March: Satya

satya- (1).jpgI’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for what feels like forever. March was a chaotic month for me and it lasted 5 weeks instead of the usual 4! This month’s focus was Satya- the second of the Yamas in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. Looking at this one has been really difficult this month as it translates to TRUTH or HONESTY.

What is true in your life? Which thoughts are true and which thoughts are fear based or ego driven? How much do we spin stories about what ‘could’ be or what ‘should’ be instead of what is?

For myself, I’ve been looking at satya as more of a mental health practice than a ‘have I told this person the truth’. It’s a really good tool for checking in with your thoughts and seeing where you are telling yourself ‘stories’, and then returning back to the now.

We all have this compass engrained within us to know what our true self would need, it’s about sifting through the bullsh*#@ to find it.

In the end, satya looked like me ‘changing my mind’ a lot. And thats okay. I wrote a post on Instagram about how frustrated I was with the question ‘are you being kind to yourself?’. Sometimes, honesty isn’t exactly kind or nice. Sometimes Its about facing the truth in order to grow and honor your soul.

ON THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

In order to practice satya when I step on my yoga mat, I’ve been committing myself to completing a full body scan (10-15 minutes) before practice and then after practice. A body scan is where you either sit of lay (but if you are laying don’t fall asleep!) and mentally move through each part of the body, relaxing muscle by muscle and noticing what is going on in that particular part. There is no judgement. Only observation. I start with my toes and slowly work my way up.

Are the toes tense or relaxed? How do the ankles feel? Are the calves resting or active? and so on until you get the crown of your head.

Why complete this? It helps you slow down and connect with the body before asana. It helps you decipher what is true in the body/mind and what is false. Having scoliosis- I tend to feel like my alignment is incredibly uncentered, when truly it isn’t. My mind views my body different than what it is in reality. My right hip is too high. The left side of my ribs are sinking- These are all things I start to think at the beginning of my practice. I notice. Then, when I body scan before Savasana, it is changed into mind awareness. My body is here and it is doing all the work I need it to.

The TRUTH of the body, is that it tries it’s hardest for you every moment. You are here now in this life- feeling and creating feeling. Whether you are chronically ill, suffer from structural or functional disorders or simply have monkey mind- you are here, and that is truth.

OFF THE MAT SATYA PRACTICE

This is the trickier part. Life has a way of providing several paths or ways of seeing things. Sometimes, our mind persuades us to believe things that aren’t true. You can’t do that. You aren’t beautiful. You aren’t worthy. We tell ourselves these stories at different junctions in our lives and they become misleading-so very misleading. Satya is about looking at what is true. Not berating yourself with it- but understanding that in truth there is a bit of peace.

Off the mat, I ask myself ‘Is that true’ and if it is I go on with my day. For all the chatter we have in our minds on the daily, I think its important when a seed of doubt gets planted to ask ‘is that true’? Doubt isn’t very factual- when faced with honesty it either dissipates or you move in an entirely different direction. Whenever a feeling of doubt or insecurity arises trigger yourself to ask ‘is that thought true’, and then move on.

or try to. Sometimes it’s not that simple, we are human after all.

Most of all, enjoy the peace that comes with this practice. I’ve found satya hard but rewarding to focus on. I feel much more grounded in self or whatever concept of self I have.

xx

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Nightly Grateful Lists

When I was younger, I’m not sure when, my mom had me write grateful lists with her before bed. I’m not sure how long this lasted and I really don’t fully remember many details other than her laying in bed with me and this small journal with a rose on the front and some sort of gold clasp.

Despite my useless memory, this has been something I’ve continued to do up until now. Sometimes I write it. Sometimes I think it. They’re always concise however I’ve had moments where I over-analyze. I start to play that ‘what comes to mind first game’ to make the list as ‘authentic’ as possible OR I start to put myself down when a chunk of the items on the list are the dreaded ‘material goods’. Still to this day, there are times I feel bad about including those ‘inconsequential things’ like candles or new dish towels- you know, the materials things we’re not supposed to value greatly but really do ( I mean, have you ever smelled a pumpkin spice candle?! Common…). But truthfully, they both belong on the list; the ‘renounce all worldly possessions and value spirit and relationship’ AND the ‘Bath and Body Works 2 for 1 sale TOTALLY made my day’. You can be a yogi and have both on your grateful list. You can be a human and have both on your grateful list.

Today I found a few old lists that I had written down while cleaning. From back when I was 14. On the lists were friends, family, pets, relatives, crushes, material things, material things scratched out, material things written in again and so on and so on.

You know what was never on the lists? And I mean never, not even now when I think of them before going to sleep.

Me.

Sure, I value myself enough to spend money on candles and yoga classes and teacher trainings and to sit down in meditation when I can and relax into a bubble bath when I can, but never once have I been actively GRATEFUL for myself in these lists. Since youth, I never even considered it. I looked at all the names on my lists, names of people I love dearly, people who I was grateful for/to because they were exactly who they are which in turn let me be who I am, but I never actively participated in being grateful for who am. I never said thank you to myself- and I don’t mean in a selfish way or a conceded way, thats not how gratuity works, but in a genuine, proud and humble way.

On all of your lists, if you choose to create them, I hope you think of yourself and are grateful for who you have been, who you are and who you are constantly becoming. And after you thank yourself and your loved ones and maybe even your not-so loved ones who have taught you things you needed to learn in this lifetime…I hope you thank your couch and those candles you just bought at bath and body works.IMG_1279

 

Spring Bliss & Cleaning

Welcome to spring! The snow is melting and the birds are singing but most importantly, the sun is shining! This time of year I always feel so much appreciation, so much so that I think Thanksgiving should maybe be a spring holiday. I work much much better in the heat and the sun and so when I finally start seeing it, all I feel is gratitude.

As such, this spring practice focuses on two Niyamas (self care/observances): Santosha &Shaucha.

Santosha translates to contentment or gratitude. As you move through this spring practice, I encourage you to feel the abundance of your life. This is not always an easy practice, we tend to get caught up in to-do lists and moving on to the next thing. Wherever you are the moment you decide to practice, create a list of things you are grateful for- even if they seem simple or silly. A practice of gratitude can actually manifest abundance, as you are putting your energy into the things that bring you bliss. Here is my list when I sat down to create this practice:

  1. Parents & little brother
  2. Extended family
  3. Luna & Bella
  4. Andrew
  5. Friends who are like family
  6. Yoga 
  7. My job
  8. My apartment
  9. My coffee mug
  10. Coloured highlighters

Shaucha is the practice of cleanliness of body, mind and environment. In this practice create a clean, quiet space. We will focus on twists and full breath in order to detoxify the body (twists ‘wring’ out toxins in the body and get things ‘moving’, breathe cleanses the energy channels & nervous system). As you move and breathe visualize your body letting go and being restored. A little spring cleaning is in order!

The poses in this practice are:

  • Seated Spinal Twist
  • Seated Cat/Cow
  • Seated Lateral bends
  • Cat/Cow
  • Downdog
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Goddess (repeat with the flow of breath!)
  • Forward Fold
  • Tree (its spring, its a must.)
  • Squat pose & Squat twist
  • Butterfly

There is also a playlist for YOGA TRAVEL TEACH SPRING PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY

Feel free to save or print this practice guide. Be sure to flow at your own pace. Set an intention. Be safe. Only move towards bliss. Happy SPRING!

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Have fun and if there are any questions, please ask away!

xx K

Atha Yogah Nushasanam

Now (that the student is ready) the inquiry into yoga begins…

Yesterday was my graduation. Friday was my graduation. This weekend I have completed two teacher training programs, one university degree and one ytt. I find myself so grateful for the teachers around me. My friends, my family, the students among me, the teachers who spill with knowledge and I am ever so in awe of.

I thought this first sutra was about myself back in august, applying for my yoga teacher training and having my interview. Sitting with Mona on the couch and talking about why yoga was so important to me. I thought it was something that would only happen once, that the moment I was ready and began my training was the first Sutra that I had ‘checked off’ (thanks pitta…).

I see it within myself now, more than ever before. I feel more like a student of yoga, now, than I could have ever imagined in my life. This is my home. Yoga is my home. And this is why I will teach and what I will teach. But this is where the Sutra comes back, NOW I am ready to inquire into the puzzle pieces of union. How will I unify (yoga) all the strands of teaching, all the strands of love. This, I am a student of again. These nows, these moments, they are not boxes to check off and say goodbye to, they are moments that will arise and fall over and over like thoughts in meditation. We are never done.

Studentship never ends and I think thats important to teach our students, no matter what they are learning or how old they are. Studentship never ever ends. We are always learning. We are always teaching.

I am eternally grateful to all the educators in my life. To all the students in my life. To life.

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Ceremony circle of goddesses in white
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This is the card the universe wanted me to have for graduation. Life long learner. Life long teacher.
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Full of gratitude and love for my incredible teacher Mona
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The beautiful group!

 

 

Spinal Asymmetries Intro

Diagnosed around 13 with scoliosis which progressed to involve 2 severe curves by the time I was 16, I’ve found yoga to be a wonderful technique for reducing pain and creating balance. At 17 years old I underwent a spinal fusion for most of my thoracic spine. Lucky this means I still have much mobility in my low back (as that curve wasn’t corrected) though hardly any in my upper. This means that when I attend a yoga class I tend to be aware and uber conscious of the effects of each pose on my spine. Post surgery I remember wishing there were classes I could take for post spinal fusions. This got me thinking into the possibilities of targeted classes before my fusion. Now that I’m fused, i’m actually MORE stable than I was before- I have EXTRA sthiram, just gotta work with the sukham (ease). Previous to the fusion, I had absolutely no stability or ease.

Many I have spoken to have said their doctors recommended physiotherapy or yoga to either help with their functional scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis in guiding the spine back to its 4 natural (and deemed ‘regular’) curves. This is done through strengthening and conditioning, usually of the core, back/ hips or shoulder blade muscles.

Structural scolio, kypho & lordo is very different although it is still recommended by doctors that one partake in yoga or physio . Structural asymmetries have unknown causes (some could be hereditary, like scoliosis), a doctor may call them idiopathic. This means that regular work outs and strengthening doesn’t exactly stop the progression of the curve, its simply the way the spine wants to grow. As such, structural asymmetries are usually diagnosed in the early teens since one is going through a major growth spurt.

So why yoga?

Two reasons: pain management & emotional coping. It is not about ‘fixing’ your curves. It is not about making yourself ‘less deformed’. This practice is for balance and lightness. You are not deformed because you have a curve (my first doctor called my scoliosis a deformity, which haunts my mind to this day) and you are NOT meant to live in pain. You can in fact live with an asymmetry and manage your pain and an integrate your body/mind. Yoga is the vehicle that can get you there my friends!

SO all my scolio, kypho, lordo friends- I got your back!

This is something I’m still learning and don’t claim in any way to be an expert on! Please listen to your body if you decide to practice this sequence and do not BY ANY MEANS EVER move toward pain. This practice is for those with asymmetries which do not currently have any affects on organs, If your doctor has told you your ribs are twisted against lungs or heart (mine were a little), please be slow and listen to your body. If somethings not working- don’t do it. If you are new to yoga, take it slow, feel it out, notice how your body is feeling, not looking.

Most importantly know that if asana is not available to you, you can always move in your mind. Sit and meditate. Guide yourself through practice in your mind. Love yourself in all you are.

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Start with meditation. Set your intention- what do you feel, what will you put energy into? Move into a flowing lateral bend, inhaling raising arms, exhale lowering to one side. This opens up the side body and gets the core active which supports your spine. Next move into dandasana, flexing the feet, shape your body like an ‘L’. Feel your spine elongate. Inhale arms up. Exhale lower. This works deep in the core helping to stabilize the low spine.

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Inhale, exhale into a mini forward fold over your legs. Don’t go far, the moment you feel something stop and feel it. When you feel this is complete come to hands and knees in table. Here flow with some cat cow, arching the back towards the sky and then away from it. This is great for all 3 asymmetries and really warms up the spine, getting it ‘juicy’. Repeat as many rounds as feels good. Then push up and back into downward dog. Take a few moments, peddle the feet.

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From downward dog, bring one foot forward planting it between your hands in a lunge. Option to keep the back leg active or to lower the knee. This pose works into the hip flexors which can help stabilize the low back as well. However, we don’t want to work into them too much- only go to wherever is comfortable. Now we will take a tiny twist. If you have been advised to not to twist by a doctor- please don’t do so. Plant the hand on the inside of the foot and use your core to raise the other, exhaling and twisting toward the bent knee. Keep foot firmly planted. Breathe. Lower and DO THE OTHER SIDE. Downdog, opposite foot forward. Lunge. Twist. Exhale, sitting back into child’s pose, head to mat arms in their most comfortable position for you.When ready inhale, push back into down dog.

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Exhale float into plank. Inhale back to down dog. Flow here with the breath. When complete, walk your feet up and into a forward fold. Take a moment to breathe. Notice your spine. I suggest bending your knees to help stabilize. You can also place a block in between your thighs (this is my favourite). You can now either float up into chair pose (using the core! Be careful of the low back, is it dipping forward?) or sit back into boat pose. For boat pose bring feet and arms off the ground and engage the core. Inhale, bend the knees, exhale straighten them. Lengthen through the crown of the head- keep your spine long and pain free!

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Exhale, lay back. Take it sloooow. Hug the knees into the chest. Rock back and forth, massaging you beautiful wonderful spine. It is what carried you here to practice today, say thank you for all it does FOR you, for it is never working AGAINST you, though it may feel that way. Takes some twists if available to you. Stretch out your hamstrings by lifting one leg closer to you body. Then allow your body to melt into the earth. I invite you to revisit your intention. Does your body feel different than it did before you practiced today? Where? How can you bring more love into those areas? More appreciation?
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Allow yourself to breathe and feel, feel and breathe. Your spine is the core of your being, the centre of your body in this world of form. It has curves, just like everyone else. It has bones that protect and synovial fluid that keeps it moving. It can move in 7 different directions and guides you through your day and sleep. Whether it is off balance or laying in its 4 natural curves, it is there, working ever so hard for you. Love it, no matter how it looks. Help it, no matter how it feels. Love it,because it is a part of the wonderful,beauty of you.

The videIMG_8637.jpgo of this practice is posted on my Instagram. If there are any questions at all, ever, big or small, please feel free to email me. I’d love to hear comments, questions, concerns, epiphanies or requests.

Namaste

xoxox