Dont Die With Your Music Still in You

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Don’t die with your music still inside you.  – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Play that music and express who you are.

Let the whole world see you dance.

Ashamed to come back on to this blog, I feel I have left it and I just couldn’t bear to come on and face it. It wasn’t just a website any more; it was piece of the internet that represented my shame. What is shame? Maybe one of the most painful emotions we can experience as humans. It can seem unbearable and brings out our cover-ups and false selves. Not following through with the idea I had, not writing every week became a shame to me, something I just wanted to hide from. It was my mistake; I was the mistake…shame on me…so I was choosing to believe anyway.

My yoga practice has changed, my world is so different then it was a few months ago. There’s something freeing when you embrace this inevitable change that occurs. So with the adaptability I’m using to carry me through my life, I will allow this blog to be a place where I can adapt too.  In attempt to rediscover my yoga practise, I have gotten a passport to prana. This little pass allows you to travel to different yoga studios all over and try a class. I’m ready to explore! This movement is exactly what I need to move what feels stagnate for me right now.

We are always rediscovering ourselves or maybe just getting to know different parts of ourselves and that is the journey in life. I want freedom. I want to follow my heart and my gut, allowing myself to change my mind when new information, new insight and new feelings show.. I want to dance..I want to dance naked.

My ego says…if you never come back on you can pretend it never existed. I want to  face this fear, so here I am. I am back and I’m writing to you with no masks and no intentions. I just want to be authentic. Show my true self and let my words be out there.

As a very inspirational yoga teacher in my life closes each class with..

All that is dark, and rich and light and bright within me, sees and honours the same in you. Namaste

Yoga Food Music – Yoga Ahaar Sangeet

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I love to share with you all, and write from my heart. So if I haven’t posted when I should it’s because I felt I had nothing to say. And I truly want to share from that place of love and inspiration rather than “just because I feel I have too”. So for that reason, I never wrote last Thursday. Too make up for it tho I am sharing an amazing post about what I did this weekend, very exciting.

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I attended the sixth Yoga Food Music ( Yoga Ahaar Sangeet) Event this Sunday in downtown Toronto. I’ve been to all thus far and as long as I’m in the country I will continue to go. I always leave there feeling  more inspired and more alive! I feel that these are moments I live for. To truly experience something by opening yourself up  and just absorbing it all in. It is the richness of events like Yoga Food Music that make my life a colourful one.

“Yoga Ahaar Sangeet (Yoga Food Music) is a spa for the soul; an invigorating slice of time that lifts the spirit and creates space for serenity.  Like a field of dreams you come, take your place on the floor and allow the guiding voice of Yoga to open your heart.
You rise.
You sit up from shavasana to the wafting smell of a delicious holistic meal.  Slowly, you eat in joy, engaging within and sharing throughout.
You rise.
The journey continues as the music transcends song.  Full of soul, you rise.  With an open heart you’re en route to your next destination, revitalized by the nourishing, holistic journey your soul has taken through the evening of Yoga Ahaar Sangeet.”

–          Shayna Young

Now let me break it down for you…

Yoga

Yoga

The yoga warms you up, you start to become more present and eventually what you carried there with you  from the day, from the week, isn’t as heavy. Your minds a little quieter, you’re feeling a little lighter.

Food

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The food is amazing and always shared over good conversation with like-minded people.

Event organizers Shayna Young and Johnathan Kay prepared a wonderful Holistic lunch  of South Indian food from Tamil Nadu. Together their cooking styles blend and create the most delicious meal that makes every cell in your body beam! The spices warm your heart, the freshness and flavors just make your soul smile. It so different from what your use to it turns eating into an exciting adventure of the palate.

The menu of the day:

  • Sambar (vegetable lentil stew)
  • Rasam (spiced soup)
  • Idli (fermented steamed rice cakes)
  • Bean Poriyal (dry bean curry with ground lentils)
  • Coconut Kale Channa Masala (chickpeas curry)
  • Pani Puri- everyone’s favourite! (pastry shells filled with mixed sprouts, sweet potato, onion, fresh coriander, chickpeas.  With  sweet and spicy tamarind chutney and curd (yoghurt).  As well as mint, coriander, spiced pani (water))
  • Fresh Coconut
  • coriander coconut chutney
  • Green tea
  • Almond milk spiced chai

Betel Leaf

The after meal paan is what I enjoyed most! Paan (pawn) is a preparation of aromatic herbs all folded into a Betel Leaf. Jonathan and Shayna

We added:

  • Betel nut
  • coconut
  • clove
  • cinnamon
  • green cardamom
  • fennel
  • Gullkand (Rose petal sugar)

This was my first time trying paan  and it was alot of fun to make. Its used after a meal to help with digestion and give your mouth a fresh taste.  Once you stuff the leaf,  you close it up and place it in the corner of your mouth, tucking it by your cheek. Your suppose to slowly chew away on it.

Music

Ravi, Andrew, Justin, Jonathan Ravi, Jonathan, JustinIMG_0716

You start to listen to the music of instruments you may have never seen or heard before; It’s so beautiful! You just close your eyes and let the sound lift you.  You can feel your self get lighter and lighter with every note like a flow of love and gratitude surging through your body.  Just being there and sharing in the energy of the music makes you radiate with joy from the inside out.

The very talented musicians performed two styles of  North Indian, Khayal and Bhajan, Hindustani Classical Raga Music. I really appreciated being able to sit directly in front of the musicians as they played, it truly connected me to the music in the most intimate way.

  • Jonathan Kay – Tenor and soprano saxophone
  • Andrew Kay – Alto Saxophone
  • Justin Gray – Bass Veena
  • Ravi Naimpally – Tabla

This event was dedicated to  the late musician Pandit Ravi Shankar who passed away last week.  He was and will forever be the world’s premier sita Maestro. He came to America from India in the 60’s and along with the help of George Harrison from the Beatles, brought Indian Classical music to the West.

As a special guest we were very lucky to have Som Naimpally, mathematician and Indian Classical lover, there to speak about the life of Pandit Ravi Shankar. He shared with us his memories of sitting directly in front of Ravi Shankar in performance, and the journey of dance and music that was Ravi Shankar’s life.  Mr. Naimpally spoke with such fond lightness to him that his words made us feel as if we were all at the amazing concert of the great Ravi Shankar.

Som Naimpally Shayna Pandit Ravi Shankar

You always head home from Yoga Ahaar Sangeet knowing that you just nourished mind, body and soul. We need gatherings like this, the kind that leave you feeling a little lighter and filled with a little more love.

Andrew, Ravi, Justin, Jonathan, Shayna

Very glad to share this with you, just as it has been shared with me..

To get on the mailing list for the next Yoga Ahaar Sangeet event message Shayna at shayna@liveyoungnutrition.com. To find out more information about this event and other things Shayna is up to check out her site at liveyoungnutrition.comhttp://www.liveyoungnutrition.com/yoga-ahaar-sangeet.html

More Cool Links to check out!

Namaste

Pose 7: Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I

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What does it mean to be a warrior? Warrior I Side View

Warrior I  pose captures power and peacefulness. It builds a softened strength and helps you focus on fighting the urge to give into your own weaknesses. It allows you to find your roots and stand strong, finding balance and strength in your legs. When held, it calls for strength all the way from the base of the feet to the tips of the fingers. Feel that energy rise up through you.

When in this pose the first thing to start shaking is our foundation, our legs. They start burning up as we hold this pose especially if it is early on in your yoga journey and the muscles have yet to build the strength. The usual mental reaction is “I got to get out of this” Our mind starts responding and goes into rescue mode. Next thing you know all we are focusing on is “how much longer…I’ll just pretend i have to *insert excuse* (wipe my face, drink water, go to the washroom, fix my hair) … that’s enough, I got to get out of this pose!” Rather than breathing through the chaos we are planning our escape route.

Warrior pose challenges us. Once you start focusing on the breath in warrior I you will see the chaos start to fade, and when this happens you become filled with this feeling of strength and power, you can handle anything that comes your way. Remembering this strength and taking it with you off that mat is what will help you when you’re feeling a little defeated in life. Breathe through the chaos, keep your foundation strong, stay focused, centered and calm; even if all you want to do is run far away and hide.

What do you think of when you hear the word warrior?Warrior I Front View

We are not talking about a fighter or a soldier. The fight is not against other people but rather the battle we have with ourselves. A warrior is someone who looks inside themselves and sees all the strength and wisdom they need to get through whatever it is they are facing. Whatever pain, fear, hopelessness, loneliness or heart break it may be. It may mean keeping hope when there seems to be none, refusing to give up or run away. It may mean having the determination and focus to see your goal through, to see your pose through. Sometimes it may mean just being the change you want to see in others.

In yoga we learn to use the breath to help us get through difficult poses. When we focus on the breath we quiet the mind from distraction and all that is left is the essence of the pose to be felt. We all have this strength in us, we are all warriors. When all we see is weakness we have to remember to shine light on the darkness and look at our strength.

The alignment of a warrior:

  • Heels in one line, back foot is flat on the mat and turned forward to a 45 degree angle.
  • Feel your feet root into the ground pressing into the outer edge of the back foot.
  • Lunge into the front leg to 90 degrees. The knee is directly over the ankle forming a right angle.
  • Square the hips, engage the lower abdomen and tailbone tucked in and forward.
  • Belly pulled in and heart lifting to the sky.
  • Reach your arms up, engage the finger tips. Bring your gaze upward to in between your palms. Biceps by the ears and relax the shoulders down and away from the ears.

Now say it “I am strong. I am brave. I am peaceful. I am a warrior.” 

Pose 6: Camel Pose – Ustrasana

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Camel Pose When we carry heavy emotions for a long time we tend to start to hunch over; carrying the weight on our shoulders, this is the physical bodies response to the burden. This keeps the chest closed off and the heart closed in. It is only when we open our hearts and open our chest that we can let this go and create the space for new things to flow in. Today my body craved camel pose. Camel Pose is the ultimate chest and heart opener; making your heart so open and vulnerable which allows the emotions to surface. I knew I needed to bring up and release certain emotions I have been holding on to. Therefore, allowing myself to experience the freedom that comes with this acceptance and letting go.

Using poses to move past emotional and mental blocks is part of moving your yoga practice forward. Emotions that aren’t released are held in the internal organs on a energetic level, effecting there function. The unreleased energies and emotions get trapped in a particular part of the body. Pent up emotions effect the production of hormones and can create tensions in these areas of the body.

The practice of asanas unblocks the energy currents and the emotions; exposing and bringing up many things .

As yoga makes us more open we start to notice our awareness grow. As emotions start to move and surface, the process of balance and harmonizing begins .Emotions can surface in anyone, after just starting your yoga practice or after practicing for years. Sometimes you may not be able to link the emotion with any event in your life, you may not understand it, but this is okay. Just observe the emotion and let it go.

This comes with practice; because it can be hard to let the things we hold on to go. I know when I need to let go of things, I can feel it in my body and usually it’s a heaviness in my heart; even if my mind is contradicting the feeling. It is important to pay attention to these signs the body gives. Use yoga as a tool to help you not only physicaly but mentally and emotionally. Notice what comes up for you in camel pose, or any  pose. Is it fustration, sadness, joy, anger, love…

camel in the desertGetting into Camel Pose:

  • Warm up the body before entering this back bend by doing a couple downward dog flows. Then kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and have your thighs perpendicular to the ground.
  • Place your hands on the back of your pelvis, squeezing your elbows and shoulder blades together. Press your hips slightly forward.
  • Inhale and lift your ribs and chest while pressing your pelvis forward.
  • Start with the hands pressed at the lower back. If you want to go deeper reach your hands to your feet. You can turn your toes under and elevate your heels if you are not ready yet. You can even grab blocks positioning them just outside each heel.
  • Extend through the crown of your head and gently drop your head back. Continue to maintain length in your neck even as it relaxes back. If you find that dropping your head back causes a lot strain keep your chin tucked towards your chest.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths in this pose. You can hold for up to 2 minutes. To exit, bring your hands to the base of your pelvis. Inhale and slowly lift your head and torso. Counter stretch in child’s pose for a few breathes.

If all this emotions talk is not your thing, how about practice camel pose for these benefits:

  • Stretches the entire front of the body.
  • Stretches the lower body  (ankles, thighs, quadriceps)
  • Strengthens the back.
  • Improves posture.
  • May help with respiratory issues, fatigue, menstrual cramps, diabetes, anxiety and depression.
  • Helps with digestion.
  • Opens the Heart Chakra and stimulates the Throat Chakra.

What is this Qigong you speak of?

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I’m back from my week adventure to the U.S where I attended the 1st Health Qigong Seminar and Training for instructors from the America’s. There were people from many States, Canada, and South America, and together we learned and practiced Qigong for 8 hours a day with the Masters from China, Professor Yang Bailong and Professor Lei Bin.

To be honest at first I didn’t really enjoy Qigong so much, I had done it a couple of times and found it a bit slow. The opportunity came up to go to New York and I thought why not? Lets see what this is all about.. After being emerged in it for a week, I have to say I LOVE HEALTH QIGONG!

This is just the beginning of my understanding, but I am starting to get why it has been practiced for 5,000 years. Its beautiful, a moving meditation, it flows like a dance and grounds you all at the same time. I think when you start to learn more about it and allow yourself to be open to its healing power, then you too will fall in love with the practice of Qigong.

So what is this “Qigong” I’m raving about?

Similar to yoga it was also developed thousands of years ago and has been practiced and passed on. Yoga developed in India, Qigong in China. You may be thinking it is Tai Chi and it’s not, they are different. Tai Chi is a combative martial art based on attack and defense. Qigong is an internal martial art developed solely for healing and to assist in optimal health and longevity.  This practice is all about aligning the breath, movement and awareness. It is not only exercise, but works on a deeper level creating a meditative state and allowing for healing to occur, its is a moving medicine. Each pose is designed to open the meridians allowing the flow of Chi “Life Energy”. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used for preventative and curative functions, usually with the recommendation to practice Health Qigong before being given herbs for certain illnesses.

The forms I learned are:

  • Da Wu
  • Ma Wang Dui Dao Yin Shu
  • Ba Duan Jin

The nice thing about being Western is we have access to so much information, and can expose ourselves to many different cultures. We can take the knowledge from ancient eastern practices and apply it to our modern western lives. Its not always just about yoga and India, there is beauty and wisdom to be discovered in so many cultures!

I want to share some pictures from the trip!

The experience was amazing, and I have to say I am incredibly grateful to have these opportunities to learn, and grow. I am blessed with many teachers, those who know they are teachers for me and those who don’t. Can’t wait to attend next years training in San Francisco!

Team Black and Red

Team Black and Red!

health qigong group photo

Health Qigong Group Photo

Tai Chi Fan

Tai Chi Fan

Ba Duan Jin with the “Tai Chi Prince” Sitan Chen from American Taiji Health Qigong located in New York.

Ba Duan Jin with the “Tai Chi Prince” Sitan Chen from American Taiji Health Qigong located in New York.

NOW GO TRY SOME QIGONG!!!! Find a location near you! Check out your local community centers, Tai Chi centres or Yoga Studios.

If you live in Toronto Come visit Hot Yoga Wellness Concord Studio, Qigong classes are Sundays and Mondays at 1:30 pm

Zian Jian! (thats Bye in Mandarin)

Sujun and I in time Square :)

Sujun and I in time Square 🙂

What does a home practice mean to you?

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As some of you know Friday I leave to New York City for a week to study Qigong with Masters from China and people all over the world (more to come on this soon.) As it naturally goes; weeks of not much going on, then all of sudden its becomes a case of so much to do so little time. With that; getting myself to the studio to practice is just not seeming to happen this week. This is when developing a home practice is so important. I’ll tell you why..

I’m so grateful to just get the mat out and practice for 15-20 minutes. But even when that seems like too long, a 5 minute stretch is better than none at all.

Make it personal. You intuitively know what your body needs, listen and trust that. And if you still can’t figure it out there is so much on the internet. Youtube a flow, ask a friend, google it!

Being in a class and sharing the energy is amazing, learning from each other and the teacher. But the thing about a home practice is you can make it as serious or as fun as you want it to be that day.This is where music can really make the time you take to practice special.

I love blasting a song that soundtracks my life at the time. There is nothing better than feeling through the music while doing a flow. Pick the song according to your mood or what inspires you. You can practice to any track, it doesn’t have to be yogi meditation music, move to whatever your heart desires.

I’m very excited to share with you a short home practice video I put together. I want to show you how simple it can be to bring your yoga home, especially when going to the yoga studio is just not possible. Best part, this downward dog flow is incorporating all the poses I’ve blogged about up until now!

So even, though I won’t be posting for a week 😦  It’s okay, because I am leaving you all with an awesome video that I’m hoping will inspire you to get on the mat!

Enjoy my friends, Sending you all love, light and happiness to carry you through the week.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!!!!

Downward Facing Dog Flow with Music!

Pose 5: Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

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The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform asanas, but in how it positively changes the way we live our lives T.K.V Desikachar

After deciding that today would be Upward Facing Dog I have to admit I was struggling a bit on what to say. To me this pose always seemed a bit boring and I had yet to understand its real role  in my practice. It just left me putting out the question what’s to it?

The funny thing about putting our questions out in the universe is that the universe loves to answer back.  Not always shouting the answer at us but sometimes as only a quiet whisper. It’s just a matter of how closely we listen.  And I was listening this day..

Saturday I co-taught my first Kids Yoga class, in this class was a little boy; a smart kid that surprised me with his grown-up mannerisms. He came right up to me shook my hand and said “Hi my name is Nathan, what’s your name? I’ve done yoga before so I know what I’m doing, I know the poses.”

I should have figured that as much as I was there to guide him, he would be providing me with the information I was seeking.

While taking them through sun salutations or as another little boy called it “sun sensations”, Nathan shouted out in Upward Facing Dog. “I like this pose, it’s my favorite, I feel so confident and happy” I smiled at the big statement coming out of such a little person. Intuitively knowing this was my answer. I needed to understand this pose that I never gave much thought to a little more deeply.

This pose is a back bend and helps increase the curvature in the lumbar spine. When in this pose we are opening up the chest allowing ourselves to expand and feel invigorated, increasing our confidence and inspiration. These are qualities most of us desire; especially when life gets a little too fast pace and heavy.  By opening the heart you increase positive energy and help lift depression. The chakras (centers of distribution of energy throughout the body) that are stimulated are Anahata –  the Heart Chakra related to love for self and others and Manipura – the Solar Plexus Chakra which is connected to our personal power and confidence. Back bends in general help move blocked energy through all the chakras.

Its no coincidence that the pose I was having struggles writing about is the exact pose that helped me out of my little writer’s block. Leaving my mind clearer and more focused, shifting what ever energy was creating my resistance to this pose.

There’s more for me to experience in this asana, I’m sure of it. But just this discovery alone has deepened my practice that much more. Teaching me to move with ease, ask the questions and remember to closely listen for the answers. The more you open your heart and let the passion of life  flow in; the greater the inspiration you receive.

On a physical level Upward Facing Dog:

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens and elongates the spine
  • Stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen
  • Helps relieve mild sciatica.
  • Tones the kidneys and adrenals

Getting into the pose:

Stretch your legs back, tops of your feet pressing on the floor. Bend your elbows and spread your palms. Inhale, press your inner palms (thumb and index finger) firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward. Straighten your arms and lift your torso up keeping your legs a few inches off the floor. Thighs firmed, buttock engaged but still relaxed, arms firmed and creases of the elbow facing out. Press the shoulder blades against the back and expanding the side ribs forward. Lift the chest but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, so you don’t compress the lower back.  Look straight ahead then tip the head slightly back with ease. Make sure not to compress the neck and constrict the throat.

Upward facing dog can be repeated many times during a class, so it its important that you stay mindful to proper alignment. Protect yourself from injury that can occur when you transition too quickly leaving your lower back vulnerable to compression.

For a pose I thought I would have little to say about, I sure have found myself writing a lot.