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My practice has changed and ebbed and flowed throughout my lifetime with it. It started with a hot yoga class in freezing cold Winnipeg on a gross carpeted floor with a shirtless man sitting in the back of the class like it was a sauna watching the yoga show. I was mortified and didn’t return for awhile.

 

Then it was an overly incensed Jivamukti class where we roared like wild jungle animals and I almost passed out from the vigorous movements and breath work. I was intimidated by the teacher and was scared not to come. I wasn’t sure what we were doing but was intrigued by the process.

 

This was followed by a more white-washed version of yoga with anatomy as the central concern. I learned many of my arm balances here and my love with anatomy, intelligent sequencing and the body began.

 

Then it was Bikram in another hot yoga room but this time the energy was different. The teacher was skilled, the room was packed and energized and the vibe was good. I was promised a whole new body if I dived into their 30 day challenge so I dove right in. My challenges at this studio felt so good, the sweat was amazing but I didn’t feel or look like I had changed all that much. I didn’t get especially more flexible and I didn’t lose weight (my primary concern at the ripe age of 21).

 

While I played with various lineages of yoga, studios and teachers I also skied, ran, swam, surfed, did pilates, went to the gym and dabbled in crossfit. I’m a lover of movement. While I understood from the get-go that yoga was meant to be different from exercise I still treated it as such. I was there to stronger, leaner and more flexible.

 

I would do hot power yoga as a way to melt these two worlds. I could exercise and work on my spirituality – all in under 90 minutes – how perfect.

 

It took many years for me to understand what the practice could actually do for me. How it could change me. This evolved as I grew and matured both in my practice as well as my age. The more I experimented, studied, and practiced, the more the lessons started to take hold.

I could be a better person. I could be happier. I could serve the world. The body was just a tool. My spirit was always supreme and the light within me was more important than any physical goal I could possibly ever attain.

 

Like many yogis, I would fall in and out of love with my practice over the years. A new fitness program would emerge and peak my interest and yoga would be pushed aside for a bit happening only intermittently throughout the week. If I only had an hour a day to move I wanted to make sure I got a good sweat on. Sometimes even those hot power classes were not “enough.”

 

The more I faced my practice with this mentality – the less I loved it. It become less than. Not good enough. A performance. Entertainment. The further I stepped away from yoga – the worse I felt…….always. Because I was neglecting my spirit and my spirit is where joy comes from.

 

As a lover of movement I’ve learned to satisfy my cravings for sweat but I now balance it always with daily practice. I see them as two completely different but complimentary activities. I work out 3-4x a week and treat it as good solid exercise. I run, I lift weights, I take a fun fitness class. My workouts are for my pitta fiery nature. They are for my abs. For my butt. For my athletic pursuits. For my outdoor adventures. For my postpartum core strength I need after having children. They fuel me. They satisfy me and I just really like to sweat this way. They can be shallow, I can listen to party music or some loud heavy metal and sometimes that just feels so right.

 

But my practice…. is sacred. When I burn through my anxious and fiery nature through exercise I can fully enjoy and sit still in my practice (vigorous or not). I can appreciate fully what it actually is. I can connect to spirit, to the sacredness of ritual and breath and I can strengthen what really needs to be worked on…..

 

My heart. My soul. My spirit.

 

I remove any expectation of my practice to be my exercise. We all love to move for different reasons. We all practice yoga for different reasons. My practice always changes and evolves but right now this is the perfect balance for me. I have removed any trace of “exercise” from my practice. My practice is about awareness, love, healing and spirit. I still move, I still strengthen, I still sweat. But the intention is completely different. Sometimes I just breath for an hour in a single pose. The goal is not exercise. It’s to unite and become whole.

 

Notice if practice has become less appealing to you. Do you make physical goals your primary goal of yoga? How does that feel? What if joy was the goal? What if union and love was the goal? How would that feel?

Make your butt the goal of exercise and just enjoy that. Work on that butt. Run to burn calories and enjoy that. If you struggle with the need to turn your practice into exercise…. try exercising more! My commitment to practice yoga every day stays more true when I also add in exercise a few times a week. My daily practice is now non-negotiable. Its my route to joy.

 

With Grace and Grit,

Karla Treadway

Embodied Yoga

March 10, 2020

What does it mean to embody your yoga practice? An embodied yoga practice means that you make it relevant and real to your life. When you really learn the material and practice and integrate it more into your life. When you realize it’s not just a physical practice and you see it as transformational work.

Yoga is so often practiced as just exercise. We work our bodies so we can become stronger, heal an old injury, become flexible or attain those picture perfect poses we see on Instagram. You’ll get all of these from your practice but I guarantee you you’re missing out if this is where your goals stop.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years for a reason. I know for sure that no sport or exercise program is going to stand up to the test of time like yoga can. People come to yoga because they are looking for something more. They are searching for meaning, they are searching for god they are searching for themselves. You don’t need to practice religion to come to yoga but those who stay in the practice are there because they are searching for something bigger than themselves. They are up to something bigger than just landing a handstand or losing some weight.

Yoga is rich with life lessons that will save us from suffering. Yoga provides us with tools and techniques to heal ourselves. To elevate ourselves. To become powerful. The techniques and tools are taught again and again because they work. If you feel like they’re not working for you ask yourself if you’re really doing the work.

Do you practice daily? Do you apply the philosophy? Do you go within? Do you investigate? Be honest with yourself. Life is busy, this is a discipline and it’s not always enjoyable or easy to commit to getting on the mat each and everyday.

If we use the tools, if we follow the map, if we commit…….the techniques work. It’s been proven again and again. You’ll free yourself of your physical pain. You’ll free yourself from mental struggle. You’ll get over yourself and your laundry list of complaints. You’ll feel powerful again.

If……you do the work.


There’s a thing out there right now called “spiritual entertainment.” It means we are attracted to esoteric, spiritual work, books and practices and we might read and consume the ideas……but we don’t apply them.

Then we wonder why they don’t work.

And this is us just us being human. We need to hold space and compassion for that. No one has to do this practice. No one has to apply it, that’s a choice. But if you’re complaining that the tools aren’t working it’s important to ask if you’re actually doing the work.

We’re opening up our doors in a new way this year. We want to help you really integrate this material. Starting this September is our Embodied Yoga Program. A 12 month yoga teacher training for those who want to learn, or those who want to teach.

You’ll commit to one weekend per month at the studio. You’ll integrate your learned material into your everyday life in between the weekends. You’ll get the chance to dive in a new way. You’ll learn the techniques, you’ll practice the tools, you’ll integrate and apply the material.

By the end of the year you’ll feel empowered, you’ll feel clear, you’ll feel integrated.

Space is limited. Inquire at the studio or email us for more information.

karla treadway strong yoga pose in the sunset in front of a lake

People’s goals for choosing yoga as a movement practice vary greatly. No reason is wrong. No chosen style of yoga is wrong. But the most benefits will be achieved when we see what it can actually do for us when used the way it was intentionally created. A holistic, disciplined, spiritual practice that saturates all aspects of our life.

Yoga teaches us that we are POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.

That we are one with the divine.

That we no less than or greater than others.

That our thoughts and actions are powerful but that we are not them.

It is an empowering physical practice rich with philosophical musings.

Anyone can practice yoga. We are all seeking the same goal – everlasting love, unity and peace. We will all get to that goal eventually. How much we suffer along the way is a choice we will make.

Modern means of dealing with life’s painful issues can sometimes DISEMPOWER people. We tell them because this has happened to you, because this is your condition – you are no longer capable of choosing for yourself. So here’s your diagnosis, your label, your pill. Here’s something to numb. You are no longer in the drivers seat.

We give people labels. This is your condition. This is who you are now. You are a victim. It’s not your fault – but you will forever be here. We are aiming for compassion but we are unknowingly taking their power away.

Now Medicine – has an important and lifesaving place for people. No one is discounting the very necessary intervention of medicine at times to support imbalances in the body. There are times when we need to numb, endure, cope in whatever way possible. We need to re-balance if chemicals are off. We need the support of medicine or therapists. We need community. We need supportive programs, teachers, coaches, doctors. There is no doubt that these interventions can be LIFESAVING.

But at some point – to heal ourselves fully, those around us and this world – there needs to be internal healing. There needs to be a re-wiring of our thought patterns. There needs to be action.

What differs between yoga and modern medicine:

Modern medicine treats the symptom not the cause and labels a patient as their disorder or condition. You are depressed. You are anxious. You are a victim.

There is a difference between being victimized (this has happened to you) and being a victim (this is you). This is not just semantics. “I have been wounded”, is very different than “I am the wound.”

When we believe that we are the wound, this becomes our label, our identity and the lens in which we now view the world. When we can shift our belief from I am the wound to I have been wounded we can begin the process of healing and moving forward.

Yoga aims to uncover the root of who we are. Through meditation we see that the body is a tool and we are not the body. We see that we are not the mind. We are not the anxious thoughts, the depressive symptoms, the physical discomfort in the body. We are the divine voice behind it all. Things may have happened to this body. To this mind. But we are not that. We are the light behind it all. Our true state is love and nothing about are real selves is ever broken. Its just been clouded by an event or a series of events.

The voice behind it all has no label. We aim to not over-identify with the body or the mind. That causes suffering. Its our dissociation with the mind and body that brings harmony. We are not our thoughts. We are not our condition. We are not this body.

The yogi’s take it a step further…..ACTION

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna said:

Perform your obligatory duty,

because action is indeed better than inaction.

Even the maintenance of your body

would not be possible by inaction.

Labels can cause inaction. We feel helpless in the face of them. They were meant to provide us with a diagnosis so that we will then take action and pursue the right tools. But unfortunately the label can be so disheartening that we sit with it in inaction.

The truth is we as human beings always have CHOICE. The choice to change is a powerful one and the only one responsible for our lives is us. The truth is that no one can save you from suffering. The only one who can save you……is you.

You can be in control of your thoughts
You can be in control of your actions
Your connection to spirit
Your conscious control of your thoughts and actions, in alignment with spirit – will lead you to grace
This is work. It’s not the easy route. Its brave work. Courageous work. And it’s the path to your own salvation. The yogi’s have laid out a plan for us to free ourselves from pain and suffering.

We practice this in yoga asana when we work to remain calm during challenging poses.

We practice this is in meditation when we can notice our maladaptive repetitive thought patterns and see their source.

When we work hard out of reverence for life – and not show or ego

When we take our yoga practice off the mat serving others and the world.

When we adhere to the guidelines in the yamas and the niyamas learning to treat ourselves and those around us with loving compassion.

When we commit to the discipline of daily practice to heal ourselves.

When we heal ourselves we heal the world.

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate…our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” – Marianne Williamson

For anyone who suffers from past trauma, anxiety, depression or any other affliction….know that medicine can help, therapists and doctors can help but there is also a very powerful set of tools that you can utilize each and every day yourself. You can break the repetitive thought patterns that cause you to suffer. You are not your thoughts. You are not your labels. You are stronger than you know. The people around you that are suffering – are stronger than they know. We can begin to empower each other.

Healing is always possible. Love for yourself is always possible. You are more powerful than you know.

With Grace and Grit,

Karla Treadway

Living Yoga

February 19, 2020

Many of us start yoga for a variety of reasons. Maybe we’re trying to lose weight, gain strength, touch our toes, eliminate some physical pain or help reduce our daily stress. All are great reasons to begin. There are so many benefits of starting a yoga practice and we are all seeking different things.

Whether you came to yoga to improve your mobility, physique or mental state, know that there is an enormous pool of tools and techniques that will benefit your quality of life.  Yoga is rich with life lessons. It provides us with a blueprint to follow so we can avoid unnecessary suffering.

In its original creation – yoga was solely about meditation and the mind. The body was seen as unimportant. An empty vessel. Over time practitioners discovered that it was difficult to stay still and present when their body was uncomfortable. If it was uncomfortable to sit still – they wouldn’t be able to meditate and reach the states of bliss they were after.

The goal was inner peace, mental clarity and union with the divine. The body was in the way though. The creation of asana was the solution. The yogis discovered that their body was in fact not a useless vessel in the way – but an important tool on the road to self discovery. When they took proper care of the physical health of the body they would then be able to sit comfortably to meditate. Asana literally means “a comfortable seat.”

Once the body was taken care of they could focus on what was actually going on in the mind. It was through this disciplined practice of asana and meditation that much knowledge about the human condition was discovered.

Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras, 2 centuries after the life of Jesus. The yoga sutras were threads of wisdom about the human condition, the nature of the mind and how to live a life free from suffering. In the second chapter Patanjali presents the ashtanga, or eight-limbed system, for which he is now famous for. Many students of yoga are only familiar with yoga asana (the postures), which is only a small part of the whole picture of the 8-limbed path..

In the second chapter of his book Patanjali presents five specific ethical precepts called yamas, which give us basic guidelines for living a life of personal fulfillment. The yamas are rules for us that will also benefit society. How to behave in relation to others and out in the world. He makes the case that if we don’t follow these rules….we will suffer.

The third limb, the yamas are really the first step in a practice that addresses the whole fabric of our lives, not just physical health or solitary spiritual existence. The Niyamas are cause and effect guidelines for us and with us. Our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and personal care.  Following the yamas and the niyamas help us avoid suffering. The rest of the limbs are pranayama; breathing exercises; pratyahara; conscious withdrawal of energy away from the senses; dharana, concentration; dhyana, meditation; and samadhi; self-actualization.

The Yoga Sutras are not meant to be an attempt to control our behavior based on moral imperatives. The sutras don’t imply that we are “bad” or “good” based upon our behavior. It’s more of a cause and effect story. They are simply lessons in if we do (a) then (b) will happen. If we engage in certain behaviours, we will get certain results.  The sutras are meant to help us understand our own ways of being and how we can alter our daily behaviors and thoughts to obtain a more desired result.

The Yamas (us with others) are as follows:

Ahimsa – Non-violence

Satya – Truthfulness

Asteya – Non-stealing

Brahmacharya – moderation, celibacy

Aparigraha – non-greed

 

The Niyama (us with us) are as follows:

Sauca – Cleanliness

Santosha – Contentment

Tapas – Discipline

Svadhyaya – Self Study

Ishvara Pranidhara – Surrender to God

By following these guidelines of conduct we open ourselves up to a world of possibility. That possibility is living in peace. Free from suffering and one with the divine. What I love about the yamas and the niyamas is we have a crystal clear plan of how to avoid suffering. It’s all so simple. And if we are ever feeling at unease, or in turmoil – we can turn to the yamas and niyamas to see where we might have fallen off course. Adjust the thought and behavior – and come back to alignment and peace. These lessons are timeless. From thousands of years ago – today and still relevant.

No one likes “rules” no one likes being told what to do. Which is why the yogis simply recommend you read these threads of wisdom. There’s no forced cajoling – just “pssst, hey you….over here. I think you could find more truth over here that can lessen your load.”

They emphasize how everyone can work through these at their own pace in their own time and enlightenment is available to anyone either now, or in the next life.

I’ll follow rules for joyful living any day.

With grace and grit,

Karla Treadway

How often should I practice for best results?

Short answer? More is more. The more you practice, the greater the benefits. A little everyday is better than a lot every once in awhile. Just like any habit, physical practice or skill – the more you do, the better you’ll be at it. Your goals for your practice may differ. Some of us need to chill out more, some may need to lose weight, some are wanting a spiritual practice or more mobility. Whatever you’re searching for – aim to be consistent and disciplined with it for the best results.

While Discipline and Freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected. Freedom is what everyone wants — to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. If you want financial freedom, you have to have financial discipline. If you want more free time, you have to follow a more disciplined time management system. You also have to have the discipline to say “No” to things that eat up your time with no payback—things like random YouTube videos, click-bait on the internet, and even events that you agree to attend when you know you won’t want to be there. Discipline equals freedom applies to every aspect of life: if you want more freedom, get more discipline.        – Jocko Willink

Does everything feel great when you first start? Not always. Change is difficult. It takes to time to change our fascial system and build muscle and cardiovascular endurance. This is normal.

Start slow and easy – but be consistent. Keep trying. Keep coming and keep putting in the work. Even a meditation practice is hard in the beginning. New habits take new skill sets. Be gentle with yourselves along the way but know that the only one who can make the change… is you.

How to stay disciplined with your practice/movement plan:

Get your family and friends on board. Bring them, or let them know you’re new plan so they can support you (your spouse can cook dinner, friends who can watch your kids, or a sweat support friend that comes along with you).

Write out your classes in your agenda for the week and pre-book them on your mindbody app. If it’s in there in writing – you’re more likely to do it.

Take a yoga workshop or immersion to educate yourself further and help yourself deepen your practice.

Journal daily – put your reflections on paper (how have you been feeling – how have things changed or shifted for you because of your new plan?) This is done best early in the am. Put the negative stuff down there too. Your limitations, nasty thoughts and anything you’d like to get out of your head. Better on the paper than in your head.

Then swap the negative for the good. Write down your positive affirmations – your encouraging words and the things that are actually true!

“I am strong”

“I am supported”

“I am healing”

“I am proud because I _______”

“I’ve completed _______and I should celebrate”

Celebrate the good. Celebrate the struggle. Celebrate the fact that you are making leaps and bounds towards a YOU 2.0.

A healthier, happier, stronger you. Celebrate each step along the way.

Strong Back Soft Front

February 6, 2020

In the struggle to find a place for us in the world we sometimes fall into one of two categories – the push over or the dictator. The vulnerable or the strong. Neither energy or demeanour is wrong when we possess both. We need to balance these two energies.

A true sense of belonging and a sure sense of self comes from being both vulnerable and strong. As Brene Brown calls it – a strong back and soft front. This means that we are strong and forceful, yet soft and receptive. We can speak up for ourselves and set boundaries, but also humble ourselves and serve others. We can lead and follow. We are the polarities of strength and ease.

If we show a soft front to the world but don’t have the strong backbone to stand up for ourselves – we get walked over. We don’t speak up for ourselves, we don’t advocate for ourselves and we end up taking on too much, martyring ourselves for others. We care too much about what others think and put others needs above our own. Our self esteem becomes dependent on what others think of us. We end up being taken advantage of. Treated poorly, manipulated. The result? We feel weak, unloved, unseen.

If we have a hard front and a strong back – we come across as too forceful, aggressive. We close ourselves off to relationship, love and interpersonal communication. It’s our way or the highway. We end up always putting our needs first and neglect the needs of those around us. The result is we end up hurting our relationships and end up hard, lonely and isolated as others eventually step away from us.  Strong back, armoured front Brene Brown calls it. We have trauma, pain or some other self proclaimed weakness that we are furiously protecting with our harsh demeanour. We don’t want to be seen, we don’t want to let others in.

“All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence.” ~ Roshi Joan Hallifax

None of these examples are ways to live.  Neither allow for vulnerability. Vulnerability is the ability to feel and express those feelings. This is the birthplace of love and belonging. We have to find the middle ground between these two to have a good strong sense of self love and belonging in the world. We have to love ourselves so fiercely that we would never let others treat us poorly. We have to love ourselves so deeply that that love spills out onto others from a place of joy – not out of resentment or fear.

“Belonging is so primal, so necessary, the threat of losing your tribe or going alone feels so terrifying as to keep most of us distanced from the wilderness most of our lives. Human approval is one of our most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable.“ ~ Brene Brown

How do we find this balance? To be vulnerable means to be honest. To become in touch with our feelings and be able to speak them out loud. To listen to the needs of others and hear them out. To come to a common ground. We feel, we express, we listen….we are receptive.

Then we act. We act in accordance with this belief. We treat each other well and we treat ourselves well. This is how we can live in the world with other. Loving ourselves, and maintaining that sense of belonging. Take brave and courageous action.

We find our strength through action. It’s not enough to just feel and express. Action is the backbone. The strength. The desire to do what is challenging or hard.  There are so many suffering from mental illness in modern culture. We have created a vulnerable culture in response to a society that was too hard. We are now saturated with images and stories of suffering. We have access to too much negative information. We share our pain, our grief, our problems with the world. This is placing a heavy blanket on our shoulders. Some are immobilized by this heavy blanket. We identify with that pain in the world and internalize it. It causes many great grief.

There is a time to sit in all feelings. There is a time to grieve, to wallow, to hurt. A ceremony of tears if you will. There is no deadline or timelines around this. But there is also a time to talk, to share, to problem solve. Eventually…..there needs to be action for progress.

I was reminded of this during Bell’s Mental Heath Day. Heaps of people sharing their personal struggles of mental health urging others to get help. This day is meant to normalize seeking help. Its meant to normalize action. But what often happens is the audience misses that part. People end up sharing the wound instead of the scar. People sharing their pain without the understanding that at some point the healing will have to come from action. It creates a culture of vulnerability without the hope that healing could be on the horizon.

I speak about this because I’ve been here. I know what that kind of pain can feel like. Crushing. Immobilizing. Fear. Despair.

There was a time for me to ignore my feelings. To numb. To protect myself. There was a time when I wallowed. There was a time when I overly expressed myself and was vulnerable. When I shared my story again and again. There was a season for each stage.

All were a part of my healing but I never got out of that hole until I rose up. Until I summoned my strong back and took action – even if I didn’t feel like it. My vulnerability was the first step. My strength is what carried me through to the end. Both were necessary.

There are more depressed and anxious kids, teenagers and adults than ever in the world and I believe its from the culture of sharing the wound – but not the scar. A culture of enabling without encouraging action.  If we are already feeling down – then only hearing about how others are suffering will paint a pretty bleak picture and increase those feelings of loneliness and fear.

We need more people sharing the scar. Here I am putting my most vulnerable story out there – and the brave action steps I took to overcome it (or even the things that I have started working on). That is a story that will help. That is a story that will heal. Even if they haven’t figured it all out yet.  Healing is a long and complicated journey that requires us to initiate action steps along the way.

I worry that some are just waiting. Waiting for the healing to miraculously come their way. Maybe in some cases it does. Maybe time is the cure. But for many – we need to actively seek out this new way of being. Vulnerable and strong. Feeling our feelings then creating a plan to overcome them. We need to encourage this. Feel your pain, share your story……now act. Just like a parent would encourage their child who’s learning how to walk to keep getting up. After every fall we say “you can do it!” We don’t suggest they stay down.

How do we support others in this? Give them space to sit in whatever stage they are currently in. Maybe they need to numb, maybe they need to wallow and grieve. Offer your support to them here. Simply let them know you are there for them. Then at some point can you encourage them to act. To be brave. To step forward into change as scary as that can feel sometimes. Can you encourage them to share, to be vulnerable, to share their truth, then offer them alternatives to their pain.

Change is scary, action is scary – but necessary for growth. Be soft and receptive enough to feel the pain that requires you to change. The painful emotion you feel is the necessary jet fuel you need for action. Then use that jet fuel to step into a new way of being. Be strong. Take action. Stand up for what you need and do what can seem scary…….taking action and responsibility for your one precious life.

The only one who can change your life for the better is you.

There are many routes to self love and belonging. To the absence of fear. But all involve action. Whether that’s through relationship, medical interference, therapy, yoga, meditation or any type of healing modality – know that there is a way. There is a place for you in this world where you can give and receive love. Where you can be receptive to all that is good in this life, and stand up for what is right. Where you can be soft and strong. Where you can heal and have good loving relationships with other. Where you can belong again.

With Grace and Grit

Karla Treadway

The Lost Art of Awareness

February 6, 2020
woman doing yoga on the beach

We all start off practicing yoga for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it was to heal an old injury, to lose weight or to  become more flexible. We jump on board because others are doing so and it seems to be benefiting them.

We think that the goal is the pose. This is normal because there is so much emphasis on alignment and structure of the body that we begin to think of it as only about the health of the body. Some asanas are simple but many are very  complex requiring that the participant not only has a healthy, strong and flexible body…..but that they are in tune with the subtle workings from within. Their breath. The energetics of the body. Their mindset. Their purpose for doing the pose in the first place. This art of awareness is what makes yoga such a powerful tool.

Without more fine tuned awareness, the posture crumples, the student is unable to do the pose – or worse, they find injury. In regards to injuries B.K.S. Iyengar would say that you will never get hurt in yoga if you’re paying attention. By paying attention he doesn’t just mean to the shape of the pose or the alignment cues from the instructor.

He means full body and mind awareness. Are you practicing from a place of ego (wanting to show off or scared to hold back)? Are you paying attention to the subtle intuitive yearnings of your body that say “yes this is a good option for you” or “no, its time to hold steady here.”

It takes much more than flexibility and strength to get into the poses that you may see in beautiful photographs. It takes subtle inner workings, a calm mindset, a purposeful set of actions. This is truly where we can practice full awareness. When we are able to yoke all of our parts together (body, breath, emotions, mental state and spirituality) we gain a new perspective and clarity. The asana is just a tool.

woman doing yogaIn Light on Life from B.K.S. Iyengar  (one of my favourite books on yogic philosophy) summarizes the goal and purpose of asana.

The purpose or goal of asana is to align and harmonize the physical body and all the layers, or sheaths, of the subtle emotional, mental, and spiritual body. This is integration. But how does one align these layers and experience integration? How does one find such profound transformation in what from the outside may look simply like stretching or twisting the body into unusual positions? It begins with awareness.

We think of intelligence and perception as taking place exclusively in our brains, but yoga teaches us that awareness and intelligence must permeate the body. Each part of the body literally has to be engulfed by the intelligence. We must create a marriage between the awareness of the body and that of the mind.

When the two parties do not cooperate, it leads to a sense of fragmentation and “dis-ease.” For example, we should only eat when our mouth spontaneously salivates, as it is the body’s intelligence telling us that we are truly hungry. If not, we are force-feeding ourselves and “dis-ease” will surely follow.

Many moderns use their bodies so little that they lose the sensitivity of this bodily awareness. They move from bed to car to desk to car to couch to bed, but there is no awareness in their movement, no intelligence. There is no action. Action is movement with intelligence. The world is filled with movement. What the world needs is more conscious movement, more action.

The world is filled with movement. What we need is conscious action. How many things do we do on a daily basis where we are disconnected to its purpose? We do so many things that cause us pain and suffering (overeating, avoiding exercise, drugs and alcohol, fights and controlling others).

We don’t stop enough to reflect on WHY we do most of the things that we do. We don’t realize the many influences we have acting upon us at any time.

Our upbringing
Past traumas
Peers
Culture
Social media and screen culture
What if we took more time to reflect on WHY we are doing things. What if we stopped to check in with our bodies and our hearts? What if we began to feel instead of think? Our thinking brain overanalyzes while our feeling spirit has more important information to share. Our thinking brain has been under the influence for a long time now. We need this very logical part of ourselves of course, but our thinking brain can give us unhelpful thoughts. Pride, anger, feelings of unworthiness or envy.

When we’re in our feeling heart, the voice behind the brain, we hear the more subtle whisperings of “you belong here” or “your body needs this right now.”

I believe if we spent more time in stillness, more time with ourselves, practicing the art of awareness we would all have more moments of peace, the collective earth would hurt less, and people would treat each other, and themselves better.

It only takes a little bit of time to stop and check in. To pause. To reflect. To FEEL.

woman doing yoga poseI’m challenged daily to pull the concept of awareness into all areas of my life. Where can I become more aware? What are the feelings that are driving these actions and are they best for me? Does this feel right? If I can do this in a yoga class, but leave and forget this tool……becoming impatient with my family, neglectful of my body or negligent of the world’s needs, I haven’t learnt anything.

Does this feel like just one more thing to add to your plate? To stress you out? What Iyengar is offering is more simple than you think. It’s not the act of overthinking. We do that already. It’s not about being self-conscious in the world. It’s about becoming self-aware. And all awareness asks of you…is to FEEL.

When we ask ourselves, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?” our minds open. This is self-awareness. However, it is necessary to point out that students should be self-aware, not self-conscious. Self-consciousness is when the mind constantly worries and wonders about itself, doubting constantly and being self-absorbed. It is like having the devil and angel both sitting on your shoulders continually arguing over what you should do. When you are self-conscious, you are going to exhaust yourself. You are also going to strain the muscles unnecessarily because you are thinking about the asana and how far you want to stretch. You are not experiencing the asana and stretching according to your capacity. – BKS Iyengar

So how do we learn to feel more? To become more self-aware? A good place to start is meditation. Even 5-10 minutes a day will do you wonders. My favourite kind of meditations are called pure awareness meditations where you simply try to observe. You observe the sounds and smells around you. You observe sensations in the body. You observe the thoughts that come up for you without trying to change or force anything. You could also practice this on a walk. Observing sounds around you. Your footsteps. The length of your breath.

Your yoga practice is a wonderful tool for practicing awareness. Become less attached to the ascetics of an asana (the look and shape of it) and become more inquisitive to sensation. To feeling. Over time you’ll notice an enhancement of the physical product but you’ll also become more in tune with listening to your body without any unnecessary story or judgement.

The art of awareness asks you to FEEL. That’s it. Try sitting still right now, wherever you are. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out and FEEL the wave of relief that washes over you. That’s your heart. It’s saying “thank you, for meeting me here.”

If you’re interested in yogic philosophy I highly recommend you check out B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom

Need help with discovering a meditation practice? My favourite app is Insight Timer. It’s free and there are thousands of great tools to discover here.

insight timer

 

With Grace and Grit,

Karla Treadway

macaroons and junk food

So January 1st rolled around the corner and WHAM you were right back to your 5x a week practice or workout routine, healthy eating and drinking habits, daily meditation practice, daily journal and weekly meal prep routine right?

Queue the crickets… If you’re like me… that didn’t happen.

I am pretty disciplined with my health routine most of the time. I commit to daily movement and mindfulness practices, I enjoy a good sweaty workout and I love a weekly simple healthy meal prep.  None of it feels restricting and I do it all because it feels really really good.

So what happened? Christmas happened that’s what. Actually Halloween happened… then a Mexican vacation…THEN CHRISTMAS.  I feel like its been months of celebrating. While I was still moving, practicing and eating kind-of-ish well… I  as also moving less than normal, having many celebratory cocktails and eating a lot of sugar, gluten and all of those things that drain me. I also got a hell-of-a-cold that lasted about 4 weeks and counting.

The result? By the time January came I had ZEROOO energy. A simple body weight workout felt like hell. I would get light headed inverting in yoga class, I was very addicted to my daily bailey’s coffee and chocolate in the afternoon program and I couldn’t seem to shake those sugar addictions.

Go straight to the gym and workout as hard as you can and do a juice cleanse right??? Nope. I couldn’t… it felt like hell. My energy was zapped and my old routine (that I used to love by the way) felt heavy, arduous and stressful.

Not to mention the added stress that it was supposed to be “new year new me” with everyone on the January fitness bandwagon and I was supposed to have ditched all those bad habits by now.

Notice the words “supposed to.” Says who? I quickly shut that voice up and forgave myself (in fact celebrated myself for a wonderful holiday season). I then gently reminded myself that I felt better back then so let’s get back to that place.

Instead of taking away all of my holiday addictions away at once and leaning towards something restrictive or punishing (ie a cleanse or extreme workout program), I took it slow. I just started adding in the good stuff again (instead of taking things away).

I added in longer, brisker dog walks. I added in daily celery juice and weekly meal preps having tons of fresh veggies, proteins and grains on hand. I added in water and green tea. I added in organization and meal planning. I added in my daily meditation practice which had slipped away over Christmas.

A bonus of adding in your daily meditation practice is it decreases your cortisol and increases your self awareness meaning you’ll feel better, eat better and be more inclined to move more often.

If you’re like me and January 1st is actually Jan.15th this year (hey we’re all just following the Ukrainian Gregorian calendar instead no biggie) fear not. A date is just a date and it takes time to build healthy habits again. This is normal. Guilt and shame won’t get you there. Only self love.

woman with prayer hands

Love yourself for having the good time that you needed. Love for yourself for giving you a much needed break. Forgive yourself for any and all unhealthy behaviours and love yourself for choosing a new path.

Take it slow. Take all the time you need. Add in the good. Celebrate small successes and love yourself along the way.

I’m putting on a 10 day online FREE course to get us back on track, will you join me? January 27 – Feb 5 on Facebook Live!  JOIN THE WAITING LIST HERE

women doing yoga in studio

I tried yoga a few times before I really enjoyed it. The first class I went to was a hot yoga class in Winnipeg. The room was carpeted, the walls, white and empty. It was sauna hot. I remember the heat being unbearable and there was a large shirtless man in the back corner who didn’t participate in the class but stayed in the back and watched.

I was horrified. I never came back.

A few years later I tried a class in a community centre basement in Ontario. I think we did maybe 6 poses, there was lots of dogmatic talk without explanation that went over my head. The teacher would do one side of the body but would forget the other.

I didn’t try again for awhile.

I can’t really remember the time that it “stuck,” the time that brought me back for good. I think it was at a yoga studio in Whistler. All I remember is that once I was in a class with a good teacher – I was hooked. A room filled with people moving, sweating, and healing together with the intention of growing as human beings. A room led by an expert teacher who knew how to run the room, kept people safe and made them feel comfortable.  Someone who said the right things, and offered the appropriate options.

I was hooked. Once I took the bait, I became a lifelong student. I immediately knew I wanted to learn more. I jumped into teacher training really quickly. I think I only practiced for 6 months before I took my first YTT.

I agonized over choosing my first ‘would be’ teacher trainers. I asked all my friends, I scoured the internet. Did I want to travel to do it, could I do it online? How much money would this cost me??? How many classes would I have to teach to pay for my training?? I felt scared to invest in myself.

I decided on a local training through YYoga in my home town at the time of Whistler BC. My daughter was 8 months old and I couldn’t imagine flying off somewhere without her for 30 days. It was a bit of a scramble still. I came up with the money, I had my mom fly in from Manitoba to watch my daughter during the long days. I cried at the thought of leaving her for any amount of time but it was the best decision I ever made – and only a blip in time, now.

Training blew me away. My teachers were amazing. We had my kind yoga mother Kristin Campbell and my tough (and sometimes intimidating but equally amazing) Rachel Scott who were both highly skilled, experienced and very intelligent. We had to work hard, study hard and I was blown away by the amount of information that I was expected to know.

A new language, an in-depth study of anatomy. History, philosophy, energy work, sequencing, ethics and so much more. If you’re a teacher already – you know how much there is to study. It’s not just about the body.

We practice taught from day 1. It was awkward and uncomfortable but I’m so happy for that experience because it let me safely get my shyness and uncomfortableness out in a safe environment amongst peers.

I shifted, I cried, I opened myself up to a whole new world in teacher training. I was a simply a new person by the end of it with a passion for this practice like never before.

I began teaching immediately out of teacher training. I would study classes, techniques and philosophy every day. Every…. single…. day…. after my YTT. I was so thirsty for more. I learned that there was never an end to learning yoga. It would never be boring and I would never “know it all.” That was so exciting for me as someone that likes to learn.

Since that training, I’ve done a million more trainings, courses and immersions. I’ve taught in 3 countries, 4 provinces, in chocolate shops, on beaches, in community centers, churches, schools, homes, studios, on docks, in parks, first nation healing centers, on stages, in hotels, on skype sessions, at festivals and retreat centres. I’ve run workshops, events, fundraisers, teacher trainings, and retreats myself. I own a studio now too, and I get to do this full time.

My clientele ranges from small children to jocks to the elderly and everything in between. I work with people through their physical pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Teaching allows me to share these powerful tools with people through their toughest times.

Teaching allows me to create space for people to access joy and celebration. I get to build community through movement, connection, laughter and grace. I get to have purposeful work and that brings me so much joy.

My world is so expansive now. I can’t believe I ever hesitated for a moment about jumping into teacher training. Those first 30 days seemed like such a big commitment. Had I known what my world would become I never would have hesitated. I have some serious job love! My job brings me joy – others joy – and I get to travel the world sharing these tools while having the flexibility to be a mom, be a wife and be an active partner in my local community.

If you’re thinking about taking a teacher training here are some things to think about

  • Not all trainings are created equally – do your research, especially with international trainings – choose a quality, yoga alliance recognized school.
  • Choose a teacher who is experienced and jives with your personal values (note: you do not have to succumb to someone’s particular dogmatic beliefs if they don’t resonate with you), your chosen style of yoga and is someone that you want to spend 30 days with.
  • There will never be a perfect time to put your life on hold for 20-30 days – choose a time frame that is the least harmful to your personal and familial lifestyle – but know that it will be a shuffle at any time whether you choose weekends, an immersive experience or otherwise.
  • Your 200hr should always be done in person – online trainings are great for continuing education but not for your base YTT.
  • Your 200hr is just the tip of the iceberg – there is infinite opportunity for learning afterwards

* If you don’t want to teach and you just want to learn more – you still get the same amazing benefits as most of this process involves learning more about these tools, and yourself.

* Get ready for some serious purposeful work

~Karla

pumpkins in wooden crates

Slow Living | 3 Ways to Detox This Fall

By Heyitsmekylie

Fall is a great time of year for detoxing your life. As the seasons transition, so do we. Our lives often get a little bit less busy, as we unwind from the summer months and ease into the cooler weather. Sometimes, Fall means new jobs, new schools, or returning to those same activities we always do this time of year. It’s a natural time of year to want to want a fresh start, live more slowly, more mindful, and take time for ourselves. For me, summer is the busiest time of year, both at work and socially. Fall, though, is my favourite. I find a bit more time to breathe, to reflect, and to focus on myself. It’s a time to help me get prepared for the Winter cold, when sustaining a healthy mind and immune system can often be difficult. 

Detoxing doesn’t have to mean a cleanse of a diet. It doesn’t mean that you have to drink smoothies or salads for a week straight – it can mean so much more. Here are my favourite ways to detox, and what I plan on doing this Fall. I’m already a little late! 

woman laying on yoga mat, grateful

Slowing Down

The first step for me, is to slow life down and do my best to reduce stress and over-activity of my mind. Personally, I find myself getting caught up with taking on too much, also known as “multi-tasking”. I think that our society pushes for this a lot, but in the attempts to get as much done as quickly as possible, we leave ourselves with little room to get bored. With boredom, comes creativity. When we task ourselves with so many things at once, it is unrealistic to imagine that we can do each and every one of those things as best we can. Instead, we do each of those things mediocrely. 

Boredom gives our minds the space it needs to think outside the box.

Overloading our minds with information leads to stress, therefore increasing cortisol in our bodies. The effects of increased cortisol are not good, and it can lead to various health issues such as irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, indigestion, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, etc. While there are treatments for these symptoms of stress, it does not correct the cause. How can we get rid of the stress? Slowing down. This could mean saying no to activities that drain you of your energy and attention. It could also mean taking time to exercise through the activities that you love. My personal Fall favourites are going on hikes and doing yoga. For you, it could mean going to the gym, exercising your mind through meditation, or reading.  

Fall is a great time for a fresh start and a fresh mind. Live more slowly. 

Eating Seasonally

This one has been relatively new for me, but it is something that I’ve thought about for a long time. 

The definition of seasonal eating is basically exactly what it sounds like – eating with the seasons. When we eat seasonally, we cook and eat foods that are harvested in the same season (or we store/preserve foods from the previous season). For the most part, vegetables, fruits, and other crops grow at certain times of the year. A lot has changed in this century, as globalization has changed food supply quite a bit. Now, most veggies and fruits can be found year-round. However, with that, we’ve lost sight of the importance of eating with the seasons and the benefits it can have on our health, the environment, and on our wallets. 

It’s not to say that eating these global foods is unhealthy, especially if they are also fruits and vegetables. But, it has been shown that people eating “seasonally” are more likely to choose an abundance of fruits and vegetables. 

Eating seasonal foods means that there is a good chance that those foods are fresher and higher in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. If you think about it, when food has to travel from one side of the planet to the other, it’s going to take much more time to get there and those vitamins and minerals will be depleted. Also, seasonal food often means local food and buying fresh produce, especially if you’re attending local farmers markets. 

For Ontario (October – November) this is the time of year for sweet potatoes, pears, apples, zucchini, tomatoes, and more. Once Winter hits, that’s when we get into root veggies and squashes – so good! 

Eating seasonally lessens your environmental impact because the produce isn’t shipped across the Country. If you’re able to buy local food – or at least food grown in Canada – there is far less distance to travel (aka emissions) and you are supporting the local economy. Eating with the seasons is another way we can all do our part (large or small) to reduce negative impacts on our natural environment. I do not believe this is the sole solution to fighting climate change; however, it can be part of a multi-product approach and can be seen as a starting point to changing current food consumption patterns. 

Eating seasonally can also be very affordable because you are more likely to choose whole foods and plant-based foods at that. You don’t need to buy fancy goji berries, tropical fruits, or other superfoods. If you avoid packaged foods (even if they are healthy), your wallet is going to be much heavier, in a good way! 

Natural Products

Another thing that I’ve been slowly transitioning into is being more conscious with what I buy and what those products are made out of. Within the last few years, and more so in the last several months, I have started to make an active effort to buy items that are natural, biodegradable, and non-toxic. From cleaning products to skincare. Click here for a previous post on my natural (ish) skincare routine (https://heyitsmekylie.com/blog/beauty/natural-skincare-routine/

The most important takeaway in all of this is that a fall detox, or any detox for that matter, should not be about perfection. It is about progression. Especially when making the switch to natural products, it is understood that it is going to take some time. Some people may go about it by tossing all their old products, while others are going to use what they have until the products are empty, and then slowly transition. I personally do the latter, as I hate wasting things. Switching to a cleaner face wash or natural deodorants are a great way to start. I personally have been loving the routine brand in the scent Johnny’s Cash. It has notes of cedar, pine and lumberjack and blends into your skin like a dream!

routine cream deodorant

Whether it is slowing down, eating seasonally (and whole plant foods), or making the switch to clean beauty/skincare, there are so many ways you can detox your life this Fall and prepare for the Winter months ahead. What are your favourite ways to Fall detox?

~ Kylie