5 Reasons to do Yoga during the Holidays

As things get festive and busy, often yoga during the Holidays is the first thing to drop off the list of priorities.  For sure, there are a lot 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 system is fragile and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So…

Here are five reasons to do maintain your yoga practice this season:

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 stop, 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. MaintainingYY_Trikonasana_Triangle-3 your practice 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 usually is, as we generally multi-task in order to maximize time. This keeps us on perpetual ‘go go go’ mode, meaning 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, we’ve created three amazing Healthy Holiday Packages that combine yoga, ayurveda, tea and other gifts up to 35% off. Click here for details.

 

Related :

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.

LINKS:

 

Winter Solstice Yoga

The winter solstice is a special time of the year. Although it may be darkness and shortest day, Dec. 21 marks the first day of winter and a return to the light as days start to get longer.

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Yoga teachers – front row LT to RT: Tara Lazanis, Gisele Seto, Robin Golt, Mary Ann Enthoven, Jasmine Gercke; Back row LT to RT:  Sonya Beaudoin, Kreg Weiss, Ondine Guralnick, Barrie Risman, Bruce Chase-Dunn, Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow, Marianne Thorborg. (Missing: Alli Fear)

In June, I organized an outdoor community yoga event in honour of the summer solstice at Bota Bota Spa sur l’eau in Old Montreal. It was a huge success so it seemed fitting to plan something for the winter solstice as well. I teamed up with Barrie Risman, co-owner of Shri Yoga in Westmount to host Into the Light / Vers la lumière, community yoga classes on Dec. 21 in support of Dans la rue, an organization that assists homeless youth. Barrie and I hoped this event would not only raise consciousness amongst the attendees, but would also bring light to people experiencing some darkness in their lives.

The event was beautiful. We were thrilled to have had such a great response. We had nearly 75 participants,  live musicians Fugère Poirer and Ina Duarte and yoga teachers representing studios around Montreal – Ambaa Yoga, Bikram Yoga TMR, Cielo Studios, Enso Yoga, Gold’s Gym Sattva Lounge, HappyTree Yoga, Kreg Weiss Yoga, Moksha Yoga, Monkey Bar Gym, Robin Golt Yoga, Shri Yoga, Sun & Moon Yoga, Victoria Park, Yoga divinement adapté and Yoga on the Park.

Here’s what was collected for Dans la Rue:

Canned foodYY-Dec-Into_the_Light-52

  • Soup / meals: 54
  • Beans: 7
  • Various veggies: 8
  • Fish/protein: 14
  • Fruit: 8
  • Veg juice: 1
  • Coconut juice: 1

Other food 

  • Granola bars: 16
  • Rice/pasta: 5
  • Chocolate bars: 3
  • Cookies: 1 box

Toiletries

  • Shampoo: 11YY-Dec-Into_the_Light-16
  • Body wash: 6
  • Bars of soap: 26
  • Tooth paste: 17
  • Tooth brushes: 26
  • Hand/body cream: 1
  • Deodorant: 21
  • Shaving cream: 2
  • Travel-size toiletries: 6
  • Lip balm: 4
  • Razors: 18
  • Pocket mirror: 1

Clothes +

  • Pairs of socks: 39
  • Gloves: 2
  • Underwear: 3
  • Backsack: 1YY-Dec-Into_the_Light-17
  • Duffel bag: 1

+ six $5 gift cards to Tim Hortons for hot meals

+ $580 in financial donations!

Thank you for these generous donations. And thank you to volunteers Loni, Myrna and Wayne and to sponsors Vega and Lolë.
Photos by: Craig Bannerman Photography

Related:

See photos of the event on facebook

How to donate to Dans la Rue

Summer Solstice Yoga

Yoga Kula Celebration on Day 108

 

Wanderlust Festival Tremblant Review

In short, I had a blast at Wanderlust Tremblant. It was a beautiful yoga and music festival organized in harmony with laissez-faire spirit of Montreal and polish of professional event planning.

This year’s Wanderlust Tremblant, Aug. 23-25, was a first year trial run. Just a short two and a half day event (instead of the usual four days) to see if Quebec culture would embrace Wanderlust Festival Inc., the New York City based company that puts on festivals around North America. Turns out, the response from Quebec was overwhelming. The festival was completely sold out. Organizers were thrilled and so were we, the presenters.

WLTR_ali-kaukas-Sat-Class-blogIt’s not that I didn’t think having a festival like this near Montreal wouldn’t be incredible. It’s just that, one, I didn’t think Quebec would ever be host to a big West-Coast style yoga fest, and two, if we were, I wondered how Quebecers would react.  Quebec has a reputation for being resistant to mainstream things and late adopters of new-wave health. We like to do things our own complicated, Quebecky way. We feel and behave like outsiders in Canada and are often left off the radar.

However, things are clearly changing and starting to happen here. A new invigorating energy is sweeping through my old, sometimes crusty, yet loveable province of Quebec. The Yoga Community Montreal Festival doubled in size this year. The Lolë White Yoga event at the Olympic Stadium in July had 5000 participants. Wanderlust Festival rolled through town and sold out. And, Montreal is now home to CityTV. The skies are opening up above Montreal and possibilities are growing.

The Wanderlust Festival Tremblant, to me, was a big step forward for the Montreal yoga community and it is largely due to the efforts of Laurentian yoga teacher Janick Leonard and her husband Patrick, who rallied to get the festival in Quebec. It brought together the Francophone and Anglophone teachers and students. It was playful and down-to-earth. The atmosphere was fresh and inspiring. The Tremblant merchants (many of them independent businesses) were over-joyed to have us yogis roaming the Village, popping into shops for this and that and lining up at the juice bar and restos.

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The classes were full of smiling faces. I led two bilingual practices. Saturday 8 am was inspired by my Yoga Basics video Centred & Sensual Yoga or Yoga Centré et Sensuel en français and was held outside at the base of Mont Tremblant with over 100 yogis in attendance. Afterward my yoga buddy David Good and I partook in Elena Brower’s core based class, which was great. We then fuelled up with a smoothie at Fluide before David’s Flow & Shine class, where I was one of his assistants.

Saturday evening Lululemon hosted a faculty dinner and offered us a chance to meet and mingle with the other instructors and musicians from around Eastern Canada, US and BC. The evening continued with music by Bears of Legend and Bobby Bazini on the main stage, which I unfortunately missed. I caught the end of Arcade Fire’s Sara Neufield’s fierce concert in the Chapel. Also a yoga teacher and Moksha studio owner, Neufield is brilliant.

 

WLTR_SundayClass-blogSunday morning, I taught a sold out Sustainable Yoga for Longterm Happiness class with live music by Peter Jack Rainbird. I have never experienced a room more powerful and connected. The students were so into their practice and so present. It was an honour to be part of it. Peter Jack and I worked well together. His gentle electric guitar music offered a beautiful soundscape for the practice.

The rest of Sunday was spent walking around chatting with friends and riding up the gondola to the peak of Tremblant to check out the view and throw down a few yoga poses. Ali Kaukas, the official Wanderlust photographer, was with us. She snapped this picture of Andrew Bathory, David Good and I in a partner pose. I think this sums up the Festival perfectly: gratitude, expansion, balance, nature and friendship.

 

*All photos taken by Ali Kaukas

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Related Articles:

Wanderlust Festival Experience 2012

Yoga Festivals : Getting Cozy in a Crowded Class 

Lolë White Yoga 2012

 

Balancing the Chakras

The success of the recent chakra balancing workshop I led in Montreal prompted me to write this post and share the information more widely. I was amazed how this work instigated a profound shift in all of the workshop participants.

Chakras, for those new to the term, are powerful energy centres located along the spine. There are seven charkas, each associated with specific physiological and psychological functions. The word ‘chakra’ in Sanskrit means ‘wheel’ or ‘circle’. Often they are described as ‘wheels of light.’  Whenever there is stress or dis-ease in the body or mind, the chakras are involved and affected. Over the years, I’ve found that working with chakras is greatly revealing and can radically improve healing. Although I offer chakra balancing sessions using gemstones and mantras, experience has shown me that the most effective way to increase energetic flow through the chakra system is by asking some tough questions.

Below is my chakra chart. Here’s how I  suggest you use it:

  1. Begin with a simple meditation. Sit comfortably and focus on your breath.
  2. Centre yourself: Feel the ground below you and connect to the ‘God of your understanding.’
  3. Bring your awareness to area of the first chakra and observe the sensation, color, shape and general energetic impression.
  4. After a few minutes, write down your observations.
  5. Then ask yourself the first question. (see below)
  6. Pay attention to what comes up. It may be an image, emotion or memory.
  7. Without analysis, write down your observations.
  8. Then ask the next question and follow the same procedure.
  9. When you’ve completed the questions for the first chakra, bring your attention back to the area of the chakra.
  10. Visualize the color associated to it and incorporate one of the suggested balancing tools: mantra, mudra or gemstone. (Do not do all three. You will be overwhelmed.)
  11. After a few minutes, set aside the visualization and tools and observe  the sensation, color, shape and general energetic impression of the chakra
  12. After a few minutes, write down your observations.

If you are up to it, you can then move on to the next chakra and do the same process. However, if this work is new to you, I recommend giving yourself at least a day in between each chakra session.  You may feel emotional or strange after this work. It can even be alarming. Breathe and let it go. Do some yoga and drink water to cleanse. Writing out what you’re feeling and your reactions then burning the pages is also therapeutic.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

CHAKRA

BASIC PROPERTIES

QUALITIES & FUNCTIONS

QUESTIONS

TREATMENT

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1. Muladhara Chakra

First or Root Chakra

Location: Base of spine or coccyx

Color:  Red

Element:  Earth

Basic survival needs for food, clothing, security and shelter, as well as to earthly pleasures. Out of balance, we feel fear and disconnection. In harmony, we feel safe & grounded. What brings me security?

Where do I feel most at home?

What do I need to survive?

Mantra:   LAM

Mudra:  Ring & thumb

Gemstones:  Garnet, Smoky quartz, Ruby, Bloodstone, Black tourmaline, Obsidian, Red Calcite

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2. Swadhisthana Chakra

Second, Spleen or Sacral Chakra

Location: Below the navel in the lower abdomen

Color:  Orange

Element:  Water

Directs our reproductive organs, sexual expression, and creativity. The health of this energy center indicates the ease or dis-ease we have with intimacy & creative power. What are my passions?

In what area(s) does my creativity flow?

What is intimacy to me?

How do I create intimacy?

Mantra:   VAM

Mudra:  Pinky & thumb

Gemstones:  Blue-green Turquoise, Blue-green Fluorite, Amber, Orange Calcite, Vanadinite, Orange camelian

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3. Manipura Chakra

Third or Solar Plexus Chakra

Location: Just above the navel in the solar plexus

Color:  Yellow

Element:  Fire

Described as a ‘shining gem’ & the center of personal power, it governs digestion, self-esteem & emotional balance. This is our source of  confidence, courage and vitality. What brings me strength & confidence?

What do I want?

What is my ‘shinning gem’? / What am I great at?

What stands in my way?

Mantra:   RAM

Mudra:  RT hand  LT, thumbs touch; Pinky, ring & thumb.

Gemstones:  Yellow Jasper, Golden Calcite, Citrine, Lemon quartz, Topaz, Moonstone

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4. Anahatha Chakra

Heart Chakra

Location:   Heart or center of the chest

Color:  Green

Element:  Air

Connected to breath, feelings of compassion, understanding, forgiveness & acceptance. Preserving this center allows us to know unconditional love. Who was I before my heart was broken?

Who or what can I forgive?

What do I want most in my life?

What do I love about myself?

Mantra:   YAM

Mudra:  Palms touch in prayer position

Gemstones:Malachite, Jade, Green Peridot, Rose Quartz, Kunzite, Morganite, Green Tourmaline

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5. Vishuddha Chakra

Throat Chakra

Location:  Throat

Color:  Blue

Element:  Ether or Space

This chakra governs personal expression, communication, and the thyroid gland. When free from obstruction, we feel at ease to speak our truths, to trust and to let go of tension. What do I want to get off my chest right now?

How do I express myself in my highest state?

What gifts do I have to share?

How do I want to express my creativity?

Mantra:   HAM

Mudra:  Middle & thumb over knuckle

Gemstones:  Sodalite, Blue Calcite, Blue Kyanite, Angelite, Blue Turquoise, Saphire

 

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6. Ajna Chakra

Third Eye or Brow Chakra

Location:  Forehead, between the eyes

Color:  Indigo or Midnight blue

Element:  n/a

No element is associated with Ajna other than light itself. The act of seeing, both physical and intuitive, stems from this energy. When balanced, we have clear thoughts imagination and wisdom. Who am I?What guides me?

How do I know if something is right for me?

Where & how do I rest my mind & allow my creativity to flow?

Mantra:   KSHAM

Mudra:  Interlace fingers, indexes extend

Gemstones:  Lapis Lazuli, Azurite, Sugilite, Iolite, Turquoise, Tanzanite

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7. Sahasrara Chakra

Crown Chakra

Location:  Top or just above head

Color:  Luminous colors

Element:  n/a

Described as a one-thousand petal lotus of rainbow colors so luminous, it turns white. This is our gateway to the divine. This centre is connected to spirituality and cosmic consciousness. It governs our sense of belonging. What is divinity to me?

How and when do I interact with the divine?

What is enlightenment to me?

How can I be of service?

Mantra:   AUM

Mudra:  Index & thumb

Gemstones:  White Calcite, White Topaz, Amethyst, Selenite, Celestite

 

 

Related Posts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Practicing Yoga Outdoors

There are few things  I enjoy more than practicing yoga outdoors barefoot in the grass. I love the feeling of the earth beneath my feet, the breeze, the sun, the sound of the wind in the trees and reaching up to the infinite space above me. Now is the best season for outdoor yoga (before the mosquitos and thick humidity set in), so I thought I’d offer some suggestions.

Tips for practicing yoga outdoors ‘en plein air’

  1. Timing  It’s best to practice is before 11am or after 3pm to avoid direct sun (and Pitta time). YY_beach-Yoga-blog-may2013
  2. Location Location   This part needs subsections–
    • Doing yoga on the beach sounds a lot better then it actually is. Dry sand is unstable and it gets into all these awkward places… Wet sand is more stable, but it will still find its way up your mula bandha.
    • Lawns, docks or decks are the best outdoor practice surfaces.
    • Somewhat even ground is preferable, but life’s uneven, so a few bumps or dips ain’t no big thing.
    • Hills and valleys definitely offer some unique challenges which you may or may not be willing to embrace. (Chatarunga downhill is always a fun one to practice!)
  3. Sun protection  It’s best to wear sun glasses, a hat, sun screen and practice in the shade.
  4. Mat or Not?   Unless the ground is damp, I prefer to practice without a mat; just my barefeet YY_outdoor-yoga-cottage-may2013and hands in the cool grass. In flow practices, I find the mat distracting, as it usually bunches up and moves around on the uneven ground. Plus, in the sun, it gets really hot. However, I may use a mat, towel or blanket for seated and restorative poses, and for sure on a deck or dock.
  5. Pollution  Use common sense and avoid practicing outside when smog warnings are in effect. It’s also best to stay away from busy roads, places that stray pesticides (ie golf courses) and any other area where air quality is greatly compromised.
  6. Bugs    The birds, bees, mosquitos, ants and flies all live outside, so if you’re going practice outdoors, don’t be surprised to hear, see or feel them buzzing around doing their thing. Accept this and prepare yourself accordingly: find a breezy spot where bugs can’t linger, use
    citronella oil or another natural bug repellent,  wear long sleeves, pants and/or a bug netting!
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  7. Your practice   This could be a whole other post, but here’s a simple outline to follow:
    • Start with basic grounding poses and focus on your breath — cross legged pose, child’s pose, reclined pose, etc.
    • Warm up with sun salutations or simple fluid sequences that connect movement and breath (vinyasa).
    • Do standing and balancing poses, and root your legs into the ground — triangle, warriors, tree, eagle, dancer, etc.
    • In the seated sequence, include forward bends, twists, core work and maybe an arm balance or two.
    • Close with backbends, an inversion (legs up a tree is a good one) and a rest in savasana or another restorative pose.
  8. Sounds   Accept the sounds of dogs barking, people chatting, cars driving by and maybe boats passing. Unless you are alone on an isolated resort, this is the inevitable daily ‘music’ of life. Tune in to your breath. Let yourself be inspired by your environment and enjoy the flow.

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Taking your practice outside

If you think you need a little more guidance than the above practice outline, I have a gift for you! A free download of my  30 minute Vinyasa Flow audio practice.  I also have a whole collection of Yasmin Yoga videos. More details

Morning Yoga by the Lake

Each summer since ~ 2004, I offer a Morning Yoga by the Lake program in Pointe Claire Village: Five consecutive sunrise practices out on the water following with breakfast  (see photos). It’s pretty sweet.

Check out my events section for details about the next Morning Yoga retreat.

 

Related Articles

The Yoga CD that started it all 

Yoga in the Townships

Aqua Surya Namaskar 

 

Big Yoga Kula Celebration on Day 108

Nothing is more powerful and important to me than the coming together of Earthlings. So on this fine Earth Day, I thought I’d share with you details of the beautiful events that took place on April 18 in Montreal.

Welcoming, uplifting, magical and happy are some of the words I would use to describe last Thursday’s Yoga Mala practices in celebration of our diverse yoga community and 108th Day of the Year.

There were five locations around Montreal (Le Studio Wanderlust, Naada Yoga, HappyTree Yoga, Viveka Yoga & H~OM) hosting simultaneous community practices of 108 Sun Salutations. 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. We also had several online participants tuning in some as far away as Europe and Vancouver!  It was amazing. I am still buzzing with joy thinking about it. (See photos)

HappyTree-108-3I taught at Montreal’s new Wanderlust Yoga Studio on the Plateau. We had 75 yogis and yoginis at our location. A screen was set up so we could connect to the other 108 events via a webcast. Each event invited teachers from neighbouring studios and did their own thing at their pace, but it was nice the screen with everyone practicing all over the city.

A few things touched me deeply. As we were setting up, a percussionist named Gotta showed up and asked if he could play for us during the practice. Two other musicians, Marc-Joseph Chalfoun and Frederic Jean, also arrived with their instruments. They practiced, then chanted and played guitar as we completed our last set of surya namaskar and entered savasana (relaxation).

Equally amazing was the young man who did his first yoga practice ever at the 108. I noticed him early as he was at front and not your typical flexible, lean yogi. He would do a few sun salutations and take rest in child’s pose. Then he would do a few more and sit out a few. I was impressed at his perseverance.  But it was only afterward, when he came up to thank me, that I find out he had never done yoga before. He also expressed how nice it was for him to feel included.

Each of the hosting studios had with amazing stories of their own. A 10-year-old girl completed the whole 108 at Naada Yoga. HappyTree Yoga’s event was sold out. Some people couldn’t practice, but came anyway to just to enjoy energy. A few people showed up at Viveka Yoga expecting Yin Yoga, but stayed for the 108 and loved the practice. H~OM Yoga Center’s owner Helene was also thrilled with her event. She said the atmosphere was unbelieveable.

Here are some comments I received in the days following the event:

I hope you are happy with your event last night! We had such a great time at Viveka. 37 brave participants showed up so the room was pretty packed. Thank you for including me!
 Marianne Thorborg (Yoga Teacher)

Thank you so much !!!! I did it from my basement connected to Webex!!! It was great!!!  Namaste!
– Andrea Herrera-Gayol (Online Participant)

Thank you so much for having organized the 108 sun salutations event.  It was truly a great success at Happy Tree!  I realized while watching everyone on their mats how beautiful it is to join the community together, and to raise the vibration of our MTL Kula.  I had goose bumps!  It was very inspiring to be a part of this event and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to teach a segment of it.  I spoke with someone after we finished, and she said that she had tears at one point from the awesome feeling that infused the studio… it touched many people to share this moment together, so thank you so much!  – Sonya Beaudoin (Yoga Teacher)

It was AWESOME. The synergy between teachers, studios and students was perfect. It’s like we are all still on a high from it. This is what yoga is. Synergy and community. – Erik Giasson (Yoga Teacher)

Yasmin, Thanks for last night. It was amazing, I applaud your vision!  – Jill Campbell (Yoga Teacher)

It was Unbelievable!  We had so much fun. There is so much buzz and everybody is talking about next year. Hopefully we’ll do it again.  – Melanie Richards (Yoga Teacher)

For 108 Sun Salutations (about 2hrs of flowing), we share the excitement, the poise, the reverence, the sweat, the dare, the placidity, the bravery, the warm fellowship. We come together & unite as a community of like-minded individuals. (…) During this flow of existentialism, we combine & extend our energies as one & each in their authenticity grace their surroundings with this magical vibe of wellness. Imagine the whole world doing this!   – Shélia Bessette (Yoga Teacher)

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My sincere gratitude to the hosting studios, the yoga teachers, participants, musicians and supporters:

May this movement continue…   Happy Earth Day!