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Category Archives: yoga
by Ya’ara Saks
Kids live in a world with parents who are constantly plugged in, hurrying from work to playdate to homework and stressed out. Funnily enough we don’t realize that as overscheduled as we are – they are too. As adults we come to the mat to destress, let go and find balance – they reap the benefits when we come home calm and clear – why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to model us and have that time too?
Yoga for kids is the perfect antidote to all that we pile on our kids from school to sports and more. Yoga gives them the tools of a balanced healthy outlook and strong positive connection with themselves. Already at a young age and into their teens, children often feel pressure at school academically and socially. With the added pressure if they are involved in competitive organized sports, it’s easy for kids to become overly self-critical, and lose confidence as they grow and develop. Yoga is the chance to find the opposite – a nourishing space where there is no judgment and no need to be the “winner” or place a perfect pose.
Top 5 things to get your gal, MOM
1. Choose from a beautiful selection of inspirational books, candles and luxurious creams at Spynga North $20-$40
2. New Spynga black performance tank with the ultimate wicking system for $38
3. Reserve a spot for mom in our first super deluxe restorative yoga workshop on June 8th for $45
4. A Cozy Spynga Sweatshirt for spring evening walks! $95
5. A 5 class pack for her to use whenever she wishes $80
I’ve always been an perfectionist. For seven years through my late teens and early twenties, this trait manifested as a roller coaster of yo-yo diets, disordered eating behaviour and punishing workouts, in an endless pursuit of my own concept of the perfect body. Four years ago, on the verge of starting yet another diet cycle, I discovered an online community of people who believe in size acceptance and Health at Every Size (HAES), drastically shifting my goals and my frame of mind.
HAES posits that pursuing improved health outcomes can occur independent of deliberate changes in body size. In other words, healthy behaviours like eating well and exercising have value whether or not you become thinner as a result of these behaviours. From its website (http://www.haescommunity.org/), HAES encourages:
● Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
● Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honours internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
● Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
Outdoor yoga at Spynga is possibly one of Toronto’s best kept secrets – an experience to be cherished in these fleeting summer months.
Scott Petrie, who teaches mindbody outdoor yoga flow Thursday evenings, thoroughly enjoys the vibe on the terrace. “The greenery, the trees, and the wood of the deck help you feel more connected to nature,” he says. “Taking a deep breath of actual fresh air, or hearing the birds tweet during savasana…those are things I don’t take for granted given that I’m almost always practicing indoors.”
As one happy Spynga client concurs, “There’s nothing like being outside, watching the clouds go by and the trees swaying as you do your tree pose.”
This observation reminds us of the Sanskrit meaning of the word “yoga” – to yoke, to unite, to forge connection. According to the ancient texts, yoga is about letting go of the self and allowing the deep connection between all and everyone around us to reveal it. As we stand, swaying gently, could it be that we are indeed the tree and the tree is in fact us? As the clouds placidly dance, the leaves wave hello, the wind whispers encouragement, as we allow our own breath to join the party, flowing in and out of the body as we move with power and grace, this deep connection has a chance to reveal itself almost effortlessly.
Ok…We are up to 12 reasons. Ever left a juicy yoga class and thought, hmmm… I wish I could teach like that? Ever had an inkling to inspire and move people back to themselves through breath and a spirited flow called yoga? Here’s your chance!
1. You love yoga so much you want to share the love with others!
2. An opportunity to study and learn about anatomy (in a fun way of course!), yogic philosophy, meditation, breathing techniques that calm and energize, and how to get in that very twisty pretzel pose that eludes you. See curriculum here!
3. Learn about yourself and take a trip on a remarkable transformational personal journey
4. Immerse yourself in a community of like minded people who can sit and talk about the minutia of posture alignment all day!
5. Discover the impact of teaching, inspiring, and touching people’s lives daily and what that does to your soul and the soul of others.
6. Work with a fantastically experienced faculty!
7. Free Yoga for 5 months (it’s included!)
8. Learn how to make a passion of yours a real live business and you are the BOSSS.. .yogi-like of course!
How many of you read the New York Times article a few weeks back on Tara Stiles? Click here to have a read!
Stiles, whom the Times called a “yoga rebel” does things a little differently than many other teachers. In her classes there is no chanting “Om,” no Sanskrit names for the poses, no setting of intentions and no discussion of Patanjali. The focus is strictly on the physical aspects and health benefits of yoga rather than on anything spiritual or philosophical. Stiles’ critics say that yoga is not just a set of exercises; it is a lifestyle and a profound spiritual practice. (They’re also very upset with her promoting yoga for weight loss, but that is another story.) In her defense Stiles says, “People need yoga, not another religious leader.”
Meditation.¬† It‚Äôs always struck me as yoga‚Äôs very cool, very intimidating cousin.¬† Over the years, I‚Äôve tried to hang out with her a few times, and somehow we just don‚Äôt seem to connect.¬† Yet I want her friendship so bad!¬† Am I doing something wrong?¬† Why is it so hard to just sit once a day, totally still, and watch my thoughts and my breath?¬† Doesn‚Äôt sound that hard, right?¬† But every time I try, a whole garbage bag of chatter explodes in my brain, drives me totally crazy, and convinces me I‚Äôm just not cut out for this relationship.
Pretty soon I‚Äôm flitting back to the mat to stretch and balance and lunge…which is great!¬† Of course it‚Äôs great.¬† Yoga is such a comfy friendship at this point, I‚Äôm cool with not being that ‚Äúgood‚Äù at it, I‚Äôm cool with just going for it on my own terms because I‚Äôve figured out yoga‚Äôs not going to judge me.¬† ‚ÄúJust do the thing!‚Äù she says, and I listen.¬† With meditation, it‚Äôs different.¬† It feels like she‚Äôs making fun of me.¬† ‚ÄúWho do you think you are?‚Äù she says.¬† ‚ÄúDo you really think you can get this mess under control?‚Äù
Putting a little OM(G) in your movie crazed week will keep you limber, energized, and feeling your best at this year‚Äôs Toronto International Film Festival.
Starting with a quick pre-fest downward dog is a way perfect to get more oxygen flowing to your star-crazed brain and ready to move. Begin on your hands and knees so that they are positioned shoulder and hip distance apart. Curl your toes under and lift your hips back and up towards the stars. If you feel much of the weight in your shoulders or hands, bend your knees a little and draw your chest towards your thighs. Take 10-15 breaths here which will allow the blood flow to reverse and will instantly power your mood. Being upside down is the celebrity secret youth potion, don‚Äôt cha know.
If you haven‚Äôt yet experienced the gumby-hipped serenity that follows a yin yoga class, what are you waiting for?
The first time I tried this class at Spynga, I was scared about holding the poses for three to five minutes.¬† Would my body be able to handle it?¬† What would I think about?¬† I had no idea I would come out of there feeling totally chilled out for the first time in a long time.¬† I‚Äôd never sat with a stretch for so long, and it‚Äôs amazing what comes up in the brain in terms of memories, images, emotions‚Ä¶I am a very brain-oriented person ‚Äì one of the reasons I try to do yoga is to get a little more into my body.¬† But yin yoga brings it all home ‚Äì body, mind, they are all the same guy.¬† They are you!¬† So get in there, stretch it out, face your fears, and leave feeling like a billion bucks! JT
In a world where we are surrounded by so much happening, so many choices, it is nice to find some regular time for yourself. Even nicer once you learn how to use this time to truly unwind your mind instead of finding new ways to occupy it and keep it busy. When we learn to meditate we are rediscovering a place within us that is free and innocent, unencumbered by the weight of responsibilities and expectations and untarnished from past experiences or future anxieties. A place where we heal and grow and learn to stay balanced under any circumstances. JC