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I Suffer From Yoga Guilt….

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I have a secret to share I have a disease, It causes mood swings, emotional eating, angry outburst and the occasional homicidal thought. It is called Yoga Guilt. It is something I know I will probably have forever but the good news is I am learning to manage it. Just like my dad’s diabetes I have parameters I have to put in place and triggers I have to avoid and just as he says no to high glycemic foods I need to learn to say no too!!!

Obviously I am kidding when I compare my Yoga Guilt with my tough cookie dad’s 30+ year fight with Type 1 diabetes…but, I could learn a lot about managing this fictional chronic condition from him!

Firstly what is the definition of Yoga Guilt…..?IMG_8817

Yoga Guilt is the tightness in your chest when you are trying to leave work on time to make it to your favorite class, or the flush of quiet anger you feel when you realize driving your kid to and from a classmates birthday party will mean no Yoga this Saturday or the massive crushing weight you feel all over your body when you leave your crying baby with a sitter and drive across town to catch the last class of the day.

Symptoms may include but are not limited to; irrational bouts of snippiness, tears, feelings of frustration, increased arguing with your loved ones and of course leaky bowels…ok maybe not the last one.

So how can we handle this condition so that our self-imposed guilt (and yes it is completely self-imposed) doesn’t manifest into loss of sleep, resentment towards others and worst of all giving up our mat time???

Just like my dad, I know I need to:

Plan Ahead: my dad needs to know when to eat and what to eat every few hours. I know I need to pick my classes at the beginning of the week (last minute does not work when you suffer from Yoga guilt) to make sure I have enough time to get there and I can say no if something comes up during the week in those pre-designated timeslots.

Take care of my health: Just like my dad I need to be consistent and committed to my practice. Because when I feel good and am healthy I can actively be more useful/helpful/positive for those around me.

Ask for help when I need it: Arranging for a sitter or a family member to help out weekly, alleviates some of the guilt you feel when you are trying to make last minute arrangements. The kids and puppies are prepared ahead of time and everyone knows what the plan is. OR ask your boss for flexibility in your schedule so that twice a week you can (without stress) make it to your lunch time practice.

Go easy on yourself: your condition tricks you into thinking you are a bad parent/caregiver/employee/girlfriend/husband/book club leader when you take time for yourself. Remind yourself that you need to tend to yourself and that the world will not fall apart for the 60 minutes while you are in king pigeon or rocking out a wicked Half Moon.

Get help for your symptoms and make your practice an automatic commitment that deserves your full attention, not a last minute whim that leaves you feeling stressed, rushed, and pulled in twenty different directions.

Banish that guilt and give those around you a chance to see what it looks like when someone makes their health and happiness a top priority. Soon you will see the bloating, itchy rash of self-punishment turn into a sweaty blissed post yoga glow. Trust me your loved ones will actually thank you for it 😉

 

Namaste,

Amber

STRENGTH at PYC Oshawa

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This spring has brought fourth so many opportunities for me. I started my own Slow-Pressed Juicing company, increased my responsibilities at my “Big Girl Job” and walked over a dozen clients through my comprehensive compassionate eating starter program.

I was enjoying the flow and the expansion I was feeling both personally and professionally. I had also recently  recommitted to  pushing my body to new lovely/strong limits (‘cause with the new workload I needed to make sure I was prepared to take it all on).

As the universe does, right after I made my out loud commitment to a fresh and rejuvenated personal fitness routine Kelly Nightingale (co-owner at PYC Oshawa and all-around great gal!) reached out and asked me if I would come out and take a sneak-peak class introducing Strength classes to the PYC Oshawa roster! How could I say no to that karmic hi-five?

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The lovely and motivating Kelly

 

Kelly explained they were looking to introduce a new format called PY STRENGTH and that she would love for me to check it out and then (of course) share my experience with all of you! I said “Heck Yah” and found myself locked and loaded for 75mins (the new schedule has the class available for 60 mins) of seeing what I was made of!

Before I share my experience with you let me explain that I love me some Baptiste flow. I have taken (and taught) several types of yoga over the 20+ years I have been in the industry and I whole-heartedly believe that most types of traditional foundations have a purpose and serve a need for all of those that practice regularly. However, the Hot Vinyasa Baptiste Flow taught at PYC is “it” for me.

Needless to say, I did have a tiny part of my soul that was worried that this new format of PY Strength was going to deviate too far from what I had come to love!?

I can say without a doubt …That is absolutely not the case! The class focuses on control and muscle foundation. using Isotonic exercises. Exercises or poses are considered Isotonic when there is constant tension throughout a movement as opposed to most yoga consisting of Isometric exercises where there is muscle contraction but no movement (think bicep curl vs. a static plank!!) 13310585_1172508829467681_9185526002171503262_n

The folks at PYC have created this new format that takes the poses and flow we love and have incorporated repetitive movements that take your practice up about 80 notches all the while maintaining the integrity and flow of a traditional flow class.

The results are pretty fabulous! My sneak peak had about 25 folks in the class and we worked HARD! Kelly had us aware of the foundation of each pose and then incorporated reps and movement that took the muscle output up considerably. I LOVED the class and although the studio wasn’t quite as hot as usual, the amount of healthy glowing sweat was about 10 fold in that room! 13332900_1172508886134342_626787582608498321_n

PYC Oshawa has offered several options throughout the week to try out this new format. Throwing this workout into my normal PYC rotation is going to give me the boost I was looking for to really see how far I can take this lovely-forgiving and capable body of mine! Thanks Kelly for the invite and for creating this format with your team. As far as I am concerned it is a new staple in the PYC pantry!!

 

Namaste,

Amber

Intention To Action – 2016

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JANUARY!!!!  You know, the month where we start fresh, we make our own condiments and cut back on our consumerism, give of ourselves and our time AND work out/eat clean everyday? Power Yoga Canada has figured out a fantastic and uplifting formula for celebrating this “All-In” time of year.

The surrounding PYC locations host a Intention To Action workshops.  An evening or afternoon committed to identifying your intentions for the day, year, lifetime and creating questions that will get you clear on what it is exactly you want the outcome of your intention to be and how to create a plan (actions) that may just get you a couple of steps closer to that desired outcome or feeling!

I attended the PYC Oshawa Intention To Action Workshop, graciously hosted by Lululemon’s Oshawa Centre location. Kelly (with her back ground in event planning) pulled together a space that was conducive to sifting through your goals to really break through and laser focus in on your vision for your best self.

We were greeted with a journal, a pen and a name tag. Debbie and Kelly took the opportunity to foster leadership in their instructors and created areas that allowed their instructor’s to facilitate conversations that dug into the questions in the Intention to Action Handbook.

After we completed our sections and had a clearer vision on what was possible for each of us, Debbie took us through a very powerful meditation that had us visualize our lives at these fullest potentials. What did we see, Where were we, Who where we with, what did we look like and most importantly how did we feel? This was my favorite part of the evening and really brought my potential to life.

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At the end we had a quick social and compared some of our dreams and expectations for the upcoming year, toasted ourselves and participated in a super fun selfie station that proclaimed our intentions to the world (well at least Facebook anyways!!)

Loved this program and will be back for 2017, cause we should always have new intentions we want to put into ACTION!

Namaste,

Amber

Taking Yoga on Vacation – How to keep up your practice Out-Of-Town.

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Vacations can quickly become an opportunity for all sorts of trains to be derailed and wagons to go off track!! We have the best of intentions to use our extra down time while on vacation to get in extra or new workouts. Somewhere between the all-you-can-eat buffet and the late nights our intentions can seem to just disappear. Luckily, yoga is probably the easiest form of physical activity to take with us on our get-aways.PYC

Firstly check out if your destination has a PYC location if you have a Universal Yoga Pass you are able to attend all PYC locations. This is a great option if visiting family, or out of town for work!!!

If your destination doesn’t have a PYC location check out my tips below to keep your yoga flowing and make your vacation a true opportunity to refuel and recharge!!

  1. Utilize Your Change of Scenery – One of the best benefits of being a regular yogi is being able to connect to your surroundings, and what better place to do that then on vacation. Beaches, mountains, forests and jungle settings all lend themselves to an awesome and expansive yoga session. Connect with the location that drew you to visit in the first place and incorporate your flow into your temporary surroundings.
  2. Bring a Travel Mat (or Towel) – Travel yoga mats are a great investment. They take up way less space than a traditional yoga mat and can easily be packed in a suitcase or strapped to a back pack. If space is an issue you can also ask the hotel, resort or hostel you staying at if they have a mat you could borrow throughout your stay! You would be surprised how many vacation destinations will oblige your request!!
  3. Shorter Sessions – Don’t let a busy itinerary throw you off your routine. Short sessions that really target a specific body part can really boost your yoga practice. Spending your vacation focusing on hip-openers can do amazing things when you return to your full practice. Fit in one or two shorter sessions between sight-seeing and you will be very pleased with what that can do for your practice.
  4. Enjoy the Alone Time – Vacations (especially ones that have big groups or require you visiting relatives) can be very stressful and full of CONSTANT social interaction. Schedule in your yoga practice and be vocal about disconnecting from the group to attend to your practice. Enjoy the quiet and come back to your group ready for some more heavy–duty socializing!
  5. Podcasts – This is definitely my number one tip!! I regularly download my favorite classes from the PYC website and bring my fav instructors with me! I love bringing my practice with me and plugging into a great class and keeping my yoga practice on track, all while I enjoy my new “home” and all of the amazing sights and sounds that accompany it!

Going on vacation is a fantastic chance to really focus on your practice and come back to “The Real World” improved and focused. Set the intention and be prepared before you leave and most importantly enjoy your vacation no matter how big or small, exotic or local it is!

Enjoying the sights on our most recent vacation!

Enjoying the sights on our most recent vacation!

Namaste,

Amber

 

PYC Folk!! Meet Nicole S.

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A few months back I had a super passionate PM fill my inbox with joy and intensity. It was from Nicole Shaw a Power Yoga Instructor at the Oshawa location. She really wanted people to hear why Private Yoga sessions at PYC where so beneficial to all levels of yogi’s!

And, she wanted me to write about it on the Blog!

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Fast forward a few weeks and I had a better proposal for her. Why don’t we do an interview and YOU can tell people why they need private sessions in their lives!!! Nicole was all in, and super excited! So we had a passionate discussion and the following is what manifested!

Firstly, HERE are the details on Private Sessions. You can chose Private (One on One) Group Private (great for a bridal shower, team building or family bonding time!! –especially after too much Turkey!)

AC: What are the benefits of a private session with PYC?

NS: The benefits of a private session at any one of the Power Yoga Canada locations far outweigh the hesitations people may have about having that much attention focused on them. You benefit from individualized attention, you can work toward any sort of specific goal or work around a health concern. You are exposed to a world of modifications that you can take back into your own individual practice.Nicole1

AC: What is the best part of a Private Session for the Instructor?

NS: We love the chance to utilize what we have learned and continue to learn. Especially if our yogi has a special goal or concern they would like addressed. I find that I grow with every private session I conduct. I am constantly learning from our Yogi’s.

AC: What drew you to PYC?

NS: I love that PYC sees the “big picture” they see the benefits of Community engagement and I think there overall vision really draws in like-minded people, that are able to create a positive place in our communities.

AC: What drew you to yoga?

NS: I became an instructor after college. I started to have bad panic attacks and anxiety issues and yoga became a safe place for me to work out what I was feeling. It allows me an alternative to the medications my doctor initially prescribed.

AC: What is your favorite quote? Something that sums you up?

NS: It is a quote I read by Aristotle;

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”Nicole2

AC: Piece of advice for anyone looking to join the PYC community?

NS: Start Now, Nothing is holding you back but you!!

Namaste,

Amber and Nicole

 

 

Getting Back to Your Mat After Your Whole World Falls Apart – Part 2

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So I did it!! I made it back to three classes last week! I missed the first two I had intended to catch and then I had a little chat with myself and just did it.

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It all started with a Jam. I felt supported and loved, just like I suspected.

The part I was surprised about was, that I was still able to be with myself on my mat. That is what I love about Yoga, it is super social and tied to it’s community in so many ways, but at that same time it holds a space for you to be with yourself. I had forgotten that.

I was able to feel uplifted by all the lovely yogi’s that were there to welcome me back with open arms. I answered some questions about my mom, hugged a lot and had some good moments with others that needed “permission” to come back to their mats and could relate to my hiatus. But then it was just me and my mat…

It is amazing how such a vibrant energetic space can instantaneously transform in to a quiet space for you to catch up with yourself.

I focused on my practice, appreciated how far I needed to go to get back to where I was before I took the summer off. I celebrated what I was still able to feel strong about and I sat in the fire created by taking an extended break. It was all about me. It was my practice and I was able to set the tone and focus on what I wanted to work on and what I wanted to celebrate.

yogaBy the time the class was finished I breathed a sigh of relief, yoga hadn’t disappointed me. I loved it just as much as I did before my mom got sick AND I could be quiet and introspective without falling apart completely.

Not to say that I wont hit my mat and fall apart emotionally one day, but last week I attended three classes (that made me feel strong and confident) and (for now) I didn’t.

Yoga is definitely part of my healing team. I will use it to check in with myself and see how I am doing during my “year of first’s” I will use my mat to cope with the “first” christmas, mother’s day, birthday, death anniversary and any other day that I need to check on my healing heart and remember the quiet space that is always waiting for me on my mat.

Thank you Yoga, for reminding me that when I need to take a break again that you will be there when I am ready to return.

 

Namaste,

Amber

Getting Back to Your Mat After Your Whole World Falls Apart…

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I am going back to Yoga.

I took an unexpected break over the summer  – sorry about the lack of Blog posts 🙂 . On June 10th my mom, after having nothing more than a sore tummy, got diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer that had metastasised to her liver – YIKES!!!

What happened after that is kind of a blur, I remember Dr’s appointments (lots of Dr. appointments), having to tell my dad that mom’s cancer was incurable, attending “Cancer Class” with my mom, cutting off all her hair because she was too weak to go to the salon, and a butt load of green smoothie deliveries, oh and trying to go to work every day.

Very long, emotional, and blurry story later, my mom passed away on August 14th after 9 weeks and 2 days of chaos and love. Her passing was at 10:30pm at Bowmanville hospital while I was playing “Cookie Jams’ on my phone and eating Cheezies! At which point I alerted the (very lovely and kind) nurses and called my husband, brother and dad (in that order I think!). Within what felt like seconds all three showed up, including my cousin and her fiancé (who had just left at 10pm). We ended up staying with my mom until 1:oo in the morning, telling stupid stories and sharing some gut busting laughs (I think the nurses thought we were nuts!!) and remembering the good times.

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My Mom <3

That was 4 weeks ago, what has happened since, has been another blur of love and support. My dad turned 70, an amazing service was held for my mom and we had  a charity garage sale in her honour!! What hasn’t happened was Yoga (at least not in public) I did keep up with a sporadic morning session to keep myself from completely losing my mind. But I steered clear of the studio. I could tell you it was because I was busy…. and that wouldn’t be a lie. But I know the real reason was fear….

I had heard what a rock I was throughout this ordeal and I really did try to do my best at dividing my time between being an advocate for my parents needs and losing my shit emotionally. However I knew deep down that on the yoga mat surrounded by the lovelies at PYC Oshawa I would not be able to keep it together at all. So I stayed away.

I will not beat myself up about this, because I just wasn’t able to handle it in that moment. What I refuse to let happen is for this to be an on-going excuse. I am attending my first class tonight – September 14th (no the fact that it is the one month anniversary is not lost on me). I chose a Jam class so that if things got messy it might not be so noticeable LOL and I will dive back in, let myself be supported and add yoga (in public) into my healing plan.

I received a lovely shout out from a beautiful soul all the way on the other side of the world with whom I did 40 Days to Personal Revolution, who was thanking me for being a part of what turned into a pivotal time in the transformation that she has been going through for the last two years. That was two days ago and I am taking that as a very sure sign that now is as good a time as any to get back to my yoga roots!!

I guess what I want to share is if life knocks you on your ass and yoga disappears from your life. Don’t let that be a blemish on your journey, respect that it wasn’t supposed to be a part of that chapter and when you are ready…come back. Don’t think you are out of practice or not deserving because you didn’t keep up with it when the going got tough. Appreciate that it is still there waiting for you and just go back.

I will update you shiny lovely people on how the class goes. Keep an eye on the blog!!!

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Me and My Mom at the CASBY Awards in T.O.

Sharing this picture of me and my Mom at the CASBY awards last year. Not the clearest picture, but a fantastic memory!!

Namaste,

Amber XO

Why Did It Take Me So Long?!

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I finally did it!!

After several years of loving yoga and over two years at PYC I finally took my first Deep Flow Class!!

I had one less kid than usual for the week and a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to get over whatever it was keeping me from a Deep Flow and jumped in!

Kelly at PYC Oshawa was teaching (always a treat) and I was ready to try and flush out my resistance. The atmosphere was different even the students seemed different. They were a little more checked in and present than the usual crowd. It was like they knew what to expect and they were ready to share their little secret.

Power Yoga Canada describes Power Yoga Deep Flow as; “A slower paced Hot Power Yoga class where you will hold poses for longer periods of time, allowing deep release of tension and stress. All levels class ideal for runners, people on the go, and professional sitters”.slow

Before the class started I tried to pin point my resistance, was it the slower pace? Did I think I wasn’t going to get enough of a workout?? Cause if you know me, you know I struggle with that notion.

Maybe that was it a little, but I felt there was something more…. “deep release of tension and stress” nope that sat perfectly well with me. So that left YOU WILL HOLD POSES FOR LONGER PERIODS OF TIME…. Bingo that made me want to leave the room screaming.

I was quietly avoiding holding the poses. I didn’t want to sit in my pigeon any longer than I already did! I wanted to powerfully flow and keep this train moving. So once I recognized the source of my hesitation I was ready for this class.

The flow was still there…it was purposeful…it was present and I LOVED it!!

I asked Kelly after class what she wanted people to know about Deep Flow. She said she wanted to people to attend the class in order to slow down and hit pause. Kelly wanted people to recognize the need to slow down and be present. I couldn’t agree more. Not only do we need to slow down physically but our thoughts/emotions need to s-l-o-w down. Deep Flow accomplished this for me (and I am suspecting, many others).pause-button-e1376172552682

We are naturally prone to handle temporary stressful situations with a rush of hormone’s but unfortunately some of us don’t know how to shut that stress response off. We have so many responsibilities and directions to run in, that for some of us, we are walking bags of stress hormones. Classes like Deep Flow cause us to focus on something other than our stress and responsibilities, we are forced to recognize the posture we are in and sit with it. Hopefully this can slow us down and in turn maybe turn off those crazy stress receptors.

I loved my Deep Flow experience and I fully intend to hit that pause button many more times in the near future.

Check out your locations schedule for the Next Deep Flow, take a deep breath and settle in…

Namaste,

Amber

Yoga + Strength = An Interview with Brad Strickert

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I love my early Saturday morning routine…they start with a little warm lemon water, a quick drive to PYC Oshawa…where I promptly get my ass handed to my by Mr. Brad Strickert.

Brad is PYC’s resident floating yogi, who can make any transition seem effortless. He is also great at convincing you, that you can do it AND walking you through step by step how to get there! However, there is the exchange of hard work to make the magic happen!Brad1

Brad is teaching an upcoming workshop at PYC Oshawa called Summer Strength Series. Starting June 6th and running for 4 weeks the 75min classes will teach you the importance of muscle engagement to open up the possibility of your own practice!Brad2

I had the chance to ask Brad a few questions regarding Strength and Yoga. Read on for some really great shift 😉

Why is strength important to yoga?

The strength aspect in yoga is all about muscle engagement, body control and awareness. Once you can tap into each of these different areas your practice will transform, your body will feel lighter and you’ll be able to move to more advanced transitions.

What is the best strength gain you have since incorporating yoga into your life?

Yoga has made me very aware of what I would call “weak points” in my body. From years of weight lifting I had developed a number of these areas and was starting to suffer from back spasms.  When holding a static pose for a series of breaths I became acutely aware of them and would work to start to find muscle engagement or range of motion which led to building increased overall strength at the same time. This came from being able group muscles together for strength rather than having them fire individually.

What is the biggest myth about strength and yoga?

The #1 misconception that people have about yoga is that it’s all about stretching… which is like saying that hockey is all about skating. There is a huge strength aspect in the challenging static and dynamic movements that take place in each class. Quickly you realize that the strength doesn’t come from having large or bulky muscle but from the activation of all your muscles working synergistically which requires concentration and focus.

How do you continue to challenge yourself?

Lately I’ve been working on inversions like hollow back and scorpion. I find these poses especially difficult because I can’t see where my body is in space, so you need to feel where my legs may be in relation to my hands for balance. It’s in the difficulty of these movements that my mind is free from any outside distraction.

What can people hope to learn/experience from your workshop?

This series is designed for people to reconnect with muscles they already have in order to feel lighter in their practice. In each session we will break down various body weight movements and restorative stretches to understand the fundamentals. At the end of each session there will be “homework” in set of movements that students can do at home to continue to build their strength and range of motion for the following week. This series will test and build your static and dynamic strength and give the student increased awareness of their body.

What is your favorite quote?

“Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things”

                   -Miyamoto Mushashi  “The Book of 5 Rings”

Thanks Brad!

 

Amber XO

P.O.T.M. – Warrior III

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The Pose of the Month for PYC this May is Warrior III.

Power Yoga Canada has a great incentive every month; they pick a pose walk you through the posture. Check out Sam and Mike walking you through the posture from beginning to end (with three fantastic take-away tips).Warrior3

PYC then invites you to post a picture of your most unique or inspiring version of that particular posture on Facebook. It is a great idea, not only can you win some great FREE yoga (check out your studio for more info) it allows you to connect with and practice a posture you might easily just blow through in class or, even better, one that you might struggle with practice after practice.
Warrior III has always been a fav of my. I love the feeling of freedom and strength I get from the posture, I struggle to align my hips with the floor and love to add a little backbend to open up my heart!!

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Physiologically it is a GREAT pose for core strength. You would be mistaken if you thought you needed stronger legs to properly execute this posture!!! It’s all about the core, baby! Once you activate your lower back and abs into a nice tight circle of strength it takes all the pressure off your stationary leg and takes your pose into a light and airy floating feeling (just the way it looks in the pictures!!) It is also a great way to strength weak ankles and hamstrings, which can be sometimes hard to target.


Although I love the way a good Warrior III feels, I think it’s back story is even more awesome/crazy!
Apparently it gets it’s name from Hindu mythology!! It is a crazy little story about a sacred ritual, some uninvited guests, an argument between a father and daughter that results in a little dramatic suicide, a heart broken husband who creates a warrior out of a tuft of his hair, the warrior seeking out revenge on the father, a remorseful husband who restores the father’s head with the head of a goat (so that he may live) and eventually his bride is reborn!!!! WOW!!! Apparently, the pose represents the warrior’s role in the tale. Bet you didn’t see that coming!!


 

Warrior III P.O.T.M. is a great way to introduce yourself to studio/community. So if aren’t active on the PYC studio Facebook pages (which you totally should be!! The people are super supportive AND inspiring!!) take this opportunity to strike your best/most unusual Warrior III, get a friend to snap some pics and introduce yourself to your community!
P.S. The Sanskrit term for Warrior III is Virabhadrasana. The broken hearted husband named his warrior, Virabhadra. Vira = hero + Bhadra = friend. So, go and find your best Hero Friend (or perhaps a new one!) and strike up your best Warrior III and maybe you will be lucky enough to snag some of that free PYC yoga love!

Namaste,
Amber