Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Importance of a Home Practice

Practicing in a class or privately under the guidance of a Yoga teacher is very important. You learn proper alignment and safety in postures and are given the guidance for postures to feel good in your body; May it be through modifications, variations or physical adjustments to make the posture suit your body, not your body to suit the posture.  With that being said, once you have established a familiarity with postures and feel confident to execute certain postures safely, why not take this opportunity to keep your practice at home.

I love a classroom environment and I love practicing under an instructor as well,  but I also think there is a very strong importance to practice alone with nothing but you, your breath and your mat(although the mat is optional!). When practicing in class, you are flowing along to a sequence that the teacher creates for the class. When practicing at home, you are flowing along to what your mind and body are saying. I call this an intuitive practice.

What is an intuitive practice?

Rolling out your mat, closing your eyes to set an intention, breathe and when you are ready, begin moving. Say you begin in Child's Pose, you may be thinking, "What the heck am I doing? I don't know what my body wants right now" but that couldn't be further from the truth. You know exactly what it is you need. You just need to breathe and listen. Just start out by doing a few simple postures: Child's Pose, Cat/Cow, Downward dog for example, and eventually, your body will start speaking to you: "Open my hips please," "Oh that feels wonderful, can we hold that a little longer?," "Your feeling strong today, let's try an arm balance"...All this will come from within you once you allow room for it. All it takes is you: Listening, letting go of expectations and just going with the flow ;)

My intuitive practices have been some of my favourite moments on my mat. Why? Because those are the times I am truly listening to my body. I am giving myself that time to just be.

Next time you are wanting a practice why not keep it in house? You don't even need your mat! Sometimes, I love using the space around the room rather than being restricted to my mat. Whichever way you choose to practice, whatever way serves you best, why not stay in your pajamas and see where your body takes you?

Namaste <3



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Feed the Good Wolf

Happiness is a choice. I know, this may sound like a crazy statement! And, of course, easier said than done, right? If it were that easy than the world would be a much different place. But, like a Yoga practice, practicing happiness can be done. As each day goes by, it will get easier to choose happiness rather than another emotion that may want to surface. It's like the saying goes:

" We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to react to it"--Author Unknown.

This is a true statement. Ask yourself: What takes more of your energy: Holding grudges and resentment? Or letting go and choosing joy? Sure, this isn't to say that you should let someone walk all over you. But, having a "Happiness practice" may help you react differently. You can say your peace and then leave it at that. Leave it in the moment. There is this beautiful story about a Cherokee and his grandson that I want to share:

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

 He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

How beautiful is that story, right? It puts in perspective exactly what I am trying to say to you here. Everyday is a fresh start, a blank canvas, a slate wiped clean of yesterday. Everyday, we have the choice to feed the good wolf or the bad wolf.

If we chose to feed the bad wolf, than it will show up in negativity, tiredness, greed and more. If we feed the good wolf, it will show up in our character, our personality. We will be more positive and happy. And we will lead by example. If we show others that you are nurturing your good wolf, they will be more inclined to do the same.

My Happiness Practice:

1.The Loving Kindness Meditation: Everyday, I will send out love to myself and all beings. Sending out this loving energy gets my day off to the right start.
2. Set an intention: At times, this may be just a quote or a mantra, at others time it is just a word or two: Breath, Let go, be present, stay grounded, etc. These intentions are often practiced in Yoga as well, but starting my day with an intention not only starts it off well, but serves as a reminder throughout the day.
3. Gratitude Journal: I write every night in my journal and always end it with things I am grateful for. I will also do this practice first thing in the morning, before my feet have even touched the floor. I will also journal my hopes for the day.
4. Do one thing, first thing in the morning that makes you happy. Whether this is brewing a cup of coffee and sitting quietly reading the paper or a book. Putting on your favourite song and doing a little dance in your bedroom or living room. Having a cuddle with your kids or fur baby. As human beings, we can wear so many hats: Mother, Father, husband, wife, employee, boss, etc. We need to focus on the self as well. Starting your day off with doing something for you can be just what you need. What do I do? I read a chapter of a book. It could be my latest read, or a passage from an old favourite, but I always read at least one chapter while sipping my warm lemon water.
5. A Yoga practice: Duh! Of course, this is one the list. Once I am out of bed, I will roll out my Yoga mat(or practice mat less!) and move around. Re-awakening my body after being in bed for 8 or so hours. Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes an 1 hour. But, I will always move around.

So, that is my happiness practice. That is how I feed my good wolf. And since I have been focusing on this more since Christmas, I have noticed a tremendous shift! I don't let others have control over my feelings or give negative Nancy's my energy. I choose to surround myself with love and positivity. Sometimes, it takes more of an effort, but it is always worth it. Practice happiness. Nurture your good wolf!

Namaste!





Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nourish Your Soul Workshop: March 28th!

UPCOMING WORKSHOP
 
Invest in yourself with this empowering, women's only workshop. Nourishing the temple of you! Cathy Benjamin(Alter Ego Yoga) and Krista Harrison, RHN, Certified Reflexologist are joining forces again for another powerful workshop!
 
We'll get physical! Prepare to move around on your mats and explore yourself through Yoga. We'll work on the essentials in takes to live your best life: Mind, body and soul. If your interest lies in gaining more awareness to the relationship you have with yourself, than this is for you!
 
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” -Steve Maraboli
 
When: March 28th, 2015
Time: 2-4pm
Where: Queen Street Yoga Studio (44 Queen St S, Kitchener)
Cost: $45 until March 18th. $55 until March 27th.
 
For more information: Contact Cathy at:
yogaalterego@gmail.com or visit: www.alteregoyoga.com
or www.kristaharrison.com
https://www.facebook.com/alteregoyoga
Space is limited. Secure your spot today!
 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Yoga and Digestion

Before you reach for the tums, beano or the laxative, why not try a little Yoga?

There are quite a few factors that can come into play when it comes to digestive problems: Bad diet, stress, allergies, low/sedentary active level, etc. However, if you are suffering from bloating, gas, constipation, stomach cramps or acid reflux, then turning to your Yoga practice may give you the relief you are looking for rather than turning to over-the-counter medicine.

How does Yoga aid the Digestion?

Pairing your breath with Asana does wonders not only for your digestion but for your stress levels as well(which can play a big part in your stomach troubles).  The movement linked with your breath can help relieve any tension or discomfort you may be experiencing. Yoga stimulates the pancreas, intestines and stomach. It can decrease acid reflux, increase gastrointestinal circulation, decrease gas and aid constipation.

What Poses Should I do?

Well, even just 15 minutes of any Yoga practice may help but here are a few specific poses that will target your digestion.
 
 
Child's Pose
 
Paschimottanasana
Seated Forward Bend
 

A regular Yoga practice, and these postures will ensure that your digestive system will get stronger! But please note that Yoga does not take the place of any diagnosed medical conditions that require medication. There are cases that medication is required. Also, please note that this is strictly from my own personal experience and should be taken as medical advice.
 
A healthy digestive system is a happy digestive system!


Photos from:
Yogaoutlet.com
smscs.com