Things I Love About Teaching

When Someone Calls Me Their Favourite Teacher

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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!

Things I Love About Yoga

The “Awakening”

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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!

Tip of the Month

Put Oil in Your Nose!

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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!

Things I Love About Teaching

Walking Into a Full Class

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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!

Things I Love About Yoga

The De-Stressing Effects

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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!

Recipe of the Month

Quinoa Salad

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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

Instructions:
-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.
-Enjoy!

This recipe is so easy and so delicious, try it out and fall in love!

Some of My Favourite Poses

Supta Hasta Padangusthasana – Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose

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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!

Things I Love About Teaching

The Journey It Takes You On

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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!

Things I Love About Yoga

Savasana

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Even though savasana is “just” a yoga pose, it is something I really love about yoga. Savasana, otherwise known as corpse pose or final resting pose, is sometimes considered one of the hardest poses to do in yoga. There are two groups of people I have encountered (so far) in the yoga world, those who LOVE savasana and have no clue as to why it’s sometimes called the hardest pose, and then there’s the people who HATE it and have a million things running through their minds, they feel like it is not an efficient use of their time, and there is so many better things they could be doing right now. For those of you reading this who don’t really know what savasana is, it’s basically lying on your back at the end of a yoga practice. It is such an important part of the practice, I actually can’t emphasize enough how much you need savasana in your life. The purpose of savasana is to bring a definite end to your yoga practice, so that your body doesn’t feel like you may still do some poses. Another purpose of this pose is to allow your body to relax and rest after what may have bee a vigroous or thought provoking class. The even more important purpose of this pose is to allow your body to steep in what you just practice. What I mean by this is that you need to give your body and mind a little rest after a yoga class (and really any exercise you may do), this is not only to prevent you from being exhausted or energy depleted throughout the remainder of your day, but it is also so that your body can rest and feel the practice and store it all in your muscle memory. So imagine you kicked up into handstand for the FIRST time, if you just ran out of the class and went home to show your friends and/or family, chances are you wouldn’t be able to do it again right away. This is because doing so would be WAY to jarring for your system. If you got a pose for the first time and then allow your body to rest in savasana at the end of your practice, you’re giving yourself a chance to let the pose soak into your practice so that your body knows where to go next time. So of the two groups of people I mentioned earlier, I was 100% the second type. I could not wait to get out of class, I would count in my mind how long we had stayed there, I’d get angry if it was too long, I even would sneak out of the class sometimes if I could. Overtime, I realized how disrespectful that was not only to the teacher, but to myself. Essentially my busy mind was preventing my body from resting and soaking in the practice. What I came to realize was that I had a really hard time sitting in silence, even in my daily life, sitting in silence made me feel very awkward and uncomfortable. Once I realized this I was able to work on that part of my practice and now I am 100% in the first group, the people who LOVE savasana. Now as a teacher, the time I leave the class in savasana varies depending on how strong the practice was that day. When I encounter someone who hates the pose or even (very rarely) complains to me about savasana, I try to explain to them the importance and hopefully help them to discover why they should practice this pose more. The shifts in not only you mind but also in your body that you can discover in savasana is one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE yoga!

Pose of the Month

Vasisthasana – Side Plank Pose

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Side plank is a great pose that can be done in two different ways, one is core and arm strengthening pose, the other is a heart opening pose. I find this pose to be very fun to practice and to play with all variations. The traditional full vasisthasana is a side plank with the top leg straight in the air and your holding your big toe of that leg. I find though, that it is such a versatile pose in that it can be done in so many ways for so many different purposes. One variation is done with the knee of the lower leg resting on the ground, this makes it less of an arm strengthening pose, but since you are using your knee to lean on, you are much more stable and therefore have more of an opportunity to lean back and open your core. This variation also gives you the freedom to play around with lifting the straight leg and trying many different shapes with that leg. The next variation is to be in a side plank with your forearm down rather than having your arm straight. One advantage of this pose is if you have sore wrists, you will be putting no strain onto the wrist. Another thing about this pose (you can look at it as an advantage of disadvantage) is that since you’re so much closer to the ground, you have to use your core a lot more to keep your hips from sagging to the ground. Another variation is to be in a side plank, but having the top leg bent adjacent to your body having foot resting on the ground in front of you. This makes the pose a little more stable, but also more challenging for your core than when your knee is down. The next variation is very similar, but you would have your legs stacked for the most part and just have the top foot rest just ahead of or behind your weight baring foot. A “normal” side plank would be to have your legs and feet completely stacked. From there you can play with lifting your top leg and keeping it in the air, or bringing your foot into tree pose, or grabbing your big toe and coming into “full vasisthasana”. Once you master side plank, you can play with doing different things with both legs. Also, one you create a deeper connection with your body, you can notice if you tend to hyper extend your weight baring elbow. You can play with having your hand stacked under your shoulder or having your hand a little more forward from your shoulder. You can notice if you tend to back bend or not and then trying doing whatever isn’t natural for you.  So whatever it is, have fun with it and really try it out this month!