Kundalini and the Gong with Hari Singh Khalsa

Saturday October 5th 1:30 – 4:00pm
Feel Good Yoga and Pilates Studio
2745 Veterans Memorial Pkwy #127 Langford, BC

The sound of the gong creates deep relaxation, releasing us from the torrent of thoughts our mind releases. It stimulates the glandular system to a higher level of functioning.

Emotional transformation can occur during gong meditation exercises. The gong impacts the body and its meridians. It releases blocks, reduces tension and stimulates circulation. The result is a reorganization of the emotional energy and feelings that are tied into the body structure.

The workshops will be led by Hari Singh Khalsa. Hari Singh is the manager and much-loved Head Teacher of Yoga West Vancouver. One of Yogi Bhajan’s original students, he has been practicing and spreading the teachings of KUNDALINI YOGA for 40 years. He is committed to sharing the essence of the teachings of YOGI BHAJAN to help each person live a HAPPY, HEALTHY, HOLY life.

Gong Feel Good_webSML


10 Tips for the Beginner to Yoga

Having fun doing yoga

People having fun practicing yoga together at Feel Good Yoga and Pilates

So you have decided to start practicing yoga!? Way to go! Believe it or not, yoga is going to change your life and make you a better person. Here are 10 tips that I hope will make your beginner yoga experience more enjoyable:

1) Be Patient! When feeling impatient, I always think of these wise words by Hugh Prather: “The paradox of progress is that I grow each time I realize I can only be where I am.”

2) Try choosing a level 1 or gentle therapeutic class to begin with. Be in this moment and enjoy the practice you have now. Yoga takes time and commitment. The more you put into your practice the more you get out of it. Enjoy your ability to move and be inspired by the amazing capabilities of your own body.

3) Find a class that strikes your heart strings. There are as many different styles of yoga as there people or moods. Take a moment to explore the different styles of yoga by asking your friends, by reading and researching. Are you looking to cultivate energy? Try vinyasa flow! Are you in need of some relaxation? Maybe gentle therapeutic yoga or hatha flow is what you need. What does your body and mind crave? Learn as much as you can about the teacher and the teaching style of any class before you participate. If your first class isn’t everything you dreamed it would be, try another! Be aware that all yoga teachers teach differently. Find out which type of yoga works best for you.

4) Go in early and meet the teacher. Inform them of any concerns you may have. Get to know their favorite color! Tell them yours?

5) Your body is unique and gorgeous! The length and shape of your bones, where and how your muscles attach and the absolute range of motion in your joints are factors that no amount of yoga will ever be able to change. As you move into the yoga poses, don’t try to look like anyone else in the room. This is your body and your yoga! Embrace your uniqueness! Bodies are built differently, and everyone should look different. There is no perfect pose.

6) Be positive, engaged and playful! Adopt the mind of a child! Explore those places that seem a little shaky with an open heart.

7) Practice effortless effort! With your breath is not easy and relaxed then you are trying too hard. Practice your yoga with no other motive than the pleasure of doing it. The effort is there and yet it is effortless. This effort should never transform into tension. Move into your Asanas with loving awareness. Instead of straining into a stretch, try breathing into it with intention. Witness your body transform with this loving awareness. Strain and tension will never accomplish anything in the practice of yoga.

8) Spend a few moments before you start; tune into your body-mind-emotional state. What’s going on with your body, thoughts, and emotions in this moment? Every day will be different. Let your state of being guide what version of a pose you take, what style of yoga you practice, and how much physical energy you expend.

9) Come to class well hydrated. Avoid eating heavy meals right before you do yoga. A green drink from the health food store, fruit or yogurt are all good choices and easily digestible. If you do you do have a meal, weight 3 hours before practicing yoga. Get to know how your body works! Experiment with what foods are sustaining for you through-out your class.

10) Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Practicing yoga in clothes that are too tight or getting in the way will create a feeling of disconnect during your practice. Dress so you can make yourself feel at home.

Here are some final words for all the brave, wise souls out there about to take their first yoga class… Yoga helps us to SEE and FEEL where we are at right now. When we flow with our breath through the different Asanas we experience our truths. So before stepping on to that mat, start with accepting what is. We can ONLY be where we are right now, right? And thank goodness for that! Enjoy what you have… breathe and move.

Consider this — what is the purpose of your practice? What are you preparing for? All we have is the here and now. Be present in the immediate feelings of this moment. Enjoy what you have, move your body and just revel in it. Move because you can!

By Marie Whimbley


Practicing Yoga in Victoria

Practicing Yoga in Victoria

Practicing Yoga in Victoria

Revolved chair – Parivritta Utkatasana

Pelle and I recently took this picture while hiking around Victoria BC. We stopped to do some yoga together on a little hilltop overlooking Thetis Lake.
Revolved chair pose has many benefits. Like chair pose, it strengthens the legs and core. Twisting from the waist assists in toning the internal organs, releasing tension from the spine and squeezing toxins out of the internal organs. It gets the heart pumping faster and the blood circulating throughout the body.

Revolved chair pose can be done at any time throughout your practice, but it can be particularly great towards the beginning as a means to warm up for the rest of your practice.You can turn chair pose into a vinyasa by bending and straightening the knees or lifting and lowering the arms. For an added challenge to your leg muscles, try coming to the balls of feet. A more modified version is to keep the arms parallel to the ground, but for more of a challenge Hold arms overhead in line with your torso. You can have the feet and knees together or 6 inches apart. Another variation is to have the feet parallel, 3 inches apart and the knees together.

It is advisable to use the support of a wall behind your seat if you suffer from knee or lower back pain. Avoid practicing with the whole back against the wall in this version of the pose. Hinge from the hip crease and have your seat as the only point of contact.

After practicing for a time against the wall, you may find you have built enough strength to practice away from the wall.

To learn more about chair pose, its therapeutic benefits, the other yoga asanas, yoga philosophy as well as pranayama and meditation, join us for our Yoga Alliance Registered Instructor Program in Victoria, BC.

By Laura Phelps
BA MA ERYT500 Senior Yoga Teacher – YogaBC
Director of Yoga and Pilates Teacher Training Programs
PMA Certified Pilates Teacher and Yoga Therapist (IAYT member)
BCRPA Trainer of Yoga & Pilates Teachers
Feel Good Yoga & Pilates, RYS500, PMA registered school
127-2745 Veterans Memorial Parkway | Victoria, BC V9B 0H4
Phone: (250) 474-6935
www.FeelGoodYogaVictoria.com

You Deserve to Feel Good!


Top 5 reasons many choose not to do yoga teacher training

Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training VIctoria BC

Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training Victoria BC

It is a common though unrealized dream for many people to become a yoga teacher. Many people who are almost ready to take the leap then start thinking of reasons why they should not. In my experience, we are often experts at getting in the way of our own success. Success only comes when we follow our dreams and passions.

Today, I would like to talk about 5 common reasons promising yoga instructors decide not to pursue their dreams of becoming a yoga instructor:

1. “Other yoga teachers can perform more advanced yoga postures than I can.”

Unlike dance or figure skating, yoga is all about how you feel on the inside. If a pose feels good on the inside, that is really all that matters. It may be true that being a little more flexible than average can be helpful in teaching some of the more physically advanced types of yoga. However, having an average degree of flexibility can also be an advantage because it gives a teacher insight into the options and modifications that might be necessary for the average student.

The best Yoga teachers realize that their yoga class is about the needs of the students. It is not about demonstrating their own physical prowess. A good yoga teacher looks around the room and notices who needs a modified version and who needs a more advanced version. These observant, sensitive teachers may struggle a little bit with their own asana practice. But a teacher who struggles with an advanced pose may still have the ability to explain in detail how to master a difficult posture. Even if they don’t, the average yoga student cannot do advanced yoga poses without hurting themselves anyways, regardless of how good the instruction is. Unusually flexible teachers often have a difficult time imagining what it is like to be in an ordinary person’s body. Being unusually flexible also makes it difficult to perceive how the skeletal body works.

2. “People want a young yoga teacher. I am not young enough to teach Yoga anymore.”

The ability to teach is timeless. Older teachers are great role models for older and younger students. There are a multitude of styles of yoga that are well-suited to people of all ages. Restorative, gentle therapeutic and even a standard hatha or hatha flow class is often well within the physical capability of older students and teachers.

People are living longer and are looking for ways to exercise that will preserve healthy joints and improve the quality of their lives. Yoga is the perfect solution. With baby boomers looking for a mindful, safety conscious way to exercise, there is a strong need for gentle, mature, compassionate instructors. Many health care practitioners, physiotherapists and chiropractors are teaming up with yoga instructors to create more of a holistic form of therapy.

3. “Taking a yoga teacher training course costs too much money.”

It is true that many yoga teacher training programs are expensive. However, I would encourage people who are interested in teaching yoga to take the time to shop around for the best course at the best possible price. There are many yoga teacher training programs with excellent manuals, experienced faculty and an interactive program that will not break the bank. If your funds are limited, look for a program that offers a payment plan. If you have special skills that might be useful to the studio, inquire about the possibility of trading work for full or partial tuition. Yoga studios are often at least partly run by volunteers and are often in need of people with special skills in areas such as photography, marketing, communications etc.

4. “My goal is to immerse myself in yoga philosophy. I don’t want to teach classes for money or to start a yoga business.”

Many people who decide to participate in a yoga teacher training program are more interested in deepening their practice than starting a yoga business. This is perfectly fine. Yoga Instructor Programs are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the teachings of yoga. Interestingly, many teacher trainees who enter into a teacher training program with no intention to teach often change their mind, but there is no specific need to commit yourself to a career as a yoga teacher at the outset.

Graduates of a YTT program often start teaching yoga as a hobby to a few friends or at the studio teaching Karma classes. As their database starts to broaden and they gain confidence as an instructor, most yoga teachers start to charge for their expertise.

5. “I am afraid that I will not make enough money teaching Yoga to support myself”

Depending on their financial situation, most new yoga teachers start teaching yoga part time. By taking the right steps, yoga teachers can start teaching on a part-time basis and slowly build up to full-time work. Like any small, start-up business, it takes time to earn enough money to fully support yourself and your family. There are currently all sorts of excellent courses you can take that will help you build your business as a Yoga Teacher.

According to Yoga Journal, the latest “Yoga in America” study shows an increase of almost 30 percent since 2008. These statistics would indicate that effective teaching practices balanced with sound business practices should make teaching yoga a viable career alternative. The yoga industry is still on the upswing. Who knows where this upswing will take you?

There is absolutely no reason why any of us should not make the effort to realize our dreams. We should always strive to be the best that we can be. It is of course easy to think of all the reasons that you cannot succeed at your dream of becoming a Yoga Teacher. However, the main reason that anyone succeeds at anything is due to passion and commitment. If you are passionate about becoming a yoga teacher and choose a yoga teacher training program carefully then there is every reason in the world that you should be successful.

By Laura Phelps

BA MA ERYT500 Senior Yoga Teacher – YogaBC
Director of Yoga and Pilates Teacher Training Programs
PMA Certified Pilates Teacher and Yoga Therapist (IAYT member)
BCRPA Trainer of Yoga & Pilates Teachers
Feel Good Yoga & Pilates, RYS500, PMA registered school
127-2745 Veterans Memorial Parkway | Victoria, BC V9B 0H4
Phone: (250) 474-6935
www.FeelGoodYogaVictoria.com

You Deserve to Feel Good!


My path to teaching yoga — learning from my vikshepas

The wikepedia definition of vikshepa is as follows:

“A Buddhist term that is translated as “distraction”, “mental wandering”, etc. In the Mahayana tradition, vikṣhepa is defined as the mental motion or wandering towards an object which causes the inability to remain one-pointedly on a virtuous objective.”

When in high school, I thought that I was better than the system; I thought that I was too good to be there, and that I didn’t need anyone to push me forward or lift me up if I had fallen. I had a massive, gigantic, inflated ego, and nothing was going to pop it.

I lost a lot of friends, at first, to drugs. My first half year was extremely difficult – Right out of middle school and into this new place where there are parties and drinking and older kids that were just the coolest humans on earth – I was in with the wrong crowd.. Or more so, my crowd turned into the wrong crowd.

I didn’t know this then, but I came across vyadhi (disease) inside of my friends.. They were sick with addiction to always want more; more out of life, more fear, more drugs, more alcohol.. But I didn’t want to walk away from the people that I loved. I held onto those people the only way I knew how to at the time, by finding a mutual interest and throwing myself into it. I chose marijuana as a way to connect.

Smoking as much as I did, I no longer attended school. I would walk to school in the morning, miss my first class to smoke. Miss my second class to smoke, and then the third, and then the fourth.. My parents would get an e-mail from the school every day and I would blame it on a faulty and out-dated system, or a teacher that didn’t see me walk in or see me at the back of my class – I was a liar, I was lazy, my attitude was out of this world and I didn’t care about anyone or anything but myself.

My introduction to alasya (idleness), styana (mental laziness), and pramada (carlessness).

Schoolwork no longer mattered, my family no longer mattered, and I lost the few good friends that I did have when I chose to home-school. This “carelessness”, in my mind, was the supreme cool. Even as I home-schooled, and tried to make that work, I not only alienated myself from my social surroundings and people I once cared about, but I got a full year behind in classes.

My introduction to anavasthitatva (instability); I was slipping.

Eventually I chose to go back to high-school, which ended up being the best decision I had ever made (at that time in my life), although I no longer saw my “friends”, I made new ones. Although I was behind in my classes, I made up that time. Although I had alienated myself from my family, I rekindled a good relationship with my brothers and my parents, and spend more time with them.

I partied a lot in high-school, and found myself a lot sooner than most of the people around me. I turned nineteen and didn’t go to a club, when I’m offered with pot, I decline politely. My choices in the past have made me who I am today and I am thankful that I was out of control – I am thankful that all those experiences and choices led me to yoga as a form of healing. My love of yoga as a practice led me to the  Yoga Certification program at Feel Good and to the decision to teach yoga as a career. Though it was a hard road to get to this point, my stressful experiences, bad choices and experiences are what led me to these good choices and experiences.

In other words, thanks to everything yoga has given me, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

By Ashley Drew

Yoga Teacher 2013

Happy Yoga Teacher Training Graduates in Langford 2013


Universal energy

Yoga brings people togetherPrana, Qi, Shakti — what do these qualities or phenomenon have to do with yoga practice? Prana is the life force of the Universe. In yoga our Prana is best expressed through our breath. We breathe in life to our bodies through air. By developing an awareness of our breath we can direct the life force into areas of our lives that we feel need attention. The beautiful thing is when we are in tune with the breath and absorb this Prana into our lives and soul, we direct it back out tenfold to the world, both during yoga practice and throughout the day.

Qi, a traditional Chinese Medicine principle that translates into “life energy”, is the belief that all living things are sustained by energy. The word Qi directly translates to “breath”, “air”, or “gas”. When we examine a living being in the environment it is believed that we can observe the Qi surrounding it. A tree in the forest may be observed as having a swirling of energy that can be seen as tiny sparkles of light emanating from it. This is said to be Qi. In the practice of Chinese Medicine it is believed that the body’s systems are interconnected to give life. Manipulation and direction of Qi along the meridians through such techniques as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, exercise, diet, and herbal medicine can help the body function optimally.

Prana and Qi are energies from the sun that we can breathe in and direct. Shakti is another principle in yoga that relates to universal energy. This energy is feminine in nature with its counterpart being Shiva, masculine energy. These energies are complementary, rather than opposite. During creation the two dance together in harmony. Without Shiva, Shakti is a sleeping energy that cannot be cultivated. Without Shakti [power, energy, nature, and change], Shiva is ignorant, disordered, and blind. Through the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation we can cultivate Shakti and raise this energy from our Muladhara chakra to connect with Shiva in our Sahasrara chakra, resulting in absolute enlightenment.

In yoga these cosmic energies are often portrayed as gods and goddesses through story. I sometimes find yogic philosophy and theory overwhelming. In today’s fast paced, Western society taking the time to slow down, process universal creation and the energy systems in play can be difficult. It is through stories and guided meditation that we are offered glimpses into the greater universal energies and may be able to find a way to relate these energies to our daily lives. I believe that for the Eastern world these stories have been passed from generation to generation much like fairy tales. The gods and goddesses of yoga give a face to cosmic energies, making it easier for us to be aware of them and channel whatever we might need at any given time.

In my own practice, the myths, meditations, and stories of the gods and goddesses of yoga have given me an intriguing introduction to the greater concept of universal energy. They have also given me an additional reason to practice unconditional love and acceptance for all aspects of myself. Of all yoga’s many benefits, what could be more important than that?

By Kate Pettinger

Graduate from the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program 2013


Laughter Yoga

laughter yogaLaughter can be stimulated as easily as making eye contact with someone; a friend, a family member, when you’re in a nasty situation or an absolutely ridiculous thing happens and you just cannot stop giggling.

There have been accounts of people being nursed miraculously back to health from merely laughing, because of the effect it has on the oxygen in your blood stream. Laughter Yoga is a real thing – there are people around the world who gather in groups and sit in a circle to mediate on each others laughter! Crazy concept? Maybe, but sometimes people need a little extra happiness in their lives.

These yoga sessions start with warm-ups such as stretching, chanting, and body movement to get everyone comfortable with each other and to lose all inhibitions. The session itself consists of childlike playfulness, which leads to the laughter in a group setting. They end with an unstructured meditation on laughter where the people in the group can sit or lay down and let the laughter flow through them! This release can cause a joyfulness that lasts for hours, or days.

I think that laughter is an integral part of our daily lives – Or it should be, if it is not already. It is like the smiling effect – where you walk down the street and smile at a complete stranger, then they smile at the next person who walks by them, and the next, and the next – it’s contagious. Even if you are not in a great mood at the beginning of your day, you could fake a smile or a laugh and implement it on somebody else, who then makes you smile or laugh for real.

There is a YouTube video up (laughter on the subway) where a woman is looking at her phone on a subway train and starts to laugh, the woman across from her, then starts to laugh at her laughing and cannot stop. In the background you can see the seated people start to smile and trying not to laugh, and finally everyone on the subway car bursts out in laughter. It becomes so contagious that the people who are only just getting on the train start to laugh, for what seems like absolutely no reason at all.

Watching this video with a coworker of mine, I start to laugh hysterically – Then he starts to laugh at me laughing. Then I think “How many people have done what we have just done and watched the video, then started laughing?”. The video has over three hundred thousand views. So how many people have laughed, just watching this one woman laugh on a subway train?

Being happy is so important for our mentality that I think meditating on our own laughter is a great way to boost our confidence, self-esteem, and our morale. When we are happy, we feel a sense of lightness, and what we don’t realize is that our mood can easily affect others – Happiness is one hundred percent contagious and should be practiced just as yoga is practiced – as much as your psyche allows.

Laughter Yoga is becoming increasingly popular and has occasionally been offered as a guest instructor lead class in the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program Victoria BC.

By Ashley Drew

Ashly Drew certified as a yoga teacher from the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program in 2013. 

Feel Good is located in Langford – a 20 minute drive from the downtown core of Victoria. 


Yoga for Menopause

Yoga for Hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalance can be the result of many different physiological processes. The Endocrine system and more specifically the Hypothalamus (a small structure at the base of the brain) is responsible for the regulation of many bodily functions including appetite and temperature as well as womens’ menstrual cycles. The Hypothalamus signals the Pituitary Gland to produce hormones. During Peri-menopause, our ovaries start producing less estrogen and this triggers the imbalance –almost like a tug-of-war. Hormones are very powerful and affect just about every tissue in the body.

MeditationEstablishing a regular yoga practice can make a huge difference to women and if this practice can be established well before the onset of peri-menopause and then menopause, it can ease the transition enormously. This will allow women to be familiar ahead of time with all the postures that are especially useful for coping with those uncomfortable symptoms of hormonal imbalance. These supported and restorative poses then become the best “menopause medicine”.

Props play a big part in yoga for menopause and peri-menopause. Blocks, bolsters and blankets help to support the body in the restorative poses. As we begin the journey of menopause we should have our props close by – like an old friend – to assist us with the postures that we know will help with all the symptoms and use these props in our homes whenever we need to.

There are a number of common symptoms which can become debilitating and my research has shown that there are corresponding yoga poses that help to alleviate much of these symptoms.

Yoga for Anxiety, Irritability and Insomnia

These are caused by fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels. Our adrenal glands get exhausted and overworked resulting in intense irritability. This in turn, can cause stress creating a vicious cycle of overstimulation of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Recommended Postures:

Uttanasana (Standing forward bend) & Prasarita Padottanasana (Separate Leg forward fold)

These should be done with the head resting on a bolster or blanket.

  • Helps to reduce anxiety and mental tension
  • Helps to shut out external distractions especially if eyes are closed
  • Soothes the mind and reduces the effects of stress
  • Nervous system gets a signal that all is well.

Yoga for Malaise and Tiredness

Plunging progesterone is normally the cause of this in peri-menopause. Often associated with some depression and lethargy which can continue for weeks and sometimes months. This can also be caused by depleted adrenal glands. This is all part and parcel of the menopausal process for most women.

Recommended Postures:

Supported gentle backbends which are deeply restorative e.g. Supta Badha Konasana (reclining cobbler pose)

  • Encourages chest and heart to open, creating a sense of lightness and courage
  • Renews energy, determination and joy
  • Instills feeling of safety and nourishment
  • Lifts the spirits.

Yoga for Hot Flashes

80% of women experience these. The theory is that the Hypothalamus plays a very important role but there is also evidence that stress, fatigue and over exercising can exacerbate hot flashes. Cooling, restorative poses are suggested, using props: bolsters, chairs, blankets and blocks help support the body preventing tension and gripping which can make hot flashes worse.

Recommended Postures:

Supta badha Konasana (reclining cobbler pose) & Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose)

  • Helps promote complete relaxation
  • Allows abdomen to soften and releases any tightness in the chest
  • Calms the brain and relaxes the mind

Ardha Halasana (half plough pose with legs resting on a chair)

  • Helps calm jittery nerves which often results after a bout of hot flashes.

Yoga for Menopausal Depression, Mood Swings and Memory Loss

Menopause can be a profoundly difficult time for some women. It often signifies the end of their youth and the end of their child bearing years. This coupled with associated fatigue and insomnia can result in depression or at the very least, mood swings.

Recommended Postures:
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose) & Viparita Karani (Supported legs up the wall)

  • Allows a sense of lightness into the body
  • Stimulates the adrenals and massages them into action
  • Heart and lungs open to more oxygen
  • Chest expanding poses lead to increased circulation and respiration which can counter feelings of depression.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (supported) (supported downward facing dog). This is specifically helpful with loss of train of thought and a general fuzziness around memory:

  • Sends blood to the brain
  • Encourages deep, focused breathing which improves mental alertness.

Yoga for Menopausal Related Swollen Legs and Varicose Veins

This is something that can accompany menopause, especially if your work involves a lot of standing.

Recommended Posture:

Viparita Karani (Supported legs up the wall)

This posture is wonderful to those who are new to yoga. And the benefits are felt almost immediately:

  • Replenishes adrenal reserves
  • Reduces swelling
  • Using a bolster helps to open your heart and chest with all the associated benefits.

And then of course, Savasana soothes the nerves, calms the mind and puts the body into repose.

If we begin yoga well before or even at or during menopause we learn that there is a clear connection between the physical body and the mind. We learn that yoga not only assists with the physical symptoms. The practice of yoga reaches far deeper than this and with regular practice it infuses our lives with a sense of balance leading to acceptance and understanding of where we find ourselves in this journey of life.

During menopause, yoga practiced daily, even a short practice is the very best medicine any woman could take.

By Wendy Balfour

References:

  • The Woman’s book of Yoga & Health: A lifelong guide to wellness: Linda Sparrow
  • Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause: Suza Francina

Wendy Balfour is a graduate of the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program on the WestShore of Victoria BC in Langford. Langford is a 20 minute drive from the downtown core of Victoria.

yoga-teachers-wendy-and-lauren-practicing-crocodile-and-camel


Schools of Yoga

Yoga Teacher Training at Feel Good Yoga & Pilates

Yoga Teacher Training at Feel Good Yoga & Pilates

Yoga represents a philosophy of life. A way of living. My primary goal for practising yoga is to attempt to take the lessons I learn on my mat into my daily living. Ultimately I hope to establish and sustain a sense of balance, peace and joy despite my external environment and all the varying and transient circumstances that arise in my life.

In the years that I have practised yoga, I have found solace in various schools of yoga and on reflection, each school has been pertinent to my state of mind and circumstances at that time.

Initially my motive to practise yoga was to use it as a physical discipline to promote health and create a sense of wellbeing. As I began this journey it soon became apparent that in order to practise yoga I had to give my practise full attention. In doing so I believe we expand into mindful action almost without intent. This gives us the opportunity (during practise) to enjoy the liberation that mindful action allows us and we get glimpses of that inner balance and harmony as a result.

For me now, yoga is a practice that integrates mind, body and spirit.

Through the body we learn to pay attention to alignment, co-ordination and balance allowing us to move through our days with body awareness. This is often the initial introduction Yoga gives us. And then with practice we then learn how to concentrate and as our minds become more focused, we learn to be calm and uncluttered and become our own witness. Finally through this mindful practice we can connect with Spirit and feel Presence. We open to life and others, we grow compassion and acceptance and become joyfully alive.

My introduction to Yoga was integral and inclusive of the Philosophy of Yoga. My yoga teacher who inspired and taught me so much about myself was trained at the Ananda Kutir School of Yoga in Durban, South Africa where Integral Yoga was practiced. They combined these aspects:-

Hatha Yoga: Asanas (postures with awareness), Pranayama (Breath control), Yoga Nidra (Deep relaxation). It is commonly believed that this is the easiest way for Westerners to learn. (it is thought that people choosing to explore Yoga for the first time are drawn to this discipline)

Raja Yoga: Yoga of Meditation and mental and Spiritual Development. Directing one’s life force to bring mind and emotions so well into balance that focussing on God or the object of meditation becomes almost effortless. (it is thought that people who are dominantly looking to be attuned to higher self seek out this discipline)

Bhakti Yoga: Devotional Yoga. Yoga of Love for God. The motive is to connect with one’s God – meditating and communicating with God, creating a continual flow of awareness between one’s self and one’s God.

Karma Yoga: Yoga of Spiritualizing Daily Life which includes “Seva” – selfless service. Living one’s life on and off the mat with a deep understanding of the Law of Karma or “cause and effect”. (This discipline draws people who are wishing to live as an instrument of God or higher self)

Jnana Yoga: Yoga of Higher Knowledge and Wisdom. The main purpose of this discipline is to withdraw the mind and emotions from the illusion of self and Samsara, with the hope of living in attunement with reality. (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s).
(www.anandakutir.org.za)

My time with Beverley Roberts (my yoga teacher) was a time of exploration, growth and to some extent, transformation. During the last part of my years with her she started introducing a combination of BKS Iyengar’s teachings and Ashtanga Yoga.

BKS Iyengar stated: “Heath is a state of complete harmony of body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the Soul open”.

Iyengar yoga teachers weave into their instruction, the eight limbs (aspects) of the Yoga Philosophy. As students we were given the opportunity to experience the wisdom of the Yoga Sutras. Through this we were able to reflect on these teachings not only on the mat but in our daily lives as well. The Iyengar discipline uses props in order to help all people to attempt all postures, allowing them the opportunity to experience that sweet space between effort and effortlessness and feel the lightness of a posture even if the student is unable to fully complete the posture.
(Yoga, the Path to Holistic Health: BKS Iyengar)

Ashtanga Yoga is physically demanding and is a synchronization of breath and motion. It creates purifying sweat which can detoxify muscles and organs. It is athletic and improves stamina and because it is repetitive, practising this discipline leads to a meditative flow allowing calmness of mind and spirit. It also incorporates Patanjali’s prayers and teachings, classes begin and end with a prayer. (Spirit of Yoga: Kathy Phillips)

I believe there is no Yoga discipline that is “more” or “less”. We are drawn to the discipline needed at that time in our life. As we begin this journey, the various schools open up to us and there is an organic process of moving on to where we need to be.

Yoga means “to yoke, unite or connect”. It is an exquisitely personal journey that, for me, has no worldly destination.

By Wendy Balfour

Wendy is a graduate of the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training program on the WestShore of Victoria BC in Langford. Langford is a 20 minute drive from the downtown core of Victoria.


Tantric Yoga as a form of self-love!

Purity comes in many forms: mind, emotions, body and spirit. The beauty of yoga is that it can extend (pun intended!) to every single aspect of life, affecting our sense of purity and love in all things. It’s perfectly fine to maintain a yoga practice solely for health purposes, but if it’s desirable to you, the benefits can be applied to your general life practices.

For me, this means over the past 20 years yoga has become my main spiritual practice, touching all parts of my personality. My dosha is a near-equal blend of Vata/Pitta, which means I’m prone to both passion and anxiety; these tendencies, of course, were also influenced by my upbringing and life circumstances. When I’m anxious, it sometimes manifests as anger – and vice versa.

Another characteristic of my passionate orientation is that I have a high libido. As well, I’m keen to connect emotionally and spiritually with others. Needless to say, the qualities of being “me” have led to various issues surrounding purity. How do you separate love from lust, anger from anxiety, emotional connection from physical connection? How do you construct a way of interacting that balances beautiful freedom and caring responsibility? How do you weave all these together in a way that is self-forgiving and spiritually pure?

I’ve spent the better part of my life musing on these things and sorting out what they mean to me. Here’s a recent example of how I’ve dealt with the issue of purity: When I separated from my husband in the summer of 2012, I was suddenly in a place where I possessed a whole lot of emotion along with a still-high sex drive, and with nowhere to put it all! I briefly considered finding a friend with benefits on Craigslist… LOL. But knowing that would only further my problems, I refused to take a substitute for personal growth, a distraction from the lessons I needed to learn.

At the same time, I was fortunate to be granted a freelance contract to ghostwrite a lengthy book on Tantric Sex. Wow! The gods and goddesses were in on that. To say more would break confidentiality, but my client maintained that orgasm is a powerful way to clear the chakras and connect to the Divine, as well as to our higher self. Further, she stated that it’s necessary for a healthy person to develop a practice of “self-loving and self-pleasuring”.

I won’t use the “m” word here, since it would make me sound like I’m writing a sex education manual. But for the first time in my life, I realized that touching myself didn’t have to be a dirty little secret that I snuck away from my life to perform. It could be a deep spiritual practice.

I’ll leave out the happy details (teehee). But as I explored orgasm as a way to connect with the Divine, I began to consciously draw the energy up from my sacral chakra through and into my power centre, my heart, my voice and my intuition. I began to use it as a loving, cleansing tool to balance my emotions and open my heart. In the meantime, it did wonders for my self-esteem. I satiated my sex drive, while rooting myself in a vision of “me” that was whole, grounded and pure.

My struggles with purity will always continue. Self-forgiveness and flexibility mean that I accept my own imperfections as a learning yogini. The practice of self-loving has given me a way to address these aspects of my personality with joy, healing and honour.

By Penelope Hagan

Penelope Hagan is a 2013 graduate of the Feel Good Yoga Teacher Training Program

Yoga Teacher 2013

Happy Yoga Teacher Training Graduates in Langford 2013