Yoga Trenton


The New Year is often a time to make new resolutions and embrace new challenges. For many of us, though, the New Year is simply a renewal of a challenge we face on a daily basis. The challenge of maintaining personal mental health. As someone who has had to work hard to maintain my mental health, I know that the next couple of months are always more difficult for me. In a normal year getting through the shorter days and the February blues is a bit of a chore. With COVID as part of the mix it didn’t take long for me to think myself into a place where I feel intimidated and overwhelmed. But I also know I am very fortunate and, compared to others, have it pretty good – especially compared to our essential workers who have served us so bravely this past year and who will continue to serve us through the months to come. With this in mind, I think that a good way for me to stay healthy is to do what I can to support essential workers during this difficult time. Over the past year I have found myself being grateful for the peace of mind I have derived from simply spending time with my horses. They have given me so much. A sense of purpose, unconditional acceptance, and an opportunity to find freedom from my concerns in the relative serenity of the present moment. Being with them has truly been a gift, a gift I would like to share with those who are working so hard to to keep things as normal as possible for the rest of us. For the months of January and February I would like to offer free Equine Facilitated Mindfulness sessions to all essential workers. If you are an essential worker (or know someone who is) and are interested in spending time with some really amazing animals you are welcome to come and give it a try. You can find out more about mindfulness with horses at Equine Facilitated Mindfulness or can just text me or give me a call at 613-438-9642. Wishing everyone a New Year blessed with Peace and Contentment...

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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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Adapted from Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives by Thich Nhat Hanh Look at strong emotions as a kind of storm. If we know weatherproofing techniques, we can come out of it intact. A storm may last an hour, several hours, or a day. If we master the ways of calming and steadying our mind, we can pass through the storms of emotion with relative ease.  Sitting in the lotus position or lying down on your back, begin breathing into your belly. Keep your mind entirely on the belly as it rises with every in-breath and falls with each out-breath. Breathe deeply, maintaining full attention on your abdomen. Don’t think. Stop all your ruminating, and just focus on the breathing.  When trees get hit by a storm, the treetops are thrashed around and run the highest risk of being damaged. The trunk of a tree is more stable and solid; it has many roots reaching deep into the Earth. The treetops are like your own head, your thinking mind. When a storm comes up in you, get out of the treetop and go down to the trunk for safety. Your roots start down at your abdomen, slightly below the navel, at the energy point known as the tan tien in Chinese medicine. Put all your attention on that part of your belly, and breathe deeply. Don’t think about anything, and you’ll be safe while the storm of emotions is blowing.  Practice this every day for just five minutes, and after three weeks, you’ll be able to handle your emotions successfully whenever they rise up. Seeing yourself pass through a storm unharmed, you gain more confidence. You can tell yourself, “Next time, if the storm of emotions comes back, I won’t be scared or shaken, because now I know the way to overcome it.” You can teach this to kids as well, so they too can enjoy the sense of safety that belly breathing can give them. Take the hand of your child, and tell her to breathe with you, putting all her attention on her abdomen. Though she may be only a child, she can have very strong emotions, and she can learn to breathe her way through them. At first, she will need your assistance, but later on she’ll be able to do it herself.  Practicing in the sitting position is best, but you can also practice while lying down. If you’re practicing while lying down, you may like to place a hot-water bottle on your abdomen as an added source of...

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When I first started practicing yoga a few years ago, my mind was very busy and analytical during practice. I think that’s pretty normal! There’s a lot to pay attention to. Looking back, I know I was actually pretty tough on myself. But there was something there- a seed that kept me coming back to my mat, kept me practicing. Over time, things evolved. My practice shifted, and I started to be more myself on the mat. With that came more ease, more joy. Much of this came from a shift in how I perceived yoga practice, and ultimately how I perceived myself. Here’s what I have learned so far. I would love to hear what you have learned as well. Be yourself and do what feels good. Yoga is an exploration of the self. We are all very different, so our practice will vary from person to person and even from day to day. Get rid of striving, grasping, and comparing. Try to shut off the message “am I doing this right?” and tune in to “how does this feel?.” Feel the rebound from the poses. Too often in class we may feel in a rush to get from one pose to the next. Doing the postures is not the only goal of yoga, nor is “keeping up” or going at any particular speed. Doing the postures, whether they are for strength, stretching or balance, will change the energy in the body. Take a moment or two to notice that shift in energy between poses. That moment when we let go. It is delicious! The biggest rebound of all can come after savasana. Once you sit up, don’t be in a hurry to jump off your mat unless you absolutely need to be somewhere. Sit quietly and enjoy the results of your practice. Practice without expectation of a particular result. If we go into class expecting something specific, like nailing a certain pose, or feeling a certain way, we may come out disappointed. Why not open up to whatever manifests itself that day. Be curious. Be surprised! Practice is an amazing thing. The more we practice the more we change and grow, and most often in unexpected ways. Let your breath create space – breathe deeply. Full breaths make us strong and calm. They provide a rhythm that underlies our practice and draws us inward to ourselves. When you are ready, branch out and try something new. Never say never. Challenge yourself to try a different class style or different teacher, even practice at a different time of day. Learn something new like a meditation or breathing technique,...

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LayersOnions have layers, ogres have layers.  So says Shrek.  And can’t we all learn from Shrek?  Well, yoga has been that way for me.  In the beginning, it was about my physical layer.  At the start I went to re-gain some movement and flexibility.  I didn’t think beyond that.  But as the words spoken in classes entered into my mind, I realized another layer was unfolding.  It wasn’t always comfortable, as growth seldom is, and sometimes just down right painful.  Each of the eight limbs of yoga meant something.  This was a journey I was on without consciously knowing. People would ask me what I get out of yoga.  I have gotten into some layers that certainly weren’t my plan.  I have learned to accept myself and to be kind to myself which is no easy task.  To be able to look inside yourself is a gift.  And yoga is a gift.  Just when I thought I was figuring out this journey, along came a new class by Brendon dealing with the koshas.  This was giving a name to what I was going through. The koshas are all layers.  And boy, did I need this class.  The physical layer is the first one.  The third one is the  manomaya kosha which is the mental, emotional layer.  This is a big one for me.  Thank goodness yoga is a practice.  I have purposely not told you all the layers.  For that, see you Tuesdays at noon. As I make progress with my layers I realize that they are so subtle and nuanced, a lifetime of study would not be enough. We are always growing, changing, evolving.  Yoga is life long journey and one I’m glad I’m on.  Peeling away the layers of an onion will sometimes bring about tears and for me, peeling my own layers back has had me shed a few.  The joy I have found delving into my layers is worth it.  Namaste.Sheila p.s. Cakes have layers and I LOVE...

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Our biggest obstacles can often come from a surprising source: ourselves! How often have I heard myself say “I can’t” or “That’s not me.”  These reactions are just stories I have made up over time. After a few years of regular yoga practice I am finding my stories are shifting, changing, and I am opening up to a lot of things I never thought possible.   One of the really important parts of yoga is svadhyaya – self study without judgement.   The hours I have spent on the mat have been like a little rectangular laboratory for my life in general.   I have found that over time, with practice, the obstacles I thought I faced faded away.   At first, I could never find my breath, or stick with it, my mind was so busy.  Now I adore breath work, and find it can calm me down easily.   Also, I used to look at some of the poses and  think… well…someday…?  Hahaha!   Then one day during practice, I would just pop up into a pose I thought was far out of reach for me. Isn’t it freeing to know yoga is a practice? Here are some other stories I have changed, despite perceived obstacles. I went to do my yoga teacher training at age 52.  I spent a month off-grid on a mountain, on a farm, in Costa Rica.  It was life changing.  I loved it. No I was not “too old” to do this.   Age is just a number. I somehow own a yoga studio!  My background is in public education.   It could be perceived as a pretty good fit, if being organized, being fascinated by people,  and building community are the prerequisites to owning a business.   I have learned to stop second guessing myself,  and make decisions with my heart and what feels right rather than telling myself that if I “knew more about business” I would know what to do.  I love Get Yoga and am so so proud of it. For a long time I told myself I still had brown hair.   Well, what a story that was!   An expensive, time consuming and itchy scalp story.  I don’t even know why, but one day in January I decided I had had quite enough of that. I grew out my (not brown) roots for 3 1/2 months and then got all the fake brown chopped off.  Hello freedom!   I like being who I really am, and my short silver hair does not fall into my face when I do downward facing dog. One of the biggest...

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