Yin Yoga Principles & Practice- A Book Review & Giveaway

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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.

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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!

Yin Yoga Nyk Danu

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

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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

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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.

 

Community- What Does It Mean To You?

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Before I started traveling in Yoga and Buddhist circles, community used to be a very loaded word for me. It used to bring up images of small towns in the bible belt, where ignorance ran rampant, mob mentality ruled and anyone who didn’t fit in was ostracized or maybe even stoned to death in the town square. Of course junior & senior high school didn’t help this misconception either. As a self-professed lone wolf,  I really didn’t get the whole clique thing; this need to fit in. I was raised fiercely independent, to question everything and stick up for myself (and the underdogs too).

In truth this idea stuck with me until I started my Yoga teacher training. In my first Yoga teacher training course we had huge diversity, ages, sizes, abilities, ethnic backgrounds and income levels (we even had one token guy )  😉 . Slowly my carbon copy idea of community began to change. Here we were this rag tag bunch of Yogis all united together to study this thing called Yoga that we had fallen in love with. We had become a Kula or community.

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A few years later when I came out the “Buddhist closet” and committed to practice, I set out (with much resistance) to find the third of the three jewels, Sangha. Again I found big diversity. So I started to rethink my previous borg-like view of community. I started to realize that I didn’t need to be assimilated to be part of a spiritual community.

 

Of course now with the internet being what it is, it is even easier to find your tribe. If you don’t find your community locally, it’s got to be out out there on the web (perfect for introverts).

When I started teaching Yoga, I set out to bring a sense of community to my classes. I consciously chose to teach small, more intimate, community based classes, instead of teaching in trendy, over-packed, impersonal feeling studios. My students see each other week to week, know each others names and make connections.

A few years ago my fella and I took this embracing community one step further when we moved into the community of  Inglewood (which is known for it’s community vibe) from Downtown. Inglewood is rich in diversity, none of the houses are the same, we have various ages from seniors to young couples, and many different income levels as well.  For the first time ever neighbors said hello as I walked by on the street. I lived somewhere where we had more volunteers than needed for the annual river clean up. Where local shopping is so encouraged that merchants give a discount just for being a member of the community association!

In video below I talk a bit more about my journey to embracing community.

As an introvert I still need plenty of time to myself to recharge my batteries so I don’t attend all the community events in my hood, but now I can’t imagine living somewhere without this vibe.

In the comments below let me know What Does Community Mean To You? Where do you find community?

 

BKS Iyengar- RIP Thank You And Farewell

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Last night while scrolling through Instagram my heart stopped. There in my feed was a picture of BKS Iyengar with a RIP under it. My chest tightened, tears flooded my eyes…no it can’t be true I panicked. It was. A quick internet search revealed that he had passed at 95. Now I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked I had heard that he was ill and in hospital, but last I had heard his family was insisting that he was recovering and doing well.

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured” -BKS Iyengar

Death doesn’t normally upset me that much, even with people I know. I mean we are all going to die. Death happens to all of us after all, it’s just a common as birth. I guess one advantage to believing in past lives, is that it takes some of the blow out of death, since I believe that we are all coming back around again. So why was I so upset about the death of an Indian man who lived miles away and whom I had never actually met or studied with? It’s taken me until today to figure that out.

“When we free ourselves from physical disabilities, emotional disturbances, and mental distractions, we open the gates to our soul.” -B.K.S. Iyengar

I start all my classes with a moment of pause and a guided gratitude practice, part of that practice is pausing in reverence for the teachers that have come before, my teachers, my teachers teachers and so on. BKS Iyengar was my teachers teacher, and indirectly through books and DVDs my teacher too.

I feel the grief and sadness of my teachers.

My first teacher training program was steeped in Iyengar Yoga, although not an official Iyengar certification program it was heavily Iyengar Inspired. I was so blessed to have some amazing certified Iyengar teachers leading my training. Teachers like Margot Kitchen, David McAmmond, Trish Robbins & Valerie Crump just to name a few. These skilled and passionate teachers built a strong foundation for me to grow from as a Yogini and a teacher.

A fierce lion of a teacher, he demanded nothing but the best from his students. Iyengar had an attention to detail and awareness or the subtle aspects of Yoga Asana & Pranayama that no one can top. His teachers are some of the most rigorously and thoroughly trained teachers in the world.

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
B.K.S. Iyengar

Despite the fact that I have branched away from my Iyengar roots somewhat, there is still the deep resonance of Iyengar Yoga and those teachers through out my classes, practice and being today. In fact if it weren’t for BKS Iyengar, I wouldn’t have become a Yogini or a teacher.

Whether someone is a devoted Iyengar Yogi or not, I don’t think anyone can argue about the massive influence he had on Yoga as we know it today especially in the west. He is truly the father of Yoga as we know it. In fact 90% of today’s Yogi celebrities and influential teachers were in whole or in part trained by Iyengar or Iyengar teachers. If you Have ever used props in your your practice, you can thank BKS Iyengar.

Hi-lights Of BKS Iyengar’s Contribution And Influence At A Glance:

  •  Received gold medal known as Yoga Shikshaka Chakravarti, which means “Emperor of Yoga Teachers, Teacher of Teachers
  • Author of 14 Yoga books translated into 18 languages, including Light On Yoga which is commonly deemed “The Yoga Bible”
  • Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine
  • Built the foundation for Therapeutic, Medical, and Restorative Yoga as we know it today
  • Iyengar created his own brand of Yoga, called “Iyengar Yoga,” and established studios in 72 countries
  • Iyengar Yoga’s poses and breathing techniques have been adopted by mainstream medical practitioners to help patients suffering from many illnesses and diseases including: asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic back pain
  • Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) was established on January 19, 1975 , The institute is filled with numerous awards, citations, presentations. The library has 8000 titles in several languages on a variety of subjects ranging from philosophy, human anatomy and physiology, Ayurveda, commentaries on the scriptures, modern medicine and of course Yoga.
image source unknown

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Deepest of  bows and much gratitude to the man known affectionately as Guruji. My condolences to the Iyengar family. My deepest sympathy to all of his students including my teachers.

 

Perfectionism-Let It Go!

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Perfectionism-Let It Go!

Some life lessons or aha moments trickle slowly into your awareness over time, and some are more like a flash storm that seems to come out of no where but leaves you drenched to your core. My aha moment with perfectionism was more like the latter.

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I remember the day very clearly in my mind even though it was 10 years ago. The day it hit me that it was my perfectionism, not the circumstances around me that caused my suffering. I realized that my expectation and obsession with things being perfect was keeping me from enjoying my life as it was in the moment (and my life is pretty awesome). I was missing the beauty and blessings of my life because I had this picture in my mind of what things “should” be like. Holding onto that picture of perfection meant I couldn’t see all the brilliance right in front of me. My worship of perfection was making me miserable, keeping me from being present to my life and those I loved.

In the video below I talk more about the day I had this aha moment.

Now I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t aim for excellence or that we shouldn’t stretch, grow, learn and expand. Of course we can challenge ourselves to do, to dream, to grow to be more than we are in this stage in our lives. To challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone is healthy and what keeps life interesting and builds self-esteem. However, there is a huge difference between wanting to excel and to grow vs. trying to be perfect. From my experience it is actually the imperfect situations of my life that have been the most fruitful in terms of personal growth and realization and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Perfection is the Enemy of Progress Saying Quote Bulletin Board

So if you have been or are currently chasing perfection, consider this:

There is no such thing as perfect; it is an illusion.

If you are an ever-changing, growing, evolving, expanding person (which I hope you are) then your version of perfect will change as you grow. The ‘perfect life’ that I would have envisioned for myself when I was in my 20’s is nothing like what my life is like today (thankfully).

You will never catch perfection. This is good news! When you let go of being perfect or your life being perfect, you can be open to all the the beauty, and amazement that surrounds you in every moment.

If you think, “I’ll be happy when…”, “I’ll do the things I want to do with my life when …” always waiting for the ‘perfect time’, you will spend most of your life miserably unhappy.

You will never be perfect, things will never be perfect ….you will just have to settle for amazing, incredible, beautiful and inspiring.

“When we let go of being perfect, we can settle for just being amazing” -nyk danu

 

 

Private Yoga Lessons-Are They For You?

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Private Yoga Lessons might sound like something only for the rich and famous but actually there are some really practical reasons why Private Yoga Classes may be a good fit for you.

Private Yoga Lessons might be for you if:

You want to try Yoga but you are totally intimated. Maybe you have Back Pain and other injuries or aren’t flexible. Or you just know that learning physical things (whether it be sports or dance) hasn’t really been your strong suit and you need a bit of extra time and help to feel like you “get it”.

You’d like to eventually attend classes, but feel like you need a bit of a base to get you started so you feel more comfortable and prepared for public classes.

Maybe you  are an introvert and the thought of sharing the room with a whole bunch of strangers makes you want to crawl into a cave and not come out.

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Or you are totally happy coming to classes but you have a few trouble spots you’d like to work on your own in between classes and need a sequence created for you.

Maybe you’ve been practicing Yoga for a while and you have a serious crush on Yoga. You would love to practice more often, maybe a few times a week or even everyday. You dream of having a home practice but are totally intimidated by the what, when, where and how of sequencing your own practice.

Vintage love yoga text on sand beach,filtered image

You work shift work or travel a lot and can’t seem to find classes that fit your schedule.

You need some serious “you time”, you give a lot to others. You often feel drained, stressed and over committed.  You need some regularly scheduled time to let someone take care of you for a change so you can recharge and reboot.

Hands On Yin

You having been nagging at your partner about Yoga and its benefits, but still they resist….maybe if you had a Yoga Practice just for the two of you they would feel more inclined to give it a try.

 

Depositphotos_31347795_sIf any of these resonated with you and you want more information on my Private Yoga Lessons and packages, you can get more info  by clicking here.