Open your Nadis & Increase your energy

Nadis are energy centres & channels responsible for giving vitality to every cell and system in the body. Imagine living every day with more flow and more exuberance.

In this post, I am sharing simple ways to boost the subtle energies of the body for maximum results.

What are Nadis and why are they important?

When the nadis are clear, prana or vital energy flows easily to the cells and health is optimized. When they are blocked, we become weak and ill. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits and trauma also obstruct the circulation of this life force.

The word “Nadi” comes from the Sanskrit word “Nad”, meaning flow or motion. According to the ancient Tantric texts, it is believed that there are 72,000 nadis in the body.

The biggest centres are the chakras and there are larger concentrations of nadis at the joints, hands & feet and sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, lips and tongue.

Blog-2018-05-25-nadis-image

Right intention and appreciation redirects your energy and improves the flow of prana throughout your system.

Ways to clear the nadis and balance your energy

  • Right Intention – Your energy flows where your attention goes, so MIND YOUR MIND! Set your intentions clearly, repeat uplifting affirmations, be grateful, take in positive impressions as often as possible. (see Daily Affirmations)
  • Hatha Yoga – Yoga helps to free stagnant energy and balance two of the main nadis that weave through the chakras: Ida & Pingala, the female (lunar) energy  & male (solar) energy. In fact, the term “hatha yoga” actually means “sun-moon yoga” referring to the practice of bringing these nadis into equilibrium.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – This breathing exercise also helps to balance Ida and pingala and opens the sinuses, an important gateway for prana / life-force / breath to enter the body.
  • Ayurvedic Self Massage – This practice is also fantastic for stimulating the nadis and clearing congestion from the joints and muscles. The benefit is particularly noticeable when you observe the difference between the arm you just massages compared to the one that has yet to be massaged.
  • Cleansing & Improving Digestion – The tips to improve digestion along with the seven-day detox or cleanse dramatically improves the effectiveness of the nadis and your overall well being. (see tips for improving digestion)
  • Consuming healthy food & healthy products is key. Read your labels and make sure you educate yourself to know that what you put in your mouth and on your skin is safe and beneficial. You cannot not even imagine how absorbent your skin is! Whatever you put on your skin absorbs directly into your blood stream within 30 seconds!
  • Exercise & nature appreciation – Daily movement at a moderate intensity helps to circulate energy and blood flow throughout your body. It’s best to avoid extremes and if you can exercise outside and breathe fresh air in nature, all the better! (see tips for exercise)

 

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Ayurvedic Self-Massage Guide & Download

Ayurvedic self-massage is a highly beneficial treatment on all levels.

I recommend this type of self-massage because it particularly helpful for lymphatic drainage, aiding the body’s detoxification process. It also a nice, nurturing ritual that can be continued regularly as it helps foster self-love and appreciation– two qualities everyone good use more of!

Ayurvedic self-massage is also known as Abhyanga. It can be done with or without oil.  An article by ayurvedic practitioner, Sandhiya Ramaswamy for the Chopra Centre describes abhyanga like this:

There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil […] It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth.

I often include dry self-massage (sans oil) in yoga practices with my students as part of the ‘warm up’. (See details about the Therapeutic Yoga Clinic)  It is very nice to do at home with warm oils, especially when you are fresh from the shower or bath and already semi-relaxed.

Benefits to Self-Massage 

  • Encourages self-love;
  • Stimulates cardiovascular circulation;
  • Lymphatic drainage;
  • Improves digestion and immune function;
  • Promotes relaxation and grounding;
  • Lubricates joints;
  • Helps you sleep deeper and more soundly;
  • Releases muscular tension;
  • Calms the minds;
  • Balances the nervous system;
  • Increases the flow of energy & prana in your body;
  • Smoothes your skin (especially when using warm oil);
  • Regulates body temperature;
  • Enhances your mood and confidence.

How to practice self-massage

There is no right or wrong way to do self-massage, but it is best to start with your head and end at your feet. Do circular motions on your joints and vigorously rub up and down between the joints.

Blog-2018-05-25-Self-Massage3

CLICK HERE to download a guided self-massage practice I recorded for you

 

Using oil

If you want to use oils, great. Oil helps to calm the nervous system and hydrates the skin. It’s very important to use a good quality, cold-pressed oil (available at all health food stores) and warm it up slightly prior to using it.

Here are the recommended oils to use per dosha:

  • Vata benefits most from warm sesame oil.
  • Pitta benefits most from warm almond oil.
  • Kapha benefits most from warm sunflower oil.

If you aren’t sure which one to use, almond oil is a safe bet or even olive oil. If you know aromatherapy, you could also add a drop or two of lavender or ylang ylang to further promote relaxation.  I very much like the Rescue & Renew Detox Massage Oil from Arbonne & the Arbonne Harmony Essential Oil blend for a high quality tri-doshic oil.

Evening Ritual

I like to make a date for myself on a Friday or Saturday evening when I have some time and can stay in. I have an early dinner, take a hot epsom salt bath with oil and then do a little self-practice of massage and maybe some light yoga and meditation. I heat the oil gently on the stove on low for a few minutes and then pour it over my head letting it saturate my hair. Then, I massage the oil into my skin from head down. I drink a hot cup of herbal tea and go to bed early. It’s heavenly.

TIP:  If you use oil, sleep on a towel or pillow case you won’t mind getting oil stains.

 

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Spring Cleanse Program

This spring cleanse program is inspired by ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system I practice. It holistic and works all levels: physical, mental, emotional and energetic as well.

I do a customized cleanse program for my clients, which ideal for addressing specific needs and/or health goals. However, I wanted to share suggestions for a gentle spring cleanse that almost anyone can do — Please read the disclaimer at the bottom. The program outlined here does not involve aggressive purgation or detoxification, yet it is still highly effective and harmonizing.

Why Cleanse?

In ayurveda, cleansing is an important part of maintaining good health and it is holistic, meaning it addresses the whole you — body, mind and the emotional heart. 2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-greens

  Better digestion;
  Stronger metabolism & immunity;
  Feel lighter;
  Feel healthier;
  Boost energy;
  Healthy weight management;
  Improve body composition;
  Reduce stress;
  Promote mental clarity;
  More restful sleep;
  Improve skin tone & lustre;
  Brightness of eyes;

Basically, it is a total reset for the system and the best time for following a cleanse program is in the spring or fall when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold.

Spring Cleanse Program Overview

BODY
EA2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-foodT light, soupy / stewy meals & keep portions small:
  • You will likely have about 4-5 ‘meals’ per day during the cleanse. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat;
  • Eat soups (ideally blended) and lightly steamed greens – lentil soup recipe
  • Avoid all fruit except apples & pears (best cooked);
  • Eliminate wheat, coffee, alcohol, meat, dairy, sugar, high fat & processed food.
DRINK  only herbal teas & water at room temperature:
  • Arbonne Detox Tea has fantastic, high quality kidney and liver cleansing herbs. One tea bag makes about one litre – drink this warm or at room temp during the day;
  • Chlorophyll and aloe is also good in water;
ADD cleansing herbs to help you eliminate:
  • Arbonne Essentials Body Cleanse – I love this product because it is easy to use, tastes good and everyone can benefit from it. The active ingredients are aloe for cleansing, ginger for circulation and anti-inflammation as well as magnesium to help the body relax and process. Take 1 sachet at night in warm or hot water or  1/2 in the morning & 1/2  at night in warm water or hot water;
  • Triphala in larger doses or in conjunction with the Arbonne Body Cleanse is also beneficial. Triphala is a blend of three herbs that has a laxative effect on the body. You can take tripahla along with the Body Cleanse for better results.  (I like the herbs from Bayan Botanicals or Himalaya – easier to get Himalaya in Canada)
EXERCISE should be very gentle during the cleanse – only walking, light yoga or restorative yoga.
 
MIND & SOUL
  • It’s important to rest your mind during the cleanse time; 2018-05-Blog-Spring-CLeanse-yoga
  • Avoid television, social media and other distracting mental activity as much as possible;
  • Avoid extensive social outings and late nights;
  • If possible, avoid traffic, unnecessary errands and housework;
  • Practice gratitude;
  • Journal;
  • Day dream and be creative;
  • Favour books that inspire you and calming music;
  • Adopt a comfortable routine – create it and you can send it to me;
  • Sleep on time, eat on time;
  • Ayurvedic massage (abhyanga) and/or warm oil (shirodhara) treatment is highly recommended as part of a cleanse program – For these services in Montreal, I recommend you go to the Ayurvedic Holistic Centre in NDG or contact my dear friend Vanesa Ayurveda.

DISCLAIMER: This cleanse program can be done by almost anyone. However, your immunity system and strength should be stable – do not attempt a detox when you are sick, extremely tired or very stressed. Exclusive cleanse diet is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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If you would like a personalized cleanse program, please contact us to book a private consultation with me

 

Productivity Mindset

Developing a productivity mindset is something I continue to work at, because I have big goals and dreams and no time to waste, but I have to say, this does not come naturally to me. However, I have made vast improvements in this area thanks to a few practices I adopted in the last year.

Back story

Before I share my tips on how to improve your productivity mindset, allow me to share a little back story:  I am a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner and have been for close to two decades. I have never worked in an office or any job that required me to be there for the entire day. I like change, surprises and variety.I am by nature more of a day dreamer than a planner. I am easily distracted. I love to multi-task and I detest scheduling and planning. I have the tendency to be messy and disorganized. I often misplace things and forget about appointments.

In the last few years, I started to want more and to be more, not just because I became a mom, but also because I feel I got fed up of waiting. I knew I needed to change my mindset, my work  and my how I use my time so I could become to be more efficient. After all, although I deeply enjoy my work, I also love to travel and spend with my friends and family. I am one of those people who wants to have both abundance and time freedom. Good news is I am willing to work for it and protect it.

Tips to improve your productivity mindset

 

Know why – Knowing exactly why I need to get certain things done, I appreciate that I have choice to be productive and to focus my energy for a certain amount of time. For example, I never ‘vacation’. We travel often (in fact, I am writing this on the eve of a trip to Scotland, somewhere I’ve always dreams of going) and make time to eat well, work, exercise and do something fun everyday. I work so that I have the freedom to explore and discover and hang out with my family;

Routine – Creating simple pleasurable routines for things I do daily like waking up, preparing healthy meals, exercising and sleep allows me to conserve energy for more important tasks and decisions. Best suggestion here to amp up productivity is to set things up the night before (ie don’t leave the kitchen messy and put out the things I need for the morning) and make your mornings enjoyable as they set you up for the day: meditate, yoga, easy breakfasts (for me, an Arbonne protein shake; for Koji, gluten-free pancakes I make in a big batch, freeze and then pop in the toaster; for Arturo, Greens, coffee and early lunch);

Loft108-OfficeSet up properly – I used to sit wherever to work, now I prefer find inspiring locations and set up nicely, making sure I have all the things I need close by including tea, a snack, my computer, charger, phone and a bunch of note books. I love my desk at home, but I also love cozy coffee shops and hotel lobby’s to work in as well;

Work in sessions – I work in sessions of time. Morning sessions (when possible while Koji is playing or if I have a babysitter), afternoon session (when Koji is napping) and sometimes an evening after Koji goes to sleep;

Brain Dump – Do you ever open your computer with the anxiety that you have so much to do and have no idea where to start? Me too. All the time! But I learned a trick through a coaching course I did with Brandon Barber, which helps a lot: I now do a “brain dump” before I start a work session. I write down everything I need to do as it comes to mind. Sometimes, I keep my notebook beside me when I am meditating, as often ‘to do’ reminders pop up in my head when I am trying to meditate;

Prioritize tasksWhat are the the things that I, and only I, have to do today in order to feel fulfilled and to move my business(es) forward? Brandon Barber says then we must delegate as many of the other tasks as possible.

Delegation – Speaking of delegating, this is massively important. Do you really, really have to personally do everything of your to do list? Can anyone help you? Can you hire someone to support you and thus concentrate your productivity in another area like in your work or in nutureing your child and other important relationships? For example, unless you love mopping floors and have an abundance of time, I highly recommend finding a cleaning service to clean your house;

Clean home & Office – Keeping my space (at home and work) clean, organized and simple (uncluttered) is something that recently changed my life completely and enhanced my productivity ten-fold. I know where things are easily and I am not wasting as much time choosing what to wear or pack (because I have a quarter of the clothes I had before) and know where to find and put things means I don’t waste as much time searching. I read the Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I highly recommend it. I also worked with decluttering specialist Lori Craig of Love it or Leave it and hired Angie Pelletier, professional organizer at Centre IAM for my office and computer. What piece of mind I have knowing where I have what!

Limit your distractions – We get distracted all the time and sometimes this is on purpose just to procrastinate. Brandon Barber, the coach I just referenced earlier, writes: “Did you know that the average person gets 1 interruption every 8 minutes That’s 7 interruptions in an hour. 50-60 per day. The average interruption takes 5 minutes, totalling about 4 hours or 50% of the average workday! What’s worse? 80% of those interruptions are typically rated as “little value” or “no value” creating approximately 3 hours of wasted time per day!” Eeek. Just know this makes me more aware of my tendency to loose focus. Keeping my phone on silent during work sessions also helps;

miracle-morning-toolsGet the big stuff done early in day – When I tick off the big items on my list early in the day or in the week, I feel amazing and motivated to do more. It’s the best feeling. But if I try to ‘just get a few little things out of the way first and then tackle the big item,’ I almost always lose the motivation to get to that big thing and it doesn’t get done… Read the book ‘Eat that Frog’ by Brian Tracy. It’s all about this;

Tying things up – Just before I close a work session, I ask myself: What can I tie up in 15-20 mins and /or complete before lunch? What can you do to improve my sense of accomplishment and fulfillment? And then I get into it;

Strive for Excellent over Perfect – Perfection is a limiting and confusing standard, because it is impossible to pinpoint what “perfect” is and just makes us/me feel very stressed and doesn’t always inspire productivity. Instead, (and this is also something I picked up working with the Brandon Barber team), strive for excellence and we have room to grow and flourish.

Lastly, as far as getting started goes, I highly recommend the book The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. It’s a game changer! Here’s a quote:

The 5 Second Rule The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you. ― Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

 

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Birthday Gratitude at 36

It’s my birthday and I am full of gratitude…

The long table was set with the most beautiful china tea cups, little sandwiches, scones and other nice treats brought by my friends. Many of the amazing women sitting with me I have known at least half my life. Sunday, I had invited my nearest and dearest over for a “High Tea” to celebrate my birthday, which is in fact today and to enjoy my great-grandmother’s fine china that I don’t use nearly enough.2017-11-birthday-yoga2

At one point during our ‘tea party’, Amelie, a beautiful ex-model turned environmentalist and mom of two, asks if any of us have birthday traditions. I have one. Every year for my birthday I try to wake early, meditate, practice and write. My practice is 108 sun salutations, 108 being the most sacred and auspicious number in yoga. This moving meditation has always been deeply transformational and inspiring to me.

Today, I am 36-years-old, a milestone to me because 36 is one-third of 108.

I have often said that the hardest part of a yoga mala is the first 36 sun salutations because the body feels awkward, the momentum has yet to kick in and it’s hard to focus. I wonder if this might also be true of life.

Not sure about you, but my first third of life (yes, I envision living healthy and happy until I am 108), was internally filled with self-doubt, fears and uncertainty.

Today, I am celebrating the release of this baggage. I am embracing all my learning from the past. I have worked hard to shift my perspective. I have made tough decisions and changed for the better.

2017-11-birthday-tea-partyWhat has helped me the most is to surround myself with great people personally and professionally. Thank you to my energetic family, my incredibly dynamic and funny husband and my creative friends.  Thank you to the Arbonne leaders who inspire me with their success and desires to improve the world.  Thank you to Emilie, my amazing administrator at Loft108 and the interesting people that the Loft attracts. Thank you to my students and clients who appreciate my work.

Reading about three to four books a month  has helped grow as well. I have an Audible membership and listen to audio books 30-60 mins a day. I read paper books in coffee shops and on the beach when I have a few rare moments to myself. Recommended book list to be published soon.

I have also shifted back to a daily spiritual practice of prayer and devotion and the miracles are flowing into my life are difficult to share without sounding boastful. In short, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

2017-11-birthday-yoga3Thank you, Thank you, Thank you was my theme of my yoga practice this morning. I am in Mexico City with my husband Arturo, my 15-month-old son Koji and my Mom.  Life is beautiful and I have tears of joy in my eyes as I write this.

 

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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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