Winter Wellness

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Winter. This incredible incubation period that the Earth gives us to cozy in, settle down, and lay serious groundwork for growth.

In the North we know all too well this time of year can be a tricky one.

The darkness seems to blanket over us in a layer of fatigue and cold, and it may be difficult to get outdoors and stock up on fresh air and energy from our favourite pursuits. Never mind all of the elemental barriers we may encounter, most of us feel a noticeable change in our own energy levels too. Making it very difficult to keep up with everything that helps us stay warm, energized, and focused.

So how do we balance the change in Seasons – and the Change of Energy for ourselves?

Get serious about Self Love in a way that encompasses ALL of your wellness needs.

Here’s our Fail Proof Process on narrowing down your Self Care needs – Creating a plan to make sure it happens – and Following up with yourself regularly so you stay on track this winter.

  1. Don’t Get Carried Away – Top 3 Daily Practices that Connect YOU to YOU

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We know that when we get serious about Self Care we can get a little crazy. Making long complicated lists of what we will do EVERY DAY to stay balanced. The problem with that is our lives are full – and when our self care feels overwhelming its usually the first to get cut from the list because we feel its a “luxury” in our day.

Take a moment right now, close your eyes and picture a day where you really take care of yourself. What does it look like? What happens? What do you have time for?

Now, write down the 3 most important parts of that day. The ones that make a big difference for you. These are “non negotiable”. Whether they can happen at the same time every day or not does not matter, but we do our best to make sure we don’t miss a day!

2. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail – Pencil it in!

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Okay, Now we have our List. Our Non negotiable “I will take care of ME” list.

This is where we have a sit down with ourselves and your daytime/calendar app/scheduler and get really truthful.

Start with all your responsibilities & obligations. Fill in your work schedule, kids commitments, your weekly check in with your bestie etc – You may already do this so it might be done for you. If it isn’t, put pen to paper and flesh out your typical weekly/monthly schedule.

Next, Take your Top 3 Self Love practices and decide what times/days these practices fit best in your life – THIS IS KEY – We may want to go to yoga every night but if you know 3 nights a week you’re on the go for “Fill in the blank” then this isn’t a sustainable plan for you. The best time to practice/care for yourself is the time that fits your lifestyle.

Personally, Early Mornings are 100% Key to my own practices. Once the day starts its easy for things to pile up to distract or require my attention or presence. Before my kids wake up the hours are all mine to do the work that keeps me feeling clear, organized, and refreshed!

3. Check In & Regroup

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We’ve all been there, totally in the groove feeling amazing, wondering why we ever STOP taking care of ourselves in this way… and then the inevitable happens. We get sidetracked one day and forget to journal, or after a couple long nights we decide to hit snooze one too many times for our morning meditations.. it happens!

We get to decide if these temporary slips in our focus take us completely off course or if its a chance to dig deep and and refocus.

To combat this have a weekly check in date with yourself. Pour yourself a cup of Coffee (Or Tea of course!) and take a look at what you’ve managed to accomplish. Being mindful not to bring judgement or criticism to the exercise take a moment to celebrate your victories and be mindful of the slip ups. Then take that information into the following week – Knowledge is power so know where you are and where you want to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infinite Worth: Intro to Kundalini Yoga

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Sara & Trisha pictured preparing for  Sat Kriya

Have you been wondering what all this Kundalini Yoga talk is all about? You aren’t alone!

While I had heard of and practiced Kundalini Yoga sparingly in the past, it wasn’t until 2 years ago when I completed my first 40 day Sadhana (spiritual practice – traditionally done in the very early morning hours) that I realized and witnessed how potent this practice could be. Within the first week I noticed I wasn’t reactive. I wasn’t getting overwhelmed with my small kids, we weren’t late for everything, my home was organized but most of all my MIND was at ease. I wasn’t stuck in a pity party over my circumstances anymore, and I was able to create big plans for how I wanted to move forward from a year of big changes. It was truly an incredible turning point in my life, practices, and teaching!

Have you ever experienced times in your life when you just FEEL stuck?

Low energy, lack of productivity or ambition?

Or maybe you’ve felt exhausted, stressed out, depressed, or struggled with addiction?

Addictions come in many forms, and if we’re honest with ourselves we can usually spot the tendencies to “checking out” with – substances, technology, shopping, food… the list goes on and on.

What does this have to do with Kundalini Yoga? This Style of practice is POWERFUL at creating shifts in our minds and tendencies, and being able to recognize that we are in the drivers seat of our lives. We get to watch, observe, and ACT with awareness instead of defaulting to our habits. Sounds nice right?

Kundalini Yoga is often referred to as Householder Yoga. Its designed to be EFFICIENT so that everyone living in these ultra busy times can benefit – in a short period of time.

Many Kriyas (a series of postures, breath, and sound that work towards a specific outcome) start with just 3 minutes! Making it easy to add to your current practices or to your morning routine.

Below is a kriya that takes about 9 minutes to complete – if you’re interested in exploring or getting started this set is for you. Try getting up 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, or when you know you won’t be interrupted. If you aren’t a morning person just set aside a small part of the day that you can commit to regularly. Give it a try for a week or more and see what happens!

Breath of Fire – 1-3 minutes

Breath of Fire is one of the commonly used pranayams in Kundalini Yoga. It accesses and stimulates the navel centre (take the first three fingers on your hand and place them just below the belly button, this is the navel centre!) which allows all of our energetic systems to WAKE UP and activate.

Here’s a link of Guru Jagat showing the technique for BoF:

 

2) Ego Eradicator

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Sara & Trisha in Ego Eradicator

Ego Eradicator is also popular in the tradition and happens to be one of my all time favourites! This pranayama, practiced with the mudra of our fingers curled into the pads of the hands and the thumbs turned upwards to the sky increases our lung capacity and magnetic field around us. When practiced regularly you start to enter a space of neutrality in the mind. Our doubts and fears often take a front seat in decisions, ego eradicator helps you to be clear and confident.

Arrange the hands in the mudra and then reach your arms up and out to 60 degrees. This will increase the lungs ability to expand.

Begin Breath of Fire, eyes closed and focused at your brow point.

Practice for 1-3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, inhale, bring your thumbs together to touch overhead and reach your fingers upwards. Hold the breath. Exhale, sweeping your arms down and place the hands on the knees.

Sat Kriya – The everything Kriya  3- 11 minutes

This Kriya is said to be the everthing Kriya because it truly is a tune up for the entire energetic body (and its a good amount of work physically too!). This Kriya incorporates mudra, mantra, and a strong focus to get everthing in line.

Watch the video and practice along to keep rhythm until you feel more comfortable to practice on your own. In the beginning 3 minutes may feel like a very long time – start with 1 minute if needed and work your way up!

 

So, there it is! A mini set that will get you energized and clear in 16 minutes or less~ Give it a try and see how it goes! If you’re looking to join our growing community of Kundalini Yogi’s at Seva We have 5 classes during the week to get you started <3

Sat Nam

Sara

 

Stop Following – Start Leading

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There are no two ways around it – Technology is a huge part of our lives. Now, more than ever you have access to a world of information right at your fingertips. While we say that social media and the power of the world wide web connects us – its proving to not be quite that simple.

Here is a mindfulness moment exercise – take out your phone and head over to settings – depending on your phone, select battery or usage and scroll down to the last 24 hours- Now, do your best not to cringe when you see the sheer number of hours you spent on your phone in the last day. Shocking right?

In the last week, have you heard yourself say “I’m so busy”, “I don’t have time”,  or declined an invitation because your life is so full? I know I have! My phone on the other hand would prove that I DO have the time, I’m just not using it all wisely.

I feel quite lucky to have little human beings that keep me in the present moment, and also hold me accountable. Recently, my older Daughter has started telling me that I’m, “In phone village” when she sees me logged in and staring at my hand held device. Needless to say, its been an immediate mindful smack that reminds me REAL LIFE is not through the screen of a smartphone. So what was this little exercise for? In so many ways our physical practices and meditations bring awareness to our thoughts and patterns, checking in with how much time (which of course is energy) is being used on social media can keep us accountable to how we use the power of technology that we have been given in this age.

Now, I am not in any way saying that Social Media is bad and you need to rid yourselves of it completely. That is not only unrealistic, but would imply that we are not able to control our impulses and decisions. Your Mind is the most powerful resource available. You can most certainly decide to use media as it is intended and not be a slave to notifications, followers, and the ultra manufactured images you will without a doubt be seeing regularly.

The Yoga world is no exception to this. We’re seeing the super glossy, professional photos of yogis practicing asana in exotic locations, or the edited videos that show the blissful yogini getting out of bed to head to yoga, and we think “Hey, I want THAT” but you know what? Its not REAL either. No one is going to be waiting at your home to record you for your morning practice – Unless you hire them to at least! – So do we completely ignore all the manufactured “enlightenment”? Not if it inspires you to actually get up and practice! Is it important to create a barrier to receive these images and KNOW that it isn’t reality – but marketing? Yes! Its propaganda, and nothing more. Sure, it could create connection in a digital sense, and if it leads you to your mat I’ll go a step further and say it’s a good thing that style of marketing benefits some of us. I know when I started practicing yoga (over a decade ago! That went FAST!) the wallpaper on my desktop was an image of king pigeon pose. It motivated me! Can I still practice that way? Sure, I could force it, but its not my reality anymore.

On the other side of this conversation is the digital content that DOES elevate us. It is there if you look for it. My Teacher Tiaga Prem, (insta handle is @tiagaprem if you’re interested!) holds space every class he teaches on live video platforms of social media. Its such a gift to be able to tune in and listen along from wherever I am. Likewise, many of the Women I admire and am inspired by don’t live anywhere near me – seeing what they’re up to and getting those mindful boosts are so wonderful! The key for me is knowing and recognizing the difference. I keep my home clean for myself and family, I try to keep my digital world clean too. I don’t follow the accounts that create reactions of frustration (which are entirely mine and not the posters responsibility). If I am repeatedly seeing things that create these reactions I unfollow pretty quickly. Its not an “I don’t like you so I’m going to be spiteful” thought, its a mindful decision that is made to keep my mind free and clear.

There is very real science out there that the effects of social media are far reaching into our psyches and experiences here in todays world. While I don’t suggest turning to Google for everything in life, if you’re interested, head over and take a look at some of the studies available (yay for technology making THAT easy!). We can stay connected to real life, while using the tools we have available. We can take ownership of the things we allow into our mental real estate. You get to take the LEAD! If you’ve been struggling with self doubt, feelings of fatigue, stress or anxiety, or just feel you could bring a little more clarity, my invitation to you is this – see if staying unplugged for a day or weekend helps. See if you can notice your tendencies when it comes to scrolling, filtering, and “connecting” through the device. If you aren’t ready to let go of it all entirely, maybe choose one app to delete for 24 hours (I deleted Facebook yesterday!).

And of course, if you’re looking for a place to physically practice and connect with other human beings looking for the same thing – without the smart phone attached – come see us at Seva. We’ll be waiting <3

Sat Nam

Sara

 

 

3 Benefits of Consistent Practice

IMG_3957We know everyone has heard the very popular answer that Yoga is the union of Body, Mind, and Spirit, but for many of us, it doesn’t really feel like that – especially not in the beginning, or if we’ve been falling out of the routine of things.

So what does happen when we manage to make it to the mat regularly?

What can we count on experiencing, even if we don’t have a whole lot of time?

What can Yoga do for you?

Here are 3 of the big categories that Yoga can impact your life.

  1. Physical and Perceptual benefits: Practitioners who make it to the mat a minimum of 1 time per week, for 6 weeks or more, will start to feel differences in strength & flexibility. Often experiencing lower blood pressure, stress response, and health perception. We FEEL better when we practice!  (source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/physical-benefits-of-yoga)

2. Mental Health: 80% of Canadians experience some form of mental illness. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress are at an all time high and when studying the effect of yoga, researchers discovered that through even short, daily practices participants stated that yoga helped to alleviate some of these feelings and symptoms. (Source: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/yoga-depression.pdf)

3. Improved Sleep: If you ask most adults how much sleep they’re getting they either don’t know or the number is drastically lower than the recommended 8 hours per night. While many will say they don’t need quite that much the fact remains most of the population is running on low quantity (and sometimes quality) sleep schedules. Because of Yoga’s ability to help soothe the nervous system, lower heart rates, and improve breathing capacity yogi’s of today are enjoying a little more sleep! If you’re a regular sufferer of insomnia it pays big time to start a yoga practice! (Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia)

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While Yoga is not a miracle cure to all that can ail us in life, it does provide tools for elevating our experiences. Whether you want to reduce stress, or simply add a stretch to your week, there are tons of different styles to explore.

Even one class per week can help create shifts in your life – Why not get started now?

5 Gifts Yoga Has Given Me

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Its currently “pre breakfast” hours at my home. My kids are still sleeping (a rarity that is not to be overlooked) and I have the window next to the table slightly open, sipping my coffee while being treated with the super sweet pre sunrise skies.

I got up earlier today for a couple reasons –

1)  After a busy winter, one of my “non negotiables” (Thank you for this phrase Candace McKim!) of waking earlier than my children to care for my Self, has taken a back seat. I know this is not a sustainable way for me to stay connected with my practice and goals so today was the day I would get up & get moving.

2) I’ve been reflecting a lot on what Yoga has given me. As I pass another anniversary of becoming a Yoga Teacher (8 YEARS! Where did the time go?!) I found myself looking back on all that has happened, and not just since teaching, but since I found this practice.

I was introduced to Yoga at 19, I’ve spent 1/3 of my life on the mat. The beginning of this journey was filled with a lot of discomfort. A lot of moments realizing that the way I had been living my life (and truthfully still did for a couple years after finding yoga) was not going to be sustainable for me. In my late teens and early 20’s I was a Party girl. I regularly abused drugs and alcohol and even though there had been many low moments that should have encouraged me to clean it up and treat my body (and mind, and heart..) better, I hadn’t found the missing piece of connection that made me take that step.

A lot of my past students and friends know that this is where Yoga brought me so much more than flexibility. So much more than the ability to balance on my arms, or move into a deep backbend. My Teacher Training in Costa Rica (Circa 2009, Marianne Wells Yoga School <3 ) was the first time I had been sober in my adult life. Here I was in the most beautiful place my Eyes had ever seen, seeing my self for who I could be if I stayed connected and committed to the teachings we were exploring day in and out.

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First Day at Samasati Eco Resort – 2009

While my road to a more sustainable life and practice was not perfectly linear (what ever is in life?) I can say with absolute certainty that yoga made the highs and lows easier to manage. That this practice – and being a teacher – brought discipline and service into my life in a way that nothing before it ever had. This is what we hope to bring and share at Seva. This Practice is a service to YOU and everyone in your life. So, I’ve come up with my Top 5 gifts that Yoga brought me – if you’re looking for something that will accept you for who you are, and bring out the potential you carry, you just might find that Yoga has a lot of gifts to bring you too <3

  1. Acceptance – This isn’t the group acceptance that you find when spending time with like minded individuals, or your best friends. This is SELF acceptance. This is where you have the opportunity to hold a mirror up to who you are and see all you carry within. Yes, sometimes the mirror shows us the stuff we need to work on, the stuff that’s holding us back from our infinite potential, but even when it does – we don’t have to be afraid of this. Through the practice, we get to the point where we see who we are, and say “I accept You”

2. The ability to be wrong – This might sound like a strange gift, but to me this has been crucial in my life. Prior to Yoga, I was right. Always. I didn’t care too much what others thought, if I disagreed well that was that. Sounds lovely right? (yikes!) The Yamas were a revelation to me.  Satya – Truth Is the second Yama and when I began studying and seeing how I could apply truthfulness to my life it felt like a cannonball to the chest. Being truthful with how I treated others, how I treated myself, allowed me to see that being wrong was not an unbearable weakness – but a strength. 10 years later I can’t say that I LOVE it when I am wrong, but thanks to yoga I’m pretty quick to bounce back with grace 😉

3.  Deep Rest – Insomnia was how I was initially introduced to yoga. Sleep had always been an issue for me. Through the physicality of the postures, and the focus of pranayama (breath work), I was able to use my body in a way that connected me with the ability to rest. Savasana is not a nap – although it can turn into one in the right circumstances – it is a restoration of awareness. It is a brief period of your practice where nothing is required of you other than to simply BE HERE NOW. We live very busy lives in today’s modern world. How often do you take 10 minutes out of your day to rest? Sometimes without Savasana or meditation I wouldn’t earmark any time out of the day for it. How can we when we run to and from every commitment from sun up until bed time? Finding periods of Rest in your life is a game changer!

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Have a hard time slowing down? Start with 5 minutes. Set a timer and REST.

4.  Physical Connection – There is a reason that Asana often comes first when new practitioners are getting started. I don’t believe its because its the most important, but rather its the place to start. Our physical bodies are something tangible. We can touch, see, and feel the changes that come our way when we’re practicing regularly. We start to notice that our back doesn’t ache as much, an old injury isn’t bothering us, or that we are getting stronger. Many of us are introduced to yoga because of a physical limitation.  In my practice the postures gave me a starting point for loving my body. For learning that I really didn’t want to stay hungover every weekend, I’d rather feel good and get to the mat. Every week that I could feel myself getting stronger, and feeling better I moved a little bit deeper into my studies of what this practice could do. While I experienced love at first practice, not everyone does – so if Yoga feels uncomfortable or too challenging for your current conditions, I can’t suggest it enough – try a different style or teacher! There is a way to connect with your body in a way that feels right for YOU!

5. Resilience –  Yoga does not promise us that everything will be “Peace and Light” or  “Rainbows & Sparkles”.  Anyone who sells it this way is missing out on one of the biggest gifts Yoga has to offer. If Yoga means Union, “to yoke, or bring together” it means union of ALL things. The Dark with the Light. Sometimes in our lives we come right up against the hardest conditions. We meet face to face with grief, doubt, fear, insecurities and pain. Sometimes from our own doing, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – LIFE HAPPENS. Through Yoga we are taught and practice that while this moment of pain and discomfort is real, and suffering is present, it does not last forever. You will have the opportunity to feel well again. It may not be this week, this month, or even this year but if you stay committed to daily practices that nourish you – ALL of you – physically, mentally, energetically, emotionally – you will have the opportunity to get back up again. I have witnessed this, in my family, in my friends, and fellow students and teachers, over and over again.

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Photo By Heide Van Loon Photography

These were my Top 5 Gifts – If you have a moment today I invite you to think of yours. If Yoga is still new for you, or something you’re only hoping to start exploring, think of the gifts you would like to invite in to your life. What can you do today to start making them reality?

 

Sat Nam

-Sara

 

 

 

How-To: Half Moon

For some Yogi’s half moon is a breath of fresh air, stretching their bodies into the space around them and enjoying the room that comes from opening up in this way.

For others, this posture is frustrating and difficult. Its hard to hold the balance while reaching in every direction.

We’ll explore a few postures that bring awareness into the different areas of the body that require our presence for this pose to feel open and inviting. Remember, like with all yoga asana there are a lot of options so make sure you keep moving while we discover the different aspects of Half Moon.

Lets Begin,

Side Plank-

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Come to your mat in a table top position. Feel your hands pressed into the mat and pay attention to the inner elbows. Rotate the arms so your inner elbows are facing each other and your upper back and shoulder is engaged. Slowly tuck your toes under and lift your knees from the mat. Straighten your legs and bring your body into Plank. Feel your lower belly pull in and check in with your low back and hips. Feel your body in a long & straight line, then bring your wait to your Right hand and outer edge of the right foot. Stack your legs, feeling the inner things squeeze towards each other. Lift your top arm and stretch across your chest. Hold for 5 breaths (or longer).

 

Warrior Two

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Stepping your Right foot forward and between your hands, bring your left foot flat. Aligning your legs so your feet would run Right heel to Left arch if a line were drawn between the two. Lift your Body up standing tall with your Arms parallel to the floor and right arm forward. Pay attention to how you feel across the front of your hips and thighs. Looking at your front knee be mindful of sinking into the legs. Right knee aligned over your ankle, press firmly into the outer edge of your left foot. Reach across your arms as actively as you did in side plank inviting the space through your ribs and chest. Take 5 (or more) breaths here.

Triangle Pose

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From Warrior Two, straighten your right leg. Keep your arms reaching and your legs engaged. Send your Left hip back and reach your right arm forward. Feel space into your bottom ribs as you reach forward, then bring your right hand to your shin, ankle, block, or mat to the outside of your right leg. Reach your left arm high and gaze upwards or down to your right hand. Take 5 breaths. Slowly bend your right knee and step forward to a forward fold at the front of your mat.

 

Warrior 3

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Standing tall, bring your hands to your hips and shift your weight to your right leg. Sending your Left leg back, bending from the hips and reaching the crown of the head forward. With your hands still on your hips feel if the hip bones are squared to the mat. Turn your left toes down towards the mat. Bring your hands to your heart or reach them forward. Take 5 Breaths.

 

Half Moon

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From Warrior 3, bring your hands towards the mat. Grab a block (or water bottle) if the mat is out of reach for you. Bring your right hand, forward in front of the right foot. With your left leg still high, bring your left hand to the hip and turn your left toes towards the left side of the room. Once you feel balanced and comfortable in your legs, extend your left hand high. Gaze down towards your right hand. Hold for 5 (or more) breaths. Step down to forward fold.

 

Work through All postures on your left side. Its not uncommon to notice a significant difference side to side so stay patient and focused on the similarities between postures and how they can be explored in your body.

Happy Practicing!

Sara

 

 

A Summer to Serve your Highest Purpose

I just returned from a week on the Pacific Coast of Mexico – the beach was long, the sunsets were vibrant, and the siestas were daily. It was such a gift to be able to go on holidays with my husband and be on Mexico time for a few days!


Before leaving, Steph and I had a Seva Yoga Dreamscaping session where we played out a couple of our plans for the coming months and Summer ahead. It was the perfect foundation to leave on holidays with, that day dreaming state of mind – and a few rough goals that needed some outlining.

What got me thinking the most is how we can create a space in our daily lives where we can reboot like we do on holidays, where we give ourselves total permission to simply unplug, stop and breathe.

How much time to you dedicate to caring for yourself on a daily or weekly basis?

Before holidays I found myself looking at our full schedules wondering if there would be time for a quiet tea in the morning, never mind a full 60 – 90 minutes to practice.

A goal of my own for the coming months is to not only reignite my Morning Sadhana time, but to be in the studio too! 2 hours out of the week is only .011 percent of your time! I know that when I prioritize this time to reconnect with center, and keep the mind clear I’m able to show up in a better way for all of my responsibilities. I feel better physically which allows me the energy to incorporate Summer pursuits like running or hiking. I’m less reactive and can be a source of positivity in my home and family.


This is just part of the gift a regular and ongoing yoga practice can provide, and we’re committed to making this accessible for our Seva Family – and for anyone looking to commit to their own Practice and Self Care! What are your goals or wishes for this summer? What small changes can you make to create the space you need to show up for your goals?

Stay tuned to the Seva Yoga Co. Page on Facebook and Instagram for details on all the Summer Fun, we want to help deepen your commitment to Self and Yoga!

 

In gratitude,

Sara

 

New Beginnings ~

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Is this really happening? Are we actually “putting it out there” that a long time dream and goal is almost here?

Due to a lot of amazing people and friends, this studio is becoming a reality. Grande Prairie will have another option for all kinds of yoga practitioners to come and explore this amazing practice.

We offer this space to everyone with the intention of being a safe, clear, and open community. There really is Yoga for everyone and we hope that through our diversity as teachers we can offer an exemplary experience to both new and seasoned yogis.

Seva Yoga Co. was born out of the idea that 3 minds are better than one. That if we all hope for and work towards the same goal, why can’t we do it together?

While it has taken a small army to get this going, we can’t wait to do our part to raise the collective consciousness in Grande Prairie.

We’ll be sharing more details and fun along the way – stay tuned!

 

Sat Nam

Sara