Aging Gracefully

Several years ago, overwhelmed by beauty industry standards of what beauty is and feeling dissatisfied with my own expectations for myself, I learned to let go.

A big part of the process for me was doing a detox that included switching to natural skin, hair and cleaning products. I found a teacher that I admired, who helped educate and encourage me.

I threw out all my chemical laden creams, toners, washes, scrubs and serums. I believe it is vital to educate yourself on the ingredients that go into the products you use for your own sake, your family’s and the environment’s.

There are so many natural, organic  products out there, that the shift is easier than ever. Think about it.  Skin is a major detoxification organ.  Why would we cover it up, inject it with poisons and soak it in chemicals that might seep into our bloodstream?

Eating healthy food gives our skin the nutrients it needs for a healthy glow and may even eliminate skin disorders like eczema and recurring rashes (If you’re reading this, you may want to speak with a naturopath about an elimination diet). If you eat clean and use natural skin and hair care products, you may find that your complexion clears up and your natural beauty shines through.

In recent years, companies have had ad campaigns for natural beauty and allowing your inner beauty to shine through. I am excited that more and more people are starting to get on board and recognize true beauty for what it is – it is our health, our energy, our confidence, our intelligence, not just what we look like on the outside.

While it can be challenging to shift your perspective from one ideal to another, it is a practice like anything else. For me, yoga was my support system. I gradually began to wear less and less make up. Now only on special occasions–save for daily mascara–do I wear makeup. When I do, I feel unnatural and made up.

I am now comfortable in my own skin. I’m still coming to terms with the gray hairs that peak through and still cover up the odd blemish, but I feel lighter, naturally pretty and less concerned about what others might think.

Does this sound like a radical change? It is!

Aside from changing what you put on your skin and in your body, another holistic approach to beauty is cosmetic acupuncture. It is a natural, safe and effective way to improve complexion, reduce signs of aging, to look and feel younger. The process is free from chemicals and pain.

Cosmetic Facial Acupuncture works with your body’s innate wisdom to tighten pores, brighten eyes and improve complexion. Collagen production and muscle tone improve, fine lines are eliminated and deep wrinkles are diminished. Acupuncture also helps reduce bags and double chin, lifts drooping eyelids and helps to slow hair loss and graying.

Fine sterile needles are used in conjunction with facial massage and specialty cream to increase local blood circulation and improves metabolism.  You may find that the process helps reduce acne and scarring.

To complement cosmetic acupuncture, you may also want to try face yoga. Face yoga helps to exercise and tone neck and facial muscles. When you work the muscles of the face, suppleness and elasticity improve. It may stimulate collagen production and allow more oxygen to get to muscles. Face yoga also helps to reduce stress and tension so you feel and look rejuvenated and refreshed. It’s easy to practice for long lasting, sustainable results.

Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture practitioner Daniel Kanner and I are offering Aging Gracefully Cosmetic Acupuncture and Face Yoga packages at 25% off for the holidays. For package details visit my promotions page or www.acuhealth.ca and connect with Daniel for more details.

Yoga Rehab: Workshop for Back Pain

yoga rehab photoPain and discomfort doesn’t have to be a normal part of everyday life. Yoga Rehab is designed for yogis, those new to yoga and anyone who is curious. The aim is to help you live a more functional, effective and strain-free way that is unique to your goals. My principles of movement will help you get stronger and build more stamina, flexibility and balance without pain, strain or tension.

What can I expect in these workshops? You will learn simple (but not necessarily easy) movements that will help improve mobility and decrease pain. For yogis, you will discover a whole new perspective on movement and take your practice to the next level! There will be a focus on breath work, mindfulness and developing body awareness woven throughout the workshop. This is not a typical yoga class so yoga experience is not required.

When we move better, we feel better and we can enjoy life more.

My next 2 workshops are called Yoga Rehab and it will be held Saturday, September 30th and October 14th at McMaster Fitness 2-4pm. Cost is $45 + hst. Participants will receive a handout and free practice video.

Contact me to register or ask a question.

Corporate Yoga the Best Investment You Can Make

If you were guaranteed a 300% return on your investment would you sign on the dotted line? Absolutely. What about when it comes to your health? Despite the research and statistics that are out there, we continue to play Russian Roulette with our health. We work hard to make money so we can live the life we desire. But what is all that money worth if we are not healthy enough to enjoy our lives the way we want to?

When our health declines, it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a slow and steady descent that is often difficult to recover from and usually results in one or more losses in our lives. We are proactive with our finances: we save; we invest for the future. Now is the time to also start being proactive in our health and the path to better health can begin at work.

Companies want employees with unique specialized skills: people who go above and beyond expectations. They anticipate challenges and respond to opportunities that create growth and value for the company. Whether it is sales, marketing, finance, law, or something in between, companies want their employees to be at the top of their game and to be productive all day, every day. Unfortunately, the reality is that our bodies are not physiologically designed to withstand the demands and stresses we impose upon ourselves during long busy days at the office.

You don’t wake up one day and decide to be sick or unwell. Unless you are in an accident, there is likely something happening over time that causes the body to break down and become ill. Stress has become normalized in the workplace; many people don’t even realize that they are stressed. General busy-ness, hurriedness and day-to-day chaos place our bodies in a constant state of fight or flight for extended periods of time. Our natural state should be one of rest and repose, which is now becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Burnout rates are higher than ever. Sick leave, stress leave, and mental health leave are becoming regular occurrences. These conditions aren’t only a cost to the health of the person afflicted but they also cost that person’s company time, money and manpower.

So what are smart modern proactive companies doing about this? Leading companies are working with health and wellness service providers who offer solutions to these problems, health and wellness providers like me. Companies expect a lot from their employees. Workers likewise give a lot of their time and effort to be successful and productive. So why not invest in yourself and your people? When companies invest in their employees’ wellness they can expect three dollars in cost savings and benefits for every dollar spent.

Corporate Yoga is a wonderful proactive approach that companies are bringing on board to help keep executives and their employees healthy, happy and productive. Often times when someone hears the word yoga, they immediately think of hyper-flexibility and fitness. Yoga is so much more than that and it doesn’t require any flexibility whatsoever. Yoga is an adaptable system that affects the body, the mind and the spirit in profound ways that literally change how we think, act, and feel.

Companies can help workers improve their mental clarity, boost creativity and sharpen their problem solving skills. The beauty of yoga is that it extends itself off the yoga mat and out of the yoga class into your day-to-day work and activities. You learn mental and physical skills that you first apply with some effort, but that will become second nature.

Looking for a long-term solution to improving the bottom line, cultivating healthy workers and maintaining happy bosses?

A good corporate yoga teacher is your trusted advisor who will work to understand your company’s needs and provide solutions that are customized and unique to your workplace and its people.

To learn how you can energize your workplace from individuals to teams to departments email me at lindsay@innergycorporateyoga.com for a complimentary onsite consultation. Customized. Informed. Educated. Wellness for life.

Breathing for Stress and Anxiety

Yoga_Photoshoot_Hany_easy pose 2Wouldn’t you love to live in a world where you could flip a switch and all your stress and anxiety would just go away? There are many different strategies we can employ such as going to a yoga class, getting a massage, meditating, being in nature or exercising. These are all wonderful things that we can do that will help. These all require finding time and going somewhere to do it. However, there is one more tool that we can use at any time no matter where you are. That is your breath.

Many of us who practice yoga or any of the above activites have gotten a glimpse of the switch that leaves us feeling, calm, relaxed and at peace. Unfortunately these feelings are fleeting, stressors find their way back into the limelight and it leaves us wanting without knowing how to get it back.

The answer lies not just in our breath, but how we breathe and the mindfulness that arises from this awareness. After years and years, dare I say decades of stress, years of being on anxiety medication and then the death of my mom, I stumbled across a doctor who told me I wasn’t breathing. I was holding my breath. I was certainly taken aback by this observation and it was turning point for me. Albeit slow, the process brought me to where I am today and now I want to share the skills with you so you can reap the benefits now and not years down the road.

Breathing is important for two reasons. One, it brings oxygen to our blood and two, oxygenated blood helps to heal our tissues. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we have unconsciously learned a disordered way of breathing that is fast and shallow, that limits the flow of oxygen into our bloodstream. As a result, we are not taking in sufficient oxygen or able to expel sufficient carbon dioxide. Reduced lung function reduces our vitality, ages us prematurely, lowers are immune function, etc. So not only does breathing impact our cardiovascular system, but it also effects the respiratory, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic systems. So you can see how important optimal breathing is for our overall functioning.

When we re-learn how to breath optimally we begin the healing process and improve our ability to cope with stressors.

We can also begin to experience these benefits for the long term:

  • Less respiratory problems, stronger heart by reducing it’s workload
  • Relaxes body and the mind
  • Improves the health of the nervous system, including brain, spinal cord, nerve centres and nerves.
  • It has an effect on your sleep, your memory, energy level and concentration.
  • Aids in digestion and elimination. Assists in weight control. Oxygen helps burn up excess fat more efficiently.
  • More oxygen in the blood means better complexion, fewer wrinkles, more energy, clarity for the mind, positive thinking, supports vision and hearing.
  • Rejuvenates muscle and organ functioning. Lack of oxygen to cells is a major contributing factor to cancer, heart disease and strokes

Why Do We Breath Fast + Shallow?

Let’s face it, our lifestyles often dictate that we are in a hurry most of the time. Our movements and breathing follow this pattern. Perhaps you have noticed in your yoga practice how your mind and body mirror each other. The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply. Other reasons could be related to negative emotional states, reduced physical activity,  environmental pollution and even our culture (the desire for an attractive flat stomach results in gripping and holding of the abdominals. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.)

Medical journals suggest that fast, shallow breathing can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart burn, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain, and heart palpitations.

Disordered Breathing Patterns

In addition to fast, shallow breathing, you might resort to chest breathing which is a habitual pattern failing to fully exhale and inhale. Other disordered patterns include mouth breathing, breath holding and hyperventilating.  When the sympathetic nervous system is switched on all the time, it can lead to changes in anxiety, blood pH, muscle tone, pain threshold, to only name a few. Overuse of accessory breathing muscles can lead to neck and shoulder pain/dysfunction and could even mimic cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.

Typical symptoms of disorder breathing can include:

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Breathing discomfort
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Erratic heartbeats
  • Feeling anxious and uptight
  • Pins and needles
  • Upset gut/nausea
  • Clammy hands
  • Chest Pains
  • Shattered confidence
  • Tired all the time
  • Achy muscles and joints
  • Dizzy spells or feeling spaced out
  • Irritability or hypervigilance
  • Feeling of ‘air hunger’
  • Breathing discomfort
  • Back pain. Research suggests there is correlation between breathing pattern disorders and low back pain.

Our reactions to stress is also known as the “fight-or-flight” response because it evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses helps someone to fight the threat off or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties.

The stress response suppresses the immune system, increasing our susceptibility to colds and illnesses. The build up of stress can lead to anxiety and depression.

We can learn to use our breath as one tool to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system and up-regulate the parasympathetic nervous system that helps the body rest, digest and recover.  The body is designed to spend the majority of its time in the parasympathetic nervous system.  Ideally, it only uses the sympathetic nervous system for true life-threatening emergencies.

To learn how to optimize your breathing to reduce stress register for my Breathing for Stress and Anxiety workshop May 20, 2017 at Leslieville Sanctuary. These are skills that you take with you in the car, at work and play. This workshop is appropriate for kids, teens and adults. No yoga experience is required.

To find out how you can host a Breathing Workshop for Stress and Anxiety at your workplace contact me for details.

Spring into Action – New classes, workshops and retreats

PhotoShoot_EmilieDee_meditationSpring a time of renewal and growth is certainly upon us. As I write this the rain pours down from all angles and the sky is grey. The first signs of spring precariously poke through the soft earth and shout gleefully that spring is finally here. Warmer weather is around the corner and we are getting antsy to resume outdoor activities and focus on our health.

I have been busy planting and nurturing the seeds of some new and current classes, workshops and retreats that are coming up in the next couple months. Now is a great time to dedicate time for a yoga practice to help prepare yourself for the coming summer months of athletics, travel and outdoor adventures. Yoga helps us to keep our body supple and strong, prevent injuries and pain, and helps us come into a grounded state of calm and clarity.  To help support and nurture all that  you do I have a new studio class starting at Leslieville Sanctuary on Tuesday evenings from 7:15-8:30pm called Yoga Foundations.

Yoga Foundations a slow paced, gentle, rehabilitative style class to help you develop flexibility, improve range of motion, and stability moving from a state of relaxation rather than moving through tension or over efforting. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to learn the foundations of yoga in a safe and accessible environment. People with long term injury, pain, or restricted range of movement will also benefit from this class. For experienced yoga practitioners, it is an opportunity to come back to basics, learn to move more purely and nourish the freedom in your body.

On Tuesday and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30pm I am teaching group Hatha yoga classes at Avalon Woods Fitness (ages 40+) in Etobicoke. Classes are free with Membership or drop rates/class passes are available.

Starting April 19th until June you can register for Yoga + Networking at Marani Law on Wednesdays from 6:15pm-7:15pm. Grab a friend from work and come meet some new people. This is a 10 week session package for $150.

April 29th from 1:30-3:30pm I am teaching  a Yoga Rehab workshop  on Breathing Your Way to Wellness. Our breathe plays an unparalleled role in how the systems of our body function. Beginning with awareness we reveal the awesome power of healing that is already within us. Learn some anatomy and physiology as it relates to the breath, uncover your breathing style and learn how to breathe easier to reduce stress + anxiety, sleep better and move better.

In May I am launching a Complete 12 Day Cleanse and Yoga workshop with Naturopathic doctor Corina Dinca in Don Mills. Despite our best intentions we often veer of the path of wellness and get stuck in emotionally guided patterns of eating and neglect self-care. Sometimes all we need is little bit of support and motivation to kickstart new habits. This 12 day program is designed to educate, develop awareness, support and motivate you to make small changes that have a significant and lasting impact on your health and wellness goals. Whether you want to lose weight, start exercising, address mental and emotional concerns or to develop greater balance in your life this program provides you with the knowledge and skills to get there.

Join me June 4, 2017 for a Day Retreat to Crawford Lake. We will hike around Crawford Lake and appreciate nature in all it’s glory. We will stop for an hour Hatha Flow yoga class and then enjoy a vegetarian lunch. In the afternoon we will explore some trails and practice a walking meditation. The cost is $80 and includes lunch.

To learn more about any of these classes, workshops or retreats please get in touch with me.

Myths about Injury, Pain, Ache and Strain & The Truths of Healing

TrikonasanaI’m going to let you in on a secret. Tell everyone. Seriously. You can live pain free and it’s super easy!

Often in conversation, whether it is in a yoga class or a passing conversation, I hear resignation to pain caused by injury, illness or stress. As a society we have taught ourselves to accept our physical imbalances, our fatigue, chronic stress, rigidity and tightness in the body, and our inability to move in the same way we did when we were younger. All these things I have just listed do not have to be your reality, despite what you think or may have been told.

After I was in a car accident in 2008. I thought I would have to live with at least a certain level of back pain for the rest of my life, despite my regular yoga practice and chiropractor visits. After studying therapeutic yoga with Susi Hately, I learned that I could have a pain free/discomfort free life. So let’s get clear on  some of they myths of injury/pain/ache/strain and the truths of healing.*

First myth: Pain is part of getting older.
First truth: Tissue can change and function can improve at any age. It all depends on the stimulus you give it.

Second myth: Nothing has worked.
Second truth: Nothing has worked, yet.

Third myth: Feeling pain means being overwhelmed by pain.
Third truth: By learning to move in a range that doesn’t increase pain, your pain will decrease.

Fourth myth: It took 40 plus years to create this problem, it will take a long time to resolve it.
Fourth truth: If your reason for resolving the issue is compelling enough, the speed of healing can be quite mind blowing.

Fifth myth: True change is impossible.
Fifth myth: True change is entirely possible. The first and second steps are awareness and self-care.

If these myths are resonating with you, consider getting in touch with me to chat about how I can customize a program specifically for you.

Pain Clinic workshops will be coming soon. Stay tuned for more details. Contact me to be added to my newsletter or to schedule a consultation or class.

(*Myths published by Susi Hately – Functional Synergy)

World Yoga Day – Free Class at Trinity Bellwoods Park

World Yoga Day posterWorld Yoga Day is June 21st and Innergy Corporate Yoga teachers are hosting a FREE yoga class at Trinity Bellwoods Park downtown Toronto. The class will be taught by four of Innergy’s teachers from 6:45pm to 8:00pm in the park. Fresh on Crawford is also throwing in something delicious so stay tuned for more details closer to the date. As an additional bonus you will be entered into a draw to win a free Private or Corporate Yoga class. What’s even better is four teachers means four chances to win! Bring your friends. We can’t wait to see you there!

Find the event on Facebook!

Yoga Means Business

Last week I mentioned the launch of our newest program with Innergy Corporate Yoga – Yoga Refresh. The easiest way to de-stress, relax and re-energize at work without the hassle of yoga mats or changing your clothes. Mindfresh in NYC is a similar program to Innergy Corporate Yogas Yoga Refresh program for businesses here in Toronto. This video demonstrates what a Yoga Refresh class could look like at your workplace.

How we are different:

  • Classes can be 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
  • Large offices could run four 15 minute sessions in a row with different groups of people or in different spaces.
  • Every Yoga Refresh class will tailored to the needs of the group and space available
  • Our rates are half of what the NYC based company is charging, making it affordable and accessible to all businesses large and small.
  • Classes are taught by experienced registered yoga teachers like myself with a passion for wellness and feeling great!

Contact me for a complimentary consultation on how I can help you incorporate Yoga Refresh at your company!

Innergy Corporate Yoga’s newest Corporate Class – Yoga Refresh

Business woman doing yoga at the office; Shutterstock ID 128038109; PO: aol; Job: production; Client: drone

Yoga Refresh is the newest offering from Innergy Corporate Yoga for busy people with limited office space. This customized program is the solution to all your office woes. No special space is required. There is no need to change clothes. No yoga mats are necessary. Plus, it is perfect for absolute beginners.

All you need is 15-60 minutes and an interest in trying yoga at work. Now you can refresh and de-stress at the office and feel great for the rest of your day.

Contact me for a complimentary consultation on how Yoga Refresh can work for your office.

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 6

Over the last 2 months or so I have talked about Mindfulness exercises that have begun to shape our perceptions of ourselves. Perhaps you have already begun to notice shifts in how you think, how you react to situations and how you feel physically. If you have been keeping a Mindfulness Journal, take a look at your entries and see how your experiences have affected you. You might not notice any changes yet and that is completely normal (so don’t worry!). Continue to be a witness to your experiences and take them as they are in each moment. Remember, try not to cast judgement on what you are experiencing. Drop any expectations you have about where you think you should be in terms of your mindfulness practice (notice that expectations exist and then, let them go….). Expectations are a form of desire that block the process. No one ever said this was easy work.

This next practice helps us to examine our relationship to food. How we eat is usually a reflection of how we go about our day to day lives. We rush through a meal or snack, maybe you are watching TV, driving a car or reading a book while you eat. Maybe you don’t even notice what your food tastes like anymore.

Mindfulness Practice 6:

Mindful Eating

The first time I consciously practiced this exercise was in mindfulness meditation class where my yoga teacher brought in apples for everyone. If you’d like, have an apple ready for your first go at it. However, because I want this to be accessible to you to try at any time, start with any meal or snack of the day. It’s easier to start small.

  • Give yourself at least 5 minutes to eat your snack, if not more. For example, you have an apple. Clean your apple, notice the beauty of the apple (it’s shape, texture, colour, smell).
  • Take a moment to thank the universe for it’s abundance (and while you eat or before you eat, acknowledge all the people who made this apple in your possession possible: express your gratitude to everyone/everything involved in making this apple available for you to eat (i.e. the sun, water, earth, the farmer who planted the seed, and cared for it, the pickers, the transporters, the farmers who hired the workers, the grocery store (the staff who stocked the shelves, the clerks, the store owners who made the store possible), the bankers or government who have the farmers and store owners capital to their work, the builders who built the grocery store, your boss for giving you a job so that you could afford to buy the apple, your teachers/parents who gave you the knowledge to go to school to get an education to get the job so that you can make a living, etc etc).
  • The Eating process: take a small bite. Chew that piece until it is completely gone. You may not even need to swallow. Repeat one bite at a time.
  • While you chew, notice the taste, notice the texture, the juices, how the taste might change, and any other thoughts that arise. Repeat until apple if finished. Pause and reflect on the experience, comment in your journal. (Post it notes are great when you are on the go!)

While  healthy choices are ideal for our well-being, don’t feel guilty when you indulge in a tasty treat. Instead of scarfing it down and then feeling guilty, take your time to truly savour and enjoy.  Watch how this practice, over time, changes your relationship to what you eat, how you eat, and even how much you eat.

Namaste,

Lindsay