Tomorrow marks 150 years of Canada, the country of my birth. The country existed well before 150 years ago and this is important to acknowledge. We are all descendants of immigrants that came to a land of raw natural beauty, abundant resources and space for everyone.
This week I have been ending my yoga classes with a moment of appreciation for Canada. I am delighted to be teaching a yoga class on Canada Day, which feels like the perfect way to celebrate the occasion for me. Canada is the place where I have been able to grow up in a diverse environment amongst many cultures, which taught me tolerance and compassion for others. ‘Canadians are nice’ is a great value to live by. There is a real level of consciousness we can tap into in this country-every one of us can make a difference in the world by giving our unique talents and gifts. Canada is the place to do this.
What does Canada Day mean to you? How are you making life good?
This winter I have found myself giving advice ‘to do something today that makes you happy’. Upon further reflection, what is really behind that thought is the truth of taking time for yourself to take care of yourself on a daily basis helps each and every one of us to be our best. I have often wondered what it is that makes a person leave a yoga class feeling ‘better’, as I have received many a ‘thank you, I feel great’ at the end of classes I led. I am quite certain that taking the time to enter a relaxed meditative state is like a medicine to help is feel more positive by connecting with ourselves. Meditation is medication.
There is plenty of expectation and judgement with meditation and many of us feel we should try to meditate to better ourselves. The practice of meditation is open and available to all of us anytime, anywhere. In the end, meditation is the simple act of taking a moment to take notice of what is happening for us at the present moment. From that present moment, our awareness of ourselves within and our consciousness can expand. What we go through in our daily lives can leave us frazzled and racing, which makes it even more important that we get into the habit of taking time for ourselves daily. What does taking time for yourself mean to you? Is it a walk, a bath, reading something you enjoy, an activity, practicing yoga, meditation, being inspired by art…it really could be anything, and the conscious action of taking time for yourself is a great act of self care that benefits yourself and all around you-making life good
It has been a long hot summer in Toronto, the best one ever yet. Some days have been so warm and humid that I notice myself breathing quite shallowly. Having started studies in traditional chinese medicine this spring, I have come to the conclusion that proper breathing is extremely important to optimal health. As a personal trainer, I know that posture is exceptionally important. I have found that improved posture is the most valuable result of working with me my clients report, as it brings such a positive change to their life.
In a recent friendly discussion with a fellow professional, I realized I feel so strongly about optimal posture that I prioritize a client having optimal posture over how much weight they can squat or deadlift. I notice that I am mindful of my own posture and whenever I have my photo taken by surprise, the first thing I check is my posture. Another perspective I have taken recently is poor posture is one sign of aging that a person can avoid with their exercise program. Good posture helps a person to look their best and comes with the benefit of alignment within the body to facilitate optimal breathing, which is integral to optimal health. Good posture and breathing are keys to optimal health, as it helps to maintain peak function of the lungs, an organ we have much conscious influence on with our breathing. Take a few deep belly breaths whenever you can,
I practice some form of yoga for at least a few minutes every day. Any time that you bring awareness to your breathing, your body and the present moment is yoga-connecting with yourself. I view yoga as a work in continual practice, as opposed to a work out.
A work out consists of physical activity that rhythmically moves the body, works the muscles and can elevate the heart rate as the pace of breathing increases-energy moves outwardly as fuel within the body is mobilized and utilized. Yoga consists of postures to be held with focus, even while moving and flowing from one posture to the another-energy is directed inwardly in order focus and be mindful. If your body is a vehicle of sorts, exercise and workouts are like running your car and yoga or other forms of mindful movement is a tune up to ensure that whole system is running smoothly.
Practicing yoga can improve your body and your health, but it is not a work out. Consider it a work in continual practice of tuning into the wisdom your body, so you can watch the benefits unfold. Join me outdoors or at the gym for a work out.