Saturday, 26 October 2013

Only 30 minutes till Yoga Class starts and your Starving?! What to do, what to do..

Have you ever found yourself rushing to make the changeover from office worker to Yogi, frantically changing from your office attire to stretchy pants while trying not to be late for the first 'Om'?  Have you ever found yourself doing all this suffering from some serious hunger pangs?

Haven't we all!

I have often been asked by students for guidance on whether they should eat before class, if so what and how much time they should leave between eating and coming onto their mat.

The answer is (drum roll please!)... I don't know.

While the more traditional schools of Yoga  (like Sivananda Vedanta School for instance) will tell you that you should ALWAYS practice yoga on an empty stomach (which you accomplish by not consuming anything for 3 hours beforehand), I have personally found a rumbling belly to cause distraction from the Practice(for you and the others around you) and even dizziness in standing poses (particularly those balancing postures like Tree and Dancers).  But I know others who can go the whole day without eating and be raring to go for their next workout (not that I am suggesting that you do this or that Yoga is a workout).  My Husband Dave does this regularly and to my amazement doesn't even become grouchy.. however I might be known to get 'Hangry' from time to time.

There is no easy answer to the 'Eating Before Practice Dilemma' because we are all unique in our physical design and metabolism and therefore require different diets to build us up and keep us strong, energetic and enthusiastic come practice time.  I know this probably not what you want to hear, but it will take you a bit of experimentation to find a few food items you can consume before you practice yoga that won't leave you feeling stuffed, groggy, or queasy.  Light whole foods make great Work-Yoga snacks, that will provide a bit of pick me up, take the edge off and leave feeling alert for your practice.  Food items like apple slices, celery sticks, or a small handful of almonds will all provide healthy complex carbs (giving you lots of Yoga energy!) and natural Fiber, helping you to feel sated until your class/practice is finished and you can head home for a full meal.  I don't recommend consuming a full meal within 30 minutes to an hour of practicing, especially if it is a really heavy, fat-laden meal, this will just make you feel icky and you won't your Yoga to it's fullest.

How quickly you eat your pre-yoga food will also determine how it settles and therefore how you feel while doing Yoga.  If you are pressed for time (which so many of us are, so often) try to be mindful of how much of the item you are eating and take your time, chewing each bite fully before taking the next one.  Hoovering your food will only lead to indigestion from eating too much, too quickly and is liable to leave you feeling queasy during your downward dog.  Lighter foods, like fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, or even a few cubes of cheese are more likely to take a bite out of your hunger, fuel you through your Pratice and not leave you lying on your mat in Savasana with nausea half-way through class.

The style of Yoga you plan to practice is also an important consideration when deciding what to eat before class.  I have found that a larger portion or even a lighter meal can be consumed before a more gentle practice, like Yin or Restorative, but if I am doing something more active like Vinyasa or Hot Yoga then I want a lot less in my stomach to prevent an upset belly.

Bottom line is there is no right or wrong answer to this age-old question, it will take you a bit of personal experimentation to find out what pre-yoga eating regimen works best for you, your body and your Yoga.

For more suggestions on what you should eat before Yoga see Yoganonymous's article!

Until next time..

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!   

PS. Please visit and like my new yoga website and find out more about my new endeavours in my Hometown, bringing Yoga to the Community at Large!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Letting Go and Giving In to Trust

What do you ponder as you wait for Yoga Class to begin?  This weekend I took to the hills of Ubud, Bali to take some time out for myself and give my undivided attention to my Practice.  Yet as I sat on my yoga mat,  in this town steeped in Yoga Culture, waiting for the class to begin, I wondered to myself what I would be able to take away from this class to incorporate into my own Teaching style.  Ordinarily I LOVE AcroYoga but on this particular day I was feeling a bit tired and just having got over a touch of the flu earlier in the week I have to admit I hadn't chosen to attend the class purely for my own growth and enjoyment.  I had a new class-concept in mind for my classes and thought I might be able to glean something from this teacher to meld into the mix.

As we sat in a circle, a small group of yogis from all over of the globe, we went from person to person and introduced ourselves and shared what it was we were hoping for in the class.  And though my thoughts had been very directed at "take-home" knowledge while waiting for class to start I found myself saying (and feeling) that I was open to whatever came from the class.  And boy am I glad that I set aside my "Teacher-education" mentality, otherwise I would have missed out on a very valuable lesson that the Practice and my fellow Yogis were waiting to impart.

The instructor, Sarah, broke us up into two groups of three people (don't you love small yoga classes!), demonstrated the first Acro pose we would undertake and our work together began.  Each one of us took a turn being the "Flyer" (the person who gets lifted), the "Base" (the person who does the lifting) and the "Spotter" (the person who keeps everyone safe).  Now you'll remember I said I wasn't feeling particularly strong or vital that day, however I had in my group a lovely couple, the male counterpart Christopher being a good foot taller than me and at least 50 lbs heavier, and the female Maria who had a reoccuring low back injury.  Due to Maria's back injury and despite my initial internal hesitation I was to be the Base to Christophers' Flyer, challenging my physical body and my confidence in doing so (don't worry they both survived!).  The boost to my confidence in my physical strength was just a side effect however of the real outcome of this Practice for me.

My Husband, Dave and I recently learned that despite our initial intentions our time in Bali was coming to an end and we would be returning well ahead of schedule to Canada.  Now for those of you who know me personally you will know that I am a Lady who likes to have a Plan and when something messes with the plan I have in my head of how things should go I become troubled (some might even say Grouchy lol).  I know this is not very Yogic, but it is one of my Samskaras (habits) that I am aware of and trying to work on. The prospect of going Home early excited me, but for all the excitement I couldn't quite let go of my fear of the Unknown.  What would happen?  What would my Life with my Husband look like in 6 months? 2 years? 10 years?  These were and are Big questions!

Working together in this Acroyoga class: communicating, building strength and confidence, and trusting in one another, helped me to realize that by holding onto my fear of the Unknown I am holding myself back from achieving GREAT things!  In order to come into this series of poses building to Star Pose (pictured below) we had to trust that the Base would support our weight and that the Spotter would be there behind us to catch us if we began to fall.  For those of you who have ever done "Trust Falls" at camp, seminars or workshops, you have some concept of what that feels like, that sensation of 'Blind-Trust' and how difficult it can sometimes be to achieve.  Each time I leaped into a Wide-legged Handstand I had to trust that there was someone there in the background to provide adjustment, guidance and support if I needed it.

 Nearing the end of our Acro session I began to see the parallels between my experiences that day on the mat and the Transitional stage I was going through off the mat. Just as I had to trust in my Flying Partners not to let me fall I have to trust that everything in Life happens for a reason, letting go of my fears and embracing the Universes' divine plan for me.  No matter what happens there will always be someone (or something) there to catch you when you fall and we shouldn't let our fears hold us back from reaching our full potential as Human Beings!  We are all destined for some form of Greatness!  You need only to discover yours! ;)

Just a little "Mat-Wisdom" from Me to You, share, like, subscribe or add your own wisdom below in the comments section.

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!


Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio, Ubud, Bali

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Yoga Fundamentals Video #1: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

At long last my very first Yoga Fundamentals Video is here!!  I plan to post one vid a month (some months maybe more than one when inspiration calls) so please feel free to post questions or pose suggestions down below in the comments section!

Om Shanti!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Yin Yoga: History, Benefits and a Yin Sequence just for You!

Yin Yoga is the Moon energy to the Sun energy of the more dynamic/yang styles, like Hatha, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa Flow.  While these dynamic styles build strength, stamina and focus on linking breath with movement, Yin embraces stillness by holding each posture for between 2 and 5 minutes, takes place predominantly on the mat and works with strengthening the joints and connective tissues rather than muscles.  Yin has been growing in popularity over the past decade and the wonderful part of this is that you can now wander into pretty much any studio and find a Yin class on the schedule.  Originally developed by the Taoists, Yin was brought to the West by Paul Grilley and Bernie Clark who have been spreading the benefits of the style far and wide.  They espouse that Yin makes the perfect balance to the Yang styles, by helping to open energy channels in the body, preparing one for comfort in meditation and can even help to improve ones' more dynamic practice as well.

Some benefits you might reap from practicing Yin Yoga are:

  • Calming effects on the mind and body
  • Increased mobility, particularly in hips and joints
  • More flexibility of the joints
  • Greater stamina in your Dynamic Practice
  • Lowered stress levels
  • Greater ease seated in mediation
  • Easing of TMJ and migraines
  • And many more!

If you are curious to try some Yin, please enjoy this Yin sequence (complete with pics and everything!) put together by Yours Truly and tested out at Power of Now Oasis (, the gorgeous Beach-side studio I have recently begun teaching at (I am so Blessed!).

Yin Yoga Sequence

Before You Begin:  Our energy is different depending on the time of day and so I would recommend if following this sequence in the morning to complete a few simple, slow sun salutations before beginning the sequence.  If practicing in the evening, a few minutes sitting in a meditative pose or taking some gentle cat/cow stretches can be a nice way to begin.

**Experienced Yoga practitioners may be confused by the similarity of certain poses to those in the Yang styles and wonder why the names are different.  This is because Yin is a more passive practice in which it is important to remember to let go of holding and tension, unlike the tension we hold and build sometimes in more dynamic styles - hence the uniquely Yin names.**

1. Dangling Pose

Take your feet hip distance apart on your mat, bend your knees slightly.  Fold forward so your upper body hangs down over your legs, if you experience any low back pain bend your knees a bit more.  Bring your hands to opposite elbows and "Dangle".  Hold for approximately 2 minutes or 20 breaths.  Take a Squat (or a few) as a counter pose to this Yin version of a  Forward Fold.

2. Sphinx Pose

Lie on your belly on your mat, feet and legs together behind you, hands palm down under the shoulders, forehead resting on the mat also.  Lift into a Cobra and then walk your hands out until the elbows, forearms and hands are resting on the floor.  Keep your heart lifted and shoulders away from the ears.  Hold for 5 mins (remember you can always come out early if you feel pain).  Counter this pose with a long Child's pose.  

3. Seal Pose

Repeat the steps to come into Sphinx and then walk your hands a little further away from you until your elbows and forearms lift off the mat.  Arms should be straight, shoulders relaxed.  This is a more intense backbend than Sphinx so hold this for only 1-2 mins and then counter with another Child's.

4. Caterpillar Pose

Sit on your bum with the feet and legs together.  Inhale your arms up alongside your ears and as you exhale fold forward, draping your upper body over your legs.  Let the upper back round, and close your eyes.  Breath (hopefully you have been doing this step all the way along!).  Hold for about 5 mins, readjusting if you need to at any time.  Counter this stretch with a few quick Inverted Table Tops (pictured below).

5. Swan/Sleeping Swan Pose

From hands and knees, bring your right knee forward so it rests on the mat just behind right wrist and bring your right shin as close to parallel with the front of your mat as you can (again without causing pain).  Slide the left foot away from you down the mat.  Hold here in this subtle backbend for 1-2 mins and then start to walk your hands forward, coming onto your forearms and then maybe right down to your forehead for Sleeping Swan, hold this for 2-3 mins.  Counter with a Downward-facing Dog and remember to complete these steps on the other side as well. ;)

6. Toe Squat Pose

Come to a kneeling position on your mat, sitting on your heels.  Place the hands down in front of you on the mat and shift your weight forward so you can tuck your toes under, then come back to kneeling, while giving the feet and toes a great stretch.  Hold for 2 mins and if you find this uncomfortable perhaps distract yourself with a some breathing exercises, like counting your breaths or counting to 4 with your inhale and back from 4 with your exhale. To counter this, untuck toes and lean back on tops of feet, lifting knees off the floor and supporting yourself on your hands.

7. Snail Pose

Place a bolster/pillow/cushion length-wise behind you and lie down on your back with your head pointing towards the bolster.  Bring knees into your chest as you exhale and then extend feet back towards bolster, bringing them down to rest.  You can support your low back with your hands or have them resting at your sides.  Keep your head and neck still.  Hold for about 3 minutes (up to 5 if you enjoy this pose).  Counter this pose with a "Baby" version of Fish (pictured below).

8. Reclined Spinal Twist

Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest again.  Stretch your arms out at shoulder-height on either side of you and with your exhalation bring the knees over to your right side.  Hold for 2 mins, and switch sides.  Counter this twist by bringing the knees back into your chest and rocking gently side to side.


9. Savasana/Final Relaxation

Lie on your back on your mat.  Widen your feet to about mat width apart and bring the hands palm up at your sides.  Tuck your chin slightly and close your eyes.  Focus on your breath, relax and enjoy!  Stay here as long as you want!

I hope you enjoy the sequence and that if it happens to be your first ever Yin-experience that you feel inspired to seek out more Yin-liciousness at a studio near you!  If you have any questions/comments or would like some guidance on specific poses or sequences feel free to leave a comment below!

Until next time..

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links:

Monday, 15 July 2013

How to Celebrate International RAW Food Day!!

Did you know that this past Thursday, July the 11th was International RAW Food Day?  No? That's okay this special occasion celebrating of all things Raw is still little known (which I am sure many would say about the diet itself), so much so in fact that even some of my Raw-Foodie Friends were unaware!

Though this particular diet is still gaining momentum amongst the masses, consuming a Raw Diet, consisting of raw, predominantly vegan, whole foods is on the rise.  Raw-Foodists believe that the cooking foods strips them of much of their nutritional value as well as breaks down important enzymes present in these foods.  There is some controversy over heating food to low temps (and even controversy over how low is okay), but some RAW dishes are heated to anywhere from 104 to 118 degrees.  Some common foods consumed on this diet are organic fruits and veggies, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes, certain oils, and herbs and spices.  Some people on this diet also partake in RAW milk and cheese (of course not vegan, but veganism isn't compulsory with this diet, so to each their own!).  For more info on whats on the RAW Menu and how to prepare RAW dishes yourself check these links:

Health benefits of the RAW Diet include increased energy, clearer skin, natural weight loss, reduced risk of disease and improved digestion.

I decided to celebrate International RAW Food Day this year by eating Raw for the day!

My RAW Menu for the Day:

I started the day off with a refreshing Banana, Papaya and Romaine Smoothie.  This Smoothie is one that I have enjoyed many mornings for Breakfast the only difference today being that ordinarily I add some Soy Milk and Yogurt in so today I skipped that to keep things pure and RAW.

I headed to my favourite local organic cafe for Lunch.  Once there my meal consisted of a Fresh Young Coconut (even my glass was staying true to its' purest form!), which is full of natural Electrolytes (perfect on a hot Balinese day), and once finished that I enjoyed a delicious Raw Pad Thai Salad, consisting of mixed greens, peppers, cucumber, zucchini and bean sprouts with a scrumptious home-made coriander dressing.

I got myself through the mid-afternoon energy-lull by making myself a nutrient-dense fresh juice (LOVING my new Juicer!) of Granny smith apple, broccoli, bok choy and cucumbers.  And before I knew it it was time for dinner!  I enjoyed another heaping salad of Indonesian Cabbage, yellow peppers, cucumber, avocado, bean sprouts and cashew nuts drizzled with some yummy coconut oil.

My RAW Experience:

I was pleasantly surprised that I could actually make it through a day of eating completely RAW without a) feeling hungry or b) needing a food processor. I felt energized, alert and unburdened by heavy meals that would weigh both my digestive tract and my mind down.  I drank more fluids as well, choosing to drink a glass of water before deciding whether I needed something more solid.  For those considering switching to this pure-form of eating full-time I would highly recommend you invest in a food processor though as there are so many delicious meals (not to mention desserts!) that you can create once you own one.   Plus I am sure you could even create some of your own too!

For more information on eating RAW and how to make the switch to eating more RAW foods (plus some tasty RAW recipes too!) see the sources & links section below.

Until next time..

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Tips for The Ladies: Moon Days AKA That Time of the Month

It dawned on me this month as I was lying in Childs' pose on the Kitchen Floor..(yes I did this..but it was a
matter of necessity!) that there has to be a more graceful, smoother, less painful and be grudging way to deal with the occurance of my monthly cycle!  So I strapped on my thinking cap and buckled myself into research-mode at my desk (I squirm a lot when in deep concentration lol) and decided to find out what exactly I can do next month to prevent the day long agony which is the first day of my cycle (may the Universe help anyone who has to deal with this agony for more than a Heart goes out to you!).

And this is what I learned...

"Why does it hurt so bad?!"

 Dysmenorrhea AKA menstrual cramping occurs for approximately 10 to 15% of women of child-bearing age (aren't we lucky?!).  The pain we experience is caused by the release of prostaglandins into menstrual fluid.  These prostaglandins are chemicals which promote uterine contractions bringing with them inflammation and pain. Along with menstrual cramping other symptoms may include pain in the lower back and thighs, bloating, headaches, breast pain, water retention, sweating and dizziness (oh joy oh bliss!). 

"So what can you do about this monthly onslaught of hormonal chemicals wreaking their havoc?"

1.   Exercise!

I know it is the last thing most of us want to do during our periods, but physical exercise (and particularly cardiovascular exercise like walking, swimming) can help ease menstrual cramps, bloating, headaches and can even give you a much needed mood-boost!And all without having to turn to you old friend Advil! Check this link for a list of the 'Top 7 Best Exercises During Your Period'

2.   Take your Daily Multi-vitamin

Studies show that Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E have all been used effectively to treat menstrual cramps.  And a daily dose of the other vitamins and minerals sure isn't going to hurt! ;)

3.   Eat to Support Yourself (Before and During Your Cycle)

I know it is oh so tempting to pull out a bag of chips or your fav chocolate bar when you feel those first period-pangs coming on (or maybe the craving to do so is how you know your time has come).  And trust me I have been guilty of doing just that on more than one occassion.  It has been found however that it is best to avoid certain foods that will cause your hormones to fall even more out of balance (like alcohol, caffeine, foods high in saturated fats and salt and refined sugar) and stick to more natural whole foods like lots of fruits and veggies while avoiding foods that can cause more inflammation like breads and dairy products.  Women who avoid the food no-no's listed above actually have shown less likelihood of suffering from menstrual cramping and other side effects of menstruation.
Foods high in Omega-3 fatty-acids help to deal with those nasty inflammation causing prostaglandins (some examples include salmon, tuna, mackeral, flaxseeds, and walnuts).  Foods with a high Magnesium content (such as bananas, avocados, almonds, tofu and brown rice) help our muscles to contract and relax and transport energy around our bodies.   
Ginger has also been found very helpful when dealing with period pains and you can make a delicious tea with just a few slices of fresh ginger and a cup of hot water.  Also Peppermint has been found to help deal with the 'monthly ailments of Womanhood'.

 4.   Become Besties with your Hot Water Bottle

Placing a hot water bottle or barring that a cloth which has been soaked in hot water on the lower abdomen can be as effective in relieving period cramps as taking Ibuprofen (and you'll get a High-Five from your Liver too!).

This last one isn't from any article or text, just good common sense that a good friend shared with me recently..
5.   Don't make BIG life decisions when your Hormones are going Haywire!

I don't know about you but I often feel like my World has been turned on its' head up until and during this glorious time, colours I liked I don't anymore, favourite foods don't have the same appeal and if ever there was a time for "Full-Life Reinvention" you can bet it will occur to me during my Moon Days.  So the next time you feel like you want to quit your job, change your name and move to Timbuktu, hold off on doing any of these until after your cycle has ended and your hormones are once again back under your control. ;)

Also find below a short and sweet video from one of my favourite yoga you-tubers, Esther Ekhart of Yogatic.  She gives you a few simple Yoga moves you can do to help ease the abdominal and low back pain that often accompanies our "monthly guest".

I hope you learned a new trick or two for coping with the not so pleasant aspects of Womanhood, so that you can get back to being Awesome that much quicker! Because being a Lady is Pretty Fab (at least most of the time)!

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Healthy Yogini Takes Flight!

A friend from Newfoundland came to visit us this week in our little corner of Paradise and she and I decided to head up to Ubud together to see the sights (which consist mostly monkeys and rice paddies), eat Delicious food (and most of it was healthy too!) and partake in some delightful Yoga.  It was her first time visiting Bali and she immediately fell in love with Ubud just as I did the on my first visit.  While we were there we had the opportunity to take part in a Flying Yoga class, which is a blend of Acro Yoga, Thai Yoga Massage, and Hatha Yoga.  And I have to say a little flight was just what I needed!

I have been living in Bali for about two months now and though I know it sounds hard to believe, it hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows for me.  This move has taught me that no matter if you are moving to Antarctica or Fiji, uprooting your Life and leaving behind your Home and everyone you know can still be a pretty emotionally heavy ordeal.  And since arriving here I admit I have definitely been battling some loneliness and homesickness.  Living this past year in St. John's, Newfoundland was such a treat and such an easy transition that I wasn't fully prepared for the transition of moving all the way across the globe to a country where I don't speak the language or know anyone.  

So if the arrival of my Lovely friend Rhonda was just what I needed to lift my spirits, then attending this Flying Yoga class was the icing on the cake!  I had attended an Acro Yoga seminar once before and played around with a few flying poses with other yogi friends and really enjoyed it, so when I saw it on the schedule at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio I suggested we try it (this was Rhonda's first Acro Yoga session).  

But I was completely unprepared for the level of connected-ness I felt to my partners (none of which ended up being my friend funnily enough).  We started the session by introducing ourselves to the group, and a brief warm-up while sitting knee to knee in a circle on our mats.  Next we linked arms and had to work as a group to stand as one unit, before walking the circle (created by our mats) periodically stopping and locking gazes with whomever was closest to us at the time.  Ordinarily I would feel a bit funny holding someones gaze for more than a few seconds but this exercise made me feel filled with the light of the other persons smiling eyes.  From there we split off into smaller groups of three and worked on Acro poses, consisting mostly of back bend variations like 'Whale'.  Our groups were made up of a 'Base' (person is the point of contact with the ground), a 'Flyer' (person who is elevated off the ground by the Base) and a 'Spotter' (person with objective view of Base & Flyer ensuring safety for both).  In order to perform the postures the three of us needed to work as a team, communicating and trusting that our group members would do their part and give us the support, guidance and leadership as we took turn playing each role within the poses.  Before we sealed in our Practice with one last resounding Om we went back around the circle and shared something we felt we had learned or experienced during the session.  I shared my experience of the Positive energy and connection flowing from one to the other as we practiced together.

                                                               Whale Pose Variation

Though practicing any form of Yoga technically makes you a part of the global yoga community, we often don't have the opportunity to connect with our fellow yogis in the everyday drop-in class.  We might practice next to the same person for months and not ever even say hello.  The beauty of Acro Yoga (and its' sister-style Partner Yoga) is that it brings yogis together to develop their practice in a direct, hands-on way, enabling you to step off your mat, build relationships with others, share some laughs and in turn gain perspective on the ups and downs of Life.

I left class that day feeling a redeveloped sense of belonging and connection to the Yoga Community at large.  In the midst of my emotional ocean of loneliness I had been thrown a raft, and though I am sure there will still be moments of loneliness/doubt in the future as I continue my Balinese Adventures, I know and trust that I will never truly be alone.  And if I get in really dire straights I can always high-tail it up to Ubud and take in another Flying Yoga class! ;)

For more information on Acro Yoga and to find a studio offering it near you click one of these links.

Until next time...

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!