Next Steps

As we wind down the autumn season and prep ourselves for winter, we come into yet another transition time. This change of season is particularly special for many of us. I, for one, love the cooler temps, the cozy sweaters, the hearty soups, and spicy chai tea. The colours of nature and the fresh perspective brought about after putting my garden to bed. This time of year brings back memories of many annual fall retreats where, as a group, we bundled up and meditated early in the morning – beside a shoreline, in the trees, under a blanket, or on a warm cushion. Even our yoga practices on the mat are likely to change at this time of year – from the sweaty strong movements fueled by summer sunshine to the earthy low-lying sock-wearing restorative poses. A natural going inward rather than outward.

If the flow of energy is more inward at this time of year, like me, you might feel more hesitant to get back “out there”. Like nature, the draw inward may feel a bit stronger right now. And then others might be raring to go and in need of more stimulation. Nature also shows us that this is a drier, windy, airy time (VATA influence from Ayurveda) that can whip our minds and hearts around, sometimes in motivating ways and other times in challenging ways. Whatever you need, it is important to LISTEN to the wisdom of your own signals. Then you can take the appropriate next steps that are right for YOU.

My next offerings for Nov – Dec 2022 continue to be some in-person classes in Osgoode and some online classes. If you want to know more about them, send me an email at yogaimby@gmail.com with your request and I’ll share the details.

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.

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!

108 THINGS – A Daily Wholeness Practice

Kiwi Jasper Mala handmade by Soul Crafted Malas http://www.soulcraftedmalas.com/

Take a breath and step back to check in with yourself. How are you? Feel into your heart space and ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment to feel whole? What would fill me up?” Some days I desperately need a hug, a smile, a reassurance that things will be okay. Some days I NEED a chocolate chip cookie. And other days it feels like I don’t know what I need…But EVERY day, I know I need SOMETHING to ground me, nourish me, uplift me, and prepare me for what comes. And while it is nice to get the external things, often the some “thing” I really need seems to come from within rather than from outside.

The “things” that I need are often not describable in words. Maybe it’s a feeling or a sense or an understanding that I didn’t know I needed until it hit me. Often what we need doesn’t come from the thinking mind or from the external, but from the more subtle internal realms of insight, energy, knowing. And these subtle things have a way of showing up when we are quiet and calm, mindfully breathing, and opening up our hearts to receive these gifts instead of closing off or shutting down. Sometimes these “things” are not so subtle and are not so pleasant…and maybe they are downright painful. But to acknowledge and accept their existence, to process and deal and release them, means we skillfully make space to move forward. Move forward with more clarity, ease, and less discomfort.

Yoga is both a practice of “doing” and a process of “undoing” (effort and surrender). Some days we may arrive at our mats feeling scattered and fragmented, or we might arrive feeling overwhelmed, blocked and bunched up. Yoga offers a chance to dismantle unsupportive layers on physical, energetic, and mental levels by asking us to BREATHE, RELAX, FEEL, WATCH, and ALLOW… then guides us to put ourselves back together compassionately as we return to wholeness, fullness, unity. No wonder the word “yoga” means “union”.

And for those wonderful days when we arrive at our mats feeling light and happy and already full, our yoga practice only adds to that energy, allowing us to expand even more! The more we practice, the fuller we become.

After playing around with my 300 Things practice this summer, I felt not only the positive effects of physical exercise but the more subtle benefits that mindful movement and breathing can bring. I came up with a shorter version that I call the 108 Things (see my video below); a yoga practice I can do every day to fill me up. Try it for a week and see what you think; feel free to change it up, add or replace poses, or come up with your own “10 x 10 plus 8” different ways to mindfully breathe, move, and put yourself back together!

“THE 108 THINGS”

Do 10 exercises/poses/practices for 10 reps/breaths PLUS 8 slow mindful breaths in Savasana for a total of 108 things…all with awareness, attention, alignment, and safety for your own body.

Here is my routine; try to do it slowly and add whatever transition poses you like in between. Build in lots of pauses to feel the more subtle effects of breath, movement, and attention. Allow any negativity, unsupportive thoughts, or discomfort to drain away…wash away…unravel…then SMILE.

Warm up with Surya breath, a few twists, and neck rolls – whatever you like.

  1. Cat/cow (Marjariasana) x 10
  2. Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) x 10 Ujjayi breaths
  3. 1/2 Sun Salutations (Ardha Surya Namaskara) x 10
  4. “Chair” breathing x 10
  5. Balance pose (any pose holding 5 breaths each right and left sides)
  6. Strength pose (plank or any core-control pose) x 10 Ujjayi breaths
  7. Dynamic Locust pose (or any back extension exercise) x 10
  8. Child’s pose (Balasana) x 10 breaths (last three add Brahmari breath i.e. honey-bee breath)
  9. Legs Up the Wall pose (Viparita Karani) – x 10 belly breaths
  10. Spinal twist of your choice (5 breaths each right and left sides)
  11. Savasana with 8 soundless, slow breaths, then rest in stillness

Finish off with Dirgha Pranayama (3-part breath) and a short meditation, tapping in to your own sense of wholeness, completeness, and balance.

VEDIC PEACE MANTRA FOR WHOLENESS

OM purnamadah, purnamidam

Purnat purnam udachyate

Purnasya purnam adaya

Purnam evavashishyate.

OM Shantih, shantih, shantih.

OM. THAT IS COMPLETE/WHOLE/PERFECT.

THIS IS COMPLETE/WHOLE/PERFECT.

COMPLETENESS/WHOLENESS/PERFECTION ARISES FROM THE PERFECT.

TAKING THE WHOLENESS/PERFECTION FROM THE WHOLE/PERFECT,

IT REMAINS AS THE WHOLE/PERFECT ALONE.

OM PEACE, PEACE, PEACE.

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!

 

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