Bring the balance

Maybe it’s because it’s the start of Spring or maybe it’s because the weather has been franticly changing (sun, hail, wind, rain, and back to sun within an hour)… whatever the cause, I’m feeling unbalanced.

I’ve noticed that I’m sub-consciously trying to bring myself into balance by doing lots of side bends and twists in my yoga practice. Stretching my rib cage, spiraling my spine, sinking into the sometimes forgotten muscles along my side body… and, of course, the poses I lean towards in my personal yoga practice generally spill over into the classes I teach.

So look forward to more of a side-body focus in my classes until the weather settles down and things come back into balance again. Take a look at my teaching schedule to see when you can join me for a twisting, side bending class.

Coincidentally, the title of this post is the name of my friend Tim’s company. Bring the Balance is the home of Tim’s adventures teaching and practicing yoga, meditation, reflexology, and reiki. I’ve had the honour of doing two yoga teacher trainings with Tim and he’s a truly amazing person. Check out his website (including his ever-interesting blog!) and learn more about his integrated healing practices.

Great expectations

I re-read my post about What is Yin Yoga? and realized that it’s too abstract to be very useful to someone who hasn’t practiced yin yoga before and wonders what a class would be like. Here’s a more concrete overview of my approach to a yin yoga class and what to expect.

Of course, I’m only speaking for myself and my own experiences with yin yoga. Every teacher and every student will be different and here are lots of ways to practice any form of yoga!

Intent

Yin yoga classes are meditative in nature and typically involve students holding poses for several minutes with shorter recovery or rebound poses to break up the long holds. The focus is mostly from the knees to upper back as the lower body and spine tend to stiffen more and are better suited (e.g. less flexible) to longer holds.

My goal with a yin yoga class is to help students settle into postures and quiet their minds. I focus a lot on breathing and encourage students to use their breath to target areas of tension and exhale it away. “We’re here for three more breaths” is how I signal the coming end of most holds and it’s probably the most over-used phrase in my teaching repertoire!

I want students to identify where they feel the stretch in a posture most and then attempt to relax those muscles and any muscles not needed to hold a pose. No posture should be painful (it’s very hard to relax when you’re in pain!) and I encourage using as many props (blankets, bolsters, blocks, etc.) as desired to get comfortable.

Class sequence

Laura sitting in easy pose on the Great Wall in ChinaI start my yin yoga classes with a short meditation and gentle movement exercises to warm up the neck and spine. This often involves sitting in easy pose (although it’s often not that easy!), pictured at right.

The class then moves into longer holds (generally two to five minutes, sometimes more) broken up by shorter recovery postures, which allow students to feel the impact of the holds, and more active poses to get blood and energy flowing.

I’ve outlined some typical yin yoga poses I use in my classes in another post.

I like to conclude my yin yoga classes with at least 10 minutes of relaxation, re-awakening, and closing meditation. I usually do a guided relaxation (also called yoga nidra), where I lead students through relaxing each part of their bodies.

And then it’s time to emerge from the yoga studio and go back into the real world!

Full moon listening

Laura holding half moon poseThe beautiful Mul Mantra meditation last night at Bound Lotus in honour of the full moon inspired me to update the song lists on the meditate and listen pages. I’ve added a few new favourites and created a list of music I like to use for savasana.

The full moon can be a time of increased energy and mental activity. It’s also just an amazing time to be out at night – particularly with the current clear weather we’re having!

I’m subbing the 8:15pm Yin Yoga class this evening at Bound Lotus. Come join me for a delightful full moon class and, of course, a beautiful relaxation in savasana afterwards!

Laura’s certifications & training

Updated April 2012
View resume

Certifications & training

Additional education

Presentations

  • Facilitation skills for info pros, January 2011
    Continuing Education, BC Libraries Association; Vancouver, BC
  • Creating Order Out of Chaos: Writing and Maintaining Web Design Standards, October 2009
    Netspeed Conference, The Alberta Library; Calgary, AB

View resume

Introducing Laura

Born and raised in Richmond, BC, I now live on the North Shore with my husband of 10 years and our small dog.

Laura and Sofie on the rocks at Mosquito CreekI’ve practiced yoga on and off since age 16 and it became an increasingly important part of my life three years ago when I struggled to physically balance running and horseback riding. I took up yin yoga to help loosen my hips and it allowed me to continue both running and riding.

My yin yoga practice quickly became about more than my hips and it began to transform my sense of self and view of the world. I turned to yoga and meditation to help me balance a stressful job and in early 2011 I decided to concentrate on my well-being by taking a leave of absence from work.

While on leave, I continued my meditation and yin practices and also found a wonderful kundalini yoga community. My kundalini practice and the support of teachers and other students within the close-knit North Shore kundalini community inspired me to leave my corporate job and pursue a more healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

Yoga is an integral part of my journey to integrate all aspects of my life and find balance. I am particularly drawn to the concept that yoga is always “practice,” and not a competition for mastery. I enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge; being a yoga teacher gives me the opportunity to help others with their yoga experience and well-being.

I have experienced the transformational effects of a consistent yoga and meditation practice and want to share that power with others.