up gaining 30% muscular strength, while group B was not far behind with a 22% gain! Stronger motor neurons attributed to this impressive gain - therefore you do not need to be a hulky monster to be strong! This is fantastic information for injured athletes. They can still train almost just as well without even moving a muscle
  • For those practicing virtually any skill } Playing the piano, writing with your non dominant hand, doing a front tuck... all of these things can be practiced by pure meditation and visualization. A similar study as the one above was done with piano players. The two groups (A - physical practice, B - mental practice) ended up being able to play a piece on the piano with equal accuracy. This means that if a professional piano player were to do 50/50 physical and mental rehearsal, they would be much less likely to develop a common wrist injury. This can be said able almost any skill that requires repetitive movement (and therefore puts one at risk of a repetitive strain injury).
     
  • For the aging } Our brains have a "use it or lose it" policy. As long as we are using that area of the brain, it will not degrade. Meditation will exercise many areas of the brain and therefore maintains its strength. This puts elderly at less of a risk for developing alzheimers and dementia.

The widespread applications in therapy, training, gaining better peace of mind, and becoming an overall better person as a whole are limitless and I have only touched on a few. I highly recommend this read to get the bigger picture. How mighty our brain can be! Give it as much love as you are willing to give your body as they are very much one in the same. Meditate your way to a healthy whole!

Kim

Feet: Your Foundation

Why do yoga teachers constantly tell us to spread our toes apart and lift our arches ("Pada Bandha")? How is one even supposed to do this? And what is the point? When I first practiced yoga I had no clue why we had to pay such close attention to our feet and because of this and the fact that I had no idea how on earth I was supposed to will my toes to come apart, I brushed this instruction aside and went on. 

One random day while I was sitting in bed, I stared at my toes and had a sudden eager goal to try and will them to come apart. (Yes it was a slow day for me) Unsuccessful but determined, I began a mission to undo the atrophy of my toe abductors. Since most of us rarely need to spread our toes apart in everyday life, these little muscles of ours have shrunk and become inactive. Also, the main principle of neuroplasticity: "neurons that fire together wire together" is the reason why it's so hard to move one toe individually. We usually move our toes in unison for everyday function and because of this our neural paths governing toe movement has melded into a few paths instead of ten individual paths for each toe; they have "wired" together. But also because of neuroplasticity, we can train our brains to separate these pathways once again and learn to control our little toesies as freely we do our hands! 

HOW

  • Manually massage and wiggle your toes and feet with your fingers to warm up
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes apart by placing them in between each one - this shows your unfamiliar brain what it feels like. You can also use toe separators.
  • In a low squat lift your heels off the ground and hold for a nice toe stretch
  • Have a seat, extend your legs out in front of you and look at your toes. Look at each toe one at a time and attempt to abduct it. (Think Uma Thurman in Kill Bill - "Wiggle your big toe") You'll have to be patient - this will take a while to achieve. You can also do this while watching TV, on the computer, reading, etc - this will make the patience come much easier.  
  • Finally, during yoga practice while you are standing in mountain pose, lift your toes and try to will your toes to spread apart. Set them on the ground for a greater foundation.

WHY

Alignment principle #4 in my YTT notes - Root to Rise:
Your FEET, ie. your foundation attributes greatly the success of standing balancing postures. In order to experience the grand feeling of RISING in strength and balance, for example, in dancer's pose, you first must firm your ROOTS. With "awakened" toes, they become smarter in detecting the subtle weight shifts in your body, thereby better abling to communicate to your brain and body in how to become more stable. Better communication also means less ankle sprains, and less tripping over your feet (for you clumsy ones).  

Better Postural Structure:
Spreading your toes also naturally lifts the arches of your feet. This lifts the ankle, which supports upwards to the knee, pelvis, spine, neck, and head. In a sentence, this simple action of spreading your toes apart can immediately rid of many postural misalignment.

So keep this it in mind! If there's one balancing posture that you've felt like you've worked on forever but just can't get, try spreading your toes! I guarantee it will help you out a ton - Half moon was impossible for me before I tried it with pada bandha

Kimmi 

Posture, posture, posture! Nit Picking Tadasana

Amber is my massage therapist from {Dharma Studios}. She is also a yoga instructor specializing in restorative classes and traditional healing. I have been seeing her quite often lately and as a result she has come to know my body quite well. She was also able to identify many things that were "off" with my body after a few sessions - muscular imbalances, postural problems, and tendencies that I probably would want to rid of ASAP. 

For starters, my left shoulder in always in slight medial rotation (turned forward and in) due to 21 years of sleeping on my left side. Both of my shoulders are too depressed (low) because of my silly fear of having scunched up shoulders. My lumbar spine in overly lordodic (low back is too curved) because Stu McGill has scared me probably way more than necessary to ever flex my spine and I do a lot of the opposite. 

It was a huge kick in the butt to realize that my posture, that I thought was seamless... kind of sucked. So, how did she propose I fix this?

Mountain Pose.
Aka "Tadasana"


You might recogize this pose as the "beginning posture" to set up proper alignment. Although most think that this is a relatively inactive posture of where we are simply standing, let me tell you that it is NOT! {Tadasana's asana column} via Yoga Journal explains the many crazy things that are actually going on in this pose - though you may not be able to see it from the outside, your motor neurons should be having a party on the inside.

However, these are just general guidelines. If you want to define your PERFECT mountain pose, you must first identify your postural imbalances. A chiropractor, physiotherapist, kinesiologist, massage therapist, or yoga instructor can more than likely assess you.

Once you do so, stand in front of a mirror, and use this reference to align yourself properly with your new found knowledge from a specialist. Keep in mind that when you first do this, it will feel very, very awkward because your brain has been telling you this whole time that your asymmetrical posture was in fact symmetrical. (inaccurate proprioception) But by using this mirror reference and consciously aligning yourself up properly, you can now teach your body where it actually is in space, and what symmetrical actually feels like. Do this for at least a minute several times a day and of course integrate into your yoga practice!

I think that it is so important to be nit picky about a thing like posture because it is literally how your hold your body for almost 2/3rds of your life. So be mindful, and instead of being so gung ho on hitting tittibhasana, step back, and work on getting your tadasana pristine.

Sincerely,
Kim 

Transfer and a Billionaire's Secret to Productivity

"Running an ultramarathon can't be good for you. I can't imagine how it's possibly good for your body," I said. 

Brian Mackenzie laughed: Good for you physically? No. But you'll recover. And I assure you: if you run 50K or 100 miles, when you finish, you won't be the same person who started."

~ Timothy Ferriss

The closing chapter of {The Four Hour Body} resonated with me incredibly well, as I was once again reassured completely as to why I am so in love with Tim. 

This year my best friend and I have been discussing a lot on physical activity and sports, and the difference between participating for the sake of doing your body good, and (not purposefully but) the opposite - "destructive leisure." For example, climbing Everest. Running an ultramarathon. Choosing "play" instead of "rest" when you've got a football game in 3 hours and achilles tendonitis. Why on earth would someone want to put themselves through that? The endless days of grueling, physical and pyschological stress and pain? Well, I can tell you that it's not to get a "good work out." 

As much as I choose most of the time to prioritize the health of my body above all things, I feel that sometimes it is appropriate to push your body's limits a bit in order to acquire some other valuable gems. 

People climb everest to become fearless. To gain undying ambition. To find a reason to say, "well shucks. I guess I can do anything now." 

And it is a life changing thing.

---

When I worked at the Running Room, there was a point where I was injured and was unable to run with my usual group. So I decided to walk instead with a crew there called "Minds in Motion" - a group of several mentally handicapped adults who'd walk their way through a route to Kitchener and back twice a week. As I was walking, I was talking to an autistic fellow named Ben. When I praised him for having perfect attendance for these walk sessions, he told me, "I don't have a choice. It keeps the cob webbs clear from my skull." And I just thought: "Me too, Ben... me too...." 

The 4HB begins by talking about a group of business men gathered to listen to Richard Bransen, founder of a billion dollar empire called Virgin Group, speak about his number one secret to productivity. He had two words to say:

Work out. 

Richard claimed that working out every morning gained him 4 extra hours of productivity a day. Tim Ferriss deems it the term Transfer. Sports and physical activity will give you life skills you won't even know until you do it - until you choose an active (versus a sedentary) lifestyle. And everyday you WILL be more and more amazed at what you can do. This I promise you.

xo Kim

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

The Challenge

I can think of a million and one reasons not to do this challenge.  Shall we start a list?

  1. As a Celiac with intolerance for all dairy products, there are already a ton of foods I can’t eat. 
  2. I shouldn’t add meat to the list.
  3. I’m tired.
  4. I have unsolved health issues that cause a great deal of pain daily.
  5. I haven’t practiced yoga in over a year with the exception of less than 10 visits to my mat.
  6. It’s going to be too hard.
  7. I am planning a wedding for the end of August and quite frankly don’t have time.
  8. I’m not a yoga teacher (I’m convinced they have superpowers when it comes to will power, strength and determination).

The list can go on and on.  But when I sit down and face all the reasons I think I shouldn’t do this challenge, it all comes down to one reason.  I’m scared I will fail. 

I don’t know when in my life I decided that anything less than perfection was a bad thing.  But I’ve realized that more often than not, we as people decide to skip out on things that we think we won’t be good at.

I got to thinking about all the reasons I should do this challenge and realized that the benefits far outweigh my fears.  Sure it will be tough and I’m sure I won’t be perfect.  I miss yoga. I need to correct my terrible posture.  I need to strengthen my instable joints.  I need to re-learn how to quiet all those chattering monkeys in my head and  find some inner peace in the crazy blur that I call my life.  

So it may be a few days late- but I’m on board with this challenge.  Tonight I pulled together the WORST vegan dinner imaginable and decided that the first thing I need to do tomorrow is buy a cookbook and some groceries.  But for tonight I will be happy with setting some reasonable and imperfect goals.

  1. Yoga – one class each week plus 2 independent practices.
  2. Vegan diet – I would love to say that I will eat entirely vegan for a month, but I won’t. I come from a very meat and potatoes family. I’m going to give myself 3 cheat meals a week.
  3. Exercise – I really need some cardio in my life. I’m going to run/swim/bike or rollarblade 3 times a week.
  4. I’m going to do everything in my power to find ways to deal with my pain – details to come as I figure it out!
  5. I drink at least 7 cups of tea a day. I’m going to start with cutting down to one tea a day – we’ll see if decaf is an option next week!

The Blog

I took engineering.  I like equations and numbers.  I don’t write.  And I NEVER write anything personal – especially if other people may read it.  Asia asked me to blog about my experience.  In writing my response to her, I wrote “Thanks Asia, but I’m not really comfortable writing on a public forum”.  But before I hit send, I decided that it’s one more thing I should face…..maybe it will help me stick to the plan!  Bear with me as I learn the ways of yoga, vegan lifestyle and blogging!

I’m excited to start this journey and would love to hear from anyone else that is trying to put an end to all his or her excuses!

Forward Folding and Dating Stu McGill

Oh Stuart McGill,  the most intelligent man who has ever bought me lunch... how do I get more of your time? Some say he is quite a cocky fellow, and sometimes maybe a bit inappropriate with his jokes, but if you asked me I'd say he is for good reason (About the cockiness, not the jokes). A fire drill went off in one of our buildings on campus during class and as groups of us were lingering outside, waiting for the okay to go back inside. It was then, and to my great excitement, where I spotted Stu's oh so respectable mustache. Before smacking myself in the head because I had taken a grand total of five minutes to make myself presentable to the public world that morning, I hunted him down for the kill - and was successful! Although I had to wait half a school term, I lured him to go on a date with me. Ah yes. I was pretty happy with myself that day.

If you don't know Stu, he is a professor at the University of Waterloo who specializes in {spine biomechanics research}. He has also been a trainer for UFC fighters (GSP anyone?), various Olympic athletes, and apparently at one point, the second fastest woman alive. He's worked with the most elite of the elite. Sometimes I dream about being stranded on an island with him with a notebook and pen so he has nothing else available to him but to feed me his brains. Unfortunately this situation didn't occur, but I am here to tell you about my (awesome) hour and a half with him at Tim Horton's.

My primary intent was to have him pin point specific yoga postures and their relative safety level to our often overlooked, low backs. Now for starters, let it be known that the full Ashtanga primary series has us forward fold in 24 different postures (this is NOT including Surya A and B). When we hunch forward at our backs, this is called spinal flexion. Repetitive spinal flexion, especially under tension from external loads, can lead to extreme low back pain, and if it gets bad enough - a disk bulge.  

Now spinal flexion in moderation is not a problem. However, Stu had me look around at everyone's postures inside Timmie's that rainy afternoon. Flexed spines, everywhere. Not one person had even a reasonably-okay posture. This might have not been a problem for Vamana Rishi centuries ago, however, NOWadays, where our 9 - 5's and horrible chairs do crap-all for our backs, and where low back pain is experienced by most of the population by the time we reach 50, flexing our spines even more than we do already at yoga class is probably not in our best interest. So how do we get around this? Its very simple. But this is when you'll have to disobey most of your traditional Ashtanga yoga teachers.

Rules:

---
                                                     
Standing Forward Folds:








NO!  >>> YES!
 

 

 

 



SAD BACK >>> HAPPY BACK

Bend your knees and lay your belly onto your thighs. Do not lose this contact. Work on straightening out your legs on your exhales for your hamstring stretch - fix.

Seated forward folds:

 

 

 

                         

BAD! + lack of uddiyana bandha... >>> GOOD >>> GOOD

 

 

 


NO >>> YES!!

Draw your belly towards your spine and roll your shoulders back. Keeping your heart shining forward, your belly button leads and attempts to touch the floor in front of you. Don't worry if you feel like you can't move forward at all. Remember: We don't care if you can touch your toes!

---


Following these rules will keep your core stable and back protected. Easy enough, right?

Best of luck!
Kim

P.S. Great postures to release low back tension: cat-cow, spinal twists, crescent moon, supta baddha konasana with block or boulster (droool).  

Letting Go

"Try to do everything in the world with a mind that lets go. If you let go a little you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end."

-Achaan Chah

 

With the encouragement of my yoga instructor this morning, my practice followed a meditation on letting go. With each inhale I breathed energy in to my body, and with each exhale I let go; let go of thought, let go of the difficulty of sustaining the asana, let go of worry. Today, after a couple of weeks of one disappointment following the next, I finally feel at peace with the world around me, and within myself. Try it one day, when it feels like the world is against you...meditate on letting go in your practice and see how you feel after :)

much love 

xo

 

Day 9 and still loving it

I am continually surprised by this challenge.

Before starting the Thrive diet I rarely experienced that wonderful and apparently elusive feeling of fullness (the good kind) after eating.  Now it just happens all the time. 

I’m also eating a lot of food, more than I was before by a long shot, but I’m losing weight.  I’ve been concerned with my weight for a very long time so I’ve tried to eat “healthy” and exercise on a regular basis in an effort to lose those few extra pounds and bring myself to a more healthy weight.  Over the course of years though my weight has continued to increase little by little; once I was even working out five days a week and cut all my portions in half and saw no changes.  However, I’m only a week and a half into Thrive, eating way more food then I’m used to, and I’ve dropped 5lbs.  WHAT?! 

The idea is to eat lots of foods that are nutrient dense and easy for the body to digest.  That way your body doesn’t have to work so hard to extract nutrients.  You also end up eating a considerable amount of food so your body doesn’t go into starvation mode (like it might do when you cut your portion sizes back) and start storing food as fat.

That sounds great in theory but to have it happen, and in such a short time, is really cool.

Now, I said I was doing this on a budget but this first week has been slightly discouraging because I’ve spent over $200 on food. BUT like I said before, most of the things I am buying are bulk so they will last me a long time.  What I plan on doing then, to get a better idea of how big of a hole this is putting in my bank account, is to price out each meal and figure out what I’m spending per day and per week on food.  I have a feeling that it’s not going to be that much.  Considering the high nutritional quality of what I’m eating, I very okay with spending a little bit more than normal.  This is body I’m in for the next fifty-ish years, so I might as well treat it properly.  *I also plan on doing Triathlons when I’m 65+ so being healthy is a must*  J

Tomorrow is my “cheat day” and I’m heading to Toronto with some friends.  One of them works at Smoke’s Poutinerie so maybe I’ll go indulge myself with a little poutine.   I’ve made a few Thrive recipes in advance though because I’m staying there a few days and won’t have the things I need to follow the meal plan, but this little trip could prove to be challenging when it comes to sticking with my Gutsy Yoga Challenge goals.  I could always go to Fresh for a vegan meal as well; their food is sooooo good.

I guess that one of the things about being vegan is that it’s hard to do in public, outside of your home.  Veganism just doesn’t travel well.  I walked into a convenience store the other day and realized that there wasn’t a single thing, other than a bottle of water, that I could consume in the entire store.  When you go to most restaurants as well, it’s very unlikely that you will find a vegan friendly meal.  Okay maybe the salads, but who wants to eat salad every time they go out?!  Kudos to anyone out there who is 100% vegan all the time, but it must be a huge pain to go anywhere.  I’d love to know how you do it.

Cheers

Protecting Your Soul from Negative Energy

Many psychologists call them “energy vampires.” Oh yes, BEWARE. We have all at one point in our lives been surrounded by persons or people who are forever dissatisfied, painfully negative, love talking (for lack of a better word) utter crap about everyone and everything they know exist. Energy vampires not only leave you feeling irritated and mentally exhausted, but they can also make you physically ill – whether or not you believe the many existing “human thought has physical power” theories or simply through the stress they surround you with and subsequently its giant database of health related consequences. This may seem extreme; however I believe that these soul suckers should be treated as seriously or even more seriously as you would any physical ailment or virus. After all, your mind IS [a part of] your body.

I had a difficult time recently dealing with negative people to the point where I was constantly angry and getting 1-2 hours of sleep per night. When I knew enough was enough, I went to my teachers for advice, yoga for advice, and to psychologists for advice. I experimented with different possible solutions, attempting to pin point what was most effective - here’s what I ended up with:

1) IDENTIFY:The first thing you need to do is recognize one when you meet one. Do not get sucked into their black hole yourself – negative energy is dangerously contagious and can have you thinking or saying negative things that you otherwise would never. Regular yoga practice heightens your senses and will help you notice subtle energies in social environments – including negative ones.

2) EVADE:
As an advocate for upstream, preventative health care, I am all for evasion if possible. Act disinterested in being associated with them and eventually they will stop coming your way. I do not find this to be pretentious and you shouldn’t either – you should have the freedom to choose the people you want in your life. However, if the vampire is a coworker, family member or for another reason cannot be avoided… read on.

3) DISSOCIATE: The concept of dissociation in pyschotherapy is similar to Pure Awareness in yogic teaching. The idea is to allow a third person mentally come out of your body and watch the situation from that perspective - this immediately rids your mind of any emotion attachment and puts you above the situation rather than in it. Placing you back into power, you can confidently and clearly take the next step. 

4) CONFRONT: Tell the person upfront that their negative tendencies are mentally draining you. Confrontation can go either way, however even if they do fire back with loose cannons, confrontation is absolutely necessary. I have found that if you give it some time, allowing the person’s initial defensive reaction cool down, they will eventually be willing to reason with you.

5) REACT: You are not their pyschotherapist and it is not your duty to reverse their negative samskaras (engrained thought processes/ cycles). Instead of trying to change who they are, change how you yourself react to them. Do not feed their complains with further complaints, sympathies, or spiteful words. Instead, act disinterested and change the topic stat. Do not look them in the eyes when they speak. Eventually it will become boring to complain or gossip to you, and they will choose someone else to drain.

6) SPIRITUAL SHIELDS:
This helpful meditation consists of taking either a comfortable seated position with palms rested on your knees, facing up, or standing in mountain pose. Breathing ujjayi through your nose, focusing on every breath cycle while imagining a shield of light surrounding you. Afterwards, when you are going about your day, bring this shield with you and don't allow any negative energy one may bring cross it. Picture their words bouncing off of it and hum a pleasant tune (such as Monty Python ones - thanks Asia for this one) in your head while they go about their trivial rants.

So there you have it! Always remember that you are allowed to love life and live in its bright side - don't let anyone take that away from you.

Deepest love,
Kimmi

New York, New Challenge

There's no denying it: I've done more than one cheat meal each day while in New York - oh my LORD the food is so amazing -  and so will be adding another week onto my vegan challenge to make up for it. There you go, Holly, you won't be entirely on your own for August. ;)

I'm also going to remove the one day a week where I eat what I like b/c my daily cheat meal (which is still pretty healthy, just not strictly vegan) suffices to satisfy my concerns about getting the complete nutrients I need until I better understand how to do that as a vegan, and lets me stay 80-90% vegan through the process.

If there's one thing I'm learning when I stop eating in NYC and observe, it's that New Yorkers are good at getting to the point and getting what they want. I plan to be more New York from here on in, not just when making better vegan choices (I will name-drop Sacred Chow and One Lucky Duck here - go!) but making good choices, period. Whether it's veganism, getting that book written at last, deciding what my next five-year plan is, or just making my mind up about that guy - I'm at a point now where I just need to get doing the damn thing. There's a time to ponder and consider, and then there's just stalling. A lot of my life the past few months has been considering and healing, but it's been moving into stalling. Time to get'r done.

Speaking of which, this is my last whole day in NYC and I ain't spending it behind a computer. Lots of love to you all! Namaste.

week 2 off to a fine start

HELLO! 

My body is feeling wonderful today…most of my cells are smiling again, after a not so smiley last week for them :) lol. (sorry I didn't write this past week...at all....I wasn't feeling very inspired mentally or physically)

Possible Reason #1: I FINELY found my way back to one of my favourite yoga studios, I don’t know if it is the heat, or the atmosphere, or both, but I always feel right at home and immediately comfortable. Or maybe it is the fact that you start out in savasana! Definitely one of my favourite yoga postures. Today we were supposed to focus on breathing in and out of our belly, filling it with each inhale and using it to exhale fully. I have also been told in other classes to not belly breath but work on expanding your lungs….so if anyone has any comments on either of these techniques, I would love to hear it. 

Possible Reason #2: I just made a delicious mac and cheese!!! We have missed each other greatly for a long long time. Here is the link: 

http://epicureanvegan.com/2010/05/23/creamy-macaroni-and-cashew-cheese/

I am planning to bake it in the oven with gluten free bread crumbs and Daiya Cheese (my gluten, vegan, soy free cheese!) on top, just because I can haha, but I had to sneak a taste test because it looks so good right now…

Oh, I also made chickpea-free (allergy!) hummus using navy beans, so I am super excited to have ‘hummus’ again after 2+ years. Of course I made pizza ‘dough’ to bake later, and I am off to attempt my allergy free version of Peanut Butter (now almond butter) Chocolate Crunch Blizzard….ahh! I am sure it will be amazing.

http://ohsheglows.com/2011/07/07/peanut-butter-chocolate-crunch-blizzard/

Hope you are all enjoying this awesome summer weather!! 

Namaste

 

Doing it for me

So another Sunday morning yoga practice, and following inspiration on my drive home. 

Before class, I was catching up with the teacher - we haven’t seen each other in quite a few months - and to the question of ‘what are you up to?’, I replied that ‘I am just working and trying to figure out what I want to do for a career in the long term’. She replied back with ‘maybe I should stop trying to figure it out’ or something to that degree. What she said didn’t really strike me until the ride home. 

I have never been one to thrive under pressure when I consider that pressure to be from an external source. And by this I mean that I do my best when the push is from within, an internal force to achieve. In soccer, I always played best during my summer rec league than I ever did on my high school soccer team where you needed to please the coach to play and winning was always the end goal, not a bonus. I only enjoyed training with my cross-country running club, I never was interested in the races where I would inevitably measure myself against the other runners I would have raced against - I just wanted to run for fun. And now I feel the pressure to get that full-time life long career going, because that is what you do after going to university for 4 years, right? This external pressure to find a degree related career and succeed so far has not proven successful, and has just resulted in endless job searching and career pondering.

I have sat here, really not knowing where this post is going…typing and erasing numerous paragraphs. I guess I have no conclusion to this thought of mine yet. This week I am going to take this idea of performing for me, not others, to my mat each day, and meditate on it for my life in general….

Namaste.

 

Vegan in NYC

Last night I ate at chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market with three of my favourite people on the planet. Tomorrow I'll be in the audience for Iron Chef America. Wandering Chelsea Market and the Meat Packing District's beautiful pizza options ... oh lord, why on earth would I decide to go vegan when I knew I'd be in NYC for a week?

Because what better time to explore vegan options than in a city where you can get anything you want and some of the best chefs in the world can do it so well? So far I admit I've cheated a bit more than the one meal a day and I have finished off the occasional brunch or supper with a long-drawn esspresso, but overall New York is really a city teeming with fantastic vegan options and I'm excited to try them.

Talk about taking it to the next level. I will report back with any new, amazing vegan spots I find. So far all I can say is -

One. Lucky. Duck.

In more ways than one. ;)

Gutsy Yoga Challenge Day 1: Ouch.

Friday!  What a great day to start something new an exciting!  But changing things about your life usually goes hand in hand with a bit of pain and today gave me two reasons for it.

Reason #1 why I’m hurting:  I went food shopping… and spent a lot of money. About $150 actually.  *Bangs head against wall*  So much for being cheap.  There are a lot of oils and other things that you need in small quantities to make the recipes in the Thrive meal plan, but you use those ingredients enough that it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk, which makes it a bit expensive.  Then there’s something called Hemp Protein (a protein powder) which is just plain expensive.  Now that I’ve made the initial investment though, with a few more staples that I still have to get, it doesn’t look like this is going to cost me more than buying any other food would; so I take that head bang back.  

Reason #2 why I’m hurting:  I did a one hour Power Yoga class and two hours later went for a fifty minute bike ride.  I didn’t hurt myself doing either, but after the past two months of nearly no hard exercise I can feel that I’m going to pay for this tomorrow morning.  Note to self: do lots of stretching tomorrow.

It was a great first day though!  Dinner was almond and flax seed burgers with mixed greens.  It may not sound that appetizing, but it was soooo good.  I did cheat on the dressing for the salad though (I used a store bought one) because I don’t have a food processor yet.  After the fiasco that was trying to make the burgers with a blender and realizing that I was just going to have to chop the almonds by hand I decided that a “no food processor needed” dressing was a great idea.  All the anticipation made eating it that much better though.  :)

                                                   

I barely even ate one whole patty too because I wasn’t hungry anymore about halfway through it.  I wasn’t full like that gross kind of full after you’ve gone to an all-you-can-eat buffet, I was satisfied; I just didn’t need to eat anymore.  It was a nice feeling, it makes you content.  It also makes you wonder what the heck you've been eating before this and why it doesn't make you feel the same.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to the next round of exciting foods I get to try.  :D  I’m also going to attempt a 5km run.  Oh, and buy a food processor.

Cheers!

The Ups and Downs of Week One

Week One

It’s been a week of challenges.  But it has been wonderful!  I managed to make it onto my mat 3 times (and plan on another this weekend) and got out for a run twice.  I’m sure I can drag my fiancé out for one more run this weekend.

Being Vegan

I was struggling with eating vegan for the first few days and decided to pick up The Thrive Diet.  I ran the theory past a dietitian and she was in full support of a trying a vegan lifestyle, especially with the pain I have been experiencing.  I've had fun exploring my community to find the local organic food stores and have really enjoyed the experience of gathering the ingredients to make some of the Thrive recipes.  Having a stressful and time consuming job downtown, I seriously questioned if I would have the time to shop for some of the more uncommon ingredients, but I found several shops right in the downtown core.  I've passed them a million times without even noticing their existance!

My Own Personal War

My experience on the mat this week was eye-opening.  I used to be bendy and needed to work on strength more than flexibly. WOW has that changed.  I’m tight EVERYWHERE and I’m back to using all the modifications.  I struggled with strength, flexibly and distractions of the mind.  My right side was fighting my left and my front body was fighting my back body.  It was a war on the mat.  Perhaps it is a reflection of how I feel in my life right now, everyone and everything fighting for my limited time and attention. 

Despite the challenges, it was nice to make an effort to set aside some time for myself to move and bring breath and awareness to my body.

Goal for Week Two

I take the subway to and from work every day.  Typically I read a novel, case law or the paper.  No one has ever commented on any of my reading material.  This week I was reading The Thrive Diet.  On each subway ride I have taken (7 so far) at least 2 different people have commented on the book.  Here are some of the comments.

“You don’t need a diet. Why are you reading that?”

“Young girls these days, so influenced by the pressures of society”

“Excuse me, but are you starting a vegan diet”- and then would continue on to tell me all the reasons I shouldn’t.

To be fair, there was one guy who had tried the diet and was excited to tell me how much it had helped his health and training program, but for the most part the comments were negative critiques.  

This has helped me determine my goal for next week.  I am going to try and be as non-judgmental as possible both on my mat and off.  I’m going to try to observe and be aware of my physical and mental being, without criticizing.

All in all it’s been a great, but challenging week.  I haven’t noticed too many changes yet, but am excited to see what is to come!

 

So about this vegan thing

Vegan:  a strict vegetarian; someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all - that also means no fish (because yes, fish counts as a "meat" too), cheese, yogurt, and chocolate.  

Why would anyone in their right mind give up all of those wonderful things?!  Especially chocolate!  

Add to this giving up virtually all processed foods from my diet.

But let's back up a little bit so I can provide some back story.  Last summer I decided, much to the dismay of my parents who both grew up on farms eating meat and potatoes, to go vegetarian for a month and a half as an experiment/challenge to myself.  Having read lots of conflicting info on what was good to eat, what was bad to eat, and being mildly confused by it all, I thought that it couldn’t hurt to try it out for a bit and see what happened.

It made me feel great - not in truly definable terms other than that I had more energy, I just felt better.  After going back to residence in the fall though, I went back to eating meat because sometimes the veg options there just don’t cut it.

Now that my school year is over and I am living on my own for the summer, what should land in my inbox but an invitation to join this Gutsy Yoga Challenge.  Hooray!  I like doing challenges like this because it’s a fantastic way to get to know yourself better while doing something good for your body and having fun too.

My general goals for this summer were to start eating a healthy, balanced diet again (after having endless pasta, pizza and beer in Venice for the past month) and to get my body into good physical shape – good enough to do a Sprint Triathlon.  So for this challenge I’ll be making those goals more specific by following a meal plan (The Thrive Diet, this is where the vegan stuff comes in) and an exercise schedule.  Oh yeah, I’m also a jobless bum for the summer so I’ll be doing all of that on a tight budget.

Here’s the deal for the next month (and potentially the whole summer):

-       Follow the Thrive Diet – so no coffee, no alcohol, no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no gluten, no corn syrup, and no white sugar, white flour, white rice,or white potatoes. Phew!

-       Do yoga for 1 hour, 3 times per week

-       Bike for 1 hour, 3 times per week

-       Complete a swim workout (provided by a friend) 2 times per week

-       Run for at least 30min,  2 times per week, working up to a 5km

-       Take a rest/cheat day once a week, for my own sanity, to eat some forbidden food

And tomorrow it begins!  I have enough fresh veggies and things to tide me over for a few days but a trip to the local whole foods store is definitely in order.  My debit card is already trembling.

Cheers!

Running & Yoga: Soulmates for Life

Long before I practiced yoga, I was a runner - happily going about my intervals and A skips during high school track practice and racing those 1500 and 3000 meters at meets. But at this time I was not half way through my Kinesiology degree and little did I know the consequences that consistent running could have on my body. Running is a high impact sport of which its repetitive motions can leave you stiff and injury prone. I ended up having to deal with knee problems which took several weeks to rehabilitate before I could hit the road once again. And believe me - there are plenty more running injuries where that one came from.

Nowadays I pair my running up with a nice cup of yoga and have noticed some great improvements. I ran my first half marathon last May - and I know I couldn't have come out of it able-bodied without doing yoga on my off days (I was only limping around for TWO days after). As a former coach for the Running Room Inc., I have done tons of research on proper prep and follow up for safe running.  Read on and find out how pairing up even 15 minutes of yoga with your runs can go a long way.

WARM UP
Prepping your muscles for constant contraction and elongation will reduce the chances of straining muscle fibers and put you at a state of optimal oxygen/ blood circulation for the meat of your run.

  •  5-10 minutes of jogging + dynamic stretching/ surya namaskar A and B will leave you feeling energized and pumped to rock those runners!

COOL DOWN
Immediately after exercise, the body goes through several cellular processes to ease itself back to its pre-exercise state. Taking time to cool down will help these different processes, help you recover faster for your next run, and prevent blood from pooling to you extremities (allowing enough oxygen to feed your hard working heart)!

  • Walk/ slow jog for 5-10 minutes (depending on the intensity of your run)

STRETCH
Repetitive contractions of muscles throughout running phases will shorten and stiffen them. Stiff muscles may cause muscular imbalance which forces the body to compensate in such a way that will likely result in injury! Stretch immediately after cooling down. Never stretch on cold muscles and hold each stretch for at least 5 breaths.

  • Static asanas for runners:

Quadriceps – Reclined hero, beginner’s dancer
Hip flexors – Dancer, crescent lunge (grab back of foot for higher intensity), pigeon
IT band - Figure 4, lotus
Hamstrings – Uttanasana (forward fold), downward dog, dancer
Calves – Big toe pose, warrior A (with back foot facing forward)
Gluts - Pigeon, half lord of the fishes pose (sitting spinal twist)
Hip adductors - Tortoise, frog, triangle
Back - Cat-cow, cobra, upward dog, full wheel, crescent moon
Shoulders and neck - Rolls, shoulder/heart openings

In conclusion...
Doing a few sun salutations before a run is a great way to warm up and dynamic stretch. Follow this with static asanas and you get a nicely sandwiched running routine that’s energizing, safe, and injury-free. If you are looking for more details on any of these topics feel free to send me an e-mail as I could go on forever about the mechanics and physiology of running! Hope this was helpful and I wish to all some happy runs!

Namaste,
Kimmi

Thrivin' through to Day Two

So now that I've set out my goals for this 28 day Challenge, let me tell you how I've been doing meeting those goals thus far.

Day 1 went much like this: Going through my fridge to see what I can still eat, freaking out about how there's nothing in the fridge, going grocery shopping, and then freaking out about how small my fridge is. My fridge is just too small to hold all this delicious nutritious goodness!

It all resulted in a delicious veg stirfry with field greens, pumpkin seeds, tofu steaks marinated with hot sauce, and quinoa.

Day 2, yesterday, I learned three very important things:

One, you can't forget about hydration on the Thrive Diet... especially in the summer. At work we usually get coffee pretty regularly, but since coffee isn't allowed I passed on their offers, so I just didn't drink anything. Not good. By the time I biked home my mouth felt like the Sahara desert.

Two, you can make excuses to not follow through on your goals but there usually aren't very good reasons. Take for example, me accidently writing down the wrong time for my yoga class. I was sure it was 7:30, but when I got there at 7:20 I sadly found out that it starts at 7. It's pretty natural for me to have a defeatist attitude; a year or two ago I would've gotten very frustrated and gone home. Actually I probably would have gone home and ate half a pizza. Instead, I asked myself if there was any reason for this to stop me from achieving my goal of doing yoga daily. The answer? No!! It was a beautiful night, the sun was shining but not too hot, and I was about 2 minutes away from a beautiful park. I walked on over and did a 45-minute version of the Primary Series. It felt amazing!! I loved every second of planting my hands into the grass as I lowered myself through chaturanga, only to lift up and look above to the leaves parting ways to the sky.

Three, ALMOND BURGERS ARE AMAZING!! I took the recipe from the Thrive Diet and changed it up a bit to make it my own. I replaced about 1/4 of the almonds and used walnuts instead. I added fresh basil and red pepper flakes for a bit more flavour and spice. With just a bit of coconut oil, I threw the 4 patties into a frying pan and then topped one with slices of avocado, then wrapped it in lettuce. I almost died and went to heaven... seriously. After just one patty, I was completely full. Not gross, not undoing my belt full, but satisfied. I'm bringing one in to give to my veg boss, just to spread the almond burger love.
 

Ready to Start

Oh hey there lovely ladies and gentlemen!

Can I just say how excited I am for the next 28 days? Very. I love doing monthly challenges. My friends could tell you about all the random challenges I've done over the past couple of years. Mostly they would groan, because even though challenges can be amazing opportunities for growth for the person doing them- they sometimes aren't for those that have to deal with the negative side effects. Like when I gave up all technology for a month, my friends were not crazy about me becoming a ghost.

But *this* challenge is not like that. Not only will it help all of us doing the challenge form a healthy sangha (community), it will also help those suffering from Crohn's like our Holly dearest. So I already feel really good about it all!

Everyone needs to be challenged in different ways, so allow me to tell you how I will be challenging myself over the next month or so...

This challenge actually fits perfectly into a larger series of goals for the rest of the summer. Much like Holly's 62 Days of Summer, I created a schedule where every week I add a new goal/ habit onto the last. The focus of the rest of July is my health and the big three: Sleep, exercise and nutrition.

So during this challenge I will be:

1) Sleeping no less than 6 hours a night
2) Doing yoga for at least 20 minutes a day, ideally an hour four times a week
3) Biking everyday
4) Following the Thrive Diet: no dairy, no eggs, no coffee, no gluten, no corn syrup, no white sugar, white flour, white potatoes or white rice. Oh ya, and no beer!

The first three goals are pretty reasonable, as I've been following them more or less for the past month. Now, the new goal, and the real challenge is Goal # 4, which I'm most excited about since I'm doing it with all of the Pranalife crew.

I've decided to be pretty strict with the Thrive Diet. I completely understand some not wanting to, but I really want to kick it up a notch. I just celebrated my 8 year anniversary of being vegetarian (yay!!) so removing dairy from my diet is not much of a stretch. I've NEVER liked milk, I prefer coconut ice cream to regular ice cream and I get really sick of eggs. The only thing I'm sort of sad about is cheese... dear melty brie, we will reunite, I promise.

As for coffee, I already gave coffee up for 40 days this year for Lent and it was easy peasy! And I was a 2-coffees a day lass. I just replace it with green tea.

I'm really interested to see how my body reacts to eliminating allergens and all the white refined yucky foods so I definitely plan to stick to those as much as possible.

To be realistic, I will give myself 5 cheat days for the entire month, that I may or may not use.

So there you have it, world, all my goals written out in detail... I can't just forget about them now!

Good luck to everyone else following this Challenge, or whatever challenges they're facing =)

As for mine? Bring it on!!!

My Gutsy Yoga Challenge :)

Hello All!! 

My Gutsy Yoga Challenge (love the name!) has two parts...One, I will be following my 62 Days of Summer challenge that I have created for myself (you can follow along here and at my own personal blog: http://cultivatingtapas.tumblr.com/ ), as well as following a vegan diet for the month of July along with my fellow Pranababes. I cannot promise exactly how vegan it will be, as my 62 Days of Summer challenge is focused on me finding balance within my body and within every aspect of my life. So far my body is loving the vegan/Thrive food, and I plan to be 100% vegan for the month. 

The 62 Days of Summer came about as a way to help me help myself. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease 7 years ago, and am currently coming out of a 3 month flare-up, the longest (although not the most intense) flare-up I have had thus far. Sick of being controlled by the (on average) yearly flares that rob me of my energy and life, and tired of not knowing what is actually the best way to stay in remission (drugs, homeopathy, exercise, yoga), I am off to test my theories on my own; with the incredible strength and support of the Pranalife Crew, friends, and family. On this note, I am so grateful for the friends I have and for Asia for taking all of us to the next level in this challenge by giving us the opportunity to blog and share it with all of you, and for adding another aspect to this challenge with the donation of unused coffee money to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada. There are great people is this world, and I am blessed to know so many of them.

Below is the post from my blog, explaining how I plan to Cultivate Tapas in my life, and kick Crohn's Disease in the butt.

Defining Tapas....and my '62 Days of Summer'!

62 Days of Summer (by my definition) is “a personal self-challenge to create positive, healthy change in your life”. My challenge over this period (July 1 to August 31) is to ‘Cultivate Tapas’.

Tapas is one of the Niyamas, or self-discipines, in yoga. Tapas translates to mean “to burn”. Desikachar defines Tapas as the “process of removing impurities; elimination, purification”. 

This is exactly what I am looking for, in my quest for health (“The 62 Days of Summer”). Purification of my body from all of the Crohn’s Disease drugs meant to keep my gut healthy. A search to create and consume foods that are good for me, as well as the creation of a regular physical activity practice, heavily dominated by yoga practices, to remove and prevent the impurities within. Tapas is about keeping balanced energy within yourself and your life that allows you to live optimally over a long period of time, aka life. This balance is something I have neglected to sustain thus far- in my level of physical activity, in my diet, and in my general life commitments. 

To cultivate my tapas, or find my balanced energy, I have 3 main actions of change that I am going to partake in over 62 days:

1) Practice yoga 5 times a week - 1 of which will be a meditation practice

2) Create a weekly meal plan and follow it!

3) Practice a gratitude list first and last thing every day

(4) Floss every night :)…it’s healthy for you…)

I am excited for the next 2 months of my life, and encourage you to join me in your own personal challenge to create a positive, healthy change in your life, no matter how simple or complex it may be.

Namaste :)

 

Gutsy Yoga Challenge: Yoga Butt + a Healthy Gut!

I'm so excited to get this challenge underway. So far 2011 has been a tough year, with plenty of it falling under the category of "major setback" (aka "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger") so I'm ready for an experience that once again brings positivity and bonding to this yoga community and supports each other to everyone's benefit. This is what Pranalife Yoga was created to do and I'm so happy to have a fresh, new way of expressing this vision with the newest crew of Pranababes.

For this Gutsy Yoga Challenge I will NOT be doing yoga every day for 30 days straight, nor will I be doing a 100% vegan diet.

What I will be doing is:

  1. Two (2) regular yoga classes/practices per week.
  2. Three (3) home workouts (which incorporate yoga) per week.
  3. Sustaining a vegan diet for all but one of my daily meals.
  4. Taking one day off each week.

Setting Myself Up for Lasting Success

I've done 30 days straight of yoga before. My Ashtanga practice improved and I learned a tonne but I also aggravated old injuries and ultimately did not sustain that commitment. I do yoga because it feels good, I love it and it keeps me healthy; I want to keep it that way.

As for the vegan diet, this will be a learning curve so I won't go 100% vegan until I understand how to get enough of the right balance of nutrients. I'm also a foodie, and eliminating so many of the foods I love is a tough one. I don't want this to be a month-long mourning period for all the flavours I've left behind. Instead, I plan to incorporate many of veganism's healthy practices into a long-term diet that likely will go beyond its limits.

Having one free day each week comes from diet experts like Tim Ferriss and Bill Phillips, who suggest that a cheat day gives people resolve to stick with the diet and can help maintain a more balanced metabolism. My experience with a cheat day is that it's more of a psychological support; if I know I can cheat I won't rebel, and when it comes to the cheat day I'm too competitive to actually indulge much so it tends to be a minor deviation from the diet's norm.

I love the idea of coupling yoga and veganism because they address prana at its most basic: energy in and energy out. I also love that we are banding together to do this challenge to support our fellow Pranababe Holly Lotz as she takes greater control over her Crohn's Disease. Read more about her journey here.

PS - I am pairing the Pranalife Yoga "Gutsy Yoga Challenge" with my first Good to Great in 28 habit change. Learn more about Good to Great in 28.

Join the Pranalife Gutsy Yoga Challenge 2011

What is the Gusty Yoga Challenge?

Get a yoga butt and clean out your gut! For the month of July Pranababes are pairing a regular yoga practice with going vegan for 30 days.

Each Pranababe is making a commitment that's personal and achievable. Some of us will do 30 days of yoga straight, others will commit to yoga 3x/wk for the month. Some will be strict vegans, others will take one day off a week or one meal off each day. The point is to make a change that gives us a boost now and can be carried on for a lifetime.

Pranalife Yoga Teachers in Training 2011

Why are we doing it?

This challenge was initiated by Pranababe Jennifer Bowles, and we've dedicated our efforts to fellow Pranababe Holly Lotz. Holly is making a big change in her life that's coinciding with our vegan challenge - to reduce the negative effects of Crohn's Disease on her life. She's keeping a blog of her full summer challenge here -

http://cultivatingtapas.tumblr.com

The Thrive Diet (our guide book for the vegan challenge) suggests eliminating caffeine; so I've proposed that the Gutsy Yoga Challengers donate the $2-5/weekday that we'd normally have spent on coffee to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation in tribute to Holly at the end of our 30 days.

This cause is also close to my heart because my brother has dealt with the impact of Colitis for years now. It is remarkable how careful people with these diseases have to be about what they eat and how they live, and even then solutions for each person are so unique to the individual that it can feel like a pointless guessing game. It takes a certain kind of strength to do what Holly's doing, and I'm so excited that we can be a part of supporting her.

Want to be a part of it?

The more, the healthier and this kind of challenge is easier to do with support! Use our Contact Us link at the top right of the site to send us your info and let us know the details of your commitment. You can blog about your experiences if you wish, and we'll add any financial contribution you make to the final Pranalife donation, which will be done in tribute to Holly on the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation site.

Is Practicing Yoga Spiritual Starvation?

Yoga's discipline of bramacharya is often misunderstood as "restraint" or "celibacy" in that way that can make you feel like you're on a spiritual no-carb diet. This is a small and far cry from the intention behind this part of the yoga discipline, and it's about time it stopped being perceived as the bully that makes us give it the Wagon Wheel from our spiritual lunch.

At its core, bramacharya means seeing everything from an expansive, abundant, Big Self perspective. The discipline keeps us from becoming petty, from contracting around what we see as our own scarcity, or behaving in ways that make us less than the loving people we're capable of being. It moves us towards living as what yoga calls our "divine" self, embodying the most powerfully benevolent expressions of humanity. Bramacharya is about being divine, seeking to see the divinity in everything, and committing to interacting with one's self and the world from that perspective.

So what does living by the tenet of bramacharya look like? As an example from my own practice, I've become unwilling to foster relationships where someone's - or no one's - divinity is beeing seen. In any interaction, I pay attention. If I feel expansive, hopeful, compassionate, focused on living and loving well, then I'm on the right track. If not, it's time to make a change, no matter how much it might matter to my ego, my financials, or even my long-term goals. Ultimately, if there's no mutual support of each other's evolution, I'm wasting my time where it could be spent giving and receiving that support elsewhere.

Practicing bramacharya has become more valuable to me than worrying about being liked or understood, than making sure someone else is happy at my own expense, or forcing a situation I may want when I can see it's diminishing someone. Bramacharya gives me a blueprint for what it really is to be treated as a divine being having a human experience, and that has given me deep insight into the true nature of the relationships into which I have invested.

So, I encourage you to not see bramacharya as a kind of spiritual diet with all kinds of restrictions. Instead, consider yourself and everyone around you as divine beings having human experiences and see how it changes your perspective. I'd love to hear about what you discover! Comment here, or find me on facebook and twitter through the links at the bottom of this page. Namaste!

Put the wind in your life's sails and get where you want to go

Young souls learn to accept responsibility for their actions.
Mature souls learn to accept responsibility for their thoughts.
And old souls, Asia, learn to accept responsibility for their happiness.

- Mike Dooley

I remember my twenties (they weren’t that long ago) when everything was full of drama. I let every little breeze rock my boat. I think I wanted it to because I was so engrossed with the idea of getting somewhere that I’d take any wind in my sails I could get. But over time I started to realize that some winds took me places I wanted to be and others took me away from places I wanted to be. I lost interest in being adrift and started the work of figuring out how to actually get somewhere.

Getting selective about which winds I’d open my sails to has been a hell of a journey, but it helped when I finally set my course. I did it quite spontaneously one day while driving by my beautiful Rocky Mountains. I thought to myself, “Self, what do I want to look like in 10 years?” Not just thinking about it but feeling it, enacting it. I realized during that exercise that my cardinal trait 10 years into the future was that I was untippable, secure in myself, aware and stable - nothing shook me. By that point I’d learned how to skillfully steer my own ship, if you will. It was an image that embedded in me that day and has been with me ever since.

Yoga has been a fundamental element of not only my stability, but my successful navigation from there to here. If you've been looking for a new wind for your sails to take your yoga practice further, consider Pranalife's Yoga Intensives and Teacher Training. You don’t have to be interested in teaching yoga to take the training. Pranalife's training is focused on giving you the information to live yoga well. Put simply, this training is about becoming fit for life as much as it is about becoming fit to teach.

Pranalife Intensives and YTT will deepen your personal practice exponentially, and if you choose to teach you’ll be well-equipped and confident to build a vibrant, abundant career based in personal health and supporting others.

Learning Vulnerability [from Asia's post on Elephant Journal]

Pranalife Yoga Director Asia Nelson's article on vulnerability has recently been published on Elephant Journal! Spread the love by Tweeting this link, sharing with your friends, liking the aritcle, commenting, etc. The more the word gets out, the more likely this piece is to get to someone who really needs it today. Namaste! -

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/04/drug-dealing-ex-boyfriends-threatening-to-kill-your-family-lessons-on-vulnerability-asia-nelson/

A Pranalife Chat with Master Anatomist Blake Martin

 

Blake Martin is a gifted teacher who makes movement and anatomy concepts so clear you'll wonder how you have been in your body so long without understanding so well how it works. I chatted with him about his studies, interests, and beginnings with yoga. Here's a taste -

 Pranalife Director Asia Nelson chats with Blake Martin:

 

 

 

Pranalife Presents Blake Martin from Lindsay Stewart on Vimeo.

Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability

This section of the Tao te Ching was posted in the comments below Brene Brown's talk and I love it, so I've re-posted it here as well. Thanks to B Tak Wai Chan for posting it on the original site:

"To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.

Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power.
To realize that you have enough is true wealth.
Pushing ahead may succeed,
but staying put brings endurance.
Die without perishing, and find the eternal.

To know that you do not know is strength.
Not knowing that you do not know is a sickness.
The cure begins with the recognition of the sickness.

Knowing what is permanent: enlightenment.
Not knowing what is permanent: disaster.
Knowing what is permanent opens the mind.
Open mind, open heart.
Open heart, magnanimity."

~ Tao de Ching

Asia Nelson Yoga Expert for new wellness website DailySqueeze.ca

Director and Advanced Teacher Trainer of Pranalife, Asia Nelson, is the Yoga Expert for the new Rogers Digital Media wellness website Daily Squeeze. Daily Squeeze is “a uniquely Canadian destination for the latest, best scoop on health, fitness and wellness” (from sweetspot.ca’s About Us page). Daily Squeeze is the most recent in a series of successful websites from RDM, including sweetspot.ca, SweetLife, SweetMama, SweetHome and MySweetBaby.

As their Yoga Expert, Asia will posts helpful blogs, giving advice on the latest and best in yoga, and is a part of the site’s discussion panels and contests. We’re very excited to be a part of this Canadian wellness resource!

Pranalife Yoga Instructor Kristina Lekin's partner yoga article on Elephant Journal

There's a particular online journal that I absolutely love and visit every day - it's elephantjournal.com. As part of a Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training assignment, I needed to submit a yoga article to a real publication. Naturally, I rose to the challenge (although reluctantly at first) and submitted somewhere I'd probably not get published - but hey(!) what's there to lose? I went for it, and to my utter glee, two months later the article is ONLINE.

Here it is, in all it's glory.

Share it, love it, comment on it. Also, please read elephant. It's superb.

Now that I've succeeded in publishing my first non-scientific article (albeit completely unexpectedly), I'm gearing up to write some more. Stay tuned.

~ Here's to anything being possible. ~

 

Follow-up: Yoga expert Sadie Nardini loves the article so much, she posted it to her facebook page. Congrats, Kristina!

Current and future classes with Pranalife Yoga and Asia

While Pranalife Yoga classes and training throughout KW continue without change, they will no longer be at the uptown Waterloo studio, though I remain supportive of having a Pranalife-inspired studio space for the yoga community to enjoy.

 

When I have secured a new location for classes, I will post that information.

 

Your constant support has meant the world to me over the past five years and has been at the heart of Pranalife's success. Indeed, you are Pranalife.

If you have questions, concerns, or simply want to touch base with me, you can contact me at asia@pranalife.ca or at 519.722.7262. I will continue to communicate with you over the next few weeks and Pranalife's social media guru Melissa and I will be updating via the following:

 

www.pranalife.ca

www.facebook.com/pranalifeyoga

www.twitter.com/pranalifeyoga

 

Thank you again for all your love. Namaste.

 

Asia Nelson, Director - Pranalife Yoga

asia@pranalife.ca

519.722.7262

www.pranalife.ca

Pranalife Yoga with Asia Nelson. www.pranalife.ca

Be a Better Fighter: A sneak peak at the 30 Day Valentine's Challenge emails

A crew of us have been privy over the past few weeks to some excellent research and tips on being a better 'better half' during our Pranalife Yoga 30 Day Valentine's Challenge. From learning how to build a strong foundation in our relationships to keys for increasing intimacy we've all become, well, better people and certainly better 'better halves'.

Today's information was so good I just couldn't keep it to the 30 Day crew (you can become one, too - sign up for a Pranalife Profile and check the 30 Day Challenge box to get in on our next one). So, here it is, re-posted publicly for you:

Pranalife Yoga's 30 Day Valentine's Challenge: Doing Better Battle

One Mat, Two Hearts: Partner Yoga on February 12th

In light of the upcoming "special" Day on February 14th (Valentine's, Singles Awareness, whatever you like to call it) and the new 30 Day Yoga Challenge at Pranalife, we're hosting an exciting class that yours truly (that's me) will be teaching!

One Mat, Two Hearts: Partner Yoga Class at Pranalife

Date: February 12, 2011, 12:00 – 2:00 pm

Cost: $30/person

BONUS: Are you signing up for the 30 Day Challenge pass as well? (You don't have to in order to come out to this partner class)...if you are, this class will only cost you $30/couple!

Join us at the Pranalife Yoga Studio in Uptown Waterloo for a deeply unifying partner yoga class. Perfect for beginners and seasoned practitioners. Come ready to laugh, balance, and communicate more deeply with each other. You need not be “partners in life” in order to engage as partners on the yoga mat – bring your parent, friend, sibling or even that first date! Come together; come to life.

Please send an e-mail to Lindsay at lgulanes@pranalife.ca to sign up, or call the studio at 519-208-4224. Space will be limited, so hurry on up.

 

 

 

 

 

All you need is one mat and two hearts. Deepen your connection on the mat in order to induce growth off the mat.

Lots of love, and Namaste, my friends.

Become a Better Lover in 30 Days

When the Pranababes approached me last year about doing a 30 Day 'Sexless in September' Challenge to focus on yoga's tenet of bramacharya (often simplistically translated as 'celibacy'), my first reaction was that it would be great for driving traffic to the site; say “sex” and “yoga” on the same page and you’d be amazed how the numbers spike. But brazen marketer aside, how would we make use of 30 days of consciously choosing celibacy?

It turned out to be a great opportunity to explore the real meaning of bramacharya, which is more than some Puritanical concept of suppressed sexual desire. It’s about relationships - with ourselves and with each other - and having an intention to improve those relationships. At its heart, it’s  about exploring the nature of how we connect and how we can connect as more divine beings.

In our next 30 Day Yoga Challenge we're going further: For 30 days we're challenging ourselves - and you - to become a better lover, friend, kin and co-worker (no, we won't encourage you to sleep with your boss, but you may just learn how to get that promotion regardless). The Pranalife 30 Day Yoga Valentine's Challenge will launch with a Partner Yoga class at the Pranalife Yoga Studio on Saturday, February 12th from 12:00-2:00pm with Kristina. From there you'll receive a full month's worth of tips and tools to succeed in relationships of all kinds, and there's a 30 Days of Yoga studio pass special in it for you when you sign up. Commit today at www.pranalife.ca/30daychallenge.

The Ins and Outs of Divinity

Years ago I remember laughing my ass off at this Chris Rock bit:

That part near the end was pure brilliance. It’s so true. Think of the average woman’s routine and it’s full of it: hair colour, contacts, skin creams, makeup, dental work (that whitening toothpaste counts), jewellery, Spanx, pushup/underwire/gel-filled bras, self-tans, waxing, high heels - and that’s just the nonsurgical stuff. You name it, women are probably doing it. So what does this have to do with bramacharya? I propose it has everything to do with it, because it has everything to do with our carnal versus divine lives.

I’m not about to tell you that I think doing things to enhance attractiveness is wrong. I support anyone who wants to change something about themselves to feel better if it does no harm. But I do propose we get a lot more honest. I have for the most part learned to reduce the chatter of the critical voices in my head. I’ve surrounded myself with people who love me for me. I’ve trained my mind to divert attention from that self-criticism to my breath and other important things like achievement and friendship. But I have desires of how I’d like to be in the world and I can love myself but also prefer being a redhead.

These days I’ve decided to waste less time doing battle with these desires. I’m interested in being supportive instead. There are more important things we can do with our lives than fret about vanity. Make changes that make you happy and move on. Cut it, enhance it, contour it, colour it and then get over it and get on with things that really make you amazing in the world. Bramacharya means focusing on the divinity within. Absolutely. Redirect your attention and energy to that. Life is messy, folks. Let’s just support each other more and fret less about things that don’t matter.

Change Is Good

28 days into the year 2011 and this, the only resolution I have set for myself is hitting my life like a Mack truck.  Change is good.  We move around on the mat and have to trust that what the practice brings to us emotionally, physically or spiritually is exactly what we are meant to experience in that moment.  What is not always talked about is the change practicing yoga can bring to your life when you are off the mat.  For me, it meant dealing with things I had held onto for so long I thought they'd never see the light of day.....  and then you keep practicing and suddenly you know you have no other choice.  So here I go, now the fearless yogi... well maybe that's a bit of a stretch but here's what I know for sure...  dress rehearsal is over.  It's showtime and every single change is welcome, on and off the mat...  

Namaste,

Carolynne

 

What does it mean to live as a divine being having a human experience?

My favourite way to describe yoga's ethical guideline of bramacharya (usually translated as "moderation" or "sexual restraint") is that it’s the art of remembering that we’re all divine beings having human experiences. So what does that really mean?

It’s entirely too easy to deal with people on a basic human level. I react to things people say about me. I decide I like/don’t like someone based on what they do. I bypass what a person is telling me they’re about because I’m just interested in what I want them to be to me. Philosophy and psychology often call this the “ego” element of our personality. And what’s the effect of dealing with others on an egoic level? Usually frustration, disappointment, manipulation, fleeting moments of satisfaction, and a consistent message that my locus of control is in the hands of those around me, always changing and inconsistent.

The Yoga Sutras explain that humans get into trouble in part because we misapprehend things that are temporary as permanent, and vice versa. We see a person's appearance and actions and think that’s actually what we’re engaged with, when really it’s the living and breathing and thinking and feeling part[s] within that matters. It’s not that our physicality isn’t real; rather, it’s not the essential element of our what makes us "us". Bramacharya is about engaging that essential aspect of people.

I think of it this way: There’s a part of me that feels pretty much like it has for as long as I’ve lived. I have more experience, yes. I’ve been here a bit longer, sure. But the thing that stays permanently “me” isn’t the physical, tangible stuff. It’s soul-based. It’s what I'm calling “divine”. When I think of myself as a divine being - an essential Self that’s not just my physical form but a Beingness expressing itself in this current physical form - then I find I pull out of small-mindedness, temporality, and entanglement.

When I focus on you as "divine" then I see you as a possibly-infinite presence and not just some crazy driver or poor Customer Service Rep. I can see you figuring out this human experience - and the skill or lack thereof with which you’re navigating the process - and consider how I can support your Greater Experience here. It becomes less important for you to fill my needs. It becomes kind of silly to worry about your habits or what you say about me. It becomes more intriguing to consider what you as a Bigger Being might be doing on this little planet.

Most of the people who hold major influence in my life and create experiences with me worth remembering are - consciously or not - holding a larger vision of me. Their influence on how I feel about myself is my number one best way to break through barriers, to feel safe and seen enough to I forgive, to envision amazing and impossible things. It is divine, inspired living and for me that’s at the heart of bramacharya.

30 Days of Yoga: Entering Week 3

My brain is a little fuzzy since we had the second 10-hour session (of 60) for Module IV of YTT today. However, I can’t help but feel inspired after it all and decided to check in with this current challenge. After coming home with a smile on my face tonight, the first thing my partner said was, “You don’t look tired at all.” That’s crazy, considering the length of time spent practicing/learning/talking/growing today.

We started the day off with a Primary Series practice, which was exactly what my body needed two weeks into this challenge. I’ve been going to yoga classes daily and only spending a little time on independent practice. The ability to practice the seated series in peace this morning (no dancing kitten) guided solely by my own breath was incredibly easy and natural, and I wish I had more opportunity for Mysore classes in this town. After the practice, I had that joyful/energized feeling I so fondly remember from May mornings.

I feel my practice has deepened in just the last two weeks. I’ve gotten stronger, my hips are finally starting to release, and I’ve had constant (good) hamstring soreness daily. Creating this new habit is once again creating change in my body. Connecting with my breath is changing my mind. I love yoga!

Gratitude

Thanksgiving - a time to prepare for the seasons changing, a time to gather around your family and friends, a time to overindulge, rest, and relax. Oh, and give thanks.

Giving thanks as a ritual is part of nearly every culture and tradition on earth, and yet it is only truly examined by a few. But studies show that being grateful can improve your physical health, as well as your sense of well-being. In yoga gratitude meditation is a critical part of cultivating your personal practice. It relates to the eight limbs in many ways.  When we practice gratitude we are cultivating Bramacharya. We are recognizing the preciousness of life, and our own personal divinity. When we give thanks for even the obstacles and crises in our lives, we are meditating upon Isvarapranidhana, acknowledging that our path is our path, without creating expectations about the fruits of our journey. Sometimes the most difficult situations in our life lead to the greatest growth. Flowers grow quite nicely if you add a steaming pile of shit!

This thanksgiving, you may wish to take a few moments to practice gratitude in your own way. Create your own ritual, or try one of the practices from this excellent list on Zen Habits.

For the record I would like to state how grateful I am every day for my wonderful family; the Pranababes; and the good fortune that I have to be able to practice and share and cultivate a life full of yoga.

Namaste, and have a safe and happy long weekend!

30 Days of Yoga: Day 1 - Lets get ready to rock (and roll out the mat)

I’ve decided I’ll be joining Suzie in a 30 Days of Yoga challenge this month! I’ll blog about it most days to keep you updated with how it’s going, but also to chronicle it for myself. Every once in a while, I’ve gone back and read over my May blog posts over the past few months. It’s awesome to see where I was in my practice at that time and compare that with where I am today.

May’s challenge was all about the Primary Series in Ashtanga yoga. We had a space to practice every morning, and many of us worked through it together Mysore-style 6-8 am every morning. This time around, we don’t have a group space (just yet! can’t wait for January!), and the apartment I’m sharing with my partner and kitty is tiny. As a result, my goal this month is simple: be on the mat every day. Most days I’ll attend a class, and some days will include personal practice at home (which will require coordination - I need to be alone and the kitten must be asleep). My classes will be a mixture of Waterloo Yoga Club, Queen Street Yoga, maybe some Moksha, and definitely Pranalife. If anyone would like to come with me to any classes and/or has any recommendations - let me know!

So why am I doing this challenge? Quite frankly, I miss daily practice. I felt a huge shift physically and personally after the May challenge, and after many life changes in the past few months, I feel like I’m finally ready to commit to my mat again. There are numerous reasons for doing this, but the main one is that it feels friggin’ awesome! Knowing that someone is going through it with you helps a bunch as well. Are you in?

Vegan and awesome

I just read this article in Men’s Health about a guy who gave kórima - the power of unconditional living - a literal run for it’s money and came out with the kinds of realizations I’ve suspected were true all along but haven’t had the huevos yet to try. After this article, I just might …