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yogatree

the autumn schedule is falling in to place, though there are still a few bits and pieces yet to fall into place.

beginning friday, september 7th:

i will be guiding my GENTLE YOGA classes on mondays and fridays, 10:30a – 11:30a, and coaching GROUP KETTLEBELL classes on mondays and fridays, 12:00p – 12:45p, at the west royalty community centre on kirkland road.  get in touch with me for further information.

beginning monday, september 10th:

i will be instructing and sweating through the ADULT LO/NO IMPACT FITNESS on mondays, wednesdays, fridays, 8:45a – 9:45a, at the west royalty community centre on kirkland road, for the city of charlottetown. get in touch with city of charlottetown department of parks and recreation for information.  watch for winter and spring sessions after this fall session.

beginning tuesday, october 2nd:

i will be having a blast with the SENIORS FITNESS class on tuesdays and thursdays, 9:30a – 10:30a, at park royal church, for the city of charlottetown. get in touch with the city dept of parks and rec for info. watch for the winter and spring sessions too.

beginning monday, september 17th:

cby1i will be guiding CLUBBELL YOGA CONDITIONING on mondays, 7a – 7:45a, for upei panther recreation fitness programs. get in touch with upei panther rec for further information. register soon, numbers are limited!

 

beginning wednesday, september 19th:

KBs-in-grass1i will be coaching KETTLEBELL CIRCUIT class on wednesdays, 7a – 7:45a, for upei panther recreation fitness programs. get in touch with upei panther rec for information. register soon!

 

 

 

ongoing now ‘n’ then at now ‘n’ zen:

i will continue to share the guide  of CHAIR YOGA class on wednesdays, 10:30a – 11:30a, at now ‘n’ zen in stratford. get in touch with now ‘n’ zen for further information.

ongoing tuesdays:

the MIXED LEVEL YOGA class on tuesdays, 6:30p – 7:30p, at atlantic fitness east, continues to run. get in touch with afe for information. join us for this delicious evening practice.

beginning tuesday, october 2nd:

i am excited to be guiding the queen’s county SENIORS YOGA & STRETCH on tuesdays, 11:30a – 1:00p, at camp gencheff for seniors college. register through seniors college and watch for winter and spring semester sessions in the same time slot in the same location.

beginning wednesday, october 3rd:

king’s county gets some SENIORS YOGA & STRETCH too. on wednesdays from 1:30p – 3:00p, at atlantic fitness east. get in touch with seniors college to participate. winter and spring semester sessions will be running.

beginning thursday, october 4th:

i will be leading a queen’s county MEDITATION AND BREATHWORK class on thursdays, 11:30 – 12:30, for seniors college, at camp gencheff. contact seniors college for further information.

buddhafall

 

 

 

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I’m generally great at the getting to sleep thing.  I work long, active days and crawl happily into bed with a book about the same time that most folks are curling up to the glow of their nightly netflix. I rarely make it past a paragraph or two when I float off.

But, every now and then I have a bit of a challenge settling in. This is most likely to happen when I work late.  Heading to bed a bit wound up, over-stimulated, is usually a formula for wendy-wide-eyed-ness well into the night.  Or, when I am time-crunched and have difficulty finding the off button to my brain, you know, busy saving the planet, rehashing yesterday’s conversation,  or planning tomorrow when today is right here and happy to be my lullaby.

I work early (early!) mornings . It is so important to my good health, my relationships, and my work that I be able to turn off my busy monkey mind when I go to bed.  When my alarm rings, somewhere between 3:25am and 4:30am, depending on the day, I want to be springing happy, curious and excited into my day.

What to do then.

There are some yoga poses which help me settle at night. In particular, viparita karani, legs up wall pose, calms anxieties and rests sore and tired feet and legs. Done before bedtime, this pose can contribute to a great night’s rest.  You can find a lovely viparita karani instruction here.

Beyond a single pose, a yoga series can also assist with achieving a good night’s sleep. One of my fave youtube yogis is Sadie Nardini. She has a lovely, well taught, explicit sleep flow which is easy to follow along with and to learn. Check out Sadie’s video on yoga for sleep, insomnia or deep relaxation:

 

I’d have to say that the simplest, most graceful and expedient way I have of drifting happily off when my neurological systems is high-firing is meditation. Particularly meditation where I focus on breath.

Try it, adapting these easy steps to your own needs:

  • Lie in a comfy position in your bed; close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath. Gradually allow your breathing to become deeper and slower, finding the perfect rhythm.
  • Imagine filling your body with clean, healing air each time you breathe. Allow each inhale to carry calming oxygen to every part of your body. Get a visual, if you can, of this pure, healthful air moving through your body.
  • With each exhale allow stress and  tension to flow out of your body. Release the stale and the stagnant, using your breath to cleanse toxins from your body.  Imagine your exhale happening through every single pore of your body and the toxins dissolving into space.
  • Continue following your breath. Exhale and feel cleansed, inhale and experience calm.  Allow this rhythm to be part of your phenomenal experience without putting words or labels on what you are doing and what you are feeling.
  • When you notice thoughts, acknowledge that you’ve been thinking and return your attention to your breath.
  • Stay with your breath, experiencing the increasing lightness and relaxation, until you fall asleep.

Lullaby and good night, may sweet softness surround you.

this is not me, but add a couple dozen more leads and you have the idea

I have sleep apnea. Moderate sleep apnea to be exact, where I stop breathing during sleep about 6 times an hour on average.  At least that was the frequency of my small deaths and snorting, choking resurrections at the time of diagnosis in 2002 when I inarguably spent the worst hours of my nocturnal life in a sleep lab.

120 electrodes, attached mostly to my skull and chest, carved deep painful canyons into the sides of my head as I tossed and turned under a stiff, antiseptic bedspread. The electrodes provided impulses of my after hours biochemical and physiological life which translated into scribblings on a graph, all while a video camera recorded my drooling fitfully sleeping self and a live feed camera projected my gasping thrashing beauty rest to a screen which was observed by nodding, bored coffee swilling backshift lab techs.

It was, excuse the phrase, a nightmare.

When I was later informed of my night time apneic alter ego, I was advised to undergo laser surgery. When I was later informed of my night time apneic alter ego, I was advised to purchase and use a CPAP machine. Oh, yes….the advice was directly related to that which made the advising physician the most money: one was my referring specialist and the other was the owner of the sleep lab.  Of course.  So, I did neither. Of course (do you know me??)

Instead, I started to attend to my breath with greater awareness.  There were many moments when I held my breath.  On occasions when I was afraid, anxious, lost in thought, underwater or in the midst of exertion, I was prone to holding my breath. Instead of having my breath work for me I was frequently, mindlessly, allowing it to work against me.

Establishing a yoga practice was a helpful way to begin a breathwork practice as was lifting weights, pilates, biking, sculling and running. In the midst of any of these activities breath awareness is a key to success. Rhythmic breathing in particular patterns, like my two pace inhale three pace exhale on short runs or the pressurized exhale of a heavy kettlebell session, carry me through the work.

It wasn’t until I started a (regular) sitting practice, however, that I learned to carry my breath awareness into my everyday life — off the mat, off the cushion, off the bike. This created a fundamental shift in Being Mindful. Discovering that ordinary experiences present extraordinary opportunities to be fully present and awake was the epiphany which brought joy and vibrancy into each moment of my day.

This is beyond cool. Discovering that what we need most is fully within us, integral to our being, waiting to be noticed, appreciated and nurtured…

If you suffer fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, chronic illness, indigestion, sleep disorders, depression, negative thoughts, or irritability you might very well benefit from becoming breath aware.

Improving your breathing can be achieved through activities such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation.

You can perform breathing exercises to improve your breath. For example:

  1. Practice Breath Awareness – With no need to change your breath, simply observe it and take note of its qualities.  Don’t try to influence your breath, simply follow the breath cycle with your observing mind. Is it deep or shallow, smooth or jagged, fast or slow?  Sit in a comfortable postion with a tall supple posture. Follow the rhythm of your breath through inhalation and exhalation. Where does the inhalation end and the exhalation begin? Where does the exhalation end and the inhalation begin? Spend five minutes daily on this exercise.
  2. Attend to the Exhalation – Focus on the exhalation with the goal of becoming more aware of this part of your breath cycle. Place your hands on the sides of your rib cage  and gently squeeze the breath out of your lungs as you exhale. Draw the bellybutton in toward the spine and up under the ribcage in order to expel all the air.  Release the ribs on the inhale.  Repeat for one minute.
  3. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing, sometimes called Belly Breath – In a comfortable position on your back, place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your lower belly.  As you inhale, allow the breath to fill your belly, floating your lower hand upward. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move. Exhale through pursed lips, feeling your hand draw down toward your spine. The hand on your chest still shouldn’t move.

When your focus is on your breath, allow other thoughts to float easily away.  Stay present in your breath, release your past and future, acknowledge thoughts as they arise in your mind and return your attention, always, to your breath.

With regular practice you will find all manners of lightness, health, wisdom, clarity, and release in your breath.

Breathwork and mindfulness are a practice. Be kind and loving towards yourself as you explore the potential of your breath. The opportunities can bring you to a vibrant wakefulness, a shimmering compassion, a resonating truth.

Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?  ~ Mary Oliver

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