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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.


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!!!


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!!


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…



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!!

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!


Finding Your Breath (on and off the mat)

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breath2Breathing is everything in yoga. It can get you through a difficult pose, quiet your mind by offering something to focus on, all the while, supplying your muscles with some much needed oxygen.
At Power Yoga Canada you are taught to use Ujjayi breathing. It is sometimes referred to as “Ocean Breath” because of the sound it makes on both the inhalation and exhalation (I love that!). And there is nothing better than finding yourself surrounded by a bunch of yogi’s that are relying on their breath to raise their own practice to new heights! For me, the sound is like the rise and fall of ocean waves crashing on the beach (my favorite place to be in the world, so thanks for that visual!!!) The collective breath of the group really seems to bolster you when you are at your edge. It is like a bunch of tiny little hands that hold you up while the sound is cheering you on to stay right in the posture you need the most. breath1
Ujjayi breathing fills the lower belly first which can activate the first and second chakras. It then rises to the lower rib cage turning on the third and fourth chakras. Finally it moves into the upper chest and throat. I also learned that Ujjayi comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “to be victorious”. How amazing is that!? And Ujjayi Breath mean the victorious breath. I don’t know about you, but I will definitely remember that the next time I think “I can’t”. This type of breathing also eliminates toxins, provides energy for your practice and gives you a little sound track to flow along with. The breath keeps you moving through your postures and is actually thought to regulate your blood pressure!

Utilizing this breath off your mats is one of the best gifts yoga can give you. Remembering your breath throughout your day will keep you centered and focused on the present moment. It can help you through pain (those of you that suffer from migraines, know what I am talking about). An intentional breath increases oxygen and regulates your heart rate, both of which can beat the heck out of some anxious feelings and keep a potential panic attack at bay!
I love when the instructors at PYC remind us to breathe for ourselves and then breathe for our neighbour. It’s like that permission to do something for another person allows us to focus on something bigger than ourselves and get our own poses grounded and strong. I am committing to “breathing for my neighbour” outside of the yoga studio as well! I love using it (quietly) in a tough/emotional meeting or when I feel a co-worker is having “one of those days” I even like to use it as a secret weapon on my kids when they don’t want to get out of bed (the big ones) or go to bed (the little one). It is a great way to pass on a little support to the people in our lives, without them even knowing!
Next time you are on your mat, enjoy the soothing sounds of the ocean and take that with you for the rest of your day!

Why you should stick with your practice this SUMMER!

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I enjoy Hot Yoga at PYC year-round. A lot of people think that Hot Yoga isn’t necessary (or enjoyable) during the warmer months. Not the case my friends!! Sun

Debbie (Co-Owner at PYC Oshawa) completely agrees. We had a little chat about writing this article and she had some great reasons for sticking with your practice this summer.

Deb says “Summer is my favourite time to do hot yoga! The heat is down in the room in relation to the temp outside and I get the best sweat without feeling hot! In my opinion it’s because I am already accustomed to the warm weather that I don’t really notice the difference. In fact, the hot room can often feel cooler than outside depending on what’s going on outside!!!”

I asked her for her best tips on keeping your summer practice enjoyable and she provided the perfect blue print for a lovely summer sweat!!


Follow these simple rules to enjoy your spring/summer practice

Drink lots! – In the summer you should already be drinking extra throughout the day. You can lose as much as 32 ounces of water for every 60 min. of hot yoga so drink at least twice that after practice. Consider an electrolyte replenisher (like Ultima or Emergen-C) in addition. Feeling light-headed or un-coordinated (more than usual lol!), or have muscle cramps, these may be signs that you are not replenishing the electrolytes you are losing in your sweat.water

Eat right! – (You know what that means!!) And try adding light snack up to 2 hours before a class.

Listen to your body! – Only you know how far you can push your body. Listen to those signs your body offers you.

Respect your edge! – Quiet your ego when it tells you to push harder when you know you could risk injury.

Take a rest! Feeling dizzy or light-headed? Please rest. Lay down or take a child’s pose, It’s your HOME BASE!

Sweat every day and rid yourself, (SAFELY) of tension, toxins and stress while enjoying an amazing workout!

PYC Oshawa!!


For even further incentive PYC is offering a great summer special right now. Students get 3 months of yoga for 130.00! Contact your studio for more info.

Keep your practice going in the warmer months, when your muscles, tendons and joint are already warmed up and take your poses past your edge. Keep yourself summer ready for any impromptu beach volleyball, Frisbee or baseball games that may pop up on your weekends. Cross train with some hiking and you have yourself the perfect summer workout routine.

But perhaps the best reason to practice in the summer is Summer TV SUCKS!!

Balance your BBQ’s and beers with a consistent yoga practice to get the most out of your summer and reward your body with a good sweat session daily!!
Don’t forget that what we do today creates who we are tomorrow.
Have a safe and soulful summer!


The Art of Being Assisted

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One of the things I love most about classes at PYC is the Assistant you find participating in most classes.

PYC offers a program called the Art of Assisting. It is geared towards students who want to learn how to properly assist other students. They participate in intensives that teach them proper alignment and the anatomy of the perfect hands-on assist. It is a phenomenal way to give back to the community we love.156

Proper alignment is key to a great yoga practice and the Assistants are an integral part of achieving things you had never thought possible. But, perhaps more importantly, it creates connections. Physical and emotional connections are vitally important to sustaining a lifestyle that prompts healthful living!

Every class I have attended with an Assistant present, goes something like this: the assistant gets introduced at the beginning of class, the instructors says something along the lines of “So if you feel hands on you, just go with it!!” And then the lovely assistant spreads her love and wisdom throughout the room.

The really great assistants get to you when you least expect it and take you further than you have been before or they can back you up and put you right where you need to be in that moment. They accomplish this with a motion that aligns with your breathing and a very light touch. That slight physical connection is sometimes met with a nervous giggle from some who are new to the community (especially when they go for your feet), but without fail they take you where you need to go. The first time I had an Assistant in my class, I felt so sorry for her. I was sweaty, she had to touch my feet, and I am pretty sure I forgot my deodorant that day! But none of that phased her, she increased my stance, helped the outer edge of my back foot connect with my mat and moved my front leg closer towards a 90 degree angle and all of a sudden my inner thighs and core “turned on” and my Warrior took on a whole new feeling. The ache was gone from my quads and I felt my legs being supported by my entire core section!! They were small corrections that I remember to this day. Now I even remember to make those corrections myself every time I find myself back in Warrior.untitled

The emotional connections they make with people can be just as important as the physical ones. The Assistant has an outsider’s perspective of your practice and is completely unaware of the story you have spinning in your brain. They simply smile and adjust. For some it is the first connection with the community and it takes you out of just “attending” classes and throws you face first in the connection pool. Now you “know” someone at class, they made time to help you out, and more often than not, they chat with you after class about how the minor adjustment made you feel.

It is an Art Form. Count yourself blessed when you get some hands-on attention. Relax, turn off the worry and self-judgement, and allow your Assistant to assist you.

P.S. Don’t worry about the sweat; they come prepared with their own towels!

Next time you take a class enjoy the art!



I Can’t LOVE Yoga….I work out!!

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agony1I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually taught Yoga as a certified instructor before I fell in love with it. I was in the fitness biz and I thought a yoga certification would allow me to take care of my body and add more classes to my roster. I took a fully accredited course and worked very hard to earn that certification. I enjoyed the hours that I shadowed other instructors and co-taught and learned from everyone I could…but I far from LOVED yoga. I appreciated yoga and I was grateful for my own practice, but I couldn’t allow myself to fall head over heels in love.

People (men and women) who spend hours in the gym, track, pavement, or studio don’t give yoga the credit it deserves as a legitimate work-out. “It can’t burn the calories I need.” “My heart rate won’t hit the fat-burning zone.” “It won’t develop my muscles”….. I couldn’t bring myself to see yoga as an all-encompassing body workout.

I have seen many athletes discount Yoga time and again. I now know that they are absolutely missing out. Since I discovered Power Yoga through the PYC community I have seen yogis who lose 100+ pounds only using yoga. I have seen people prepare for marathons and Spartan races predominately using yoga. The most amazing part was the muscle development I saw. Using HEAVY weights in hours of strength training I couldn’t get my arm and back muscles to pop the way they do now. The other shocker was how sustainable yoga was, it simultaneously stretched and lengthened my muscles at the same time it tore them down, allowing them to grow back stronger. That’s not supposed to happen!

We workout junkies need to burn calories, define muscle, lift more and do MORE. Yoga has provided the balance I so craved. I can take the same class for months and never have it be the same twice. It adapts to what your body needs and gets harder as your body gets stronger. I still love running and swimming and a good muscle shred class. Those activities are now enjoyed in and around my yoga practice.


I now see that my misconceptions around yoga were partially the stories I told myself about yoga and partially finding the type of yoga (and community) that best suited me. Once I found Power Yoga I not only considered it my workout, but it satisfied my need for community connection, AND it helped me find my focus.

The greatest thing is so many I-Don’t-Yoga-I-Work-Out junkies are trading in some of their workouts for time on the mats. Yoga is helping to fill the gap, between caring for your body, and giving it a great workout. You won’t find any professional sports team that doesn’t incorporate yoga into their training on a very regular basis.

Now, one of my favourite things to do is bring non-yogis to the dark side. I love seeing that expression of understanding flitter across their face as the sweat pours from everywhere.

Cheerful Conversions,


Spring Equinox: The perfect time to reclaim your practice.

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The Spring Equinox is the mark in time at which the day and night are of equal length.spring

It also marks the beginning of the spring season. This is when we roll down the windows, shake out the carpets, and give everything a good scrub down. Nature uses it as a big old reset button. Everything starts to come to life and breathe anew.  Animals (including us) use this time to prepare for what is to come.

Our bodies are naturally in tune with this restart.  We naturally want to move more and feel free.  The premise of “spring cleaning” is to shake off the old, reclaim the new and purge, purge, purge! This translates perfectly to your Yoga practice.  Do away with what you have accumulated during the long cold winter, eliminate the stories you have created around certain poses.  Are there poses you tell yourself you just can’t do??  Get rid of that story and start preparing for when you can do this pose.

images9A8N38VLTake this fresh start as a chance to change your perspective, eliminate the excuses you have spent all winter creating about specific classes you just can’t make it to because you are a “morning/night person” – 6am, I am looking at you!!

Take stock of what truly isn’t working, physically and mentally, in your practice and give yourself permission to stop doing that.  Stop forcing your breakthroughs, stop future-tripping about the class you might not be able to make because of other commitments…during the class you are currently in.

Just write yourself the following permission slip:


Seriously, write it on a post-it and stick it to your yoga mat.  Announce it!!

Our practices need the change the spring equinox creates and your body needs different poses and different sequences at different points in the year.  Maybe you need to step up to the edge in certain areas of your practice or maybe you need to dial it back and focus on the basics just to see what blooms.

Also, take this time to reassess your goals. They shouldn’t be the same as the winter months. Take stock to decide and announce what this season holds for you.  Do you need to work on staying in the moment or do you need to let go of fear and let your muscles (and not your mind) tell you how far you can go?images2VO8GA5J

Use this Natural Reset to get the most out of the next 91 days (give or take a few hours).  Shake off the old, purge the unnecessary, and clean up everything that is left.  Enjoy where this new perspective will take you and be thankful for the clean slate!


Enjoy what flourishes from your renewed commitment,


Yoga Pose of the Month – Bird of Paradise

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Bird of Paradise was probably the first advanced pose I conquered near the beginning of my practice!  I have had a few “quick, somebody take my picture” moments associated with this pose.  So, needless to say, I have a loving, prideful feeling tied to this Power Yoga Canada -Pose of the Month.


Bird of Paradise in the non-yoga world can either refer to a flower or an actual bird!  Both of which are beautiful and kind of funky!!  Seriously, check out this feathery friends!!!bird of paradise1

The flower is beautiful and strong and fully expresses the elegance of this pose. The B.O.P. flower stands strong on one lovely, long and powerful stalk which truthfully represents the strength needed in your stationary leg and core to properly pull off this pose. It usually has bold petals that mimic the final stance of the Yoga pose. It is definitely not a flower that can sneak by unnoticed.  Because the pose incorporates a full bind upon completion that opens up your chest, it really comes across as bold and powerful as the flower.BOP1


The Sanskrit name for this pose is Svarga Dvidasanas.  Dvija means “twice born” and refers both to the bird (born once as an egg and again as the bird itself) and the pose, which requires two poses to reach a proper Bird of Paradise posture. Svarga means Paradise referring to the bird’s origin in New Guinea – in case you were wondering!


When I was researching this pose, the Sanskrit name really resonated with me. This advanced pose requires several steps to successfully come into and out of properly.  Check out Kinndli’s video to see what I am talking about.  I find this pose has two distinct stages or births.  Moving from your extended side angle to a full bind is one transformation and then using that plateau to step forward and rise into a full Bird of Paradise definitely feels like a second birth or “coming into yourself”.  The end product is a fabulous photo opportunity to impress your friends and fellow yogis and I dare you to strike this pose and not smile!

bird of paradise2


Physiologically it is a hip and chest opener AND it is a great way to stretch and strengthen your hamstrings!  Finding that combination is quite rare in yoga and it really does feel like you are cracking out of your shell and emerging as that beautiful flower.


Bird of Paradise is a pose that invokes pride and elegance and can really enhance the benefits of your practice.  Check out your studios Facebook page and upload your Bird of Paradise to the Facebook pages for your chances at free workshops and classes.


Good Luck and let your Birds of Paradise soar,