10 Tips for Exercise and Working out

I get it. It’s not always easy to be consistent with exercise especially when you are on vacation, when times are busy or when you’ve just had a baby… Here are my 10 tips for exercise and working out:

  1. If you don't have gym close by or you are on vacation, this is a great opportunity to get creative!

    If you don’t have gym close by or you are on vacation, this is a great opportunity to get creative!

    Prep the night before – Set out your workout clothes at night before you go to bed and set your alarm for 30-60 mins before you actually have to get up! (See My Miracle Morning Routine)

  2.  Exercise in the morning  – Training first thing gives you a feeling of accomplishment early in the day and a boost of energy. (This said, any time you can squeeze in exercise is good!)
  3. Drink a tall glass of Arbonne Greens Balance + Energy Fizz in the am before your work out. It’s my ‘getting in the zone’ tip!
  4. Have a plan – I have suggested workouts in my 30 Day Program and/ or work a trainer once a month to design a personalized workout for you. I can also help you with this.
  5. Apps – Get Audible & download SoundCloud. I listen to audio books while walking & hiking (and driving and cleaning, etc.) and short motivating podcasts while training at the gym. I also love Spotify’s personal Run Mix that is set to your run tempo and the Run Keeper app to keep me on track.
  6. Focus and get to work – You can do it. Just take small actions everyday. Even if it is only 15-20 mins. This is better then no minutes.
  7. Exercise daily. Even on vacation. You will be happy you did! If you don’t have the ‘perfect gym set up’, bring your yoga mat and be creative.
  8. Hydrate during and after your workout. I especially LOVE the Arbonne Phyto Recovery Formula.

    Darling, it's mostly a mental thing. You may need support to get started or restarted. Yoga now comes naturally, so I can freestyle, but I work with a trainer every month and have a program designed for me.

    Darling, it’s mostly a mental thing. You may need support to get started or restarted. Yoga now comes naturally to me, so I can freestyle, but I still work with a trainer every month to have a strength training program designed for me.

  9. Ideal Workout Plan includes Yoga, Walking & Strength Training + good nutrition – aim to eat 9 cups of veggies a day!
  10. Meditate – Meditation is key to mental & emotional wellbeing. It keeps your stress levels in check and your observation skills sharp, allowing you to notice and appreciate what’s important.

Incorporating new healthy living habits and getting started (or restarted) on your own can be daunting. This is why I created the Lean, Fit & Strong 30 Day Healthy Living online program to coach, mentor and support you. The program combines personal consultations with yoga, fitness, relaxation techniques, nutrition, recipes and more. It’s really complete and designed to help you establish and maintain a daily routine that enhances your life on all levels.

Click here for details about the upcoming 30 Day Program and join my Healthy Living Facebook Group.

 

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30 Day Healthy Living Program

I have had the best time creating the content for the 30 Day Healthy Living Programs I led in October and January. It’s like the flood gates opened and I had the opportunity to blend all of my knowledge and passions into an incredible online program. It was not and is not intended to be a boot camp or weigh loss program. These 30 Day Healthy Living Programs are meant to be a gradual and sustainable integration into healthy habits to last a life time. And from the feedback (see some testimonials below), people got a lot of out it! I am so happy!

Ayurveda is the oldest medical system in the world. Participants received a personalized program, meal suggestions, tips for improving digestion & boosting immunity.

Ayurveda is the oldest medical system in the world. Participants received a personalized program, meal suggestions, tips for improving digestion & boosting immunity.

The program began with a private ayurvedic consultation with each participant. We discussed goals, challenges and ways to improve individual concerns such as digestive issues, poor sleep, low motivation, etc. I then created a customized nutrition and lifestyle program for each individual.

The bulk of the program consisted of daily lessons emailed to participants every morning at 6am.  These lessons covered a variety of topics: letting go, gratitude, why practice yoga, movement, tips for better digestion, smoothie recipes and how to benefit the most from the Arbonne nutrition products included in the Healthy Living program.

The weeks were structured in the following way with practices to complement each theme:

  • MONDAY – Mindset
  • TUESDAY – Lifestyle
  • WEDNESDAY – Heart & Soul

    Heart & Soul practices included Gratitude journal, Letting go exercises, meditation and ayurvedic self-massage. Guided instruction available as download.

    Heart & Soul practices included Gratitude journal, Letting go exercises, meditation and ayurvedic self-massage. Guided instruction available as download.

  • THURSDAY – Nourishment
  • FRIDAY – Movement
  • SATURDAY – Energy
  • SUNDAY – Review

In addition to the daily lessons, we had (have) a private Healthy Living Facebook Group where participants could share ideas, cheer each other on and I could post additional supporting materials. The Facebook group is still live and you are welcome to join this group for free!

We are starting the 30 Day Healthy Living Program again, but this time with a twist! The theme of the upcoming spring program is Lean, Fit & Strong: Body + Mind Sculpting.

Learn more

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The last week of the Healthy Living program, we went through the chakras. For the heart, participants were asked to “write themselves a love letter.”

 

Testimonials from past participants:

Thank you so very much for creating this wonderful Healthy Living program.  It is clear you put so much thought and care into it.  Hearing from you every morning, helped to keep me on track.  I wasn’t always perfect… but I persisted.  My energy levels have improved so much.  By day 15, I no longer woke up in a fog, for the first time in many years.  With renewed energy, I feel that I will be able to move forward towards some of my other goals- ie weight loss, career, etc.

 Jackie Miller

 

I am down 9 lbs. and feeling great! My stomach/digestive system are thanking me! I have been inspired to cook healthier recipes, read my spiritual books and do more yoga and meditation. A BIG thank you to Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow for all her kindness, wisdom, inspiration and knowledge that she has shared with us. It is a great program that covers the mind, body and soul…can’t ask for more than that. All we have learned can be carried forward in our journey to be healthier and happier! I still have lots to do but feeling so much better.

Patti Kowaleski Hall

 

The great thing about doing this 30 day healthy living program for myself is how comprehensive it has been. It is not just about diet, but also encompassed the physical, meditative, creative, and spiritual aspects of change. I have found it to be a truly holistic approach to change, and because of this I think much more likely to be successful at producing lasting personal transformation. We all want to change, to evolve into our true selves, and this personalized program provides a stable, holistic platform from which to do so. Thank you, Yasmin!  

Bruce Chase Dunn

 

 

Life as a new mama

Koji is six-months old today. Many people ask me what my life as a new mama is like. It’s hard to summarize in words, but I’ll try.

The last six months has been extraordinary. In many ways, it has passed in a flash and, at the same time, being pregnant seems like a lifetime ago. It feels like Koji has always been with us.

avocado-ping-6mo-1Life as a new mama is interesting like that: time is no longer linear.

Time has changed

Time is more round and full and it shape-shifts in weird ways. Some days are long and some nights, especially the ones at the beginning, are even longer. Then again, Koji is developing so quickly. Every day, he is like a new person.

I am consciously trying to be present and to appreciate each moment. I refuse to get nostalgic when I see photos of tiny-weeny, newborn Koji and enjoy him as he is now. Besides, those early days were the most challenging.

Postpartum – the first three weeks

I cried every day for almost three weeks after Koji was born. I was so overcome with emotion.

I cried because of how miraculous he was (is) and because of the powerful love I felt (feel) for him. I cried for children who are not given love and affection. (This still makes me cry if I think about it long enough.) I cried because breastfeeding was difficult at the beginning and I wanted so bad to nourish my son properly. I also cried for what my body went through during his birth and for my perceived lack of strength.

Birth by caesarean – healing process

first-day-6moKoji’s birth was very different then I envisioned. Although I didn’t have a birth plan per se, I visualized a ‘natural birth’ in water at the birthing centre with my midwife.

In short, his birth was the complete opposite of this and far more challenging then my Guinness World Record Yoga Marathon – see my post: preparing for childbirth.

After four days in mostly active labour, we ended up at the hospital with an epidural, antibiotics, a pitocin drip and eventually a caesarean. Not an emergency caesarean, but apparently, an unavoidable one nonetheless.

This may sound selfish (and believe me, it was argued a lot), but the way the labour played out, broke my heart.

I tried my best, but Koji was stuck, poor baby.

I have been through feelings of failure and now accept that Koji’s birth was not only about my wishes. It has been a deep lesson in letting go and a realization that my life is not just about me anymore.

Life as a mama is humbling.

What helped the most – the first six months

breastfeeding-6moLactation Consultant – Breastfeeding is difficult at first and every new mama needs support. Without the right guidance and encouragement, the first few days of breastfeeding are overwhelming. I highly recommend all new moms invest in a lactation consultant. I think they are angels in disguise. (If you need a recommendation, ask me.)

Breastfeeding – After the initial cracked nipples and latch issues were resolved (thanks to Winona, our wonderful lactation consultant), breastfeeding has been wonderful. I know it’s not for every mama (God knows, it’s demanding), but for the most part, I have really enjoyed breastfeeding. It helped me heal on so many levels and brought me closer to my baby. Plus, Koji is now the cutest, podgiest baby giant ever and he has a fierce immunity system.

A partner at home – For much of our relationship, my husband Arturo and I have commuted between Panama to Montreal and have spent long stretches apart. However since July, Arturo has been able to work from home and we’ve have been together, which has been such a blessing. It’s nice to have a supportive partner during the rough times, but it is amazing to have someone to jointly appreciate all love, laughs and joy a baby brings. (Morning cuddles with a smily wiggly baby and hilarious husband are currently my favourite part of life.)

mr-goodmorning-6moGrandparents – I am so grateful to Koji’s grandparents both in Canada and Panama. They have been so wonderful with him and have been so helpful to us as new mama and papa. It’s amazing how our baby has brought everyone closer together.

Traveling – We brought Koji to a wedding in New York State when he was two and half weeks old. This may sound nuts, but it was the best decision ever. Travelling helped me out of my postpartum funk and allowed us to bond as a family. So far in his short life, Koji has been on six planes, visited three countries and seven cities, swam in two oceans and one sea, hiked in the jungle and seen Niagara Falls. And we ain’t slowing down!

Working – I love what I do. It makes me feel whole, so I can’t really imagine being exclusively on maternity leave. Now, I am not working at my usual capacity nor am I teaching regular classes. Thankfully, my health & wellness business with Arbonne as well as my yoga + ayurveda now allow me to work from anywhere.  And I feel more creative then ever before. FamilyTime-6monI am working on ton of new projects: 30 day healthy living programs, retreats, online courses, corporate events, a new yoga teacher training and more.

Hand-me-downs – Thank goodness for hand-me-downs! We have been so fortunate. My good friends, Jessica W., Jessica F. and Michelle J. have supplied us with carseats, strollers, play-mats, cloth diapers, carriers, books, toys and mountains of clothes with us. For everything else, VarageSale has been awesome.

Health & Happiness – Lastly, I thank G.O.D. (the Great Oness Divine) a thousand times a day for a healthy, happy baby.

We are truly blessed and we know it.

 

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Preparing for Childbirth

Six years ago today, I broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Yoga Marathon. It was one of the most incredible, life changing moments I’ve ever experienced. Now I am arriving at another pivotal, life changing moment: childbirth. I am due next week and find myself preparing for childbirth much in the same way I prepared for my yoga marathon in 2010.

When I decided to challenge the record for the longest yoga marathon, I argued (mostly to myself) that if a woman can spend 32 or more hours in childbirth, surely, I can do 32 hours of yoga. Now, ironically, I am reassuring myself with the following thought, “If I could do a yoga marathon, I can have a natural childbirth without needing an epidural or other interventions.”

THEN: Me in 2010 preparing the sequence of poses for my 32 hour yoga marathon.

THEN: Me in 2010 preparing the sequence for my 32 hour yoga marathon. I planned the entire practice, all 1000+ postures, the week before, because I knew I would probably tire mentally before I would tire physically and so I wanted to be able to follow a plan.

Then, I prayed that my years of training in mindfulness and yoga would allow me to practice a ridiculous amount of yoga without interruptions. And now, I pray that my experience in yoga and meditation will also support me in childbirth. Still, my thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I am nervous, worried, excited and hugely in denial. Ironically, I remember feeling almost exactly the same way before my Guinness Marathon, so I imagine what is needed for me to give birth naturally is similar to what was needed to complete 32 hours of yoga without injury: physical and mental preparation, faith and support.

PHYSICAL TRAINING

Physically, I feel good; no aches and pains, and no swelling. Throughout my pregnancy, I have been able to exercise and I am still going to the gym about three times a week and swimming as much as I can. I confess that I have not done very little yoga asana. I just haven’t been into it. At the beginning, I felt really guilty for not practicing, but intuitively, it just didn’t feel right. I gravitated towards activities that make me stronger like functional weight training. This is probably because I have always been more flexible then strong and I think I have been seeking strength. Swimming has been glorious and it seems that the baby loves being in the water. I am also walking a lot, although I have noticed I now walk slower and with a wide stance like a cowboy — I don’t have the same amount of space in my pelvis as I did a few weeks ago. I am bit more tired, but I am sleeping as much as I can. I wake up about twice (mostly to pee), but am able to fall back asleep. I am eating well and staying hydrated with electrolytes, herbal teas and fresh green juices.

NOW: Exercising regularly has helped me so much during my pregnancy. When I exercise, my mood is uplifted, my energy increases, I sleep better and I feel stronger and more resilient. Baby seems to love the water too!

NOW: Exercising regularly has helped me so much during my pregnancy. When I exercise, my mood is uplifted, my energy increases, I sleep better and I feel stronger and more resilient. Baby seems to love the water too!

MENTAL PREPARATIONS

Mentally, I am still trying to wrap my head around childbirth. Even after nine months of pregnancy, it’s difficult for me to imagine that a new person will soon be joining us and staying forever. I have read several great pregnancy books (see list below), taken a four week birthing class with Arturo and spoken to numerous parents and health professionals, so I guess I am prepared on some level. I just don’t really know what I should be doing in these last few days…

We are busy and life continues status quo. I am preparing the fall schedule at Loft108 and continuing with my Arbonne business. Arturo is working too. When we are not working, our social calendar is packed. We have been invited to dine, sail and spend time with friends and family almost every night this week and last. I am trying not to over do it, but idle time makes me anxious. The other day, Arturo said, “It feels like they all want to see us to say goodbye.”

We set up the crib on Sunday and I had a mini freak out. Am I saying goodbye too? Goodbye to the life I know. Goodbye to my independence and goodbye to quiet moments such as these when I can write, read, exercise and just be uninterrupted. I know the answer is yes and I not sure how to get ready for this, maybe it’s not even possible. I have been told, “You’ll never be ‘ready’.” So I suppose this is where faith comes in.

FAITH & SUPPORT

After voicing my anxieties to my loving mentor Gigi Cohen, she sent me this note:

“Yasmin, of course, you’re nervous. You’re about to pop out a human being! It’s going to be such a joy for you, you can’t even imagine. I will be there for you. The way your feeling is perfect.  You don’t need to think about much. Let it happen. Remember you are a yoga teacher. Breathe In. Breathe Out. Breathe In. I am so proud of you and you’ve come such a long way in your life.  But this little guy or girl will be your new joy. Because of Who You Are, this baby will make you fight harder, do more, be more and it’ll be amazing. Love you, honey. Hang tight. We are never ready for a new life. It’s impossible. We don’t know what’s ahead. Just be open and receptive and all will be great. I know you know all of this already, but I just thought you needed to hear it one more time. I love you very much.”

THEN: My mom (seen here practicing partner yoga with me in the last mins of my marathon), my family, my friends, my students and my teachers were hugely important to me being able to break this Guinness World Record. I know the support and love of my community is equally as important now as they were then.

THEN: My mom (seen here practicing partner yoga with me in the last mins of my marathon), my family, my friends, my students and my teachers were hugely important to me being able to break this Guinness World Record. I know the support and love of my community is equally as important now as they were then.

Of course, she is right. Being present has always served me, but sometimes, like everyone, I need a reminder.

I am deeply grateful for Gigi’s support, for the wisdom of my midwives, for my friends who have been calling me constantly to check in, for the love and support of my family, and for my husband, whose humour and his imitations of our baby in-utero make me (quite literally) pee my pants with laughter. (Last night, when I complained of slight abdominal cramps due to non-stop baby movement, he said: “Ahh, baby is just busy packing up to move house and writing goodbye notes to kidney, liver and intestines.”)

We will keep you informed about our baby’s arrival. Please feel free share this post and the following resources with other expectant mothers. I hope my experience is in some way beneficial to other new parents.

Sat nam.

 

Helpful Resources:

  • Books:
    • Yoga Sadhana for Mothers, Sharmila Desai & Anna Wise
    • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
    • Birthing from Within, Pam England & Rob Horowitz

      NOW: I am grateful to have great friends, inspirational teachers, two knowledgeable midwives, a supportive family and a loving and funny husband. Despite my worries and my fears, I am well surrounded and I surrender to Spirit.

      NOW: I am grateful to have great friends, inspirational teachers, two knowledgeable midwives, a supportive family and a loving and funny husband. Despite my worries and my fears, I am well surrounded and I surrender to Spirit.

  • West Island Birthing Centre – Such a great atmosphere, very professional and the staff is attentive and supportive.
  • Roberto Starnino Personal Training – Roberto helped me so much in creating fantastic training programs during my pregnancy.
  • Jana Sedevic prenatal fitness at Studio Vie – Jana is super sweet and super knowledgeable about pregnancy, childbirth & fitness.
  • Melons & Clementines Café – If you know nothing about baby stuff and breastfeeding, they are very helpful.
  • Lori Craig, Love it or Leave it – Lori is a magnificent professional organizer and decluttering specialist. She helped me transform the Loft and make room for baby in is such a harmonious way.

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Questions about motherhood

I suppose like every new mom-to-be, my mind is flooded with questions about motherhood. On this Mother’s Day, these questions seem all the more relevant not because they relate to motherhood, because they relate to all women.

What does it mean to be a mother?

“Every woman has an inner awareness of what it is like to be a mother. In the true sense every woman is a divine mother, whether she has a child or not; it does not matter. The essence of Mother is present in every woman as sharing, caring, loving, and forgiving.”  

– Ayurvedic master Vasant Lad

YY-mothersday-1I have asked myself the above question many times over the years, wondering if I wanted or needed to have my own family. After all, I already was a “yoga mama” and considered it my duty to care for, nurture and protect my yoga community. I devoted most of my time and energy in the last 16 years to my studios, students and ayurvedic clients and I take the responsibility of teaching yoga seriously. Although most people I’ve taught are older then me, I see them as my kids and have an especially tender spot for my teacher trainees, having gotten to know them so well. It’s hard to explain, but I have so much love for my students, even for those who were difficult, rude and gave me a hard time. I have always found my work fulfilling and meaningful. When I look back on my years teaching, I feel like I’ve lived 1,000 years. I am an old woman in a young woman’s body. Not that I’m tired or feel I am facing the end of my life, just that I have lived and lived. In some ways, it makes no sense to me that I am now about to start a new life as a “real mother” to the baby inside my womb.

(I love the above quote. It was shared with me by one of my dear students Anna, and I think it is so poignant.)

Who is this little being?

I having a hard time grasping the idea that another person will appear out of seemingly nowhere and be with us all time. I imagine myself staring at this little person after it’s* born (and probably for the rest of its life) and wondering who they are, where they came from and why they are here. This may sound strange, but I know that the baby inside me is my child and yet, I do not feel it belongs to me in any way. It just passing through me on its own journey into this world and I just happen to be its vehicle. (Similarly, I feel that my teachings are not mine, but rather they also come through me.) Still, it overwhelms me to know that I am everyday witness to the miracle that is growing within me and I am so eager to look into its eyes and get to know this little person.

With motherhood, what things will change and what will stay the same?

Blog-MothersDay-May2016-1Motherhood or not, I know that change is inevitable in life and nothing stays the same. My friends and family tell me once the baby is born “everything changes”. This intimidates me. I am used to, even attached to, my independence. Its one of my defining characteristics and to be honest, it worries me to think about loosing it for good. This worry, ok let’s call it fear, is what nearly prevented me from wanting to be married and have a family, and after owning two yoga studios, I’m not sure I ever wanted to be “tied down” again. However, it seem life has other plans for me. My husband, Arturo, showed up when I least expected it and has enriched my life with so much joy and meaning. Something tells me this baby will do the same, but this does not stop me from having moments of grasping to the “independent life” I know. When I am still, reassurance appears like whisper telling me: “This is who you are and who you are will never be taken away from you. Just as you are daughter, sister, friend, wife, teacher, student, you will be mother and all will be well.’

So allow me to wish you, to wish all women, Happy Mother’s Day. May you embrace the blessings, miracles and joys of who you truly are, the gifts you share with the world and the ones you receive.

Thank you to my own mother Marta, to my grandmothers Krystyna and Elaina, and to my aunts Lorna and Anula. I love you. To Lisa, Gigi and Anita and to all the other women in my life who have mothered me in some way: I love you too and I am deeply grateful for your guidance and care.

(The photos in this post were taken by the exceptionally talented Beau Campbell, dancer, yogini, photographer and friend.)

*Kindly forgive my use of the pronoun “it”. I do not mean to be demeaning or sound disconnected. I simply don’t know the baby’s gender and I am happy for it to remain its own little being for the time being. 

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The Biggest Surprise

Blog-Surprise-Mar2016-1

Nothing like the ocean to help reflect.

Sometimes life moves very fast. I got married in Dec. and then two days after our wedding, I got the biggest surprise of my life: I found out I was pregnant.

I was not the kind of person who dreamed of getting married or having a baby. Although, I knew I wanted someone special to share my life with, but the idea co-creating another living being inside my body was entirely overwhelming and something I simply could wrap my head around. It’s not that I didn’t want children, it’s more that I just couldn’t imagine it.

Now, 21 weeks into my pregnancy (due early August), I am still in disbelief when I catch the reflection of my swollen abdomen and breasts in the mirror. I think this daze is why I’ve had trouble finding the right words to express what I am feeling and why it’s taken me time to share this news.

First trimester

My first trimester was a challenge, not so much physically (thankfully, no morning sickness), but emotionally. I felt ultra sensitive and confused. It’s like my brain hadn’t quite caught up to pace of the last year—reconnecting with Arturo, traveling, falling in love, being engaged, getting married and then boom, pregnant. I wanted to savour each moment and yet things were moving so darn fast. Maybe it was the hormones, but for some reason, this made me feel sad and guilty. Guilty because I know there are people struggling to find the right person and/or struggling to conceive and here I was getting it all… at once.

Deeply needed sabbatical

I came to Panama mid-February to be with Arturo, as he still has a business here. Free from a set schedule and away from the distractions of Montreal, I’ve been mentally catching up to my life. I’m focusing on eating well, exercising, resting when needed and rethinking where I want to go with my yoga teaching and with my Arbonne business, which is easiest to do remotely. It’s been a deeply needed sabbatical.

However, up until last week, I felt really exhausted and sluggish. I still managed to go to the gym and swim, but I was super tired and dizzy in a way that made me feel like a stranger to myself. Thankfully, I am now feeling more energized and clear and more me.

Our family tree grows

Our family tree grows

Observations & intentions

It’s interesting to observe the almost daily changes happening to my body and a great exercise in letting go of attachments to how I was before. Just since this past weekend, I started feeling the little monkey moving! So crazy to think that this body is housing two beings! These tiny dances are definitely the coolest part of this pregnancy so far.

My intention is to continue to write regularly about this journey and hopefully, share some insights. I am in Montreal Mar 31 – Apr. 14 and have several events planned. It’d be great to see you! (If you are not in Montreal, you can join online.)

Sat nam

 

 

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My Yogi Wedding, Puja & Party

Here are some photos from my yogi wedding, puja & party:

Puja Blessing Ceremony & Party
FRIDAY DEC 11, 2015 – 6:00pm

DSC_8156

Our wedding was held over a few days. Friday evening Dec 11, we had a Puja (blessing ceremony) and New Moon celebration with about 120 guests.

My ayurvedic teachers Manu and Anita Sharma organized the Puja and I wore a traditional India dress of red and gold -- the colours of prosperity and luck. My husband Arturo is on the left. (He is not used to sitting cross-legged for so long, but was such a trooper!)

My ayurvedic teachers Manu and Anita Sharma organized the Puja and I wore a traditional India dress of red and gold — the colours of prosperity and luck. My husband Arturo is on the left. (He is not used to sitting cross-legged for so long, but was such a trooper!)

A beautiful vegetarian spread of diverse salads, dumplings, falafel and the most decadent chocolate cake (so I hear, because it was all gone by the time I was ready for dessert!) followed the blessing ceremony. Our caterer Hilary Parsons is a long time family friend and actually catered my parents wedding about 35 years ago!

As a complement to the Puja, a beautiful vegetarian spread of diverse salads, dumplings, falafel and the most decadent chocolate cake (so I hear, because it was all gone by the time I was ready for dessert!) followed the blessing ceremony. Our caterer Hilary Parsons is a long time family friend and actually catered my parents wedding about 35 years ago!

My parents, Marta and Gord, welcoming everyone and cracking a few jokes (as usual).

My parents, Marta and Gord, welcoming everyone and cracking a few jokes (as usual).

Our friends, Hugh John and Amelie, gifted us with a Polaroid camera so our guests could take photos of themselves and hang them. (Thanks to Michelle and Julien for the film!) This fun idea from our friend Jeanne Rahilly, who helped us with the wedding planning.

Our friends, Hugh John and Amelie, gifted us with a Polaroid camera so our guests could take photos of themselves and hang them. (Thanks to Michelle and Julien for the film!) This fun idea from our friend Jeanne Rahilly, who helped us with the wedding planning.

A henna artist drew beautiful designs on our guests. Here, Anna, Valerie and Jessica display their new (temporary) tattoos.

A henna artist drew beautiful designs on our guests. Here, Anna, Valerie and Jessica display their new (temporary) tattoos.

Our party was so rocking that the Police appeared at 1am, but they were very pleasant and it was all good. Our guests received packages of Pukka Love Tea as little Thank you gifts.

Our party was so rocking that the Police appeared at 1am, but they were very pleasant and it was all good. Our guests received packages of Pukka Love Tea as little Thank you gifts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yogi Wedding Ceremony & Brunch
SUNDAY DEC 13, 2015 – 10:00am

The Loft was transformed into a enchanted setting of twinkle lights, fresh flowers, pine trees with infinity created of light and rose petals. It was magical.

The Loft was transformed into a enchanted setting of twinkle lights, fresh flowers, pine trees with infinity created of light and rose petals. It was magical.

DSC_8950

Here we are in our fancy wedding attire. Lisa Lajoie, my long time teacher and mentor, was our officiant and Rhiannon, my childhood friend and Arturo’s brother Alfredo were our witnesses. The ceremony was deeply meaningful.

We had written and practiced our vows in secret, during the summer while I was teaching at the Wanderlust Festival on Mont Tremblant, so we were well prepared. Instead of rings, we exchanged malas, or prayer beads, which were made with semi-precious gemstones uniquely for us.

We had written and practiced our vows in secret, during the summer while I was teaching at the Wanderlust Festival on Mont Tremblant, so we were well prepared. Instead of rings, we exchanged malas, or prayer beads, which were made with semi-precious gemstones uniquely for us.

My brother Stefan played "Even the Darkness has Arms" by the Bar Brothers as we signed the marriage / civil union contract. Beside him, from right to left: Meagan,

My brother Stefan played “Even the Darkness has Arms” by the Bar Brothers as we signed the marriage / civil union contract. Beside him, from right to left: Meagan, Stef’s wife; Smilian, Arturo’s nephew; and Nacho, Arturo’s high school friend.

There were many lovely speeches and toasts and memorable moments.

There were many lovely speeches and toasts and memorable moments.

Arturo and I with our parents. (It must be stated that the tassels you see behind us in this image, were patiently handmade by my brother Stefan and his wife Meagan.)

Arturo and I with our parents. Arturo’s parents live in Panama City and this was their first trip to Canada.  (It must be stated that the tassels you see behind us in this image, were patiently handmade by my brother Stefan and his wife Meagan.)

This fantastic group photo, as well as the other photos in this series, were taken by photographer Dan Haber, who was amazing! We highly recommend him, by the way!

This fantastic group photo, as well as the other photos in this series, were taken by photographer Dan Haber, who was amazing! We highly recommend him, by the way!

More:  Read about My Love Story & we met

My Love Story

I have some big huge news! I am engaged! Although I never envisioned myself as a bride, these are some crazy, awesome times and I couldn’t be more excited. Arturo is the name of my beloved. He is an engineer, smart house creator, world traveler and marathon runner from Panama– hence the reason I have been there so often recently.

Here’s my love story, I mean our love story:  Arturo and I met nearly seven years ago in Mont Tremblant ski resort when Arturo was working on a project in Montreal. There was an instant connection and we spent several months enjoying dinners and discussions together. When his contract ended, we parted as friends and lost touch as life went on. Last autumn, out of blue, I received a short message from him and two months of Skype calls later, we met up in New Orleans. The rest as is said is history.

In the last nine months, we have done 11 trips to see each other. Time and costs aside, we knew we had to decide if and how we were going to make our relationship work. We shared our visions of life with one another and found that they aligned nearly perfectly, and the only thing we joked about changing in the other person was “geographical location”. So on a small boat off the Atlantic coast of Panama, he said in the most pragmatic tone: “Do you want a wedding?”

After a bit of a pause, I replied, eyes squinting analytically: “Hmmm… I think so.”

We left it there for a while until conversations naturally started to turn toward the kind of wedding we wanted for ourselves: small, elegant, meaningful with good wine and great music. This was all in theory, as we hadn’t fully committed to the idea of marriage yet.

Then in June, we decided to tell our families of our plans and everything became ‘official’. We even chose a vintage art deco engagement ring for me, which I am now wearing on my left hand– You’ll have to find me in person, if you want to see it! :)  We kept our news rather private for a couple of months, just within our families, as it felt too sacred to share publicly at first.

Our time in Europe this summer strengthened our bond: beaches, vineyards, museums, music, dancing and visits with my family in London and Warsaw and his in Croatia – Arturo is part Croatian. It also gave us time to discuss how and where we are going to live. Being free-spirited entrepreneurs who love to travel, we have decided to share our time between Montreal and Panama starting with Nov. in Panama, Dec. and Jan. in Montreal and winter in Panama, with a couple short trips back to Montreal for workshops and teacher training.

It would be such a joy to have you visit me in Panama! To make it fun and interesting, I am co-hosting a Panama Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat Nov 25 – 30 with Katherine Croston, an amazing yoga teacher based in Panama City. I am also leading a retreat in February and giving a Yoga Teacher Training Mar. – June at Transcendence Yoga in Panama City (details on this available soon). Come!

Arbonne Successful Partnership with Yasmin Yoga

Yas-New-Bio-pic-2014As you know, I am a yoga teacher and naturopath specializing in Ayurveda. You may not know that since Dec. 2013 I am also an Independent Consultant and now Area Manager with Arbonne International, a health and wellness company that offers botanically based, vegan personal care and beauty products that are free from gluten, phthalates, parabens, mineral oil and other harmful toxins.

I have an amazing yoga career and I know it’s because the practices and disciplines I’ve learnt from yoga directly have influenced my life and my life success.  I have been a yoga teacher for 15 years, taught around world, owned a yoga studio, have five yoga DVDs in circulation across Canada and hold the Guinness World Record for the Longest yoga marathon. I also lead a successful teacher training program, have a dedicated private yoga cliental and live and work in an amazing loft in Old Montreal. I LOVE what I do. It fulfills me in so many ways and I always excited to start my day. Given my success, one may wonder I would need anything else. For a long time, I didn’t think I did.

At 22, teaching 20-25 yoga classes was no issue. That’s what it takes to pay the bills as a full-time yoga teacher and I was happy to do it. I have good stamina and a fast metabolism.  I am now 32. I still lots of passion and energy for teaching, but have come to realize that trading time for money in the service industry is limited. I only get paid when I’m physically in front of a class or client. This means that if I’m sick, injured, tired or need a break, I need to make up the lost time and income by taking on other classes and overworking before and after every vacation or time off. Plus, like many other small business entrepreneurs, I have no benefits and not much of a retirement plan.

Moreover, after 15 years, my experience and knowledge as a teacher and naturopath is vast. I have a lot more to offer now than a simple asana practice. Deep in my soul, I believe I can be of most benefit to the world by making yoga available to greater populations, particularly those who currently can’t access it, but need it the most. I would like to work with street youth, military personnel, victims of war and people who suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. Personally, I also would like to have a family of my own in the next few years.  This said, I need to create more time freedom and financial stability in order to pursue these big projects. Short of charging $1000 per yoga workshop, last autumn, I decided I needed a side income, but one that wouldn’t take me off course from my yoga path.

Ask and you shall receive, right?  Enter Arbonne, a company that has changed my life and many of the lives of the people I work with. I now make a healthy side income off part-time work. This allows me to be more selective of the classes I teach and focus my energy towards bigger goals, like the ones mentioned above.

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The company logo with some of the different lines Arbonne offers: the Calm Line for highly sensitive skin; great make up; Genius retinoid pads that reduce acne, redness, fine lines and skin discoloration from the sun; FC5 line has two programs, one for oily skin and one for dry; RE9 for mens shaving needs; RE9 anti-aging is the number one on the market and Arbonne’s flag ship line; ABC care for babies; Clear Advantage for acne prone skin. We aren’t all alike, so I like that Arbonne caters to our individual differences.

Arbonne, as mentioned, manufactures and sells high quality hair, skin and nutrition products through word of mouth. Yup, it’s a network marketing company and it’s genius. I am a natural networker and relationship builder, so it’s like I was made for this type of business. (Network Marketing is actually the fastest growing industry in Canada and is a 167 billion dollar industry, more than the music, movie & gaming industries combined.  As an industry, it has comes leaps and bounds in the past few decades and is in fact being taught in business schools & universities as the next wave of doing business.)

Actually, Arbonne is a  a hybrid of direct selling and network marketing so you get to benefit from both. You make a commission when clients purchase products and if you build a team, you leverage your time, because (like any franchise) you are paid on the total volume that goes through your business–both through you personally and through your network’s volume.  Super interesting.

But I didn’t understand network marketing or how it worked when I was first introduced to Arbonne. I scoffed at the idea of ‘selling’ cosmetics. I was not interested in being a ‘sales-lady’ and I felt it was beneath me. Other than yoga classes, I had never sold anything in my life. My jobs had consisted of babysitter, lifeguard, swimming coach, yoga teacher and naturopath. I never worked in a store or in restaurant. But then my friend Nayri, a make up artist, spa owner and Arbonne Consultant, said something that made me pause and reflect:

“You recommend products you like all the time. Why wouldn’t you want to get paid to do that?” She asked.  She was right. I had been an ambassador for several healthy living brands and have indirectly sold thousands of dollars in product for them, but never once got a pay check.  Nonetheless, my integrity and reputation is more important to me, than money (sometimes to a fault). I could never recommend something that I didn’t believe in and that didn’t align with my values. So I researched the company and what they stand for.

Here’s what impressed me the most about Arbonne:

  1. Arbonne was started in 1980, so they’ve been around for a long time, and have survived the highs and lows of the economy. Plus, health and wellness has always been their focus. They didn’t jump on the green, organic band wagon, because it’s trendy. Arbonne is a trailblazer, and in some ways, so am I. :)
  2. Their products adhere to the Swiss and EU safety standards which are much stricter than the North American standards, i.e. no mineral oil or harmful petroleum by-products, or known carcinogens like parabens, phthaltes, sodium laurel sulphates, etc. As well, they have never tested on animals and their products contain no animal by-products. Good, because my lifestyle is plant-based too.
  3. They have strong leadership :
    CEO Kay Napier was formerly head of Women’s Health & Vitality at Proctor & Gamble (the company’s number one division) and later served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing at McDonald’s, where she spearheaded the launch of the healthy lifestyles campaign (the salad, wraps, apples, etc)—an important part of McDonald’s legendary corporate turnaround after the “Supersize Me” documentary.

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    I enjoy dressing up, so I like that I no longer have to wear stretchy pants all the time. I also love to travel! This picture is from an Arbonne party in Las Vegas, a trip I won through Arbonne. I’m with my mentor Exec National Vice President Camilla Scott Eves and my sponsor Nayri Georges.

    Dr. Peter Matravers, Senior VP of Research and Development at Arbonne, has over 25 years experience cosmetics industry and has a background in Ayurveda! Before Arbonne, he was instrumental in the success of Neutrogena and Aveda. (Before Aveda was sold to Estee Lauder and their formulations changed, I was an Aveda fan since age 14. I would save my babysitting money, take the bus downtown and buy Aveda shampoo.)  Dr Matravers is one of the top botanical scientists in the world and holds over 20 U.S. and international patents in these areas chemistry and botany. He exclusively works with Arbonne.

  4. Arbonne is only in four countries (US, Canada, UK and Australia), but they are expanding into more, which is cool, because consultants can start businesses in any country Arbonne distributes. Next month, Arbonne moves into Poland! (Great for me, because I’m Polish and would love to build a business there with my friends and family.) Next year, Taiwan. Lot’s of potential!
  5. Arbonne is an internet based business. I don’t stock product and go door to door. Never. I simply recommend the products I like and show people how to order them online. I can do this business from anywhere: at home or when travelling. Perfect for my nomadic lifestyle.
  6. The Arbonne Charitable Foundation supports grass roots projects in all the countries Arbonne is distributed. CEO Kay Napier’s goal is to make Arbonne the number one network marketing company to give back. Plus, all the admin fees for running their charitable fund are paid by Arbonne corporate as opposed to coming out of the donations raised.
  7. Arbonne has a carbon neutral certification and they are always seeking ways to become greener and safer.
  8. They have 460+ consumable products including six different skin care lines ranging from baby to anti-aging. (My skin has never looked and felt so good!)
  9. On the business side, Arbonne has a very fair, generous and award winning compensation plan that allows consultants like me to make a full time salary off part-time work. Plus, you don’t get paid to ‘recruit’ or train new consultants. You are only successful if you help others be successful. And I like mentoring and helping people, so this is rewarding on many levels.
  10. Lastly, this business is ideal for busy people like me. Like in other franchise like businesses, everything is ready to go — products, website, marketing tool, distribution system and customer service department. I didn’t have to do anything but try the products, love them, learn why both the products and company are  special, and then share this information with others. There is a simple system to follow and so much support available both from Arbonne corporate and from the consultants themselves.
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These are some of the amazing people on my Arbonne team some of whom I never would have met without Arbonne. This picture was taken at the Canadian Training Conference in Montreal just recently.

I am super proud to represent Arbonne. Their prestige level products stand for themselves, as does the company. I have met some incredible Arbonne Consultants of all ages and from all walks of life — doctors, teachers, hairdressers, students, corporate people; anyone can do this business. On my Arbonne team, there currently about 30 people ranging in age from 20 to 72. It’s amazing to watch them grow each and every month. It fills me with joy and wonder to think of where will be in a year, two years and even ten years.

If you would like to know more about Arbonne and how to get involved either as a customer or maybe even a consultant, contact me. I’d be happy to connect with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimalist December

December’s Minimalist Challenge

December is usually a month about consumption, but this year, I propose a different, minimalist approach. Inspired by my student Melanie, my partner Craig and I recently did a ‘Minimalist Challenge, whereby everyday starting on the first of the month, we gave away, tossed or recycled items cumulatively: Day one, we got rid of one thing; day two, two things; day three, three things; day four, four things; and so on. Amazingly, by the end of the month, we purged nearly 400 items from our apartment! Oh, the freedom of space and clarity of organization!

Turns out, Melanie, who also took on the challenge, got the idea for this from The Minimalists, two guys who write, tour and speak about living more simply. They were the ones who first suggested this ‘Minimalist Game’.

It’s pretty simple and a great excuse to clean out closets and reorganize your home (and life). Plus, it greatly improves the feng shui in the home. Of course, it is simple at first, but as the month progresses it gets more challenging. Here are some tips we found helpful:

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1- Anything can go and must go before the stroke of midnight each day – clothes, shoes, furniture, decorations, sports equipment, tech stuff, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, dvds, cds (transfer music to a hard drive), files, bags, containers, toys, art, books, linen, memorabilia, dishes, cutlery (how many cups do we really need?), hair elastics, markers, pens, magazines, etc.

2- I found it particularly satisfying to go one room and closet at a time. I created piles and lists of items I intended to purge. I also recommend thinking ahead and planning out items for the next day or days ahead.

3- Make sure items are discarded in a thoughtful way: donate, regift, sell, recycle and only when absolutely necessary, toss. You can get creative with this. Craig and I donated a bike to a North-South program that sends bikes to Haiti, books to the Livre Service book exchange bins  and jackets to the Lolë Yellow Label program that cleans and resells coats collecting money for local food banks. Also, for paints, batteries, computer parts, cell phones and other toxic waste, use designated eco-centres in your community.

4- If you buy something new, get rid of something old. This means if on say day 10, you buy a new broom or whatever, then get rid of 11 things to make space for the new item. This will dissuade you from buying unnecessary things and helps you save money!

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5- Holiday season is here. Tell your family about your Minimalist Challenge and kindly ask them to consider gifting you in a different way: a bottle of wine to enjoy with friends, a donation to a non-profit in your name, experiences (spa certificate, tickets to a play or concert) and/or their presence for a home cooked meal, tea for two or an offer to help you install a new computer program on your computer or hang photos in your home. When doing your own holiday gift giving, do the same. Beautiful items in good condition from your home can also be nice gifts – jewelry, frames with new pictures, teapot with nice tea, etc.

Happy Holidays, Have fun and let me know how your challenge goes! Post before and after photos on my facebook page!

PS Don’t be surprised if uncovering forgotten items stir your emotions, letting go of emotional baggage is also part of this process. 

 

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