Slowing Down by Marnie

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast-you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." -Eddie Cantor

I recently was on the Gulf Islands, where the locals talk about ‘Island Time’. There are even bumper stickers that say ‘I’m On Island time’ to notify city people that there’s no need to keep tailgating, I’m not going any faster! After a coffee at ‘Slow Coast Coffee’ (you’re starting to see a theme here too?) I realized that slowing down is something we actively need to value and encourage in our own selves and in our communities.

If we take the time to notice if we are living in such a way that we are constantly feeling rushed and anxious then maybe it is time to ‘untrain’ our brain. Because if we are constantly feeling stressed, anxious, and over worked, our brain becomes stressed, anxious, and overworked. You might even notice when you take a holiday that your brain is so un-used to relaxing that the whirling thoughts continue even when you desperately wish to have a break.

I believe there is a correlation between yoga becoming more popular in the western world as technology continues to increase with texting, emailing and social media. We intuitively know that our mind needs to have rest.

To ‘untrain’ our brain and rest our mind we can actively train our brain to slow down. Meditation and pranayama (breathing) are two ways that we can begin to slow down and really influence our mood state for the better.

This is a good time to take a nice slow breathe in and a lovely leisurely exhale and as you do feel those shoulders soften down.

Here are two very simple practices that you might like to implement into your life.

 

Appreciation Exercise (a breathing exercise)

Make a list of things you appreciate   – people, places, activities, and pets – choose one or two each morning to hold in your heart during the day. Choose an item again at night to hold in your heart while you rest.

After you have done your appreciation list, choose what you would like to hold in your heart for the day and begin to focus your attention on your heart area. If it feels appropriate close your eyes. Breathe a little deeper and slower than normal (check that your shoulders and face are soft). Allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of taking the time to slow down and establish a soothing breathing rhythm.

Next: Imagine breathing through your heart. Picture yourself slowly breathing in through your heart and exhaling out through your heart area. Keep the focus of your breath coming into the heart and exhaling out of the heart.

Now breathe what you have chosen to appreciate into your heart area and exhale it out and all through your body. Continue in this manner breathing in your appreciation and letting it flow through you.  Take as long as you like with this.

How do you feel? Do you notice a greater sense of ease, wellbeing or relaxation?
Practice this daily for a week and notice your wellbeing.
 

Meditation (uplifting if feeling out of sorts)

Meditate on light at the heart center: Assume a comfortable meditation posture (you can sit or lie down), and bring your attention to the center of the chest in the region of the heart. Visualize a bright golden-white light in the heart center. Inhale and allow the light to fill the region, imagine or feel the area softening and then exhale and expand the light in all directions, illuminating every cell of your body, every corner of your mind, your entire being. Visualize the light expanding infinitely in all directions. As you notice your mind wandering, return your attention gently to the light of the heart. Continue to focus the attention on the light at the heart center for the period of your meditation.

You can do this anytime, if you are new to meditation start with one or two minutes, gradually adding on.  You will always benefit from taking a short time out and recharging yourself.

“Just slow down.
Slow down your speech.
Slow down your breathing.
Slow down your walking.
Slow down your eating.
And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind.
Just slow down.”
-Doko

Marnie is teaching Gentle Yoga for Stress Release in September, as well as Healing Anxiety and Healing Depression. Her classes focus on slowing down and letting go.

5 Reasons to do the May Challenge!

It’s the exciting time of year again at Live Yoga where we offer our annual May Challenge!  This is always a fun month for the studio as there is opportunity to support and encourage each other’s yoga practice in a totally different way.  This is no fitness regimen or boot camp style challenge!  We would like to encourage people to explore some other yoga practices like pranayama (breathing), meditation and study some philosophy.   All that is needed is a smile and commitment to complete 28 practices (of all sorts) in the month of May.

Here are the top 5 reasons YOU should do the Challenge!

1. Setting a goal boosts confidence: 

The sense of accomplishment we feel when we achieve a goal helps to build courage and confidence to complete other goals.  Setting our mind to something with vigor and determination helps to manifest our goals into reality.  We then become masterful at making our thoughts and goals a reality all around. 

2. Fire up your body:

Spring time is a great time of year to get the systems of the body moving again.  Yoga and exercise in general can help to remove some of the stagnation and lethargy left behind from the winter months.  Even on a digestive level, exercise promotes the assimilation of food and helps bring a strong hunger and digestive fire back.  All this movement ensures all systems of the body will be in proper working order and ready for the summer. 

3. Surprise Yourself:

Often there is a latent potential the lies hidden within us.  Whether held back by fear, worry, or doubt we can perceive ourselves unfit for some activities.  By committing to a yoga challenge, the body learns quickly and builds strength in the postures through repetition.  This can allow the physical limits of our practice to be tested and expanded.  The results usually surprise us as we might find ourselves doing more than we imagined.  So maybe try a flow class, or hold your warrior pose longer, who knows maybe you’ll be doing headstands by the end of the month! 

4. Find a routine:

Get your groove back and practice daily.  When the body finds a routine and sticks to it, vitality flourishes.  Participating in a challenge can be strenuous so the body requires the proper amount of rest everyday.  Getting up each day at the same time, and going to sleep at the same time allows the body to rest fully.  Practicing this much yoga often brings awareness back to the natural rhythms of the body and our environment.  We feel the natural urges of the body with heightened awareness and as a side effect we eat when hungry (not mindless snacking) and sleep when tired.  With routine we re-sync ourselves with nature and our natural urges this connection encourages wellness, balance and nourishment.

5. Connect with others:

A yoga challenge puts you in the same room with a whole bunch of awesome, like-minded individuals!  As everyone is be facing the same challenges there is an instant bond and relation – you will make friends!  You can share experiences and offer advice on how to accomplish your yoga challenge.  Easily the best part of the yoga challenge is doing it with others.  Much joy comes from connecting with people during the challenge becoming part of something greater than just fellow yoga students. It's an enriching experience!

 

Whatever your reasons for doing the May Challenge! Have a great month yogis!! More info here on joining the challenge. Register now and see what all the fuss is about!

 

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