Movement as Medicine

Much of our day to day activities forces us to be in sedentary enclosures, say a desk or a car, which greatly inhibits the movement of our bodies. As human beings who have evolved from a physically active, hunting and gathering existence, it is challenging for the mind and body to adapt to the dramatic changes of modern living.

 

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6 Tips to truly enjoy the holiday season

The holiday season is such a wonderful time of year to enjoy family gatherings, visits with friends, giving and receiving gifts, and a generally cheerful state of mind. Much joy is spread around with so much generosity. But beware, all of this gayness can be veiled by the frantic and hectic pace of commuting between gatherings, the consumer culture of large malls and stores, and an overall exhaustion of our own energy. Our days may include sugar and caffeine fueled shopping sprees or a couple more alcoholic beverages than normal. Striking a balance is key to remaining healthy and content. This blog won't preach about not indulging this holiday, but just having a mindful attitude while enjoying the treats as well as the busyness and possible hangovers (sugar hangovers also). Don’t fret, there are ways to ensure you keep calm without falling into the habits of the scrooge. Try these tips this holiday season:

 

  1. Take your time – Rushing around is very stimulating for the nervous system. Rather than treating the holidays as a never ending marathon, give yourself time to arrive at your destination or slow down when feeling frantic. A few moments to enjoy Christmas lights, watch the smiles on others faces, or taking a few moments to enjoy breathing can slow down the pace of your day.

  2. Be Present – This may sound cliché in the yoga world but extrapolating from tip #1, slowing down to smell the roses, pausing to enjoy another's company, and being there to receive others will keep you present to enjoy the holidays. It works in tandem with tip #1! You have to slow down to be present. This is living mindfully. When truly in the moment friends, family, eggnog, chocolate, or a glass of wine are the most wonderful treats!!

  3. Smile – The physical act of engaging all your facial muscles in a way which raises the outer edges of you lips and even shows you teeth is merry, joyful and contagious! Often it even encourages the spine to lift improving your posture as your happiness radiates throughout (think of the Grinch when his heart expands). Smiling will make you feel good and also other people will notice how happy you are! This is an easy way to spread the holiday cheer!

  4. Get Outside – Exercise is the best way to blow of some steam. The days are short, and it is truly tempting to live beside the fireplace in our pyjamas with hot chocolate but the body needs to move to burn off excess energy (or create it). A quick walk outside in the sunshine may be all you need to relax- or get some energy by motivating the physical body.

  5. Don’t be a stranger – People are very receptive during the holiday! You can make someones day better simply by saying hello and asking how they are. You might even make a new friend! As our culture and communities continue to segregate ourselves from each other it warms the heart to connect frequently. This is something we all crave! To have companions and share love with others.

  6. Be the GIFT!- Give yourself! Its not all about presents in the holidays (although we mistakenly might think it is). You yourself are an amazing gift. Showing up to visit, converse, help out, or share meals while mindful and present is the greatest gift anyone could ask for.

 

Satya – The Yama of Truthfulness

Sean O'Leary

Satya is the practice being truthful and honest in our thought, speech and action.  On the surface this yama may seem straightforward but in reality it requires a constant observance and understanding of the changing nature of our relationships and the world.

The definition of truth is “the true or actual state of a matter” or “conformity with fact or reality”.  Interestingly if matter and reality are in constant state of fluctuation and change truth will be relative to each circumstance and situation.  So to grasp at the idea of truth or honesty our yoga must be a spiritual practice that is rooted in a constant exploration of the present. 

I love the idea of a practice that doesn’t state right or wrong or a single path but gives an idea that is relative to the individual, community, culture and causation of our surroundings.  Every person has an opinion and values developed throughout life.  Satya challenges us to investigate our motives. In his book Yoga for a World out of Balance Michael Stone points out the connection between person and society

“From the time of our birth, we each respond not only in a personal sense to the precariousness of our human condition, but we are also the inheritors of delusive social institutions and shared meanings about the world.  The same basic patterns we find in our minds and bodies are also found in the structure and function of our institutions.”

I like how Michael Stone challenges the reader to consider how contemporary society can warp our worldviews and potentially corrupt us into living untruthful lives.   The social and economic pressures of modern life make us think that success, financial gain and consumerism is equivalent to life satisfaction but this is ultimately a lie.  At our deepest core we yearn for love, community and compassion.   Yoga practice, meditation, pranayama, and asana all bring us closer to our true needs rather than our conditioned desires.  The yama satya prompts us to investigate our desires and how we can live aligned with our highest truth.

What does living honestly mean to you?

Why Do Pilates? Our Teacher Katarina Explains

Katarina teaches fantastic Pilates classes - great for all ages, levels and abilites - these are fun classes that help build strength and balance. Register by phone (778-545-9918) or email (practice@liveyoga.ca) for the upcoming January 2013 session. More info available here!

1. Pilates is Whole-Body Fitness

Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. While Pilates training focuses on core strength, it trains the body as an integrated whole. Pilates workouts promote strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.

Attention to core support and full-body fitness -- including the breath and the mind -- provide a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere. It is also the reason that Pilates is so popular in rehab scenarios, as well as with athletes who find that Pilates is a great foundation for any kind of movement they do.

2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs

Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. Building from core strength, focusing on proper alignment, and a body/mind integrative approach make Pilates accessible to all. With thousands of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates workouts can be tailored to individual needs.

 

5. Develops Core Strength

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that we all covet.

6. Improves Posture

Good posture is a reflection good alignment supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Starting with Pilates movement fundamentals and moving through mat exercises, Pilates trains the body to express itself with strength and harmony. You can see this in the beautiful posture of those who practice Pilates.

 

 

7. Increases Energy

It might seem like a paradox, but the more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates gets the breath and circulation moving, stimulates the spine and muscles, and floods the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.

 

8. Increases Awareness - Body/Mind Connection

Joseph Pilates was adamant that Pilates, or contrology as he called it, was about "the complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit." This is one of the secrets of Pilates exercise: we practice each movement with total attention. When we exercise in this way, the body and mind unite to bring forth the most benefit possible from each exercise. The Pilates principles -- centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow -- are key concepts that we use to integrate body and mind.

Tea for the Spirit - By Lydia Hol

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

The first time I started drinking tea was when I lived in Dublin, Ireland while on a University Exchange. I wore long johns underneath my regular clothes every single day (I’m not kidding you!) for 4 months. I could never seem to get warm in the damp Irish winter. You often hear talk about ‘tea time’ in the UK, and I soon realized what an important ritual this was. Just as southern countries take an afternoon rest called ‘siesta,’ I think ‘tea time’ is the UK equivalent. Enjoying a steaming cup of thick black tea mid-afternoon was one of my

favorite new rituals, and something I took with me back to Canada. The ‘to-go cup’ is unheard of, in Ireland tea is sipped and enjoyed, the time being used to chat with friends, read, or just as a reminder to slow down.

 

I love how much tea has become part of the culture at Live Yoga. I joke that it is the only way we get people to come to class, knowing they will get a cup of tea at the end!

At Live Yoga, we love our "tea time" and we offer it for many reasons: to promote community; share news; get to know the studio's friendly faces; and as a chance to settle before heading back into the busy world. In addition, there are the wonderful health benefits of tea which I would like to share with you:

One of our most popular teas is ‘Rooibos’. Rather than a tea leaf, rooibos is actually a South African herb. It has been confirmed by many studies that rooibos tea is capable of reducing cancer, heart disease, and aging. As it is completely caffeine-free, it can be drunk throughout the day to help relieve headaches, insomnia, stomach cramps, allergies and much more!

Another tea we often serve is ‘White Tea’. Health benefits of this variant include cancer prevention, lowered blood pressure, lower cholesterol, strengthened bones and teeth, and a powerful tonic for the heart.

Spiced teas containing cinnamon, cardamom, chai, ginger, and other ‘spiced’ ingredients are always favorites, especially our ‘Yoga Blend’ tea. Drinking these types of spices in teas are antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory. They also promote a state of tranquility and calm, instilling emotional harmony.

A couple more tea tips for you:  

Did you know the most amount of caffeine is released from the tea leaf in the first 30 seconds after adding hot water? If you are wanting to limit your caffeine intake a good trick is to pour out this first bit of brewed tea and add more water for a flavorful but less caffeinated cup.

Used tea leaves can be re-used in a variety of ways. You can use them as a deodorizer in your fridge, or as fertilizer in your garden.

Ever wondered what we do with all our used tea leaves at the studio? Our wonderful teacher Cindy takes the home weekly and composts them in her garden!

Looking forward to sharing a cup of tea with you at the studio soon :-)

“Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings!”

 ~Author Unknown