Most yogis and anyone who frequents craft fairs and markets on Vancouver Island will be familiar with malas: those long, beautiful necklaces made out of wooden or gemstone beads with either a stone or tassel hanging near the navel. Aside from looking gorgeous on anyone from Salt Spring hippies to New York fashionistas, malas have a much more significant purpose and meaning for the wearer.
What does “mala” mean?
A mala, which means “garland” in Sanskrit, is pronounced mall-laa with a long A—not to be confused with mālā with a short A, which actually means poop (like the malasana yoga pose, or pooping pose, commonly misinterpreted as garland pose). Malas are strands of beads traditionally used to count the number of times a mantra is recited during meditation. They usually consists of 108 beads made out of ‘Bodhi seeds’, which come from the Rudraksha tree in India. In Hinduism, Rudraksha seeds are said to be the crystallized tears of Shiva, who cried tear of compassion for the welfare of mankind. (more…)
After attending 16 yoga classes, doing 3 class observations, spending 172 hours with my yogi cohort (or kula, as it’s referred to in yoga) on weekends over 10 weeks, spending 35-ish hours reading textbooks, working on research assignments and writing blog posts, and after having many eye-opening, ah-ha and emotional self-discovery moments, I’ve completed the in-class portion of yoga teacher training at MokSana Yoga Center. And it was worth every second.
I still have one more observation to do as well as my practicum, which involves shadowing the teacher, assisting by handing out props and then teaching the warm up over three consecutive Foundations classes before I take my final certification class. I’ve scheduled my certification class for February 18, so I have lots of time to practice my cues. (more…)
Even though I’ve spent almost 190 hours over the past month and a bit at MokSana learning about asanas, yogic philosophy and western anatomy—as well as practicing yoga almost every day—I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface on what it means to be a yogi, let alone be prepared to teach the physical practice of yoga to other people.
But like any new skill, I know it will take many MANY more hours until I feel like I come close to understanding it all and feeling comfortable as a teacher. As our teacher Misha explained to us, “just when you come close to your 10,000 hours of practice and think you know all there is to know about yoga, you’ll discover something new and think, oh my god, I’ll never be an experienced teacher!”
I guess that’s why we refer to yoga as a practice; it’s something you’ll most likely be practicing for the rest of your life! (more…)
As part of my yoga teacher training program at MokSana, I’m required to prepare a written assignment comparing and contrasting two different styles of yoga. Since there are probably close to 20+ styles of yoga out there nowadays and because I come from running and strength training background, I thought it would be useful to look at two styles that endurance athletes could benefit from the most and share it here on the blog 🙂
Although pretty much every style of yoga is beneficial for athletes since most involve static stretching, functional movement, isometric strength, deep breathing and some form of meditation or mindfulness, two styles in particular stand out to me as being great for endurance athletes: vinyasa flow and yin yoga.
Vinyasa flow and yin yoga are fairly opposite of each other in terms of the pace and energy of the practice (perhaps vinyasa should be called yang yoga!), but complement each other and are particularly beneficial for athletes who do impactful, fast and repetitive activities like running and cycling. (more…)
I got up into a handstand all by myself in class this week!
After proper instruction and assistance from Ida to feel confident going upside down on my hands, I was able to hop up into adho mukha vrksasana (adho = downward, mukha = face, vrksa = tree, asana = pose), or handstand, on my next try.
It felt amazing. I could have hung out upside down longer if it wasn’t for all the mucus from my impending head cold stuffing up my face yesterday. (more…)
If you have a regular practice or certain habits that help you live with less stress, more sleep, more mindfulness, more empathy, better nutrition and more movement, you might have a sattvic practice. Sattvic come from the Sanskrit word sattva, which means quality of positivity, truth, wholesomeness, serenity, balance, lightness, peacefulness, and virtuousness. Sattva is one of the three guṇas (tendencies, qualities and attributes), a complex philosophical and psychological concept developed by the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.
One of my homework assignments last week for yoga teacher training was to come up with my own sattvic program – habits or practices I can do each day to bring myself closer to a state of sattva. Traditionally, some of these practices might include: (more…)
Even though I’m exhausted after my first weekend of yoga immersion at Moksana Yoga Center, I’ve never felt so energized.
As I’ve mentioned before, doing a yoga teacher training program has been a long time coming for me; my blog is called Run Lift Yoga, after all. And even though I’ve been practicing what I’ve known as “yoga” for the better part of a decade – which is really just the physical aspects of the practice and is a very small part of what yoga is – I’ve always felt like a bit of a fraud for calling myself a “yogi” when I’m really just an endurance athlete and personal trainer who borrows poses, or asanas, from yoga to get a good stretch at the end of a training session. I’ve skipped savasana at the end of practice more times than I can count.
What we know of as “yoga” today in the Western world is basically just the physical asanas, which we’ve turned into a fitness program, and bits and pieces of culturally appropriated Hindu and Buddhist words, symbols and practices we associate with yoga but don’t really understand. (more…)
And then more horrible things happened in the United States (and everywhere, really), and I made a commitment to use my various platforms to speak up and be the light?
Well, somehow the events over the past year have finally lead me to do what I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now – and closes the loop, so to speak, on the Run Lift Yoga brand I dreamed up four years ago when I started taking blogging, writing and fitness a bit more seriously.
What do you get when you combine west coast hippy vibes, summer sunshine, downward dogs, essential oils, $130 yoga pants and 10,000 runners over two days in August?
You get SeaWheeze, a half marathon hosted by athleisure pioneer lululemon in Vancouver, BC. And as a runner and sometimes-yogi from the west coast who lives in stretchy pants and sports bras, SeaWheeze was mecca.
For those weren’t initially into the whole “new-age-affluent-hippy” atmosphere lululemon created at SeaWheeze, you could avoid the whole Showcase Store line-up/shopping frenzy, yoga classes, smoothie bar and music festival, and simply just run the race on the Saturday — though I bet you were curious, checked everything out, and by the end of the weekend you were strutting around downtown Vancouver decked out in Luon (lululemon’s patented yoga pant fabric) with a rolled-up yoga mat slung across your back, Birkenstocks on your feet and a green smoothie in your hand, with the faint scent of lavender and patchouli trailing behind you… (more…)
Yeah… that didn’t happen. Although I improved my headstand and could get into scorpion position propped up against a wall, I definitely didn’t achieve the forearm-balancing, back-bending badassery I had hoped to by the end of the year.
After the marathon on October 9, my post-race plan is to focus on strength and flexibility again until I inevitably start training for my next race (and who knows when that will be). So I was stoked when YogDev, a Vancouver-based yoga prop company, asked if I would like to try their Yoga Wheel and write a review for my blog. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as I’ve been incorporating more yoga and stretching into my training plan and have been using a big foam roller for releasing lower back tension at the end of the day. (more…)