How to do 108 Sun Salutations

April 18th is the 108th day of the year.  It is significant for me because three years ago on this day, I set out to do 108 sun salutations for 108 consecutive days*. It was such a beautiful journey, the details of which I chronicled (read more).

Often I did my yoga malas (108 sun salutations) alone, but occasionally, I invited others to practice with me. Learning different variations of surya namaskar from yoga teachers of diverse backgrounds and traditions was a highlight of my 108×108 project. These community practices were so powerful and inspiring that every year since, I bring people together to do 108 sun salutations. This year, the theme is Cultivating Community (Kula). I am organizing five simultaneous 108 sun salutation practices around Montreal on Thurs. Apr 18 from 7:30-9:30pm. Host studios are: Le Studio de Yoga Wanderlust (main event, where I’ll be), Naada Yoga, HappyTree Yoga, Viveka Yoga and H~OM Yoga Center.  Participation is free. If you live outside of Montreal, you can join us online via our webcast from the Wanderlust studio!

–>  Register now

 

Tips on how to set up your own a 108 practice:

  1. Intention  This practice is a prayer in movement. Create an intention, dedication, or prayer for healing.
  2. Time  Best time for 108 Sun Salutation is early in the morning. (We’re practicing at night, because it’s most convenient for the hosting studios. I’m hoping that the community-spiritness of it will out weigh any ill effects of practicing late at night.)
  3. Sets  Divide the Yoga Mala in nine sets of 12 sun salutations. You can do something a little different in each set — change the variation of sun salutations, the focus, or the intention.
  4. Opening   Your first set should be like a warm up or opening series. Gradually increase your back bends — small locust, sphinx, baby cobra, cobra, upward dog on your knees, then full updog. Do two sun sals of each for set one.
  5. Holding   Hold downward dog for five breaths every six sun salutations and two breaths for every other.
  6. Counting   If you’re practicing with a friend, count out loud. You count even numbers and your friend counts odd or vice versa. In a group, each person counts a sun sal in turn. Alone, count in fours, twelves and nine sets of  twelves.
  7. Focus  It’s interesting to focus on different body part in each set. Example: Pay special attention to the placement and movements of your hands for 12 surya namaskar; then your shoulders, neck, head, heart/chest, spine, hips and thighs,  knees, and feet.
  8. Rests / Pauses  If you are feeling dizzy or ‘Vatic’, do a brief child’s pose with your forehead on the floor, between your cobra / up dog and downward dog. You can also rest in child’s pose for five breaths instead of downdog.
  9. Alignment & Breath  The movements are repetitive, so be sure you stay conscious of your alignement and breath in each pose. Create length in your spine at all times. Seek to liberate the space around the base of your neck — look forwards, back of neck lengthening, in cobra / updog as opposed to looking up. Engage the legs whenever and soften the backs of your knees. When lowering in chatarunga, keep shoulders at the same height as elbows and neck long. Breathe and enjoy.

PS   You don’t have to do all 108 Surya Namaskar. Factors of 108 like 27, 36 and 54 are also auspicious numbers!

*The number 108 is considered highly auspicious in many traditions.  We yogis practice 108 sun salutations on special occasions like the birthday of our teachers or New Year’s Day, or to raise money for a special cause.
(More about 108)

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Related Articles

April 18 2010: Mission 108 x 108

Significance of 108

Best ever 108 practice with Cyndi Lauper

The end of my 108 x 108 practice

My Guinness World Record – story

 

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Life of a yogini

Time’s flown by since my last post. Apart from my regular practice and teaching schedule, I’ve been especially busy and productive this winter. Some highlights:


YOGA BASICS DVD LAUNCH

YYO_4705-blog
After months working in virtual isolation on my collection of yoga DVDs for beginners, it’s euphoric to finally celebrate their release! February was all about the Yoga Basics DVDs. The video triology came out January 2 and we had two huge parties to celebrate: Feb. 2 at  Lululemon Athletica Fairview in the West Island  and Feb. 13 at Lululemon Ste Catherine St downtown Montreal. There was a had a red carpet Mount-Royal Photobooth, plush gift bags, DJ Nkla, Ethereal Tribal belly dancers, live drumming by James Olmsted, raffle prizes and of course, a speech about passion and the meaning of yoga by yours truly. (see media coverage)

I am grateful to the event sponsors: Vega – my favourite whole food products to go; Yoga Jeans – world’s most comfortable jeans and made in Quebec; Rise Kombucha – fantastic fermented tea beverage; Juicy Lotus – best little veggie cafe in Montreal; Organic Traditions – the organic chocolate almonds are addictive; Vitamin & Sea – beautiful natural skin care line; David’s Tea – designer teas; Victoria Park – where I teach Barre and Yoga. (see my schedule)


ASTAP 2013 BEGINS

ASTAP_paulA.S.T.A.P. is my Advanced Student Teacher Apprenticeship Program, a 300 hour vinyasa yoga teacher training. This year, I am running the program with my longtime friend Jamie Lee, a fellow ashtanga teacher and fantastic visionary artist. Our group is fabulous. We are exactly half-men and half-women. This never happens. Yoga has, in recent years, been a mostly female activity. We began at the top of February. The schedule includes weekend workshops once a month  and one weekly practice session. (See their curriculum) I am encouraged and inspired by the diversity amongst our participants — retail owner, e-marketing master, financial planner, contractor, translator, yoga teacher and so on.


TORONTO TOUR

Fresh_yyA recent trip to Toronto convinced me that Montreal’s revival city is actually kinda cool. I loved running around town with friends dinning at great vegetarian restaurants and practicing with different instructors. Some notable TO destinations: Fresh  – my favourite is the ‘beach bowl’, sans sun-dried tomatoes; Live – a mostly raw resto with incredible desserts; The Drake Hotel – wicked decor and an amazing terrace; Ashtanga Yoga Centre Toronto – most popular Mysore program in Canada, because David Robson is lovely; Feel Good Guru – great little organic raw juicery;  Union Studio – I definitely recommend a Barre class with Christie Ness; And last but not least, the Art Gallery of Ontario – the model ship collection stands out most for me.

MARCHing on
I am currently on the train once again riding t to Toronto – currently on the train.  This time for the Yoga Conference & Show, where I am presenting three workshops: Immunity Flow Yoga; Yoga for the Ayurvedic Constitutions: Vata, Pitta & Kapha; Understanding a Balanced (Prakurti) vs Imbalanced (Vikurti) state.

All and all life is good!


SEE ME – FIND ME
Thur. Mar 21, 6:20am:
  I am on Breakfast Television Toronto – tune in!
Fri. Mar 22 :  I am interviewed on CTV TorontoSat. Mar 23, 10:30am : I am giving a demo class at the Toronto Conference Centre – see schedule.
Wed. Mar. 27 : The new RSVP Montreal Magazine comes out – look for my wellness section!
Thurs. Apr. 18 : 108th Day of the Year (and three year anniversary of my 108×108) – celebratory practice with me at le Studio de Yoga Wanderlust

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Chai recipes for Vata, Pitta, Kapha & kids

Given the season, here are some Chai recipes for Vata, Pita, Kapha & kids* too. Chai is medicinal and a great substitute for coffee or traditional hot chocolate and perfect for a wintery afternoon — think aprés-ski beverage! Mmmmm…

The word chai has a couple of meanings, which, in my opinion, are clearly related. In Hebrew, ‘chai’ means ‘life’. (It is also a symbol for the number 18, a factor of the auspicious number 108.) ‘Chai’ in many parts of the world, simply means ‘tea’. This warm and soothing beverage is usually made with spices, herbs and milk. In ayurvedic medicine, chai is considered a  rasayana, a remedy that lengthens lifespan. (‘Rasayana’ literally means ‘the path to [life’s] essence’.)

Here are some great chai recipes I share with my ayurvedic clients.
*See below, if you’re not sure how to choose which chai is for you.

2013-Jan26-yas-chai

Chai is perfect on a snowy afternoon.

Vata Chai
(for calming and warming)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 4 green cardamom pods (crushed)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • Optional: 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
    +
  • 1 c almond, rice or seed milk
  • Raw organic sugar or Sucanat

Kapha Chai
(for stimulating & circulation)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger or ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cardamom pods (green or black)
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 1 star anise pods
  • 1 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional:  ½ tsp black tea leaves
    +
  • 1 c almond milk or seed milk or soy milk;
  • Honey or stevia
Pitta Chai
(for soothing and relaxing – not too heating)
  • 3 c filtered water
  • 5 mini rose buds or 1 tsp rose petals
  • 1 tsp black cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel
  • ½ cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean stick or 1 tsp ground vanilla
  • Optional: 2 tbsp pure organic cocoa nibs or 1 tbsp cocoa powder
    +
  • 1 c almond milk or seed milk or ½ c coconut milk
  • Maple Syrup or Natural cane sugar

Kids Chai
(for a hot chocolate alternative, good night sleep)

  • 3 c filtered water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c almond or soy milk
  • Maple syrup or honey

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, boil water over high heat;
2. Add in spices / herbs, reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let tea cool for a few minutes before stirring in milk and sweetener to taste.
4. Pour the chai through a strainer into cups or mugs and enjoy!

(Makes about four cups of chai.)

 

* What’s my dosha?
Vata, Pitta & Kapha are the three ayurvedic constitutions or doshas. Although we have all three constitutions within us, one tends to be more dominant and/or out of balance than the others. In ayurveda, we treat the imbalanced doshas, so here’s a little guide to help you choose which Chai recipe is for you.

 

Choose the Vata recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
You are cold all the time;
• You have digestive issues like gas, bloating and/or constipation;
• You have restless or disturbed sleep;

Choose the Kapha recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
• You feel lethargic and heavy;
• You have a slow metabolism;
• You tend to oversleep;

Choose the Pitta recipe, if you have some or all of these symptoms:
• You have redness in skin and often feel hot;
• You have heart burn or feel acidic;
• You tend to have soft or loose stool;

Read more

Yoga Teacher Training Grads Leaving the Nest

I feel like a proud Mama. After two wonderful, full-on years, the students of my Advanced Student Teacher Apprenticeship Program (ASTAP) graduated this week. Each and every one of these graduates are strong teachers with a good sense of self. Their dedication to yoga, to each other and to the community fills me with joy.

Training yoga teachers is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve been doing it since 2007 and with each group, I learn so much. In teaching, it is not my intention to create carbon copies of myself, but rather to inspire students to integrate ideas and make them their own.

 

INDEPENDANT STUDIES
My ashtanga vinyasa based program includes a 20-hour independent study on a style or an area of yoga that has not been covered. The students research, attend outside lectures or classes and then give a presentation to their peers. This year, the topics were fantastically diverse:

Yoga for Belly Dancers – Susan Synder (professional Belly Dancer)
Therapeutic Yoga for Back Injuries – Gisele Seto (Budokan teacher & new YTT in yoga therapy)
Yoga for Less Stress – Susan Methe (Speech therapist)
Corporate Yoga – Jasmine Goyer (Marketing & PR Specialist)
Traditional Asthanga Yoga – Emilie Brunet (Student & Vegan Chef)
Yoga for Heart Patients – Bruce Chase-Dunn (Contractor & middle-aged Skateboarder)
Yoga for Happiness with Art – Wendy Tillett (Artist)
Kids Yoga – Catherine Kraus (Teacher & mother of three)
Restorative Yoga – Jenn Herring (Osteopathy student)
Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle – Kristianne Brunet (Student & environmentalist)

 

ADVANCED YOGA
The ASTAP program not only trains students ‘How to teach’; it pushes them to develop a self-nourishing advanced yoga practice. (By ‘advanced’ I don’t mean one-arm handstands, but rather an intelligent practice that is based on their unique needs and intentions.) They learn how to modify the traditional ashtanga yoga sequence to their level of flexibility, strength and energy. This ultimately helps them further understand and adapt to the needs of their students.

 

EXPERIENCED TEACHERS
These graduates are not virgin teachers either. Within a few months, they began teaching ‘karma yoga’ community classes in pairs. This allowed them to work together and slowly build their confidence. The grads say that organizing and leading community yoga was one of their favourite aspects of their training.

 

A NEW BEGINNING
It’s a little bitter sweet to see these folks go. I have really enjoyed working with them. But alas, I am happy to know that my students are now teaching and inspiring others to lead healthier, balanced lives. It’s a new beginning!

My 2013 Teacher Training begins in January and will be co-led with the marvellous Jamie Lee, ashtanga yogi, kinesologist and visionary artist. The program will include more ayurveda, yoga nidra training and studies in sacred geometry.

For more information, visit the 2013 ASTAP site

The Yoga CD that started it all

This is the story of how I produced my first Yoga CD and its evolution from a self-recorded demo to the disc set released in major retailers Canada-wide on November 1.

 

POWER YOGA (2003)

It all started nine years ago in a radio booth in the basement of the RMIT communications building on the corner of Swanston and La Trobe Street in Melbourne. My year aboard studying journalism and video production at RMIT was coming to an end, as was my time teaching yoga in Australia. I decided to record a yoga practice for my Aussie students to remember me by. I specialized in sound recording, so I figured I could self-produce the guided audio practice, Dharma Mittra style.

I started by recording my instructions for one pose, editing the “ummms” and breath clicks, then, for timing, I played it back while practicing the pose next to the sound booth. As you can imagine, this took a while. When the recording was done, a friend helped me with graphics for the booklet and took pictures of me in each posture on St Kilda beach. I got ‘an investment’ of $800 from my then Aussie boyfriend and had 200 copies of the CDs made.

I called it “Power Yoga,” as this title seemed fitting at the time. I was fairly pleased with the end product and my students were thrilled to receive a copies.

 

CORE STRENGTH POWER YOGA (2005)

I returned to Montreal shortly after the CD was completed with plans to return to Melbourne as soon as I finished my last semester at Concordia University. But life intervened at just the right moment. In the year that I was away, North America went crazy over yoga and there was a strong demand for yoga teachers. I had no intention of making yoga my career, but my classes exploded and I was having so much fun. I decided to re-publish my Aussie yoga CD with new photos and with music.

Turned out, my initial auto-recording wasn’t professional quality (go figure), so I ended up re-recording the whole project with professional sound engineer Alain Paradis. We recorded my verbal instructions as I guided my friend and student Laur Fugère through practice. Laur is a professional singer and music director (formerly with Cirque de Soliel), so she also helped me enunciate and project.

My friend Ali, then a photography student, agreed to shoot all the photos for the new fold-out poster I was creating to go along with the new discs. We shot with film (yes, film, not digital…) on a hill in a graveyard, because we needed an open space with a well kept lawn.

The process was long and tedious, but things were coming together. For music, I contacted Rivertribe, an Australian band I used to watch perform in the Victoria Market in Melbourne. I loved their unique sounds which are both earthy and transcendental. They agreed to let me use their music in my project at rate I could afford.
The graphic design was done volunteer by another (very patient and generous) student of mine. I bartered private teaching for a discounted price on manufacturing. We produced 1000 copies and all of them needed to be hand assembled by my group of friends and family members. A great team effort. Renamed “Core Strength Power Yoga”, my CD launch party was in June 2005 at Lululemon Athletica. To this day, that event marked one of my proudest moments.

Over the years, I sold about 750 copies of this CD, mostly by word of mouth to my students and at a few small shops around town.

 

VINYASA FLOW: YOGA FOR BACK & CORE STRENGTH (2012)

This past spring, my yoga dvd distributor, eOne Music, asks me if I have anything I could release with them in the fall, as my brand doing well with their retailers. I immediately think my little yoga CD. It needed a bit of a facelift, so this summer, my photographer boyfriend Craig Bannerman retook all the photos in his studio, and the graphics were redone by my designers Karine and Mike. This time, we kept the recording as is, but gave it a new name: “Vinyasa Flow: Yoga for Back & Core Strength.”

I am so happy to share this CD with a new generation of yogis. It’s a beautiful project. Great music. Great practice. It helps motivate the novice student to practice at home, outside or while traveling. And to me, this project embodies who I really am: an artist in constant transformation who appreciates where she’s come from.

See the trailer & CD info

 

PS Get FREE SHIPPING on Vinyasa Flow: Yoga for Back & Core Strength CD set and Yasmin Yoga DVDs from Nov. 15 – Nov. 30!

22-year-old Green Party Candidate & Yogini

Meet Kristianne Brunet. Kristianne is a recent graduate from my yoga teacher training program and, at 22-years-old, is one of the youngest political candidates running in the upcoming Quebec provincial election on Sept. 4, 2012. She is the Green Party candidate for the riding of Nelligan, located on the North West side of the island of Montreal. Curious as to why this university student and yogini decided to become a politician, I interviewed her:

 

1- What inspired you to run in this provincial election?
I knew from a young age I’d eventually venture into politics, although it definitely happened sooner than expected. I’ve always been involved with the Green Party, and am quite active politically. I was really inspired to step up to the plate now by the student movement, which has created such a charged and exciting political atmosphere in Quebec.

2- Can you describe your background?
I grew up in the West Island [of Montreal], and have lived here my entire life. I’ve always been heavily involved in my community, doing volunteer work and raising money for causes I believe in. I have worked with the Green Party for years because I care deeply about protecting our environment and building a sustainable society. I graduated from Kells Academy as class president and was very involved in student government. I am currently a certified yoga instructor and I studied Environmental Wildlife Management at Vanier College before coming to Concordia University, where I study now.

3- How long have you been involved with the Green Party?
I was involved before I could vote, hosting meet and greets for local candidates at my home. From there, my involvement evolved into volunteering on campaigns. Their platform resonated with my values and views on society. I firmly believe that a strong society is built by fostering a healthy environment and healthy, mindful people, which is exactly in line with the Green Party’s philosophy.

4- What is the focus of your political platform?
Transparency, proper natural resource management, a strong and accessible education system from elementary through to university and positive sustainable development. Growing up in the West Island I have always felt taken for granted by the Liberals, who get elected by huge margins because they are the only visible federalist option, yet waste our tax dollars through a culture of corruption in Quebec City. I want to listen to the people of my riding, and bring their voice into government. Something the Liberals aren’t doing.

5- What do you hope to accomplish in your campaign?
To give West Islanders a non-sovereigntist, progressive option. Amongst federalist friends and family, I know that most don’t support the Liberals, but will still vote for them because they see them as the only federalist party. What people don’t realize is that the Green Party does not want a referendum, and we have a progressive platform that is in line with the values and beliefs of the West Island. I want to get that message out there, and people are starting to listen.

6- What is the first thing you’ll do if you get elected?
Within thirty days of my election, and every month thereafter, I will call a public forum to bring together people from across my riding to discuss their concerns and ideas. I will then bring this message back to the National Assembly.

7- What will you do if you don’t get elected? Will you stay on with the Green Party?
Yes. I am here to stay. I have never felt so strongly that this is where I am supposed to be. The PVQ [Parti Vert du Québec] has so much potential to grow, and I want to be part of it.

8- How has running as a candidate in this election changed you so far?
I don’t know where to start! I have become so much more aware of the sexual dynamics of politics, I now understand why there are fewer women in politics. I have learned how to be more direct and assertive. This campaign has given me the opportunity to explore the person I can be, it’s been a very exciting journey.

 

For more information about Kristianne Brunet and her campaign, visit: http://kbrunet.ca/

For information about Quebec elections: http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca

I’ve done it longer than anyone – elephant journal

I’m back in the writing game with a piece published in elephant journal this weekend. My article, ‘I’ve done it longer than anyone’ (title chosen by the EJ editors), is about reflecting back on my experience challenging the Guinness World Record for the longest yoga marathon.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Guinness challenge was set to begin at 9 am on August 2 and end at 5pm on August 3. I had diarrhea for two days beforehand. One of my teachers withdrew his support, claiming he “hated yoga hype,” whatever that meant. I also received discouraging emails from yoga teachers who said I was “insulting tradition.” My confidence wavered. Thankfully, my partner Craig was (and still is) a rock, and I had more supporters than naysayers.

What transpired during those 32 hours may take me a lifetime to fully articulate. It was so deep, so intense, that I am now, two years on, finally finding my voice…

 

Read the full story

See photos from the two year anniversary Yoga Mala practice

Guinness World Record Yoga Marathon: Sequence Published

Two years ago today, I began a 32-hour yoga practice that broke a Guinness World Record. Even though so much has happened in my life since that moment, the experience is still so fresh and alive in my heart. To this day, I am overcome with gratitude for all the support I received from friends, family, and students in the preparation of this momentous event. (Tomorrow we will celebrate! Click for details.)

Many people have asked me what I practiced for all that time. Using all the yoga notes and books I had collected over my 15-years of practice, I charted eight sequences, each of approximately four-hours. I figured my brain would have less work to do if I was organized. The sequences were given to the witnesses of the marathon so they could follow my practice and record new postures. We also gave copies to people who wanted to practice along side me Mysore style.

For the first time ever, I thought I would publish one of these four-hour sequences. Below is the one I started with. I encourage you to try it! And, by the way, I am completely open to questions about this sequence or about anything related to this event. Feel free to post your comments or questions below.

* = first time a did the pose

AUG 2, 2010
SET #1 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm)

Beginning…
• Supta badha konasana* + deep breathing
• Ardha Pawanmuktasana (one knee to chest)*
• Pawanmuktanasa*
3 surya namaskar (total 8 new poses from basic*)
Utthita tadasana (on the toes)*
Utthita Urdhva Hastasana (on toes, reaching straight up)*
Bird pose (Dharma Mittra’s “diver’s pose” #845)
Parivrtta tadasana (twisted): prayer hands,* arms apart*, arms up*
Centering + Chakra clearing
• Sukhasana – Centering*
• Muladhara or Prithvi Mudra*: root chakra + mantra LAM
• Swadisthana or Varun Mudra*: sex chakra + mantra VAM
• Manipura or Dhiana Mudra*: navel chakra + mantra RAM
• Anahata or Jnana mudra*: heart chakra + mantra YAM
• Vishudha or Shunya mudra*: throat chakra + mantra HAM
• Gyan Mudra*: Anja chakra + mantra KSHAM
• Gyan Mudra: Sahasara + mantra AUM*
Sukshm Yoga (fine movements of the joints): head/neck*, shoulders CW*, shoulders CCW*
Sukhasana forward bend*, twist*, side angle stretch*
Paschimottanasana*
Virasasana* – japa: Ganesha mantra
Ardha padmasana* RT – japa: Shiva mantra
Ardha padmasana LT – japa: Sita Ram mantra
Kapalabhati breathing*
Anuloma Viloma* (alternate nostril breathing)
(36 new poses)

Opening
Supta Padangusthasana A*, B*, C*
Ananda Balasana (happy baby pose)*
Reclined twist*
“Tree hug” twist*
Sukshm Yoga – toes,* foot flexion*, ankle rotation*, knees,*
Badha konasana A*, B*
Adho Mukha Svanasana (knees bent)*, (one knee bent)*, (one knee bent + twist)*
Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana*
Ardha Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (knee to chest)*, (knee to opposite elbow)*
Windmill pose (feet apart, dynamic twist)*
15 surya namaskar – opening sequence
→ ADD 12 poses: table*, cat*, cow*, thunderbolt*, sphinx*, cobra-no hands*,one arm table pose*, one leg table pose,* quadriplex*, one leg plank*, upward dog*, Dolphin Pose*, Uttana Shishosana (extended puppy pose – downdog on knees)*

Side sequence
→ Ardha Vasisthasana (half-side plank): foot on the floor*
→ Parighasana (rainbow): arm variation I*, arm variation II*
→ Trikonasana: A-hands on hips*, B-hand on block*, C-arm up*, D-arm alongside the ear*, E-knee bent*
→ Virabhadrasana II (8 arm variations)*
→ Utthita Parsvakonasan: A -elbow on knee*, B-hand on block*, C- hand on floor*, D-arms by ears*, E-bound*
→ Ardha chandrasana: A-with block*, B- hand on hip*, C-no assistance*
→ Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (standing split)*
→ Pavrita Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (revolved standing split)*
(60 new poses)

Cooling Practice
REST → balasana: arms extended*, arms by the side*, forehead on fists*, chin in hands*, hands beside the ears*, head on block*, wide knee centre*, wide knee side reach*, urdva balasana/ upright child’s pose*,
Cooling breath 1– Shitali Pranayama*
Cooling breath 2– Shitakri Pranayama*

Malasana: A – forward bend*, B – prayer hands* C- holding ankles*
Dandasana: prayer hands*, arms over head*, fingers interlaced*, prayer hands-hands behind back*, hands beside hips*
Pachimottasana: arms by ears*, with a chair*, with block*, A, B*, C*
Ardha Purvottanasana (hips on floor- lean back)*
Purvottanasana: A-full*, B-knees bent*
Janu Shirasana A: upright – prayer hands,* with a chair*, with block*, folding forward*
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana: opposite hand to knee twist*, elbow on knee-arm up*, one hand holding toe-other arm extended up*, holding toes*
Janu Shirasana B: upright – prayer hands,* folding forward*
Janu Shirasana C PREP pose: toe balance- hands up*, hands down*
Janu Shirasana C: sitting on heel*, full- prayer hands,* folding forward*
Marichyasana A: hands beside*, prayer hands*, arms up*, with chair*, with block*, not bound- basic*, not bound- intermediate*, bound*, lift*,
Marichyasana C: not bound- hand to knee*, elbow over knee,* bound 3*, opposite twist*
Upavista konasana: prayer hands*, with chair*, with block*, hands back*, airplane arms*, arms by ears*, holding toes*, hold heels*, RT/LT – arms by ear*, RT/LT- holding foot*, side split – arms up*, side split – fold forward*, side split – fingers interlaced*, side split – fingers interlaced – fold*
Parivrtta Upavista konasana: elbow on knee-arm up*, one hand holding toe-other arm extended up*, holding toes*, top arm bound*
Ardha Urdhva Upavista konasana (one leg up, the other folded)*
Urdhva Upavista konasana *

Augusta Mudra (fingers interlaced)*
Pran Mudra (pinky and ring finger to thumb)*

(58 new poses – 170 total in first sequence)

Lolë White Yoga

Twas a sea of yellow and white, which is most likely exactly what Lole White Yoga organizers had envisioned for the 2200 person yoga session held this morning at Montreal’s Olympic Park.

“I am so happy it didn’t rain,” sighed Nathalie Binda, VP of marketing at Lole. Lole (Live Out Loud Everyday) is the Montreal based fitness clothing label that organized today’s massive outdoor free yoga session for peace. They also hosted a similar event last October on Champs Elysées in Paris. “We had Montreal at heart,” said Binda. “We chose the Olympic Stadium as a location, because it’s iconic (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris).”

Indeed, the temperature was ideal. Slightly overcast and breezy is exactly what you want when you are surrounded by thousands of people sun saluting on rubber mats over concrete. I decided not to practice, but rather walk around and take in the atmosphere of this remarkable event while exercising my Twitter and Instagram muscles. (I’m new. You can find me @yasminyoga.)

The practice started with a prayer led by well known Quebec yoga teacher Lyne St Roch: “The heart doesn’t judge or condemn (…) so we can live freely and in peace.” She also highlighted the fact that “students were asked to dress in white not only because it’s the color of peace, but because white encompasses the full spectrum of colors.”

Accompanying St Roch’s instruction was beautiful live harp music by M’Michele, a Montreal based musician. St Roch was on a stage with two ‘backup yoga instructors’ offering variations for beginners and advanced students. Their practice was projected on large screens framing the main stage, just like at a concert. The hatha yoga sequence easy enough for almost everyone to follow and assistant teachers, in yellow, also circulated giving hands on adjustments.

Although it was a free event, organizers had participants register online beforehand– a brilliant publicity campaign! According to Binda, White Yoga ‘sold out’ last week with 2000 sign ups and as of last night, the waiting list had close to 900 names, said Binda.

Clearly, a giant marketing success for Lole and an amazing event for the Montreal yoga community.

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Bhakti Yoga: Practicing Bliss

Bhakti yoga is devotional practice. Usually, bhakti yoga is singing or simply repeating of the names of the divine. For me, it is about cultivating bliss in whatever way works for you. I believe that it is through bliss that we connect with divine energy and the power of devotion.

When I first heard Joseph Campbell‘s words “Follow your Bliss”, I was struck by their elegant simplicity and remember thinking “Yes, I will do this somehow.” That was more than 12 years ago when my yoga practice became a central part of my life.

I remember during one particular outdoor solo practice, I had this incredible rush through my body, as though all the energy channels in my body opened at once. It felt like an orgasm.* For the rest of my practice and for some time afterward, I felt high and light and filled with bliss. “This is it,” I thought. I had a mini-epiphany: Bliss is like a butterfly. I cannot hold on to it forever, but I can cultivate it through the regular practice of focused attention and movement. “Practice Bliss” became my mantra and even the name of my business for a while. It continues to be my motivator and through Sustainable Yoga for Longterm Happiness, my approach to teaching, I strive to share this practice of bliss with my students.

 

This past week, we ran a Giveaway Challenge to win passes to the upcoming Montreal Yoga Music Festival. We asked people what makes them feel blissful or devotional & how they cultivate bliss and devotion in their life and in others.

Congratulations to Marianne Szanto, the winner of our challenge. Here’s an excerpt from her lovely essay:

We all know the floating ecstasy of feeling alive when the sun sets on a summer night at a beach, when we fall in love, when we hold our newborn in our hands. These moments are stepping stones to a higher state of consciousness that connects us to the cosmic heart of the Universe. Some people call it divine; some people call it higher consciousness, but it is in essence a state that is our highest, happiest vibration. {…} There are no coincidences in life. A Living Social Deal got me acquainted with Montreal’s Equilibrium Yoga Studio and kundalini yoga. It was love at first sight. I rediscovered the power of mantras and had some mystical experiences since I am at the studio. I also used the Adi Shakti mantra on my hiking mates and colleagues with great success. I could not be happier. This is bliss.

This is what other people had to say:

Marie-claude Taillefer: “Devotion for me is be yourself and give yourself at the moment.”

Ma Madhavi Aradhana: “No greater bliss than when my baby smiles at me when we chant together…this is my devotion, for her to always remember the Bhava.”

Dita Pilates: “What makes me feel blissful?…To change people s body through what I teach and deeply believe in….Pilates. What is devotion to me? To always be there for my clients.”

Rosina Felice: “What makes me feel blissful these days is dance and music…it allows complete abandon and surrender.”

*PS In one episode of Sex in the City, Samantha talks about having a ‘Yogasm’ during a yoga class. Perhaps she was experiencing something similar to devotional.