Workshops and Events

Yoga Teacher Training 200 hr

The second round of Yoga Teacher Training is happening this fall.

For the autumn, I’ve created a part-time evening and weekend program that will fit into your busy life. Here’s the deal:

You get an unlimited membership at Taiga Yoga (valid until December) to do your practice, and then three evenings per week, we meet as a group to discuss the history, philosophy and modern application of yoga. We’ll also practice teach, examine how to teach different populations and practice seva (community service) and kirtan (chanting).

Sept 30 – Dec 14, 2019

Mon/Thur/Fri 630-10pm

Saturdays 830-1130am

More information is here 

Autumn 2019 (2)

Yoga Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Therapy YTT Blog

Thoughts for Yoga Teachers – explaining yoga as therapy

The practice of yoga is therapeutic. Anyone who has practiced yoga will agree with this statement, but the idea of “yoga therapy” is contentious. In January 2016, the Yoga Alliance requested that any yoga school remove the terms “yoga therapy” and “yoga therapist” from their title. This instruction was a precaution against misleading the public 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. The therapeutic potential of yoga comes from its consistent practice. Yoga is a complete system for maintaining health and wellbeing, but it is not a prescriptive solution to specific ailments.

As a yoga teacher, you will receive a lot of inquiries about how to “cure” a variety of ailments, or “treat” a specific population. Some examples include depression/anxiety, back pain, pregnancy, injuries, asthma, arthritis, insomnia and obesity. Your role as a yoga professional is to guide students to treat themselves for whatever they are suffering from. Yoga is not a replacement for other medical care, but it is a useful tool in healthcare. Consistent yoga practice offers students autonomy and awareness in their own healthcare journey.

The difference between yoga and other types of healthcare is that yoga does not apply a reductionist style of therapy. It requires commitment from the student and it is not a quick solution. For example, consider the following statements:

“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.”

These statements are true, but they fail to capture health as a complete psychological and physiological system. Yoga affords a point of view that goes beyond the reductionist if/then approach to health. For example, the primary series of Ashtanga yoga is called yoga chikitsa. Translated, this means yoga therapy. The therapeutic application of Ashtanga is its systematic approach towards wellness rather than a prescription to cure/treat an ailment.

The therapeutic quality of the yoga is its attention to discipline, devotion and patience. Yoga chikitsa is intended to be practiced daily. Practitioners are to do each pose in sequence and follow the other suggestions for a well-rounded lifestyle.

First, you have to practice for a long period of time; second, your practice must not be interrupted—you must do it regularly; and third, you must do your practice with love and respect.
-Yoga Sutra 1.14

It is these qualities of the practice – discipline, devotion and patience – that students can apply to other therapeutic requirements.

How to teach therapeutic yoga

First, you must provide a nurturing and welcoming environment for every student that comes to your classes or even who asks you a question. Yoga is therapeutic in its consistent application. But suggesting this to a student who has recently been diagnosed with arthritis or asthma or depression and who is looking for a prescriptive “fix” may be counterproductive. Students who have recently been diagnosed with an ailment, particularly if they are new to yoga, will not initially be receptive to your suggestion that yoga must be practiced regularly and consistently. Incorporating a yoga practice into a healthcare regime is fundamentally different than taking a pill or getting surgery. Informing students that they must practice “forever” will be overwhelming. Furthermore, with insidious problems that require therapy such as obesity or back pain, students might be reluctant to embrace the lifestyle changes that are necessary to change their circumstances. So, it’s important to be compassionate and welcoming to each student, regardless of their previous yoga experience and regardless of their current expectations of the practice.

Next, be patient and creative in your approach. Encourage students as they develop a regular practice. Although it might be obvious to you how yoga is therapeutic for many ailments, the yogic approach of a mind-body connection might be foreign to new students. Assess each student by asking questions about their experience, their perception of yoga and what aspects of yoga make them feel better. Elaborate on this by making yoga appealing. For example, an injured athlete with a lot of energy may not stick with a seated meditation practice. She might find it boring and annoying. Propose to her instead that she try walking meditation. Instruct her to set a mantra before she walks and then to repeat the mantra during the walk. Just as yoga is an overarching solution for almost any ailment, there are infinite ways to incorporate yoga into a lifestyle.

Finally, even though yoga therapy is not a replacement for medical intervention, it is a valuable companion to medicine. As a yoga teacher, you have the time to discuss with students what is ailing them and together, you can evaluate lifestyle changes, such as work environment, leisure activities and emotional circumstances. Together, you and your student can determine an effective and useful application of yoga. Furthermore, by consulting with your student, and putting them in charge of their own health via yoga, you are giving them the autonomy to take charge of their personal wellbeing.

Yoga may not be a prescriptive tool to cure ailments, but it does provide a therapeutic elixir of which students have control over the dosage.

Skiing, Triathlon and Sports

Swim Training

Swimming is not my weakest event (running is), but I’m not the leader in the swim field either. My inability to win the swim is incongruent with my confidence and experience in long open-water swims. I swam a lot in high school. Most summers, I do twice-weekly 2000m lake swims. I just don’t seem to have the power or technique to keep up with the best swimmers in the triathlon pack. My intention over the next 90 days is to use crossfit to develop power and to use 6km of weekly swimming to make up the volume and drills necessary to improve swim technique. Here we go….

Offseason triathlon training is for strength building and swimming.

The strength will come from crossfit. (See blog post). The swim volume and technique will come from 6300m of swimming each week. Four-a-week for 90 days.

Cold and dark October is a great time to head indoors to the swimming pool. Training plan here.

Skiing, Triathlon and Sports

Chamonix: swim, run, ski

I’m recently home from a ten-day ski trip to Chamonix. Although the trip could be defined as an “active vacation,” I didn’t want the ten days to be a complete break from training. This wasn’t the first ski trip I’ve taken while training, and I have a few tried and true strategies:

  • find a hotel with a pool nearby
  • bring running shoes
  • skiing is an adequate replacement for biking if I do it hard enough

I’ve been to Chamonix several times before and I knew that a pass to the municipal sports facility would be included with my six-day ski pass. Swimming with the Chamoniards was hilarious in a chaotic and typically-french kind of way. By day, my ski companion and I would brave the chaos on the arrete at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, where crowds of old ladies, guided groups, professional skiers and proficient recreational skiers like myself all jostled each other to be first down the mountain face. In the evening, I braved the pool, where there were no lanes designated for slow, medium or fast swimmers and it was just as likely I’d be sharing the lane with a 90-year-old merrily breaststroking in a flowered swim cap or with a lean university-calibre athlete doing an elegant butterfly stroke for 45 minutes. The French are fundamentally socialist, believe wholeheartedly in equality and insist that everyone should have access to the same opportunities. Nowhere was this more obvious than at the swimming pool and on the mountainside. Everyone is welcome.

My running shoes were also put to good use on the trip. I was able to sneak out every morning for a jog along the trail beside the noisy river that flows through town (L’Arve). Ultimately my runs weren’t particularly training-oriented because I was usually laden down by the previous evening’s meal of cheese and wine…However, it was relaxing to move my legs and stretch my lungs first thing in the morning. Skiing in Chamonix can be somewhat stressful. Avalanches, crevasses and seracs notwithstanding, the first stress of every day is boarding the tram. Along with a free-for-all at the pool, the equal-opportunist French don’t believe in orderly lineups. Everyone is equally welcome to push to get on the tram every morning. On my first trip to Chamonix several years ago, the pushiness was met with some consternation on my part and I was constantly irritated. Not this time. My morning runs not only contributed to my ongoing training efforts, but also calmed my mood so that I could approach the lineups and the crowds with a chuckle and an appreciation of the French way.

Finally, the skiing. Skiing is a pretty leg-heavy sport so I decided that our long days spent skinning up the glaciers and skiing back down would constitute adequate bike time.


Workshops and Events

Upcoming workshop: Yoga for Athletes

On Tuesday, August 1 I’m teaching a brand new workshop: Yoga for Athletes. The workshop will:

  1. Explain and discuss different types of yoga poses so that athletes have a foundational understanding of safe alignment
  2. Examine and practice the meditative aspect of yoga so that athletes recognize the value of a quiet and introspective practice.

In this workshop, we’ll discuss how the physical practice of yoga will complement your sport. You’ll learn the difference between yin, restorative, power and flow classes. We’ll also go over some physical alignment cues so that you understand how common yoga poses are supposed to feel and so that you can safely practice yoga in any setting. By practicing yoga, you will develop awareness of your body, and start to notice how your muscles and joints move together to facilitate dynamic athletic movement. Your yoga practice is like self-induced physical therapy: you will learn how to take care of yourself so that you can prevent injury and develop strength and agility.

In addition to the physical part of the practice, we will examine and practice the meditative aspect of yoga. Many athletes ask me about yoga classes and a common misconception is that yoga is “just stretching,” and an activity that is done quickly after a vigorous workout. The second intention of this workshop is to illustrate how a regular yoga practice is a tool for the formidable mental challenges that athletes encounter. Athletes tend to be task-driven and motivated people. The physical part of training takes precedence because results and accomplishments are easy to gauge. But the mental commitment and determination to do what isn’t easy is half the battle.

I believe that the application of meditation and a quiet practice to a training schedule can help athletes focus on their goals and understand their reasons for sacrificing so much in the name of sport. Furthermore, the mental fortitude afforded by a yoga practice gives athletes the strength to continue with a gruelling training schedule. The practice of yoga provides an opportunity to check in with the self and see how the mind and body are coping with the daily demands of training. The clarity that emerges from the practice can reveal to the athlete what is needed to continue with the training to win the game, finish the race or push to a loftier goal.

My athletic background includes many individual sports. In 2015, I finished a half ironman and I’m currently training for a full ironman. I’ll be competing in Florida in November 2017. Yoga has always been part of my training regime, and the practice provides me with strength and agility in addition to the always-necessary mental fortitude to train daily for an athletic challenge.

I hope to see you at Taiga Yoga Studio for this Yoga for Athletes workshop.

Tuesday, August 1 at 630pm.

$55 + GST



Skiing, Triathlon and Sports

Getting Started

There is heaviness in my heart as I embark on training for a full-distance Ironman. I completed an Ironman 70.3 in Taiwan in November 2015, and have had intentions of pursuing the full distance ever since. The impetus for training for the half distance in the summer of 2015 was the great tragedy of losing my nine-year old toy poodle to a fatal attack by a friend’s husky. I managed the grief and sorry by immersing myself in swimming, biking and running. Now I find myself mired in another great tragedy and I will work my way through this one in the same way – just twice as far and twice as long.

Los Cabos Ironman, November 2017.

I found a 30-week training program and, conveniently, the Los Cabos Ironman is just under 30 weeks away. The first ten weeks of the program are pretty flexible and include two runs, two swims and two bikes each week. Each workout is suggested to start at 30 minutes, and gradually build up to 60 minutes each by the end of the ten weeks. Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, mourning my failure in a relationship and I realized that the time between now and November will go by, regardless of how I fill the time. I can certainly continue to sit here and look at old pictures and eat chocolate-covered liquorice, or I can get up and go for a 30 minute run. Either way, the sun will set and rise again tomorrow morning. So I chose the latter. I went for a 30 minute run in the rain. It was painful and I wanted to sit down on the sidewalk and cry, but I ran for the whole 30 minutes, got home, had a shower and then sat back down on the couch to finish the rest of the bag of chocolate-covered liquorice. But at least I went for that run. One step towards a goal.