January 31st ~ Fullmoon & Lunar Eclipse Meditation

Lunar Eclipse Meditation

Lunar Eclipse Meditation

Not only is this our second Full Moon in January, but it’s also a Lunar Eclipse, and the first Blue Blood Moon in 150 years! It encompasses a strong, yet gentle feminine spirit reminding me of Goddess Isis. One of my favorite quotes that I feel epitomizes this comes from my favorite actress for her passionate care for humanity, Audrey Hepburn – “an iron fist in a velvet glove.”  This spirit represents a woman who is strong enough to take on the world, will fight for the truth, and can do this with grace and not needing to take centre stage. There is great strength in serving others, and while this Fullmoon speaks to the feminine aspect, this is important in both men and women. We yin and yang, water and air, moon and sun, feminine and masculine. Balance is what makes us whole and allows life to thrive, but we need to pay attention to our true desires and purpose – letting go of ego and earthly desires, learning to trust our intuition and surrender. 

On January 31st, we will have our second fullmoon of the month and year. Let’s look at some of the aspects at play:

  • The opposition of the sun and moon encourage us to look at emotional issues.
  • Ceres is a planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, representing feminine strength.
  • Leo as we know, represents strength and likes to be seen and heard, while sensitive Cancer is more concerned with domestic issues.
  • It also happens to be a Lunar Eclipse, which brings the last 6 months to a close, and allows for a new chapter to begin. In our meditation, we will examine these aspects with respect to our own life.

 

Before your meditation, have a nice bath or shower with salts and essential oils such as lavender, rose, geranium, jasmine, ylang ylang, and bergamot. Bring your pearls and crystals in for a good clean too! While you bathe, envision yourself washing off any excess that doesn’t belong to you – brush it away. Close your eyes and feel the radiance glowing from deep within you, extending out of your body.

 

For your meditation, bring your journal, your cleaned crystals, sage wand or lit candles. Create a comfortable space for yourself where you won’t be disturbed. Closing your eyes, inhale for 4, retain for 4, exhale for 6, hold out for 2 seconds. Repeat this breath, allowing yourself to sink deeper into your body, connecting to the Earth and to your highest self and to the radiance within you. Feeling this glow penetrating throughout your body, extending past your physical body into your aura.

If you have a mantra, feel free to repeat it. If you don’t, choose three qualities you wish to embody more of. Repeat to yourself: “I am first quality, I am second quality, I am third quality.” Feeling yourself continue to glow and truly embody this.

You are welcome to stay in your meditation for as long as you wish. I would recommend a minimum of 15 minutes.

 

Journaling Thoughts:

  • What are 10 things you are grateful for in this moment?
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What do you wish to embody more of – feel free to write down your mantra. I encourage you to practice this every morning with your meditation, even if you only have 5-10 minutes. It will help start your day on the right foot, and you can use this mantra during challenging times to bring yourself back to centre.
  • Are there areas in your life you could take a more balanced, objective approach? Visualize how this will improve situations that need more love.
  • What can you surrender, to allow more space for flow in your life? Imagine letting this go – writing it down and burning the paper works, or visually seeing it evaporate from your body and aura.
  • Do you have relationships that could be nurtured with greater love? Love for yourself & honouring your needs? Love for the other and respecting their perspective?
  • What have you been working on since the end of July 2017? Where does this stand?
  • What is your vision, that resonates with your highest self, for the next 6 months? Do you need to tweak anything from your Dec New Moon goals?
  • What’s one thing you can do for yourself every day or every week to help yourself feel more loved?

With love,

Katie

Spring Break Camps – North Vancouver

Kids Yoga

  Kids Yoga

If you are looking for a fun Spring Break Camp for your children, where they will also learn valuable life-skills, look no further! We are offering two camps:

  • Inspired Leaders for ages 8-11 (March 19-23 from 9am-12pm)
  • Kids Camp for ages 5-7  (March 19-23 from 1-230pm)

In both camps we will explore valuable life-skills, neuro-science, and mindfulness using the Chakras as a guide, through games, yoga, art, and more! We are very lucky to have such an amazing Children’s team at our studio, with over 60 years of experience, including; retired Elementary Teacher, Behaviour Interventionist, and Kids Coaches. We are passionate about our well-being and that of the children we work with.

I feel particularly strongly about offering these tools to children, as I was lucky enough to have a mother who taught me to meditate as a child. I can absolutely tell you this made a lasting impact on my life in the most beautiful ways. As children, we are naturally very open to intuitive experiences. Through the years and conditioning, this can be lost for most of us, and many are now realizing we need to find ways to come back for our physical and emotional health. Helping a child learn these skills, helps to set them up for success in the years ahead.

  • Root Chakra – Strengths & Healthy Boundaries
  • Sacral – Creativity
  • Solar – Self Expression & Will
  • Heart – Understanding Emotion
  • Throat – Communication
  • Third Eye – Listening to Self
  • Crown – Community & Awareness

Our early-bird for up to $80 savings closes January 31st – for more details & to register, please follow this link or email Katie@yoganorthvancouver.com

Meditation Jars

Meditation Jars

Yoga for the IT Band & Low Back

IT Band

IT Band

Have you experienced knee, hip, or low-back pain? The IT band is a common denominator of these three areas… and we have simple tips and yoga poses to help relieve this pain!  

As you can see below, the IT is a tendon connecting your outer hip to the tibia. Our muscles and groups of muscles are surrounded by a saran-wrap layer of fascia. This fascia connects to other fascia throughout our bodies. This is one reason why when we are tight in one area of our body, it often leads to pain in other nearby areas, for example; pain often associated with the IT band or tight quads and outer hamstring muscles (biceps femoris) can travel into our lower back. We are completely connected, and if one part of our body is not functioning optimally, other parts try to compensate, which can further lead to problems. We can also use this to our benefit – this is one of the key ideas behind Yin Yoga.

 

How Does Yin Yoga Help?

Yin Yoga is about melting into your body, not forcing a stretch. Poses are held for 1-5 minutes, to allow muscles and surrounding fascia to release, which then allows other nearby muscles and fascia to release. Holding a gentle stretch pose for more than a minute, allows fascia to ‘liquify’, which then helps you to reset your posture and body. If you stretch for under a minute, the muscles essentially snap right back into place. The key here is to gently allow your body to relax into the release – never force yourself into a stretch. Yin poses should be comfortable to hold for the entire 5 minutes. Breathe into the pose, and trust your body to do the rest.

Biking, skiing, and running require us to have strong lower bodies, which is fabulous, as long as we keep ourselves strong and healthy. It can be a challenge to really take the time to stretch, but it is very important for the longevity of our health.

 

Strengthen and Stretch Your IT Band

Here are a few stretches to help relax the muscles and fascia surrounding your IT band, to help ease pain in the knee, glutes, and low back:

 

  • Sleeping Swan – Stretch

This is a gentle version of Pigeon. Sitting on your mat, place your left calf parallel the top of the mat, your right calf parallel to the side. Take a deep inhale, exhale and twist towards the floor on your left. This is a Yin pose, meaning alingment is not important – you are welcome to try moving your body towards the back, and playing with your leg placement – brining your feet closer to or further away from your body so you get the optimal stretch in your sciatic and IT. Try it on both sides, holding for 5 minutes. This is a loved stretch for pregnant women!

 

  • Pigeon – Stretch

You can start from a table position, sweeping your right leg behind you, bringing your knee into your chest, and your calf as parallel as is comfortable to the front edge of your mat. You are welcome to melt down towards the mat as you relax in this pose. Again, this is a yin pose, so find a comfortable position to hold for 5 minutes.

 

  • Roll It Out!

If you have a dowel or foam roller, this can work wonders!

 

  • Clamshell – Strengthen

This is a Pilates based exercise to help gently strengthen the IT band and inner leg for balance. Begin by lying down on your side with your legs and feet touching, one on top of the other. As you inhale, slowly lift your top knee upwards, keeping your feet touching. Exhale to release. Repeat 30 -60 times on each side, slowly building up to resistance.

 

  • Side-Shuffle – Strengthen

This is similar to the Clamshell. Standing place a resistance band around both your ankles with legs apart. Bring your left leg towards your right, step away with your right, bring your left back to your right & continue shuffling along. Try 10 steps to the right, then to the left 10 steps. Repeat until you feel gentle resistance.

 

  • Bridge – Core Strengthening

Often our glutes are much stronger than our core, which can also create tension in the low back creating strain in other areas of our body. When doing the Clamshell or Side-Shuffle, make sure your core is engaged. The core are the deep muscles between our pelvis holding everything in place. Try lying on your back, take a deep inhale allowing your stomach to relax, then exhale out hissing. Feel that contraction? That’s your core!

Continuing to lay on your back, bring the soles of your feet to the ground with your knees in the air. Inhale, exhale engaging the core, and slowly lift your hips up as you inhale, exhaling as you release to the ground. Repeat 30 times.

 

For more tips, check out our classes, Yin in particular!

New Moon Meditation – January 2018

This is a powerful NewMoon, charging us up and calling for a bright, light meditation. January 16th’s New Moon sums up the last five months since August’s Solar Eclipse, and presents a Learning Triangle – an opportunity for change and growth. Capricorn shines on stability, leadership, and the desire to open up emotionally. This is a good time to connect more deeply with ourselves and others to open emotionally. With Venus present, family and relationships flow with ease, but there is a push to open for growth. Mars lends us courage and passion to do so.  This is a time of renewal and ease, as we are connected to our intuition and imagination – ensure you stay grounded for alignment on your journey.  

 

New Moon Meditation

If you’d like to get comfortable in your meditation space, we will begin by closing our eyes and settling into our body. If you have a gentle, nurturing essential oil that can be applied to the skin, take a few drops in your palms, rub them together and inhale about five times slowly. Relaxing your palms on your lap, bring the awareness of your breath down to the Root Chakra, and grounding by imagining a golden cord or roots reaching into the earth. Take time to breathe and deepen this connection.

We will continue by allowing our belly to expand with breath and relax with exhale. As you continue filling your belly, feeling your rib cage expanding with breath, slowly relaxing as you exhale. Continue with this steady breath.

Continue with this breath, bringing your awareness to your Heart Chakra. With your inhale see a soft rose light shining into your Back Heart Chakra with every breath. Allow this light to sit with you, and flow out through your Front Heart Chakra.

Continue for 10 minutes, or longer to really deepen your experience. When you are ready, consider the following. You are welcome to journal – it’s a nice way to see your progression.

  • What were you working on during August 2017 around the Solar Eclipse?
  • What were your big goals, and where do you stand with them now?
  • What do you want to learn and what changes are you making? Subconsciously has anything shifted?
  • Are you creating enough time to deeply connect to your higher-self? Through this, we more deeply connect with others.
  • What changes would you like to see in your home-life? Family? Relationships?

Return to your breath for 10 minutes with your eyes closed to close your meditation. Allow any thoughts, inspiration to flow.

Meditation & Yoga for Better Sleep

Yoga for Better Sleep

Yoga for Better Sleep

 

It is challenging for us at any age to get a good night sleep if we are not relaxed, which then has a ripple effect. Meditation, yoga, and pranayama (breath-work) can help us get to the root of the concern, so we can begin with a good night sleep. We need our 7-8hrs minimum, in order to allow our body to restore, and our mind to sort in an uninhibited manner – much like it does during deep meditation. Check out our blog on Brain Waves! Read on to explore the interactions of our endocrine and nervous system to effectively help make changes for better health and more joy!

 

Our Endocrine & Nervous System

Our bodies are governed by about 50 different hormones that through our endocrine system, regulate our digestion, moods, sleep, growth, sexual activity, and our smooth and cardiac muscle functions. The endocrine system consists of glands that produce hormones; the hypothalamus and pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pineal, reproductive glands, and pancreas. Each of these glands is responsible for secreting specific hormones into our blood-stream to help us function at optimal, homeostatic levels:

  • Hypothalamus – satiety, metabolism, body temperature, and control of the pituitary gland
  • Pituitary – growth, prolactin (milk) & oxytocin (uterus contractions), water retention in the kidneys, and stimulates the thyroid, adrenal, luteinizing & follicle-stimulating hormones
  • Thyroid – metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, muscle tone, reproductive functions, growth & development of the brain and nervous system
  • Parathyroid – calcium levels & bone metabolism
  • Adrenal – metabolism, salt-water balance, immune system, sexual function, stress response (heart rate & blood pressure)
  • Pineal – melatonin to regulate our sleep (this is where the Third Eye or Pineal chakra is located)
  • Reproductive – sexual development & function
  • Pancreas – digestion & blood-sugar levels

Our nervous system plays into our endocrine system by sending sensory information about our experiences to our brain, which tells our endocrine system what we need more or less of. Everything from the air we breathe, the food we consume, the products we put on our skin, the environment (sounds, people, energy) we surround ourselves with, our thoughts, and sleep, all impact our hormonal balance. When we are not taking proper care of our mind and body we tend to have swings as our body tries to correct itself. If we endure perceived ‘stress’ for long enough, our endocrine system becomes taxed with trying to constantly correct the balance, which then leads to adrenal fatigue, more stress, and emotional or physical concerns – our body goes into a depressed state and it becomes difficult to function.

I think it is very important to understand this, knowing several people to include myself, who have experienced adrenal fatigue and burn-out. Unfortunately it seems more common than we would like to think. Why? We put ourselves under a great deal of pressure to constantly perform at nearly perfection, not exercise in a balanced manner, not nourishing ourselves with whole foods, not to mention we are almost always ‘on’ – constantly on our phones or in front of screens. This can lead to poor sleep, depressed hormonal states, anxiety, depression, the inability to cope, and other physical, emotional and or mental issues. It’s a vicious cycle!

 

Managing Stress for Better Sleep

My greatest concern is that I am hearing of more and more children who are experiencing high levels of anxiety. As adults, we hopefully have better coping skills and the ability to make healthy choices. Regardless, it seems as a society we could all do with a little more self-compassion – not an easy thing to do! So, how do we begin? As my very wise Love put it last night, Worksafe BC is on the right track! As a young girl and adult I used a similar model, which I assume I learned from my wise mother. This works well for children too!:

  • Identify stressor(s) – Doing something physical, then a little meditation can help you with clarity
    • What’s the root issue of your (various) stressors?
  • Assess stressor(s)
    • Does this stressor impose an immediate threat to your well-being?
    • Why does it create a stress response for you? Is it past conditioning you can change?
  • Control stressor(s)
    • How can you mitigate or remove the stressor(s)?
    • Create an action plan for yourself to nourish your well-being & find more balance
      • What is not essential that you can either put to the side or remove?
      • How can you treat yourself with more compassion?
      • Put yourself first and express this need to others – this can be challenging
      • Create a mantra you repeat to yourself in the morning and during times of stress
      • Make time for meditation or pranayama (breathwork) everyday – even 5 minutes!
      • Schedule activities that nourish your mind, body & soul a few times a week
      • Get 8 hours sleep every night – I know this can be hard for those with young ones
      • Plan healthy meals and snacks
      • Minimize toxins: on your skin, caffeine, alcohol, sugar & allergens
      • Listen to healing tones – check out Solfeggio on youtube
      • Surround yourself with positive thoughts & people
      • See medical specialists to help support you if needed

 

Meditation & Yoga for Better Sleep

If you are still struggling with deep, regular sleep, here are a few more ways to help:

  • Skip the afternoon coffee, tea, or other stimulant (including alcohol)
  • Get exercise during the day – not within 3 hours of bed
  • Don’t eat within 2 hours of bed
  • Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed – and preferably, don’t have them in your bedroom
  • In that hour prior to bed, create a ritual for yourself:
    • Yoga – try calming poses, such as; legs up the wall, forward folds, and child’s pose
    • Pranayama – Find a simple breath that relaxes you: Ujjayi/ Ocean breath is a steady inhale-exhale through the nose
    • Mediation – Once you have practiced breath-work, allow yourself to simply sit and unwind with your eyes closed. Let thoughts come and go, without getting attached to them. If they take you on a journey, that’s fine, but try to not get emotionally involved – rather follow it objectively, as if you are watching from a birds-eye view

If you have a child experiencing anxiety and you haven’t already tried this, make time in the morning or before bed to practice pranayama (breathwork) together. Simple is often best. Belly Breath – feeling the steady, easy flow of the breath in and out of the body works wonders! Slowly lengthen the breath to a comfortable pace. Children can practice this on their own to help them tune into their body for greater self-awareness, which leads to greater self-confidence. Getting a good night sleep so our body & mind has the time to restore is half the battle!

If you would like to learn more techniques, we seem to be focusing on sleep this January at the studio:

Jan 15th-Feb 17th: Kids Winter Series

Jan 27th: Yoga for Sleep

Jan 30th: Yoga Nidra – A Journey Through Yogic Sleep

As always, I am happy to answer any questions or connect you with those who may have more information.

Katie

Meditation to Harness Your Intuition

We are all intuitive and have the capacity to know things, like many other highly intuitive animals. The problem is we often don’t listen. Yoga and meditation are particularly helpful to deepen this connection. Children generally haven’t been streamlined into our rational world and are naturally open to their intuitive experiences. Sadly, they are often dismissed as many adults who are now trying to reconnect were. So let’s try to deepen this natural connection to ourselves!

Different Forms of Intuition

There are a few different forms of intuition you may have experienced in your waking life, during meditation, or dreams:

  • Clairvoyance is the ability to see things that are going on in the future or another part of the world but you are completely unaware of – a very visual depiction or dream.
  • Clairaudient is ‘hearing’ something future oriented or that which you have no other way of knowing other than a supernatural connection – this happens to me frequently during meditation.
  • Clairsentient is the ability to feel into another, think extreme empathy, when you can experience sensations of another person. For example, feeling when another is in emotional or physical pain – something I experience often.
  • Claircognizant is a strong knowing sense of something future oriented or unrelated to you – you just know.
  • Clairolfaction is knowing through scent. For example I’ve met a few who can smell when someone is about to pass away (within a week), and many men can actually smell when it’s a woman’s time of the month!

Chances are you have experienced at least one of these forms in your life, if you don’t experience it on a regular basis. It’s a gift to be connected, but can also be an overwhelming amount of sensory input. If we are unaware as to why we are experiencing certain emotions and sensations, particularly for those who are clairsentient, it can be upsetting or create anxiety.

What To Do With Intuitive Information

Positive intuitions are wonderful! I generally like to keep them to myself, note in a journal, or share with someone close to me.

If you experience anxiety from intuitive knowing, meditation is a great way to release it. Try to find a quiet space where you can sit, breathe, ground yourself, create a layer of protection around your body with white light, and relax. It may take some time, but you will likely find the source. If you are more visual, journaling prior to or after meditating can help – this is a great way to help children experiencing anxiety too. Once you have found the source, release by exhaling it in a bright indigo light. If you need to move, run, dance after your meditation to fully release – this helps me. Signing, painting are also great ways to release this energy that is not needed by us. Burning sage, or placing a clear crystal in your hands while you meditate are also great ways to release this energy.

Sometimes still it is a struggle to release this, which is where energy healers come in. Different people will connect to different healers. If this is something you are in need of, I would be more than happy to pass along some healers that I have felt do incredibly valuable work. They simply use clean energy to help balance the body, removing ‘toxins’ or energy that doesn’t belong to you. Katie@yoganorthvancouver.com

How to Deepen Your Intuitive Connection

We are all already connected to our intuition – butterflies in our stomach in anticipation of something we aren’t already consciously aware of, or just a knowing feeling. This is our instinctive nature to warn us if needed. Often we pick up so much information but may not consciously process it all. We process this information in dreams and meditation. Here are some ways to develop your intuition:

    • Meditation. Try practicing at least 10 minutes a day – nothing magical may happen at first, but overtime you may notice interesting synchronicities and events happening in your life.
    • Meditation with cards. Tarot, angel or other cards can be an interesting experiment for yourself. Record your experiences with cards in a journal.

 

  • Dreams. Start recording your dreams, particularly the ones that are strongly emotional or sensory. There are many layers to dreams as information is being processed, but the very emotional ones are often speaking to us.
  • Eat clean. Try to minimize your caffeine and alcohol intake. Be conscious of the food you are eating, and the people and situations you are surrounding yourself with. Everything is energy.
  • Awareness. Notice your feelings and thoughts throughout the day. Taking little meditation breaks every few hours is another great way to stay connected and bring more peace into your daily life.

 

Enjoy! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.