Sweet pea solstice

Magenta and periwinkle sweet pea flowers with water dropletsSweet peas mean summer to me. And while the grey skies in Vancouver (and the flooding in Southern Alberta) might suggest otherwise, summer has officially begun.

The day of equinox or solstice that marks the division between winter, spring, summer, and autumn rarely feels like the actual commencement of the season. This summer solstice is no exception.

But at least the grass is green in the Pacific Northwest, the flowers are out, and we don’t need to worry about watering gardens and lawns!

There are lots of summer solstice celebrations happening today – including one at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre that preempts my regular yin yoga class tonight. No yin bliss tonight… and next Friday is the last of the month, which brings with it a sublimely soothing yin yoga session with guided relaxation and an extra-long savasana.

Hope the first day of summer is treating everyone well and that you’re able to join me for some relaxation on Friday, June 28 at 6:30pm!

It’s my birthday & I’ll teach if I want to

Laura wearing a birthday hat with a cakeToday is my birthday and part of my celebrations include teaching my regular yin yoga class at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre. Class starts at 6:30pm and will feature some of my favourite poses (like supported fish – which might be one of your favourites, too!), a playlist of yin-appropriate music I love, and homemade cookies afterwards.

Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini yoga to the West and founded 3HO, encouraged his students to bring sweet treats to class on their birthdays to share the celebration of with others. The Kundalini tradition holds that what you do on your birthday sets the tone for the year ahead.

Teaching yoga and sharing cookies sounds like a great beginning to my next year.

Happy birthday to me!

 

p.s. Apologies to Lesley Gore for ripping off the title of this post from her iconic song: It’s My Party.

Three times lucky

Laura in teacher mode in three imagesThis week I’m teaching three yin yoga classes at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre: Wednesday and Thursday from 8:15-9:30pm and Friday from 6:30-7:45pm.

Bound Lotus is in the midst of a 40 Day Transformation Yoga Challenge, so the class on Wednesday will be the last of the Detoxify series and the one on Thursday will be the first of the yin classes to in the Strengthen and Balance series.

The sequence of poses for Wednesday’s class is all about the glandular and nervous systems and features poses that will stimulate your hips and elongate your spine. The set of poses for the Thursday and Friday classes will help you gain a new sense of your body’s strength and balance… and work out tension in your hips through dragon pose!

Hope you’re able to come join me in the trio of classes I’m teaching this week 🙂

Last class standing

Laura in mountain with palms together at heart centreAs I mentioned in January, I’m reducing my teaching commitments to free myself to make the next leap.

While I’m still not certain what that leap is, I know that I’ll only be teaching one class a week. The last class standing is the 6:30pm yin yoga class at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre in North Vancouver.

Yin is consistently one of my favourite styles of yoga to practice and teach. There are many reasons why I do yin yoga, mostly I love the stillness and the meditativeness.

Outside of a yin yoga practice, I like finding a moment or two of stillness and a few meditative breaths in mountain pose (or tadasana). Mountain pose is simply standing; well-balanced, connected through the soles of your feet… allowing your lower body to be heavy and grounded, while your upper body stays light and floats upwards.

In a typical yoga practice, I often use mountain as a foundation for other standing postures and as part of sun salutation sequences, but it’s also lovely to do on it’s own. It’s easy to sneak in a little mountain-meditation throughout the day – waiting for lights when walking, queuing in line, doing dishes… any time you’re standing is a good time for a few mountain breaths!

Mountain pose

Why it’s good

  • Helps improve posture, develops balance, and creates body awareness
  • Strengthens and gently tones abdominal and back muscles as you engage your core to keep upright
  • Engages the muscles in your legs and buttocks, creating strong thighs, knees, ankles, and buttocks
  • Connects all the energy centres of the body, helping you feel more aligned and centred
  • Allows you to take a pause in your day and focus on your mental and physical experience

How to do it

  • Stand with your feet parallel and roughly hip distance apart
    • Changing foot width varies the balance point; most people find this pose challenges their balance more feet closer together
  • Gently sway your body to connect all parts of your feet to the mat or floor and feel your weight evenly balanced (front & back, left & right) before coming to stillness
  • Roll your shoulders back and down (away from your ears) a few times before allowing your arms to rest alongside your body
    • Many people like to rotate their arms to allow their thumbs to point away from their bodies; listen to what’s best for your body and let your arms rest wherever they feel comfortable
  • Let your collarbones soften and spread, feeling a gentle lift coming from your upper chest
  • Feel the crown of your head floating towards the sky and tuck your chin in slightly to keep your neck in-line with the rest of your spine
    • Lightly engage your core and leg muscles to keep your spine straight
    • Sense the tallness of your body
  • Allow your lower body to feel rooted, grounded, connecting you with the earth while your upper body feels light, weightless, floating upwards and connecting you with the sky
  • Breath deeply and smoothly through your nose for several breaths, letting the still, solidness of a mountain fill you

To come out of mountain:

  • Simply step into your next pose or move on with your day!

 

The yin class I’m teaching tonight at Bound Lotus will certainly involve a little mountain time. Come join me if you can 🙂

East-ahhhh weekend

Laura sitting in a relaxed easy poseAdd a little “Ahhhh” to your long weekend with an extra long savasana during tonight’s yin yoga class at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre.

Good Friday happens to be the last Friday of March… and the last Friday of every month I do a 20+ minute yoga nidra (guided relaxation) as part of a blissfully long deep relaxation. It’s a wonderful way to wrap up a month and tonight’s class is a great chance to bring a sense of deep calm into your Easter weekend.

Class starts at 6:30pm and we’ll be doing a short series of to warm up and stretch before getting deliciously comfortable and settling in for deep relaxation. Ahhhh….

Happy Easter!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Laura turning on a spiral staircaseAfter focusing on teaching yoga for over a year, I’m feeling restless… I’m looking for a change. I’m not sure what direction I’m heading, but I know that I’ll need space to let it unfold.

To give myself time to focus on what’s coming next and to determine what I want that to look like, I’m cutting back on my teaching commitments.

Starting in February, I’ll be teaching just three classes a week at Bound Lotus Yoga & Meditation Centre: Hatha on Mondays from 9:15-1045am, Yin on Fridays from 6:30-7:45pm, and Hatha on Saturdays from 11:15am-12:30pm.

That means that I’ll be teaching my last Tuesday night Yin class at Bound Lotus tonight. If you’re able to, I’d love to have you join me for some of my favourite yin yoga poses (that means dragons, supported fish, and legs up the wall!) and a lovely savasana that will bring you beautifully sweet dreams!

And I promise David Bowie won’t be in the playlist… although his song Changes has certainly been stuck in my head today! It’s time for me to “Turn and face the strange” and find a balance of being challenged and being comfortable.

Savasana-spiration

Animals know how to relax… something that many people have forgotten how to do.

My dog Sofie does savasana (corpse pose)Here’s my dog Sofie totally relaxed.

If her stillness inspires you to find some relaxation of your own, join me at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre tonight!

The evening yin yoga class on the last Friday of every month features an extra long savasana (corpse pose), including a long guided relaxation. The guided relaxation (also known as yoga nidra) encourages you to mindfully and deliberately relax your whole body and then sink into that relaxation and stillness for a few minutes.

Class runs from 6:30-7:45pm… and I’ll see if I can convince Sofie to come along and provide savasana-spiration in person!