Power Yoga Taiga Yoga Yoga

Yoga as Therapy?

Yoga as self-therapy: Tune out to check in.

Yoga as therapy has been contentious in recent years. In January 2016, the Yoga Alliance requested that any yoga school remove the terms “yoga therapy” and “yoga therapist” from their title. This suggestion was a precaution against misleading the public to think that yoga teachers are diagnosticians. The point was not that yoga isn’t therapeutic, but rather that yoga is not a strategy for diagnosing or curing ailments.

“If I go to yoga, I’ll be healthier.” While this statement is true, it’s not because yoga is a panacea or a prescription. Yoga is a therapy to help find physical and emotional well-being. The practice is a tool for noticing ailments, understanding strengths and having the resources to deal with challenges. By getting out of bed and on to your mat every morning, you are taking time to tune out from the world and check in with your physical and emotional self.

This regulation from the Yoga Alliance does not reduce the fact that yoga is therapeutic in nature. The point is that yoga does not represent the reductionist style of therapy that we tend to apply to ourselves. We apply reductionist theory to our habits: “If I meditate, then I’ll be calmer.” “If I don’t smoke, then I’ll be able to run faster.” “If I eat less, then I’ll be thinner.” While these statements are true, they fail to capture the notion that our health is comprised of a physiological and psychological system. Yoga affords another point of view beyond the reductionist “if/then” approach to improving health.

A healthy lifestyle is something that we all strive for.  Joy and happiness, fewer aches and pains, serenity, and a robust constitution. We know the basics of getting and staying healthy; we know that smoking is bad, eating fruit and vegetables is good, regular exercise is imperative and that it’s critical to keep stress at bay. But we often get mired in wishing to “better” our habits, “get” healthier and “change” something with the expectation of “improvement.” Paradoxically, this desire to improve and to “cure” ailments often creates stress. In opposition to this desire to improve, yoga is a strategy to observe what’s happening with your health. By doing a regular yoga practice, you are able to check in with your own physical and emotional self and understand your constitution from a point of view of acceptance rather than change.

Yoga provides a holistic view of the human body as a system. The practice itself is simple. Just you and your mat. Certainly there are techniques and strategies for poses and for practicing meditation, but the fundamental beauty of yoga is its simplicity. You can’t cheat your way through it. By stepping on to your mat and checking out of whatever else you were doing with your day, you are observing the subtleties of your mind and body and teaching yourself strategies for managing emotional and physical discomfort.

The therapeutic potential of yoga comes from its consistency. The yoga sutras decree that the formula for success in yoga is to “practice regularly over a long period of time.” The therapeutic practice is not a prescriptive solution to health but rather a strategy for understanding yourself and finding the right path towards health and well-being.

fall schedule Taiga Yoga Yoga

No More Zero Days: the 21-day Yoga Challenge

The Non-Zero Day

My friend recently wrote a very inspirational essay for reddit. He doesn’t know it, but I think about his comments every single day. The premise of his words? Do something, anything every day that is related to your goals. Do not let a single day go by where you do zero productive things. In other words, every day must me a non-zero day. Based on the popularity of the post, the volume of re-posts and the fact that you can google “nonzero day” and find his words, clearly the concept has resonated with a lot of people. It appears that many people suffer from zero days. I’m one of them. Less and less frequently as I age and mature, to be sure, but there were many days in my past where I did absolutely nothing. Nothing.

There have been many changes in my life that have led me to get up off the couch and do something every day, but no single activity or lifestyle choice has added more value to my days than yoga. Yoga is many things to me: a source of physical strength and flexibility, an emotional solace, a retreat from the world, a challenge, a passion. As a teacher of yoga, my goal is to share the value of a regular yoga practice with everyone who crosses my path. I know that there are infinite reasons to practice yoga and my emphasis is this: no matter what kind of yoga you’re doing, and no matter why you came to your mat, you’re doing it right. Yoga is the unity of breath and movement and that union can be fast and powerful or it can be slow and contemplative. Whether you practice for five minutes or for two hours, that time on your mat will be time well-spent and will meaningfully contribute to whatever physical, professional or personal goals you have. Yoga gives you an energetic physical boost and simultaneously offers a chance to clear your mind of clutter and make space for productive ideas.

Taiga Yoga is currently offering a 21-day yoga challenge. You come to yoga for 21 consecutive days between October 15 and November 4 and you will be entered to win a one-month unlimited yoga pass. Beyond the prize though, Taiga’s goal is to help you establish or solidify your own habitual behavioral patterns. In other words, by stepping on to your mat every day, you are creating a good habit which will have positive ramifications on all aspects of your life. As in, no more zero days.

Try it. Taiga has a wide range of classes to accommodate your schedule and physical ability.

As always, I can’t wait to practice yoga with you.

Here’s a link to the original article on Reddit. The article is raw and unedited, but is heavy-hitting and affecting. Read it.

Here’s a link to Taiga Yoga’s website, including an up-to-date schedule and information on the 21-day yoga challenge.

fall schedule Taiga Yoga

Stay healthy this autumn!

As we approach the Autumn equinox (Tuesday, September 23), staying healthy through the Fall season must be made a priority. Everyone has a busy schedule and the setback from getting sick can be frustrating and inconvenient.

We all have busy schedules and important commitments and we know that if we get sick, the responsible choice is to stay home until we are no longer coughing and sneezing. But it feels impossible to rearrange our daily schedules to accommodate illness. So how about taking a proactive approach this fall to avoid getting sick at all!

  • Curtail alcohol. Summer BBQs are finished for the year and indulging in beers at the lake is no longer a constant temptation. Overconsumption of alcohol interrupts sleep patterns and is dehydrating, two elements that will reduce immunity. Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day.
  • Get enough sleep. Figure out how much sleep you need by allowing 8-9 hours for sleep for a week. Go to bed without setting an alarm, and take note of how many hours you sleep before waking. Do this for seven days, and then aim to get those many hours every night: weeknight or weekend.
  • Get some fresh air. Go for a brisk walk at lunchtime of after dinner. Breathing in fresh air and seeing colours change from green to orange is invigorating and nurturing. If it’s cold out, layer up! If it’s really cold out, add even more layers. Wear wool socks. Put on a hat. Wear whatever you need to be feel cozy outdoors and get out there every day.
  • Meditate. Just do it. It is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. Stress compromises immunity. You don’t need a fancy pillow or special area to go. Just sit somewhere, close your eyes and breathe. Set a timer. Start with five minutes a day. Do this instead of logging on to Facebook.
  • Exercise. Go to the swimming pool: it’s warm and bright there. Play squash: it’s hilarious to run around in a little box with weird glasses on and smash a ball as hard as you can. Practice yoga! Try Zumba: learn some dance moves so you can impress your friends this winter.
  • Eat vegetables with every meal. Sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas are all coming into season now and can all be roasted, or pureed into soups. Make a big pot of soup on the weekend and eat the leftovers for weekday lunches.

Finally, do not overextend yourself. Create manageable goals and refrain from overloading your schedule with infinite activities. Make time every week for quiet time with your family, when nobody has anywhere they need to be and everyone can sit, relax and enjoy each other’s company.

For more information, read this article from Harvard University Health Centre. There is a lot of practical information here:

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Power Yoga Taiga Yoga Yoga

Concentrate on Arm Balances

Power yoga is intended to leave you feeling invigorated, confident and strong.  Wherever you’ve come from or whatever you’ve been doing, spending an hour on your mat will bring your focus to the present moment.

Dharana is a state of concentration. It is the sixth of eight limbs of ashtanga yoga and means “hold steady,” “single focus” or “concentration.” It is a state of mind, and in terms of productivity in your life off the mat, it sounds like a good place to be! To be able to focus and concentrate on a specific task for a period of time will certainly help you achieve your personal and professional goals. The trouble is, there are so many distractions afoot that concentrating on a task can be more challenging than the task itself.

Enter Power Yoga.

Power yoga, while not offering a life-changing prophecy, does create a time (about an hour) where your focus will be entirely on the practice of yoga. Whether you consciously decide to focus on the moment or not, it is unlikely that your mind will be able to focus on much other than the task at hand when that task is a handstand, or an arm balance, or an upside down dog.

Power yoga might not change your life. But then again, it just might. And that change may be in the most unexpected way. Whatever your reason for stepping on to your mat, I aim to help you step off your mat feeling strong, focused and prepared to tackle the next challenge. By leading you though a challenging sequence of poses, I hope to create a yoga practice where your focus is on the present moment. I hope that you can bring that focus with you off the mat to cultivate productivity.

This week, we’re practicing astravakasana (eight-angle pose). We’ll progress to this arm balance with a flowing warmup and a series of poses designed to lengthen the psoas (outer hip), stretch the shoulders and strengthen the core. Eight-angle pose provides a chance for everyone to have a laugh and to challenge themselves to balance on their hands. Not everyone will be able to fly into the pose, but everyone’s concentration will be completely on the act of attempting the pose and that dharana, that steady focus, is the place where I hope everyone will end up.

Join me for Power Yoga on Monday/Wednesday at 7pm and Tuesday at noon at Taiga Yoga Studio. We will let go of distractions, concentrate completely on the tasks at hand, and maybe fly into new poses.

Kate Covello teaches power yoga inspired by the Baptiste Journey Into Power sequence. Her current goal is to focus on tasks at work for 30 minutes at a time, and refrain from getting distracted by social media! She also plans to hold a handstand for ten breaths in the very near future.

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What is Power Yoga?

What is Power Yoga? The term power yoga can be found on many yoga schedules and there is some confusion on the meaning of the term. Power yoga is designed to make you strong. You will likely sweat during the practice and there will probably be some core-strengthening poses. Some teachers will follow a set series of poses in each class, while other teachers will create different sequences every day.

Power Yoga is aimed at individuals who don’t want a lot of chanting and meditation in their yoga practice. The time on the mat will be focused on strengthening, balancing and sweating. The sequencing will be challenging, but will be adaptable to every student. Baron Baptiste describes his sequencing as a blueprint for an invigorating vinyasa yoga practice and says that his brand of power yoga is adaptable for all body types, ages and fitness levels.

Most power yoga sequences are based on Ashtanga yoga, but will likely flow faster than a traditional Ashtanga practice. Where Ashtanga encourages practioners to hold each pose for five breaths, power yoga sequences will likely hold each pose for far fewer breaths, sometimes moving fluidly throughout the entire practice, cultivating one breath per movement and not pausing in any pose.

What to expect from my Power Classes:

• Flowing sequences. We will start slowly, taking the time integrate breath with movement, but expect to flow between poses. All of my sequences offer a logical progression from the floor to standing and back again.
• Sweaty yogis. Sweating is encouraged. If you tend to perspire a lot, you may find it beneficial to bring a small towel to class. The towel can be used under your hands so you have a firm base in downdog or to dry your arms and legs so you don’t slip out of side crow. Be sure to hydrate before arriving on your mat.

• Some core-strengthening. There will be 100 core-strengthening poses strategically placed throughout the practice. They might be extremely challenging or relatively simple to you, but we’re a team and we’re going to do all 100 of them together.

• Handstands. Try one or try 50. Handstands are a fun inversion and are challenging and will make you laugh. My current goal is to hold a handstand for ten breaths! I’m not there yet, and I’m having a great time building up the strength and confidence to get there. In each class, I will offer tricks to help you practice your handstand.

• Accessible language. I will offer clear instruction on where to place your hands and feet in each pose. That being said, if you’re ever unclear on the alignment in a pose, ask! Shout it out! Someone else in the room probably has the exact same question.

• A friendly vibe. I encourage everyone to join me on the mat for Power Yoga. I don’t care if you’ve never tried yoga before or if you’ve been teaching at an Ashram for the past 20 years: you’re all welcome. In the 60-90 minutes that we practice together, we are a team and we will be learning, progressing and having fun together. A note to the newbies: every single person in the room was new to yoga at some point, and we all know what it feels like to not have a clue what is happening. If you’re new, you will probably fall over a few times and there will definitely be poses that are unavailable to you, but I can assure you that nobody is criticizing or judging you!

Join me on your mat at lunchtime on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm and Tuesdays at Noon at Taiga Yoga in Yellowknife. Whatever your reason for wanting to practice yoga, I can’t wait to share my practice with you!