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.

Summer Yoga Sale

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for my blog. I’ve had a surprisingly busy summer between spending time at cottages with friends, family events and travelling to Yellowknife for a wedding. Aside from travel I’m taking two online courses for my yoga business and professional development, I’m the vice president for a Business Networking International chapter in Toronto and planning fun and creative ways to bring yoga to individuals and corporations in city. Despite it all I still manage to make time for my own daily yoga practice. Making self-care a priority means I’m physically, emotionally and mentally in a space where I can manage all the other things in my life with relative ease and minimal stress.

Many of us take longer holidays in the summer, spend more time outdoors and are more active in general. With the extra time and energy you have this summer, consider starting a yoga practice to prepare your body and mind for the changes that come in the Fall and Winter. To help you get started, this summer I am offering $60 private sessions to all new clients in Toronto until the end of August. You can add a friend for only $15 more. Whether you are looking to deeply relax, start a meditation/mindfulness practice or are looking to get out of pain or improve mobility I can customize a practice that is unique to you and give you the skills necessary to start your own home practice. Contact me today and mention this article to get the sale!

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.

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.

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!

Valentines Day Yoga

Yoga_photoshoot_Micheal_wild thing close upShow your sweetheart how much you care with an at home private yoga session. What better way to begin the day than with a gentle yoga practice to awaken the mind, body and spirit.

Your loved one will get: 1 hour personalized yoga practice that focuses on deep breathing, mindfulness, gentle stretches and heart opening postures to fill her with a sense of joy and love, followed by an aroma therapy guided relaxation. Yoga mat and other props will be provided.

A 60 minute class is $100 + hst. Limited availability this coming Saturday/Sunday (Feb 13-14, 2016). Contact me to book now!

You must be located in Toronto/GTA.

Too book a couples yoga session add $15.
love mudra

Making New Years Resolutions

Yoga_photoshoot_Micheal_wild thing close up
It has become a cultural tradition to make a New Years Resolution every year which is essentially a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something nice.  I stopped making resolutions years ago because they always ended up being empty promises or else never fulfilled because I had no game plan. Don’t get me wrong, self-improvement is great for personal growth and to feel good about yourself and to help others. In fact, I highly recommend self-improvement, just under different terms.

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutionsAs we have learned throughout our lives, words hold tremendous power and unfortunately, there are some problems with the word Resolution.  The Merriam-Webster diction defines “resolution” as the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something.  The not so clear problem with using the word resolution is the assumption that something is inherently wrong or broken or something that needs to be fixed. Why must we always find fault with ourselves and feel like we must resolve to change something?

new-years-resolutions-300x219This year resolve not make a resolution and instead make a New Years Intention.  “Intention” means the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose. This word is positively charged and implies personal growth and success; it implies clarity and understanding. The words you choose to use do make a difference! Grab your journal or a piece of paper and answer the questions below to begin the New Year with a positive, fresh start.

 1. Make a list of all the pleasant incidences in 2015 and all the unpleasant incidences in 2015. (Notice which list is longer)

 2. What lessons did I learn from 2015?

 3. In what way did I grow in 2015?

 4. List of my 2016 Intentions:

 5. My Bigger (long term) goals:

After you make your list of intentions, go back through your list and make a concrete plan on how your will achieve those goals. (E.g. blanket statements such as “lose weight,” “get out of debt,” “eat healthier”- how will you achieve these goals? Breakdown the steps you need to follow to achieve your intentions.)

intention

If you are feeling keen, continue by completing these exercises:

  1. 10 things I am grateful for:

  2. 10 things I’m excited about (not related to yoga)

  3. 5 things I am excited about/curious/passionate about (in the yoga realm)

Now place your list(s) somewhere that you can reference it often and check on your progress. Some times all we need is a quick glance to remind us of what important to us.

Namaste,

Lindsay

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Planting the Seed

Yoga_Photoshoot_Hany_easy pose 2Hopefully you have not become too overwhelmed with your weekly mindfulness practices. Remember that you do not need to do all of them everyday. If you find that a particular exercise resonates with you, stick that one. We learn to observe and become witness to our thoughts and actions we begin to notice those tricky little desires that pop up all the time. The desire to rush or speed up the task, the desire to tell ourselves stories and over analyze, the desire to make excuses and procrastinate. I bet you are smiling to yourself right now, if you recognize one of those habits in yourself. Becoming aware those desires, is the first step in the process of working through them.

When you begin to notice the anger rise up, you can catch that anger, watch it, observe it. How it makes you feel, how you choose to react or watch that anger. Don’t push the anger away or try to hide. Sit with it, feel it, recognize it. Be aware of the anger in you. Try not to analyze or justify they anger. Just let it be.  Over time, the anger will fade. You will see that the anger no longer serves a purpose. It is tiring, it is no longer worth it. You decide to stop suffering from your anger because it’s not worth it. You begin to notice when other people are angry but you now have this new understanding that perhaps they are unaware of their anger and their pain. You feel compassionate towards them. You are grateful you have been able to process through the anger you feel.

This is just one small example of how Mindfulness can manifest in our lives. It doesn’t happen instantly overnight or in a week. Perhaps months or even years of dedicated mindfulness practice can help us to let go of deep seated emotions or feelings that have be growing for years.

We are constantly talking to ourselves. There is what psychologists call a ‘feedback loop’ of chatter that we say to ourselves all the time. Unfortunately our mind tends to focus on the negative. Perhaps you have hear, “I’m not good enough” “No one loves me” “Your so ugly”. We all have triggers that set off this self talk which ultimately keeps us from living our life to its fullest. Each time you say to yourself “I suck” you are watering a weed that is growing and growing and becomes hard to control. We all have a garden in our minds full of weeds. We know that from research, negative self talk can lead to poor self-esteem, low body image, depression, anxiety, stress and even physical health ailments. Our mindfulness practice can help us to clear out the weeds and start planting new seeds. Once the seeds are planted we need to keep watering those seeds so that they too begin to bloom.  The challenge that we face is many of our weeds have been passed down from our ancestors through the generations having cultural and ethnic complications. Through each of the Mindfulness Practices you can begin to develop your perceptions and your awareness of your own self-talk. Remember, awareness is always the first step. Now it’s time to plant the seeds. Whether is it through a seated breathing meditation or a walking meditation, choose your mantra, “I am kind” “I am helpful” “I am worthy” “I am enough” “I am loved”. Repeat these words to yourself everyday. Express gratitude to the universe or to god for granting us these capabilities, these gifts. We believe “I suck” because we’ve heard to hundreds if not thousands of times. When that “I suck” seed was planted in you years ago, the person that said those words was wrong. Perhaps they were suffering from their own negative weeds, they could be the very same words spoken to them years before. They said those words lacking awareness of how they would impact you. In your own time, forgive the speaker of those words, because they said so with out awareness or understanding of the power of those words.

The thing with “Awareness”: awareness develops differently for everyone. Some people are ready and open to it. Awareness requires us to do some hard work and often we discover some shadows that we don’t like. Others prefer to live a life of ignorance, “I don’t know, what I don’t know” and they are okay with that. We cannot force awareness on anyone who isn’t ready for it. Also recognize the desire in you to pass judgement. It is natural. We are taught to judge others through comparison. Without judgement or comparison we wouldn’t be able to make sense of our world. The wisdom that I pass along here, is to catch yourself if you find yourself judging someone else for their apparent lack of awareness. Recognize you are on a different path from that person. It is okay. Smile and be grateful for your process.

If you have children, teach them how to plant their own seeds of kindness and compassion. Teach them that every person in the world shares the same desires: to be loved unconditionally.

Next week, Mindful Eating.

Namaste,

Lindsay

Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 4

IMG_1628This week we will learn a walking meditation. You can do this while you walk to and from your car, take the dog for a walk or during your lunch break. Try to pick a time where you can do it at the same time everyday. Over time you can make your walk longer.

Mindfulness Practice:

Walking Mindfulness Meditation

  • To begin your walk, slow down your pace. With awareness of each step you take, step your foot heel to toe, feeling the entire foot making contact with the Earth. It might begin to feel like you are getting a nice foot massage!
  • With each step you take you can recite to yourself a mantra like, “Thank you.” (Heel touches down “thank”, ball of foot touches down “you”-repeat with each foot and each step you take).
  • Breathe deeply while you walk, try to relax the muscles in your body and your face, walking with a light step.
  • Notice how this exercise makes you feel. If you have started a Mindfulness journal, jot it down with today’s date.

By expressing gratitude for each step, you are recognizing your ability to walk and move easefully through space. You might notice that you don’t have any injuries or pain that restricts movement, that your arms swing freely, etc. Focus on the feet and the movement.

Other options: another mantra, may simple be “right, left” or “stepping”

Don’t forget to make a quick note in your mindfulness journal about your experience today. How did this experience make you feel compared to sitting and breathing?

Namaste,

Lindsay