When Someone Calls Me Their Favourite Teacher
I know that having attachments to such things is looked upon as wrong, but being someone’s favourite teacher is not one of my favourite things about teaching because it fuels my ego, it’s one of my favourite things because it makes me feel truly honoured. When I teach, I share a bit of my own personal practice, maybe not my exact same practice, but the same flavour. I teach what I love and I don’t necessarily try to please my students (other than when I ask them what they want to work on, but that’s a different story).Of course I cater to the needs of my students and would never teach them something that would not be remotely accessible and I would always lead them through an appropriate warm-up, but I don’t tend to try and do the poses they want to do (mostly because the poses we hate the most are the ones we need to practice). So when someone comes up to me after class and tells me that I am their favourite teacher or that they absolutely LOVE my classes, it warms my heart so much. Something in them recognizes the fact that I am trying to help them progress through and grow their practice. The fact that I get to teach people what I love everyday and to hear them say that they love it is just the most rewarding part of teaching I think. I don’t walk into a class hoping to make someone love me, my view of how successful my class is does not hinge on people loving me, that has zero affect on my teaching, but the fact that it happens all the same (and no, not everyone loves me haha!) is such a plus. This beautiful added bonus is one of the many many reasons that I absolutely LOVE teaching yoga!
By awakening, I don’t mean some weird religious/cult-y awakening, what I mean is awakening in the sense of a new found awareness you get from cultivating a devoted yoga practice. So by devoted practice, I mean a devoted asana practice as well as a meditation and pranayama practice. I would say on average most people start with asana and then from there decide to try out meditation and pranayama. In my opinion, when all three are practiced regularly, an awakening happens. So through regular practice, I feel that you become more contemplative of the world and become a little more conscious of your ethical standards, this happens to be one of the 8 limbs of yoga (called yamas). So maybe you start to question things such as your diet, where the food comes from, how the food is grow/raised. You begin to become more keenly aware of your body, so maybe you really like the taste of candy, but now that you’re more in tune, you realize that it doesn’t digest well (something you may have never realized before). You become so in tune with your body that when practicing asana, you can adjust your own pose because you start to feel that your alignment may be off (even if by the smallest amount). Even when you start to consume better food you begin to feel that your body is functioning more efficiently! Maybe during meditation it is easier for you to gain the stillness and concentration to block out the other senses. Maybe over time you even begin to feel the amazing benefits that meditation and pranyama have on your body separate from asana. All-in-all you begin to view the world differently, questioning and researching where things come from and trying to pick the best options for you and the world. Certainly you begin to view your body in a differently light, you choose the best options for your whole body rather than what your tongue or ego demands. Overtime, your tongue and ego will quiet and you will be more receptive to food that nurtures you rather than caters to some craving. These amazing changes that just happen naturally contribute to the many MANY reasons that I LOVE yoga!
Put Oil in Your Nose!
No, really. Go and do it! You will not regret it, there are numerous benefits, it’s not just some weird thing I’m suggesting you do. Putting a high grade, cold pressed, organic oil in your nose will lubricate your sinus passage. Have you ever woken up in the morning and had a terribly dry nose? Do you suffer from allergies? Do you have constant sinus congestion? Does the inside of your nose frequently feel dry and itchy? I know mine did before I started doing this. And no, I didn’t make this up, it’s practiced in Ayurveda, so it’s a pretty ancient technique used to calm your sinuses and moisturize your inner nose. It is also said that putting oil in your nose can treat any pain/discomfort/condition from the shoulders up. I would say that the effectiveness can vary, but you can definitely feel it treating everything from the shoulders up… So think of allergies or colds as little germ particles that you breathe in and they get caught in your sinuses either because they are dry and rough or because there are mucus blockages keeping those germs on the inside. If you begin a practice of putting oil in your nose, you clear the blockage and moisturize the tissue, this way when you breathe in those particles again, they come in and go right out, there’s nothing left to keep them caught inside of you! For this reason, cultivating a practice of oiling your nose helps to keep you healthy, particularly in cold and flu season. It is also said that putting oil in your nose helps with aches and pains, so if you have sore shoulders, neck, jaw, maybe a headache, doing this practice can help or even alleviate those issues. I don’t know if this has been scientifically proven, but I put oil in my nose every night before bed and I have to say it’s one of the most relaxing things ever. It’s probably the best nighttime ritual to get you ready for a great sleep. When the oil goes it and it slips down, you automatically feel at ease, do not be alarmed if you taste the oil as it comes down, this is natural! I can also tell you from experience that it soothes the vocal cords. If you had a day with a lot of talking or singing, maybe you were at a concert and you were screaming, any other reason that you could have a scratchy throat the next day, put oil in your nose and your throat will be 100% fine. My nose used to be so dry that I would sometimes get nose bleeds or just generally feel uncomfortable in my nose at all times, putting oil in my nose on a nightly basis has gotten rid of that feeling for me. My nose always feels great now! The best oils to use would be sesame, coconut, or olive oil because they work equally well for all constitutions. For me, in the winter I choose sesame oil, it’s slightly warming so it just feels amazingly cozy and warm. For the summer, I choose coconut oil, it’s slightly cooling, so it just feels so relaxing and smooth going down. I have only used olive oil once and couldn’t handle it because of the taste, I have to admit that I didn’t realize that olive oil had such a strong taste on it’s own! Anyways, putting oil in your nose can sound scary, but seriously, try it out for fun one day and see what a difference it makes!
Visvamitrasana – Pose Dedicated to Sage Visvamitra
This pose is really fun and really challenging, it may not be accessible at first because it does require a lot of strength, but can be done with a partner to make it a whole lot easier. Visvamitrasana is a variation of side plank, however what would be your bottom foot in side plank is actually floating behind your weight baring arm. So in words that sounds weird, but if you take a look at the picture of BKS Iyengar doing the pose, you can see what I mean. So this pose requires even more arm strength than normal because your leg is pushing into it, so not only is it weight baring, but there is another force pressing into it, your leg! If you can get past the huge amount of strength it takes, it is actually a very nice strength, both in the lifted leg and the torso! So if this pose isn’t readily accessible to you, you can either place the back edge of your weight baring foot onto a wall and that will give you very minimal support, OR get a friend to help you. If a friend is helping you, they are going to lift and internally rotate your weight baring leg’s thigh, while grounding/stabilizing the shim of your weight baring leg. This doesn’t sound like a whole lot of help, but try it out, you’ll definitely be surprised with the automatic lift you get from that assist! This pose is extremely challenging and definitely requires a lot of warm up, but it’s super fun to practice, especially with a friend! The stretch this pose gives me makes me LOVE it, but the strength it takes definitely makes it a challenge for me, but that’s why I practice it!
Supta Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana – Reclining Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
This one is quite the mouthful to say, either in English OR Sanskrit! This pose is a natural progression from last week’s favourite pose. If you come into the pose the same way you do in last week’s, in this week’s what you would do is extend your leg out to the side. So for example if your left leg was in the air and your left hand was holding either the strap or your foot, then you would extend your leg out to the left. This pose is a really great inner thigh stretch and can be a subtle/gentle stretch or can be very intense depending on how deep you go. It is also a nice and gentle hip opener at the same time as strengthening your arm. I have always loved this pose, but when I first started practicing it, I find it challenging. To me the challenging was not the hip opening or the inner thigh/hamstring opening, the challenge was rooting my opposite thigh back and my lack of arm strength. This pose used to really make me sweat! The importance of rooting the opposite thigh back (so if we went back to our earlier example, the opposite thigh would be the right)is to keep your hips evenly rooted. Your opposite thigh is going to want to lift so badly in this pose, but keeping it rooted creates a better stretch in the hips (not to mention it keeps your spine in neutral). The most advanced version of this pose would be peace fingers hooking onto big toe OR holding your inner or outer heel. This pose can be modified by using a strap (especially if you used a strap in the centered version from last week) or your can rest your outer thigh onto your hand (your elbow will most likely be on the ground in this one, so your hand is almost like a shelf). I love how this pose can be just as supported without the use of props and I love that it can range from a gentle stretch, to an intense one with arm strengthening going on! All that is going on in this pose makes me absolutely LOVE it!
Walking Into a Full Class
I have been teaching for over four years, but one of the things that makes me so happy each and every time it happens, is when I walk into my class and it’s completely full. My very first class was one of these, I was teaching a community class and there were 67 students in the class, I was so grateful, but so SO scared to be teaching my very first class in front of that many people! I was so thankful for that experience because it felt like jumping into the deep end instead of slowly inching into the water. I feel like it helped me to quickly adapt to speaking in front of others. Not every class I teach is completely full and I am teaching a lot of private classes these days, but when I do walk into one of my public classes and it’s as full as the space will allow it, it really does warm my heart. It makes me feel like my offerings are appreciated and that in that moment many people NEED what I have to offer. It’s one of those situations that when you walk into the room and it is full, it just gives you an automatic smile, at least it does for me. I am so thankful everyday that people look at a schedule or this website and decide that they want to share their practice with me. I feel the best way to honour this and to show my appreciation is to keep being a student myself and make sure that my teachings are always evolving. The opportunity and privilege to teach a room full of yogis is so AMAZING and one of the many reasons that I LOVE teaching!
The De-Stressing Effects
One of my absolute favourite things that I love about yoga is how much it can help to melt the stress of your day away. I find that when I’m having or have had a very stressful day, rolling out my mat or going to a class to practice is exactly what I need. When I’m able to tune into my body and listen to/feel what’s going on while working with my breath, I’m able to let go of the stress that has been with me for the day or week or however long. Of course this may be easier said than done especially when you’re just starting out in yoga, but it really is true. Sometimes, when I first started yoga, I would unknowingly let go of stresses from my day, but I would get stressed out about my practice. I would feel embarrassed if I couldn’t do a pose (ahem, handstand!) or stressed out if I twisted in the wrong direction, or I would be practically buzzing to get out of savasana. But as time passed and I eventually became able to quiet my mind while I was practicing, this became my go-to de-stresser. In fact, I went through a hard time last year when I left my full time job because if that situation wasn’t stressful enough, my father who was battling cancer had passed away. It was such a hard time and I’m sure that many people would fall apart in a situation like that, without yoga I would have! I swear that maintaining my practice through all of that really saved me and gave me piece of mind, it helped me to see that I would make it through that storm. I actually even made a few significant breakthroughs during that time, it was the first time I was able to successfully get into eka pada koundinyasana 2. So basically, to me, doing an asana practice is not only “me” time, but it’s almost like a mini therapy session, you can leave all the stress and crap from the day on your mat (and clean it off after practice haha) and leave your practice feeling fresh and renewed. The ability that yoga has to help you de-stress is, in my opinion, so important and so powerful, it saved me during a very hard time in my life, and it is one of the very many reasons that I LOVE yoga!
This super grain salad is not only delicious, but jammed packed with protein, whole grains, and omega fatty acids. It will help fuel you through your day by providing your body and mind with the food it needs all while keeping your blood-sugar level in check.
What You’ll Need:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 garlic glove, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil and add quinoa. Cook until water is completely evaporated, fluff quinoa with a fork.
-Let quinoa cool (in fridge if you like)
-Add all other ingredients when quinoa is cold.
This recipe is so easy and so delicious, try it out and fall in love!
Supta Hasta Padangusthasana – Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose
Supta hasta padangusthasana is a relaxing pose that also stretches your hamstrings. It is done lying on your back with one leg extended on the ground and the other leg extended up into the air. The traditional variation of the pose is done by hooking your peace fingers to your big toe and extending your leg toward the sky. However, I find that in our society, the average persons’ hamstrings are actually rather tight, so if they were to grab their big toe and fully extend their leg, they either wouldn’t be able to, it would be very painful, and/or it would really pull on your back muscles and this person wouldn’t be able to res their head comfortably on the ground. So if this is the case, the pose can be modified with or without a prop. With a prop, the person would use a straight and place it over the ball of their foot as they extend their leg toward straight, they could hold onto the strap at a comfortable spot for their body’s needs. Without a prop, I would suggest to interlace their fingers behind their thigh (closer down toward their hip rather than toward their knee). The benefit of placing hands closer down toward the hips is that you push your leg into your hands and pull your hands into your leg, this stabilizes your hamstring insertion and grounds your hip allowing you to lengthen your leg to the best of your ability in a safe way. I feel that this pose is truly accessible to anyone no matter how tight their hamstrings AND it benefits everyone no matter how flexible their are! The versatility of this pose is one of the many reasons that I LOVE it so much!
The Journey It Takes You On
Yoga itself is such a journey,but so far, the journey that teaching has taken me on has been so amazing and unexpected. When I was doing my first teacher training, I was working at a company doing account admin work, I was pretty miserable but it paid the bills. When I finished my teacher training, I was so very fortunate enough to get offered two studio jobs. So immediately after my training, I was balancing my fulltime job, my two studio jobs and my own daily practice. Overtime I began to LOVE my studio jobs and knew that’s where I wanted to focus my time, I felt like my fulltime job was just a job and the teaching was my life. It took me on a journey to find out the steps to start my own side venture where I could teach private classes. Again I was fortunate enough to get clients pretty much immediately and this was just another step on my path away from the corporate life. As time passed, I became more open to my situation and more comfortable with the idea of being happy and proud of my career. This naturally caused me to become less happy and tolerant of the fulltime job I had, it was a very abusive situation that I had put up with for far too long. Almost a year ago now, I took the plunge and turned my back on that place. After all the complaints I filed that went nowhere, after having my voice be drowned out for years, after shedding countless tears for the treatment I received, I was free. It was a scary feeling since it was a stable income, but now that my journey is more focused and not hampered by that place, my journey has been moving along so quickly and in such an aligned way. Teaching has afforded me the opportunity to buy my own home where I will be able to set up some new offerings (stay tuned in June for these incredible offerings). My stress level has gone down exponentially since leaving that place. And basically, I am here to tell you that if you are in an abusive situation, whether it be with a workplace, a significant other, a bully, or anything else, you can survive it, you will find the strength to get yourself out of that situation and even if it may seem scary, you will not only survive, but thrive with a much brighter and happier outlook. Teaching yoga helped me to find that strength and it is one of the MANY reasons that I feel so inspired by and LOVE teaching yoga!