Yin Yoga -Sphinx Pose

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Back bends are so important to the health and longevity of our spine. We start to lose our lumbar (lower back) curve naturally as we age and this is even more likely to happen in those who sit at a desk all day. When we lose the that lower back curve it can cause all kinds of back issues and eventually even the stooped over posture or hunch back of which we often see in elderly people.

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This can be prevented if we pay some attention to maintaining this curve on a regular basis. The Yin Yoga Pose known as Sphinx pose is a great pose to start with and if you sit at a desk for hours at a time, you can practice it everyday.

Sometimes when people are new to back bends there can be some fear around feeling sensation in the lower back, especially if we have had a back injury in the past. But gentle, mindful compression is actually good for our spine and helps us keep our discs stay spongy and young.

However, you want to be sure what you’re feeling is gentle, mindful compression which will feel like a dull ache. We do not want any sharp or stabbing sensations. If that happens, please do not do this pose and seek medical attention.

In the video below, I’ll walk you through how to practice Sphinx pose including props, variations and modifications.

How to do Sphinx pose

Enjoy!

nyk

Yin Yoga Music: Tibetan Chakra Meditations- Cd Review & Giveaway

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I get so many complements on the the music I play in my classes, I often get asked to recommend artists and albums. It would be impossible for me to discuss or review all the music play in class, I can hi-light the odd label or artist.

It is actually pretty hard to find music for Yin Yoga. Most of the Yoga music out there is too active sounding or has too much singing, what I am really looking for is a soundscape just to provide Bavana (mood)  tone or atmosphere of the class.

I’m looking for just enough sound to help my students full arrive in the space, relax and let go of the day or week they’ve  had.  This is why stumbling upon the Tibetan Chakra Meditations Album was such a gift.

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It is beautiful and atmospheric without dominating the Yoga experience or distracting the mind preventing it from dropping inward.

I have one copy of the CD to giveaway for a lucky blog follower, details on how to enter to win your copy below.

You can hear samples of this CD here on iTunes here  Tibetan Chakra Meditations and download it. Or for those who prefer CD is also available to order both amazon.ca here Tibetan Chakra Meditations or amazon.com here Tibetan Chakra Meditations

A 5% royalty from the sale of each CD is donated to the Tibetan Relief Fund to support the Tibetan people.

Giveaway Rules and Guidelines:

  • You must be a subscriber to my blog (which you can do by entering your name & email below (if you haven’t already)
  • In the comments below let me know if you use music for your Yoga practice? If so what’s your favorite artist or Album
  • Giveaway open worldwide
  • Giveaway deadline is Feb 15/ 2015
  • Winner will be chosen using Random.org and notified via email

Good Luck!

 

The Art Of Extreme Self Care

http://nykdanu.com/the-art-of-extreme-self-care/

Self Care has become a buzz word, we hear everywhere it seems of late, but what exactly is self care and why do we want to practice self care? Before get into the why lets look at the the what. Trying to find a good definition of self care is actually pretty challenging. The one I’ve found that I like is:

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“Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. And in this case, overall health includes not just the physical, but the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being.” -Mary McCoy

Why would making regular self care a priority be a wise idea? Well the simple answer would be if you give more than you receive for and extended period of time then you are likely to burn out, or become sick. if you continue to burn out and get sick again and again, then it can manifest into disease, chronic health conditions or a health crisis.

I often hear the “I don’t have time” excuse when it comes to self care. I’m sorry to say that just an excuse. You may not have a lot of time and you may have to get creative but there are windows of time that can be harvested and rededicated to self care if we are really honest with ourselves.

I know from experience that if you ignore this burn out and illness for too long the universe will eventually knock you on your ass, so that you have no choice but to stop and listen. I call those “frying pan to the head moments”.

Once I started teaching Yoga full time it became painfully clear to me that mastering the art of self care was going to be crucial for me to be able to shine my light bright, so I can help and heal others.

“When we practice Yoga and Meditation, we are happier, healthier, more patient and present. That, in turn affects our loved ones and communities, so that others benefit from our practice as well”

-nyk danu

So really practicing self care is the least “selfish” thing we can do if we want to be able to support others. If you’ve ever flown on a plane you’ve likely heard “when traveling with a small child, put your own oxygen mask on first” this is because you can’t help anyone else until you help yourself.

How much self care time is needed depends on the individual. Because I am an Introvert (doing an extroverts job) a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and an Empath. I generally need more self care than most people. So I often say I am practicing the Art Of Extreme Self Care.

In the video below I describe a bit more about the why behind self care.

So, when I say I am learning to master the art of extreme self care, I mean I am making a conscious choice to listen to my needs, and to schedule in regular self care into my routine. My self care routine consists of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly commitments. Below I will describe my own current self care routine (which is constantly evolving just like me). Of course yours may be completely different than mine.

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My Current Self Care Practice

  • Daily green juice to start the day (in addition to healthy nourishing meals through out the day)
  • Daily bath with a big mug of green tea
  • Yoga and Meditation 6-7 days a week
  • Saying NO to any and all  group events (over 6 people) that I am invited to including parties for birthdays, showers, weddings etc.
  • Steering clear of negative people, or energy vampires whenever possible (I love them from afar)
  • A day long, self lead silent Yoga & Meditation retreat: where I unplug and do nothing but sleep, read inspiring books & practice Yoga & Meditation all day (if this sounds dreamy to you make sure your on my email list I have plans for you brewing on this)
  • Monthly Acupuncture (I would do this weekly if I had the budget for it)
  • Massage every 6-8 weeks (looking at increasing that to once a month)
  • Regular time with my spiritual teacher and Sangha
  • A yearly Meditation retreat or Teacher Training program

So, in a nutshell that’s my self care routine as it sits now but it is always in a process of  changing and adapting as my needs do. If you want to learn even more about self care this article great.

In the comments below let me know how you practice self care, if you don’t have a self care practice what acts of self  care could you add into your life?

 

“Cream” Of Potato Soup

http://nykdanu.com/cream-of-potato-soup/

I am hardly a chef, truth be told I actually don’t even like cooking. However I am a self declared #CrockPotQueen. I often post pictures of my meals (I know I’m a geek) on my Instagram account (which you can request to follow if you like). I have had so many requests for the recipes of my creations that I decided to blog them.

I will warn you all of these recipes will be “chimp simple” so those of you who are real cooks maybe disappointed. My Crock pot is 6 Quarts (pretty big) so if yours is smaller you may want to cut this recipe in half.

 “Cream” Of Potato Soup

"Cream" of Potato Soup

4 cups of organic non dairy milk (we use almond)

3 cups of filtered water
3 -4 med organic russet potatoes diced

2 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of organic garlic whole (remove it when cooked)
1 tablespoon organic dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon of organic cilantro
1/2 teaspoon of organic dill
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon organic black pepper
1 organic veggie soup regular or low sodium cube (I like this brand because it doesn’t have sugar)

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Dump in the crock pot on low, when potatoes are cooked remove garlic, then blend until creamy and garnish with parsley, add salt or pepper to taste

Enjoy!

Yin Yoga Principles & Practice- A Book Review & Giveaway

http://nykdanu.com/yin-yoga-principles-practice-a-book-review-giveaway/

This is the third of a three part introductory series to Yin Yoga. You can check out part one and two as well if your not familiar with Yin Yoga.

Paul Grilley is know as ‘Mr.Yin Yoga’ in Yoga circles and is my Yin Yoga teacher.  So what better way to wrap up my introductory series than with a book review and giveaway of his expanded 10th anniversary edition Yin Yoga Principles & Practice.

 

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This book is packed full of information in a surprisingly small package. The book only has 141 pages but still manages to cover a fair bit of Paul’s many years of study, practice and experience. The book includes Chakra Theory, Bandha Practices, Pranayama practices and Meditation in addition to the Yin Theory and poses.

Yin Yoga Principles and Practice is not as long or ‘Sciencey’ as some of the other Yin Yoga books out there which, I think makes it great as a first read for new Yin Yoga students and teachers, as well as an crucial book for any serious Yin Yoga practitioners library. Over all the book is clear to follow and isn’t over the heads of those who might be new to reading Yoga books.

My only critique of the book is that there aren’t any variations or modifications for those who are less flexible. If you know how to use props and modify poses for you trouble spots then you’ll be just fine. If not you will want to find a qualified Yin Yoga teacher to help you along the way.

 

 

Yin Yoga – New To Yin Yoga? Some Practice Tips To Get You Started.

http://nykdanu.com/yin-yoga-new-to-yin-yoga-some-practice-tips-to-get-you-started/

This is the second of a three, part introduction to Yin Yoga series. You can check out part one here and part three here.

If you haven’t practiced Yin Yoga before you may be surprised at how different it is than more active forms of Yoga. The focus of Yin Yoga is quite unique. In more active or Yang forms of Yoga, the focus is typically on building strength and flexibility in the muscles as well as internal warmth. This is done by doing shorter holds in the poses and repetition of dynamic movements. In Yin Yoga the focus is on targeting the connective tissues, fascia and joints. This has a profoundly different feeling in the tissues as well as the nervous and energetic systems of the body.

Yin YogaWhen you first come out of a Yin Yoga pose, you will have the urge to move slowly and may even want to groan and moan. The sensation in the body after a Yin Yoga pose is often referred to as the rebound effect or the echo of the pose. I often describe this sensation as a resonance. If you have ever rung a bell or gong, you know the sound is the strongest initially and then dissipates over time, until you eventually no longer hear the sound at all. The resonant sensation of a Yin pose in the body is like that. At first the feeling is strong, then it gradually softens until you can no longer feel it. This is why we typically take a small rest time between poses.

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Yin Yoga is based in concepts of Taoist Yoga, it emphasizes the connective tissues. In Yin we practice relaxed floor based Asana’s (Yoga poses) often using the support of props when needed. Yin Yoga poses are typically held  for two to five minutes at a time. Yin yoga postures gently stretch and rehabilitate the connective tissues that form our joints, allowing us to maintain and restore joint, fascia and muscle flexibility.

In the video below I talk briefly about Yin Yoga guidelines and some practice tips.

Practicing and teaching Yin Yoga has been such a gift to myself and my students.

In the comments below let me know if you have tried Yin Yoga yet? If You have a Yin practice, what is your favorite pose?

Peace, Love and Yin,

nyk

Yin Yoga – My Journey To The Yin Side

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This is the first of a three part introductory series to Yin Yoga. Make sure to check out part two and part three as well Part three .

In 2007 when I signed up for my first Yin Yoga Workshop, I actually had no idea what Yin Yoga was. I just recognized the teacher Paul Grilley from his Anatomy For Yoga DVD  which had completely changed both my practice and my teaching. So I Just signed up. It was a weekend workshop that changed my Yoga practice and teaching forever!

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That first dabble in Yin Yoga created a Yin Yoga love affair that is still going strong today. After that workshop I felt amazing both physically and energetically. My body had a feeling of space and openness that I had never experienced before, energetically I felt a deep peace and quiet within myself that was completely new to me.

As a recovering  ‘Type A’ personality, and a Yogini with some very tight muscles and fascia (from my previous life as a body builder) Yin was exactly what I needed. I immediately bought Paul’s DVD Yin Yoga and began to practice with it 2-3 times a week in addition to my Hatha Yoga practice.

In 2010 I decided that I needed to learn more about Yin Yoga so that I could deepen my practice and offer this powerful practice to my students. So I signed up for my first of many 100 hour teacher trainings with Paul and Suzee Grilley.

I have now completed hundreds of hours of Yin Yoga teacher training with the Paul and Suzee (and plan to do much more) and I am honored to call them my teachers. The breadth of knowledge, compassion and humility of this amazing couple is unsurpassed in my books and is something that is difficult to put into words.

In the video below I talk more about this journey to the Yin Side.


Generally speaking we live in a Yang dominated society and culture. All we need to do is look at the huge amount of stress related diseases to see that this is true. Yin Yoga creates a window of peace and harmony so desperately needed in our fast paced world.

In the comments below let me know have tried Yin Yoga Yet? For those of you who are Yin Yoga lovers what difference has it made to you and your life?

Peace, Love and Yin,

nyk

 

My Thanks To You- Happy Thanksgiving

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For those of us Canucks, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is literally my favorite Holiday (only second to my birthday which sadly is not actually a holiday) I don’t do a traditional Thanksgiving with turkey and all that, but I do like to spend some extra time with family.

The origins and history of Canadian Thanksgiving are actually quite different that our southern neighbors in the US. I did a whole blog post on that last year which you can check out here if your interested in learning more. Gratitude has been interwoven in the Canadian Thanksgiving from the beginning.

Thank You

Gratitude is a pretty big deal to me and a large part of my spiritual practice, it has been for many years. So I was a bit disappointed with myself when I realized I hadn’t expressed my gratitude to you…my students.

So in honor of  you I’d like to take a few moments, to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Please take a few minutes to watch my Thank You message to you in this video:

You can see last years post here

Now it’s your turn. In the comments below let me know what you are grateful for? Also don’t forget the challenge from the video reach out five people to express your gratitude for their presence in your life.

 

 

Jewels Of Saraswati- A Product Review

http://nykdanu.com/jewels-of-saraswati-a-product-review/

I LOVE me some sacred jewellery, so I was stoked when Saraswati from Jewels Of Saraswati sent me a piece to review. Saraswati Zavlunov, the founder and creatrix of Jewels Of Saraswati and I first connected on Instagram. I am frequently inspired by her posts and drool over her works of art. Saraswati sent me a beautiful piece for me to review for you (see the video below for the detailed review), but first here’s a bit of background on Saraswati herself & her line of  Adornments For The Yogic Spirit.

You can read all about Saraswati’s  journey to making Sacred Adornments here, but here are some snip-its that stood out to me in her own words.

“Ever since I can remember, I have been enamored with stones of all kinds. Childhood found me collecting pebbles and artifacts from every sojourn – tumbling them repeatedly in my hands and treasuring them deep in my pockets.”

 

Jewels Of Saraswati The power and beauty of Yoga inspired me to learn the craft of making malas, one of the most revered spiritual items in one’s yogic practice. I found that assisting others in finding suitable gemstones and designs for their personal meditation practice brought me great joy and began to feel as though it were a calling.”

Saraswati Makes Custom Mala’s in addition to Jewellery she described the process a bit to me:

“First people generally come through my site where they sign up to receive a PDF questionnaire about their vision for their mala. This is just a way for me to understand what they are looking for in design or if they wish to leave it entirely up to me. After working through some detailed questions we really dig deep into what is going on in their life and their intentions. Clients may share as much or as little as they choose with me and, from his information, I listen to my own intuitive answers to their questions and what gemstones call to me for their mala. Designs seem to just “come” as I listen to their stories or feel their tone and energy through our email consultations. Sometimes the client seems to be drawn to a particular stone and I merely encourage their own intuition to create their design!”

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Watch the video below for my full review and to get a special discount code off your first piece of Sacred Jewellery from Jewels Of Saraswati .


Product Review Summary – Jewels Of Saraswati .

1 Star for right livelihood, handmade, sweatshop free, local

1 Star for amazing quality, design and  attention to detail

1 Star for reminding us of our practice and our intentions (can be used as a Mala)

1 Star for giving back Saraswati has five different charities she supports

4 out of 4 Stars

You Can check out Jewels Of Saraswati here and don’t forget your Coupon Code: PEACE

 

My Facebook Detox- How I took My Power Back

http://nykdanu.com/my-facebook-detox-how-i-took-my-power-back/

I recently did a two month Facebook Detox. To those of you who aren’t on Facebook this might seem like no big deal. However for those of you who like me, use it regularly you know this is harder than it sounds. Note: I only did a Facebook Detox I was still active on other social media (they weren’t a problem for me)

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Before I get into the details of how I did my Facebook Detox, a bit of setting the stage is needed to help you understand how I got so far off course.

I was fairly late to join Facebook, I resisted for along time. I just didn’t get why anyone would want to waste time like that? “I mean really I am a busy gal and a solopreneur I don’t have time to waste reading silly status updates every 10 min.”

 Over time it became crystal clear that I was missing key information and inspiring moments from my close friends. They were sharing and chatting on Facebook and assuming I knew all their recent news just because they had shared it on Facebook. I was getting a lot of  “oh that’s right your not on Facebook”  from those closest to me.

So I reluctantly signed up. I created a personal profile and a business page otherwise known as a Like Page (Facebook didn’t have the “follow” option on personal pages back then, or I would have just stuck to one page). So I joined the masses on Facebook or what I affectionately called “Fakebook”.

For a while having a presence on Facebook served me well. I was able to see glimpses into my close friends day to day life and stay up to date with them more effectively. I was also able to connect with my students on a more regular basis. I could share things I found inspiring or funny. I was able to share Yoga and Meditation video’s and articles to help them on their path and with their practice. Facebook seemed like a pretty handy tool. Yup in the beginning it was all going swimmingly.

However more recently I had started to become disenchanted with Facebook. Somehow my “friend circle” got larger than I had intended. I felt bad about refusing friend invites from people I knew…. but hardly considered a friend and so I ended up with a lot of  people I hardly knew or hadn’t met in person yet as “friends” 

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This meant having alot of things show up in my feed that I had no interest in, or worse a lot of negativity. As a Highly Sensitive Person and an Empath this was really taking it’s toll on me, damping my spirits and running me down.

I had also gotten into the habit of randomly and frequently checking Facebook repeatedly through out the day….I was starting to become a Facebook addict!

Facebook also changed it’s algorithms so most of  people who had liked my Yoga page weren’t actually seeing my posts anymore (if that’s sounds like you follow the steps in the image below).

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I was starting to feel like Facebook was using me, instead of me using Facebook. “My Little Facebook Problem” wasn’t serving me, in fact it was keeping me from being present to my life. I wasn’t being mindful of the magical moments that happen all around me. And it was adding unwanted negativity to my life. What started as a way to stay connected was starting to make me feel anything but! I knew it was time to take my power back!

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So I decided a Facebook Detox was in order! If any of this has been resonating with you, you may also be a Facebook addict. If you are unsure if you do indeed have a problem here’s a Fun Quiz to help you find out.

If you’re considering a Facebook Detox here are some tips to help:

  • Mentally commit. Yup commit to yourself that no matter what you’re not going to login into Facebook. Remember there was life before Facebook and will be without it. Facebook isn’t going anywhere it will be there when you get back.
  • Write down your “why”.  Take a few min to write down why you want/ need a detox and keep it with you. It’s super helpful to have this handy in weak moments to remind yourself why you want to do this.
  • Let people know. I put a banner & profile picture up on my profile with the dates that I was going be gone and told people if there was anything urgent to share with me, to do it the old fashioned way email or text 😉 .
  • Remove all apps and bookmarks from your phones, tablets and computer. Yes of course you can search out Facebook from the internet but you’ll be less likely to cheat if you don’t have quick easy access.
  • Sit with the discomfort. The first few days are the hardest. When you find yourself being pulled, sit with the urge ask yourself why you are craving Facebook? What need are you attempting to fill? Dig beneath the surface, and chose to fill that need in a more mindful way.
  • Get out that to-do list. You will be amazed at the little tasks you can get done when your not wasting time on Facebook.
  • Find new ways to connect. It’s likely you will miss some of the interaction with close friends and family. Find new ways to reach out, either virtually or in person. Texts, Emails, Facetime or Skype work great for those out of town or with full schedules. Or even phone calls, letters and cards for those of you who like to kick it old school 😉 . Make more dates live and in person with those you can, nothing beats face to face.
  • If you have a business or “like” page use a tool like buffer to pre-schedule your posts in advance so you are not suddenly awol from your page. Or tell your followers your plan, use it as a teaching opportunity.

I have to admit the first week of my detox I felt really antsy, it was like I had forgotten what I had done in my random spare moments before I had Facebook. I quickly got used to it though, and to be honest didn’t really want to log back on when the detox time was up.

I’m still pondering all the changes I am making to my Facebook presence and what guidelines and restrictions I will be making, but now feel like I can make informed and wise choices. I can get back to using Facebook And Away from Facebook using me.