Postures for Freedom

This post features six fantastic yoga postures for freedom: They increase mobility of the spine, open your heart area, enhance breathing and improve postural alignment.  These poses are also highly beneficial for people with asthma.

The inspiration for this piece came from watching a video about artist Anthony Howe, who makes incredible sculptures that dance in the wind.** (see the video) Watching the organic movement of the sculptures recalled the sense of freedom I experienced in yoga. The ebb & flow of the wind through the sculptures made me think of natural expansion of the breath within the body. A euphoric feeling, I imagine one experiences also in dance, music and other forms of intuitive movement. To move and to breathe is so liberating. This feeling inspired me to pull out my mat this morning, which I am grateful for as I have had little desire to practice asana of late. (I will explain why in a future post.)

Here are six descriptive ‘infographs’ of these postures for freedom — open your heart, expand your breath and facilitate an abundant flow of energy:

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This posture is great as opening or closing pose and note that you can also have your legs extended.

You may want to do your first cobras gradually to open the front body: Starting slowly, inhale lift the chest, exhale release and then repeat 3-5 time each going a little deeper.

You may want to do your first cobras gradually to open the front body: Starting slowly, inhale lift the chest, exhale release and then repeat 3-5 time each going a little deeper.

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Often this posture only focuses on balancing. Make this version about Heart Opening.

 

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Best to keep your dristhi (gaze) at the tip of your nose in this posture.

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I suggest doing this asana 3-6 times in different stages.

You are, of course, welcome and encouraged and incorporate other yoga poses into this sequence.  However, I recommend that if you are going to do a chest / heart opening and back bending practice that you save forward bend until the end.  In fact, it might feel nice to finish in balasana (child’s pose) or some other supported forward bend. Follow your intuition and enjoy your practice!

** Thank you to yoga teacher Kreg Wise for sharing Anthony Howe’s video on his inspirational facebook page

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Yoga for Immunity & Seasonal Affective Disorder

Spring may be on the distant horizon, but seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues or winter depression affects a lot of people in the Northern hemisphere at this time of year. In this post, I propose a yoga practice to boost immunity and uplift this seasonal affective disorder.

But first, what is this condition? According to the definition on Wikipedia:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression,winter blues, summer depression, summertime sadness,* or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.

* I might be naive, but I don’t think summer depression exists in Montreal…

The sequence below focuses on opening the chest to clear congestion and stretching the abdomen to warm up and support agni (the digestive fire). This practice is also beneficial for stress management and when a gentle energy boost is needed.

YASMIN’S SLOW FLOW YOGA FOR IMMUNITY & SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
(This practice is approximately 60 mins in length, but can be decreased to 45mins or increased to 75-90 mins)

GET A PERSONALIZED PROGRAM: I also offer ayurvedic consultations whereby you will receive a personalized program to help you improve your digestion, boost your immunity, increase your energy and address any other health goals you may have. Contact me to book an appointment: yfgow @ yasminyoga.com

GET A PERSONALIZED PROGRAM: I also offer consultations for ayurveda whereby you will receive a personalized program to help you improve your digestion, boost your immunity, increase your energy and address any other health goals you may have. Contact me to book an appointment: yfgow@yasminyoga.com

OPENING & PRANAYAMA

  • Pawan Muktasana / Wind Releasing – Knee to chest – Begin reclined on back. INHALE and stretch arms overhead. EXHALE and pull RT knee to chest. Then repeat on LT side. (3-5x – can also try bringing both knees into chest);
  • Twist side to side – reclined: Exhale, twist knees to side; inhale, knees to centre (repeat);
  • Virasana / hero’s pose – breathing – alternate nostril breathing & kapalabhati (click here for pdf of how to);
  • Virasana – side stretching: Inhale, sit tall & extend RT arm in the air; Exhale, side bend to LT; Repeat 3-5x each side.

OPENING FLOW

  • Cat / Cow to Downward Dog:  Starting in Ddog, Inhale, lift heels; Exhale, knees to floor – back rounded; Inhale, arch back – cow pose; Exhale, ddog; Repeat 3-5x;
  • Surya Namaskar with low lunges  (Hatha Salutation) 2-4x;
  • Surya Namaskar A 4-6x;
  • Surya Namaskar B   3x (optional).
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Natarajasana / Dancer

STANDING POSES (5-8 breaths each side – start on RT side)

  • Windmill – Stand with feet wide apart and rotate torso right to left; Arms relaxed; Use momentum to loosen;
  • Trikonasana / Triangle;
  • Parsvakonasana / Side Angle;
  • Pavritta Parsvakonasana / Side Angle twist;
  • Natarajasana / Dancer.

SEATED POSES & BACK BENDS (5-8 breaths each)

  • Malasana / Garland pose – Low squat;
  • Bakasana / Crow (optional);
  • Navasana / Boat pose: 2-3x;
  • Purvottasana / Inverted plank pose or Fish pose;
  • Plank: On elbows or hands – 30-45 seconds or 6-10 slow breaths;
  • Shalabasana / locust;

    Dhanurasana / Bow

    Dhanurasana / Bow

  • Dhanurasana / bow or half-bow;
  • Ustrasana / Camel.

CLOSING 

  • Setu bandasana / Bridge;
  • Urdhva dhanurasana / wheel (optional)
  • Supported inversion
  • Ananda Balasana / Happy Baby Pose
  • Balasana / Child’s pose or forward bend of choice
  • Suktasana / easy cross
  • Savasana or restorative pose of choice (5 – 15 mins)
  • Meditation (optional);

    Balasana / Child's pose

    Balasana / Child’s pose

  • Om

SUPER LOW ENERGY?

A restorative practice is preferred when energy is low and the flu is starting to take over. Do long hold poses supported by props for 3-6 mins each. Meditation and pranayama is also good during this time. (Side note: It is not recommended to practice yoga if you have a fever.)

 

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Black Light Yoga & Dance

Music pumping, neon body paint and glow sticks may seem more fitting for a night club or after hours party than a yoga studio, but this was the setting for Bouge Yoga O’Neon, my black light yoga and dance event held recently at Yasmin Yoga Loft (YYL) in Old Montreal with DJ FREEFLY. What could have been just a yoga practice with cool lighting became a magical, powerful and therapeutic practice.

YYL had hosted a black light event for yoga teacher Lauren Rudick last year, but impetus for Bouge Yoga O’Neon arose when the organizers of the Wanderlust Tremblant asked me to lead a yoga dance party with black lights during their August Festival. Without hesitation, I said yes and I spent several months contemplating how to make this an experience that was fun and also meaningful and purposeful.

Given my background in Ayurveda, I designed the practice in five ‘chapters’ corresponding to the elements and their qualities — Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Space. I also worked with the DJ so that the music would follow the energy of each element. I suggested an intention and loosely guided the first part of each section leaving space for participants to interpret the music and movements themselves. The event ended with a free flow of dance and final relaxation.

Bouge Yoga O’Neon at Wanderlust Tremblant sold out weeks before the festival. It was a blast. We had over 100 participants and the practice was even more powerful than I expected. The lighting, the music, the body paint (yes, we had a body paint station) along with the carefully arranged sequence created an environment for people to loosen up and be playful. As result, the atmosphere was light, joyful and full of community spirit. There was also a palatable authenticity in the room.

With this in mind, we (the team & I) decided to offer this event at the Loft. And it was no less spectacular.

The studio was decorated with black lights, of course, and dozens of glowing neon stars. Doors opened at 6pm. We had a table of brushes and non-toxic, water based glow paint, allowing guests to be creative and paint themselves and each other. This was a great ice breaker.

The practice was about 90 mins and as one yoga teacher present said, “I couldn’t wait to get the yoga part over with so we could dance.”  And we did. DJ FREEFLY was fantastic and the vibe in the room was electric.

After enjoying a post-practice spread of fruit, Roo Bars and Cocos Pure coconut water, people left with big smiles.

Much gratitude to RooBar, Cocos Pure, DJ FREEFLY (aka Marcel Capito), Carlo Kuhlenschimdt, Chrissy Skerritt, Kelly David, Amanda Roemer and the rest of our YYL family for their efforts in making this event a success and thank you guests! Your energy and enthusiasm were invaluable.

Be sure to view our events calendar to see what other interesting workshops are coming up at YYL.  See more photos of the event on our facebook page.

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Words from some of the participants:

The Bouge Yoga O’Neon event at Yasmin Yoga Loft was amazing! This is the kind of yoga event that you do not want to miss! It loosens up the body, and mind and let’s you express yourself however you’re feeling in the moment. Yasmin’s vision for the class is inspiring, and while we travel through the 5 elements, you begin to really feel and understand each of them. I would attend this event 1000 times, and it would never lose its excitement.    – Jaime Schmidt-Little

Yasmin’s imaginative Black Light – Yoga Bouge O’Neon event – with the electrifying beat moving the crowd through the yoga poses to the peak with everyone free flow dancing under the magical black light and fluorescent stars was fantastical and transformative for me.  – Tessa

What an amazing sensorial and social experience! A playground for yoga; Body paint, neon lights, falling shooting stars and the most uplifting yoga instruction. Came in feeling tensed and left feeling uplifted and inspired! Black light yoga won over my salsa night.  – Vanesa
What a magical evening! The loft was filled with this terrific positive energy from all the participants, the amazing music and lighting and that energetic practice, not to mention the dancing! I still feel lifted up by the whole event. Thank you Yasmin, and my gratitude to DJ Freefly for that awesome set. Namaste. – Bruce

If you weren’t able to make it to the Yasmin Yoga Loft for Bouge Yoga O’neon, make sure you don’t miss the next one! The blacklight class, guided by Yasmin with the beats of DJ Freefly, was a great yoga dance party. Yasmin incorporated ayurvedic elements into the practice that made it quite special. There was an amazing energy in the room from all that attended!  – Kelly

 

Why Practice Yoga

Why practice yoga is a question that comes up often for me. In fact, I consider the purpose of my practice every time I step onto my mat. I set clear intentions before every personal practice and every class I teach. This keeps me focused, present and motivated. Ayurveda also has a huge influence on my ability to see the big picture and understand the vast impact my yoga practice has not only on my life, but on the environment around me.

I had the honour of speaking at the opening of the Montreal Yoga Festival 2015 about the Purpose of Practice.  Being an ayurvedic practitioner, I talked about the five elements and how they relate to the subject “why practice yoga”.

Below is a link to the 45 min recording of my bilingual talk and here is a short summary about why practice yoga:

In ayurveda, we believe that everything is composed of the five elements and the qualities that these elements embody. These elements — Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Space– also relate to the first five chakras and their functions.

  • EARTH is our foundation, our roots and history. It’s also connected to the first chakra, to stability, strength, stamina and survival.
  • WATER is fluidity, connection, balance and the ripple effect our practice has on everyone and everything around us. Associated with the second chakra, it is also the intimacy we have with ourselves and others. I also believe that our teachers’ guidance is like the water that nourishes our practice and our soul.
  • FIRE is our discipline and our passion for the practice. Related to the solar plexus or third chakra, it is our emotional power that motivates us and gives us courage to overcome challenges, because we know that challenges are inevitable in life. Fire is also the force of transformation and the light that dissolves the darkness within us and around us.
  • AIR is our breath and our life force. It brings lightness, flexibility and mobility into our practice. Air is associated with the heart chakra and the energy of compassion, forgiveness, love, self-love and letting go. Our breath carries us into the present moment and centres us.
  • SPACE is what is created in our body, mind and soul when all the other elements come together. Space is also the perspective needed for us to ‘think outside the box’ and act from a higher state of  inner consciousness. Related to the throat chakra, the qualities of this element also allow us to speak and act mindfully contributing to a more harmonious outer environment.

Understanding the nature of these five elements,  I understand that my yoga practice is not only about me. My practice has a far greater purpose and a far reaching effect. Yoga is about what I contribute to this world when I am in a state of happiness and health. It’s about all beings everywhere.

Click here to download the full audio recording. (48 mins)

 

Related Articles

What is Ayurveda?

What’s my dosha?

Balancing the chakras

Guinness Book of World Records 2015

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The 60th Anniversary edition

Did you or someone you know receive the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records over the Holidays? If yes, go grab it and turn to page 106… Now, look at the top right of the page and you’ll find me. Well, not my photo, but you’ll find my name…  🙂

Yes! For the first time ever, my 32 hour Guinness World Record for the longest yoga marathon achieved in Aug. 2010 was published in The Book!  And not just any GBWR, the 60th anniversary edition! I found out on Boxing Day, when my friend sent me a photo text from the Book a young relative of his got as a Christmas present. I was stunned.

 

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My Record for the longest yoga marathon is on pg 106

Turns out, the editors of GBWR don’t necessarily publish all the records from the previous year, so my Record never made it in before. I had my certificate and was listed on the Guinness website, but it feels different now that it’s officially in The Book. The little kid inside me that was blown away by crazy World Records she read about in elementary school, thinks that being published in this book is pretty damn cool.

 

 

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My cousin Alex Fudakowska’s Guinness World Record is also published pg 148

 

 

AND what makes this even more special is that my cousin, Alexandra Fudakowska from London, UK, also has a Record published in the same 2015 GBWR edition! In April 2009, she co-organized and played in the ‘Highest-altitude cricket match’ at the Gorak  Shep plateau near Mount Everest. The game was played at 5,164 m above sea level.  (This entry is on page 148 of The Book, if you want to find it.)

I know, what a family!  🙂

 

 

I am forever grateful for this experience and for all the amazing people who came together to make my yoga marathon possible. Those 32 hours remain among the most powerful, transformational moments of my life. Breaking that record is when I truly realized that life is magical and we all have potential to tap into a rich power that can stretch us beyond expectations.

 

Related: 

I’ve done it longer than anyone – Elephant Journal Aug 2012

How the yoga marathon happened – Aug 2010

5 Reasons to do Yoga during the Holidays

As life gets festive and busy, often yoga during the Holidays is the first thing we drop.  For sure, there are lots of meetings to cram in and projects to finish before the New Year. However, it’s the season of colder temperatures, less sunlight and emotional ups and downs. Our immunity and nervous systems are fragile and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So…

Here are five reasons to do maintain your yoga during the Holidays:

1.  SLOW DOWN  –
Whether you actively participate or not, the whole city is caught up in hustle and bustle mode. Yoga YY_balasana_65offers you the chance to pause, gain perspective and return to the present moment.  It also activates your parasympathetic nervous system responsible for calming the mind and relieving stress symptoms like insomnia, indigestion and aches and pains. Meditation, slow flows and restorative yoga is ideal.

2.  BOOST HAPPY HORMONES
Yoga and exercise stimulate the release of serotonin, the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness. ContinuingYY_Trikonasana_Triangle-3 yoga during the Holidays helps offset ‘seasonal depression.’ (UV light promotes serotonin activity, so when there is less sunlight, there is less serotonin naturally available.)  Vinyasa or ashtanga practices at a moderate pace are recommended.

3.  FIND STABILITY –
The longer your ‘To Do’ list, the more agitated our nervous system. This is especially true when we multi-task to maximize time. This keeps us on perpetual ‘go go go’ mode. As result, cortisol (stress hormone) levels are high and most of our energy is in our head. Yoga provides the opportunity to connect, stabilize and ground ourselves. Standing poses are great for this.

4.  INCREASE IMMUNE FUNCTION –
Due to the cold weather, the body’s inner fire or agni is often less efficient. Thus, our natural virus and bacteria fighting power has cooled down. Yoga, especially back bending postures that open up the front of the body and most pranayama breathing exercises, like ujjayi or kapalabhati breathing, create heat in the body and support your immunity.

5.  RE-ENERGIZE
Understandably, its hard to avoid the merry-making 87_corevinyasaabundance of sugary treats, alcohol and heavy, unctuous food at this time of year. These indulgences slow down your digestive system and metabolism, making you feel heavy and tired. Vinyasa and ashtanga practices stimulate circulation and twisting poses release stagnation in the organs leaving you feeling alert and energized.

To support you during the Holidays and New Year, check out the options for 30 Day Healthy Living Programs. 

 

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Arbonne Successful Partnership with Yasmin Yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what impressed me the most about Arbonne:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Coco

image-3This September 30th, the Yasmin Yoga Loft is hosting a Master Ashtanga Vinyasa class lead by Coco.  We asked Coco to tell us a little more about her and her dedicated Ashtanga practice…

 What brought you to the Ashtanga practice?

The first step for me for a more spiritual life was when I decided to move to Mexico 12 years ago.  At this point of my life, I had never heard of Ashtanga yoga but something made me buy David Swenson book.   This book was my first inspiration and the seed for my first trip to Mysore, India in 2005.  In the book there was lots of yogi’s pictures in India and I thought that I wanted to simulate this and find deep devotion in my life.

How do you bring the 8-limbs of Ashtanga into your practice and teaching?

I try to practice the 8-limbs of Ashtanga as much as I can because I know now that when Guruji says “practice, practice, practice and all is coming” he was talking about those limbs all together and not only Asana’s.

  I also have been blessed to live in the jungle and am able to practice in the traditional way; i wake up at 4 or 5am to practice first thing in the morning.  Meditation, pranayama are also part my daily ritual.  In my teaching, I just try to be an example and inspire people to this path of life….the path of freedom.

How did your passion for sharing the Ashtanga practice develop?

As i continue to practice more, I feel the love to share about the practice.  I truly believe that if more people were on this path, the world would be a better place.

What do you recommend to students who are new to yoga, and wanting to begin an Ashtanga practice?



Slowly, slowly ….  In our modern world, lots of information is accessible quick and people want everything to happen fast; the practice is a process.  Students who start in the practice of ashtanga will benefit, physically, mentally and spiritually, but they need to be patient.  The practice is an incremental process that requires constant application with small developments daily that open and strengthen the body, mind and spirit. I remind all Ashtanga practioners, from new students to advanced that ashtanga is a Practice and not a performance.

image-4Do you have a special place to practice?

Travel is often not the best for the ritual of my practice because of dramatic changes climate, temperature and varying time zones. That said, at the end I am always grateful because I can share my passion.   I am bless to be able to teach in different countries but my special place to practice will always be my own jungle Shala where I am totally connect with nature and all other beings.

You have a background in dance, do you find that this training comes to life on your mat? Can you bring art into Ashtanga?



Absolutely! The roots of the practice are breath and movement; the Vinyasa.  When I was dancing I didn’t have the awareness or consciousness about the importance of this union.  It was a deep awakening to be able to move through Asana (Postures) with more understanding of the sequence.  Each Asana bring you to the next; they are all connected.  The sequence becomes your dance and the breath is your music.

How do you enjoy your time, off of the mat?


Meditation, reading, listening lots of music and walking on the beach with my dogs.  I try to keep a very simple life because my practice and teaching take most of my days and energy.  So off the mat I try to recharge by staying calm and relax as much as I can.

I see that you eat raw.  Do you have a special recipe that energizes your practice?



I eat lots of avocado and greens.  After practice, i am lucky to have access to fresh coco water.  I don’t have a special recipe because I mostly make smoothies from what I’ve got in my house at that moment.  I do use a lot of hemp, maca and spirulina for supplements.  Most of my meals are liquid or very easy to digest and this help to keep my energy for the practice and not diverged to the digestion process.

What inspires you in practice and in life?

Dedicated and passionate people; people who found there Dharma, there mission in life.  I love watching musicians or artists live in there creative process and completely absorbed by it.  I know that at this point nothing else matters and that they are in peace with the present moment.

What does yoga mean to you?

In Sanskrit and the traditional way, Yoga means Union.  The way I interpret this is that through the practice you discover your true self and connect with it; that is the Union.  When we are born we all the same, we are all pure love. But because of life’s patterns and conditioning we lose this connection to the source.  The yoga practice helps you to purify yourself of those elements and give you the opportunity to reconnect with what really matters; the pure love of life.

Love the life you live, live the life you love.

To find out more information about Cocco’s Master Astanga Vinyasa class, click here.

www.onebreathofyoga.com

 

Guinness Record Anniversary

For the second year in a row, I am in Warsaw, Poland for the anniversary of my Guinness World Record breaking yoga marathon of 32 consecutive hours. Reflecting back, I am still humbled by the memory of all the amazing people in my life who came forward to help me with this challenge. I am infinitely grateful to them and to my partner Craig. Without his support and leadership, the organization of that monumental event would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.

What I love most about my yoga marathon and it’s resulting Guinness World Record is that it taught me that anything is possible. You only need to break it down into manageable bite size pieces. I spent a long time, 108 days + in fact, preparing mentally, physically and emotionally. I knew that my mental stamina would likely give out before my body, so I planned ahead and prepared the whole 32 hour sequence in advance, so I would know what do to when. Like last year, I am offering part of this sequence to you. It’s a four hour practice, but it can be done really by anyone with a basic knowledge of yoga. I challenge you to try it and tell me about it.

 

Unfortunately, Craig is not with me on this trip as he had to stay in Montreal for work. So instead of my usual celebratory picnic with Craig, I will be in the Łazienki Park with my cousins listening to live Chopin music and then will go sailing. Despite being without Craig this year, it’s not a bad compromise.

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SET #3
Originally practiced AUG 2, 2010, 5:40 – 9:40 pm – Of the entire Guinness Marathon, I found this sequence the most challenging, not because of the postures or anything. Just that I was nervous about the overnight practice and long haul still ahead of me.

  • Vayu Mudra*
  • Bumble bee breath: brahmari pranayam I*, brahmari pranayam (full)*
  • Virasana: holding elbows*, banker’s pose*, with Gomukhasana arms*, head turned*, side bend*,
  • Eka pada sputa virasana: on elbows*, on block,* hips elevated*, with weight of other leg*
  • Sputa virasana: on elbows*, on two blocks*, on one block*, no blocks-arms down*, arms extended overhead palms down,* fingers interlaced*, with weight*
  • Agnistambhasana (fire log pose): upright*, forward bend*, side bend*, twist*, hooked elbow twist*
  • Padmasana: upright-gyan mudra*, upright-prayer hands, forward bend*, side bend*, twist*
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (pigeon pose): bolster under hips*, upright-hands down,* upright-prayer hands*, arms up*, with chair*, with block*, full*, pigeon twist*, hooked elbow twists*
  • Mermaid pose: A – arm extended in front*, B – bound*
  • Gomukhasana: hands in prayer*, forward bend*, bound arms*, bound arms+ forward bend*, side stretch*
  • Hanumanasana: upright*, forward bend*, arms up*, arms back* holding back foot – one hand*, holding back foot – two-hands*, backbend*
  • REST — Savasana* (2 mins)
  • Navasana – knees bent: toes on the floor*, holding knees*, hands on the floor*, arms out stretched*, arms lateral,* arms up*, one leg extended*, twist-arms*, twist-feet (waist down)*, hands behind head*
  • Navasana –legs straight: holding knees*, hands on the floor*, arms out stretched*, arms lateral,* arms up*, twist-arms*, hands together-feet apart*, hands + feet apart*, hands behind head*
  • Pick up (“take-it-up-asana”): just hips*, just feet*, both*
  • Mini navasana*
  • Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined twist): both knees bent*, one knee bent*, holding big toe*, two legs extended*, 45 degree – oblique hold*,
  • Anantasana (Sleeping Vishnu Pose) – side recline: feet together-arm extended*, leg lift-arm extended*, feet together-resting on elbow*, leg lift- on elbow*, holding big toe*, binding leg*
  • Dolphin plank pose: on knees*, on toes*, one leg*
  • Shalabasana: arms alongside body*, fingers interlaced*, hands beside heart*,
  • Ardha Bhekasana (half-frog): on elbow*, on hand*
  • Bhekasana (frog)*
  • Ardha danurasana (half bow)*
  • Danurasana (bow)*
  • Utkatasana: prayer hands*, arms at shoulder height*, arms up*, prayers in back*, twist-prayer hands*, twist-arms open*, twist-bound*, heels up*, heels up-knees together*
  • Utkatasana Squat (Bikram)*
  • 36 sun salutations:  Surya namaskar B, standing series, vjana surya namskara
    ADD: cobra twist*, twisted downdog*, one arm downdog*, one arm-one leg downdog*
  • Uttanasana: hug thighs*, hold calves*, twist-fold*, twist-hand on hip*, twist-arm up* finger-interlaced*, finger-interlaced-twist*
  • Ardha uttanasan: hands on hips*, airplane arms*, hands on knees*, arms by ears-apart*, arms by ears-together*
  • Padangusthasana (holding big toe): knees bent*, legs straight- look up*, fold-forward*
  • Padahastasana (stand on feet): knees bent*, legs straight-look up*, legs straight-fold*
  • Prasarita: upright-arms down*, upright-lateral arms*, half-fold-arms outstetched*,  A-look up*, A-fold*,  upright-B*, half-B*, B-fold*, upright-C*, C-twist*, holding elbows*, prayer hands in back*,  D-fold*, holding knees*
  • Pavritta Prasarita (twist): one hand on floor-other hand on hip*, arm extended*, one arm-bound*, fully bound*
  • Sirasana: basic*, mukta hasta sirasana A (tripod)*
  • Eka pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (one leg bridge pose)*
  • Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)*
  • REST: supta badha konsasana (2-3 mins)

* The first time this posture was practiced in the 32 hour sequence.

 

 

Yasmin Yoga Loft Old Montreal

I am thrilled to finally announce that I have a new studio space to practice, teach and host events. Best part about it is that it is in our home! This is a huge manifestation for my partner Craig and I and we couldn’t be more excited about this new venture.

When I sold my yoga studio in 2011, I wanted to be free from the challenges of single-handedly running a large centre with large overhead costs. However, I knew I still needed a home base where I could be wildly creative and teach what I want to teach. Well… I found it! March 1st, Craig and I moved into our dream home: a beautiful rustic 2,200 sq ft loft in Old Montreal.

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It is breath-taking and everyday I fall more in love with it. We occupy the third floor of a four storey building. My friend Andrea Hausmann, a well known Montreal photographer who specializes in Burlesque/pinup style photography, had the loft for nearly seven years. I always admired her space, but never thought she’d give it up. But over brunch in January, she mentioned she wanted a change and that she wanted to transfer her lease. Craig and I leapt at the opportunity to have a place for us both to work and live.

The loft is pretty much one open floor with one wall in the middle that essentially divides the studio from our livingspace. We have old wood floors, brick and stone walls and incredible arched windows from floor to ceiling. Craig has plenty of space for photoshoots and I can host up to 27 yoga students comfortably. I also have an office for my ayurveda and naturopathy practice. We are still in the process of putting it all together, but we are almost there.

Currently, I am offering a two hour ashtanga yoga class on Wednesday nights, but the schedule will soon be expanded to include my Ayurvedic Yoga Flow, Vinyasa, restorative yoga and potentially morning and lunch yoga. I am hosting my teacher training program here and we have a bunch of events planned for May and June. Coming up in our calendar:

We are located on rue St Paul West just on the corner of McGill. I adore Paris and I feel like I moved to France, but have the luxury of still being close to my friends and family. The neighbourhood has, on most streets, cobble stone roads, and an abundance of cute little cafés, chic restaurants, art galleries and original boutiques, one that exclusively sells artistic lunch boxes. We are close to the green spaces around the waterfront, so there are great places for walking, running, picnicking and outdoor yoga.

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I am so grateful and am really looking forward to sharing this space with you.

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