Be Where You Are

We have an incredible team working at our Stretch Heal Grow  retreat this year. Here is a guest post from our fantastic yoga teacher Leo Mowry.

Be Where You Are – by Leo Mowry

There are a lot of “one size fits all” yoga classes out there. Classes that are constructed on the assumption that everyone is strong, has good mobility and no injuries, illness or special needs. Classes predicated on everyone being able to flow easily from pose to pose to pose, with proper alignment, and absolutely no threat of getting hurt. Classes in which the instructors assume the students know how to take care of their own bodies, but offer little to no guidance of how to actually do that.

I don’t admire this approach. Frankly, I think it’s dangerous. Over the years I’ve made a lot of money working to help rehabilitate people who have hurt themselves – sometimes badly – in “one size fits all” classes. People that trusted their instructors to keep them safe, assumed that the aggressive hands-on assists were in their best interests, and were lulled by the lyrical yoga voices gently guiding the poses.

When I was a new yoga teacher, I was struck by how much I didn’t know. I attended my first Therapeutic Yoga teacher training in 2003, motivated by the desire to learn to keep my students safe. Little did I know that this yearning for more knowledge would ignite my passion and change the course of my teaching journey forever. Since then I’ve trained and studied and explored and practiced and researched. I’ve learned to help people minimize and get out of pain, and the yoga/movement do’s and don’ts of countless conditions and diseases.

Most importantly, though, I’ve learned that it’s vital to meet my students where they are. Helping them accept their actual physical realities and honour the value of their bodies’ sensations and signals. I’ve learned that when I can help my students practice with awareness, curiosity and respect for their current needs, amazing transformations can occur. I’ve learned that when we can be where we are, with acceptance and grace, we have an incredible launch pad for growth and healing.

I’ve learned that every body can practice yoga. But it’s not “one size fits all” and never will be.

Leo Mowry

 

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Leo is a Yoga Therapist and owns Village Yoga in Toronto. She has been practicing Taoism since 1996, Yoga since 1998, and became a Reiki Master in 2009. She specializes in weaving the 3 modalities together – the mental, the physical and the energetic – helping people to relieve physical and emotional pain. Leo is a t.v. host (“A Brand New Day” on Rogers TV), author (“Advancing Your Yoga Practice: The Art of Slowing Down”) and guided relaxation recording artist (“The Voice of Relaxation, Volume 1”). In addition to creating and facilitating the therapeutic yoga programme for Stretch. Heal. Grow., Leo is also a 2-time lululemon ambassador and an ongoing contributor of expertise and articles for various TV shows, web sites, publications, and retreats. To learn more, visit www.villageyoga.ca, www.facebook.com/leomowry, and www.youtube.com/user/leomowry.

 

Insight Timer for meditation

Getting into a routine for meditation can be tricky and then there is being able to sit without looking at the clock every 2 min to see if you are done yet. I found myself wondering when 10 minutes was up and it would get in the way of me trying to clear my head. One of my meditation teachers suggested using Insight Timer. It’s an app for meditation. At first I didn’t like the idea since to me meditation should be tech free right? But this was actually ok – just enough tech to be helpful and not distracting.

Reasons I like Insight Timer:

  • You can set the time for as short or long as you’d like
  • Pick which kind of bowl or bell sound you want to ring you in and out
  • They also have great guided meditations available incase you are in the mood for some guidance instead of just silence
  • It keeps track of how often you meditate so you can get an idea of your habits, timing etc.
  • It shows how many other people are meditating at the same time as you which is cool – like a virtual sangha ( community)

The app is free but if you want the version that has all the features you can upgrade for a few bucks. I think it’s worth it. Incase you are wondering no I don’t have any connection to them – I just really like the app! And I like sharing good things that help people. So enjoy!

Check it out here    or in your app store

 

xo Jasmin

 

 

Stretch Heal Grow 2016

 

I am thrilled to announce the 4th annual Stretch Heal Grow yoga retreat for young women with breast cancer.

As a survivor I want to be able to give back, to offer some way to help women on their healing journey. So in 2013 I started the Stretch Heal Grow yoga and wellness retreat for young women with breast cancer.

 I have brought together a top notch team of practitioners who will be our guides through a weekend of yoga, healthy eating, meditation, relaxation, exercise, community and healing. I’m also hoping there will be lots of laughter and few new friendships by the time  Sunday rolls around.

Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment changes a young woman’s life in every way. It not only affects her physically but emotionally and mentally as well.

This retreat is a chance to spend time healing their bodies and minds. They will be surrounded by people who understand what they have been through and can share experiences. It will be a safe place to process what it means to live with post cancer treatment or with ongoing treatment.

Going through a year or more of cancer treatment is a huge financial burden and I didn’t want any of the women attending to miss out because it was not  within their budget.  Sometimes getting away from it all for a few days is a perfect prescription for healing.

That is why the cost to attend for the weekend  ( other than transportation) will be covered for the women attending. I am partnering with Rethink Breast Cancer again this year. With their support as well as some fundraising we will make it happen for another group of women!

 If you are interested in finding out more or applying to attend please visit  www.stretchhealgrow.org     

This year’s retreat runs from Wednesday August 17 – Friday 19, 2016

Location: Trillium Resort and Spa 

If you know of a young woman (in Canada who is under 45) living with breast cancer that might benefit from attending please pass this post along to her.

Checking in with yourself

I have never really been one for new years resolutions mostly because whenever I try to cut out chocolate it never works!  So now I don’t make traditional resolutions, instead I continue with my gratitude lists and do a mental recap of what happened over the year. I look at both the difficult stuff as well as the wonderful parts that I am thankful for. I find that helps me to take inventory and move forward in a way that feels a bit more spacious and open to possibility.

One of my favourites - the lotus grows through the muck to blossom in the sun

One of my favourites mantras- the lotus flower grows from and through the mud up towards the sun. Transformation through suffering to peace. (thanks Thich Nhat Hahn)

The reason I look at the difficult stuff in my ‘personal mental recap of the year’ is because it needs attention too. You can’t have light without dark and you can’t face your fears without first acknowledging what they are. As tempting as it is to stick my head in the sand and not think about things ( and sometimes I do that if really needed) I feel better when I give the difficult emotions some of my time and attention. It lessens their power, softens their  edges and sometimes even helps them to resolve. I don’t dwell on them , I just hold them and feel them out. I notice what reaction my body has to them and I try and breathe through it. Then I give permission for it to be there as long as it needs to, but also to let go if it when I need to.

The rebound effect seems to be that I feel even more gratitude for the good that has happened and don’t feel so anxious and overwhelmed about the bad stuff. 

Some ways to help check in with yourself and be in the moment:

  • Meditation – you can do this for as little as 2 minutes a day or as long as you want to. It’s an ideal way to just sit with your emotions without judging them, or trying to fix them. Just let them be and observe.
  • Journaling – can be done on its own anytime or even after meditation to write down any insights that may have come up.
  • Going for a long walk in nature – stopping to sit along the way to think about your year and breathe through whatever comes up
  • Give yourself permission to let go of anything you are carrying around that longer serves a purpose in your life

Being present with how you are feeling also helps you to become aware of where you might be depleted energetically. It helps you see if it’s time to “fill up your well”.  Self care is different for everyone but a good way to replenish your energy is to take some time doing things that nourish your soul and bring you joy. They can be little things or big things. That is up to you.

Happy 2016 – may it be a good one!

 

 

 

Mindfulness can help manage your stress and anxiety

I wrote a guest post for Rethink Breast Cancer’s blog this week. The post offers some tips and info about mindfulness and how it can help with stress and anxiety. Rethink Breast Cancer is a charity that offers support to young women living with breast cancer.

Click here to read the post.

I am a big fan of mindfulness because it is such a powerful self care tool for living with a chronic illness of any kind, stress, fatigue, anxiety and the list goes on. It’s something that you can do for yourself to help your own healing journey.

xo