On Love, Perspective and Rest

It’s hard to believe it’s almost the middle of February already. Valentines Day and Family Day are coming up this weekend so your mind is likely thinking about the other people people in your life and you’re not thinking about yourself. That’s okay. The people in our life are super important but keep reading because I have message for you…

I spent the last two weeks in Calgary for in-person yoga therapy training and I wanted to share a few gems with you. As soon as I got home I saw this image on Instagram and I felt like it epitomizes a few themes from my training. We often limit ourselves and get comfortable in the little box we build around ourselves that we identify with as “I” or “me”. As such we miss opportunities all around us or limit ourselves because we have one way of thinking or deeply ingrained beliefs that we aren’t even aware of. When we can start to consciously explore using different lenses or taking different perspectives for how we perceive; our world, our toolbox and our opportunities get bigger and more expansive. Yoga Nidra (a process of meditative self-inquiry) teaches us that feelings and emotions exist on a spectrum. We can explore them from this perspective so we can embody the experience of a range of possibilities. It’s amazing how one small shift can create huge change. (If you’re interested in experiencing Yoga Nidra, come to one of my group classes or book a private session).

My message for you…

Winter is a season for rest. When you are feeling tired, anxious or stressed, or constantly getting a cold, consider from the perspective of your body, that it’s asking you to rest. Take a nap, go for an easy walk, try some gentle movements that feel nourishing and supportive, and go to bed early. It’s okay to say no to that invitation from your colleagues or friends or family if your schedule is already crammed packed. It’s okay, and necessary, to slow down and take care of YOU! When we really take good care of ourselves, we have so much more to give to our families and our work. When considering when and how you rest think about which type of person you are: Person A: you need to move (exercise) a lot before you can start to wind down and actually rest. Or Person B: you need to rest and relax yourself to replenish your energy reserves before you even consider being active. Whether you are person A or B or somewhere in between, let your needs guide you on how you create rest.

If you need some more ideas on how to support yourself to feel rested and relaxed I’d be happy to chat!

My 10 Year Yoga Anniversary

 

The past 10 years of my yoga journey has had a lot of up downs and learning experiences. I started practicing yoga in Hong Kong when I worked there as a teacher at an International School. I got into teaching Kids Yoga to my students while I was there then upgraded to 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training when I moved back to Canada. As a private and corporate yoga teacher I noticed many of my students were limited by pain due to repetitive stress or a health diagnosis. Unequipped with the appropriate skills to help them I started learning yoga therapy, which not only got me out of pain from a previous car accident, it also helped my students get out of pain. Now in private practice as yoga therapist and approaching my 10th Yoga Anniversary, I reflected back on what has happened during that time. My reflections showed up as ways I have changed or evolved and lessons I have learned along the way. Here are my top 10 lists for my last 10 years.

 

My Top 10 lessons learned

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  2. Yoga processes don’t change who you are – you get clearer on who you are – you change how you are. I used to think a long pilgrimage or seeking spiritual enlightenment was going to provide the answers I was seeking. No matter where we are in the journey, we are always going to have troubles and how we show up with the problems as they arise is the testament of transformation. True change and transformation happens bit by bit, by taking incremental baby steps over time.
  3. Advanced yoga is not crazy, contoronist postures. Advanced yoga is the willingness and ability to do as little as possible, keep coming back to the basics and learning something new about yourself. We have a tendency to work too hard in yoga classes. Slowing down and cultivating a sense of ease is necessary for healing to happen.
  4. Relaxing and letting go is not a thing that you do.  Relaxation and letting go is the result of slowing down and cultivating ease. The better we feel, the easier it is to let go of things or people that make us feel crappy.
  5. In any aspect of life, if you want a different outcome, something has to change – you might have to do something differently or see things from a different perspective.
  6. Sometimes what you are attracted to is not what you need, sometimes it is. Being able to discern is a process. Mindfulness practices can help us grow our awareness and presence moment to moment.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make requests. Advocate for what you need.
  8. When you learn how your body is meant to move and move in a way that doesn’t increase tension, strain or pain, progress is going to be a lot faster and meaningful.
  9. The more we can feel, the more we will become aware and the better we can listen to our bodies signals communicating with us. This means more opportunities for us to choose how we respond to those signals. With practice we can start to discern how our body is constantly communicating with us right down to the subtle, nuanced whispers.
  10. Taking time for self-care and making it part of your daily life is the single most important thing you can do. You deserve to proactively take care of your health.

Top 10 Ways I have Evolved

  1. Asana – For me it started off being all about the yoga poses. The poses were the thing to strive towards for a long time, until I realized that they weren’t the thing – the movement piece became a catalyst for everything else.
  2. Resilience – I am resilient AF. I’ve come to a point in my life where I can look back at the challenges and take lessons from all of it. I now appreciate and look forward to change. I embrace challenge.
  3. Awareness – I’ve become very aware of all the things I was tolerating. Releasing the stuff and people that I no longer want to tolerate has given me much more freedom to notice other stuff  that matters.
  4. Grounded – People often describe me as being very grounded and confident.  I use to feel untethered, all. the. time. My mind kept me awake at night. I worried. I was stressed. I was anxious. I was angry, easily irritated, frustrated. Dedication to my yoga practices and routines  helped me release all of these things and I now have the skills to manage them when they do show up.
  5. Gratitude – Learning how to practice gratitude on a daily basis was another catalyst for change. It made me more resilient, more aware, kinder, more compassionate, more grounded and happier.
  6. Health – I have far fewer colds, less aches and pains, I sleep better, have more energy, and am physically stronger and have better movement patterns and a greater awareness of what is related to not feeling well.
  7. Priorities – Self-care has become a priority. If I’m not healthy and am feeling over stressed then what’s the point? I’ve learned how to create a self-care lifestyle and set healthy boundaries with work and not feel guilty about it
  8. Presence – I engage in a lot of introspection, personal reflection and contemplation. I am getting better and better at being in the moment. Meditation and mindfulness helps.  Listening to the language of my body (mindfulness) – noticing the physiological sensations, mental chatter, emotional responses, etc inform my decisions and interactions.
  9. Values – Recently I’ve been focusing more of my attention on my values. They evolve and change over time. What was important to me in my mid-twenties, is not the same as in my mid-thirties. There is also a difference between the values I aspire to and the values I actually live, those which are demonstrated through my actions and behaviour. I’ve also noticed that my values might not always be completely mine. Part of my values are created in my relationships with others. “I am because we are.” – African proverb.
  10. Seeking Support – I used to think I had to and could do it all on my own. Migraines forced me to seek medical help and I’ve since realized in other areas of my life  that I can’t do it all on my own either. There is no shame in asking for help or support. Working with my own yoga therapist was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Support is necessary. Seeking support is  an act of self-love – something we need to give ourselves more of.

No matter who you are, we all have a deep need for support. Ask for it. Don’t be afraid to seek it out. Know that I’m here to support you too. If you feel like you need some support to come up with a self-care plan that is appropriate for your life I’d be really happy to chat with you.

New Group Yoga Class at Living Waters Therapies

Starting Wednesday’s this November I will be offering a new group yoga class at Living Waters Therapies. This class is slow paced and gentle so you can start to develop a deep physiological awareness to be able to respond to the signals your body is sending you at every moment. You can also expect to experience breath work, mindfulness, meditation and functional movement based in Yoga Therapy aimed at helping you to move better. As you develop awareness of your movement habits and learn how to quiet compensations your body will begin to release from cycles of pain and tension, then flexibility, stability and strength arises.

LIVING WATERS THERAPIES – 1114 QUEEN ST EAST

WEDNESDAYS 7:15-8:15PM – STARTS NOV 7, 2018

YOGA FOUNDATIONS

This class is perfect for anyone who wants to learn the foundations of yoga in a safe and non-judgemental environment. People with chronic pain, healing from injury, or restricted range of movement will also benefit from this class. It is ideal for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners who want to advance their practice. My aim to help you become your own best teacher.

Rates:

  • Introductory class $10
  • Introductory package of 5 $75
  • Package of 5 – $115 ($23/class)
  • Package of 10 – $220 ($22 a class)

Sign up at Living Waters Therapies

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.

A Mindful Approach for Spending Time Outdoors this Summer

crawford lake 2Now that the warm weather is here we are spending more time outdoors. Simply by being outdoors we get a boost energy from the fresh air and warm sunshine. However, there are ways we maximize our experience of the great outdoors.  Whether you go to the cottage, play outdoor sports, enjoy hiking or running or riding your bike, gardening or going for walks, whatever it may be you can up your outdoor experience with these easy tips.

  1. Breath deeply. Actually notice what it feels like to breathe in fresh air. Feel your lungs filling up and slowly emptying. Experience your breath as if it’s the first time you’ve ever breathed in fresh air. Try this 5 times or as often as you like.
  2. Slow Down. Even when we are outside we tend to rush rush rush. Try taking slower steps. Notice what the earth feels like beneath your feet. If possible walk bare foot and notice the sensations.
  3. Tune into your senses. Appreciate the shapes, the sounds, the smells and even tastes around you. As you walk slowly, breathing deeply, take a few moments to truly appreciate the nature that surrounds you. Feel the warmth of the sunshine on your face. Listen to the sounds all around you. Think of 5 things that you can appreciate about this moment related to what you can hear, see, feel, smell and/or taste.
  4. Stop moving. Simply be still for a few minutes. Observe the world around you, moving, doing, being. Enjoy.

Maximize the benefits by getting out of the city completely and into the woods. The deeper we can get into nature, the more connected to nature we become.

What are the benefits you might ask? Check it out:

  • lower stress levels
  • better working memory
  • feeling more energized/alive
  • lower blood pressure/heart rate
  • reduced tension/anxiety
  • improved mood
  • feel more relaxed
  • less likely to ruminate on depressing thoughts
  • boost immune system
  • may inspire awe and happiness

Looking for a outdoor day retreat? Let me take you on an experiential, mindful day retreat just outside the city. Contact me for more information and to plan your excursion.

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

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 3

offeringWelcome to part 3 of developing your mindfulness practice. So far we have learned a simple breathing exercise and body scan. This week we are going to add on to the first breathing exercise. This practice requires 2-5 minutes of your time. Spend about 2 minutes on Breathing Exercise 1 to centre yourself.

Mindfulness Exercise 3:

Breathing Exercise 2

  • Find a comfortable seat. Begin Breathing Exercise 1 and then stop saying “inhale/exhale.” Simply sit quietly and focus on the breath. Try to sit as still as possible.
  • When a thought arises label it “thought” and go back to breathing. If a body sensation arises such a cramp/tingle/pain/ache/itch, label it “cramp/tingle/pain/etc” and go back to breathing.
  • At the beginning your experience might be this: Breathing….”thought”, breathing, “thought” “thought thought thought, breathing thought thought thought…..”

It is completely normal to think, however, try not to attach any significance to this. It is what it is. Over time and with practice, you might begin to notice this: “breathing, breathing, breathing, thought, breathing, breathing, breathing, thought”. The space between thoughts that arise gets longer. With practice you can start to become aware of the thoughts that arise. Is it a different unrelated thought each time, or are the thoughts that arise the same or are they related to a theme? Try not think of “thinking” as something negative or unwanted and try not to attach any meaning to the thoughts that do come up. We want to break the habit of over analyzing our thoughts and just let them come and go. There is no destination, it is about the Process.

In your journal, make a note about how you felt during this practice. What did you witness?

Namaste,

Lindsay