Qigong Moving Meditation Class

4 Week QiGong Curriculum Fridays 9:30am
June 21 – July 12
$100.00 for 4 weeks of QiGong & Energy Medicine
register by emailing: info@atlasstudio.com

  1. Revitalizing your energy
  2. Calming body and mind
  3. Increasing mental clarity & focus
  4. Harmonizing the energies 

You will learn and practice the following:

  • breathing mindfully to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems 
  • moving and storing energy in your lower Dantian to improve vitality
  • grounding energy to help calm a busy mind
  • releasing emotions and calming the stress response to increase resilience
  • expanding the energy field for strength, vitality and overall wellbeing
  • learning meditation techniques to increase awareness of the present moment and synchronize mind, body, spirit

What is Qigong?

  • Qigong can be viewed as a medicinal movement practice, combining breath work, relaxation, meditation, movement, and self-massage all in one.
  • Qigong is one of the oldest underrated self-care methods on the planet. Research shows it’s helpful for about 100 conditions, with the strongest evidence for pain and fatigue, cardiovascular and lung function, balance and coordination, stress and anxiety and immune health.
  • Additional studies show that both Tai Chi and Qigong provide many physical and psychological benefits. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it helps channel qi through your body’s energy meridians, thereby improving your overall health and wellbeing. 
    More specifically, studies have shown Tai Chi stimulates the central nervous system, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, tones muscles and helps with digestion and waste elimination.
  • What exactly can Tai Chi and Qigong do for your health? According to the scientific evidence, conditions that may benefit from either of these practices include but is not limited to: 
    • Hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Cancer
    • Arthritic disease
    • Stroke and brain injury rehabilitation
    • Aerobic capacity, strength and coordination
    • Falls and balance disorders
    • Bone mineral density
    • Shingles-related immunity
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Pain and stiffness
      • A 1999 study looking into the effects of Qigong on pain confirmed that whatever the mechanism, this type of gentle exercise does have a marked effect. Of the participants, 82 percent reported reduced pain at the end of the first session compared to 45 percent of controls. By the last session, 91 percent of the genuine Qigong group reported reduced pain, compared to just 36 percent in the control group. Anxiety reduction was also greater in the Qigong group.
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Stressanxiety and depression
    • Helps boost immune function and lowers inflammation
      • Another interesting study demonstrated that a modified short form of Tai Chi called Tai Chi Chih helped boost immune system response to the shingles virus, thereby preventing outbreaks. Indeed, a number of studies in the 2010 review found improvements in immune-related blood markers, such as leukocytes, eosinophils and monocytes, suggesting this kind of mind-body practice has a direct effect on your immune function. Inflammation is also closely related to immune function, and studies confirm Qigong and Tai Chi help reduce inflammatory markers. According to the 2010 review: The Psychological Effects of Qigong and Tai Chi twenty-seven of the 77 studies reported improved psychological outcomes relating to anxiety, depression, stress, mood, fear of falling and self-esteem.

About the instructor: Mala

Mala Singh is an energy medicine practitioner whose mission is to apply holistic techniques to help overwhelmed women with demanding jobs, family obligations, and crushing daily routines, who suffer from physical and mental exhaustion, connect their body to a peaceful mind so they can feel vibrant, pain-free and more in control of their day-to-day lives.   

She has studied the mind-body interplay between unbalanced emotions (stress) and its physical expression in the body and is in awe by the mind’s powerful ability to transform a diseased body.  The heart of her work is to demonstrate and educate folks on various effective complementary and integrative therapies for common and complex ailments, which are easily accessible, affordable, non-invasive and sustainable to help improve quality of life.  The ultimate goal for her clients is to be pro-active and responsible for their own wellbeing.

Mala completed her Eden Energy Medicine Foundations in 2011, studied Qigong and is currently enrolled in a PhD & Doctorate Program in Natural Medicine at Quantum University.  She is a professional engineer who worked for 16 years in a fast-paced, deadline-driven technical field while pursuing her passion in the wellness field.  Her awakening experience came during a meditation session, encouraging her to quiet her over-active mind, and ultimately propelled her into the field of Energy Medicine.  Her journey involved understanding the “invisible” (but measurable) fields, exposing her to the multitude of benefits of Qigong and Yoga.

She has seen and experienced the body’s vibrant flow of energy and emotional balance in herself and her clients.  She invites you to create your own illuminating experience that can shift your body, mind and spirit to a vibrant and joyful state of being.


INSTAGRAM @petals_of_light

Yoga For Children Bibliography | List of Resources



Asencia, Teressa. Playful Family Yoga. Priceton Book Co., 2002

Atkins, Terri, Cowan, Palomares, Schuster. Feelings Are Facts: Helping Children Understand, Manage & Learn from Their Feelings. Innerchoice Pub; ISBN: 1564990109; Teacher edition (February 1993)

Ban Breathnach, Sarah. Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. New York: Warner Books, 1996.

Berkus, Rusty. Life is a Gift. Red Rose Press, 1982

Berger, Kathleen and Ross Thompson. The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, 4th Edition. Worth Publishers, 1980.l

Bersma, Danielle. Yoga Games for Children. Hunter House, 2003

Blakeslee, Thomas R. The Right Brain: A New Understanding of the Unconscious Mind and its Creative Powers. Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980.

Briggs, Dorothy Corkille. Celebrate Yourself, Making life Work for You. DoubleDay, 1970.

Briggs, Dorothy Corkille. Your Child’s Self-Esteem. Doubleday, 1975.

Brooks, David, et al. The Case for Character Education : The Role of the School in Teaching Values and Virtue. Studio 4 Productions; ISBN: 1882349016; (January 1997)

Budilovsky, Joan and Adamson, Eve. Idiot’s Guide to Yoga, Second Edition. Alpha Books, 2001

Chanchani, Rajiv and Swati. Yoga for Children. UBS Publishers’ Distributors, 1995.

Cohen, Ken et al. Imagine That: A Child’s Guide to Yoga. Integral Yoga Distribution; ISBN: 0932040403

Colletto, Jerry and Sloan, Ed.U, Jack. Yoga Conditioning and Football. Celestial Arts, 1975

Dawson, Paul. Human Body Explorer. DK Books, 2000.

Day, Jennifer. Creative Visualization With Children. Element Books Ltd., 1994.

De Brunhoff, Laurent. Babar’s Yoga for Elephants. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2002

Dennison, Paul. Brain Gym (Teachers Edition). Edu Kinesthetics; ISBN: 0942143027; Tchrs/Rev edition (June 1994)

Drury, Nevill. Creative Visualization, To Attain Your Goals and Improve your Well- being. Barnes and Noble Books, 2001.

Erikson, Joan M. Wisdom and the Senses. W.W. Norton, 1988. Fezler, William. Creative Imagery. Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Franklin, Eric. Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery. Human Kinetics (T); ISBN: 0873224752; (February 1997)

Fried, Suellen and Paula. Bullies and Victims. M. Evans, Inc., 2000

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1983.

Garth, Maureen. Starbright: Meditations for Children. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991.

Garth, Maureen. Moonbeam: A Book of Meditations for Children. Harper Collins Juvenile Books; ISBN: 1863711422; (March 1993)

Gold, Taro. Open Your Mind, Open Your Life. Beacon Press, 1999

Gooch, Sandy. If You Love Me, Don’t Feed Me Junk. Reston Publishing Co., 1983.

Goode and Watson. The Mind Fitness Program for Self-Esteem and Excellence. Zephyr Press, 1992.

Gordhamer, Soren. Just Say Om. Adams Media; ISBN: 1-58062-549-5; (2002)

Gordon, F. Noah. Magical Classroom, Creating Effective, Brain-Friendly Environments for the Classroom. Zephyr Press, 1995.

Gregson, Bob. The Incredible Indoor Games Book. David S. Lake Publishers, 1982.

Groves, Dawn. Yoga for Busy People. Barnes and Noble Publishing, 2002

Hannaford, Carla Awakening the Child Heart: Handbook for the Global Parenting. Jamilla Nur; ISBN: 0971664706; (May 2002)

Hannaford, Carla. Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head.

Great Ocean Pub; ISBN: 0915556278; (October 1995)

Hendricks, Gay and Wills, Russel. The Centering Book. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice- Hall, 1975.

Hendricks, Gay and Roberts, Thomas B. The Second Centering Book. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Hendricks, Gay. The Centered Teacher. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1981. Iyengar, B.K.S. Light On Yoga. Schocken Books, NY, 1966.

Jenkins, Peggy, Ph.D. The Joyful Child. Aslan Publishing, 1996.

Jenson, Eric. Learning with Mind and Body.

Kalish, Leah. Yoga Fitness for Kids (ages 3-6 and 7-12) Videos. Gaiam, Int. 2001

Kalish, Leah and Spahn, Diane. Yoga Kit for Kids. Imaginazium, LLC, 1999.

Kessler, Rachael. The Soul of Education, Helping Students find Connection, Compassion and Character at School. Association for Supervision and Curriculum, 2000

Kilpatrick, William K. Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong. Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0671870734; Reprint edition (September 1993)

Kilpatrick, William, et al. Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories. Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0671884239; (November 1994)

Koch, Isabelle. Like a Fish in Water, Yoga for Children. Inner Traditions Int., 1999

Kohn, Alfie. No Contest: The Case Against Competition. Houghton Mifflin, 1986

Komitor, Jodi, Adamson. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Yoga with Kids. Alpha Books; ISBN: 0028639359; 1 edition (July 20, 2000)

Lark, Liz. Flow Motion, Yoga for Children. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2003

Lark, Liz. Yoga For Kids. Firefly Books Ltd., 2003

Lickona, Thomas. Raising Good Children. Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub; ISBN: 055337429X; (October 1994)

Luby, Thia. Children’s Book of Yoga: Games & Exercises Mimic Plants & Animals & Objects. Clear Light Pub; ISBN: 1574160036; (July 1998)

Luby, Thia. Yoga for Teens. Clear Light Publishing, 1999

Madison, Dr. Lynda. The Feelings Book, the Care and Keeping of Your Emotions. Pleasant Company Publication – American Girl Library, 2002

Majoy, Peter. Riding the Crocodile, Flying the Peach Pit, A Sensory Approach to Education. Zephyr Press, 1996.

Mehta, Mira. How to Use Yoga. Smithmark Publishres, 1994.

Merritt, Stephanie. Mind, Music and Imagery. Aslan Publishing, 1996.

Miller, Elise and Blackman, Carol. Life is a Stretch, Easy Yoga Anytime, Anywhere. Llwellyn Publications, 1999.

Moorman, Chick. Talk Sense To Yourself: The Language of Personal Power. Personal Power Press, 1985.

Murdock, Maureen. Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery With Children for Learning, Creativity & Relaxation. Shambhala Publications; ISBN: 0877734224; Rev&Updtd edition (February 1988)

Oaklander, Violet. Windows To Our Children. Gestalt Journal Press, 1988.

Pearce, Dr. Joseph C. Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence. San Francisco: Harper, 1992.

Pearce, Dr. Joseph C. Magical Child. Plume Books, Penguin, 1977.

Petrash, Jack. Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out. Gryphon House; ISBN: 0876592469; (September 2002)

Phillips, Kathy and Stewart, Mary. Yoga for Children. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1992.

Promislow, Sharon. Making the Brain Body Connection: A Playful Guide to Releasing Mental, Physical & Emotional Blocks to Success. Enhanced Learning & Integration; ISBN: 0968106633; (February 1, 2000)

Rogers, Carl & H. Jerome Freidberg. Freedom to Learn.

Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Yoga Education For Children. Bihar School of Yoga, India, 1990

Semigran, Stu and Sindy Wilkinson. Making the Best of Me, A Handbook for Student Exxcellence and Self-Esteem. ACE Program, 1989

Sivananda Yoga Center and Staff. Yoga Mind and Body. DK Pub. Inc., 1998

Spolin, Viola. Theater Game File. St. Louis: Cemrel, Inc., 1975.

Sumar, Sonia. Yoga for the Special Child, A Therapeutic Approach for Infants and Children with Down Syndrome, Cerabral Palsy, and Learning Disabilities. Special Yoga Publications, 1998

Trivell, Lisa. I Can’t Believe It’s Yoga for Kids. Hatherliegh Press, 2000

Walker, Richard. Guide to the Human Body, A Photographic Journey Through the Human Body. DK Books, 2001.

Weinstein, Matt, and Goodman, Joel. Playfair: Everybody’s Guide to Non-competitive Play. Impact Publishers, 1980

Weiss, Brian. Meditation. Hay House Inc., 2002 Weller, Stella. Yoga for Children. Thorsons, 1996. Whitelaw, Ginny. Body Learning. Perigree Trade, 1998


Yoga Journal. 2054 University Ave. #600, Berkeley, CA 94704 / www.yogajournal.com. Subscriptions: 800-600-yoga

Yoga International. Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A. Subscriptions: www.yimag.org

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The Chakras in Shamanic Practice Review

jeff kittmer yoga instructor


by Jeff Kittmer, Yoga Instructor


Susan Wright’s, The Chakras in Shamanic Practice, Eight Stages of Healing and Transformation takes you on a journey to heal your past, and empowers you in the present. 

The Chakras in Shamanic Practice by Susan Wright

As you travel through her book, you will encounter exercises to bring healing and balance back to your chakra system.  I felt that Susan’s approach and techniques had a very strong feminine energy to them.  They are soft and nurturing in nature.  I found the exercises that Susan offers simple and easy to follow; powerful in they’re simplicity.  I noticed that as you progress through her book, Susan takes the reader deeper into the world of spirit.  The progression is slow, but methodical. She doesn’t ask you to take a “leap of faith” before your prepared for it through her exercises.  I found, The Chakras in Shamanic Practice, an easy read and couldn’t put it down.  I read through her book once and then re-read it again, slowly and methodically to really delve deep, discovering my hidden gifts.



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The Benefits of Yoga For Pregnant Women

An essay by Claire Palvetzian

Yoga is a spiritual and physical exercise that has many beneficial factors to the variety of individuals who engage in its practice. People of all ages, genders, and cultures are encouraged to participate in yoga not only for the physical activity aspect, but also for the well-rounded healthy lifestyle it promotes. In society women share many crucial roles, one of which is to bear healthy children. To do this, they need to eat well and take care of their bodies in which the developing child exists. Yoga has been proven to assist in the wellbeing of the growing foetus, as well as helping mothers through a successful birthing process.

Through the various postures and techniques of yoga, pregnant mothers can greatly benefit both physically and yoga postures can have many benefits applied to the pregnant mother as well as the unborn child. A growing fetus requires essential nutrients, constant blood flow, and protection. The postures of yoga including its many movements and various positions, encourages blood flow which transports much needed oxygen and blood through the mother to the baby. This allows the fetus to grow into a healthy baby.

Although it is a wonderful and beautiful process, the procedure of giving birth can sometimes be dangerous for the baby as well as for the mother. Mothers can suffer from complications during labour, which can lead to high blood pressure, mental stress, and further reproduction difficulties.

Certain precautions and lifestyle choices can be made by the mother in order to prevent this from happening. Eating properly, living a stress-free life, and most importantly, exercising, are all choices to reduce pregnancy related problems.

Women are discouraged, however, from lifting weights, or any other strenuous workouts in order to protect the baby from harm, therefore alternative forms of exercise are encouraged such as gentle, prenatal yoga.

A study done in India researched the effectiveness of yoga on pregnancy outcomes. Doctors enrolled 169 pregnant women in daily yoga classes, and 166 women in daily walks.

Results of all pregnancies were monitored and the results were as follows: pre-term labor was significantly lower in the yoga group, complications including intrauterine growth retardation, and pregnancy-induced hypertension were also significantly lower in the yoga group, and finally, the number of babies with birth weight under 2500 grams was higher in the yoga group (Shamanthakamani, 2005).

This study demonstrates that not only is yoga safe to practice while pregnant, but it should be encouraged to improve the well-being of the baby, as well as the mother.

In society today, I feel as though yoga is not targeted to pregnant mothers enough. These statistics from research studies prove that yoga is very beneficial, and should be promoted for everyone to participate, especially pregnant women. I believe that if women took their health into consideration while pregnant, and began practicing yoga, we would notice a powerful change in the health of the new generations of babies.

Another doctor who encourages yoga among pregnant women is Dr. Janet Balaskas. She is the author of the book, The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth, and wrote that, “The woman giving birth needs to learn to trust her body and its potential.” (Balaskas, J.) This sort of mentality is taught through yoga practice in that one must be able to trust their minds while meditating and exploring themselves. Balaskas also argues that a woman’s body is designed to give birth in an upright position in which the woman is squatting. To strengthen legs muscles without demanding workouts, a yoga-based program is recommended by Balaskas to “develop strength without overdoing it” (Balaskas, J.).

Stretching allows the body the move comfortably in all positions and would be beneficial for women giving birth when they are forced to use the strength of their legs and stomach. Strong abdominal muscles allow for a less forceful and smoother pushes when removing the baby from the woman’s uterus.

Evidence from scientific research and studies has proven that through the postures of yoga, pregnant mothers can assist themselves in the birthing process, as well as their growing baby.

Yoga can also have psychological benefits to expecting mothers. Due to raised levels of hormones, women can go through serious mood swings during pregnancy. These mood swings can cause mothers to feel self-conscious, unappreciated, and alone. Occasionally, prolonged mood swings can develop into mental disorders such as postpartum disorder, and severe depression.

A study done in Australia researched the perceived body image and psychological well-being between exercising and non-exercising pregnant women. Through self-reported questionnaires, research proved that the 25 exercising pregnant women found to have reduced frequency of somatic symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, and a higher level of psychological well being, compared to the 18 non-exercisers (Goodwin, 442). The exercises included activities such as yoga, walking, and swimming, which demonstrates that yoga can be very beneficial to the minds of pregnant women. Pregnant women face tremendous anxiety issues because their bodies are changing shape, they tend to gain more weight in places they are not used to, and therefore begin to develop confidence issues. This should be taken seriously because mothers have many responsibilities, and if their minds are not focused on their newborn children, they could bring harm to the baby and to themselves.

Yoga should be practiced after women give birth as well as before, to help the body get back to its normal state. The breathing techniques used in yoga exercises also teach expecting mothers how to relieve their anxiety and stress levels which is extremely important during the process of labor.

Deep, slow breaths lessen the stress on the heart and enhance the entire cardiovascular system. (Kappmeier, 39) This allows pregnant women to feel relaxed and stress free during the painful aspects of pregnancy. Practicing these breathing techniques before labor is especially important so that the body goes into a recognizable calm state that can be applied at any period of time.

The pranayama breath practiced in yoga is the breath that connects the mind and body with a shared consciousness (Kappmeier, 40). This allows the individual to focus on their breathing instead of the chatter in the mind, which in turn improves circulation, bringing more blood, oxygen, and fuel to the muscles, as well as enhancing concentration (Kappmeier, 40).  This is a great breathing style for pregnant women because they will be able to learn how to clear their minds from stress or pressures of labor, and focus on their task.  This research and these findings prove that yoga plays a crucial role in developing a strong mind in pregnant women.

In conclusion, the physical and spiritual practice of yoga is beneficial to all people of different cultures, genders, and ages. Yoga encourages a healthy body and the overall well being of the mind. Expecting mothers require both physical activity and mental stimulation, which is properly applied through the practice of yoga. Through the many studies and research, doctors have found that yoga is very profitable for pregnant women both before and after they give birth.

Through the various postures and techniques of yoga, pregnant mothers can greatly benefit both physically and mentally.

Balaskas J., Yehudi G. The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth. Retrieved from http://www.activebirthcentre.com

Goodwin, A. (2008) Body image and psychological well being in pregnancy: A comparison of exercisers and non-exercisers. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 40 (4), 442-447.

Kappmeier, K., Ambrosini, D. (2006). Instructing Hatha Yoga. USA: Versa Press.

Shamanthakamani N., Raghuram N., Vivek N., Sulochana

G., Hongasandra R. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 1, 2005, 11(2): 237-244. Doi: 10.1089/acm.2005.11.237

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Blur the line between work and play…YTT

Atlas Yoga Teacher Training
A musician must make his music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to ultimately be at peace with himself. - Abraham Maslow

Thinking about Yoga Teacher Training….one graduate says….

“I finished the Atlas YTT program feeling full of wisdom, strength and an eagerness to get out there and teach. Denise is one of the most helpful and generous people I have ever encountered and to call her qualified would be an understatement. By the end of the program I felt an incredible connection to the rest of my peers; we experienced so much together and watched each other learn and grow. There was a general sense of trust and respect between everyone in our class, and I have never before felt more love and peace within a large group of people. It was an experience that truly changed my life and I am thankful for it every day.

For more information about our Yoga Teacher Training Program,

We have full year, six month, one month and 4/4day intensive programs.

Join us for a free class to see if we are a good fit 🙂

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”
– Buddha


Kat Ryan’s Blog

“We Don’t Stop Playing Because We Grow Old – We Grow Old Because We Stop Playing”
George Bernard Shaw
Some days I forget all about FUN and I don’t think I’m the only one.
As adults, I think most of us forget about playing, being silly and just having fun – sometimes we forget to just laugh – for no other reason than “just because it’s funny”.
We are all wound so tight and caught up with being serious and accomplishing all the things we think need to get done.
A lot of days I take every thing too seriously and get too caught up in the “business” of life.But I’ve been thinking more and more that silliness – not taking yourself too seriously – is definitely under-rated.
I was really reminded this past Friday night of how much I have been holding on and forgetting to just let go, have fun and be myself!
I went into the Gentlemen of the Road festival in Simcoe – I didn’t have tickets to the actual show, but neither did some of my closest friends, which worked out well for all of us!
There was stuff going on all over the place and the music was audible no matter where you were in town, so it was all good!
My mum offered to watch the wee one, so the man and I headed into town for a few hours of grown up shenanigans.
I put on my big ass hat 🙂 (Hat from 13 Reasons in Port Dover) and danced around to the music like no one was watching (and also played the random pianos in the street).
I haven’t danced around and not given a single care what the hell anyone thought in a while – let me tell you… it felt SWEEEEET.
Seriously, dancing around the streets, the porch – wherever – was an amazing act of letting go.
I did have a few drinks, and that help to loosen up, BUT this night made me remember and realize that I really shouldn’t and don’t need a few drinks to let go like this and just smile, laugh hysterically and have FUN!
It made me remember how much fun I really am – how much fun my friends are and also how much more time I should make to play and laugh and have fun, especially with my sweet baby Nash!
I laugh and do silly things with him – but a lot of the time I do get stressed about him not napping or frustrated because I want to get things done and well, he just doesn’t 🙂 I think I should just realize that what needs to get done will – and these are precious times to be a smiling face to my child and to show him that laughing and playing are some of the best things in life 🙂
Nash and I and our Janu Sirasana Variation??
This is one of those times – I was hysterically laughing.
I take myself too seriously a lot of the time as a human, woman, mom, and as a yogini.
I have a very prominent line in the middle of my forehead from furrowing my eye-brows so much – not good – or necessary.
I know that we can’t be goofy and silly all the time, and that life does call for being “adult” and serious many times – but when your physical appearance or even your physical being (your Spirit! and your insides) are affected by how seriously you are taking yourself it is time for some work – or the opposite of work-PLAY.
It is definitely time to recognize and unfurrow, unclench and let go.
Recognizing is the first part, figuring out what works for you to let go is the second (preferably alcohol-free ways of letting go) and shaking,dancing and laughing it alllll out is the third.
Oh, so simple 😀
In Yoga a lot of times we take ourselves too seriously. 
We get caught up TRYING – trying too hard most of the times.
We furrow our eyebrows and clench our jaws when we are in postures that are difficult.
We get frustrated with ourselves when we can’t reach a certain posture that we think we should be able to. Or we won’t let ourselves take a child’s pose and instead just keep pushing on through a series.
A lot of times we don’t remember that in reality, we did not HAVE to come to yoga or HAVE to do yoga at all – this was a choice. Why shouldn’t it be fun? Why shouldn’t it be play time? 
I love going to Christie’s Power Flow class on Thursday mornings – she always, always reminds us to PLAY. She says, “Let’s Play” – and I remember how much I love yoga, and this is MY PLAY TIME!
Yoga is like a grown up jungle-gym 🙂 Right?!?!
Playing in Long Point – My favourite pose
Someone told me it looked like a Twisted Fish- which I thought was pretty cool!
I think that many times all it takes to achieve those postures that are challenging to us  is remembering Play Time – and letting go of seriousness. Even if we can’t achieve the full expression of our difficult postures we can at least get closer to those postures that seem other worldly to us at times – like some arm balances, handstands, headstands, etc.
Not to say yoga doesn’t take dedication and work – because it does. We might practice every day, and it may take us a year or more to get to a certain posture BUT I think if you have fun with your practice and with these challenging postures and don’t get pissed off at yourself when you can’t do it today or tomorrow or in a week – you will find it a lot easier to attain. 
Something  Meghan Currie always says when she is instructing with respect to challenging postures like press handstand is
“Someday you will, For Sure.”
I can’t do a press handstand – I can’t lift both feet off the ground yet and sometimes I’m like .. “Damnit”..
But when she says that I think – Ya, You know what, I will – Thanks Meghan.
If we are treating our practice like a battle – it will be.
Many times when I have been able to do certain postures and arm balances it has been when I am just trying things out, playing around and not over thinking.
I have been having a difficult time with headstand recently – and I know it is because I am thinking so hard about headstand, and thinking “I have to do this”, “Why can’t I do this” … etc, etc.
If I wasn’t taking headstand so seriously, I would be able to do it – guaranteed.
Denise (Atlas Studio- Teacher of the Yoga Teacher Training at the Twisted Fish) talked about handstand.
People getting into handstand so seriously.
She wanted us to move into handstand and as we didn’t just let out a loud yell “HAAAAAA!” – or like a ninja “HiiiiiiYA” as we planted our hands and moved our legs towards the sky.
Why is that so hard – to just let out a yell!
I didn’t want to – I felt embarrassed – for whatever reason.
But to hell with it – Life is too short.
Go over to the wall and try a handstand – and then try one as you are letting out any sort of exclamation you want – I bet you will be able to come to that handstand with a lot more ease the second go around.
Another place a lot of people can’t just let go and have fun is with Lions Breath (myself included at one point in my life).
Some people just WILL NOT do Lions Breath in a room of people.
Sticking out your tongue, letting out a loud breath and maybe even crossing your eyes … now if you were a little kid you would think that was the FUNNEST- and it should be.
Think of that next time you do Lions Breath – Hey this is fun – smile – who cares!!
Found this picture on Pinterest – LOVE – this is a yogini who knows what Play is all about 🙂 Lions Breath style.
Found This Book While Looking Up Pics for this Post!
Love it!
Sometimes we just need to smile in our practice.
If you feel yourself holding, or clenching or furrowing – Just Smile.
If you are trying to get into some challenging posture, maybe Grasshopper or Firefly or maybe you are just having a wobbly day with Tree or Warrior III – Laugh.
Just Laugh (You probably look hillarious all furrowed and clenched with your limbs all twisted up anyways! 🙂 )
Holding a warrior, or chair pose, or temple pose for what seems like an obscene amount of time – and you are starting to get mad at your teacher for keeping you there – STOP – 
It’s so easy.
This is one of my favourite yoga pictures- Yogini Ashley Albrand and her baby Satya
I think this is Tittibhasana – Firefly pose variation – but I could be wrong.
That is a hard posture – and look how big her smile is – both of them 🙂
I am reminding myself of fun as our next Yoga Teacher Training weekend approaches (only 5 more sleeps!). I have a lot of work to get done for this weekend and instead of getting all wound up and stressed out about all the to do’s – I am reminding myself how much I love yoga, and really do enjoy learning all there is to learn to become a yoga teacher. I should really enjoy this opportunity not stress about it.
It is something to be taken seriously, but with a light heart, a smile and a steady mind. Not furrowing allowed.
Here are some links that make me smile and laugh and some that remind me to be light-hearted – to play and smile and laugh.
If you’ve forgotten maybe these links will help remind you as a Yogi, a Yogini or just as a Human – to PLAY – HAVE FUN – LAUGH – SMILE – DANCE –
This Video of Meghan Curries reminds me not to take myself so seriously!
Remember to Play because yoga is beautiful and fun!
This is Marcel the Shell – if you haven’t met him yet – you should:
You Can Smile Anytime
Do it Now
Do it Often.
What makes you Smile? 
How will you make time for Play today?
What Are You Going To Do Today to Let Go? To Laugh?
This is my baby Nash and Buddha
I keep this picture on my lock screen on my phone
This is my ultimate Smile.
Until Next Time,
Sending out Peace,


Rolling out the Mat & Finding Tapas – Gone Camping Style

Kat: Posted on July-20-13 1:05 PM
Rolling out the Mat and Finding Tapas
Gone Camping Style

As I mentioned in my previous post about the first Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) weekend, a main part of that first weekend was to design a personal practice and committing to this practice – every day – for 40 days –
This particular practice wasn’t just a practice that we made with all our favourite poses – you know the ones you love to do – often times because you have become comfortable with them or accustomed to practicing them (or maybe they just feel GREAT).
This was a practice that was designed based on an analysis of body alignment we (YTT’s) did on each other and on ourself.
We all have minor (or major) mis-alignments in our bodies that we may or may not be aware of.  These mis-alignments could be things such as, one hip or shoulder tilted slightly higher than another, feet turned in, knees knocked in, lower back over curved, shoulders hunched or head tilted to one side. Sometimes we are aware of these little kinks because we can feel them or plainly see them, and sometimes we aren’t. Often times we need someone to notice in order for us to recognize.
I could identify only that “something” was going on with my knees.  Laura and Chris had similar experience identifying their own mis-alignments.  However, when we analyzed one another we were able to see a lot more and Denise was able (as she has a keen and trained eye) to identify several minor and major things for all of us.  After she identified them, they were obvious (which caused problems later on because I couldn’t look at anyone at home that night without analyzing their posture 😉 ).
The second part of the personal practice design used the Joint Freeing Series (from Mukunda Styles – Structural Yoga Therapy book) – this is a sequence you may be familiar with if you frequent the twisted fish, I have done it several times in Gentle Yoga.
As we moved through this series working muscles from head to toe, we identified the areas where we felt tight, loose, ease, discomfort, exhileration or even pain.  Using these tools we could identify where we need to work to build strength and where we need to stretch it out. These tools, Denise’s wisdom and some knowledge of the Ashtanga yoga practice enabled us to design a sequence – a daily practice, just for us. The idea being that the practice of this sequence on a daily basis would allow us to observe how bodies change in response to a targeted practice – or “how yoga WORKS”

I will provide a detailed run through of my body works and mis-alignments and how that translated into my particular sequence in an upcoming post – where I will discuss how it has affected my physical body thus far.
Quickly, my practice is around 45 minutes long, includes some Surya Namaskar A, B (the Sun Salutations),  Trikonasana variations (triangle pose), some Warrior I, II and variations, Navasana and a a few other equally important postures and the all important, and adminitedly usually skimped on by me, SAVASANA.

There is a secondary, very important piece to this personal practice (which is the topic of this post… I’m getting to it ;)) – and that is the discipline it takes to maintain a daily commitment to a practice.  And moreover commitment to working the same sequence every day for a reasonably lengthy period of time (40 days is a relatively long time, I think!).
In the yoga teachings, this commitment is referred to as “TAPAS”.
We began to explore this teaching of TAPAS in discussion, but more-so would learn this teaching by DOING.

Yoga Journal can explain it better than I, and has this to say about “Tapas”:

“Tapas is one of the most powerful concepts in the Yoga Sutra. The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe).
A better way to understand tapas is to think of it as consistency in striving toward your goals: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting on the meditation cushion every day—or forgiving your mate or your child for the 10,000th time. If you think of tapas in this vein, it becomes a more subtle but more constant practice, a practice concerned with the quality of life and relationships rather than focused on whether you can grit your teeth through another few seconds in a difficult asana.”
(Read more: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/455)

Prior to yoga teacher training, I practiced most every day, probably most consistently 6 days a week anyways.  But, I am a bit of a spoiled yogi – I do whichever sequence or practice I choose, for whatever amount of time I can.  For example, I use the website YOGA GLO (a lot) – so I can go on select the difficulty level I want, the duration, the teacher, the body part that is focused on, etc.  And usually I aim for 30-60 minutes and an Intermediate to Advanced level with either Kathryn Budig, Jo Tastula (Faves) – or I hit up my downloaded Meghan Currie classes (if you aren’t familiar with her – you should become!).  I like to mix it up.

To do the SAME practice every single day – was the most daunting part for me. Like, Ah man, I’m not going to get my 20 minute core work, or my side plank flow, or my Meghan Currie fix… sort of a bummer – BUT I will have to MAKE TIME for them on top if I really need and want them.
I also would have to remind myself – in the grand scheme of things I will have my whole life to do any yoga I choose– this is 40 days to be commited out of the rest of my life – In that light – not so bad at all (Change up the Perspective).

I found my first real TAPAS CHALLENGE only four days after the training weekend (the 5 of July weekend).  My boys (Nash & ‘The Dad’) and I were heading north up to River Valley ( ~ 8 hours away) for a bluegrass festival and camping trip.

Friday morning we left at 330am- figuring that way we would be driving while Nash slept and he would wake up a happy camper – so to speak (wink wink).
The morning began a little rough – as most days that begin at 330 am would – ‘The Dad’ and I both tired and coffee deprived – me totally misguiding us through Toronto – but we got on the right track and all was well in the world.

Now is when I began to think about when and where I would practice later today and tomorrow.  I didn’t really have any idea what the grounds we were camping at would be like – but I was thinking it will probably be awesome to sneak away and practice outside amidst all the northern forest beauty. I had to let ‘The Dad’ know that doing this practice while we were camping was a priority – so I needed his help (it’s important to ask for help!)

Nash woke up around North Bay, which was pretty perfect as we were going to stop for breakfast and a few other errands.
PS. We stopped at an AWESOME spot called GD2GO – a fast health food stop – no refined sugar, no GMO’s (my main squeeze is really against those ones). They had an awesome selection of smoothies, salads, wraps, burritos – so much.  I got a wrap with peanut butter, banana, strawberries, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds pressed on a grill – and ‘The Dad’ got a wrap with vegan chili, refried beans and quinoa (not my kind of 9 in the morning thing, but the bite I had was awesome). We both were impressed and went through the “we should open one of these in Dover – it is missing a spot like this!”

Back to the point. The Tapas – the added challenge of the weekend.
We arrived at the River Valley Bluegrass Park – it was in a beautiful spot- but when we pulled in to the park, it was PACKED – and I mean PACKED bumper to bumper with big RV’s – like the fancy live in kind with A/C and satellite television. We have a tent and the van –
First thought- I didn’t realize how many people were going to be here and in how close of proximity to one another. Now I wondered, where are we going to fit amidst all this?

We situated amidst the RV’s next to a nice couple who also had a few tents set up.  We landed in a really nice spot backing onto the Temagami river – the view and the placement amidst it all, couldn’t have been better – and it was close to the outhouse – BONUS.
*Beauty sites of Temagami River from our site*

We settled by noon – and now I was really thinking OK – when and where is this practice going to happen today- because, it IS happening.
After a stroll around I realized that there was no where secluded to go, unless I crossed the river and the current was a little too stiff and the water a little too deep for that. Then the worry of people seeing and/or watching and judging me came into play – and I tried to just tell myself that was silly and really didn’t matter what anyone thought (but regardless it was still in my mind).  I was starting to go down the … “I really could just not do this today” road, the “No” road….. so I just thought to myself –firmly-, “YES.”
Finally, after all this chattering on to myself in my head, I decided on a plan of action (actually a plan of practice).  I would just roll out my mat right behind our van, under the shade of the tree and practice there while Nash and ‘The Dad’ napped in the back of the van. I casually let the couple beside us know what I was about to do, they were all, “OH yeah, do whatever, that’s great, don’t mind us at all.” – see WHY was I worried.
So, Nash napped, ‘The Dad’ had a beer and I rolled out my mat. I finished the whole practice!!! 😀 WOooHooo!
And YES, I was distracted several times by noises, by people walking closely by, by thoughts of people watching me – but I tried my best to come back to the breath, to focus on what I was doing and you know what it was not my most wonderful practice, and it was not the most focused, but I DID it. I kept the commitment, I found the discipline – the TAPAS – and you know I felt really good and happy with myself afterwards!
*Wide seated — tree variation I suppose 😉 *
Nash woke from his nap and we hung out in the back of the van under the shade tree and I read him some Threads of Yoga (by. Matthew Remski).  The day was lovely.
Day 1 – Check!
*Opening page of “Threads of Yoga” by. M. Remski*

Now that was Friday – and Friday evening the rest of the 5 band members would arrive to camp with us. Saturday was going to be a little more hectic and would really be the test – but I knew I would just have to figure it out. I did it once, I could do it again.  I thought maybe I could get up really early, before Nash, before anyone else and do my practice in the early early morning in the dim sky light by the river. The only foil in that plan would be that Nash does not have a predictable wake time, especially when camping.
Saturday AM came along, and Nash woke me at 6. Damn. Oh well, no early AM practice –but early morning hanging out alone with Nash by the river – no one else awake. I boiled water and made coffee and bottles and Nash grabbed at and gnawed on leaves.  Probably one of my favourite times. Total peace and a good time for calling up some deep gratitude.
The day rolled on, everyone woke up and bustled about. Then the fretting started to arise again, when and where is this going to happen today. I felt stranger about practicing around and in front of these people I know very well than I did about passers by glancing at me.  I also knew that I would be much less alone and amidst along more distraction. It was 2 and ‘the Dad’s’ band was playing on the stage. Nash fell asleep in the stroller and I thought this might be the time – no one at the site, a lot of campers at the stage, Nash asleep – and I’ve seen these guys play a hundred times and would be able to hear them from the site anyways.  My friend Carrie was there and told me to just leave Nash with her and go go go (bless her!!) – so I went went went.
I rolled out my mat – and I did my practice. I did my practice to bluegrass music – this was a first and it was pretty cool, a whole new soundtrack to my flow. 🙂
And look at that, I had done it again. Some distraction, not the most focused practice, but a full 45 minute practice, and again I felt great.
*Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana) & Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) & by the Tent from Saturday Practice*
The band and the baby arrived back moments after I finished. Impecible timing. And now, maybe I could have a refreshing slightly alcoholic beverage in the hot sun with all our friends, all for the better of doing my practice, sticking to the commitment- coming back to the Tapas.
The night rolled, the mosquitos got nasty, we woke up in the morning and set off back down south through the crazy cottage country traffic and all that noise back to our quiet home.

It was a wonderful trip with my boys and our friends, a great test of my commitment to this practice and a great way to prove to myself that if I can do this here, I can do this anywhere. I can always find a way, find the time, find the will . I’m beginning to understand and learn this teaching of Tapas. And I can apply this to anything that is important, anything that I am committed to. It is easier to just not do something, it is more difficult to find the will – but so much more rewarding.

I say this with exclamation, not with angst, “YOGA EVERY DAMN DAY
Live it & Love it.

What do you think of 40 days of the same practice? Does this jive with you – or turn you off?
If you have tested yourself in this way with a yoga challenge (personally or with a group) what do you do to find that discipline when it would be easier to just NOT do it?
What does TAPAS mean to you?

Until Next Time,
Sending out Peace,


Natural Medicine Chest

9 Essential Oils for Every Home – a workshop presented by Heather Hanna

Thursday, February 21, 2013

15.00 per person

Lemon, peppermint, lavender, valor, frankincense, PanAway, Purification, Thieves, and Peace & Calming, an aromatherapy first aid kit for the home and some of the most basic, powerful oils.

A short workshop on the benefits, uses and safety pre- cautions around some of the basic oils for a modern, natural medicine cabinet. Maintain a healthy all-natural lifestyle with the use of therapeutic-grade essential oils a part of your daily routine. Let Heather take you on a journey into the mystical world of essential oils and the myriad of everyday uses for frankincense, lavender, lemon, peppermint, valor, PanAway, Purification, Peace & Calming and Thieves. Single oils and blends that can reduce pain, clean gummy surfaces, kill germs and ease the nerves.

A Great workshop for yoga teachers, massage therapist and families who want to expand the modern family medicine cabinet.

Workshop fee can be applied towards the purchase of essential oils.

Email: info@atlasstudio.com
to register for this informative evening.

Aromatherapy education:

3rd Thursday of each month Next event March 21, 2013

Intro to Ayurveda Worldview and Method

with Matthew Remski
Intro to Ayurveda Worldview and Method

Yoga has its own medicine – Ayurveda — which seeks to illuminate our ecology, and to harmonize with it. This presentation will be a primer in the essentials of Ayurvedic holism, foundational energies (elements), modes (gunas), and bodily flows (doshas). The language of Ayurveda connects desires to the tissues, digestion to will, fertility to joy, and the body to the seasons. Together, we’ll explore basic intuition techniques, simple assessment tools for exploring constitution of self and other, and workshop whatever questions about personal health and balance arise from our discussion.

TBA 45.00 (students 25.00)
18 Ainslie Street South, Unit B

Matthew gives us feedback about his experience at Atlas Studio….

“Atlas is a gorgeous, cozy space for learning and renewal. Denise is a gracious host and educator, and I’m honoured to be offering Ayurveda, “the mother of healing” to her students in the Cambridge-Waterloo area.”


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
Email: info@atlasstudio.com