Wise Little Ones

Lately my 6 year old and I have been doing some yoga together. She also likes to do it on her own following the pictures in her kids yoga book. I must admit as a yoga teacher it makes my heart smile to see her starting to explore her own yoga. But the part that has really taken me by surprise is that in her own 6 year old mind, on her own level she understands yoga. She also know when to use it, or rather when to remind me to use it. 

She has created a little sequence that she calls Sky Pose. She says it helps her when she gets frustrated and that I should try it when I am frustrated. One day when I was losing it with her little sister for something totally ridiculous I felt a little tap on my arm. Kaia looks up at me and says, “maybe you should do skye pose”?

Of course my first reaction was ,”are you kidding? Don’t tell me what to do when I’m angry, stay out of this. I’m the mom, I’m in charge.” ( Yes I said that in my head of course).

 She was looking at me in such earnest that I sighed and said, ” sure ok fine let’s do skye pose”. I did it with her. Then we took 3 deeps breaths together and my anger was gone. Just like that. My need to yell and scream was gone. I still wasn’t happy with what her little sister was doing but I looked at her and instead of wanting to yell I felt like I could keep my cool and navigate my way through the incident with more patience.

All we did was stop, breathe, stretch our arms overhead and bring our palms together down to our hearts and deep breathe again. So simple and so effective. It was made even more powerful for me because it was my 6 year old daughter who recognized what I needed in that moment and guided me through it.

Yoga was the example for me but beautiful lessons from children come in all shapes and sizes. They show up in many different situations.  Children, no matter what age are incredibly wise and have so much to teach us. We just need to make sure we are listening.

 

 

Happy 2015!

I read an article this week that I loved and thought I would share it with you as we start of off this new year. It is the speech zen buddhist monk Norman Fischer gave as his Baccalaureate address at Stanford University in 2014. I like it because it is so simple and so true. It brings it back to basics, yet fills you with hope and excitement about moving forward at the same time.  It is about being present, being of service and bringing it back to love.

Here is a passage I really liked:

“Your life isn’t and has never been about you. It isn’t and has never been about what you accomplish, how successful you are or are not, how much money you make, what sort of position you ascend to, or even about your family, your associations, your various communities, or how much good you do for others or the world at large. Your life, like mine, and like everyone else’s, has always been about one thing: love.”

Click here to read more

May this year bring you closer to love on all levels.

Enjoy!

A seasonal chakra check up

 

This past weekend we turned the clocks back and with that usually comes a shift in energy. As fall is fully upon us the days are now darker and getting colder. You might find your energy changing a little too. Some people feel more tired, or sluggish, others begin to feel the need to draw inwards and we get closer to ‘hibernation’ season.  Autumn is a good time to do a check in with your chakras  (the 7 main energy centres in the body) and try to clear and balance them a little. Maintaining free flowing energy through the chakras can help get you  through the transition to winter with a bit more mental and emotional strength and clarity.

 

“Every thought and experience you’ve ever had in your life gets filtered through these chakra databases. Each event is recorded into your cells…”, in effect your biography becomes your biology. – Carolyn Myss

Here are the links to my previous posts on each chakra. Each one comes with an explanation of what it is and some ways to balance it.

What are the Chakras and why will being aware of them help me? read more

1. Root Chakra – your connection to the earth, your roots, sense of stability –read more

2. Sacral Chakra – centre of sexuality as well as creation on all levels – read more

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – centre of your will and self power – read more

4. Heart Chakra – your centre of love both for others and yourself – read more

5. Throat Chakra – area of communication, speaking your truth and creating your truth- read more

6. Third Eye Chakra – centre connected to your intuition, sixth sense, third eye – read more

7. Crown Chakra – connection point to universal energy , the thousand petalled lotus – read more

Happy energy balancing!

 

Easy-Peasy Therapeutic Yoga Practice for Shoulders & Hips

 Next week is our second annual Stretch Heal Grow yoga retreat and I am very excited. We have an incredible team this year including yoga teacher Leo Mowry. This week Leo is my guest blogger and she has some great tips for a short but effective yoga practice. Thanks Leo!

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I’ve been teaching yoga for almost 13 years and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about creating a home practice for my students, it’s the importance of keeping it simple. As such, when Jasmin asked me to “guest blog” for The Deva Life, I realized that I had to come up with a super-effective practice that’s so easy that anyone can do it, and in a short period of time.

As a longtime yoga therapist, I’ve also realized the value of suggesting poses that offer the most bang for their buck.  For example, poses that don’t just improve flexibility, but also relieve stress.  To that end, I’ve come up with the simplest possible practice; just 2 poses!  This teeny tiny 10-20 minute practice will substantially soften tight shoulders and hips, leaving you a little easier in your body, and quieter in your mind.  I hope you enjoy it!

1)     Supported Heart Opener: (softens chest, shoulders, arms)

  • Roll a yoga mat tightly (standard size mat, please, or a tightly rolled towel or blanket to simulate the size of a rolled mat) and sit down with your knees bent and feet planted.  Place the bottom of the mat at your bra strap and lie down so it’s aligned along the spine and supporting the head.  Extend the legs straight out in front of you (knees bent with feet planted if the lower back isn’t 100% happy) and relax.  You may feel like the rolled up mat is digging quite aggressively into your back.  This usually signals a tight upper back and these sensations should gradually subside as you relax and breathe.  Focus on the breath as you relax for a few minutes, letting go of tension and clenching as best as you can.  Then, remove the mat and notice how your shoulders connect with the ground.
  •  After a few minutes in position “a”, if the sensations have subsided and you’d like to increase the stretch, grab your tightly rolled mat again. This time, you’re going to lie in a “t” position: legs straight out in front of you, arms straight out at shoulder height with the palms facing up.  The mat should be placed parallel with the arms, at bra strap level, and should be aligned evenly from left to right.  The arms should be extended above the mat, on the floor; not on the mat or below it.  Extend the legs straight out in front of you (knees bent with feet planted if the lower back isn’t happy) and relax.  Focus on the breath as you relax for a few minutes, once again letting go of tension and clenching as best as you can.  Then, remove the mat and notice again how your shoulders connect with the ground.

2)     Legs Up the Wall: (softens hips, lower back, legs)

Lie down with your legs straight up a wall.  If it’s a big leg stretch or your lower back is lifted off the ground, move your buttocks away from the wall until the lower back is on the ground and the spine is neutral.  For comfort, you may need a little softness under the lower back in the form of a folded blanket, small pillow or folded towel. Imagine the thigh bones descending easily into the hip sockets, and bring a slight bend to the knees, taking care not to collapse the pose.  Bring your focus to the hip creases, relaxing and breathing easily for several minutes.

Please remember that yoga should not hurt, and it’s always best to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.  Moreover, the length of time we can comfortably hold a pose varies from person to person.  If discomfort arises and persists beyond a few breaths, come out of the pose.  Feel free to contact me with any questions!

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Leo Mowry, August 2014

Leo owns Village Yoga in Toronto and is the host of A Brand New Day on Rogers TV.  Follow Leo on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leomowry, or contact her at info@villageyoga.ca

Stretch Heal Grow 2014

A few weeks ago I kicked off the campaign for this year’s Stretch Heal Grow yoga  and wellness retreat for young women with breast cancer. I feel so lucky to be able to organize this retreat again for 2014. I am working with a great charity called Rethink Breast Cancer and have also had help from many friends. This special weekend retreat started last year and the first 25 women who attended were incredible. I was inspired by each one of them. Witnessing first hand how much they enjoyed Stretch Heal Grow and what a community it created made me determined to run it again this year. This retreat is and always will be close to my heart.

When young women are diagnosed with breast cancer it is often a more aggressive form of the disease. Many of them are just starting out whether it be at a new job or as a new mom and suddenly everything changes. Breast cancer changes you physically and emotionally. Picking up the pieces and trying to put yourself back together can sometimes be made easier with the support of others who understand exactly what you are going through. Many young women feel isolated during and after treatment. My hope for the  Stretch Heal Grow weekend is to  once again create a safe space for transformation, healing and support – of course sprinkled with laughter , fun and some good yoga!

I fundraise to make the retreat happen. The money raised covers the cost for the women to attend. All they need to do is get themselves to the retreat and all the food, lodging, yoga and workshops are covered for them through donations from our incredible community.

Please take a moment to check out my little video for this year’s retreat. It will give you a look into why I do this and also how awesome the first year was!

If you are able to make a donation that would be incredible.  Just click on this link.

You can also  help by:

  • forwarding the Indiegogo campaign onto others,
  • liking our page on Facebook,
  • following us on Twitter @stretchhealgrow 
  • letting anyone you know who is under 45 and has breast cancer that this retreat might be something they would really enjoy.
  • Help  to spread the word in whatever way suits your style. 

More info about the retreat itself is online at www.stretchhealgrow.org

Thank you for helping to make a direct difference in the lives of young women with breast cancer.

Jasmin

A little therapeutic yoga please

I just completed a week long therapeutic yoga intensive training. It was a life changer for me. You see I have always been interested in helping people feel more balanced, healthier, happier and teaching yoga has always been one of my favourite ways to be of service. After spending the past few years in breast cancer treatment and reconstruction surgeries my desire to be of service has grown exponentially. I didn’t really fully understand what physical pain was until I went through chemo, radiation and multiple surgeries. I thought I knew, but I didn’t really know.

I have spent a good part of the last 5 months in a lot of pain from the changes my upper body went through with the mastectomies and breast reconstruction. I have been very pro active about trying to manage my pain. I want to be well enough  to return to work soon so I am trying everything to get stronger and healthier. I have done physio, massage, osteopathy and they have all helped immensely. But I still am carrying around so much pain that I actually started numbing myself out about it. I got used to it and held all the anger, sadness, grief  and tension in my body, stored away between my shoulders, ribs, neck and chest.  I tucked it away and kept it safe there and lived with the pain. This week during the training I blew that pain veil open, dug into it and started to let it go. I can’t even describe in words how incredible it feels.

The first exercise we did where I had to go anywhere near my “protected” area had me instantly in tears. But the crying felt good, scary but good. I had my body’s attention and it quietly gave me the nod to keep going. So I did . With the support of incredible teachers and other students I was safely able to explore what was going on with me physically. It was a very intense, tiring but also exhilarating process. In the five days of training I let go of so many holding patterns. I let go of fear, I sat with my sadness and with my joy. I started some serious cleaning out of my stuff. And the best part was that I emerged from the training not only having had many personal shifts but also learning how to help others and be of service to others in helping them find their pure movement, there ability to start letting go of some pain and get back to the things they need and love doing!

I want to thank Susi Hately and her team for an incredible experience. You can check out all the great programs and books she has for helping people get out of pain at  www.functionalsynergy.com

This week I was reminded to trust what I see and feel,  that less is more, and to always move in a pain free range of motion. I went into the training hoping to learn how to help others not realizing  that I would be helping myself and my own recovery process too!  I love those kind of surprises.

Take Care

Jasmin

 

 

 

Meet this year’s Stretch Heal Grow team

Every once in awhile the stars align and a great group of people come together to make a difference in the lives of others.

This is how I feel about the team I have assembled for the first annual Stretch Heal Grow yoga retreat for young women with breast cancer. The practitioners and teachers joining us this year are colleagues who have made a huge difference in my recovery process and life in general and I am so excited to share them with the group. We also have a few people on the team that are new to me and come highly recommended that I  am really looking forward to working with.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be creating this experience with a group of professional, intelligent, funny and talented women who are all volunteering their time and their love.

May I introduce the fantastic practitioners who will be working with me at the Stretch Heal Grow retreat this July. A heartfelt thank you to each of you!

Bev Ball –B.A. Kine (Sp. Hon), R.M.T.

Beverley’s current practice focuses on the use of Massage Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, Intra Oral Therapy and Acupuncture to aid and foster an optimal balance of health and wellness to clients of all ages. She specializes in the treatment of TMJ Syndrome and also deals with sport, pregnancy and stress related musculoskeletal and neurological concerns.  In addition to working with the physical aspects of the body, Beverley pays keen attention to emotional and cognitive aspects of the individual and works towards assisting her clients in their own interpersonal growth.

Lacey Budge – R.H.N. , Yoga Teacher

Lacey Budge strives to live her life by the message “Be the change you wish to see in the world!” She keeps a positive attitude and outlook on life, practices and teaches yoga and meditation and follows a whole food, plant based diet. Her lifestyle supports her love for the environment and her own overall health and well-being. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N), she understands the interrelationship of the mind-body-spirit and its connection with our mother earth. She enjoys working with her clients to develop individualized wellness programs through the use of natural, whole, nutrient-dense foods; menu plans, supplementation and lifestyle modifications (exercise, yoga, stress management). She strongly believes that with holistic nutrition, we can get to the root of the imbalance and learn how to make changes that last.

It was her path of Seva, selfless service, that led her to Shanti Retreat on Wolfe Island. Lacey is currently the manager at Shanti, as well as part of the wellness team as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a 200 hour Certified Yoga Instructor.

Leo Mowry – Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master, Author

Leo owns Village Yoga in Toronto, where she teaches private and group classes, specializing in helping people relieve chronic pain with therapeutic yoga.  She is the host of A Brand New Day, the empowering yoga-inspired TV show on Rogers TV. Leo is also the co-author of “Advancing Your Yoga Practice: The Art of Slowing Down”, the fifth book in the world-renowned Anatomy and Asana series, and the creator of “The Voice of Relaxation, Volume 1”, her first cd of guided relaxations.

She is a certified Reiki Master, the Yoga Director for the Toronto Trails Festival and Ontario Walks, a 2-time lululemon ambassador and an ongoing contributor of expertise and articles for various TV shows, web sites, and publications.  To learn more, visit http://www.villageyoga.ca.

 Jennifer Wheeler, BSc, ND – Naturopathic Doctor

Following graduation from Queen’s University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and relevant work in the field, Jennifer began her career in healthcare at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Her naturopathic training includes additional certification in the administration of Intravenous Therapy. She is extensively trained to provide primary health care to patients of all ages and conditions, and devotes some of her practice to the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Jennifer is licensed in Ontario by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy and is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

What a team!