YOGA THIS FALL 2022 with Anne Stubbs

Hello and happy summer, dear Yoga Friends! Ready to try in-person classes again? Not quite ready to be out there, but okay with online practices? I’ve got you covered both ways, at least for a couple of months! These offerings take us to the end of October for now.

IN-PERSON CLASSES AT OSGOODE COMMUNITY CENTRE (5660 Osgoode Main St., Osgoode ON)

  • large spacious room on second floor; distancing encouraged; maximum 20 participants
  • in-person classes are NOT recorded
  • public washrooms on site; ample parking
  • mask-wearing encouraged until you get to your own mat for the safety of all participants
  • bring your own mat and yoga props
  • facility follows City of Ottawa cleaning and disinfection protocols; and abides by Ottawa Public Health recommendations
  • do not attend if you are unwell, have symptoms of Covid-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19

Two programs available:

A) HATHA YOGA Tuesdays 9:15 am – 10:15 am Sept. 6 – Oct. 25 – 8 classes

COST = $120.00

B) YIN YOGA Fridays 9:15 am – 10:15 am Sept. 9 – Oct. 21 (no class on Oct. 7) – 6 classes

COST = $90

ONLINE via ZOOM

Two programs available:

A) MID-WEEK YOGA MIX Wednesdays 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm Sept. 7 – Oct. 26 – 8 classes

COST = $108

B) YIN YOGA Sundays 9:00 am – 10:00 am – Sept. 18 – Oct. 30 (no class on Oct. 9) – 6 classes

COST = $80

HOW TO REGISTER FOR ANY PROGRAM:

Send me an email (yogaimby@gmail.com) with your request and/or questions and I will reply with the waiver and more details. Register for online or in-person classes up to 3 days prior to the start date. Payment by e-transfer only to yogaimby@gmail.com. Fees for online classes are non-refundable.

Savouring Sweetness on this Solstice day

Today is the summer solstice of June 2022 with the longest daylight hours of the year. Not surprising then that my circadian rhythm responded to the morning light and I awoke early today. Maybe you woke up early, too. As I lay there quietly, I briefly contemplated the last two years of pandemic ups and downs leading right up to NOW. And then before I got caught up in the rehashing of the stress of it all, I got out of bed and into the day. I choose “sweetness” today, not heaviness or bitterness.

According to Ayurveda, the holistic system of health and wellness originating in India, the essence or “rasa” of sweet is more than just a sugary taste. It is a grounding combination of the qualities of earth and water; it is characteristically pleasurable, joyful, loving; and in balance, sweetness encompasses all those “sweet” things in life from puppies to pretty flowers, to preparing and tasting a fresh meal, to being in the company of friends. What better day than the summer solstice to savour the sweetness of life!

I met up with a friend this morning who gave me flowers fresh-picked from her garden, and we sat in the rain with our coffees, chatting and laughing and enjoying the exchange of energy. And we had a sugary cookie, too. Savouring sweetness isn’t just about taking the time…it is MAKING the time, as a priority for oneself, every day. Sweet is an essence we NEED in balance…along with the salty, pungent, astringent, bitter, and sour qualities of not just food but our lifestyles.

With today being the first day of summer, there is the promise of warm sunny days and lazy afternoons. A season where it feels easier to spread our wings and breathe in the light. And perhaps more space to MAKE that time to savour the sweetness!

Here is a short meditation to get you started. Enjoy and have a happy summer!

Summer Solstice Meditation

Good Morning!

Ahhhh….a new day and a fresh start. A chance to do-over. An opportunity to make change, to forgive, to let go. A step forward. A time to rest or a time to produce. An open mind or a closed mind. Today I move forward with an open mind and this acronym in my thoughts – PBSP.

PAUSE, BREATHE, SMILE, PROCEED…

Check out this short (11 minutes) video for a Good Morning Mindful Movement Practice you can do to start your day. Have a good one…and even if it’s not so good, just PBSP and remember there is always tomorrow.

Take A Seat…with Chair Yoga

What started as a few stretches to relieve some tension around my shoulders and back after extended time sitting at my desk, inspired me further to experiment with my chair as a prop for my yoga practice. Check out this new video for a 43 minute chair yoga session! You might be surprised at how effective a simple chair can be as a tool for supporting deeper stretches, for promoting better posture, and for providing an accessible base on which to sit, lean, or balance.

I hope you will be inspired as well to come up with your own unique stretches and chair-supported yoga poses. Let your body guide you and have an open mind. At the very least, as you sit throughout the day, position yourself towards the edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands gently in your lap; sit with a tall spine (more neutral and less slouchy to encourage good posture); close your eyes and take 10 full deep breaths. Try setting a timer to remind you to do this a few times a day!

Chair Yoga 1 with Anne

Welcoming Winter

“Tis the season to be jolly”, because what good is it to be anything else when it is cold and blustery and snowy; or when the snowplow goes by and leaves a pile at the end of your driveway; or when your new appliances won’t be delivered on time; or when the evening news reports new viral variants? There seem to be so many things that can bring a person down these days…if you let those things get to you. You can rant and rave and swear and fuss and get it all out, then change what you can, accept what you can’t, and let go of the negatives so they don’t bring you down. There are so many wonderful things (big or small) that can uplift a person if one INVITES them in, rather than blocks them out. Blocking out the uplifting energies can happen when we make incorrect judgments, use harsh words, react hastily instead of act mindfully, make incorrect assumptions, take things personally, think negative thoughts, or even rush around and load our plates, depleting our reserves. Recognize and acknowledge when you are blocking yourself, let those negative thoughts go, and make space to invite the positives to flow in. This season…especially NOW…I choose to welcome winter, and keep my eyes (and heart) wide open for those GOOD THINGS in life that sometimes, almost miraculously, come into being.

Like the infinite patterns of snowflakes. Like our new baby grand-daughter who, while far away and awaiting our meeting in person hopefully one day soon, is growing and thriving. Like my colourful orchids that are budding and ready to bloom in the afternoon sun. Like my neighbour who surprised me with homemade cookies. Like my hubby who makes me coffee every day. Like my father’s spirit who whispers to me from beyond when I need a nudge. Like fitting in to an old pair of jeans. And like taking a breath freely and deeply each day.

A regular yoga practice is an opportunity to formally practice breathing with awareness and movement on the mat. Check out my YOGA VIDEOS BY ANNE for options for a daily practice. A regular meditation practice invites you to formally practice breath awareness while sitting in stillness. Join a meditation group, learn about pranayama practices, or check out my GUIDED MEDITATIONS and try one each day this winter.

But the real breath work is really more informal…when we choose to breathe deeply even in the mundane every day activities. I shovelled a little bit of light snow in the sunshine today and took a deep breath of cool air; a few days ago I shovelled a LOT of heavy snow in the pouring rain, and took a deep breath of cool air. I took my pink mask off in the car after the grocery store, and took a deep breath of cool air. I will not take this breath for granted…

Try this right now: Sit tall, roll your shoulders back once and lightly soften them, prepare to close your eyes, and then take 5 slow deep breaths…

Welcome to winter and I wish you all an uplifting happy, safe, and peaceful holiday season!

A Gift of Simply Being – FREE 21-day Meditation Practice Dec. 1 – 21, 2021

Hello Yoga Friends! I’m excited to share that this December, I will once again be part of a FREE online daily guided meditation program hosted by Marla Ericksen through Empower Me Yoga.

“A GIFT OF SIMPLY BEING” – 21-Day Meditation Practice

Show up and just BE…as you are. Marla, and a gracious group of seasoned local teachers, invite you to share in our gift of 21 days of morning meditation as the holiday season approaches. Join this FREE online event, Dec. 1 – 21, 2021 each morning from 8:00 am – 8:15 am as we guide you in, then sit together in silence. BE ALL IN for whatever the moment brings! We finish each meditation with a grounding gesture to seal the practice. ALL ARE WELCOME!

TO REGISTER:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/empowermeyogaott

Direct Booking: https://www.wellnessliving.com/rs/event/empowermeyoga?k_class=360262

For further booking info, please contact Marla at marla@empowermeyoga.com.

20-Breath Practice

Balance…that beautiful internal place where effort and surrender are in harmony. When you feel on your game, peaceful and content, satisfied and fulfilled, energized yet calm, alert and well-rested, body systems are working well, and breath flows with ease – all within the circumstances and current conditions you are in (even if they are chaotic, uncertain, weird). A feeling where you need no more and no less; sometimes a brief momentary feeling and sometimes a blissfully extended period of time. For many of us, we have been living so far away from balance on a regular basis that even though we recognize the imbalance, it is SO HARD to return to a state of harmony. We wait for something external to bring us there, or we blame the imbalance on the external, or we fail to acknowledge the very things we are doing to ourselves that bring us out of balance. Balance is not an end-state, nor is it a permanent state, but more a fluid dance of yin and yang from moment to moment. We can be off kilter for a bit then back in the centre, then off again, and back again. How do we stay closer to the centre and less off balance for longer?

Paying attention and noticing how you FEEL is the key to finding your own state of balance. Observing patterns and impulses and tendencies while being open and compassionate and kind to yourself. Before you can let GO you have to notice and let BE…gently. The mantra that has been in the forefront of my mind lately is “Hold it lightly” thanks to the book, “Emotional Agility” by Susan David. Sometimes we attach ourselves to those things that we desperately want to let go of… so if we acknowledge what we are holding on to, then willingly loosen the grip and hold it all lightly, maybe we create space for those unwanted things to seemingly just float away. And then the scales tip so balance can be restored. That’s what I am noticing…

Here is a short slow-flow standing practice I’ve been experimenting with and it really seems to help balance me. Maybe it will be helpful for you, too! It is simple and basic; moves the spine in all directions; helps to stretch the whole body; is gentle enough to do in the evening when you are winding down; you can make it more active to be an energizing morning routine; it encourages you to breathe and move in sync; and you could even modify it to be done from a chair. Try it for a week or more…and see what you think. Returning to balance is a lifetime practice and individual to each of us. Each time you return to YOUR centre, SMILE!

RINSE AND REPEAT

Well Yoga Friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve felt like writing or teaching or even rolling around on my yoga mat. Some days have been solely about breathing and BEING and feeling…oh God so much feeling. For many of us, it may have felt like our worlds have turned upside down and inside out over the last weeks, months, year, and perhaps continue to be challenging. Some things are so vivid in our short-term memory – happy memories from way back with a longing to return to “what we had”; or maybe haunting memories have resurfaced and now we have to deal with them or push them back down. Overthinking and underthinking and incorrect thinking. When is it OVER? But then again, is it really ever over? Keeping up with the ever-evolving, sometimes too fast or too slow pace of change has not been easy in this pandemic, for ANYONE.

Our stories may have different details, and the challenges vary from small, persistent daily stuff to really big scary experiences. What is common to all of us is that SHIT HAS HAPPENED and it is for certain that more shit will happen because that is the nature of life.

So what do you do when your life feels like it is soiled, messy, wrinkled, stepped on, etc.? How about going back to your life toolbox and pull out the practices that work: RINSE those toxins away in your heart/mind/body by finding a healthy way to get them out; move and breathe and feel and allow; acknowledge what IS by sitting with IT; accept that sadness, fear, loss, and anger are part of life as much as happiness, contentment, blessings, and calm; really ask yourself how you are contributing to your own misery and change it; reach out for a helping hand; slow down and clear your plate so you can HEAR your internal messages; get on your yoga mat and surrender (not resign); and so on and so on. Then REPEAT…over and over again.

Yoga is UNION…the uniting of opposites…the dance of clean and dirty. Relishing the yummy stuff, and navigating the yucky stuff without getting attached to either one. My current RINSE cycle includes lots of water and hydration, cleaning up my diet, moving every day, reaching out. And it is okay to go for a few days in the same yoga pants and stained hoodie and messy gone-grey hair because the rinse cycle will be REPEATED.

If you are willing to RINSE AND REPEAT with me on the yoga mat, I invite you to join my online yoga class called “MID-WEEK YOGA MIX” via ZOOM on Wednesdays, starting Oct. 20, 2021. This is an 8-week session from 7:30 – 8:30 pm with the intention of gently working out some kinks in the body and mind. We will breathe and move and meditate in different ways each week, and wind down the day together. COST for the 8-week session is $108 by e-transfer (non-refundable). Email me at yogaimby@gmail.com to register.

POSSIBILITIES

Today feels like a few steps forward instead of steps backwards. A plate of possibilities instead of impossibilities. Like many of us during the last year, I too have felt the overwhelm, the fear, the anxiety, and the stuck-ness. It has been messing with my head and my heart and my body, and to be accepting of that vulnerability is challenging when you think you have all the resources, the tools, the privilege, the freedom, the space…I should be able to figure it all out. Especially with YOGA.

Sometimes we need someone or something to point to the light. To be a flashlight for us when our own light dims. Turns out my own flashlight battery was quickly losing its charge and I was panicking. So I reached out for help and the therapeutic voice said, “Can you just be with THIS at the moment, without needing resolution? It’s okay, I’m right here with you, even if it’s hard.” Ummm…okay.

Oh, we all know that just being with THIS is not always easy. In fact, THIS can feel downright painful, scary, frustrating, maddening, isolating, sad. THIS is not where I want to be, or stay, or even think about. When does THIS end? How can I BE with THIS?

And in comes YOGA. “Sthira Sukham Asanam”…Hold THIS with STEADINESS and EASE. Breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow. What does THIS feel like? Stay with it…breathe through it…observe it…name it…let it pass. Of course…Isn’t that what we are reminded to do on our yoga mats?

In taking the steps backwards, I have been reminded of impermanence, acceptance, and letting go. In the steps back, I see how old patterns repeat themselves. In the steps back, self-compassion and forgiveness is necessary. And in the steps back, it sometimes feels like learning to walk again in order to take those steps forward towards the light.

With second vaccines and re-openings and loosening of restrictions there is the possibility of freedom that we have long awaited, but at the same time there may be hesitancy and apprehension. Some folks are raring to go while others are more tentative. Wherever you land on that spectrum, it’s okay…just keep practicing respect and courtesy and patience and a balance of steadiness (stand strong) and ease (surrender).

I will be continuing to recharge my internal battery over the summer and in to the fall, with travel, family, and my personal yoga practice. I might even share a surprise online class with you here and there! I hope to offer in-person classes again in the future when time/space/location and my own healing allows, maybe not in the way we “used to do it” but with new possibilities and potentials. To those of you who have walked with me this far, keep tagging along, because you never know what is possible next. Don’t forget my YOGA VIDEOS BY ANNE and GUIDED MEDITATIONS that you can access for free anytime.

I leave you with this short UPLIFTING MEDITATION…Happy Summer!

Spring Forward with Yoga

Oh how I am starting to feel like I am coming out of a hole. You, too? The confines of cold temps and lockdowns, short daylight hours and too much TV are mercifully giving way to warmer days, glimmers of light, glimmers of hope. Plus news of vaccines, potential re-opening of our cities, and some sense of freedom (even if still restricted), is so promising.

This winter has felt stranger than any before. But here we are, coming out of it, just like we do every year. Spring forward! In the last few months, for me some days have felt like I’ve been ice-picking my way methodically out of a crevasse only to slide back down. Deep crevasses in my body, heart, and mind. It’s like I just make it to the top to see the light but for whatever reason I fall back. I’ve discovered that it is not actually some THING or some ONE who is pushing me back down, even though my mind wants to go there to put the blame on external influences. It is more often than not actually my small self who is purposely falling back down, because it feels justified…protective…and easier to wallow in the pit than to muster up the energy to climb back out.

But as always for me, the wisdom of Yoga comes to the rescue once again. Yoga teaches us about the influence of the GUNAS (rajas, tamas, and sattva) – those primordial energies of the Universe that permeate all levels of nature. Check out this article for a good explanation of the gunas: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/health/yoga-philosophy-101-3-gunas/). Once you’ve recognized that you are stuck in a hole (energy of TAMAS), then in order to pull yourself out, you need to tap into the energy of RAJAS – action, motivation, enthusiasm. Not too much, not too little, but just the right amount to get you to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe that means opening your eyes first thing in the morning, pausing to take some deep breaths, and then repeating to yourself, “I am light, I am light, I am light”. Get up and get out by yourself (this is for YOU) – even if it’s just a short walk around the block. Breathe in the fresh air, feel yourself move, keep reminding yourself, “I am light, I am light, I am light” until you truly believe it and embody it. Returning to the energy of SATTVA – harmony and balance – all day long. This simple practice (affirm, get up, get out) seemed to have just the right amount of RAJAS to help me climb out of the hole, helped me find my mojo, and has kindled the creative spark once again. See my latest yoga video: ENERGIZING YOGA III – LIGHTEN UP!

Sattvic energy – the energy of harmony and balance WITHOUT reaction to disturbance – has to be cultivated regularly in order to be maintained. Yoga teaches of the need to fine-tune effort and surrender towards sattva so we don’t swing too far under the influence of rajasic or tamasic energy. It requires the balancing approach of Abhyasa, beautifully described by Chip Hartranft in his translation of The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali (Shambala Publications, 2003) as, “the subtle effort of returning and rereturning to relaxation and coalescence” (39). He goes on to explain that this not-too-much-not-too-little approach is a balancing act of effort and effortlessness that we can practice in all we do, but starts with stillness and internal awareness. He says:

Stillness is a reflection of our growing openness to the unpredictable unfolding of the world as it is, a freedom from the constant effort to bend things to our liking, to make them conform to our conditioned notions of good and bad“.

(Hartranft, 2003, 39)

So we balance effort (get up and get out) with surrender (sit quietly, quit the fidgeting and squirming, breathe and let be), observing the internal bits and bites that come up without reacting. You can practice sitting quietly in stillness after one of my MEDITATIONS observing and sensing the comings and goings of phenomena in the body and the mind. Hartranft explains:

Our growing familiarity with subtle internal experiences helps us recognize the ways our bodymind contracts in the presence of hurt, delay, desire, and other features of daily life. We begin to catch ourselves earlier in the process of tightening, viselike, around difficulty, disagreement, or frustration. We can then relax, noting how this embodies the intention to know the moment more clearly and openly. Nor is it ever wrong to do so, we begin to sense. Loosening the valves seems always to allow things to resolve and wisdom to enter. This imparts both the freedom to act and the freedom not to have to.

(Hartranft, 2003, 39-40)

Good advice once again from the wisdom of Yoga; getting out of the depths of my funk has been much easier with the valves loosened and my imaginary ice-pick effortlessly landing where it needed to go. Abhyasa! Practice makes perfect so let’s keep at it, both on and off the mat. May you spring forth with ease!

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