Shanti’s Loving-Kindness Challenge

February is recognized as the month of love.  This year at Shanti we’re inviting you to strengthen your loving-kindness and compassion muscles by joining us in a 14 day challenge to practice the Maitri (loving-kindness) Meditation.

Every day at noon starting February 1 we will make a maitri post on facebook to help guide you through this very short meditation offering a prayer of love and compassion to yourself and the world around you.

This is an ancient contemplative practice born out of the Buddhist tradition and practiced by millions of people around the world on a daily basis.

There are a variety of versions of this meditation that only takes a few minutes a day. Above is depiction of one of my favourites with four simple phrases we invite you to repeat mentally in meditation 5 times dedicating each recitation to:

  1. Someone you love deeply (ie. a partner, child or friend or family member)
  2. Someone you are acquainted with (ie. neighbour, colleague, stranger)
  3. Someone you are having difficulty with
  4. Yourself
  5. Your community and the world

For a guided version of this meditation, please click on the video or recording below.

We hope you choose to join us in this community practice on-line or at the studio and feel for yourself the powerful difference this practice can make in your life and your relationships.

As an added bonus, for those of you who tune-into our facebook page daily and like our maitri post, your name will be entered to win a Chakra Balancing Massage or Ayurvedic Facial with our Ayurvedic Body Therapist Melika Baccouche.

Namaste, Sari

Choosing the Right Yoga Style for You

Over the last 10 years yoga has bloomed prolifically throughout Canada, a wonderful sight to see for yogis like me who swear by the health benefits of this ancient practice. However, with this proliferation has come an abundance of choice and, in some cases, confusion from new students about the best yoga style suited for their specific interests and needs.

Because we offer many styles of yoga at Shanti Yogi we spend a lot of time guiding our new students in choosing the right style for them. Here are two important questions you should ask yourself when choosing the right style for you and a little cheat sheet on some of the most popular styles in the city right now!

What is our primary intention for your yoga class?

  • Cardio work-out or weight loss : you may want to try Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Flow or Heated Yoga.
  • Increased flexibility: you may want to try Hatha, Yin, Restorative or Kundalini.
  • Time to relax: you may want to try Yin, Restorative or Kripalu.
  • Spiritual awareness and/or awakening: you may want to try Kundalini or Kripalu.
  • Physical or Emotional Healing: you may want to try a specialty class or one-on-one Yoga Therapy.

Do you have any health conditions that may affect your mobility or are contraindicated for rapid movement, heat sensitivity, sound sensitivity, deep breathing exercises or deep stretching?

  • Ensure you note your health condition to the teacher of your class to ensure that specific movements, breathing exercises or the teaching environment of your class are not contraindicated for your condition.
  • Ensure you have your physician’s permission to experiment with the style of yoga you choose in your condition.
  • Explore the options available in the city for one-on-one Yoga Therapy or group classes designed for your specific health condition.

Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Flow Yoga

These are a more vigorous style of yoga guiding you through a flow of postures to help “you heat the blood”, purify the body and connect your movement with the flow of your breath. In Ashtanga specifically there are three foundational series of postures you are instructed through, with a particular focus on alignment in each. Where as a Vinyasa or Flow class sequence may change from one class to the next.

Hatha and Kripalu Yoga

These two styles of yoga offer a slower-paced flow through postures, holding each posture for longer periods than in a Vinyasa or Ashtanga class, while still moving through a full body sequence of movements. Kripalu yoga specifically is a form of yoga which emphasizes the development of an increased awareness into the physical and emotional sensations awakened during the posture flow.

Yin & Restorative Yoga

Both these styles of yoga are very relaxing, where you spend your whole practice on the floor exploring long posture holds. How they differ is that in Yin Yoga you will hold a posture for 2 to 5 minutes with just enough prop use to give the connective tissues a healthy stress while being able to maintain the pose.   In Restorative Yoga you will hold a posture, supported by bolsters, blankets or blocks, for between 10 to 20 minutes, in order to unlock the body’s relaxation response.

Kundalini Yoga

Known as the yoga of awareness, a class combining meditation, mantra, physical exercises, and breathing techniques with an emphasis on moving the Kundalini (primal energy) through the body for spiritual awakening and liberation.

Heated Yoga

Hot Yoga was first brought to the West by Bikram Choudhury, who developed a style of yoga based on a series of 26 specific postures and 2 breathing exercises, taught in a room heated to 37C. Today there are a variety of yoga styles taught in heated rooms but the primary similar benefit of this form of yoga is the detoxification that happens due to the profuse sweating that takes place in the heated environment.

 Yoga Therapy

There are a number of forms of yoga therapy in the West including, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Viniyoga, Irest yoga, Trauma Informed Yoga, Integrative Yoga Therapy and others. Essentially these yoga programs are designed to help you systematically address physical injury or pain, or mental and emotional stress or trauma to help you heal. Therapeutic yoga programs can be offered one-on-one or in small groups composed of specific populations or designed to address specific ailments. With the increase of clinical research into the power of yoga, meditation and mindfulness to assist specific health conditions and ailments, Yoga Therapy is becoming an increasingly popular form of alternative health care in the US and Canada.

Namaste, Sari

Sari LaBelle is a co-founder and owner of Shanti Yogi.

Using Mindfulness to Create the Habits You Desire

Right about now is the time when most of us (myself included) start to fall off the New Year’s Resolution wagon:( I’ve found mindfulness to be an awesome tool to help me climb back on for the long haul.

Mindfulness in its most simplistic essence is defined as a process and state of continually coming back to the present moment with non-judgmental awareness. The practice of mindfulness teaches us tools to bare witness to our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions, and see them as a passing waves in the ocean of our lives; rather than ways of being that define us or are permanent.

So how can mindfulness help us create the habits we want and let go of the habits we don’t? The first thing is that mindfulness teaches us tools to tune-in to what is happening in the present moment with deeper attention; helping us catch ourselves when we fall into mindless behaviors (like going for that extra piece of chocolate, potato chip or glass of wine).

We learn to turn toward these behaviors with compassion and dive into the feelings and thoughts that may have triggered our mindless behaviors or old patterns. Rather than engaging in self-flogging for having fallen off the wagon, we learn to embrace these moments of imperfection as opportunities to learn more about ourselves. To dust ourselves off and hop back on the wagon with greater conviction to make the changes we desire, a deeper understanding of ourselves and patters, and most important, a lighter heart.

We also learn tools to help us reinforce the changes we want to make by paying greater attention to the baby steps along the way and progress we make towards our goals. We learn to use our breath and body sensations to tune-in to how great we feel when we are consistent with the exercise regime we have followed for a whole week – or even 10 minutes! This helps to build new neural pathways in our brain to connect the thought and action of doing these activities with positive feelings so that eventually the desire to engage in these new behaviors is transferred to the automatic part of our brains and the battle of finding the will, time, energy to get to the gym is partially won.

So to help you on your journey toward using mindfulness to create the habits you deeply desire, here are a few tips:

  1. Get clear with yourself about the real reason why you want to create the new habit or let go of the old one. Visualize yourself having been successful for a whole month. How does it feel in your body when you imagine this state of being? Do this everyday, first thing in the morning, for at least 30 days.
  1. When you fall off the wagon, rather than letting your inner critic take over, let your inner best friend take the lead. Remind yourself of the progress you have made, that you are in fact doing the best you can. Ask yourself why you may have been triggered into the old habit or away from the new habit. Remind yourself that this is the normal process of learning something new and remind yourself of why you want to make the change and how great it feels in your body when you do.
  1. Celebrate your successes along the way. Identify some specific ways you can reward yourself for milestones achieved and take the time to share these moments of success with the people you love. In the wise words of one of my mindfulness mentors, Thich Nhat Hanh “ Every time you recognize a moment of happiness, happiness comes.”

Namaste,

Sari LaBelle MA (HSI), CYT, n.d.

Curious about for learning more about mindfulness or shaping your future creatively, join Sari for two of her upcoming workshops: The Magic of Mindfulness and Flow into Your Heart’s Desires Vision Collage and Yoga Retreat.

The Benefits of Yoga for PTSD

Trauma affects us all in one way or another, we’ve all known someone or had our own experiences with it and know that it’s affect can be very debilitating in day to day life. It can lead to feelings of helplessness, loss of control, anxiety, depression, and other complications. An article recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that Canada has the highest lifetime PTSD prevalence rate out of 16 countries worldwide, surprising higher even than countries like Nigeria, Brazil, and Iraq.

Traditionally, the treatment used for PTSD is a combination of exposure treatment and pharmaceutical drugs.   For some, this can work well but for others the side effects of the medications can be disconcerting and many people do not complete the exposure treatment because they may become overwhelmed and flooded with memories or dissociate which interferes with the resolution of the trauma. In order to resolve these traumatic memories the individual needs to be able to remain in the moment and manage intense physical & emotional sensations that come with the exposure treatment, this is difficult because PTSD affects the ability to regulate impulses.

A research study conducted in 2013 by the Trauma Centre in Brookline, MA looked at yoga as an adjunct treatment for PTSD. The study showed that Trauma Sensitive Yoga significantly reduces PTSD symptoms and may be able to help individuals tolerate physical and sensorial experiences associate with fear and helplessness and to increase emotional awareness and the ability to manage trigger responses.

Trauma Sensitive Yoga is a style of yoga that is specifically designed to help individuals mitigate the effects of PTSD. These classes focus on creating a safe environment for the individual to connect with their body and internal sensations. The classes consist of yoga poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation techniques that help cultivate body awareness, emotional and physical regulation, release muscular tension, calm and focus the mind, regulate the nervous system, as well as practices to increase compassion and self-acceptance.

Shanti Yogi is pleased to offer a Yoga for PTSD program, starting Thursday January 19 at 4:30 p.m. To register for this program or for more information on the class please contact us at 854-2900 or shantiyogicentre@gmail.com.

To learn more about the benefits of yoga for PTSD, check-out this wonderful 9 minute video:

Sat Nam,

Jacynte Leger, CYA-E-RYT-500

Jacynte Leger has been teaching yoga in the Moncton area since 2009, she teaches weekly classes at Shanti Yogi including Yoga for PTSD and she is also one of the facilitators of Shanti Yogi’s Therapeutic Applications of Yoga program.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Balance and Optimal Health

Ayurvedic medicine is the most ancient system of medicine. “Ayur” means life and “Veda” means knowledge or science. So the whole word “Ayurveda” means “the science of life or knowledge of life”.

Ayurveda aims to achieve balance in the body and the mind by restoring the balance of elements of which the body is made.

The distinctive principle of Ayurveda is that each person has their unique constitution according to the elements: air, space, water, fire and earth.

When the elements are combined, it creates the doshas:

  • Vata controls movements- air and space elements
  • Pitta controls metabolism- fire and water elements
  • Kapha controls structure- earth and water elements

When the doshas are in harmony, health and well-being are maintained. When the doshas are out of balance, the body does not function properly, and illness can become present. Although the three doshas are present in each human being, one usually predominates.

Ayurveda is a holistic medical system which includes herbal medicines, a healthy diet, yoga, massage and breathing techniques. It can also help restore emotional and spiritual balance through meditation, mantras and changes in lifestyle and psychological mindfulness.

Ayurveda is a highly elaborate system of healing and it firmly believes and puts emphasis upon the role of individuals in taking care of themselves to maintain good health and prevent illness.

Is your interest peaked? For more information on Ayurveda Medicine check-out this great documentary below!

With love,

Mélika Emir Baccouche

Mélika is an Ayurveda Practioner and Sivananda Yoga Teacher practicing at Shanti Yogi who studied under Dr. Anita Sharma, founder of the Centre d’Ayurveda Holistique and Institute of Ayurveda and Wellbeing in Montreal.

The Power of Intentions & Affirmations

A powerful tool for our yoga practice and our daily life is intention. Intention is a course of action that one intends to follow, an aim that guides action. As we begin our yoga practice setting an intention can be a great guiding force of how we will practice on that specific day and how we will approach the rest of our day off the mat.

An intention is your true self`s desire to come into balance. When we quiet the mind and tune into our inner knowing our intention will surface. You can set your intention in many ways. An intention is in the present moment – what would help you cultivate more balance in this moment? An intention can be a word, a prayer, an affirmation, a quote, etc.

A simple way to set your intention at the beginning of your yoga practice or day:

  • Sit on a chair with both feet on the ground or on your mat in a simple cross leg position with a straight spine, hands resting on your lap.
  • Bring your attention to your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply through the nose, eyes closed or open with a sliver of light coming in.
  • Feel your muscles relaxing with every passing breath, feel your attention moving away from thoughts into your body.
  • Bring your hands in front of your chest, press your palms together, thumbs press against the chest.
  • Continue to breathe and ask yourself what is your intention? What would bring me the most balance at this moment?

As you do this it might be a word that comes up; compassion, relax, self-love. Whatever arises is perfect.

Turning your intention into an affirmation:

We can then use our intention as an affirmation in our yoga practice or day. For example: if the words that came up during your intention setting were compassion, self-love then perhaps the affirmation becomes:

-I love myself fully and have compassion for myself.

During your practice you can take moments to come back to your affirmation and notice what you need to continue doing or change in the way you are practicing to embody this intention. Perhaps you notice you are judging yourself in a certain pose and it`s making you become frustrated. You can then come back to your intention of loving yourself unconditionally and having compassion, when you reiterate this intention then you can let go of the judgement to maintain your equanimity. Continue to repeat the process throughout your practice and your day.

You are creating a new habit of embodying this intention and affirmation, the more you practice it and create this neural groove of compassion and self-love, the easier it will be to make this become your habitual way of approaching yourself in your life on and off the mat.

Sat Nam,

Jacynte Léger, CYA-E-RYT500

Jacynte is a Kundalini, Yin and Restorative Yoga trained teacher specializing in the therapeutic application of yoga at Shanti Yogi.

Yoga to the rescue!

Every now and then we all need to be reminded of the reasons why we continue to make the time and space for yoga in our over scheduled, hectic lives. Luckily, with the increased research into the health benefits and therapeutic applications of yoga, the reasons to return to our mats have never been so widely reported by mainstream media and supported by the medical community.

Research into the science of yoga has shown that moving our bodies mindfully in and out of the physical postures we call asana, in synch with our breath, puts healthy stress on our joints warding off osteoperosis, improving flexibility and strengthening and toning the nervous system. We have also learned that yoga provides a pumping action of lymphatic fluid and blood throughout the entire body, improving detoxification and immune system functioning.

The practice of yoga has been demonstrated to help in the treating of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, migraine headaches, asthma, chronic back pain, arthritis, constipation, diabetes, menopause, multiple sclerosis, varicose veins, the management of chronic pain as a result of disease and injury, and the ease of menstruation and child birth. A recent study has even demonstrated that a regular yoga practice can help slow the deteoriation of telomeres, which are the end caps of our chromosones who’s slow deteoriation is associated with the aging process. So yes, there is now scientific proof that yoga helps us age more slowly! And if you want proof of that, take a look at this 3 minute video about a 96 year-old yoga teacher living in New York who is clearly defying the aging process!

But beyond the myriad of physical benefits that the practice of yoga has been shown to induce, we don’t often discuss why and how yoga helps us mentally and emotionally. In yogasana we learn to channel our breath and mind in a more conscious direction.   We teach the mind to not waste energy on thoughts that don’t pertain to the present moment. We learn to breathe more consciously and move more consciously – not just on the mat but off the mat too. The training in focus helps us perform tasks with more clarity and purpose.

We learn to relax with increasing ease in both movement and stillness; which helps us tap into a sense of inner peace that exists within us all even during times of intense stress, conflict and tragedy. We become more connected to the wisdom of our emotions and felt sense, and learn to use this guidance system to connect more deeply with the hidden aspects of ourselves, with the people in our lives, and with the roles, responsibilities, and tasks we undertake.

We learn to pay attention to and accept our changing mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states and approach these elements of ourselves with increased curiosity, compassion and honesty. And finally we learn to tap into a deep well of love that connects us all and by staying tuned into this love, experience ways of interacting with the world with greater authenticity, empathy, trust and integrity. Looking forward to seeing you all at Shanti sometime soon.

Namaste, Sari LaBelle MA (HSI), CYT, nd

Letting Go & Opening Up

A few years ago I began the practice of taking a few minutes on the last day of the year to say goodbye to everything I wanted to let go of.  Yogis for centuries have understood that too much of anything  – good or bad – weighs down, confuses and distracts us from optimal health and well-being.  So, each year I take the time to dive deep and reflect on all those things that I wish to bid adieu to from the year that is passing through the sands of time.

Each year it seems this list is becoming more and more authentic…real.  Each item seems to open-up a treasure trove of memories about the personal and professional challenges and milestones I encountered in the year and bring new awareness and meaning to how I want to spend my energy, time and resources. It has become a very sacred part of my annual routine and I have found myself actually beginning to prepare for the process weeks in advance, mulling over exactly what will be most life giving to let go of. During these weeks I often find myself taking more time in my daily yoga practice to rid my body of deeper places of tension and blockages and cleaning-out forgotten drawers and cupboards in order to create more room to breathe in my home.

After I’ve made the list I conduct a ritual to dispose of it’s contents…sometimes ripping it up, burning it, whatever feels right in the moment.  This year I added in the ritual of reciting the mantra “Om Gum Ganapateyi Namaha” 108 times, a mantra which helps one release obstacles in their path. </span>However I dispose of the contents there is always a moment of bliss that follows.  I feel this sense of freedom washing over me, re-charging every cell of my being.  It’s as if I can taste the possibility inherent in the blank slate opportunity I’ve created. It’s exhilarating. And although it may not last the entire new year, each year it does seem to linger longer and longer…wafting in and out more regularly throughout the passing year.

So, I invite you to join me in this ritual of letting go of whatever you don’t want to carry from 2016, in order to open-up fully to what awaits you in 2017. And after you’ve made your list take a moment to dance in the sense of freedom and possibility that arises out of the purge. Let’s make 2017 your most freeing year yet!

Namaste, Sari

Sari LaBelle is a co-owner of Shanti Yogi, yoga teacher, naturotherapist and life coach.

 

 

Harnessing the Healing Power of the Moon by Chrissy Hollis

 

The moon has always had a special place in my heart. It was something I was always fascinated with from a young age. At one point I wanted to become an astronaut and visit the moon. So it was a no-brainer when we were expecting our first born in 2011 that the saying in the nursery would be “Love you to the Moon and Back”. On November 14, 2011 our world changed, our baby was born still. Our hearts filled with joy as we met our baby boy and broke as we said goodbye.

That day my connection with the moon intensified even more. I began praying on each full moon for the things I wanted to release like letting go of the grief. I also began praying on each new moon for what I wanted to attract in my life, for example, a healed heart full of love and hope.

As each moon approached, my intentions for release or attraction would form. The week prior to the moon, its energy would bring up opportunities to face and refine my intentions. As the moon arrived, I would pray on my intentions by connecting with my breath, pray for what I wanted to release or to attract in my life, and then released the prayer by connecting back to my breath.

I experienced great shifts in my healing the week after the moon. My heart would fill with peace and at times bliss. I fell in the love with the ritual and the healing energy of the moon. To this day, I harness the healing power of each moon. My ritual of how I give my intention to the moon may vary month to month such as prayer, journaling, meditation or the combo thereof. I do whatever my heart is guided to do that month.  Each full moon I focus on releasing what no longer serves me. The new moon I focus on what I want to attract in my life or a goal I want to achieve. The support felt from the moon’s energy continues to amaze me.

I am forever grateful for the healing power of the moon. It has been there for me in thick and thin. It has never judged me and fully supports me. It propels my intention with ease on my Heart. This gratitude is what brings the Harnessing the Healing Power of the Moon classes to you. As well as my desire for you to experience the support of this universe we live in by harnessing the power of the moon.

During class, we begin by grounding ourselves and opening our hearts with meditation. We then perform a journaling exercise to refine our intentions; to release what no longer serves us on the full moon and to attract what we want in our life on the new moon. We then go into meditation with the intention. Therapeutic essential oils (optional for participants) are used at each staged in the class to further support you in grounding, opening your heart, and focusing on your intention. Each class is scheduled within 2 days of the full or new moon to ensure we are harnessing its healing power with ease.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to share something so magical and close to my Heart. I look forward to holding the space for you as you harness the healing power of the moon to reclaim your happiness.