Car Yoga

Schools out and summer holidays are here. Along with this comes day camp, sleeping in and of course summer vacations!  As parents at times we need a vacation to recover from the vacation we just had with our family. The list making of what to bring, the packing of suitcases, bringing food along for the drive, packing games and activities for the car and making sure pets are taken care of while you are away and the mail brought in, is just the beginning preparation of getting away as a family.  My husband and I, being new parents, just took our first family vacation.  The amount of stuff we had to bring with an infant and the two of us was out of this world!  You can read about our journey at http://namastemommy.wordpress.com

If you have a long car ride ahead you may be a little worried about the possible endless “are we there yet?” requests.  Why not do a little yoga in the car to calm your own nerves while having fun with the kids piled in the back of the van?

1)      Tense & Relax- tighten up your whole body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Scrunch up your faces while you do it and see who has the funniest face! Then relax your whole body, becoming limp like a piece of cooked spaghetti. Relax your cheeks, mouth, shoulders, arms, etc.

2)      Visualization- Take a look out your window and find a tree that catches your attention. Maybe it was the tallest one you saw, shortest one, had many leaves, large branches, etc. Then close your eyes and visualize that tree in your mind. Can you remember what the branches looked like? Was the tree was blowing in the wind or standing still? Was the tree close to the road or farther away in a field?

3)      Cooling Breath- feeling a little overheated while in the car full of your luggage and your kids? Kids complaining that their sibling is looking at them or has happened to touch them (gasp!) Take time out to chill your mind and bring down your internal body heat with this cooling breathe. Stick out your tongue (not at each other!) and roll it to mimic a drinking straw. Slowly inhale through your “straw”, feeling the air become cool as it travels over your tongue and down into your body. Exhale through your nose. Continue to inhale through your “straw” and exhale through your nose until everybody in the car is laughing and enjoying the car ride together. Well, for now anyways

Namaste

~Amanda

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~REFLECTIONS~

“live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is.” -mary anne radmacher

“wheresovever you go, go with all your heart!” -confucius

“too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  -leo buscaglia

“imagine one day struck out of your life, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain or iron or gold, or thorns and flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” -charles dickens

“may you always have enough happiness to keep you sweet; enough trials to keep you strong; enough success to keep you eager; enough faith to give you courage; and enough determination to make each day a good day.” -Proverb

~REFLECTION~

“Peace begins with a smile.”  – mother teresa    

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”  – emerson

“Keep in the sunlight”  -benjamin franklin

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift” – eleanor roosevelt

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – eleanor roosevelt

“A misty morning does not signify a cloudy day.”  -ancient proverb

“In the long run, we only hit what we aim at.”  -thoreau

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us…..”  -helen keller

“”To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.” -unknown

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”               -unknown

“In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity.”  -albert einstein

What are some of your favourite and inspiring quotes? leave a comment sharing words of wisdom!

Toned Arms for Summer Fun

A wonderful fellow Tools for Schools blogger and friend, Leslie Scott was asking on twitter ways she can tone her arms without always going to the gym and using free weights.  As I am sure many of us can relate working full time jobs, being full-time parents, partners and moving through life at what seems a break necking speed sometimes can be overwhelming. Through in trying to find time to exercise, incorporate proper nutrition and actually finish a load of laundry without it sitting in the washing machine soaking wet for days may seem daunting. 

I am here to show you ways you can get to die for toned arms, halter top ready, for the summer months. These yoga postures can be done in your living room during tv commercials, while at the park and the kids are running around, after a morning run, or any other time you happen to have a spare moment to breathe 😉

Yoga Journal (www.yogajournal.com) provides great movement descriptions and pictures online. I recommend that you bookmark them for the next time you are looking for a quick stretch or movement to work a specific area of the body. You can use their sequence page to create sequences of movements and then print it off to add to your workout routine!

Below are my top 6 recommended movements to tone your arms as you prepare to put away the sweaters and embrace the summer weather.  Hold each movement for as long as you are comfortable doing so, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Most of the time it is our mind, not our body,  that tells us it has had enough of a certain movement because change and challenge can be hard mentally. Not only do these movements tone the arms, they also have many other benefits such as challenging the core (abdominals and back muscles).

1.  Dolphin Plank  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2463

2. Plank Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/470

3. Side Plank Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/783

4. Four-Limbed Staff Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/469

5. Dolphin Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2462

6. Upward Plank Pose http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/2474

Once you become comfortable completing each movement on its owns then play with the movements flowing from one to another. An example of a flowing sequence may be moving from plank to side plank right side, back to plank and then side plank left side, plank, rolling over to upward plank pose, back to plank and four limbed staff pose 🙂

Remember to take time each day to breathe, and of course to tone your arms up for summer!

Namaste!

Yummy Yin Yoga

Tired of running through your days from the moment you wake up to the moment you finally get to lay in your bed late in the evening? Finding it a challenge to nurture your body and let go of any mental, emotional and physical sensations which may be arising within your body? Are you an avid participant in many yang activities such as running, group fitness classes, running after your toddler, and rushing through most of your daily activities? If you answered yes to any of the above then your mind, body and spirit will THANK YOU for taking time out for yin yoga.
Yin yoga incorporates yoga postures held for long periods of time in a relaxed manner that stretches the deep connective tissues within the body. This is unlike many yang forms of yoga (power, ashtanga, etc.) that is muscular movement in nature, bringing forth strength and power.  Yin yoga is always practiced with the muscles in a relaxed manner enabling the connective tissue to gradually release stress and tension over time.  While practicing yin yoga the student begins to tune into sensations which are arising in the body and to release any thoughts which may be holding you back in each movement. The more one learns to let go physically, emotionally and mentally in a posture the more stress and tension will begin to melt away.  Each posture in a yin class is held for approximately 3-5 minutes in length in a very relaxed manner, remembering to always respect your body and moving into each posture only as far as the body wishes to that day. Yin yoga is as much a mental practice as it is physical.  Remaining in a posture for 3-5  minutes can be quite challenging for most of us who spend our days moving from one activity to the next.  Taking a mental and physical time-out may seem foreign to some, which brings forth fidgeting and movement while relaxing in a yin posture.  The mind is then challenged to become still as you let go of any thoughts and relax the body fully into the posture.

I look forward to seeing you at one of our Yin Yoga classes soon. What are you waiting for? Relax, restore and relieve the mind, body and spirit of any tension and stress.

Your Soul Matters, Oh Yes It Does!

I would like to welcome Sue Fay from Soul Matters, our Friday Entrepreneurial Feature.  Soul Matters is located in Old Ottawa South at Bank & Sunnyside. I invite you to visit this true gem of a store the next time you are in the area. There is a wonderful array of children & adult books, teas, incense, gems, music & much more! A great compliment to the wellness therapies and events they offer.

The philosophy of Soul Matters is to encourage “wellness from within”.  We are here to help “awaken the senses, soothe the spirit, inspire the soul and educate the heart”.

Soul Matters is more than a boutique, it is a place of community that offers its customers the opportunity to either begin or continue on their journey of self- awakening and inner happiness. As we journey within, it is also important to look outside ourselves and become more aware of our local, national and global effect. With this in mind, we offer products that are eco-conscious and fair trade. Our collection ranges from tree-free greeting cards, fair trade wisdom banners and Numi tea to Respecterre bamboo clothing, crystal healing jewellery and Zen Alarm Clocks.   We carry  product lines that are handmade here in Canada as well as imports from fair trade companies around the world.

A unique feature of Soul Matters is the team of healing practitioners who visit our boutique to offer services such as Personal Life Coaching, Registered Massage Therapy, Medical Massage, CranioSacral Therapy, Reflexology, Nutritional Counselling, Reiki, Clairvoyance and Mediumship, Energy Healing, Intuitive Counseling and Mentorship. 

At Soul Matters we also have monthly workshops and seminars that help educate, and inspire the community to learn new skills or challenge old habits on their journey.  We also have Soul Circle Café run by Diane Merpaw, which brings together a community of like-minded individuals which opens up a forum for them to be able to discuss relevant issues in what is considered to be the “New Age”.  We can discuss the latest book on Metaphysics, Health & Wellness or have a guest speaker – it is all designed around being interactive to generate participation and learning.  Soul Matters continues to lead and offer unique and alternative solutions to all levels of the communities health and wellness, regardless of age.  If you are making in a decision making process of how to choose the direction in your life, Soul Matters is there to either offer guidance, support or resources.

Please feel free to visit our website at www.soulmatters.ca which has our calendar of events or drop in at 1093 Bank St. (corner of Bank & Sunnyside), Ottawa, Ontario K1S 3X4

Joyful Pregnancy with Prenatal Yoga

Bringing another life into the world is a miracle and a life long connection of love, nurturing and a bond stronger than anything else in this world. Creating a foundation of a healthy mind, body and spirit will pay forward to your little one as they continue to grow and thrive within your uterus. Practicing yoga throughout your pregnancy enables the mother to focus on their pregnancy, turning their senses internally and becoming more aware of what is happening within their own body…the miracle of life. The pregnant mother becomes more aware of how she is feeling mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and is able to modify her lifestyle as her body asks her to.

As another life force is growing inside the pregnant mother she becomes more fatigued, at times feeling absolute exhaustion. By setting aside time for a daily yoga practice, whether 10 minutes or 60, the mother becomes aware of when she needs to rest, revitalize and regenerate. There are also specific yoga movements and breathing techniques that can increase the pregnant mothers energy and stamina. As your loved one grows inside your uterus your centre of balance begins to shift which in turn compromises your postures. Some muscles begin to become over worked and others not worked enough, causing stiffness, soreness and energy blocks. Yoga will assist you in releasing any muscle soreness, regaining a more powerful posture. When you create a balance within your body, the circulation is greatly improved and the body is invited to relax.

Developing, or continuing with your current yoga practice, will empower you throughout the birthing process. Utilizing breath awareness and control, developing awareness within your body will assist with labour coping strategies, creating a still mind while you ride the wave of each contraction and becoming comfortable in finding birthing positions that work for you throughout your birthing experience. Join in our Prenatal yoga classes in Ottawa, Canada or practice the postures below from home.

3 Part Breathe Sit in a comfortable cross legged position. Lengthen your spine, stacking vertebrae ontop of vertebrae. Lengthen your neck, open your chest, float your shoulders down your back and press the crown of your head towards the sky. Begin to inhale and exhale through your nose in a relaxed manner. As you inhale, through your nose, invite the breath to travel to your belly as it surrounds your baby, then fill your ribs and intercostal muscles and finally your chest. With each exhalation, through the nose, the air in the chest leaves the body first, then the ribs and finally the belly. Continue with your 3 part breathe inviting relaxation and calmness to surround yourself and your growing baby.

Cat/Cow

Move into a table top position, with your shoulders in line with your wrists and hips in line with knees. Spread your fingers apart to create a strong base of support. Inhale through the nose as your belly moves towards the floor and your head and tail bone lift. Exhale through the nose, rounding through your spine, gazing towards your knees or your growing baby.

Cow Face (Gomukhasana)

Sit with your legs extended out in front of you. Bend your right leg and cross your right leg over your left, stacking your knees one on top of each other. Place your right foot close to your left hip. Bend your left leg (which is on the bottom) and place your left foot towards your right hip. Lengthen tall through the spine, opening your hips and grounding your sit bones into the earth.

Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)

Sitting with lengthend spine, open chest, relaxed shoulders, and long neck, bend your knees as they gently fall towards the earth and the soles of your feet come together. Open up the inner thighs and hips, bringing relaxation and calmness to your body as you visualize the birth of your baby.

Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konasana)

With your sit bones grounded into the earth and spine and neck lengthened, chest open, open your legs to a comfortable position as you feel a light stretching and opening of the inner thights. You may wish to place your hands behind your body or in front to assist in supporting the spine and maintaining its length. If this feels comfortable begin to forward fold from the hips, leading with your heart first. Only forward fold as far as you feel comfortable. Respect your body and the wishes of your baby.

Downward Facing (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

From a table top position curl your toes under so they come in contact with the earth and lift your hips up and back. As your lovely baby belly continues to grow you will find you have the need to widen your stance by walking your feet out to the sides of your mat as your hips become more open. Press your heels towards the earth, lengthen through the back of your legs, lengthen through your spine, lengthen your arms and spread your fingers with hands firmly planted into the earth.

Garland (Malasana)n

Come into a squatting position, placing your hands on the floor to support yourself should you wish to. Open up your inner thighs, with your feet and knees facing out on a diagnol. If you are comfortable with your hands off the floor you may press your elbows into your inner thighs and place the palms of your hands together.

Eagle Arms

Stretch your arms out in front of you, shoulder width apart, palms facing each other. Cross your arms, right over top of the left, as your scapula widens and you feel your shoulder blades widen apart. Place right elbow direcftly over top of your left and bend your arms moving the back of your hands towards each other.

Stretch your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor, and spread your scapulas wide across the back of your torso. Cross the arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Snug the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. The backs of your hands should be facing each other. Gently turn your forearms so the palms of your hands press into each other.

Cow Face Arms

Rest in a comfortable seated position. Sit with a lengthened spine, inhaling and exhaling fully, complelely and slowly through your nose. Reach your left arm towards the sky, then bending from the elbow walk your fingers slowly down your back as your elbow points towards the sky. Ensure the shoulder is relaxed here and drawn away from your ear. Take your right arm, bending your elbow, place the back of your hand on your lower back. Slowly begin to walk your left hand down your back and right hand up your back as they move towards each other. Stay open in your chest, heart shining, and the front of your shoulders open.

Mountain (Tadasana)

Stand tall, grounding your feet into the earth as you lift up through your arches. Legs are long, hips are square and facing forward. Spine is tall and lengthened, with vertebrae stacked on top of vertebrae. Open your chest proud, letting your heart shine and melt your shoulders down your back away from your ears. Neck is long and the crown of your head is pressing towards the sky. Close your eyes here, inhaling and exhaling through the nose fully and completely. Send warm and loving thoughts and wishes to your growing child as they are nurtured within your body.

3 Part Breathe with Pelvic Relaxation (for use when very close to birthdate)

Sit in a comfortable cross legged position. Lengthen your spine, stacking vertebrae ontop of vertebrae. Lengthen your neck, open your chest, float your shoulders down your back and press the crown of your head towards the sky. Begin to inhale and exhale through your nose in a relaxed manner. Visualize your pelvic floor relaxing and physically feel your pelvic floor floating towards the earth, relaxed. As you inhale, through your nose, invite the breath to travel to your belly as it surrounds your baby, then fill your ribs and intercostal muscles and finally your chest. With each exhalation, through the nose, the air in the chest leaves the body first, then the ribs and finally the belly. Continue with your 3 part breathe inviting relaxation and calmness to surround yourself and your growing baby while relaxing your pelvic floor and the surrounding muscles. When your babies birthdate approaches practicing to relax your pelvic floor will assist in the birthing process of your bundle of joy.

Spend time each day to celebrate your pregnancy and the bundle of joy that is growing inside your body. The bond between a mother and child may change throughout the years but its strength will always remain the same.