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.


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


  • 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


See photos of the event on facebook

How to donate to Dans la Rue

Summer Solstice Yoga

Yoga Kula Celebration on Day 108


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)



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

May this movement continue…   Happy Earth Day!

What’s my Dosha?

What’s my dosha? is a rather complex question, because every living creature is composed of all five elements and all three doshas– vata, pitta and kapha.  Each of the ayurvedic constitutions (doshas) have distinct attributes and responsibilities in the body. You cannot survive without them. This said, we are not one-third vata, one-third pitta and one-third kapha. There is an infinite number of doshic combinations and no two individuals are exactly the same.  We all have a unique balance that makes me, me and you, you. One’s essential nature is inherited from our parents and does not change.  This is Prakruti.

When we are healthy and balanced, we experience the favorable qualities of the doshas and our Prakruti is revealed. When we are imbalanced or sick, we experience Vikruti, the shadow or unfavourable qualities of the doshas.  Vikruti (imbalance state) can also be inherited from our parents and grandparents. Since we only treat vikurti in Ayurveda, what’s important to determine are what doshas are out of balance. Why? Because we don’t fix what ain’t broke!

Here’s how to tell when a dosha is out of balance:

VATA (air & space)

Vata character when balanced

•  Vibrant, lively, enthusiastic
•  Clear and alert mind – fast learner
•  Flexible
•  Adaptability
•  Imaginative, creative, artistic
•  Sensitive/ clairvoyant
•  Talkative, energetic, quick to respond
•  Social butterfly

What aggravates Vata 

•  Irregular routine – irregular meals & sleep
•  Staying up late
•  Multi-tasking & excessive mental work
•  Cold, dry weather
•  Bitter, astringent, pungent or cold food
•  Traveling, injury, trauma
* Bitter emotions like grief or astringent emotions like fear, aggravate Vata. 

When out of balance – Symptom –> Pain

•  Restless, unsettled, forgetfulness
•  Light interrupted sleep, insomnia
•  Tendency to overexert then crash
•  Fatigued, stiff, dryness
•  Anxious, worried, lonely, depressed, unstable
•  Underweight, malnutrition
•  Poor digestion, gas, bloating, constipation

Conditions: arthritis, dehydration, mental illness, anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease

To balance Vata – Calm & soothe

•  Create routine for meals, work & sleep
•  Favour warmth & rest
•  Reduce stress, travel, disturbing sounds & loud music
•  Favour warm lubricating, nourishing food
•  Favour soft colors, calming music
•  Gentle flowing yoga & restorative poses
•  Guided meditation & rest

PITTA (Fire & water)

 Pitta character when balanced

•  Warm, loving, passionate, contented
•  Enjoys challenges, motivated
•  Strong digestion & immunity
•  Lustrous complexion
•  Good concentration
•  Articulate and precise speech
•  Courageous, bold
•  Sharp wit, intelligent, focused

What aggravates Pitta 

•  Excessive heat or exposure to the sun
•  Alcohol, smoking, drugs
•  Time pressure, deadlines, competition
•  Excessive activity – physical or mental
•  Too much spicy, sour or salty food
•  Skipping meals
* Sour emotions like envy or pungent emotions like anger, aggravate Pitta

When out of balance – Symptom à Inflammation

•  Demanding, aggressive, perfectionist
•  Tendency towards frustration, anger
•  Tendency towards skin irritation & infection
•  Extreme hunger, allergies
•  Prematurely gray hair /early hair loss

Conditions: ulcers, heart burn, IBS, OCD, high blood pressure, acne, liver issues, addiction, hypoglycaemia, auto-immune diseases
To balance Pitta – Refresh & release tension
 •  Reduce stimulants, spicy foods and pressure
•  Favour coolness, leisure, natural beauty, rest  & moderation
•  Favour sweet, bitter & astringent taste
•  Work on letting go of anger & cleanse blood
•  Gentle yoga in nature with some challenge
•  Mantra meditation & rest

KAPHA (earth & water) 

Kapha character when balanced 

•  Affectionate, compassionate
•  Nurturing, calm, relaxed
•  Forgiving, loyal, Emotionally steady
•  Good listener & good memory
•  Slow, methodical, reliable
•  Strong stamina
•  Natural resistance to sickness
•  Soft skin, melodious voice

What aggravates Kapha

•  Oversleeping
•  Overeating
•  Insufficient exercise
•  Too little variety in life
•  Heavy, unctuous foods
•  Too much sweet, sour or salty food
•  Cold, wet weather
* Sweet emotions like desire, or salty emotions like greed, aggravate Kapha.

When out of balance – Symptom –> Swelling

•  Complacent, dull, boring
•  Sluggish, lethargic, lazy, no ambition
•  Oily hair & skin
•  Coughing, phlegm, congestion
•  Slow digestion & metabolism
•  Heavy, overweight, emotional eater
•  Possessive, over attached, needy
•  Tendency to oversleep

Conditions: obesity, chronic fatigue, kidney issues, blocked arteries, diabetes, growths (tumors)

To balance Kapha – Motivate & encourage

•  Reduce sweets & heavy food
•  Regular exercise – daily
•  Favour stimulation, new experiences, variety
•  Sleep less, eat small meals & let go
•  Favour pungent, bitter & astringent taste.
•  Active, invigorating & stimulating yoga
•  Mantra meditation or walking meditation

Related Articles

What is Ayurveda?

10 Ways to Improve Digestion

Green Juices for Vata, Pitta & Kapha

Natural Remedies for Stomach Flu  (Kitchari recipe featured)


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