Anne’s classes on hold…but not forever

Dear Yoga Friends, with talk of the gradual re-opening of various industry sectors over the next several weeks and months, we know it is important to REMAIN DILIGENT in our efforts to maintain health and safety in our homes, workplaces, and in the community. It will likely be a very different set up than before for yoga studios and in-person classes, with possible size restrictions, social distancing requirements, sanitation and disinfection protocols, and reduced schedules.

For my classes specifically, all group classes continue to be cancelled until further notice. My offerings to you have always been my passion, my joy, my dharma…and part of that joy is the interaction and face-to-face connection of teacher-to-student, yogi-to-yogi, friend-to-friend. While that may not be possible at this time, please know that I am looking forward to seeing you in the months ahead. Some of you have asked about online classes; while I am not set up to provide them at this time, at best I have been able to offer my GUIDED MEDITATIONS as ways to explore the inner self, calm the mind and body, and boost spirits. As it might feel like we are holding our collective breath, waiting for the next piece of good or bad news in this pandemic, I encourage you to EXHALE…and let’s just see what unfolds.

Before the pandemic, many of us complained about not having enough time to practice yoga or exercise daily, too much external stimulation, or putting our devices before our relationships. Now that we have that time, some of the complaints are at the other end of the spectrum…feeling boredom, more time on devices, too much time to think, etc. And in another few months, we will complain again, as it seems to be human nature to want something else. The teachings of yoga remind us of finding some degree of CONTENTMENT (Santosha), regardless of the circumstances, situation, and conditions. One day at a time…one moment at a time…knowing full well that things change and nothing is permanent. So can we let go of worry, anger, and judgment and replace them with faith, patience, and compassion? Can we go with the flow and use best practices while events play out? Sure we can. While I write a lot about these things, it may seem repetitive…but maybe we need these reminders OFTEN. I know I do…

“Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.” – a gift of wisdom from a friend…

NAMASTE

 

Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, and Faith

 

With just over a month of “shutdown” under our belts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hearing of more day-to-day challenges from a mental health perspective. One day we’re okay, and the next we’re not. Difficulties being at home with others; difficulties being alone; gain and loss; darkness and light. Some folks are calling their homes “prisons”, and others are posting that they are “going crazy”. So many different experiences of hardship and challenge, from mild to medium to extreme, as well as those bright spots that keep us going – acts of kindness, creative outlets, overcoming sickness, lending a hand. The common thread seems to be the wanting of something other than what IS. Perhaps more than ever, our mantra needs to be the Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change; the COURAGE to change the things that I can; and the WISDOM to know the difference.

What is helping me during these times (and ANY time I am having a hard time ACCEPTING WHAT IS…which, as for many of us, is more often than not) is first to sit quietly, take a few breaths, and ground my energy. Sometimes I even listen to my own GUIDED MEDITATIONS (yes that’s ME talking to MYSELF, like my higher Self guiding the small me with my own voice…very interesting). Then I can REFLECT. Reflection (not rumination, brooding, overthinking, or fixating) helps me to flip the perspective and look at the potential, the insights, the blessings, the learning, and the positives right in front of me. Not to pretend that the challenges do not exist, nor to dismiss the need to mourn, nor to deny the tough emotions…but to remember to also have faith in the goodness of people, trust in the balance of nature, practice patience during this process, and find hope in even the smallest steps that move us forward.

In the course of reflecting recently, I made some observations. My right-brain (creative side) said lean into the moment, breathe, relax, let it go, accept what I cannot change, and FEEL thankful (just embodying the warm sensations of gratitude made a difference). My left-brain (analytical linear side) said investigate and research, look at cause and effect, tap into available resources, make a plan, BE the change. Then I did some alternate-nostril breathing to balance right and left brain, leading to the final a-ha moment of my whole-brain collaboration – the message to cultivate RESILIENCY, in body, mind, and spirit. Bounce back, pick yourself up, rise above, be the light…

Looking to the yogic tradition, I recall the guidelines of the 8-limbed path, specifically the Niyamas, or the second limb of the yogic path known as “observances” (the DOs rather than the DO NOTs). Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishwara Pranidhana (effort/self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to God or Higher Power). Here is a plan I can follow. And sure enough, it goes right back to the Serenity Prayer…keeping up my practices helps me cultivate serenity, helps me tap into the courage within, opens my heart and mind to wisdom from sources tiny to tall, and ensures I keep the faith. Read this article by Sally Kempton (Yogi, Meditation Teacher, Writer} for a deeper understanding of these concepts.

After I have left my yoga mat, and as my day unfolds, the practice continues. Practicing patience and letting go and moving on while keeping distance, washing hands, and staying at home. Facing the reality of bills, due dates, and debts. Finding ways to connect and disconnect. Remembering to stop and take those deep breaths. Bouncing back, moment after moment, with serenity, courage, wisdom, and faith.

**If you need extra support during these difficult times and are not sure where to turn, in addition to your local public health website, consider this initiative offered by the Canadian government and various partners: Wellness Together Canada. It is like a one-stop resource for mental health and emotional support. 

New: Guided Meditations

Here is a new offering that I am excited to share with you! I’ve added a new page called “GUIDED MEDITATIONS” where you will find short practices to choose from anytime. I hope to add more over time. Enjoy!

Weathering COVID-19 with Self-Care

Friends and yoga lovers, this is a time when we ALL must heed the advice of not only our health officials and leaders but our own “inner gurus” for self-care. That may mean disconnecting from social media, news reports, and travel stories for a time so the fear and worry can lessen, if even for just a little while. A solitary walk in the winter sunshine followed by an afternoon savasana was just what was needed today to help slow my racing heart and calm my overthinking mind.

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All my yoga classes were cancelled for March break anyway, including Manotick classes and City of Ottawa classes…so to inform you that they CONTINUE TO BE CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE likely comes as no surprise. Please take care during this challenging time with all the recommended precautions; keep up a home yoga practice for body and mind; and practice patience, compassion, and loving-kindness so we can all get through this.

Sending Reiki for protection, care, and safety…Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Spring Yoga 2020 schedule…coming soon

You know spring surely is coming soon when we switch to daylight savings time! Remember to put your clocks ahead an hour this weekend!

As we wind down the winter session of my yoga classes this month, this is a reminder there are NO CLASSES FROM MAR. 12 – 24 INCLUSIVE as I am away. The Spring Yoga schedule starts in April but until then, I hope to see you on the mat for a few regular classes after March break.

Registration for the Spring Session of Yoga-Pilates at NCAC opens tonight at 9 pm online, and tomorrow in person at any City of Ottawa client service centre. Register quickly as this class always fills up fast!

My new year “mantra” of “less struggle, more ease” and moving forward with clear vision seems to be coming to fruition. Whether in a yoga pose, in the line up at the bank, in traffic, or during a tough conversation…a conscious effort to follow the path of least resistance seems to be making a big difference. Stuff still happens and challenges present themselves, but rolling with it/through it/under it/over it with more acceptance seems to bring lightness to the body, mind, and soul and a clarity of vision. Good timing as we transition from the heaviness of winter to spring!

NAMASTE…and see you on the mat!

Winter Yoga with Anne

Yoga classes are now underway for this winter 2020! I hope to see you on the mat at one or more this season. CHECK HERE FOR YOGA CLASS INFO.

In addition, join me Sat. Jan. 18 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at Empower Me Yoga Studio for a “Master Class: Journey Through the Koshas”. Beginning with a brief lecture and meditation, we will then flow through a sequence of poses three times, with each round promoting deeper awareness and insight. From the physical body to the energetic, mental, wisdom, and bliss layers, a “FIVE KOSHAS CLASS” is a truly holistic practice that helps to balance our WHOLE being, and encourages us to live gracefully and fully from each layer of Self.

REGISTER FOR THE KOSHAS CLASS ONLINE HERE: https://www.wellnessliving.com/rs/event/empowermeyoga?k_class=184582&k_class_tab=14994

See you on the mat!

2020 Vision

A new decade, a new year, a new day…another opportunity to direct the trajectory of our lives in a positive direction. A chance to develop a clearer vision of how we want to BE, not just what we might want to achieve. As Gandhi wisely recommended, “BE the change you want to see in the world”. If we want to achieve our goals, make our dreams come true, and keep the faith that underlies our hopes, how can we BE in order for it all to happen? It most certainly requires us to do some soul searching, self-reflection, and quiet contemplation without blame, shame, judgment and with a whole lot of self-compassion to see how we are NOW. Then we can take the necessary steps to direct our energy towards what we want and how we want to be.

Sometimes our vision is not so clear…I can attest to that, being physically (and often times, mentally/emotionally/spiritually) near-sighted! Just as I need correction (contact lenses) to see clearly, I also need correction in my thinking at times. Negative thinking! Deepak Chopra says, “Every negative thought weakens the partnership between mind and body”. Yikes…no wonder I have been feeling sluggish and heavy and achy. It’s not just due to overindulgence during the holidays…it is also due to the negative self-talk, the rehashing of old dramas, impatience, resentment, and all those swirling emotions that come up (why, oh, why do they seem to come up so strongly during the holidays??). How can one have 2020 vision with a cloudy mind?

After a quiet meditation with my eyes open (literally I was staring at the ceiling), I hit a reset button. I found a warm space at my heart centre, forgave myself for my errors and short-sighted thinking, and decided to BE the change. Just BE it. Not only for myself but for my family, my friends, for everyone in my backyard and beyond…For this, I need ongoing energy (Shakti!), motivation, determination, and reminders to help me stay on track. That is what the tradition of YOGA and its teachings does for me. This is what CONNECTION does for me (we are not in this alone!). And with a little help from my “2020 vision board” – a compilation of my hopes and dreams and positive affirmations that I will SEE daily – I will remember. Remember how good it feels to be joyful, energetic, focused, productive, connected, and loving. It is all coming back to me…

This January, come join me on the mat where we will move and stretch and breathe and stoke the fire of our resolve to be the best versions of ourselves…our TRUE Selves. If peace begins with me…AND with you, then let’s BE that…together as we journey to higher ground. HAPPY NEW YEAR…HAPPY 2020!

JOURNEY

“I walk the hills and valleys of my mind.

Above the laughter of the brook,

and the sorrow of the chasm,

finding higher ground,

I turn my face to love.

Through the gate of all wonder

into the bliss of intimacy and worship.

Knowing this is who I am,

I smile!”

– John Stubbs, 2005

December Classes and Holiday Schedule 2019

This year, my plan is to gracefully, calmly, and joyfully navigate the month of December without getting all caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. I am pleased to say that most of my Christmas gift shopping is DONE (thanks to an impromptu shopping afternoon and a great parking spot!). One way to stay grounded is to keep up a regular yoga practice. Mindful movement, focused breathing, embracing everyday moments of joy, and cultivating kindness is a huge antidote to what can be a very stressful time of the year. Come join me on the mat! Here is my schedule for December:

  • Regular Manotick classes continue until Sun. Dec. 22.
  • Yoga-Pilates at NCAC finishes Wed. Dec. 11. For those registered for the winter session, it begins Wed. Jan. 15, 2020.
  • HOLIDAY CLASSES at Denise Smith Dance Studio – 9:15 am – 10:15 am:
    • Tue. Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve Gentle Yoga
    • Fri. Dec. 27 – Candlelight Yin Yoga (bring your bolster and blanket!)
    • Tue. Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve Hatha Yoga (UPDATE: Unfortunately, this class is cancelled due to poor weather…so sorry!)
      • Please note that pre-registration is required for the holiday classes to secure your spot. Send me an email to put your name on the list!
  • No classes on Thu. Dec. 26, Sun. Dec. 29 or Thu. Jan. 2.
  • January classes resume Sun. Jan. 5, 2020.
  • Throughout December, a portion of the proceeds from each Manotick yoga class will be donated to The Ottawa Food Bank on behalf of Yoga In My Backyard and our yoga community. Did you know that almost 40,000 clients use this service on a monthly basis? Additional donations will be happily accepted at the studio OR donate directly to The Ottawa Food Bank HERE.
  • Recently I had the pleasure of being part of a PODCAST, discussing the importance of slowing down and taking a breath on a daily basis. Listen to Episode 30 here.
  • “SOUL VIBRATIONS” – Inner Work Day Mini-Retreat at Vibration Studios, Osgoode, ON on Sat. Feb. 29, 2020, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm. Registration is on NOW with an early-bird bonus if you register by Dec. 31, 2019. See MY RETREATS for full details.

Wishing you love, light, joy, and moments of awe this holiday season and beyond!

Take 5…

…5 breaths, 5 stretches, 5 minutes…Stepping back and taking this little break can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit!

While longer periods of breathing with awareness, stretching and strengthening the body, and sitting in meditation are more beneficial, sometimes it may seem daunting to schedule in an hour of downtime. So taking these smaller 5 to 10 minute breaks throughout the day with conscious breathing and awareness might just be more “do-able”, and the effects can be felt immediately.

TRY THIS: set the timer on your phone for 5 minutes then turn away from your computer, sit tall in your chair with both feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Close your eyes; soften your shoulders, your jaw, and your face. Begin to breathe slowly and deeply, feeling the inhale and exhale in your body. Continue until the timer goes off. Notice how you feel! Imagine if you extended this to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.!

For more info on the benefits of taking a mindful break, CHECK OUT THIS PODCAST (Episode 30) with me: https://thehowesgroup.com/podcast/

And if you are looking for MORE THAN 5 MINUTES of mind/body/spirit self-care, join me on the mat at a yoga class or retreat!

 

Reminder of class cancellation dates – Oct/Nov 2019

Nice to see so many of you on the mat these past few weeks. Yoga is wonderful any time of the year! With crisp autumn mornings and fresh cool air, it sure feels good to be outside. In the studio, we are moving and bending and breathing, sometimes warming up and sometimes cooling off. Bare feet or warm socks, come join us!

A couple of reminders:

  1. There are no YIN classes on Sun. Oct. 20 and Sun. Nov. 10.
  2. Clocks go back on Sun. Nov. 3 at 2 am – end of daylight savings time for this year.

See you in class!

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