Maksikanagasana 1 – Dragonfly Pose
Dragonfly pose is a very challenging hand/arm balance that requires a big twist to get into. When I get into this pose, I feel very accomplished because it requires such strength and focus. The first time I tried this pose, I was able to get into it, but it usually requires major warm-up time. The average person cannot twist that deeply without warming up. Basically, to get into the pose, you must get your foot to stand on your tricep and your other foot floats out to the side. It is generally considered to be an advanced arm balance and therefore you must be proficient in chaturanga as well. This is a pose that I cannot get into without adequate warm-up. Even if I can get into a deep enough twist, I simply do not have the strength to shift the weight onto my hands half of the time, and then you get into the situation where yo either fall hard on our butt or fall forward (which could be dangerous). This is why it’s so accomplishing to get into, but maybe practice it with a pillow in front of your face… I love the shape and the accomplishment of this pose, but the strength and warm-up it takes are the reasons why it is SO challenging for me!
Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana – King Pigeon Pose
Pigeon pose is one of my go to poses. I love reclining pigeon where you have your one leg forward with knee bent and the other leg straight behind you, I find it very relaxing. However, it’s no secret that I love back bending, so the full pose where the back leg is bent and you are holding your foot and the sole of your foot is one your head… That has got to be one of favourite poses. It is a pretty advanced back bend, especially if you are fully engaged and have a nice, even curve throughout your spine. This is a pose that I wish everyone could get into, as funny as it may sound, resting your head on the sole of your foot is such a grounding and relaxing position to be in. I actually find this to be a really nice warm-up to super advanced backbending poses. I feel like everytime you see pictures of people in this pose, there is an air of warmth, happiness, and overall joy. It is such an expressive pose, the very definition of opening your heart. I think it is physically impossible for me to be in this pose and frown, it literally brings a smile to my face every. single. time. The overall joy and grounding that this pose brings to me is the reasons why I LOVE it so much!!
It’s My Job!
Teaching yoga has become my career, every job I had before it was just that, a job. I didn’t care about those jobs, I didn’t care about those companies, it was not fulfilling in any way shape or for. The job I had before making the decision to do a complete lifestyle change made me completely miserable, it nearly ruined my life. That job tormented me over the four years and four months I was there. The worst part is, is that I could see how this giant corporation brainwashed people into thinking they were part of a “family” rather than the truth which was that everyone was a replaceable part of a machine (that wasn’t even well oiled). I shed more tears over that job and how I was treated there than I think I ever had over anything else. I saw the people who had been there for upwards of a decade and I saw how miserable they were. I saw and heard about their family problems, marital problems, how much they hated their job but weren’t willing to do anything about it. I saw myself stumbling onto that path and I decided to stop it. I was lucky enough to have been certified to teach yoga before I left that job. I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do before leaving that job and was able to immediately start my dream job. My road is definitely less traveled upon, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now I get to help people on their wellness journeys. I get to aid in peoples’ recovery from injury. I get to make connections with like minded people and see my students grow. I get to write about my experiences and share it with others who may be struggling. Teaching is my passion, my career, my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I LOVE it!
The Way It Changes You
When you make a commitment to yoga, over time you will find that it changes you for the better. You may be at the start of your journey and think that it won’t affect you, but naturally as time progresses it really does. Take my journey for example, I started hot yoga purely to lose weight. I had heard that hot yoga was the equivalent of doing yoga in a sauna. I didn’t really know what that meant since I had never done yoga before, but since I was self absorbed and very self conscious, I decided to give it a try. All I cared about was losing weight and getting that “Hollywood” body, but once my intro week wore off, I just had to do more. I floated around from studio to studio doing the intro specials. I eventually found a studio I really loved and signed up with them, I even did my first teacher training with them. In one year of practicing there, I had do 310 classes, I nearly went everyday. The thing was, I didn’t go that often to get “skinny” anymore. I kept going that often because I yearned to learn more. I wanted to get stronger and go deeper into my asana practice, but it also changed the way I looked at people and things. Before yoga, I was quick to anger and very reactive, after this time at the studio it calmed me down substantially. Fast forward to today and I am full of self confidence, I did lose weight from the journey, but I just don’t care about that anymore. The number on a scale, the number and/or letter on the tags of my clothing do not define me anymore. I am so much stronger now that some times I can’t even believe it. I meditate at least once a day, I eat clean (and I certainly did not before), I practice pranayama daily, and of course I practice asana daily. I no longer concern myself with the corporate world because it nearly ruined my life. I live and breathe yoga. It is quite literally what puts the bread on my table and I couldn’t be happier about that. This certainly doesn’t mean this path will be everyone’s, but I do guarantee you that yoga will change you in many ways and definitely for the better. The changes this journey has brought to my life is one of the many reasons that I LOVE yoga!
I was introduced to oil pulling last September and it has changed my life! Oil pulling is one of the kindest things you can do for your mouth. Do you ever wake up with a super dry mouth? Has your dentist let you know that your gums are receding? I think probably everyone can answer yes to at least one of those questions. The thing is, oil pulling prevents your gums from receding because the mucous membranes and pores of our tongue absorb the vital nutrients from the oil, therefore it lubricates your entire mouth, including your gums. The viscosity of oil allows it to slowly seep into the areas that toothbrushes won’t get and that mouthwash moves too quickly away from, then the oil will slowly draw any junk out of these nooks and crannies. The thing is, contrary to the 30 seconds you gargle with mouthwash, because these things need to happen slowly, oil pulling must be done for at least 5 minutes. I do it for 20 minutes every morning. Something to note is that the oil you choose is very important. You can’t necessarily just go into your cupboard and use the no name cooking oil, it must be a cold pressed virgin oil. Furthermore, if you subscribe to the ayurvedic perspective on things, certain oils compliment you and certain oils aggravate you. Coconut oil and sesame seed oil are complimentary for all types of people, coconut is cooling and therefore best in warmer months and sesame is warming and therefore better for colder months. This practice should be done first thing in the morning. Do not swallow the oil when you are finished, since the oil draws junk out of hiding places, if you swallow it you are just reintroducing the junk into your body. Brush your teeth when you are finished.
1. Choose the oil best suited to you.
2. Take a spoon, or if you have one, a tongue scraper, and scrape your tongue to get the night’s gunk off of your tongue.
3. Take about a tablespoon of the oil and swish it around in your mouth for at least 5 minutes.
4. When you’ve finished, spit out the oil and brush your teeth.
5. Enjoy your day!
Today’s quote comes from the late, great Albert Einstein. When we get to the point where we reach out limits we have the choice to either give up or go beyond. I choose to go beyond!
With the big game happening tomorrow morning, it felt only fitting to have today’s photo be a proud Canadian photo. I’m wearing my favourite Canada t-shirt and Warrior 2 is the pose because the boys will have been fierce ice warriors during these Olympics. Go Canada GO!
Astravrakasana – Eight Angle Pose
Astravrakasana is a very fun hand/arm balance, but it takes a LOT of muscular engagement to pull off. I didn’t get this pose until recently, I just wasn’t strong enough. When I attempted the pose, I felt like my bum weighed a thousand pounds, I just could not achieve lift-off. I have a major tendency to just hang out in my body rather than really engage. So I realized that when you get your legs wrapped around your arm, you must squeeze with full force to achieve lift-off, I found myself in the pose! It took a long time to actually build the muscle to even be able to do the pose. In my opinion, you must be proficient in chaturanga more so in this hand/arm balance than a lot of them. In addition to squeezing your arm with tonnes of muscular engagement, you must also find a kicking away from you action. You’ll be able to hang out in the pose if you just squeeze, but you’ll find greater ease in the pose if you kick your feet away from you. So the main actions are chaturanga arms, squeezing legs together and kicking feet away. When you can find all of these actions at once, you’ll find success in the pose. I’m a person with tonnes of organic energy, so the amount of muscular energy required in this pose is why I find it so challenging, but I LOVE that challenge!
Helping Others Through Injury
A lot of people start their yoga journey because somehow they have experienced some form of injury in their life and were referred to go take yoga. The theory behind this is that in yoga, there is generally a lot more integration in the body and when practicing, you use muscles that you’re not used to using. Furthermore, in yoga you are constantly putting major pressure on your bones. Whether you’re in downward facing dog putting pressure on your arms and legs, in handstand putting pressure on arms, or tree pose putting pressure on your legs, there is a tonne of pressure in any given pose. This added pressure helps build up the strength of the bones and is very good for preventing osteoporosis or injury related to osteoporosis.
So when a doctor, massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath, etc. etc. recommend someone to try yoga, they are essentially coming to you for help. This student is placing their trust and hopes in you. They are coming from a place of injury and may have a limited range of motion or strength. It is your job as a teacher to help them not only to recover from their injury, but also to prevent any further injury. Hopefully, during their time with you, they learn how they injured themselves, how they can integrate to begin healing, and how to avoid doing the same thing in the future. The general population does not have the greatest awareness of what is going on in their own bodies, so the source of the injury is not always obvious. As a teacher, it is so important to help students to tap into their own feelings and sensations. When a student can finally feel what it is that is going on deep within their bodies, the message the teacher is sending has been received. Perhaps eventually the student stop coming to the teacher because he or she has healed and now knows what to do with their bodies. Perhaps the student heals and stays with you. Either way, just helping the student work through the injury or injuries is such an honour and is one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching yoga!
When you become involved with yoga, you become a part of a wonderful and accepting community. Whether it be through your town/city, favourite studio, social media, etc. there is a lovely community of like minded people who support each other and it is so lovely. When you become a yoga teacher, you find out even more how lovely this community is. When you as a teacher trains with another teacher, it is very likely that they know others who you know. It is a very lovely feeling knowing that the yoga world isn’t so huge and that your teachers can be in a completely different country than you, but are still just as supportive. Have you ever been to a class that was more workshop-y and you were doing a really tough pose and everyone was cheering you on? Have you ever been chosen to demonstrate a pose and the rest of the class gave you a round of applause when you finished? I have, and it is such a joyous feeling! The other amazing thing about the yoga community is how the word spreads. If you’ve been to an AWESOME class, it is more than likely that you told someone else to check out that class. The benefits of this are threefold, not only are you helping that teacher by getting their name out, helping the studio to survive by sending referrals there, but you may be connecting a teacher and/or studio to someone who really needs what they have to offer at that time. This to me is the very definition of support and is one of the many reasons that I LOVE yoga!