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Spring has sprung. So it won’t be long now before I have students limping into my classes with all kinds of sore spots from weekends of hardcore gardening. Our growing season in most of Canada is pretty short, so those who are avid gardeners dive in head first and barely come up for air.
Gardening is often confused with a super gentle activity that only seniors do but anyone who has gardened knows that is not the case. Gardening is a workout, especially at the start of the season when you are getting ready to plant.
I consider Gardening a revolutionary act. Growing your own food is one of the best ways to have control over not only what you eat but also how we treat the earth. The most inexpensive way to eat local, organic and GMO-free.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of time spent gardening with my Grandma who was an organic gardener most of her life. Although I can’t grow my own food at this point (no yard), I salute those change-makers who can and do.
I dream of a world where every lawn is replaced with a garden, where every school and hospital grow their own food. Imagine how much more connected to the earth kids would feel if they actually got to learn about growing food. How much healthier would we be if we trashed the packaged hospital food and replaced it with organic, local veggies and fruit!
So as a tribute to you, the revolutionary hardcore Canadian gardeners, I made this video which includes some pre and post gardening poses to help you rock your gardens this year.
Please share this post with friends and family who garden!
Viva La Green Revolution,
Back Pain sadly is a common theme in my classes. I myself have suffered with back pain on and off over the years due to some poor standing habits from back when I was a hairstylist and the misalignment of my spine because of it. For many of you it’s likely from sitting at a desk all day.
In my Back Pain Yoga classes, we work directly on the common areas that affect the back which includes stretching the areas that are chronically tight that pull our spines out of alignment and strengthening the areas that are weak and leave the back prone to injury.
Squatting down on a regular basis can do wonders for lower back pain and increase the flexibility of the whole lower back and sacrum.
Check out this fun informative music video by Denise Kaufman about why you should learn to give a squat.
If you have knee issues then squatting may not be available for you, but for the rest of you I recommend squatting everyday! This will likely be difficult at first but with practice you will become more and more comfortable and be able to hold your squats longer and longer.
I’m a bit of a Yoga geek so I like to find hidden pockets of time to squat down while I’m doing other things (like during the commercials of your favorite TV show instead of hitting the fridge).
In the video before I walk you through the complete how-to when it comes to squatting.
In my first Yin Yoga Back Bend post Yin Yoga-Sphinx Pose I go into a lot more detail about why back bends are so important for the health of our spine, especially for western bodies, since we tend to spend way to much time sitting in chairs. If you haven’t read that post check it out before exploring the noticeably deeper back bend of Seal Pose.
I would recommend practicing lower back bends like Sphinx and it’s variations and getting comfortable with those before trying Seal pose. For those of you who are ready to take it a bit higher, deepening the curve in the lower back allow me to introduce Seal Pose.
How To Do Seal Pose
Right now you might be thinking “YUCK pea soup” (that’s what I used to think) or maybe you like pea soup but are used to the “ham bone” style of Pea soap. If that’s the case, I’m going to encourage you to open your mind and taste buds a bit and prepare to have your taste buds sing.
This soup is perfect for this time of year when it’s is not winter anymore and yet not quite spring. We get the warmth and comfort of a bowl of soup with the glimpse of the fresh taste of the spring and summer to come.
My Bestie made this for me once when having lunch at her house. I was a bit resistant to Pea Soup because I had never liked it before. Not wanting to be rude or ungracious (I don’t often get cooked for) I decided to open my mind and give it an honest try.
I was amazed at how good this soup tasted and how easy it is to make! It’s since become a staple at our house and honestly a dish I could eat every week.
As self professed “Crock Pot Queen” I make mine in a crock pot (or slow cooker) but of course you could also do stove top as well. My crock pot is quite large so you could cut this recipe in half or thirds if needed.
Easy Peasy -Pea Soup (Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free)
4 cups of dried organic split peas (rinsed) yellow for a sweeter taste or green for a fresher taste
8-9 cups of filtered water depending how thick you like your soup
6 crumbled vegan soup cubes (I use this brand because it’s gluten and sugar free)
In the morning dump it all in the crock pot set to high it normally takes about 4 hours for me. You want the pea’s to be mushy enough that when you stir it it looks like it has been pureed. Serve and enjoy!
I hope you fall in love with this simple soup as much as I have!
Peace, Love & Peas
In honor of International Women’s Day I’d like to introduce you to my Sheroes, the Dames who inspire me and fill me up.
Although I am normally quite positive and upbeat (or annoyingly optimistic I have been told) there are times where the weight of the world lays heavy on my shoulders and my light starts to dim. It’s at these times that I rely on my shero’s for a kick in the pants, inspiration, a boost for my batteries and a reminder of the bigger picture.
My Shero’s provide much needed insight and inspiration, some of them do this without even ever have been in the same room with me. So who are these amazing women that I turn to in dark times?
Before I get right into the introductions, first let me tell you about the qualities each of them share and why they resonate with me and open my heart.
In order for me to be able to relate to and resonate with a Shero they must be equal parts part woo woo (or spiritual) and uncensored, no bullshit, tell it like it is (what can I say my moon is in Gemini). These are qualities all these women share. We even have a couple “Jersey Girls” in the mix so you know there maybe some fist pumps and F-bombs dropped. Yup that’s what works to open my heart and mind. The harmonic blend of spiritual and keeping it real.
Ok, without further ado here they are in alphabetical order by first name 😉
I have Danielle’s book’s, Fire Starter Sessions and Desire Map (hello life changing) in book and audio book format. I don’t normally buy audio books but Danielle reads them herself so it feels to me like I get my own personal Dharma talk that way.
I also love listening to her SoundCloud account whenever I need some inspiration on the go. I also recently purchased her Big Beautiful Book Plan as well (yup I’ve got a couple of books in me itching to get out). To me Danielle is equal parts mystic, entrepreneur, trailblazer and kinda feels like the big sister I never had. You can watch one of my favorite Danielle pep talks here.
Danielle LaPorte is the creator of The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul, author of the bestseller, The Fire Starter Sessions (with Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, poet, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place online for kick-ass spirituality,” and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes.
My Holistic Optometrist introduced me to Kris Carr when she recommended juicing as one of the ways of treating and reversing some degeneration in my eyes. I had been resistant to juicing because well, I thought it was just the latest health trend. I figured I already ate a crap ton of veggies each day and didn’t see the need to add more (boy was I wrong). Now armed with the resources of Kris’s website and books I have joined the Crazy Sexy Revolution and am a proud Wellness Warrior (insert fist pump here).
The degeneration in my eyes has made a big improvement, if it keeps at this rate I maybe able to reverse it completely.
Kris is a wealth of information on not only juicing and plant based eating but a guide on the path to non-toxic living as well! I also think she is a kick ass speaker and this Wanderlust talk is on of my faves.
Kris Carr is a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, speaker and wellness activist. She is the subject and director of the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which aired on TLC and The Oprah Winfrey Network. Kris is also the author of the award-winning Crazy Sexy book series. Her latest books, Crazy Sexy Diet and Crazy Sexy Kitchen, will change the way you live, love and eat!
Kris regularly lectures at hospitals, wellness centers, corporations such as Whole Foods, and Harvard University.
As an irreverent foot soldier in the fight against disease, Kris inspires countless people to take charge of their health and happiness by adopting a plant-passionate diet, improving lifestyle practices and learning to live and love like you really mean it. In Oprah’s words, “Kris Carr’s riveting journey started a revolution…” Her motto: Make juice not war!
I first met Marie-Ève on a bus when we were both returning from teaching a class. We connected quickly and I took her card (I’m always looking for a good teacher to sub my classes).
When I checked out Marie-Ève’s Yoga class I was spellbound by the soulfulness and depth of her teaching. Marie-Ève’s classes (when she’s teaching) are actually the only Calgary Yoga classes I’ll go to. I always leave feeling, recharged, nurtured and held, which is exactly what I need from a class.
Although Marie-Ève is not teaching classes at the time of writing this, due to her diagnosis with Lyme disease, and the toll it has taken on her, she still blogs on a regular basis (one of the very few I read and share) and has soul stirring recordings on SoundCloud.
I am ever inspired by Marie-Ève her voice and her journey I am honored to call her friend.
Marie-Ève Bonneau’s calling is to remind others of the truth of who they are and to help them reconnect to ‘center’ — the powerful seat of wisdom and essence that lies within. She guides others in transforming their life challenges and experiences of loss and trauma into the powerful rerouting and growth opportunities that these initiations really are. A gentle and playful soul, Marie-Ève’s presence is often described, much to her delight, as ‘magical’. Find out more at Circling into Center.
A few years back I had brief a crisis of faith when I realized that I couldn’t physically teach enough classes a week to make teaching Yoga a sustainable livelihood. Yet I had no doubt that I was meant to teach Yoga.
After a small melt down and many tears, I pulled up my big girl panties and decide to re-think how I taught Yoga. I knew I needed some out of the box thinking and some business skills if I was going to take my game online. Enter Marie Forleo!
I honestly can’t remember how I stumbled across Marie initially but I was soon hooked on her Q & A Tuesdays and was putting her business and life wisdom into practice. It became very clear that if I wanted to take my teaching online (a whole new arena for me), I needed some smart and savvy business training. So When I found out Marie had a online biz course called B-school I pulled out Mr.MasterCard and made it so. It was more money than I had at the time but worth every penny and more.
B-School was and still is (I retake it every year) a total game changer. The course and community are amazing and it has given me the skills and focus to shift the way I envision my teaching and has allowed me to start creating online programs (coming soon).
Marie was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation and one of Inc’s 500 fastest growing companies of 2014. Her mission is to help you realize your greatest potential and use your unique talents to change the world. She reaches over 275,000 readers in 193 countries worldwide and leads dynamic training programs that teach individuals to succeed in business and life.
She’s the creator of the award-winning show MarieTV. Her bestselling book, Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself is published in 13 languages. Through her Change Your Life, Change The World® initiative, each for profit training program is tied to a non-profit partner who supports women, the environment and entrepreneurship.
With loving yet wisecracking advice, Marie inspires a global community to take charge of their success and happiness by boosting their business skills, shedding BS excuses and injecting massive amounts of fun into each day. You can learn more about Marie at www.marieforleo.com
I discovered Seane Corn very early in my Yoga journey long before teacher training, when I took her Vinyasa Flow Yoga- Uniting Movement and Breath out from the library. I watched the interview with Seane at the beginning where she shared some of her journey to and through Yoga and the impact it has made on her life. The cords of my heart were struck and I was so inspired by her realness and willingness to discuss the raw and sometime less than pretty moments in life. Seane speaks to my heart in a way than no one else has.
I’m not even really a fan of Vinyasa Yoga to be honest, but I am a fan of Seane! I could go to her workshop and just lay on my mat and listen to her teaching and it would be more than worth the price of the workshop!
I have studied with Seane in a couple of workshops now (and plan to do a lot more) and every time I leave with huge aha’s about my life, my practice, my journey and my teaching. Deep bows to this little gal for helping me stay open-hearted and my light shining bright.
Seane Corn is an internationally renowned Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher and spiritual activist, who focuses her teachings on self-empowerment, self-actualization, Dharma (purpose) and Seva (service).
Since 2007, she has been training leaders of activism through her co-founded organization Off the Mat, Into the World®. Seane is also co-founder of a ground-breaking fund and awareness effort across the yoga world called the ‘Seva Challenge Humanitarian Tour’, which has collectively raised over $4.5 million since 2007 for international communities in need.
Her self-authored dvds and cd set are available through Gaiam, Yoga Journal and Sounds True. For more information, to learn more about Seane visit www.seanecorn.com.
I was introduced to Tara virtually (even though we live in the same city) by a mutual friend. I couldn’t believe someone this amazing lived in Calgary and I had not heard of her?! I quickly connected with Tara via email and the rest is history.
Tara is my go to gal for clarity. Sometimes my head still wants to be in charge (working on that) and I have trouble listening to my heart (especially when it comes to the big stuff). Whenever I am having trouble listening to my heart and fully embracing it’s message I seek out Tara’s help.
Tara has a way of getting right down to it, and I get more clarity and detail from a 30 minute reading than I have gotten from 90 minute readings in the past.
I now count Tara as a key member of my universal guidance team and a friend. I have sent many friends her way and they all give the same rave review of her readings and counsel.
If you are having trouble “getting out of your own way” and need clarity I cannot recommend her enough!
Tara Taylor is an internationally renowned intuitive counselor, spiritual teacher, motivational speaker and published author. Also an expert in the connections between ego, emotions, and intuition who has helped thousands of adults and teenagers. She has been featured internationally in newspapers, radio and television and has helped many people through her workshops, seminars and public speaking on the difference between the higher self and the ego.
Tara is President and CEO of Whitelight Wellness as well as Sacred Space, a wellness center located in Calgary, Canada, and co-founder of Just Say Yes Seminars.
Tara attended St. Paul’s University for four years studying World Religions, Theology, and Pastoral Counseling. She also an Integrated Energy Therapy® Master/Instructor, and a Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master.
Tara is one of the contributing authors to the Amazon best-seller Manifesting Success: The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams and co-author of HayHouse Publishing’s first YA Series Through Indigo’s Eyes and Becoming Indigo. Learn more about Tara at www.TaraTaylor.ca
So there you have it, my Sheroes! I’m always looking to connect with more inspiring women so in the comments below let me know who are your Sheroes?
Disclaimer: This item was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of review. As with all my product reviews, I only give my honest opinions and I only review items I would buy with my own money. In fact, I send products back and don’t review them if I don’t find they fit my very high standards for sustainability, ethics and product quality. I am not an affiliate of Sweet Skins and make zero money if you buy any items. I just think it’s important to to highlight some of the smaller companies who are doing amazing work.
As a Yoga teacher I wear leggings a lot and most of them, to be honest, disappoint me. Now that has all changed. I have fallen in love with the Sweet Skins Soya High-waisted leggings!
Mira Fannin, designer/owner of Sweet Skins Organic Apparel, reached out to me about her clothing line. Sweet Skins fits right in line with what a look for in Yoga Clothing (ethically made and sustainable) so I told Mira I would be happy to review an item of her line.
After looking at her line I selected the Soya high waisted leggings in purple and the rest is history. I have completely fallen in love with these leggings. They are by far the BEST leggings I have worn to date and I plan on buying more in purple and in black.
In the video down below I go into more detail about the leggings and give my full review, but before I get into that allow me to introduce you to the woman behind the brand, learn more about Sweet Skins and how it came to be.
My interview with Mira Fannin Designer/Owner Sweet Skins Organic Apparel
Me: How did Sweet Skins come about?
Mira: Sweet Skins is a minority women owned eco-clothing Company. I’m a Designer and mother of three. I started the company 10 years ago selling at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon. Sweet Skins has since grown into a web-based company shipping clothing all over the world, sold in fine boutiques nationally and internationally, and using the latest and greatest in ecologically sound fibers through conscious clothing manufacturing.
Me: What’s the vision or mission of your company?
Mira: Sweet Skins is committed to bringing women simple, elegant clothing that makes dressing and looking fantastic effortless and fun. I am committed to running an environmentally and ethically sound company, as we grow and maintain strong roots to the community, the health of the planet and to pave the road for a new more conscious business model. “I want to be an example of success for future entrepreneurs and young people from diverse backgrounds”.
Me: So many clothing lines are mass produced abroad in sweat shops with little care for the earth or the workers.
I know that your line is made in the US and sweat shop free, but you also use sustainable fabrics. Which ones do you use and why did you decide to go this route?
Mira: We use a variety of fabrics like eco-fleece, hemp, organic cottons, soy blends and wool for their low impact processing and superior texture and quality. Dyes are low impact and everything from fabric scraps to paper products are recycled or reused.
Me: If someone hasn’t worn natural and organic fabrics for Yoga before what can they expect? How does the fabric feel and preform?
Mira: Unlike most Yoga wear, ours is made from natural fabrics, so you will not get that synthetic sweat repelling effect. It is softer and more breathable. It needs to be washed after each session because it may tend to loosen up more than synthetics, only to bounce back to original tightness and be ready for the next wear. Nyk, maybe you can speak to this yourself, since you’ve been wearing our high waist leggings.
Me: Yes, I have been wearing organic cotton & bamboo for a while now but the soya and hemp fabrics are newer to me and I am loving the soya (more in the video)
Me: What are the ways the company gives back? Are there charities or non-for-profits you support?
Mira: Sweet Skins is designed and made in our own studio-warehouse by a handful of diverse women living in non-industrial Eugene, Oregon.
We make use of our small pieces of fabric, panties, scarves and slippers, baby shirts etc.
Pieces that are too small and all of our unused fabrics and scraps we donate to artists and crafters.
We have had fund raisers in the past for the international woman’s organization RAWA (Radical Afghani Woman Association). Definitely eager to do more of this kind of thing as we grow: focus on International Woman’s Empowerment!
Watch the video below for a more detailed review and to find out why I fell head over heels for these leggings. Mira was also generous enough to offer a discount code for you off your first order, you’ll find that below the video.
Check out Sweet Skins and use the discount code realyoga15 to get 15% off your order (expires April 1 2015).
Elephant Journal Posts:
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.
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
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.
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:
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:
“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”
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.
My Current Self Care Practice
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?
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.
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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