Category: Blog

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.

Yoga Inspiration with Krista Blakelock

prenatal yoga instructor krista blakelock

Here’s To Small Successes

by: Krista Blakelock, Prenatal Yoga Instructor

I’m exhausted this morning and am trying hard to think positively about going to teach mom and peanut yoga. Reluctantly, I decide to be nice to myself and take the bus instead of walking to the clinic where I’m going to be teaching allowing myself an extra 15 minutes to rest. Unfortunately, when I get to King Street I’m reminded that half the road is dug up and bus routes have been diverted so I’m back to walking to the clinic, 15 minutes behind schedule. I mentally kick myself. Being late is something I always feel guilty about, especially in this case since I was being “lazy.” As I hustle my way to the clinic by foot, I start thinking about the word “Failure.”

People often tell me that they “can’t do yoga…” followed by a wide array of reasons. They’re too busy, they’re not flexible, they don’t know how, they have injuries…

Behind all the excuses though, I imagine we’re really trying to mask our fear of looking silly, and of failing at what we intend to accomplish. If this is the case then the problem is not in the action itself, the concern is actually with the intention, the goal. If someone who has never taken a yoga class and has limited flexibility believes she has to be able to forward fold and touch her toes, as well as know all the weird Sanskrit words and sequences the teacher will use then she has already failed. However, if she is able to set a different intention she may be surprisingly proud of herself. Perhaps her intention ought to be: show up for one class and aim to forward fold her fingertips to her knees.

zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Robert Pirsig similarly states in his novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “An experiment is never a failure solely because it fails to achieve predicted results. An experiment is a failure only when it also fails adequately to test the hypothesis in question, when the data it produces don’t prove anything one way or the other.”

I arrive at the clinic, 10:28. Technically I’m not late but I still feel bad since the moms are there waiting. Unrolling my mat I look around and see a one year old, three year old and an 8 week old babe. Suddenly “Failure” takes on an entirely new meaning. The one year old is climbing up onto a yoga block, smiling in delight and jumping off. Occasionally she wobbles off and tumbles to the ground, only to hop up again, move the block into a different position and try again. Sitting down on my mat, mom’s following suit I ask them to set their intention for this practice to notice the successes they can find in each pose. It doesn’t have to look like what I am doing, in fact they don’t even have to be in the same pose as me. If they are feeling awesome in one posture and smiling, stay there. If it feels icky, adjust yourself and find a new way to get comfortable and smile again.

I watch the one year old wobble and topple, while maintaining the most precious smile and think, that maybe we can only learn new boundaries to our potential and soar, by falling flat on our faces first.


krista blakelock, robert pirsig, yoga blog, zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Yoga and Eating Disorders

Yoga and Eating Disorders

Laura Mifflin dance instructor & choreographer


by: Laura Mifflin, Dance Instructor and Choreographer



I believe that practicing yoga can be a form of positive treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders.

This paper takes a look at the problem of eating disorders, and makes an investigation into whether or not yoga can be used as a suitable treatment to add some positive outcome or added benefits to those suffering from eating disorders.  With millions of individuals suffering from such disorders, there are several practices and treatments being explored currently which can potentially help them.  One new outlook on treatment is through the practicing of yoga.  Specifically, the practice of asanas, integration of the body and mind, elevated spirit, relaxation, lessened focus on body image or appearance, and more.  The findings reveal that yoga practices do have beneficial impacts on suffering individuals, however, it cannot be stated that yoga is a complete cure-all.  The complexity of eating disorders in general, even when combined with yoga practices, will not provide us with a complete solution to this unfortunate condition.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a healthy eighteen-year-old girl who is in shape, and who has confidence in herself.  I am happy with my body image and I can proudly say that I am comfortable in my own skin.  I believe in myself and I rarely find myself struggling with self-esteem issues.  Personally, I do things in life that please me; I dance, because it enables me to lose myself, and find myself at the same time; I wear over-sized, baggy, cozy clothing because it is comfortable; I run because it is where I can find bliss; I don’t put effort into my hair and makeup because I am not phased by how I look; I eat food because it is a necessity, and because it is tasty; I care for others, because whenever I can help someone, it cheers me up.  As well, yoga is an activity I have involved myself with at times, for the added benefits of relaxation and flexibility.  To me, yoga is just a healthy practice that I do for enjoyment and it is a learning opportunity to get involved in.

As I go on living my life in this way, I am almost blindsided by the fact that there are individuals out there who are struggling from eating disorders.  What about those people who look at themselves in the mirror and don’t approve of how they look?  What happens to them?  Sadly, in most cases, these individuals end up suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, impulsive eating, or bulimia nervosa.  These disorders are serious issues, and cannot be overlooked.  If you do not personally know an individual suffering from an eating disorder, don’t think that there aren’t individuals suffering from the over-evaluation of their physical form, because there are.  In fact, more than five million Americans; the majority being female, are currently suffering from mental disturbances like eating disorders and body image.  This type of behavior not only has negative physical effects, but also adverse emotional and mental effects on an individual.

In most cases, when an individual is suffering from an eating disorder, especially if they are suffering from a disorder such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, side effects can include weight loss, pale skin, low energy, fragile nails, thin hair, and several other characteristics which are visibly noticeable.  However, the nature of eating disorders are such that their side effects are not always fully visible.  There are things which we can not always see on the exterior, and there are many more issues which are not visible to the naked eye.  A study done by Laura Douglas even stated, “Virtually every bodily function and organ is afflicted by the disorder”.  This statement proves just how serious and lethal these types of disorders can be.  The effects of abnormal eating that occur on those with disordered eating are negative.  There are so many aspects of the individual that are affected in such a destructive manner.

Which trait really defines someone suffering from an eating disorder?  The answer is sadness.  Sadness is the most dominant trait associated with a suffering individual, but it can also manifest itself in such manners as depression, self-mutilation, and even suicide.  Preventative programs, techniques, and therapies are all ideas that are being implemented and studied in relation to these serious issues.  As a matter of fact, there are studies being performed currently which explore how yoga and spirituality relate to factors that influence those who have eating disorders and body dissatisfaction.  Is it possible that simply engaging individuals in an activity such as yoga can help to improve the mindset of those with eating disorders?

I believe that the use of yoga practices can a form of positive treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders.  If you are a struggling with these kinds of disorders, you are an individual who is suffering with issues between the body and the mind.  What can be the most difficult issue with these disorders is that one may not actually comprehend or believe that they are a victim to a disorder.  One may constantly be under the impression that they are not at a healthy weight, or they are striving for an ideal image, which is truly unattainable.  However, whether an individual is aware and accepting of their disorder or not, there is still a main concept behind how they all feel.  The commonality that I find with eating disorders is the dissatisfaction that an individual faces with him or herself.  It can be said that the body of an eating disorder sufferer is viewed like an ornament.  This ornament involves the suffering from a disconnection from the body, appetites, feelings, and inner experiences.  This is where I find yoga can come into play.  The outcome of yoga was designed to achieve a link between the well being and inner peace of a person, with their overall physical and mental health.  Health and wellness is quite a broad topic is not a simple thing to fully understand or control, and it must be a difficult task to positively change your ways, if they are already quite negative.  However, we cannot give up on the idea that there are philosophies and perspectives that we can take and try to influence positive changes.

There is a perspective offered by a yogic philosophy that joins the dualistic split between mind and body or a spiritual crisis, and it provides methodology for the unification of the body, spirit, and mind.  I find that if there is balance between these three aspects of an individual, there is a sense of well being and balance.  It is once one of these aspects is thrown off, that issues tend to arise, such as an eating disorder or other troublesome issues.  To ensure that all aspects of self are always working properly with one another, there are asanas that can be used in this yoga practice.  These asanas include physical postures, where inward focus done by the individual enables him or herself to experience their true self or soul.  Through finding your true self or soul, an individual would be going through a self-discovery process.  This process would involve a lot of attention being given to self-observation.  The hopes of this self-observation and looking inwardly in such a peaceful way is that an individual would be able to really view what it is that gives them the dissatisfaction they hold for themselves and let go of that negativity.  The factors that can be found in a healthy yoga regimen include positive body awareness, body responsiveness, intuitive eating, and overall body satisfaction.

In fact, there was a group study performed in 2006 that set out to see if there were any correlations between body mass index, drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction as well as taking into consideration media influences.  After examination, tests, and constant practice of yoga, the findings were noted that there is a positive correlation between body mass index and drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, and the results also stated that the yoga preventative program was overall quite efficacious.  I believe that the success of this program is due to the fact that yoga is not a program focusing on how one looks, but rather on how one feels.  It is a treatment of the spirit, as well as the body.  When practicing yoga, you will notice that your body is able to feel sensations never once thought of as possible, and you will discover that you are able to put yourself in a place and in positions that may once have been impossible for you.  Relaxing and breathing into poses and postures personally allows me to enjoy the placement and test my limits.  Pushing the body to a safe but challenging position gives us some satisfaction.  I believe that eating disorder sufferers who involve themselves in yoga, beginning at a moderate pace, would be able to let go of the dissatisfaction they also tie to their bodies, and actually allow for more self-approval.  If satisfaction can be given to an individual, they may also be able to lose that drive for unnecessary thinness, and focus on accepting their body.

As we keep discovering different aspects of yoga as it relates to eating disorders, we see how the idea of improving the wellness of those suffering from an eating disorder is not simple, and the improvement process is no easy task.  Yoga is not a practice that is set in stone, since it is always changing, and there are multiple views on techniques and philosophies that should be used.  As mentioned earlier, there is a yogic practice involving asanas that may be used, and another idea that can be used it that yoga has the potential to provide an individual with relaxation.

According to the study done by Boudette in 2006, yoga contributes to the recovery process of individuals suffering from eating disorders because yoga is able to introduce relaxation to their consciousness, which is often a newly found sensation in this circumstance.  Boudette reports that, “the combination of yoga postures (asanas), followed by relaxation (savasana) creates a deep sense of peace and freedom they have never before experienced.  The hope of this relaxing feeling is that it will be a new sensation that the body will be involved with, and hopefully enjoy.  The relaxation will try to let the body of the eating disorder sufferer reach a new level of enjoyment with respect to how it feels.  With the focus being on the feeling of the body, attention has now been redirected away from how the body looks, which tends to be the primarily and perhaps the only focus of the eating disorder sufferer.  Once that focus is shifted away from how one thinks about their physical appearance, the individual suffering from the eating disorder will have some relief.  The pressure to look a certain way, which has been impressed upon them from our culture’s media, or where ever it came from, and the stress of modeling him or herself into this body type will hopefully then be reduced.  I feel that this relief would show the overworked mind of the sufferer some much needed peace.  With the mind at rest, and the body under less stress, the two should be able to find a better connection and become more stable, if a positive routine is established and reinforced.

One concern that should be mentioned in regards to using yoga as a suitable treatment for eating disorders is that some consider yoga to be a form of exercise.  The issue here with yoga being a form of exercise is that individuals suffering from eating disorders have risks associated with combining exercise and abnormal eating.  It is reported that: “Vigorous exercise can be a means of weight loss or one of several tactics used by the individual to counteract the ingestion of excess calories or deal with body image concerns.  […] terror of being fat can cause some individuals to fall into the trap of excessively exercising while still falling short of the “perfect body”.  Falling into the trap of too much exercise is risky.  If yoga practice were to become the treatment for the patient, I would suggest an easy, controlled yoga class, with constant supervision by the yoga instructor.  This way, it can be ensured that an individual does not take this treatment too far, or cause bodily harm.”

The danger of disordered eating is so dominant to some individuals that any treatment needs to be used with caution.  Disordered eating is a habit which some develop, which cannot be easily escaped from.  Individuals suffering from disordered eating are constantly under a struggle and they are constantly running away from themselves and their happiness and satisfaction.  Once personally affected either directly or indirectly by eating disorders, you should understand that there is one source of recovery out there for this serious condition; that being yoga .  Sufferers of eating disorders have been known to say, “I felt like I was falling from the sky. […] After a period of being healthy, I felt sick again”, “Always talking about being sick, sick, sick”, are words that should not need to be expressed by anyone.  Disordered eating is a sickness, and we are in search of the cure, using various methods which we can only hope will be effective, and so we must continue to study these methods if we are to help those who are suffering. We can try, and believe, and practice yoga and preach its many benefits, and see how it positively benefits those individuals who are struggling from eating disorders.  As yoga as a practice continues to develop and be a source of inspiration and assistance to more people, we must make sure that it can also help the people who could really use its benefits the most.  If we can give body satisfaction and self-contentment to everyone, why wouldn’t we?  Let us all practice: living, laughing, loving ourselves, breathing, exercising, and healthy eating.


Sources Cited:

Boudette, R. (2006).  Question & answer: yoga in the treatment of disordered eating and body image disturbance.  How can the practice of yoga be helpful in recovery from eating disorders?  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  14.  167-170.

Dittmann, K., Freedman, M. (2009).  Body awareness, eating attitudes, and spiritual beliefs of women practicing yoga.  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention. 17.  273-292.

Douglass, L. (2009).  Yoga as an intervention in the treatment of eating disorders: does it help?  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  17.  126-139.

Giordano, S. (2010).  Exercise and eating disorder: an ethical and legal analysis.  Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Ronon, T., Ayelet. (2001).  In and out of anorexia: the story of the client, the therapist, and the process of recovery.  United Kingdom: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Scime, M., Cook-Cottone, C., Kane, L., Watson, T. (2006).  Group prevention of eating disorders with fifth-grade females: impact on body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and media influence.  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  14.  143-155.

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eating disorder treatment, yoga, yoga and eating disorders, yoga blog

Libido & Partner Yoga

Denise small pic


by: Denise-Davis Gains, Atlas Studio Owner



Looking to improve your relationship?  There is nothing like partner yoga to hold a mirror up to relationship challenges.  In one of my 1st partner yoga classes I remember the instructor asking us to sit back to back and breath.  I wiggled, he squirmed, and we settled into a position that we could tolerate.  All the while I am thinking, “I wish he would relax and then I could relax.”  I was tense and trying to be supportive, but felt somewhat disconnected.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge

Those of you who are savvy to the psychobabble of relationship therapy know that I was exhibiting classic enabling behavior.  “If you are ok, I am ok.”  That may not be your particular relationship poison but it was mine.   This exercise was a big ‘ah ha’ moment for me.  When integrating this particular activity the teacher guided us through an exploration of felt senses and an awareness of relationship connections.

Given the space and guidance to discover how I was feeling, a profound realization came over me as I recognized how I was doing this same thing in many of my primary relationships.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge


Great benefits can be found in the simple, personal practice of yoga.  Just becoming aware of self and how you feel can deeply affect the ability to communicate love and our personal needs to our life partners, our children and our closest friends.  We can wake up to the relationships that are nurturing and begin to recognize those that are zapping us of essential life energy, potentially bringing more love to both.  Yoga can create an awareness of space, between each breath, between the incessant thoughts of the mind and between polar opposites of feeling and expression.

How is this possible?  Yoga invites us to practice waking up, becoming conscious.


This ancient practice encourages responding to the world and not reacting to it and gives us the tools to accomplish this astonishingly complex task. Less anger and resentment can
lead to more love and compassion.

Can yoga improve your libido (sex drive)?

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge


The practice of yoga asanas, postures or exercises, move the body in such a way as to stimulate the endocrine system.  This is the system of glands and hormones and is
involved in the way we respond to the world.

Balanced hormonal secretion will help to keep the nerve endings coated in the special formulas that ensure that we feel warm and fuzzy as opposed to anxious and distracted.  Sex is much more likely to happen when we are feeling relaxed and safe.



Pranayama or breathing exercises stimulate the elixir of happiness and contentment.  By
encouraging the movement of the intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) the
endocrine system is stimulated.  More good happy drugs enter the system like, endorphins and we feel good.  Many activities can do this, yoga just does it consciously.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge



Couples who practice yoga together report that they feel more connected to themselves and each other.  If you have been feeling disconnected from your partner find a teacher that you can both relate to and get on the mat together.  You might find that you are experiencing more intimacy very soon. Maybe we could also agree that seeing our guy or girl in hot yoga pants certainly doesn’t hurt!


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There’s “Exercise” And Then There’s “Movement”

Amanda Raynor Human v2.0

by: Amanda Raynor, BEd.

Mobility Expert, Co-owner/manager at Human 2.0/writer/educator/community builder/furniture re-arranger

It’s all over the news these days: sitting for extended periods of time is bad for you. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in January of this year – Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk For Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization In Adults: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis (click here to read more) – has really gotten people talking…

The scariest bit of information to come out of this is the fact that even an hour of exercising a day isn’t going to do you much good if you are still sitting the rest of the time. So many of us thought that going to the gym before or after work meant that we’d be healthy.  Nope.

The question now becomes, what can we do to change this? Our lives are so dependent on computers, cars, etc. It’s going to be tough, but we MUST figure out how to incorporate more movement into our daily routines.

The good news is, the little things count.

You may or may not have heard of the term “NEAT”. It stands for “non exercise activity thermogenesis”. Simply put, it’s all the physical movement in our lives that isn’t part of a planned exercise routine or sport. Activities include things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, playing a musical instrument, small movements such as toe tapping, and fidgeting in general, just to name a few. As it turns out, NEAT can have a substantial impact on our metabolic rates and caloric expenditures.

So yes, take that walk at lunch instead of sitting. Park in the farthest section of the lot when you go to the store.  Get up and do a few stretches and some squats every half an hour or so. Walk to see a colleague face-to-face instead of emailing. These are all great ideas, but there’s more. There are ways of embedding activity into your life on an even more elemental level.

Imagine a house without couches, chairs, even beds. Where and how you sit and/or sleep can also sway your “moving” or “non-moving” lifestyle one way or another.

In a conversation with Joe Rogan, Katy Bowman – a bio-mechanist, and author of books on natural movement and human development – suggests that we’ve made our environments a little “too” comfortable.

Mattress and bedding companies would have us believe that the “ideal night’s sleep” would mean climbing under the blankets and not moving for eight hours straight.

Katy says that our bodies aren’t meant to remain in one single position for that long. She says that we SHOULD be moving all the time – even a little – and that it’s this fairly constant stirring, the circulation of our system, that helps the body rid itself of toxins. If we remain in any one position for an extended position, we inhibit this. In essence, we stagnate.

“You are a filtration system and movement is your biggest filter changer. Your whole lymphatic system depends on movement. It doesn’t have its own pump. Your lymphatic system: that’s what’s taking your cellular waste and moving it out of your body. It’s laying right next to your arterial and venous system, so as muscles work, they pump blood over to the working tissues and it kind of washes everything away. So your lymphatic system doesn’t need a pump, because why would it? Why would you not be moving? Movement is something that a human should be doing all the time.”

If you sleep in a ultra soft bed, there is very little stimulus that might cause your body to change positions. As we are seeing, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Same idea goes for chairs and couches. We’ve made them so comfortable and so awesome, the we slump down in them and stay that way for hours. Now, you may not be ready to throw out all of your furniture just yet, but it might be a good idea to change things up a bit.  Sit on the floor more often, try sleeping without a pillow, maybe get a firmer mattress.

As Katy says, “We say we are too sedentary. I would say that you have too much repetitive geometry, which is different. It’s like you gotta get out of your couch and exercise. I would say maybe you just get out of your couch. Maybe you keep watching Netflix, just sit cross-legged on the floor, just put your legs out in front of you because that IS movement. That IS exercise. It’s just not in special clothing, in a class, in a gym.”

In order to combat the problem of “sitting disease”, maybe it’s as simple as going backwards in time a little: getting rid of this notion of movement in terms of “exercise” or “fitness” only, and create a climate in which movement – NATURAL human movement – is an integral part of how we exist.  It has been for MOST of our history, declining markedly over the last twenty-five years or so. There’s no reason why it can’t be that way again.

Visit Amanda Raynor’s Ottawa Mobility Center Human 2.0 on the web by clicking here

annals of internal medicine, dedentary time, exercise, movement, NEAT, non exercise activity thermogenesis, physical movement, sitting too long


Krista Blakelock - doula


By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler



I see him glance over at me for a second time. He’s trying hard to focus on the basketball game playing on the television behind the bar, but he’s looking over at me completely perplexed.

I figure I should help him out.
“You’re at a bar watching television, I don’t care for sports so i’m doing this instead.”

“But you could do that at home,” he retorts.

“You could watch basketball at home too.”

He hesitates; commercials come on and he looks back at me, “So? Why would you come here to knit?”

Shockingly, not all people who knit are crazy cat ladies with agoraphobia.

“I just finished work, I like wine and occasionally talking to people at a bar is pretty cool,” I tell him.

“Last week a group of eight ladies came into the bar that I work at. They all ordered a beer and then pulled out knitting! They stayed for like, five hours!” He tells me.

From a servers perspective I totally understand the frustration of having a large part of your section taken up by people who are not spending a lot of money. It limits the amount of tips that can be earned and the amount of tables he can serve throughout the night. However, not all women who knit have apartments that would comfortably host eight friends, their bags of wool and needles. So, I decide his evil eye towards my speckled blue wool is not because he believes knitting to be terrible, but because of the tips he missed out on a week ago.

Personally, I don’t like to knit in big groups. Maybe with one or two other people, but typically i’ll knit alone. It is a way of grounding myself, and at the same time challenging myself to maintain focus on my breath, relaxation in my shoulders and proper posture through my spine. Sounds strange but if my body is hunched up and tense, the stitches in my wool become tighter making the subsequent row difficult to knit. So, in a way knitting is like a yogic practise to me.

In French, the verb “to knit” is “tricoter.” In Sanskrit, triangle pose is called “Trikonasana.” For some reason my brain made this connection and while practicing a flow sequence involving triangle I decided that this pose felt like my knitting meditation.

A triangle is formed between the knitting needles and the stitches. Similarly the legs form a triangle with the ground creating a sturdy base from which to lift up the torso and create space for breath and length in the spine. When the upper arm lifts towards upwards the third arm of the triangle is created connecting my body from the ground to the sky. I always feel at peace when I am holding my core, aligning my shoulders and really rooting my feet down into my mat.

Growing a knitted piece takes patience, alignment and attention. Stitches may slip off the needle, I may misread a pattern, or lose a stitch and some days my fingers and brain just don’t want to communicate. On the mat, trikonasana requires the same virtues. Patience to support weight and resist pressure, attention to breath and to alignment.

Furthermore, in chemistry a triangle is used to represent “change.” Reflecting on trikonasana I believe that my breath is able to facilitate change throughout my body, mind and heart. The triangle between my knitting needles is constantly changing a raveled ball of yarn into a functional piece of something. Currently, I’m working on a headband for a lovely lady who wants to live in a hobbit house, with a garden rooftop and a distillery in her basement. Bringing us full circle, or more appropriately: Complete triangle, back to why I am knitting in a bar…

A glass of wine after work, a knitting project and a bit of time to reflect on my breath, body and heart feels like the perfect thing to do in a bar on a Monday night.


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breathing exercises, doula, knitting and relaxation, knitting and yoga, krista blakelock, triangle poses, trikonasana, yoga poses, yoga postures

Yoga In Mexico with Robert Fox

sunset in mexicoby Robert Fox, Tai Chi & Qi Gong Instructor




According to Wikipedia, “Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism, the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.”  It dates back to the 6th century BC.  It wasn’t until 1980 that yoga became an accepted form of exercise in the western world.  My wife and I live in Cambridge Ontario, and we have been life long YMCA members.  All kinds of fitness is an important part of our lives.  We became certified fitness instructors years ago, and today I still teach aerobics and weight resistant classes at the Cambridge Ontario YMCA.

yoga in mexico with robert fox

For the past 5 years, we have lived in Bucerias Mexico for February and March.  This year, I decided to offer a yoga class in the Ana Ruth’s hotel, where we live on the roof outdoors.  Bucerias is on the Pacific Ocean just a few miles north of Puerto Vallarta.  The environment here is perfect for yoga.  It seems like there is a yoga class being offer on every street corner.  Are these classes being taught by certified yoga instructors?  I doubt it.  Am I a certified yoga instructor?  No.  So I advertise my class as “Robert’s mobility class”.  Since I have had tons of experiences and courses in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Creative Movement, Yoga, and since I am a qualified certified fitness instructor, I believe I can offer the participants some helpful exercises.  To make the classes even more appealing, they are free.

Back in Canada, I attend at least one yoga class per week and I have also researched yoga extensively on the internet.  When I am teaching my weight resistant class back home, I incorporate yoga moves into the hour, and those exercises are appreciated by all.  My wife and I have taken two separate courses from a certified Tai Chi instructor in Ontario.  We are pretty good at doing the 108 peaceful Chinese moves.  I have also been exposed to many Qi Gong classes, and at one time when you didn’t have to be certified in it, I taught it at the Chaplin Family YMCA in Cambridge.

yoga in mexico with robert fox

I retired from teaching with the Waterloo Region District School Board 15 years ago.  I taught for 33 years at the elementary level.  I have a specialist certificate in Drama Education, and have taught many courses in movement.  I still use those strategies in my weight resistant classes at the YMCA.

My Friday morning at 10 a.m. class here in Mexico consists of a little Tai Chi, a little Qi Gong, a little yoga, and a lot of Drama.  It lasts one hour and we always begin with a warmup and end with a cool down.  Of course we stretch a lot and hold poses too.  In drama class, back in the classroom, we use to call those poses, tableau.  The slow movements were called articulations.  Here is a list of what we did today, Friday 13th in Mexico …

  • warm up – a) brain gym  b) the Owl
  • The Golden 8 Energy Balancing Exercises
  • The Big 5 – lunge/squat/bridge/pushup/press
  • Tapping for stress reduction
  • Memory Hangers

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Robert Fox

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buddhism, creative movement, hatha yoga, hinduism, jainsim, mexico, qi gong, raja yoga, tai chi, tibetan buddhism, vajrayana, yoga, yoga in mexico

Inspired Yoga Teachers with Krista Blakelock

Krista Blakelock - doula By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler

After participating in my first yoga class in 2008, I was immediately hooked. I loved the focus required, the quiet space that I could go to within myself and also the challenge. I admit I was not the “zen hippie” that people perceived when I spoke about my new found love of yoga. When I was in a class I truly felt that I should push further, hold the pose longer, fold deeper and do the most extreme variation of the options demonstrated; but within, my mind was never sincerely connecting to my body. My practice has changed a lot over the years and so too has the connection I feel between mind and body.
In 2012, working as a doula enabled me to practice yoga in a very different way. Mom’s who were active prior to their pregnancy were asking me for options so that they could keep their body moving without too much intensity. Other women simply wanted a way to relax and lengthen out their backs and chests, and stretch their hips. Showing clients various poses took me for a loop. When I taught, I was incredibly attentive to alignment, depth and length of breath, their changes from week to week and how steady they could be in a pose.  Moms were so happy to do shallow lunges and feel blood and oxygen pulsing through them and to baby. I was in awe of how content and proud they could feel even though in my personal practice, they technically were not in Virabhadrasana, Warrior 1 pose.
I continued with my own intense practice, but would teach clients slow, flowing sequences. My observations of how great they felt when they did supported hip rotations, neck and shoulder rolls, and a modified Surya Namaskar was reinforced week after week and slowly I began giving myself the same allowances to slow down. The real difficulty for me was to be still in a pose and convince my mind that it was totally okay. Allowing my body and mind to come into alignment and really soak up the benefits of a pose has had incredible benefits and I have to believe enables me to teach more honestly.
I regularly return to the quote by Richard Bach, “You teach what you most need to learn,” to remind myself how important it is to marvel at my breath, what my body does for me each day and how it feels to really connect with the sensations and changes within. Today, I am thankful for each mama who has brought life into the world, because through my interactions with them I have been able to come to life within my own mind and body in a very new and vibrant way.

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doula, krista blakelock, pregnancy and breathing, pregnancy tips, Richard Bach, stardancing doula, surya namaskar, virabhadrasana, warrior 1 pose

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