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Intro to Ayurvea: Matthew Remski

What we know about ayurveda we have learned from Matthew Remski and the sources that he has pointed us to.  Any awareness that I had before meeting Remski has been tainted by his broad and informed viewpoint.

matthew remski

Matthew suggests that the

“best evidence shows that the holy trinity of preventative and supportive health consists of proper diet, adequate exercise, and stress reduction. ayurveda focuses on how these three can speak most efficiently through the medium of a person’s constitution. Constitution cannot be concretely defined, but gleaned from the holistic analysis of physique, drives, social context, development, and emotional and mental patterning. Assessing what a person needs begins with beginning to understand who a person is and is becoming.”

In contemplating the usefulness of the ayurvedic body of knowledge Matthew suggests that “stress reduction is the broadest category.” Ayurveda addresses all stressful relationships: to food, to time, to family, to culture, to technology, to the earth, to one’s self-narrative.


Matthew goes on to explain that

“underneath the technique, ayurveda performs the important function of speaking to a recently-buried layer of consciousness. Its lore arises from the majority experience of our history: the hundreds of millennia prior to books and science, when we relied on intuition, mythology, and dreams to forge connection of balance and meaning.”

Ayurveda reminds the postmodern person of a time when her internal climate mirrored her external climate in a language she could intuit and add to. A time when she was, in a word, possessed by nature and its evident rhythms. This experience is still within us, but is now starved for attention. Ayurveda treats the ancient person within.

As for yoga — it occurs whenever the wounds of consciousness provoke conscious action. Today, yoga is primarily a mode of re-embodiment. Expressed through whatever tools work, yoga is the will to reveal our latent inter-subjectivity, and to sense our shared flesh — to use the term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty — with the world.

When Matthew Remski teaches Ayurveda, he begins with the following reduction:

Ayurveda in 7 steps

  1. Each person is two: a conscious part prone to alienation from self, other, and world, but also gifted with integrative capacities; a perceptual part, autonomically attuned to time and the environment, already and naturally resourceful and supported.
  2. The latter is a unique combination of elemental qualities and movement patterns we may call “constitution”. It is the basis of the former.
  3. Constitution can harmonize or clash with its natural and social environment, whether by conscious choice or by circumstance.
  4. Inattention to sensual feedback, internal rhythms and environmental changes prematurely weakens first vitality, and then immunity.
  5. As immunity weakens, the natural strengths of structure, metabolism, and coordination express their shadows: congestion, inflammation, and disorganization.
  6. Good digestion is the root of somatic and psychic health.

Pleasure and equanimity are its flowers.


matthew remski ayurveda teacher

Matthew Remski teaches a Ayurveda workshop for Atlas Studio.  Find out more here!

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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Protected and Precious: Consciously Parenting Through Prenatal Yoga

Atlas Studios

Article written by: Beth Murch, MA

pregnancy mantraConscious parenting begins long before that special day where you finally hold your precious baby in your arms. You instinctively know that there are certain actions that you must undertake in order to reassure your growing infant.

In fact, you have been communicating your love for your child every time you caressed your belly in response to her flutters and kicks, each time you had your partner read the Dr. Seuss classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go into your navel and even by eating healthy foods that ensure your little one receives nutritive-rich blood through his umbilical cord.

There is another way that you can express your feelings for the new life growing within you, prepare your body for labor and ready yourself for motherhood – through the restorative, energizing and relaxing practice of prenatal yoga. Through gentle movement and meditative exercises, you will gain a greater awareness of how the temple of your womb houses the jewel of our planet’s future and enrich your understanding of your own body.

prenatal yoga 04

Prenatal yoga offers a wealth of benefits to you and your baby. First, and perhaps most importantly, attendance at a weekly yoga class or even following along with a yoga DVD from the local library creates a liminal space in which to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Life and concentrate on the energy thrumming within you. A yogic practice places stress from bills, tension from work, the blasting of car alarms and the complications of family life on the threshold of reality for a brief, blessed moment and provides you with a mini-vacation where you can indulge yourself and acknowledge the joys and fears of your pregnancy.

prenatal yoga 02

In North America, we as a society are busier than we have ever been – even when we are no longer at the office or on the assembly line, we are constantly interrupted by cell phones, e-mails marked “urgent” and text messages as we frantically attempt to have dinner with our families, drive our children to their after school activities and complete our household chores. Imagine creating a space where you can set aside any non-essential emotions and activities, and allow your mind to be present only in the moment. Sheer bliss!

Secondly, prenatal yoga addresses many of the physical concerns of pregnancy: morning sickness, backaches, muscle tension, leg cramping, inflexibility, aching Achilles tendons, gas, weight gain, etc. Each asana (posture) performed “wakes up” the major muscle groups and encourages the body’s circulatory system to pump fresh blood through the veins and causes the eliminatory system to excrete toxins and waste.

Often, the unpleasant sensations of pregnancy can be reduced simply through focused motility, increasing muscular strength and realigning chakras (the focal points for the transmission and reception of bio-energies). Prenatal yoga is an ideal way to heal the body because it is a non-competitive and low-impact activity: virtually anyone, regardless of body type or fitness level, can participate in a non-judgmental atmosphere…and there is no “failure” to achieve goals. Each asana can be modified or omitted with the guidance of an instructor in order to make the experience pleasurable and safe.

As well as providing an opportunity to exercise, prenatal yoga presents a space for meditation and concentration. By focusing on the way you draw and release breath, you become aware of your life force and your unique presence in the universe. Your mind becomes clear and you will find it easier to focus on your priorities. Your baby feels the good, clean air that you are taking in for the both of you and senses the peaceful state of your mind and body and intuits that she is safe, protected and a welcome presence on
this planet. He realizes that he lives under your heart for a reason – so that he is closest to the strongest source of love and light radiating from your anatomy.

prenatal yoga atlas studio 05

Prenatal yoga is an easy and comfortable way to effectively prepare yourself for the physically and psychologically demanding hours of labor that are involved with birthing your baby. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the pain of contractions and the fear of opening wide tangibly and spiritually to bring forth new life.

Through using the introspective techniques you developed through prenatal yoga, you can ground yourself by releasing tension through deep breathing and guided imagery. Much of our experience of pain is colored by our anxiety: if you see your contractions as hugs from your uterus that are loving your baby out and into your arms, they will be far easier to manage than if you see your contractions as frightening, unendurable and inherently negative.

Prenatal yoga also increases flexibility and allows you to maintain positions that work with gravity to draw your baby down the birth canal, such as: squatting, standing and kneeling. These are poses that women from all cultures have used throughout the ages to bear their children but have fallen out of use in our Western world. In our society, we no longer squat to wash our clothes in the river, rest on our heels to defecate or kneel before a fire to prepare our meals – therefore, we must train our muscles to remember the visceral work they did for our ancestors. In this way, we can prevent prolonged labors, unnecessary medical interventions, and avoidable caesarean sections and reduce postpartum recovery time. A healthy labor also ensures fewer health issues for children, making it less likely for them to be whisked away by doctors for extended periods of time, compromising the opportunity to establish a breastfeeding relationship immediately after birth, universally considered to be the optimal time for doing so.

prenatal yoga 01 atlas studio

Another special benefit of prenatal yoga is the enhancement of the bond between mothers and babies. Your somatic gestures create a sweet rocking sensation for your unborn babe, soothing him to sleep. She also benefits from the tender energy that flows through your body as you form a compassionate relationship with her through internal dialogue, gentle touch and positive actions. Prenatal yoga encourages mothers to be aware of their babies long before they are born, so that when they finally hold them in their hands, they do not see strangers, but rather, people who they have already had a relationship with for nine months. This not only decreases the likelihood of women suffering from postpartum depression, it also creates happier children because each infant is born with the knowledge that they are protected and precious.

There are many reasons to pursue a prenatal yoga practice and each woman will find her own meaning on the mat. As you consciously parent your unborn baby, consider the rewards of yoga – gifts that can last you and your child a lifetime.

Beth Murch with Ophelia

Beth Murch is an Antenatal, Labor and Postpartum Doula in Kitchener, Ontario. She provides loving support to families during the entire childbearing year, including: assistance with creating a birth plan, providing comprehensive labor care and breastfeeding guidance. Beth also designs Blessing way Ceremonies and belly casts. Her website can be found at: http://www.freewebs.com/bethmurch/




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Raindrop Technique

Raindrop Technique ® | An Aromatherapy Massage To Remember

young living essential oils 03Using an ancient Tibetan version of reflexology on your feet to start, this technique leads one into a state of bliss.

reflexology foot raindrop technique

Moving to the back, this technique uses a  gentle gliding touch as therapeutic grade essential oils are applied up the spine and to tired muscles.

back massage

These oils are then “feathered in” using a spine-tingling technique inspired by the Native American body work, combined with massage. Let us pamper you!

Young Living Essential Oils

About Raindrop Technique

Raindrop Technique is an exciting modality, which can be performed on both people and animals. In addition to being performed as a technique in its own right, the various elements of Raindrop Technique can be used to complement most other modalities, including massage (all forms), reflexology, bowen technique, shiatsu, chiropractic and physiotherapy.

shiatsu massage

Raindrop Technique derives its name from the art of dripping unadulterated, therapeutic-grade essential oils onto the body from a height (like rain), so that the oils interact with the physical body as well as the energy field. This was inspired by the Native American belief that raindrops falling from a height may purify and cleanse the body and spirit. Because the essential oils easily penetrate the skin and muscles, the technique works on deep levels of the body without requiring hard pressure or force.

raindrop technique

Raindrop Technique was developed by essential oil researcher and naturopath D. Gary Young (read his personal blog by clicking here) following research showing that many forms of spinal misalignment are caused by muscle spasms and inflammation-producing bacteria and viruses that reside along the spine.

D Gary Young

The Steps of Raindrop Technique

Raindrop Technique is conducted in silence. Undistracted by sound and talking, the recipient is able to sink into a deep state of relaxation and self-connection. In this receptive state, the space for deep healing is created.

There are four steps to Raindrop Technique. The first step is very simple, and is an Energy Balancing step.  The Young Living Essential Oils’ blend of Valor is applied on the feet, and the feet are held. This step may take 5 to 10 minutes. Valor is designed to help balance the electrical energies in the body and the aura, promoting a deep state of relaxation.

young living essential oils

Raindrop Technique then uses Vitaflex Technique, the Ancient Tibetan form of reflexology, in conjunction with various Young Living essential oils. Vitaflex technique originated in Tibet thousands of years ago, long before acupuncture was developed.

Unlike reflexology, Vitaflex Technique is designed to send an electrical pulse along the nerve pathways of the body. This pulse reaches areas of the body where there is a break in the electrical circuit caused by toxins, damaged tissues or loss of oxygen.

Vitaflex Technique involves a distinctive movement of the hands and fingers, and sends the receiver into an even deeper state of relaxation as the essential oils combine with the electrical pulses to uplift the body and mind, and release tension, congestion and imbalances.

raindrop technique

The third step of Raindrop Technique is where it derives its name. The recipient is positioned face down, and essential oils are dropped onto the back and spine from a height of approximately six inches (15cm). This means that the oils are interacting with the body’s energy field (its aura) even before they contact the physical body, producing an intensified effect. The oils are then massaged into the back using a variety of modern massage techniques and Vitaflex moves.

The recipient then positioned face up, and for the fourth step their head is cupped and their body is rocked using a specific movement of the fingers around the occiput (back of the head), where the skull joins the neck. This movement effectively pumps the lymphatic fluid of the body.

Young Living Lavender Fields

The Young Living® essential oils used most commonly in the technique are Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Cypress, Wintergreen or Birch, Marjoram and Peppermint, and the blends Valor and Aroma-Siez. However, other oils may be added or substituted as appropriate and as needed, including oils for supporting emotional balance.

Because of the importance of using only the highest quality essential oils and the correct chemotypes, Raindrop Technique is taught and performed with Young Living essential oils.

If you would like to book an Aromatherapy Massage with Raindrop Technique with us, email Denise at info@atlasstudio.com,  subject line “Therapeutic Sessions”.

young living essential oils 01

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


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Director: Denise Davis-Gains
Phone: +1 519-240-9642
Email: info@atlasstudio.com