Day 108 – Yoga on Facebook Live

It was still dark in Panama when I unrolled my mat and set up my computer on Day 108 (April 18) to lead a yoga practice on Facebook Live. We did 108 sun salutations together online and by the time we finished, the sun was high in sky, Koji was miraculously still sleeping and over 500 people had tuned in!

I am loving doing yoga practice on Facebook Live!  So cool.

I am so happy & grateful I was able to share a yoga practice on Facebook Live this year.

I am so happy & grateful I was able to share a yoga practice on Facebook Live this year.

In various ancestral traditions, and particularly in the yoga tradition, 108 is a sacred number which represents union, spirituality and infinity. The 108th day of the year is the perfect occasion to celebrate this tradition together by joining in a practice of 108 sun salutations. This day is also the anniversary of my 108 days of 108 Sun Salutations. This epic adventure led to becoming the first woman to break the Guinness World Record in 2010 for the Longest Yoga Marathon (32 hours) and raising nearly $15,000 for charity.

(Side note: My Guinness World Record was recently broken by an Indian woman who practiced for almost 60 hours. I just found out and I’m actually pretty happy about this. It’s about time the record was broken and good on her. It’s an unbelievable experience and I am happy to share it. )

This year’s Day 108 practice was really beautiful. Despite being far away, I was so happy to connect with students online via live boardcast. If only this technology had been around in 2010, I might have been able to share my yoga marathon on Facebook Live and maybe we would have raised more funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Isn’t it crazy how fast things change? Who knows, maybe one day, after I’m gone, people will be able to practice yoga with my hologram!

Click here to see the video of the yoga practice on Facebook Live. (I have some technical difficulties, and the video recorded sideways, but I am working on editing.)


 

Timeline of Day 108 Celebrations

2011 - We did 54 Moon Salutations by candle light.

2011 – We did 54 Moon Salutations by candle light.

2010: Yasmin begins a 108 sun salutations for 108 continuous days with the intention to study the yoga practice in the microcosm of surya namaskar. This was life changing.

2011: Yasmin teaches a quiet candlelit practice at her former studio, Om West Holistic Centre in Pointe Claire along with 25 close students. This is also the last day of 54 days of 54 Moon Salutations, her second long practice.

2012: It’s a Leap Year, so Day 108 is on April 17 this year. Yasmin co-leads a smallish but powerful group practice at Lululemon Athletica on St Denis along with several other yoga teachers from around Montreal.

2013: Yasmin organizes a big multi-studio 108 practice connected by video conference. Yasmin is at Studio Wanderlust in Plateau Montreal and there are five other locations around Montreal (Le Studio Wanderlust, Naada Yoga, HappyTree Yoga, Viveka Yoga & H~OM) hosting simultaneous community practices of 108 Sun Salutations.

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2014 – 108 Sun Salutations at Loft108

Yoga teacher David Good also organized a practice in Toronto. Over 30 yoga teachers led sets of Surya Namaskar and we had nearly 200 participants joining us. There are also several online participants tuning in some as far away as Europe and Vancouver!

 

2014: H’OM Yoga Centre and Moksha Yoga NDG join Yasmin and offer yoga mala practices. More than 100 people participate. Gigi Cohen formerly of Café Juicy Lotus caters a delicious dinner for after the yoga practice.

2015: There is a full house at Loft108 for a yoga mala practice led by various Montreal Yoga Teachers, but Yasmin is in Las Vegas for a conference and practices in the dessert with four friends. She sends a greeting video and more than $600 of donations are collected for la Fondation du Dr. Julien, a Montreal-based organism which ensures the development of Social Paediatrics in Community for the benefit of as many children as possible.

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2015 – Yoga in the Nevada Desert

 

 

2016: Yasmin is pregnant with Koji. She offers a recorded 108 Sun Salutation practice for free and encourages students to ‘pay it forward’ by donating to their favourite charity or doing some other random act of kindness.

2017: Yasmin is in Panama and sees an opportunity to connect to her community anyway by offering the yoga practice on Facebook Live. The feed reaches close to 3,000 people and more than 500 tune in. Moksha Yoga NDG in Montreal do their own Day 108 practice. Out in Victoria, British Columbia, Carlo Kuhlenschimdt, Yasmin’s senior student and sometimes teaching assistant, organizes 108 sun salutations for charity.

 

 

Related Articles

April 18 is Day 108 & a New Holiday is Born

Significance of 108

How to do 108 Sun Salutations

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.

 

Related :

 

 

Prayers of Unity for 2017

I am not a religious person in the traditional sense. I would say I am spiritual and the G.O.D. of my understanding is what I call, the “Great Oneness Divine,” a powerful energy that unites all creatures great and small and represents life in all its glorious ways. This G.O.D. may manifest itself in may ways. I believe prayers are important and that the world needs all our prayers of unity for 2017 and beyond. These are mine:

Dear Great Oneness Divine,

May all babies know love and kindness from the moment they are born.

May all children and all beings receive love, care, respect and nourishment throughout their lives.

May parents and guardians be supported in their roles as caregivers and providers.

May all beings have love, peace, health and harmony throughout their lives.

May all beings have a home of love and comfort.

May all beings have access to healthcare, education and culture.

May all beings have confidence, courage and strength to shine.

May we appreciate nature and have gratitude for life’s little miracles.

May we build community and foster friendships.

May we listen to understand each other better.

May we come together as one to heal and protect our earth and all Her children.

May we use our combined talents to find innovative solutions and make the world a better place.

May happiness and friendship be enjoyed and shared by all. 

May happiness and friendship be enjoyed and shared by all. 

May there be curiosity and compassion in the world.

May abundance and love be enjoyed and shared by all.

May light dissolve the shadows of fear and loneliness.

May there be brotherhood and sisterhood among all beings. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Love, Healing, Light and Peace to all.

What are your prayers?

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Related:

Grateful for 2016

Dear Great Oneness Divine,

We are at the cusp of a New Year. I am so grateful for the blessings of 2016 and in particular, the health and happiness of our son Koji Rio. Thank you for the wellbeing of my family and friends and the abundance we have to share with others.

Some of my wonderful Arbonne colleagues.

I am grateful to my wonderful Arbonne colleagues for their constant enthusiasm and support.

Winter

Thank you for a healthy pregnancy. I was so fortunate that I could travel and spend most of the winter in Panama with Arturo. Also, thank you for my Arbonne business for allowing me to work from anywhere in the world and thank you to my loyal clients and fantastic team of coworkers. What a blessing to earn a living while working outdoors by a pool or in a cafe or from the comfort of home!

Spring

How wonderful that I was able to continue exercising, travelling and working throughout the time I was carrying Koji! While I didn’t practice much yoga during this time, I learned to appreciate other forms of practice and discovered that I enjoy swimming and weight training. In Spring 2016, I was also able to attend conferences in Las Vegas and Toronto.

Summer

blog-jan2017-family

Koji Rio was born on Aug 16, 2016. We are truly grateful and honoured by his presence in our life.

I am grateful that Arturo, my parents and beloved mentor Gigi were present at the birth of my son. Although his birth was quite different than I anticipated, in the end, we are all healthy. I am grateful for the care we received at the birthing centre with our midwives as well as the dedication of the hospital staff at St Mary’s. Nurses are incredible beings.

Fall

Thank you for Koji and the blessing of parenthood. Thank you for a loving husband, who is a great dad. Thank you for the loving support from our family. We are blessed to be surrounded by people who love our son as much as we do. If only all babies received as much love as Koji, the world would be a better place.

Since Koji was born, we were fortunate to travel to a wedding in New York state, to Maine (first family vacation), to Niagara Falls, to Quebec City and all over Panama!  Thank you for two successful yoga retreats and several great yoga workshops. I am grateful to share my passion for yoga, ayurveda, nature and wellbeing with others.

This fall, we also said goodbye to my Grandma. It was blessing that she lived such a long and healthy life and passed away peacefully.

This year's Into the Light Solstice Yoga event for Dans la Rue brought together some of Montreal's finest yogis and yoga teachers.

This year’s Into the Light event for Dans la Rue gathered some of Montreal’s finest yogis & yoga teachers.

Winter

On Dec. 21st, we hosted our fourth annual Into the Light Solstice Yoga community practice and fundraiser for Dans la Rue, an organization that supports homeless youth in Montreal. We may have been few in numbers (it was, after all, the Wednesday before Christmas), but we raised more than any other year. See photos

Thank you to all participants for helping us raise $781 along with a bunch of material donations. Big gratitude to our sponsors for their donations to our Silent Auction:

And lastly, thank you for the beautiful Christmas we shared with our family in Montreal. It was a perfect way to close 2016. We are so blessed to have amazing families both in Canada and in Panama.

Related:

 

Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama

Our Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama just ended and it was so spectacular. I am thrilled that we are going back for a second Yoga & Hiking Retreat in February. This upcoming retreat will also include a certificate in Ayurveda + Yoga Healing I which can be used as continuing education credits or put towards a 200 or 300 hour yoga teacher training.

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Yoga with hummingbirds

My husband, Arturo and I discovered the Mount Totumas ecolodge about a year ago when we were looking for places of interest near Volcán, a small town near the boarder of Costa Rica where Arturo spent his summers growing up. It took us a couple of attempts to reach Mount Totumas, because to get there requires a 4x4WD vehicle and a lot of patience. It is 10 kms (or 45 mins) on a rocky mountain path into the “Cloud Forest“.  When we finally arrived, we were blown away about its beauty and remote tranquility. We knew in an instant that we wanted to host a Yoga & Hiking Retreat here.

Perched high in the mountains boarding La Amistad National Park, Mount Totumas ecolodge sits 6,300 ft above sea level at the foothills of myriad hiking and nature paths. We trekked through first and second generation rainforests, to waterfalls, hot springs, highland pastures and a coffee orchard. The air is fresh and when the clouds part at night, the sky is a blaze with stars that actually twinkle. It is an idealic setting for a retreat.

Our group arrived on Friday Nov. 26, just days after the tropical storm/ hurricane Otto ripped through Panama causing torrential rains, landslide and school closures across the country. Panama doesn’t get hurricanes, so this was historic.

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What a joy to hike with Koji! He was a trooper!

We drove in convoy along the above mentioned 4x4WD road and as we approached the second of two rivers, it was clear that our CRV would not make it across the swollen waters. So we left it on the side of the road and squeezed into the other vehicles (baby Koji too!) more equipped for deep water. The journey was a nice little adventure and the challenging drive on the mountain road made us feel all that much more removed from the civilized chaos of our daily lives.

Because we arrived at the end of a hurricane and in last days of rainy season, most mornings were clear and sunny. The clouds and rains moved in just after lunch, which made napping and restorative yoga practices all that much more peaceful.

Our Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama days looked like this, although the timing of activities was flexible :

  • 7:00 am Wake up, tea, greens and/or fresh locally grown coffee – coffee is the hidden gem of Panama, artisanal and incredible;
  • 7:30 – 8:45 am  Meditation & Yoga flow practice overlooking the rainforest canopy – we frequently stopped to observe exotic birds and monkeys playing in nearby trees;

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    Ayurveda Yoga Flow practices are for everyone.

  • 9:00 am Breakfast of pancakes, oatmeal, eggs or granola;
  • 9:30 / 10 am Departure for hiking – slow trek, pausing to observe and appreciate the miraculous nature surrounding us;
  • 12:30 / 1 pm  Lunch of homemade soup and corn bread or tortillas;
  • 1:30 – 3:00 pm Free time – napping, reading, colouring, day dreaming, etc.;
  • 3:00 – 4:30 pm Yoga practice – restorative, long hold poses, myo-fascial release work, breathing exercises and/or partner yoga, all workshop style;
  • 4:30- 5:30 pm Hummingbird Happy Hour – hummingbirds are very active at this time, so we watched up to 17 different species of hummingbirds swarm around 6+ feeders on the “hummingbird deck”. These little birds are so active that feeders need to be refilled twice daily! 
  • 5:30 – 7:00 pm Late afternoon session – journaling, ayurveda workshop, discussion or free time;
  • 7:00 pm Dinner – delicious fresh meals that catered to all tastes and diets: curries (chicken or veg), lasagna, ratatouille, fish, etc.
  • 8:00 pm Evenings – free time, insect observation (amazing bugs!), movie night, spa night, or discussions;
    + usually an early bedtime around 10pm.

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    Homemade meals made with love.

The owners of Mount Totumas were fantastic. Alma created superb restaurant quality meals for us and made us all feel at home. Jeffrey has a background in biology and ecology and generously shared his knowledge, passion and excitement for birds, flowers, plants, monkeys, etc. with us during our hikes. In short, being at Mount Totumas was amazing experience, kind of like walking through the pages of National Geographic magazine.

 

Here are some of the highlights shared by the group since the retreat:

Seeing three species of monkeys: Howler monkeys, spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys. The spider monkeys are acrobatic and followed us throughout one of our hikes. 

The natural hot springs were so soothing.

The amazing food clearly made with love.

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A natural spa! Hot springs and cool river water!

Seeing how coffee is grown, harvested, roasted was really cool and so was tasting it!

Having a chance to concentrate on developing and deepening a daily yoga and meditation practice in nature.

Spending time with like-minded individuals and getting to know people for who they truly are.

For me, being able to teach, share what I love, spend time and have my husband, parents and baby join me on this adventurous Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama.

 

 

Thank you to all participants, to my adventurous husband and to my amazing teaching assistant Carlo Kuhlenschimdt, whose thai yoga massage techniques were appreciated by all.

The best part is that we have another Cloud Forest Yoga & Hiking Retreat Panama Feb. 25 – Mar 3.  Would you like to join us?

 

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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Myofascial release with foam roller

Introduction 

Please meet Amanda Roemer, an expert in myofascial release with foam roller and balls. She is also wonderful yoga teacher, hockey player, specialized kinesiologist and recent 500 hour graduate of my yoga teacher training. Amanda gave a workshop on myofascial and trigger point releasing at Loft108, my studio in Old Montreal, Sunday May 1, 2016.

Here is here’s her article on the subject:

Self myofascial release with foam roller 

In 2008 after several hockey and sports related injuries, I began to search for something to compliment my yoga practice and release the restricted areas of my body. I started experimenting with self-massage and release techniques using a foam roller. The results were immediate. I could get rid of headaches, body pain, joint pain, sleep better and had more energy! It was amazing. I started to teach this technique to my post-rehabilitation clients, my athletes, and blended it with Yoga years ago. It was very well received! It became a part of my own practice, my life, and a way to help people. I have now been teaching this technique ever since. Below is a brief description of what Myofascial and Trigger Point Releasing is and some of my favorite releases!

What is facia?

The main tissues in our body that are affected when doing these release techniques are fascia and muscles. Fascia is a dynamic and interactive tissue because it will change depending on what you do…or don’t do. One function of muscle fascia is to reduce friction of muscular force. Fascia is compromised when circulation to an area is reduced. Adhesions or ‘ knots’ can form as the ‘fibres’ of the tissues stick or clot together. Trigger points are portions of muscle where there is a small involuntary contraction that will feel like a ‘knot’ and is painful when pressure is applied. Trigger points weaken muscles because they can no longer relax and will stress the points where they attach to bone causing joint pain.


Self myofascial release and trigger point releasing is a simple way to restore normal function back into tissues. By applying slow moderate pressure you force-feed blood/oxygen to the muscles creating heat and separation of muscle fibers, which increases elasticity and relieves pain significantly! Here are some of favorite release exercises.

Hips (Piriformis) HipRoll

Target the area just above the boney part of your butt. Begin sitting on the roller with foot crossed over opposite knee. Pull the knee toward the opposite shoulder so you can target the belly of the muscle. You can also use a ball in the hip area and move the leg by bending the knee and moving the leg outwards and then inwards repeatedly.

Benefits: Sciatica relief, reduce pain in the lower back and buttocks, improved range of motion and rotation of the leg and hip.

 

 

Lateral thigh and hipQuadITRoll3

this can be painful for some people and can take a few months get on top of the tension in this area. Use a softer rolling tool to start. Roll back and forth slowly with deep breaths. Do smaller movements over any area that feels tight. Roll the area just in front and just behind the IT band. This would be equivalent to rolling just in front and just behind the side-seam of your pants.

This can be more effective because you are now addressing the quadriceps tissue that is also tight and binds to the IT band. Use your top leg and supporting arm to adjust the amount of pressure on your thigh.

 

Spine Middle and upper back

SpineRoll2

Roll along the spine from your kidneys (no lower than your belly button), to your upper back. Roll back and forth slowly with deep breaths. Do smaller movements over any area that feels tight. It’s normal to feel pops and cracks! Complimentary Posture – back bends will feel better after this release due to opening of the middle and upper back where back bending is often restricted.

 

 

 

If you missed Amanda’s workshop on Muscle tension release & Foam Roller May 1, you may want to check out Dawn Mauricio’s Therapy Ball Rolling Workshop coming up in June!

Date:  June 19, 2016,  2-4pm
Address:  Loft 108, 377 St Paul Street W, #200, Montreal, QC

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Day 108 – Free Yoga Mala Download

Tomorrow is Day 108, the 108th day of the year! This year, I am offering you a free Yoga Mala download, a guided audio practice leading you through 108 Sun Salutations.  Click here to register & get your free download!

Day108-1

Day 108 is a communal celebration. Consider gathering friends!

Day 108

Day 108 holds a special place in my heart not only because the number 108 highly auspicious, but it is also the 6th anniversary of the start of my 108 Days of 108 Sun Salutations, a journey that lead me to breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest yoga marathon in 2010. To celebrate, normally, I co-organize a huge Yoga Mala (108 Sun Sal) practice in Montreal & elsewhere, but this year, I decided to offer something different : a guided audio Yoga Mala 108 Sun Salutation practice available for download.

Pay it forward

On April 17 (tomorrow) this practice will be offered for free. However, I ask that you to pay it forward: help a friend or family member, make a donation to a charity of your choice or contribute some other kindness to the world and tell me about it. My 108 x 108 challenge was all about sharing love. We rallied the community, practiced in parks, rooftops, studios and kitchens, and we raised nearly $15,000 for charity. It was the most powerful experience of my life and changed me completely. I blogged the whole 108 days. You can read it here.

How to do a Yoga Mala

Now, 108 Sun Salutations is not easy per se. It’s a moving meditation, a prayer set in motion and it will surely uplift your spirit in ways you can’t imagine. Know why you are practicing.  Have a clear intention. It have be for yourself or you can dedicate the practice to someone else’s healing.

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Day 108 : A Yoga Mala practice is a prayer in motion.

Also, you don’t have to do the whole Yoga Mala. This practice was recorded in three sets of 36 Sun Salutations (thanks to the help of my wonderful student Carlo Kuhlenschmidt, who is also a fantastic yoga teacher). You can do the first set only or take breaks as you need to. Click here for more tips.

The benefits of doing a yoga mala practice are abundant and will be felt over the coming days. I would love to hear about your experience and I would love to hear about “how you paid it forward”. Please share it with me here or via email : yfgow @ yasminyoga.com

REGISTER NOW

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