Category

Uncategorized

Finding Your Breath (on and off the mat)

By Uncategorized No Comments

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!

breath3
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!
Namaste,
Amber

Why you should stick with your practice this SUMMER!

By Uncategorized No Comments

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!

Love,
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!

~Amber

The Art of Being Assisted

By Uncategorized No Comments

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!

Namaste,

Amber

I Can’t LOVE Yoga….I work out!!

By Uncategorized No Comments

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.

3yoga

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,

Amber

Spring Equinox: The perfect time to reclaim your practice.

By Uncategorized No Comments

 

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:

I WILL NOT________ BECAUSE IT ISNT SERVING ME or MY PRACTICE.

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,

Amber

Yoga Pose of the Month – Bird of Paradise

By Uncategorized No Comments

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,

 

Amber

Kids Yoga – Putting the “Break” back in March Break

By Uncategorized No Comments

Between the strangle hold Winter has had on us and the amped up expectations for Spring, it is no wonder, that the powers that be instituted a week long break at this time of year! It is a chance for the kids to shake off the old, recharge their batteries and get used to playing outside again. The time change allows for longer/brighter evenings and we are all excited at the chance to go outside with only one layer on!March Break
The problem arises when we (as parents) try to figure out what to do with our kids for the week. Stay-at-home or working parents it is still a struggle to find the balance between over-programmed and bored-to-tears.

There are literally thousands of choices for kids during March Break including; vacations, day trips, time with the Grandparents, workshops and camps. Every major attraction has discounted specials and special activities and there is enormous pressure on parents to not have the kid whose response to “What did you do this March Break Tommy?’ be “I don’t know” or worse “nothing”….
We hear the advice as parents to not over-program our kids and risk them losing their abilities to entertain themselves. We become expected “cruise directors” that are on 24/7 so that god-forbid no one gets “bored”.

March Break1
So how do we find the balance?? I have found over my many years of parenting, many parent friends and running fitness camps for kids that listening is the KEY. We need to involve them and give them choices. One of the best ways for us and our kids to listen is first remembering how to tune into what we really need. On Family Day (way back in February) I signed little Izzy up for a kid’s yoga workshop at PYC Oshawa with Kerry Stewart-Moeller! It was fantastic! She really let the kids decompress. She kept them moving but also reconnected them with their own intuition. They learned to listen to themselves, move their bodies and really have a chance to recharge.
Kerry was able to show the kids that they could entertain themselves (without a screen) and gave them skills to practice outside of the yoga studio so they could easily obtain that feeling anywhere, at any time! The crazy part was the kids weren’t even aware that they were learning, they were just having fun and playing with their new friends.
Kerry teaches them mindfulness through breathing techniques and visualization. She connects them with their bodies and teaches them how to listen to their inner compass! This year she is offering a kids March Break Workshop on Monday AND she is opening it up to Kids AND Parents on Wednesday. Watching the kids learn trust and compassion through partner yoga is a great way to reconnect with your own kid over the break.March Break2
The kids yoga programs at PYC are exactly what March Break is about, check out your closest location and see what they have to offer for your munchkin.
As Ghandi says “If we wish to create peace, we must begin with the Children” what a fabulous lesson to instil over March Break and all without a long line-up or a screen insight!
Happy March Break and whatever you end doing over the next 7 days make sure you listen to yourselves and your children. Your gut will never lead you wrong!
Namaste,
Amber

Hello PYC & Thanks For Proving Me Wrong!

By Uncategorized No Comments

preview_min

Hey PYC!

I have been practicing yoga at the PYC Oshawa location since shortly after they opened. Recently I was given the awesome opportunity to dive deeper into the community as a guest blogger for the Power Yoga Canada site. I am super excited to embrace this opportunity and share some of my insights around compassionate living and the practice of Yoga.

I have been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, mainly in a municipal setting. I have trained clients, and trained staff to train clients. I have seen the trends come and go; I have seen studio’s fold and gym’s lock their doors on fully paid members.

I had become quite jaded with private fitness and perceived my way as “better”. So I am not quite sure how I found myself in Kelly and Debbie’s studio shortly after their doors had opened. But it was like walking through Alice’s “looking glass” – people were hanging out, sharing thoughts, dreams and goals for their yoga life, as well as their personal life. It was like all forms of judgement had been checked at the door and EVERYONE of all shapes, sizes and gender were welcome.

Open-Evening_featureAlthough I tried to turn off my “Fitness Insider” brain, I couldn’t help but notice that their business model was different, it was fair and based on respect (WHAT!!!??). I immediately signed up and accepted that these girls had gotten “it” right and not because they had a new savvy way of signing up new members or a killer advertising campaign that promised to cure you of all of your body misconceptions, but because they were fun, genuine and knew their Yoga. They lived what they were teaching and they provided a space for peace and contentment to blossom into community pride and action.

With every class I took I knew I wanted/needed more. I joined their first 40 Days To Personal Revolution program and most of those students who were by my side in the program are now an integral part of the PYC Oshawa family to this day. Many have gone on to become teachers, assistants and EE’s.

I am still insanely proud of my career but my eyes have been opened to another way of doing things. One that continuously fuels my soul and my body to this day.

My approach to life is very light hearted and my crazy blended family of 5 keeps me on my toes. I have battled a life-long struggle with my weight and my body (to which I have recently called a cease-fire) I am an avid blogger, writing guest pieces for local sites, working with my cyber partner Lindsay (another lovely PYCOshawa soul) to spread the message of Health and Wellness through words (and Social Media)!

I am seriously stoked to share this space with you all and to continue writing what we are all thinking.

Namaste,

Amber

Stay for Savasana!

By Uncategorized One Comment

I find myself craving deep rest throughout my yoga practice, and yet when it’s time for Savasana I’d often rather be running a marathon! I find it hard to be still in those final moments, when I know the class is coming to an end and my workload will return shortly after. Despite the urge to roll up my mat and run, I stay still and clear my mind of the incessant need “to do.” Why do I do this? Everything I’ve learned about yoga so far has taught me to stay put when things get uncomfortable and acknowledge times for rest. To me, that’s exactly what Savasana is about: being still and restoring.

Some students routinely choose to leave a class before or during Savasana. This is not only disruptive to the class and teacher, but it comes at a big cost to you. Literally translating to corpse pose, Savasana offers you the chance to be completely tranquil and calm in your mind and body. Nothing works better for relieving stress and letting go than allowing the world to melt away in Savasana. In addition to being a powerful stress-buster, this resting pose also allows your body to return to its normal state. In between all those Chatarungas and Navasanas your heart rate goes up and your body gets hot. In Savasana your breath and heart rate will return to normal, your body will cool down and you’ll be ready to transition back into your day.

photo 2 (1)

The most important reason to stay in Savasana, in my opinion, is to allow your body to soak up all the healing benefits of the practice. Your body is constantly interpreting and processing all of your movements throughout your practice, including all the Downward Dogs and Warriors you do, and it needs time to absorb this information. Savasana provides your body with the opportunity to remember and integrate the information you’ve learned through each and every pose.  Next time you come into Upward Facing Dog, you may just find your upper arm bones naturally roll back, all thanks to the lesson your body has learned from last week’s class.

Rest at the end of class, because…why not? You’re already there for the full class so stay fully committed to it and yourself. Do you really think getting off your mat 5 minutes early will allow you to accomplish that much more in your day, anyway? Just consider that everything you need will come to you during rest. If you legitimately have to leave before Savasana because of a work commitment or something like that, just know that you can always choose another class that would work better with your schedule. If you routinely leave class early because you feel you have something more important to do, just remember that you are important, your practice matters, and your dedication to that full hour matters. This is not about being a good or bad student, it’s about giving yourself the best chance you can to relax, restore and revitalize your mind, body and soul. Give Savasana a chance and your asana will be very happy!

Written by Power Yoga Canada Teacher and Writer Eryl McCaffrey. Check out her blog:  http://twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com/

40 days: six am.

By Uncategorized No Comments

I recently completed the sunrise challenge through pyc, by attending each six am class for the month of April. Along the way, mostly on my yoga-buzzed drive home, I would take time to absorb the experience that came from meeting with Mike each day for 60 minutes…

one. wake-up call battles, happen.

a five am wakeup call, holds no place for “maybe”. you’re either in, or you’re out. I get it, the bed is warm, the sky is dark and snooze is just a finger tap away. waking up takes willpower people, BIG TIME. there will be part of your mind that challenges you to stay, even begs of you some mornings, flip it off. sit up, plant your feet on the ground and stand. battles over, you’ve won.

two. you forget.

ah, this is really quite wonderful. the thoughts of needing to get a workout in can haunt me some days…the best part of six am is it’s often so early, you forget you already sweat. hold on, did I dream about that class or did that actually happen? those body imprint stains on your mat aren’t just a figment of your imagination, sweat happened and your night is now free to spend however you choose.

three. comfort zones.

one of the really rad things I learned through this experience, was what happens when you challenge yourself to step “outside your norm”. when Andrea first mentioned the sunrise challenge, I laughed, right in her face. no way jose, that ‘aint me, too hardcore. then I shifted my thoughts, why not me? why not try it on? it was uncomfortable at first, but yoga often is. lesson time: staying stagnant sucks & comfort zones are for sissies.

four it’s the best start to any day.

a friend made a spectacular call-out this afternoon when she saw me flailing around wildly: I can tell you haven’t done yoga yet today, because you are acting like such a spaz. touché, noted, I shall do morning classes more often.

five. support systems rule.

my dad called me each morning to make sure I was awake, people from my work constantly joined me in classes (and became hooked, might I add) and pictures of my nephew would be waiting for me when I checked my phone after class. reach out and ask for what you need, lean on family and friends, because you are loved.

six. you feel like a badass.

you woke up before the rest of the world because you recognize the importance of rewarding you own body & mind. enough said you badass, enough said.

so wakey-wakey my friends, how many days do you wake up and have the sun waiting for you? it’s time to return the favour.

Cailey