Posts by leslieabram


Ardha paschimottanasana Ardha paschimottanasana: Seated half forward bend. You know the one- “Extend one leg out long, and fold your body over your leg. Walk your hands towards your toes. Now relax.” Relax! Ha! HOW? For quite a while this was my nemesis pose- the mere mention of it made my muscles tense and my mind start rebelling. I am blessed with very long legs and very tight hamstrings. Also, my pelvis tips slightly back. Like a man’s! For me, this pose looks more like “Seated L -shape.” I must admit I usually just waited for it to be over. In my early days of taking yoga classes, my teacher used to always guide us into this pose right before savasana. What? Not relaxing! That’s ok Brendon, I forgive you. Because this simple little pose has taught me more about yoga and myself than any other. So let’s talk about ego. It’s kind of the elephant in the room in yoga class. As much as the teacher may say “Do what feels good in your body, ” we still sometimes kinda look around and see how others are doing the pose. Especially as newer students. We want to know if we are doing the pose “right.” I get it. I spent quite some time feeling like I should be progressing in my seated half forward bends quite a bit faster than I actually was. I was striving for a result. Teachers just said “keep practicing,” but my L shape stayed the same. Brand new students would come into class and drape their chests over their legs, and I was still very much seated upright in an L shape. Although this shape afforded me a great view of the class, I wondered why this pose remained unmovable. I remember before I went off for a month to take my yoga teacher training in 2016, I sat in my living room and practiced ardha paschimottanasana. almost every day. Funny that I thought that mastering this pose was somehow necessary, pre training. Or ever. The pose looked pretty much the same in my body when I got there as it did when I first started practicing yoga. My teacher said to me “What are you holding on to?” Hmmmm. Good question. I was holding on to lots of things. Striving, grasping, ego, and self-judgement. I don’t think at that point I had hoisted aboard what yoga was really all about. After a month of teacher training of constant yoga practice, teaching, philosophy, and personal reflection, my ardha paschimottanasana. still looked pretty much the same! But… I felt strong, steady, and joyful! A...

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Note: Santosha is one of the niyamas (personal observances) laid out in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, found in the Yoga Sutra. The eight limbs have been an important foundation of yoga for over a thousand years. Santosha is Contentment. It’s that inner strength that comes from knowing we are fine just the way we are in this moment. It’s understanding that we are always changing, learning and growing. Santosha is being ok with not being finished and not being perfect. Santosha is being happy with what we have. You cannot BUY santosha, despite what our consumer capitalist society may try to lead us to believe. One of the most important ideas in this practice of santosha is that contentment comes from within us, not from the outside. Things cannot make us content. Other people cannot make us content. It is up to us to cultivate this sense of contentment within ourselves. Our yoga mat is a good place to start practicing. What does the practice of santosha look like in our yoga practice?  It’s the freedom to enjoy the feeling of what we are doing without striving or judging ourselves. It’s growing the ability to be with ourselves in a positive way, right here and now. As we begin a brand new year it’s quite common to set goals for ourselves.  But don’t forget that we are just fine today, right now, wherever we are on our path.   Enjoy the journey. Leslie    January 2020 The Yamas and Niyamas: The Yamas: Ahimsa: Non-violence Satya: Truthfulness Asteya: Non-stealing Bramacharya: Respecting relationships, proper use of energy Aparigraha: Non-grasping The Niyamas: Saucha: Purity Santosha: Contentment Tapas: Self-discipline, training your senses Svadhyaya: Self-study, inner exploration Ishvara Pranidhana: Surrender to a power greater than...

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Recently livestrong.com asked us “What advice/tips would you give to beginners about how to begin a yoga practice?” 1. Do a bit of research. There are many different flavours of yoga- from very gentle to very vigorous.  Read class descriptions or you can ask a studio or gym what their classes are like, and if they are appropriate for beginners.   Try a few different styles and teachers, and see what feels best for you. 2. Keep practicing!  So many people try yoga one or two times and then never go back, even though they liked it!.   Growth comes with time and commitment.  Those people you see in class nailing every single pose have probably been practicing yoga for years. 3. Have fun and don’t judge yourself.  Think of those balance poses as “play for adults.” Enjoy the challenge of learning something new.   Smile, and don’t take yourself too seriously. 4.  Be curious, and learn about yourself.   Practicing yoga can reveal a lot of things we may not have considered before.  How do we handle challenges? Where are our bodies stronger and where do we need to build strength?  Where are we flexible and inflexible?  How do we deal with stillness?  Each person in the room will be having a different experience, based on their own strengths and needs.   The more we study ourselves in a non-judgemental way, the more we can learn to be the very best versions of ourselves. 5. Where’s a good place to start? At home? Classes? The main thing is just to start.   If you are a beginning yoga student and find you are distracted at home or are needing more guidance, then going to classes will be your first step.   Ultimately, developing a yoga practice rests on making a commitment to a regular routine.   Leslie and Brendon, Dec....

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Thanks to Susan JK for sharing her yoga story with us! I’ve been doing yoga since 1995 in Hamburg, when I was pregnant with our second child.Yoga has been a constant companion in my life – physically of course, but also mentally.We all need to check out of our daily routine, to give ourselves permission to hit the reset button and do something totally just for us.Yoga is that for me. In the beginning it was the flow style of class, lots of sun-salutations and downward dogs and moving quickly through the poses; now I prefer the Restorative, Yin and Gentle Hatha.After every class I feel a sense of calm, a feeling of control over my life.I used to tell people if they had negative news to share with me, do it after a yoga session – my mind is in a state that it can accept almost anything.Favourite pose is no longer the “pigeon”. It is now Savasana – giving myself the permission to just lie there on my mat, listening to soft music, and to drift off to sleep.True bliss.Though my joints are stiffer, my muscles tighter, the flexibility no longer what it once was (was it ever there?)and sometimes just standing up after Savasana is a challenge in itself, going to a Yoga class for me is not a drag or a drudge, it is something I always look forward to with pleasure. Namaste...

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