Author: Denise Davis-Gains

5 Benefits of Partner Yoga

atlas studioPartner yoga is an excellent opportunity for us to play, relax, and deepen the experience of love, while receiving all the benefits of yoga. The practice supports us to unplug from the stress of everyday life and nourish each other in both simple and profound ways. It opens up a whole new way of relating that is beneficial for all the different aspects of our being.

Here are five benefits of practicing partner yoga.

Partner Yoga connects and relaxes us. Partner yoga cuts through our habitual ways of relating and brings us more easily and directly into the heart. The touch and physical connection have an immediate relaxing effect that calms the mind and nervous system. We thrive on physical contact.

It supports our yoga practice. It is a wonderful entry into yoga for those who have little or no yoga experience & possibly believe themselves to be inflexible. Our partner’s presence provides the comfort and safety to stay present in areas of physical or emotional discomfort and supports us to move into places that are difficult to access on our own. For more experienced practitioners, the practice can deepens both our postures and our understanding of the healing power of yoga.

It creates more authenticity and honesty. The connection with our partner easily and naturally goes deeper because we are communicating directly, beyond words and stories, through our touch and presence. We learn that we don’t have to sacrifice our needs in order to be in relationship. Instead, we explore our own alignment and presence as the foundation to support our partner. In this way, the practice can cut through projections and misunderstandings and provide an opportunity to be transparent, honest, and vulnerable with each other. As one student recently shared, “Doing partner yoga helps us come close and back to love after an upset or disconnect. It’s a safe space to re-enter into intimacy.” Not only for romantic partners but for parents and children, for friends and siblings.

It allows us to see who & how we are in relationship. Simply sitting back to back, feeling a partner’s breath and warmth, we become mirrors for each other and feel how the quality of our presence impacts the other. We can feel if we are showing up as a willing, openhearted partner or open up to the opportunity of observing our resistance and/or assumptions about self or other.

It deepens our capacity for intimacy. Partner Yoga is a wonderful tool for us to enhance intimacy, going beyond the personality to recognize the soul attributes of those we are in relationship with. It can also be a magical way to get to know someone new in our lives!

(adapted from Elizabeth Williamson’s notes on the same subject, the edits and expansions are mine)


Flower of Life Yoga & Meditation Retreat – Costa Rica

TierraDeSueños2017_Fotografìas_SantiagoPascual_InternetSize_117Retreat is Nobel. Let’s retreat together to the beach and jungle of Costa Rica and give ourselves time to practice yoga, focus on deep self care and exploration of body, mind and spirit with long-time dedicated yogini, Denise Davis-Gains (over 30 years studying yoga and meditation, more than 24 years teaching yoga & wellness and 20 years training yoga teachers).
We will explore the world together and remember how to listen closely to our body, mind and spirit. Our days will start with yoga and a deep connection to our sankalpha. Conscious, locally sourced food supports our dedication to the planet and our bodies. Workshops and classes that take us places we have never been. A deeply satisfying experience for our wild, untameable souls!
Investment: 2,597.00 (airfare not included, shuttle included)
Early bird registration: With a 700.00 deposit….500.00 discount up until March 25, 2018 – extended by the retreat organizers!!!! That is a 20% savings.  Payment plans are available!
There are only 18 places – so register early!!
The Accommodations:
Tierra de Suenos is nestled in the jungle right next to some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. The rustic retreat centre is just outside of the Caribbean resort town of Puerto Viejo.
The centre is in the jungle and monkeys, toucans, sloths and other wildlife inhabit the area and are often seen overhead.
A quiet and refreshing retreat centre surrounded by the beauty of Costa Rica.
Flights not included. Group Shuttle/ground transportation included from Airport to Retreat Centre.
Remaining amount due after deposit in 2 payments, May 1, 2018 and November 1, 2018. A monthly payment plan is available upon request. Email Denise at
The Program -includes:
* 7 nights accommodations (shared Costa Rican style bungalows)
* Locally Sourced Meals daily
* Daily 2 yoga classes(am/pm), workshops, yoga nidra & meditation, live music and conversations with a master yoga teacher. See the retreat schedule here…
* a welcome gift
Optional Wellness Activities on site include:
* Infrared Sauna
* Massages
* Reiki
* Acupuncture
Optional Tours & Activities on site include:
*Surfing Lessions
*Swimming with Dolphins
* Medicine Man Tour in Local Jungle
*Chocolate Tour
*Waterfall or Jungle Hikes
*Hike learning about native plants
*Day with Native BriBri tribes
*Jaguar Rescue Centre
*Horseback riding
*Other spectacular Beaches
*White water rafting
Investment: 2597.00
** Deposit of 700.00 required to reserve your spot!!
Watch our facebook event page for more details….

Easy Carrot Root’Dog Recipe

This summer Adrienne joined our community of hearts and brought with her a passion for good quality health food. One day she mentioned carrot hotdogs and I thought wow, what a great idea, but how would they taste? So, I set out to make the best tasting carrot hots anyone had ever tasted. And I believe that we successes! I took this great recipe and brought them to our family camp (where there are usually 35-70 dedicated meat eating veggie resistant, salt of the earth souls. The hotdogs were an overwhelming success, 35 out of 36 taste testers were blown away by the taste and texture and all agreed that they would eat them again and many wanted the recipe!


Feeling brave or adventurous today, try out my recipe.

Carrot Root Dog Recipe

Let’s assume that we are all getting the best quality ingredients that we can afford. Organic, natural and as fresh as possible.

Boil Carrots (use the number that you need, make extra, you will want more) to the firmness that as per your taste.  Marinade the carrots 2-3 hours in a mixture of organic soy, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, spices and capers (optional). I prefer to marinade them overnight so that they are ready when I want them or when I need them. Take Root’dogs out of marinade and place on a med/high warm BBQ (could also be done in the over or stove top as in the picture above but my favourite so far is on the BBQ).


  • Carrots (6-12)
  • Marinade
  • 1/4 cup organic soy sauce (I like Braggs),
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar,
  • 1/4 cup of sesame oil,
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic,
  • equivalent in grated or chopped ginger,
  • tablespoon of capers (optional),
  • pinch of black pepper,
  • pinch of garlic powder,
  • pinch of celery seed.
  • Other spices according to taste 😉

Now for the best part, top them with what ever your favourite toppings are.  This is a limitless list.  Come back soon and I will make some suggestions for fabulous toppings.

For those who what to get really really real here, use kale or other leafy green as a Root’dog wrap and if you really want a bun, try the Eziekial buns, spouted grains and good nutrition value.

Soon, to come I will post the nutrition values for each recipe we post.  This blog is a work in progress, much like my life.

Love & enjoy wild soulful food,


Reiki level 1

 First Degree Attunement with…. Elizabeth Perezwith
Elizabeth Perez


Heal self, family & friends

Sept 17, 2016                                Stimulate Personal & Spiritual Growth

Saturday 12-6pm                                    Learn the ancient Japanese

tuition: 199.00                                   Sacred Healing Art of Reiki

Members pay only 149.00

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by touch and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. This is a holistic way of healing every one and everything around us.

register by email: or     text 519.240.9642              

Soul Dive

309260Soul Dive with Maya Polywjanyj
February 10, 24, March 10, 24, April 7, 21, 2017
Friday’s alternate weeks 8:30-10pm
Donation: 20.00 (at the door)

SOUL DIVE is based on 5 Rhythms, the work of Gabrielle Roth, the ancient art of Ecstatic Dance.  This is a spontaneous movement class designed to explore body movement. It is aimed at helping you tune in to your own patterns of movement and expand your range of personal expression. Benefits include, physical activation, stress release, body loosening, emotional purging in a safe and respectful environment, and mindfulness practice. SOUL DIVE offers a vehicle in which to listen to your body and connect to your deeper self. Come join us.

Suited for ALL levels of fitness, no dance experience nor ability required.

Wear comfortable clothes, bring water and towel.

register by email: or     text 519.240.9642              

18 Ainslie Street South, Unit B Cambridge, On
(beside Monigrams Coffee Roasterie)

Soul Dive Goddess

Facilitator:   Maya started dancing on and around furniture from a young age and she naturally took to the world of physical movement.  In her late teens and early twenties, dance floors became open space to express.  Maya was exposed to Ecstatic Dance and the work of Osho in the 1990’s.  While living in Korea, she would plug in her cassette player and dance around the cultural temple, late into the evening, when the city was falling asleep.  Some 13 years ago she discovered Contact Dance, a music-less form of dance exploration with partners.  For the past 4 years Maya has been part of the Toronto 5 Rhythms scene.  She has cultivated her own movement practice with weekend intensives taught by a variety of teachers including  Kathy Altman, Adam Barley, Evangelos Diavolitsis, and others.  Last year she partook in a 5 and 7 day dance intensive with Open Floor teachers in the USA.  In June 2016, a profound Tango lesson while in Argentina opened her understanding of relationship movement further. The practice continues..



lululemon yoga mat review 1

Lululemon Yoga Mat Review

Lululemon Yoga Mat Review

lululemon mat yoga review

My background in Fashion Merchandising taught me to look carefully at the companies that I support as a consumer. 

When Lululemon first hit the scene, the company stood up to the most rigorous examination.  As companies progress in the development phases of business sometimes we see a decline in quality as the bottom line begins to demand sacrifices.  The Lululemon yoga mat seems to have withstood the test of time so far.

review by denise davis-gains

While I am not that tall, a mere 5’5”, I still like an extra long yoga mat.  It just feels luxurious and I have room for props and blanket and can still keep it all on the mat.

black lululemon mat yoga reviewThe Lululemon reversible (big) mat is promoted as a “men’s” mat, but I like the solid feel, the dark colour, deep coal black and reasonable price (see Lululemon’s website for current pricing of this mat).

This Lululemon yoga mat was designed to be reversible, extra long and wide for tall yogis and those who like to really stretch out during practice.

The natural rubber base gives plenty of cushioning, great for a classic hatha yoga practice and the polyurethane top layer improves grip during the sweaty practices of hot yoga. We may want to get to class early to claim an extra-large spot, with this mat!

lululemon yoga mat blue review

I am still working with carpel tunnel syndrome in my wrists and the thick rubber construction provides cushioning, making practice on the hands and knees just a little more comfortable. The polyurethane coating stays grippy even in sweaty hot vinyasa 1class.  The most recent update to this mat made it lighter, whew!

The natural rubber has a slight smell, but don’t worry, it seems to fade over time (tip: unroll it and air it out and clean with 10 parts water one part vinegar before you head to class).  There is an antimicrobial additive that helps prevent mold and mildew on the mat.  This mat can be wiped down with warm, mild soapy water. Makes it easy to keep clean and fresh.

lululemon yoga mat review 1

This 5mm thick  Lululemon yoga mat is really a beauty.  I first saw it in a yoga class that I was teaching at the courthouse.  A lawyer who had been using his daughters old mat, showed up last week with this sweet, slick looking number and I had to find out the scoop. 

The Lululemon yoga mat is made of polyurethane, rubber and latex, so if you have allergies to one of those you will need to look for a different yoga mat. I didn’t find the smell strong but some people do report that the smell is offensive like burning rubber.  So if you are sensitive to smells, maybe try a different yoga mat.  Personally, I didn’t notice the smell on first inspection.

If you are looking for a Lululemon yoga mat that is super long and wide and don’t mind the smell of rubber, this is the one for you.




Mantra Musings


On the Organic Origins of Sanskrit and Mantra By Terry Stainton

How does one, as an animal, albeit a spiritual animal benefit from vocalising a few syllables of ‘nonsense’? Many languages have words derived from ‘onomatopoeia’ which are words that closely represent the actual sound or action. The word ‘crash’ when spoken (or even thought !!) sounds like a crash, as we think of it in English. In this sense, word-sounds of language evolved from the subconscious of the primitive people who spawned them. Gabriel Axel: “Mantra is a Sanskrit word for “sound tool,” (a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”. ) and Om is one of myriad such mantras. Sanskrit and some other ancient languages such as Tibetan, prototypical Egyptian and ancient Hebrew evolved as complex systems of onomatopoeia, where the sounds evoke movements of energy.

This evocation is qualitative and subjective and is linked with interoception (inner body sensations) and emotional sense of self, both predominantly represented in the right hemisphere of the brain. Conversely, the narrative strand of sounds in which we give them meaning is done predominantly through the left hemisphere. What is fascinating about mantras is that from a physics standpoint, the sounds themselves, before they are assigned meaning, will resonate in different parts of the body and mind, creating actual interactions or events.” As we see everyday, people listen to music to relax. Possibly what they are accomplishing is distracting themselves from dwelling in past events or worrying about the future. It keeps them in the Here and Now. Some find classical music useful to meditate, as it calms the savage beast. Some may feel that some Rap music and Death Metal have lyrics and themes that are anti-social, leading us to believe perhaps that these listeners are sociopaths. But consider if these people are frustrated, not only with life, but more importantly with “monkey brain”. Wild thoughts may distract them from daily activities. This loud harsh stimulation actually keeps them focused in the way that caffeine and Adderall (clinical amphetamines) do. I believe that this is not a good example of Mantra, but a harsh maladaptation of sound stimulus as a treatment. While it is if course ad-hoc, it may actually be functional.

It is quite possible that Sanskrit is wholly onomatopoeic and that the sound of each word was chosen to resonate with the Central Nervous System (CNS) and invoke a ‘Spirit’ within, related to the perceived characteristics of the object being coded into Sanskrit . Most languages evolve from a base, savage and guttural proto-human beginning and then over time this language is evolved by it’s users. Latin was already dying, by evolving far beyond traditional Latin in the time of Jesus (CE). The Romance languages, (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and yes, even Romanian) were evolved from Vulgar Latin which were local adaptations of true Latin, not Imperial Roman Latin. Sanskrit on the other hand is a cleverly manufactured language. The Sanskrit verbal adjective sáṃskṛta- may be translated as “put together, constructed, well or completely formed; refined, adorned, highly elaborated”. It is derived from the root word saṃ-skar- “to put together, compose, arrange, prepare” The name Sanskrit means “refined”, “consecrated” and “sanctified”. It has always been regarded as the ‘high’ language and used mainly for religious and scientific discourse.

It may be hard to believe that Sanskrit is the ‘mother tongue’ of the Indo European Languages, from Indian, Iranian, Greek, Latin through Western Europe including English. Sanskrit is ‘natural’ and not evolved by the whim of it’s users, as most modern languages have. It is a shame that the mish-mash language we call English is the ‘lingua franca’ of most of the world.

Personal use of Mantra: For a Mantra to have an effect it must be experienced and “felt” within one’s consciousness. Many single word Mantras can create a stimulus response in the brain, where a certain area would be turned “on” roughly similar to Dr. Penfield triggering the sensation of burnt toast. (q.v.) this can become a focal point for introspection and Mindfulness. It clears the brain activity to a single point, no mean feat! The classic Om is phonetically “Aum” and is linked phonetically and possible functionally to the word “Amen”. The similarity to Yoga Mantras and Gregorian Chanting is clear. Mantras may have different effects from person to person. The differences are a result of the condition of the body and mind of the practitioner and thus, we can expect that the efficacy of a Mantra to change, as it changes us !!

Gabriel Axel: Mantras can be done vocally, sub-vocally (whispering) or silently in the mind. It is recommended to start aloud, and then proceed with the more silent variations. Silent repetition does have an effect; when the frequency of any sound is high enough, it extends beyond the human range of hearing and eventually achieves stillness, which is beyond sound itself Moreover, group chanting or recitation of mantra can synchronize the brainwaves between the participants, achieving yet another level of collective effect, as has been shown between musicians, which can help to understand the functional basis for group chanting in many of the world’s wisdom traditions. And so we see that Mantras have a subliminal effect on the body and mind. This effect changes over the course of Mantra chanting, as the Mantra changes the body and the mind. Yoga Mantras are based on Sanskrit, which itself was intentionally designed to be sonorous and cause a reflection of the thing being vocalized. Mantras may be performed ‘out loud’, quietly (whispering) or silently in the mind.

That’s Life

constance dickson yoga teacher training school graduate

Tuesday Jan 27/15 a date that will probably be locked into the recesses of my brain forever, the day I was knocked over by a kid on a crazy carpet and in a instant  my life changed forever!   Within a blink of an eye, I was catapulted back to infancy, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other, much less able to do anything for myself.   In that moment came the realization that the small things in life became the big things in life.

Sitting in the emergency room with my loving husband beside me, I realized I had to go to the bathroom.    I said “Honey you’re going to have to come with me because I can’t pull my pants down by myself. “   So off we went to the bathroom together under the watchful eyes of all the other patient’s in the waiting room who looked at us questioningly.

So that was the beginning of my journey of convalescence with a fracture of my left proximal humerus (upper arm) which ironically led me to many wonderful insights and revelations over the next many weeks.   I spent much of my time sitting upright in the lazy boy because lying down was just too painfully difficult.  Daytime TV just didn’t interest me so much of my time was spent in contemplation or meditation but because of my ritual of daily meditation I had no difficulty adopting this pass time.  I learned to live in the present moment.  The past was over, the future hadn’t arrived yet and all I had was the present moment and it was a gift.  What did I do with this gift?  I was able to read the books I have been wanting to read and some I had wanted to reread as well.   I was actually quite content to just sit and just heal.

Like a small child my life had become all about milestones.   After 3-4 days, I was able to manage in the bathroom all by myself!  Whew! More progress when we were finally able to remove the shirt I had worn for three days because it had to go over my head!  Because the break was so close to my shoulder, there was no cast and luckily it was beginning to heal by itself so no surgery was necessary.

Nights were long and arduous since I was only able to sleep for a few hours lying down then having to ask my husband to help me get up into the lazy boy chair since sitting upright was the most comfortable.  I have never been able to take much medication because it always seem to have some negative effect or other on my body.  My husband and I had many heated discussions on how I should be taking the pain medication that was prescribed.  Reluctantly I took one at bedtime which did help me sleep longer but it left me feeling like a zombie until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.   So I decided to practice what I preach.  I was always telling my yoga students that when you are in a pose and your thigh or calf or some other body part is just killing you, SEND your breath there!   So that is what I did!   Whenever I felt any discomfort in my arm I sent my breath there and low and behold, IT WORKED!!!  Coupled with lots of Reiki applied by myself most of my convalescing was spent feeling very mellow and relaxed.  This method also worked wonders when physio Bill was putting me through my paces!

I was truly missing my daily yoga practice, so I decided to do my practice in my head.   What I found was that I felt just as energized and calm after as if I had done the actual physical practice!

As the weeks marched on I slowly started doing a few poses with lots of breathing into different areas of my body especially my upper arm all the while visualizing myself doing the full expression of the pose.  I can say with great conviction that yoga helped me immensely on my healing journey.

Fast forward to 16 weeks later.   I have finished my stint at physio but I continue to do range of motion exercises everyday and continue to see more progress week by week.   Yoga and meditation has helped me so much on my journey and continues to do so.    Week by week as I continue to practice, I can see that I am able to stretch a little farther with each pose practiced.    At this point I can honestly say with great conviction and love  “THANK YOU YOGA!”

Constance Dickson, RPN CPTN OFC CYA 500
Graduate 500 hour Atlas Yoga Teacher Trainer

Atlas Yoga Teacher Training

The Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

Original Research by Terry Stainton

The Big Picture
There is a large Maple tree in my back yard that must weigh 5 Tons and is about 30 to 40 feet tall.
Yet, my back yard has not been ravaged and depleted of building material.
The roots draw various nutrients and water of course, but not material to build the actual plant.
I began to wonder where it got 5 Tons of material.

Air is 78% Nitrogen, 20% Oxygen and traces of Carbon Dioxide.
We know that animals inhale air to get Oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide back.
Plants on the other hand consume Carbon Dioxide and return Oxygen.
This is very convenient, for both plants and animals and is an example of symbiosis.

For animals to move, their muscles must contract to produce physical force.
The energy to achieve this force is produced by Oxidization.
Oxidization is the combining of an Organic Compound with Oxygen.
A conventional flame or fire is an example of Oxidization.
Rust, fire and explosives are all examples of Oxidization at different rates.
To produce the energy for a muscle contraction, the arteries need to transport Oxygen from the lungs and blood sugars from the digestive system to the muscles.
These sugars are combined with the Oxygen through the process of Oxidization to produce physical force.
Carbon Dioxide and water are produced as a by-products.
The Carbon Dioxide is borne as a blood gas to the lungs to be expelled into the atmosphere.

What is a tree largely composed of?
Cellulose, which is an organic compound formed of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.
Where did it get all that Carbon, to form the wood of the tree?

From thin air.

The muscles produce Carbon Dioxide but where does the body get all that Carbon?
Carbohydrates are molecules made of Carbon and Water (H2O).
For example Glucose is a sugar with the molecular formula C6H12O6
Glucose is made in plants during photosynthesis combining water from the roots of the plant with Carbon Dioxide from the air, using energy from sunlight.
This solar energy is stored as Glucose in plants, as starch or lipids. (Tree sap is a Carbohydrate.)

To produce energy for muscular movement we need to eat plants to gain Carbohydrates to be Oxidized.
When our muscles move, the resulting Carbon Dioxide and water is the very thing that plants need to survive.
They grow, scrub the air of CO2 and are eaten (again and again) by animals.
The components of this cycle (Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen) are broken up and reformed over and over:

So. . .

Sugars are formed by plants using water, Carbon Dioxide and sunlight.
Once the C has been removed from the CO2, the O2 is released into the air.
This Oxygen is used to Oxidize plant sugars to power the muscles of animals, that then produce CO2 and water.

Around and around.

The external energy source is the sun, so the whole thing is Powered by Nuclear Fusion ®

(Foot Notes)

® Registered Trade Mark of Mother Nature.

Actual Sucrose Molecule. A Carbohydrate.

sucrose molecule





The Sucrose’s Stick Family on their minivan.
Sweet couple.


Atlas Yoga Studio
18 Ainslie Street South, Unit B
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
N1R 3K1


Our studio schedule is dynamically changing with many community collaborations. Check out what's on for today - on our Contact page


Director: Denise Davis-Gains
Phone: +1 519-240-9642