Kat Ryan’s YTT Blog

There were 40 days …… and there will be 40 more *~

Kat: Posted on August-11-13 9:44 PM
A little play on the beach @ long point
-Today is the 40th Day-
If you’ve been reading along with me over the past few months you might remember the 40 day personal yogasana practice I committed to doing as part of the Atlas Studio/Twisted Fish Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).
In case you weren’t following along, or you need a refresh:
The commitment was for all the teachers in training to design a practice for ourselves based on our “body reading”. We learned how to identify the misalignments in our posture and bodies and also used the joint freeing series (Structural Yoga Therapy book by Mukunda Stiles) to identify specific areas of our bodies where we need to stretch the tight bits and strengthen the weak bits. We could then identify the yoga postures that would work these parts of our bodies the ways that we needed.
So, the challenge was to do this sequence of postures, that maybe we don’t usually do – but we really need – and to challenge “tapas” or the discipline it takes to get to the mat – and practice the same sequence of not our favouirte postures– every day for 40- days.  
This postures and sequence we built followed the Ashtanga style and the primary series  (which I wasn’t too familiar with prior to this training). Ashtanga is a challenging style with postures ordered particularly.Typically each posture flows with an inhale and an exhale.
In my practice I was specifically focusing on correcting a slight ‘knock knee’, tension in the right side of my neck, and weakness in the fronts of my thighs.
For the knock knees, I needed to
stretch the adductors (specifically the gracilis – a muscle on the inner-most thigh)
strengthen the gluteus medius (or abductors, internal hip rotators)
stretch &strengthen the popliteus*
(this one took us awhile to figure out – it is not a common place to work!)
For the neck I needed to stretch the right SCM muscle and strengthen the left ( the muscle that runs along the side of the neck – the one you feel when you tilt your head toward your shoulder)
for the thigh I needed to stretch the Psoas and strengthen the gluteus maximus and hamstrings
There is more! But, that could be a lot of boring anatomy ramblings! 
So, all the postures were selected to work on these specific areas that need work!
Yoga in Action!
My personal practice ran at around 40 minutes – some days it was a little longer, some days a little shorter.

And TODAY is the 40 day of that practice commitment – a milestone of sorts – I DID IT!
I actually can’t believe it has been 40 days. I’ve practiced a lot, noticed a lot, learned and experienced a lot through this practice.
Here are the “STATS”:

–       Out of 40 days I did my personal practice 36 days – (1 of those days I practiced just not the personal practice) –which is pretty OK, considering in classic ashtanga teachings, yoga asana should not be practiced on full or new moons – and there were those!
–       I struggled most with keeping my mind from wandering without another teacher to lead me through the sequence.
–       I found my edge in practicing the same sequence everyday – spoiled yogi moment – I missed just doing whatever I want in the time I had.
–       Favourite Music Mixes for my practice (I use 8 tracks a lot):

§  Great for a morning or evening practice, instrumental, flowy.
               §  One of my very favourites – some traditional Indian beats revved up! Great for when you need to get amped up. Good for power.
o   “Zen Sunrise” http://8tracks.com/m23/zen-sunrise
           §  If you can handle a few lyrics in your yoga tunes – this is a really good one, some cool tunes to flow to!
o   “Yoga Mix 1” – Move to this http://8tracks.com/lanahawaii/yoga-mix-i
            §  Nice beats to flow to – not to fast, not to slow – not too upbeat not too down tempo – juuuuussst right J

–       Most transformed postures from the first day of practice to the last:
o   Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
o   Upward Facing Dog (Ardo Mukha Svanasana)
o   Big Toe Pose & Variations (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)

–       SAVASANA is still one of my most CHALLENGING postures – I always come out TOO soon.
–       I most commonly would practice between 9 and 11 when Nash usually goes down for his morning nap.  It’s best to practice first thing – but Nash does not get up predictably so that was difficult.
–       I usually find aversion practicing in the evening. However, a few times I had to in order to get the daily practice in and I found I really liked the evening, after dinner, before bed practice. Easier to focus and great prep for relaxed sleep.

Some days when I hadn’t yet done my practice, I longed for it – some days I loathed it and wanted to avoid it as much as possible – but I didn’t.
I missed playing with all the postures I really love and am good at J I missed practicing headstands and arm balances, practicing with Meghan Currie & Kathryn Budig and trying out new practices online …
but some days I got to fit in some time with them – when I had the time.

I still kept my weekly date with Christie @ the Twisted Fish – I need a dose of her magic every week 🙂 POWER FLOW class is my favourite – always different and always a challenge. You never know what you are going to get – but you know you will work hard and that Christie will bring something to the class, whether its her words or actions and it will be just what you needed.

There is always so much work to be done. I had to check my ego at the door a few times.
I recorded myself doing my practice on this the 40 day –
I don’t use a mirror, so I never get to see myself practice, I only depend on my own ability to notice when my body is not quite in alignment or remind myself to extend through my neck or the crown of my head, or align my knee or my arm. 
When I watched my practiced I noticed lots of room for improvement – but it was good for me to see.
I noticed a need to extend the cervical spine (back of neck) in my pikes from Uttanasana (Forward bend).
I need to work on engaging my arms and keeping the shoulder, elbows and wrists in line.
I still need to focus of those damn knees!

I am so inspired my Meghan Currie – I love to watch her videos of her practice.  If you have ever watched one of her videos you know what I mean – and if you haven’t I will put a link to her YouTube channel Here:

I really encourage you to explore her videos and you will see she has an amazing presence.

She has made these videos just chilling in her apartment & in locations all around the world – she is magical.
I would like to record a video of me playing around somewhere cool sometime too – and I will.
But I wanted to record and share this milestone practice, the 40 day – with no extra postures or little gems that I am particularly good at (leaving the ego out of it) – just the exact sequence I practiced every day for the past 40.
I thought of neat places where I could record a practice for today, but instead I decided to be honest – to record my practice where I do this practice 98% of the time – to leave my hair a just woke up mess – to wear whatever I woke up in (which would be what I practice in usually).
Note too that I’ve never set this up before – so next time I will know better to put the camera much further away –  because you can’t see the lower part of my legs or feet :/ which is too bad – but you can see my head – a lot of the time anyways 🙂 Next time in a few weeks I’ll make a better thought out attempt – I’m not re-doing this one – because, that would be a little fake – this was the 40 day, and the practice that happened in those moments.
So here I am sharing it with you all, some realness – no illusions – messy hair, dirty feet and all!
 I wish I would have recorded my practice on the first day to compare, but I know how far I have come.


Oh YEAH and this happened too:
Yoga Teacher Training round TWO

I can’t believe it was LAST weekend already that we had the second round of teacher training.
Again, it was four days (Friday-Monday) from 6am till 630 pm- some early, long, full days of learning invaluable life lessons. You learn fairly quickly, I think, that yoga lessons are life lessons. The weekend began Friday morning at 6 am at the BEACH with Christie.
Port Dover Beach @ 6am 🙂
The YTT’s and a few other yogis joined the beach session. I have never done yoga in the sand on the beach – 6 am at the beach is a pretty awesome time & place. I love the colours and the quiet sounds of the waves and the gulls 🙂 pure sweetness.
Christie led us through an Ashtanga practice – classic postures, without frills.
It was HARD to do yoga in the sand – the sand is moving around as you are moving around – a new challenge. And you better not have an aversion to a sandy mat if you are practicing on the beach!

Le Sandy Mat

Practice followed by the necessary COFFEE and check in.
We then were able to observe and/or play during Christie’s GENTLE YOGA class.
I used to take this class twice a week when I was pregnant. It is an awesome class, makes you feel really good and it is obvious from the FULL studio, that others think so as well. It made me realize I need a little more gentle in my life – instead of being a power junkie!

Anatomy was the focus of this weekend – learning alllll about the human body- all about all the bones, muscles, bodily structures and functions and systems (nervous, digestive) and how they work together, how they work with us, our lives and with yoga. Anyone who has studied human anatomy knows how wide this subject spans – I mean the human body is a pretty intense working of some complex systems that  have very different structures and functions that seem to work together in just the right way to enable us to be and move in the incredible ways that we do.

learning the muscles and bones of the body by colour
To learn we need to do the book work – the readings, the diagrams, etc. We also need to SEE and DO. To learn as yoga teachers, we do a posture and identify which muscles are working (stretching or strengthening) and the proper alignments of bones. We also learn how to modify postures for those who need it – maybe there is a back problem, an injury, high blood pressure – we need to know how we can make it accessible and safe for everyone.
In yoga we can stimulate the nervous system, circulatory system and digestive systems and stretch and/or strengthen nearly every part of the body – in just one practice. In a 75 minute practice you could manage to touch every part of your body, inside and out and do some extreme good. An added bonus – you will probably walk away from your mat with a smile on your face.
Throughout the weekend we were able to observe and partake in lots of yoga. On top of our every morning Ashtanga practice, we were able to observe and/or flow with Denise as she led both a gentle class and a power class on Saturday and the lovely Mandy led a class for beginners on Sunday.  Christie led a community yoga class at the Simcoe Friendship Festival on Monday too – a nice outdoors class with some Twisted Yogi’s in attendance!
Check out the studio schedule (click), there is really something for every person in every body.
It was really good to both do and see yoga this weekend. It’s two different experiences to do yoga and to observe yoga. It was good as a prospective teacher to really see how detailed a class can be – I learned when I tried to write down all the cues Denise was giving during a class! Wow! & My body felt the work of all the different types of yoga each morning when I woke up (and the effects of sitting on the floor of the yoga studio day after day).
Chris and Laura and our mess of Anatomy 🙂

So, coming out of the weekend we learned A LOT about the human body and have the task of learning, understanding and applying all this new body knowledge.
This is how to make a really good yoga teacher – one that really understands all the bodies he/she will encounter. This makes safe, effective yoga. It’s a lot of work – but I am so happy to be in a program that emphasizes this part of being a yoga teacher the way it does.

Now I talked earlier about the culmination of my 40 day practice. WAIT, there is more.
We are still to practice daily – but we can change up our practice, while keeping those postures that we really need in order to work our bodies, but learning from our 40 days about what we should change and what we need more of.

AND NOW WE ADD… Dun-dadadadaaaaa

Pranayama & Meditation Challenge!

My next post I will get into Pranayama and Mediation more – and update on how I am doing on the challenge, but a quickie on pranayama and meditation:

Pranayama is the fourth limb in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and in the simplest terms it is the Breath –but it is a little more involved than that.
The word prana, literally means “primary or vital air”
Yes, we breathe all the time – constantly in fact, it IS OUR LIFE – without breathing, we would be dead. It is important.
In yoga we focus on breath a lot – “breath awareness”-  we always move with the breath, come back to the breath and begin and end our practice with focused breathing. If you can do nothing else in a yoga class, JUST BREATHE (this is true when you find yourself in any situation in life – take a deep breath).
In a yoga class you will often be instructed to breathe into a certain part of your body, or to watch your breath. You might think it is intuitive – to know how to breath, but every person, every yogi must “learn” how to breath. ( and yes, there is an anatomy of breathing)
 This is a very important teaching.

 Check out this link on Pranayama:

There are many types and practices of pranayama, to name a few:
 Diaphragmatic and abdominal breathing
Wave motion breathing ( i Love)
Complete yoga breath
Ujjaye Pranayama (that darth vader sounding breath)

I am working with the Kapalbhati breath – or the skull shining breath. This is a deep, sharp exhale out through the nose as the core contracts –you don’t actively inhale – it will just happen.
I am committing to do this breathing exercise for 3 minutes for now (which is around 6 cycles of 30 breaths at a moderate pace). It’s harder than you think. I find myself breaking a sweat – I know… breaking a sweat breathing seems strange…. or maybe just cool.

Part II is the MEDITATION practice. Meditation is really just a practice of calming and silencing the mind – and then it can get deeper with different meditation techniques. But to start – it is just calming and silencing that busy mind of yours! (and mine too!)
Meditation is difficult for me – obviously, if Savasana is one of my biggest challengers, meditation would be too.
There are all types of meditation techniques one can use. Anything from breath awareness exercises (bringing in that pranayama I mentioned above) to candle gazing, visualizations, again, I will get into these next post – you can learn alllll about it, as I do.
It really is JUST BEING for a few minutes a day – why is this so difficult? Just to turn it all off for a few moments?
If you think of how much TV you watch, or time you spend on facebook – you probably have ten or even just five short minutes of time to sit and breathe and think of … nothing at all. It would probably be good for all of us just to take this time, just to learn how to create calmness internally.
This came up on my Facebook feed yesterday – and I clicked it – Love this:
“6 Lazy Ways to Get Happier, Sexier, Healthier, Richer”
(you know you would have clicked it too! 🙂 )
So, I have been meditating for 6 minutes after my morning practice since last weekend I am working on using the complete yoga breath meditation – some days I’ve been focused, and actually meditating (perhaps)- but the journey will continue – I’m figuring it out.
So to sum it up – I finished my 40 day personal practice commitment and we had a great second yoga teacher training weekend at Twisted Fish with Denise! – learned so much, over filling with information. Getting to know the human body and the yoga body is a cool little trip – getting to know yourself and the people you are with 13 hours a day is even cooler 🙂 A few more weeks and lots more work and we will be back at it again!
Fellow YTT Laura and I taking a lunch break – in boat pose (navasana) – on a boat 🙂 
Next week I will post more about Pranayama and Meditation, I’m looking forward to learning more as I look into writing this post!
Oh, and here is my little recipe for this post – I ate this every morning for breakfast during the YTT weekend 2:
Chia Banana Porridge
This delicious little mash is great for when you have to be somewhere early in the morning and need something to take on the go.

–       Mason Jar (I used a 500 mL)
–       1 mashed banana
–       2 tbsp chia seed
–       big scoop of plain 0% greek yogurt
–       Unsweetened almond milk (I don’t know how much I used, maybe 1 cup, use less if you want it really thick )
**Optionals:  cinnamon, honey, pumpkin seeds, strawberries, blueberries, peaches (whatever fruit you choose)

Just toss the mashed banana in the mason jar, in goes the chia seeds, yogurt, almond milk and shake shake shake!
I threw some fresh strawberries from our garden on top one day, some cinnamon and blueberries another.
Leave it in the fridge overnight and in the morning the chia seeds will have expanded and you will have a nice cool porridge that is sweet and delicious – not to mention AMAZING for you.
Try out different variations of this and see what you like!
🙂  nOmmmmm

So there it is! My little contribution for this time around! Now, I’m working on a display about the benefits of yoga for the twisted fish window (Nash and I playing with bristol board … he likes the crumpled up pieces! 🙂
! Next time will be all about Pranayama and Mediation – – – It should be good – read along! 

I encourage all you yogi’s out there to challenge yourself like we did in the 40 day asana challenge and now with pranayama and meditation!
Take part in a 30 day challenge at a studio maybe – have the support of a group – do it with a friend. Try and see what happens.
Or maybe yoga every day doesn’t work for you
10 minutes is do able for everyone – just breath – or meditate – or sit and smile, that works too.

 Until Next Time,

Sending out Peace,

My Blog

Tackling a Busy Mind

Kat: Posted on July-28-13 12:17 PM
It’s late evening, Nash has gone to bed and I’ve just been reading my book report book for yoga teacher training (Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss) and I started to think up ideas for this posting – in doing so I have been thinking of when I last posted and the things that have happened since the dates I last posted about.
I posted about our camping trip and the tapas lessons that I experienced – that was around July 5 – this post will come up on the 27th …. 22 days will have passed – 22 days!!

All I can think is WTF?!? (Pardon the acronym profanity) …
WHERE did those days go, is time really passing by so quickly??!
Those are the first thoughts in my mind, the second cluster of thoughts is the to-do list that is racking up- the hours of YTT, Twisted Fish and Atlas Studio work I wanted to get done this week, the weekly schedule I wanted to set for this blog and all my other “to-do’s”- including dealing with the camping stuff I still haven’t put away from LAST weekend- SIGH – but as I begin to beat myself up about allll that –
In comes a quickie YOGA LESSON (beyond the Asana practice)
–The first limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the Yamas, the first lesson within Yama is: Ahimsa– on the most basic level Ahisma is the practice of non-violence towards all other beings, and towards oneself. So, time to practice the teachings – non-violence towards myself; trying to be kind to myself and know that I have made a great effort in all of these endeavors, made a weekly blog posting (even though there is a bit of a lag in the dates) and I have done my best and am catching up on everything on my list – it will all get done! I need to remind myself that I do my best everyday to get the priorities, and most of all to take good care of my sweet baby.
There’s a quickie yoga lesson for anyone that needs that one – Be kind to yourself-practice non violence- We all need that one a lot I think. Use it.

Anyways, a general day for me looks something like this:
6-7: Wake up with Nash
Feed Nash & Lemon Water & Coffee Me
Chores – Feed & water chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep & saucy the pig.
Hang with Nash – hopefully Nap time
Personal Practice
Getting Ready And whatever laundry, sweeping, dishes, YTT work– I can fit in before..
Nash, Nash, Nash
Lunch —
This is where groceries, dishes, laundry, WORK, things like that fit in
Make Dinner
Eat Dinner
Back out to feed and water animals
730 pm : Nash to Bed
Reading, YTT work, BREATHING, snuggling, Maybe personal practice if it didn’t happen earlier n the day.
Now, that’s as typical as a day gets – and day to day things change, and this schedule gets all mixed around.
The Nash naps don’t happen, or a commitment comes up, or a friend comes over, a camping trip happens, spontaneity happens – LIFE happens.
My day-to-day life generally has an element of chaos – or maybe it is just busyness (and I’m not even working full time right now … I don’t even want to think about/go there yet).
I am sure a lot of you out there deal with the same kind of day to day busyness, to-dos, and maybe even border the line that crosses to chaos. It’s not that I resent all these things I need to do in my life, I love them all, – but I tend to get so many things on the go that stress and anxiety begin to creep in to my mind and body and more often then not it will release in a burst all at once (which isn’t pretty).
I’m starting to feel a bit of this creeping stress and tension coming around now as I have a new bunch of to-dos and priorities related to yoga teacher training and my personal practice commitment. There is a LOT to learn on the path to becoming a yoga teacher – SO much to read and absorb. Learning the workings of the human body and the human yoga body is a big task –

These new commitments have been added into the priorities for the days and weeks– and some of you know, with a 6.5 month old baby – it is really hard to “schedule” anything into a day (this is all a new learning experience for me).

Though I love this wonderful season of summer, it takes trying to get things accomplished to a new level –  what with all the sunshine, gardens, friends, bbq’ing, beach, patios, camping, cottaging, boating – whatever you do. I know summer seems to enhance my level of busy, but in the best way because it usually involves sun, friends, gorgeous places & delicious food. However, I still need to make sure I get things done, no matter how much I would just like to lounge in the sunshine (and we all need to make time to do just that too!).
Nash & I like to lounge in the front yard on sunny days 🙂

To stay on track and try to minimize the anxiety in my mind and shoulders – every-single-day- I write things down – many things.
In lieu of a “schedule” (that I will never be able to adhere to) I start with a list of things that need to get done – the “to do”. The simple to do lists everything I want to get done; laundry, reading a chapter of a YTT book, responding to emails, yoga, vacuuming, groceries, paying bills, calling a friend, washing eggs, showering (I hope I’m not the only mom out there who actual has to put that on the “to do” list).

These lists are important in order to:

a) remember what I have to do (or else I WILL certainly forget)
b) see how much I have to accomplish in a day or week
c) prioritize and ensure commitments to others are fulfilled
d) get all that clutter OUT OF MY head and create some clarity in there
e) Make sure there is room for fun (where-ever possible :))
Beyond the actual “to do” list I like to jot things down throughout the day. What I ate, little thoughts that pop into my head and what I have accomplished (whether it be on the to do list or not).
At the end of the day, I check off the things I have finished so I don’t have to carry them around anymore and I gain some sense of accomplishment. Some days a lot of things get checked off (that feels SWEET!) – those are the productive days. Other days maybe only one thing gets checked off – or none – so then things just shimmy on over to the next day. I also make sure that if there was a priority or a deadline (you know, that “to do” with a circle around it and star beside it and arrows pointing to it), or something that I told someone else I would have done for them, that it got done – even if everything else fell to the wayside.
To do lists, journaling, or just jotting notes down on a little piece of paper is not only a good tool for organizing your chaos, planning your days, releasing nagging thoughts that you need not to forget and checking in with your priorities- it is also a VERY useful tool for a yogi.
Yogis, you know when you sit down to your mat, close your eyes, and there is all that chatter and the to do’s floating around in your head? Yeah, you know. I have found that writing allll that stuff down even on a little piece of paper in your pocket – or keying them in your cellphone, means that when the mat is rolled out you can tell yourself, – “there is nothing to do about any of that stuff right now, the list and the reminder will be there when I’m done – so let’s do this now, and only this and see what happens”.
Try it out. You never know what will emerge out of your yoga if you ACTUALLY hit a space of ONLY BREATH, ONLY MOVEMENT – no grocery list, no to do list, no I shouldn’t have eaten that, no “after I’m done”.
This is easier said than done, but it helps, I promise. And if YOU made yoga a priority in your day – none of those other things should matter for that hour or 45, 75, or 30 minutes that you set aside for YOU.

Hey Yogi’s -to the left- look familiar?
HOWEVER – While I have found that what I described above works for me very well when I am out of my house, at the Twisted Fish (or another yoga studio) and taking part in a class – it is proving to be not as helpful as I am working on my 40 day personal practice for teacher training at home.
When I’m taking part in a class, I can really take myself away from all those things to do, away from distractions and I can apply what I have intended by writing the to-do’s and all the thoughts down – to just get with the yoga, get with the breath, get with the body.
Of even more significance in the class setting is that there is a teacher, a physical presence guiding my mind, body and energy to stay in the room and in the postures.
I am finding that it is much harder to dismiss and “Shhhhhhh” all that mind chatter that comes up when I am in my own house, often surrounded by the to-do’s and the priorities (or not far from them – especially the most important one (Nash) is usually sleeping in the next room while I practice).
That being said, I usually don’t have a problem staying present at home if I am using one of my favourite Meghan Currie or Kathryn Budig vids to practice with – so I have realized that it is less an issue of where I am physically and more that I am alone to internally guide my practice.
Other times when I have done a practice at home without a video, I just free-flow to some music – a little wild-thing here, some side plank, cat-cows – just what-ever I am feeling – with this practice, there is a certain sequence that has an order, a rhyme and a reason.
With this particular personal practice I have to think about the sequence of asana that I have committed to (it’s getting more natural towards the goal of moving meditation as time passes) and instruct and remind myself of what I am doing.
As I internally guide my breath and body through the practice, I have found that often my mind begins to wander and chatter.
Those to-do’s, those thoughts – come up, and it is really hard not having someone, a teacher, a voice – something external – reminding you to breathe, to focus, to relax the jaw, to move through Warrior now and not Surya Namaskar A-again, etc.
I have my inner teacher guiding me through my asana and breath, but then I have an almost internal dialogue between  two “voices” (am I starting to sound crazy?).
One voice comes in butting the focused yogi out and trying to bring up all these other thoughts and ideas and forecasts and furrowed eyebrows because the dog barked or Nash whimpered or whatever else. Next thing I know, I’ve repeated the right side warrior twice or skipped extended side-angle, or have no idea what my breath is doing or how long I’ve been in a posture……..
It’s frustrating for me – this is a whole new challenge.
So, my exercise of writing things down and remembering the time I have set aside just for this focus- hasn’t worked so well for me when it’s just me and my internal dialogue.
Here’s what I have been working with as I have been struggling with all the mind chatter:

An Exercise in Imagination & Visualization
I always try and envision that in my practice I ride the breath like waves – so as thoughts come up I imagine that those thoughts get put into a bottle and I let them float around-contained by the bottle; knowing that these thoughts will float back to me when the waves calm down and I wash up on shore when my practice, my ride, is done.
This works in my mind, I can see it clearly– though I may have to bottle and send those thoughts to float several times through the practice – I am getting better. Someday it won’t be difficult – practice, practice, practice.
This is me- at home- when I am truly riding those waves.
In my favourite shape- wild-thing or flip your dog (I’ve hear it called many things).
This shape feels like the best de-tangler for me – where I can let everything fall away.
With around 24 days of this practice under my belt as I am writing this, it isn’t difficult to get to the mat most days- but I will admit – this same sequence every day is getting to me a little bit (how spoiled am I?!) – but that’s part of the commitment – observing what comes up for us as we practice these asana for 40 days – and obviously, things are coming up! (I think I’m learning some yoga teacher in training lessons here people!!!)
And I do manage to fit in a little extra time for a power class at Twisted Fish, or a serious Meghan Currie flowy play, or a sweaty core session with Miss Budig – but it is definitely not feasible to indulge in all these extra treats every day.

One other exercise that I have drawn from yoga and have since used daily to calm the chaos in my mind on the mat and in the day to bring some perspective out of bad moment- is INTENTION.
It took me awhile to figure out “Intention”.
I used to only set intentions when I was asked to at the beginning of a yoga class and it was usually “Be Here Now” or “Breathe” – because Christie said those might be good ones 🙂 – and they ARE good ones, always! Those two intentions are simple and help me through the practice to stay in the room, in my body, in a tough posture.

Now I set intentions daily and I branch out from thinking of an intention only relating to my practice – though I may set it on my mat, the intention applies to my yoga practice and to all aspects of my life.

Here’s what works for me:
Think of the intention as you wake in the morning, or when you are in the shower, or driving to work, or if you practice asana early in the day – when you come to your mat.
Repeat it a few times in your mind – or aloud – whatever works for you.
Maybe it’s an intention you think will serve you through a tough day ahead, maybe it’s “Perseverance” or  “Strength” or “Calm” or “Smile”

Breathe with it & in to it.
Common intentions I find myself setting in the morning are:
Patience, Sweetness, Love, Trust,
Understanding and “Guts”
I breath into it, I bring it up in my practice and/or I write it down and remind myself when I need to – like when I am uncomfortable in a posture or struggling with my chattering mind, I bring in the “Strength” or “Calm” or “SMILE” – at 3 o’clock when Nash hasn’t napped all day and its getting cranky and I haven’t been able to practice yoga or go to the grocery store or shower–  I just remind myself, “Hey, remember?- “PATIENCE” – Life is good. There are countless times when remembering an intention could turn your day and your attitude around.

Try to write it down – make it real & remember it–
and don’t let it fade as the day wears on you
I used to get angry and bitter and grumble when things didn’t get done. And you know, sometimes I still do. Day by day I am getting better at organizing my chaos a little bit and remembering all I can do is try my best, focus on the priorities, and not beat myself up when things don’t go how I thought they would.
I hope this post hasn’t seemed like I am whining about how much I have to do – and maybe I am – not much though 🙂
Amidst everything that could come up – I remember my intention, I focus on the SWEETNESS and that life is wonderful and beautiful and I have every reason to smile – constantly.
But I am human and things get to me sometimes 🙂
If you struggle with this type of wandering, chattering mind while you practice –
How do you deal?
Do you notice a difference if you practice at home versus at a studio?
Would or does visualization like the one I described above work for you?
Do you set a daily intention? Does it pull you out of a rut in your day?

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Albert Einstein
This isn’t a quote from an insightful yogi or Buddha, Lao Tzu, Osho or Iyengar– but Einstein is good in
my books. I’ve never heard tell of Einstein doing yoga- but I’m sure he could appreciate it.
I find this quote speaks to me and probably resonates with many other people. It is a good way to think about how we should approach resolution when we are amidst clutter, discord and difficulty in our lives –
which are aspects of every life, almost every day to some degree.

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,

Dreams in Motion! Yoga Teacher Training: The First Weekend
11/07/2013 12:13:00 PM

*The first weekend of YOGA TEACHER TRAINING!*
Friday of the long weekend was the first day of the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program happening at the Twisted Fish. I was buzzing around all morning, literally vibrating at a very high frequency – that feeling of goosebumps, but constantly.  I was pumped and at the same time feeling anxious about leaving Nash.  I would only get to see him for a few minutes every 6 hours so he could have one nursing session between bottles – but, I had never been away from him for more than a few hours in the 6 months of his life. This weekend would be 4 – 12 hour days away from him – it was scary, I will admit.  I knew he would be fine – and THAT was the scary part. He had his Dad, Grandma & Grandpa and Nana to care for him over the four days I would be away.  The idea that he would be fine without me – sort of made me sad. It also made me aware that time is passing and this little baby is growing up before my eyes and will need me less and less (*Deep Sigh*).  HOWEVER, I was anticipating some much needed time out and about and away just to sluff everything off, but I figured after the first 6 hours away I would be thinking of my babe lots and lots.
-A little Salamba Sirsasana to calm everything down before YTT began-
I arrived at the twisted fish, raw-open & ready for this.  I have wanted to teach yoga for some time; really ever since I started doing yoga regularly and could feel the changes in my mind body and spirit. The more I have become a devoted yogini – the more I’ve been drawn to teaching and sharing all this goodness I have found with yoga.  I have found my self dreaming up sequences to teach, imagining names and themes of practices and thinking “this song would be great in a yoga class”, or thinking of yoga postures that someone should do when they tell me they have an ache or a pain.  I was ready to begin this journey, aware that there was a lot of work ahead and a huge amount to learn.
DENISE DAVIS-GAINS is the instructor for the YTT course. Denise owns and operates Atlas Yoga & Retail Store in Cambridge (http://www.atlasstudio.com), and was also Christie’s (owner of Twisted Fish) teacher. If you frequent the Twisted Fish, you may have had the pleasure of taking a class with her. When she arrived, I knew almost immediately that this was right and this was a person I am supposed to know and learn from. She is a beautiful woman; strong and spirited. She is both sweet and sassy – the best combination – and is beaming with energy.   Almost instantly you can tell that this woman, she knows A LOT, and she means YOGA BUSINESS, so you better be ready to learn a lot and get your yoga pants on (so to speak).   This combination of things definitely makes her intimidating, but not in a bad way, in a way that makes you strive to do your best.
This is Denise- Can’t you just see her magic!!

So, what is yoga teacher training like? Do we just hang out and do yoga and meditate? Nope.
To be a yoga instructor you don’t just need to be “good” at yoga – lot’s of people are good at yoga. To teach you need to have a well rounded understanding of the human body and anatomy, yoga philosophy & history and know your own practice and body very well.
As an instructor you must have an understanding that all bodies have their own special kinks and quirks and then have enough knowledge about the anatomy of our bodies and the anatomy of yoga to functionally work yoga for any body that you might encounter.  Understanding those two anatomies, of the human body and the yoga postures/practice, and how they work together is essential  (in my mind) to being a competent yoga instructor.
We have to begin by knowing and learning from our own bodies. We must begin by recognition and correction of our own kinks and quirks using a yoga practice and then maybe we can think about other people’s bodies. We also need to learn a lot more about yoga philosophy and history (why are we doing this in the first place!). Finally, we actually need to learn HOW TO TEACH yoga with our own individuality attached to it. Phew!
This first weekend was:
1)Settlling into this YTT business, laying down the groundwork and understanding what we are in for for the next few months!
2)Connecting with and getting to know Denise & the fellow YTTs – getting comfortable!
3)Learning to analyze our own and the other YTT’s bodies and thinking about learning how to use a yoga practice to: correct body misalignment and stretch and/or strengthen where necessary.
4)Beginning our journey into the very detailed and complex human body.
5)Journeying back to the history and philosophy of yoga to understand why we are in teacher training and practicing yoga in the first place!
This first weekend we also had the added challenge of learning to work through distractions – did I mention this was Canada Day weekend, IN PORT DOVER – yeah, Sunday and Monday we had some distractions to work through for sure – and we did.
One of the big things that would did was to design own personal practice based on our body analysis. We then made a commitment to do this practice EVERY DAY for the next 40 days (to see how this practice affects our misalignment & kinks that we identified). That is a BIG commitment – I do yoga every day anyways, however, I pick and choose classes I go to, classes I take online, or the personal practice I dream up.  I do it for however long I have and do what ever kind of practice I feel like that day.  Now I would have to put that on hold to make sure I did this same practice everyday – I will say, that was a tough pill for me to swallow. I committed to it though, and I understand it’s utility to my learning and my body.

Yeah, we actually DID do all that -and more- in 4 days (and there was some yoga practice in there too) – and it brought up some stuff. Some cool, some WOAH, some really uncomfortable, but mostly some YEAH this is my jam – I am supposed to be right here – right now- stuff.
Posts following this will come back to what was learned in this first weekend. I will check in on the blog with how my personal practice and working through the YTT course material is working into my life.
The follow yoga teachers will come up a bit – I didn’t introduce them, but I will give a little mention to them as their names will come up & they are a huge part of this journey! We are in this together 🙂 LAURA and CHRIS – my fellow yoga teachers in training are AMAZING, Insta-bonded- MAD LOVE. I’ve already learned a lot from them. XO
This is the recipe that Laura shared with us for her “Energy Bites” during YTT because we loved them so much. They are incredible – I wanted to put them in my pockets and hoard them home with me
Teacher training ended Monday evening at 630 pm and I was spent- mentally, physically and emotionally – it had been a long 4 days. Teacher training 12 hours a day, company every night of the weekend at our house, homework to be done, baby to be snuggled and comforted. Despite all that  I arrived home on that final day feeling uplifted.  I knew I had lots of work to do, books to be read, anatomy to be learned and SO much to be absorbed in the 4 weeks before our next session. I put my babe to bed that night and snuggled in with my man and slept like … well I slept like a mom with a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night yet – so for a few hours at a time 🙂
Ah, Yes 🙂 Snuggles
Have you ever thought about teaching yoga? Or what your yoga teacher has to know to be able to lead you through your yoga practice safely and effectively?
Do you practice daily? What brings you to your mat? How do you find your discipline?? <– I might need some tips!

Until Next Time,
Sending out Peace,
P.S. There will be a bunch of posts coming up to get back on track with the Blog – Read Up!

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