Category Archives: Blog

Why evening yoga practice should be different from morning yoga practice

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Prasarita Padottanasana 

Have you ever taken a yoga class for a specific reason, only to be disappointed with its result? That’s because it didn’t coincide with your objective. We partake in every activity for a different reason, correct? Well yoga practice shouldn’t be any different. In fact, it’s not.

Many people don’t know this, but there is a HUGE difference in the purpose of attending yoga class in the evening vs. in the morning.

Let’s take a look at evening yoga first, as it is more popular in a classroom setting.

Evening yoga should prepare you for sleep

Many yoga teachers believe that you should be only practicing restorative or gentle yoga in the evening, focusing on staying in one pose for an extended period of time. It’s true that the type of movement you do in the evening should allow you to stay in each asana (pose) for a longer time than you would in the morning. The type of asanas you do would allow you to unload yourself of any remaining stress for the day, thus making it easier to fall asleep.

BUT, imagine arriving at the studio, beginning the class, and holding the Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose) for 60 seconds…

90 seconds…

Will you make it to 120 seconds?

You probably will, but what’s the point? For a lot of people who come to yoga, their work is very static. You may get up to talk with some colleagues, or go from your desk to the meeting room, or downstairs for lunch. Other than that, your movement is limited. You’re challenged mentally throughout the day, but not physically. This is why evening yoga practice has to complete this task of wearing someone out. Does laying on the floor for a while wear you out?

No, not really, because it takes no effort. In fact, you’ll start to get frustrated. What’s the point of laying down after work if your mind is ready to relax but your body isn’t? You’re not sleeping and you’re not exercising, so why partake in this laying or sitting or stretching for a prolonged period of time?

You shouldn’t. Here’s what you do instead:

Before you begin any activity that involves stretching, it’s necessary to warm up. You can’t stretch clay after it’s been sitting for so long in the cold, right? You have to roll it and mold it every which way. If you try to stretch it, it’ll just break. The same is true with our muscles. In the evening, they’re not cold per se because you haven’t been sleeping all day, but they’re not warm because you weren’t doing rigorous activity. So in order to stretch out the muscles, you have to warm them up. In the evening, however, there is less of a necessity to warm up as vigorously. (We’re trying to go to sleep, remember? We’re not trying to get pumped up.) You can even do dynamic stretches rather than warm up because of the fact that you were moving throughout the day.

In evening yoga practice, it is beneficial to include poses such as: Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend), Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), and by the time you’re done you can do a restorative yoga pose such as Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall).

The point of doing these is to tire out your muscles, otherwise they’ll be screaming at night, telling you to get up for a run. No, go to sleep muscles!

Morning yoga should prepare you for an active day

Time for a nice, big cup of coffee, right? …Or you can try something that gently moves you from unconscious, to conscious, to ready to get going! Coffee can be great if you want a sudden jolt, but it’s far more effective to start your day gradually than it is to wake up with a go-go-go mentality. In this way, you will experience less stress.

You should do the same kind of transition with yoga practice in the morning. Start out light, and then gradually go for the fun stuff. But once you get to the fun stuff, you can do it very fast-paced. This includes the warm-up. You were sleeping at night, remember? (That’s if you wore out your muscles enough the previous evening.) So you need to warm them up completely.

Remember when I mentioned getting pumped up in the evening is a no-no? Well the opposite is true for morning yoga practice. Say this to your muscles as soon as you wake up:

ARE YOU READY TO GET PUMPED UP?

Your muscles will get so excited!

So let’s warm up and get ready to stay in asanas for a shorter period of time than you would in the evening because you’re trying to get your muscles to get going. Starting off with warrior poses is a great way to do that.

In morning yoga practice, it is beneficial to include poses such as: Trikonasana (triangle pose), Utkata Konasana (goddess pose), Matsyasana (fish pose), and Ardha Uttanasana (standing half forward bend).

The point of doing these poses is to activate your muscles, making it easier for blood to pump through your body and especially to your head, otherwise it’ll be more difficult for you to get your daily tasks done.

What kind of things do you do to improve the quality of your day? Let us know!

            We’ll be posting morning and evening sequences soon so that you start practising! Let us know what other types of videos you’d like us to cover. Ciao for now!

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3 Ways to Cleanse Your Body after Thanksgiving

If you’re a regular ol’ Canadian who loves turkey and getting together with the family, you probably enjoyed a mighty feast last weekend. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling like a champion! If you aren’t feeling the same way, that might be because you ate a little too much and are feeling a little bloated. Sure, you still want to eat those bacon strips in the morning, but how about a substitute? Or even just a supplement?

These are 3 things you can add into your daily regimen (you don’t have to include all 3 each day) to make you feel better every day. Trying each of these suggestions will have your body (and mind) work more effectively and more freely.

Apples

Whether you choose to juice them or eat them on their own, apples are a great food to consume. If you are going to juice them, there’s no need to peel them because the majority of nutrients can be found right under the skin of the apple.

As a ‘miracle food’, it’s no wonder that apples have their own saying and are one of the most cultivated fruits in the world. They contain a high source of phytochemicals such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid.[1] These phytochemicals act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage. The mechanisms studied in apples have been proven to have a positive effect in relation to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, weight management, and bone health.[2] Sounds like a pretty good deal.

So use the season to your advantage and collect the hundreds of apples still available on the ground! Many of these apples are in perfect condition and people think that they’re bad because they’ve fallen from the tree. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the apples that are on the ground should be the ones you pick first because they are the ripest. I learned that firsthand from apple farmers at Country Apple Orchard Farm.

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Ivan Chai

Like apples, tea contains a lot of polyphenols. In one cup of tea, you would consume typically 100 mg polyphenols.[3] Ivan Chai in particular, which is lesser known in the world of teas today, especially in the Western hemisphere, has major restorative benefits. The tea is created from a plant called ‘fireweed’ which grows most prominently in areas that have experienced forest fires.[4] In addition to healing wildlife, it is also instrumental in healing people.

You can buy the tea from a European deli or try to find some of the plant in a forest near you. The tea strengthens the immune system and is often used to combat common colds. It’s also a terrific tool to use for helping with the production of red blood cells. As it is a diuretic, it will help to flush the body of many toxins.

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Yoga

Of course we’re going to include yoga in here. If nobody’s told you yet, let me break it to you; yoga’s goal is liberation—and that includes our body. But you can’t just expect that the feeling of being bloated will go away after meditating for five minutes and doing an array of different asanas. You have to target the region of your body that is feeling that discomfort. That means that your movements should be focusing on the digestive system.

“Why do I specifically have to target the digestive system?” You might ask.

Well, think about it this way. If you injured your MCL (medial collateral ligament), you’re not going to do physiotherapy for your whole body, right? All you need to target is your MCL.

The same is true with “injuring” your stomach (yes, I just called overeating an injury; deal with it). When this happens, a process called “peristalsis” slows down. Usually this process helps to move food through the digestive system through a series of muscle contractions, but when there is a large buildup of food, this leaves you with the impression of ‘bloating’. The excess food stretches the intestines and eventually if this happens too often, will cause you to accumulate stones. Doing a series of seated twists in yoga will help to restore proper peristalsis. This includes twists such as the Sage’s Pose (Marichyasana), Half spinal twist pose (Ardha Matsyedrasana), and the Sage’s Twist (Bharadvajasana). In between the twists I recommend holding the boat pose (Paripurna Navasana) in order to give your body a break.

An important thing to keep in mind when doing these poses is that you start your twists on the right side and finish on the left. This will move your body properly from the ascending colon on the right and to the descending colon on the left. Now, get to twisting!

Boat Pose

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Let us know if you try any of these methods and how they turn out.

Happy Thursday!

[1] Jeanelle Boyer and Rui Hai Lui, “Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits,” Nutrition Journal 3, no. 5 (May 12, 2004), doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-5.

[2] Dianne A. Hyson, “A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health,” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 2, no. 5 (2011): 418, doi:10.3945/an.111.000513.

[3] Kanti Bhooshan Pandey and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi, “Plant Polyphenols as Dietary Antioxidants in Human Health and Disease,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2, no. 5 (2009): 270, doi:10.4461/oxim.2.5.9498.

[4] Robert Dale Rogers, “Fireweed – a treasured medicine of the boreal forest,” Discovery Phytomedicine 1 (2014), doi:10.15562/phytomedicine.2014.16.

How to correct your spine issues using correct swimming technique

If you want to strengthen your spine, the best recommendation you can get is to swim. I’m not talking about getting in the water and going as far as you can using whatever method possible. If you have an injury, you need to understand what technique works for your injury and why, otherwise you could end up creating more harm than good.

Swimming can be relaxing for those who have a basic understanding of the strokes, but if done incorrectly, it could greatly impede your progress to reverse your spinal injury and strengthen your spine.

Let’s look at 5 swim strokes and their impact on your spine:

The Doggy Paddle

Those who doggy paddle tend to do so because they know no other stroke. A lot of children are taught to swim in this way the first year they get in the water. I see a lot of adults swimming this “style” as well.

Staying afloat is the first thing you should learn before getting into technique, however, the nika_dsdoggy paddle does not teach you how to stay afloat. It teaches you how to get from point A to point B. There are two factors of the doggy paddle that make it easier to sink. Firstly, you become more tired; it requires a lot of effort causing you to breathe more rapidly. In turn, this will lead to less air in the lungs. Secondly, because only beginner swimmers tend to use this stroke, they become tenser whilst trying to swim. This leads to an increase in density in the muscles. It would be like releasing some air out of a balloon and putting in rocks instead.

As I mentioned before, swimming can be relaxing. But when swimming the doggy paddle, a lot of people believe that the harder they work, the easier it will be to get to the other side. That is where the problems start. You thrust your neck upward (and yes, I’ve seen adults do this too) because you’re afraid of it touching the water for some reason. For this reason, it is a terrible stroke to use when trying to heal a spinal injury.

There’s a reason why this style is called the doggy paddle—it shouldn’t be applied to humans.

Side Glide

This isn’t a stroke but it is a great technique to use before learning how to swim both front and nika_ssback strokes. And it is great for the spine! That’s because if done correctly, your head and neck are in line with your spine and it gets gentle resistance from moving through water. Make sure your arm is glued to your ear. Many people think it’s good enough to have your arm glued to your head but that will not ensure correct form. Maybe even turn it into a fun game of making sure you can’t hear anything from one ear as long as you’re in the water. One move away from your ear and it’ll increase the pain you’re experiencing from your injury. So keep your eyes open and that ear closed!

Butterfly

Maybe you want to swim like Michael Phelps one day, but not with your injury. Even without annika_fs injury, this stroke takes years to perfect. That’s because buoyancy plays no part in getting you forward like most strokes. You rely on a large portion of your muscles—especially your back muscles. This is a problem for people with spinal injuries because without enough muscle, your spine doesn’t have the momentum to go through the motions alone.

Front Stroke/Crawl

Just as discussed in the side glide section, this stroke is beneficial to those with spinal injuriesnika_fc because your head is always in line with your spine. Think of it like this: you’re looking at the bottom of the pool for inspiration as to whether you should do your side glide on the right or on the left, then you take a breath after three strokes, and keep looking for your inspiration. Repeat.

Breaststroke

Most adults do some version of this stroke but they exclude the part where their head goes in nika_bsthe water, giving you time to float forward for a few seconds. That’s fine if you’re just swimming for fun, but with an injury it will irritate your spine to not take that floating break. The break allows the water to gently push against the spine, giving it a soft massage. Try it out!

In summary:

What you should do — side glide, front crawl, and breaststroke

What you shouldn’t do — doggy paddle and butterfly

Final thoughts:

It’s easy to sign up for lessons at your town’s local recreation centre, but in this case, it’s smarter to do your research and find a program that corresponds to your needs. Local recreational programs often cater to the average person. The instructors are qualified for the curriculum of the course, not for advanced anatomical problems.

Swim clubs on the other hand focus on fitness, intensity, and speed. They are great to join after you’ve fixed your injuries. What good is swimming nearly as fast as Michael Phelps if you’re damaging your spine along the way? (Trick question—you can’t swim as fast as Michael Phelps with incorrect technique)

Focus on what you are looking for. Find a program that not only has a qualified instructor, but an experienced instructor who has worked with people in your situation. If you have your own pool, that’s great! Get to swimming, and if you have any questions on how to use proper technique, just give us a shout.

 

Office Yoga in the Snow

Yes, it’s winter time, but we still have to work. These days, most work involves technology. So much is done using computers, or phones, or tablets. This includes writing, engineering, selling, shipping, mailing, and much more. And for a lot of office workers, this is all done at their desk and in their chair.

The human body is not designed to be in the same position for such a long period of time. This will cause the body to function improperly. Do you ever get dizzy standing up too quickly after sitting for so long? If you’ve been sitting for too long, it’ll happen every time. Everything is cold mostly the feet and fingertips. Unfortunately we see this happen in the winter quite often.

Let’s learn two minutes sequence for releasing lower back pain from sitting at the computer.

Please, don’t do what I do in the snow if you are not trained to walk barefoot in the snow.

And remember – Health is Wealth!

Sincerely,

Jane Kabarguina

Release Negative Emotions From the Face

Sometimes we really want to say something, but instead we bite our tongue and seal our lips. All of these unspoken words create a pile-up of tension and end up freezing the facial muscles. As a result, many people develop TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder and can’t even open up their mouth to bite their favourite bagel in the morning.

This little sequence will help to release that tension stuck in the face. It can be done anywhere–at work, at home, on your commute–anywhere! AND–takes just 3 minutes.

Combining root veggies with wild edible plants

I’d like to share one of the easiest carrot salads with you, but I modified it to include goodness from the forest.

When you walk in the forest or park, get some stalks of goutweed. If you can find it in the very young stages you can also get the leaves as well. The mature stalks taste similar to celery.

Take 2-3 medium sized carrots for 3-4 large stalks of goutweed. Shred carrots thinly (lengthwise). Cut goutweed into 1/2 inch pieces. Form little pyramid, add minced garlic (1-2 cloves) right on the top, add some salt, black pepper, pinch of paprika and squeeze 1/3 of lemon on top. Hit up 3 table spoons of sunflower oil and pour it on the top of the pyramid to unlock the spices. Mix the salad and when it’s time to serve, add some black sesame seeds

Goutweed

has a long history of medicinal use and was cultivated as a food crop and medicinal herb in the Middle Ages. The plant was used mainly as a food that could counteract gout, one of the effects of the rich foods eaten by monks, bishops etc at this time. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. All parts of the plant are antirheumatic, diuretic, sedative and vulnerary. It also cleanses the blood vessels and strengthens them, lowers cholesterol. Externally, it is used as a poultice on burns, stings, wounds, painful joints etc.

Virasana Pose

Virasana or Vajrasana

Virasana or Vajrasana

If this pose looks pretty simple to you, then your eyes deceive you. Although it may seem like this pose is one that lets you relax on your knees, it actually requires much flexibility from the ankles, thighs and hip flexors. You are indeed a hero if you can master this pose delicately without feeling pain eventually, but not all warriors feel pain. As its name indicates, vira, meaning ‘hero’ and sana, meaning posture, the hero pose will lead you to become a conqueror of your own mind, bring to it a sense of peace and tranquility, and master the conflicts in your mind. When you are in this pose, it is important to elongate not only your spine but also your neck, your chin and your sense of understanding with both yourself and the world. Now relax and take a deep breath as you envision yourself freeing your mind from desire.

This pose stimulates Vajra Nadi, activates prana in Shushumna and redirects sexual energy for spiritual purposes. Vajra Nadi is located within Sushumna.

Not recommended to perform right after prolonged kneeling poses. The best preceding poses would be standing such as Vrksasana (Tree pose), Trikonasana (Triangle pose) and any variation of Virabhadrasana (Varrior poses).

The best pose to get right after is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose) or Prasarita Padotanasana (Standing forward bend pose)

Sources:

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2339

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03448/Hero-Pose.html

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

sequencing is as per dowsing