It was long overdue. The yoga shaming had to end. This Yoga Phenomenon was apparently here to stay and it wasn’t going away until it at least took another middle-aged man’s life. It was time to Man-Up. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the request of my 17 year old son: “C’mon Dad, it’ll be fun”. I wasn’t about to let my fragile male ego be squashed by my not-one-inch-of-body-fat child.
It was time that I attempted a first-ever yoga session at the world famous Parallel Yoga. With much hesitation and trepidation, I made my way to the facility hoping for a quiet Monday night of torture (like who would ever subject themselves to such pain on a Monday night?). Despite my high hopes of relative obscurity, the class was jammed — full of seasoned, in shape, young yoga pros. I could almost read the minds of several whom surely thought that I had entered the wrong building, as the liquor store was only one door down (smart move: yoga then wine, I get it).
I am in relatively decent shape, but there was no question that I was way out of my element. I thought that I could fudge my way through this evening and not make a complete spectacle of myself. Out of sync and as graceful as an angry giraffe, I was only hoping that I looked nothing like Chris Farley in his SNL Chippendales routine (a reference lost on, well, not-middle-aged men).
As I sat down on my unpadded 1/2 millimeter (why?) mat, I couldn’t help but wonder why Instructor Kara sat me so close to the front door. It crossed my mind as perhaps she was allowing me all the grace in the world to make an early, quick and uneventful exit. Perhaps she was allowing herself that very same option with a swift kick to my rear.
In all seriousness, it was an incredible experience that left me exhausted and feeling great. It was ever so apparent that I was being led through the routines by a real professional. Kara took us through the program with the grace and orchestration of a maestro.
Thank you Kara! Fair warning, I will be back!
Darcy is a father of four amazing young humans, who also happens to be an amazing human himself. Thank you Darcy for allowing us to post this great review!
November is a month of remembrance: to remember and honour the people that we’ve lost in our community and in our history. Though specific events may always be with us, it is uplifting to see us rise up and be there for each other. Poppies are a symbol of this remembrance, but closer to home we see people choosing to show their strength in different ways: By wearing their Abby Strong shirts or red and black clothing; entire schools have even been participating, either wearing Abby Senior colours or their own; to see the people rallying together in black and blue to remember a prominent member of our community who’s job was to keep us safe.
People learning and growing rather than fearing is a beautiful thing, and we should be proud to be a part of this community. We have proven our strength time and time again, and will continue to do so.
These things may be especially hard to face if you are one where the weather affects your mood this time of year. The darker and colder months might tend to bring you down, but it is important to make your mental health a priority. Here are some ways you can practice self care through Fall and Winter:
1) Keeping Healthy Eating Habits:
The holiday season is filled with turkey dinners and Christmas cookies, but adding some nutrition into our meals is essential.
Take even just 5 minutes of your day to calm your mind. Meditation takes many forms: sitting or lying in stillness, a moving meditation like a walk or yoga, downloading a meditation app on your phone or listening to a guided meditation podcast. Which ever you choose, it can significantly — and positively — affect your mood to start or finish your day.
3) Bundle up:
Wrap yourself in sweaters, scarves, socks, and blankets; whatever it takes to get you comfortable. Maybe make yourself a warm drink and cozy up to read a book or watch some of your favourite movies.
4) Diffuse your favourite essential oils:
Essential oils have certain healing powers that will make you feel so good! Some good ones for stress are lavender, bergamot, and lemongrass.
Exercise is important all year round, but it is easy to fall out of your routines during the holidays. Not only does yoga help you move in a mindful way, it is also a great way to relieve stress. Check out our schedule, or book your private consultation with one of our experts.
If seasonal changes affect you at all, remember to take care of yourself ahead of all else. When the days start to get shorter we generally are weary and find ourselves to be more solitary. This is not a bad thing; take it as a time to reflect and recharge. As part of such a beautiful community, remind yourself you are not alone. These seasons are for bringing people together. Be sure to take advantage of them as they come, and remember your strength through it all.
Back-to-school time doesn’t need to be stressful, but even a little bit of stress caused by the excitement of a new school year can throw kids (and you!) a off your game.
Here are some ways to consciously slow yourself down when you recognize you’re stressed–and you can teach these coping mechanisms to your littles, too!
(Breaths, that is.)
When you notice signs of stress, give yourself permission to close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths. The extra oxygen increases blood flow to your brain, and restores a sense of calm and well-being. Doing this simple exercise can greatly assist in relaxation of your body.
Taking 5 deep breaths is an easy way for kids to calm themselves and allow for clearer thinking.
Stretch Your Neck
Sit up straight, let your arms hang at your sides, and slowly lower one ear down to one shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, return to a neutral position, and repeat the exercise on the other side.
After that’s done, slowly bend your neck towards your tummy and simply let go. Carefully return to a neutral position, and repeat all three stretches if necessary.
Create a Personal Mantra
Softly chanting something soothing to yourself can be incredibly stress-relieving. This works great with kids, too. Choosing something like “I am calm” or “Be soft, be slow” can really work wonders.
Close your eyes, then breathe slowly and evenly while either verbalizing or thinking your mantra to yourself. Do this five times.
Finding a quiet spot to sit with your eyes closed is key. Focus on your breath, and how your body responds to breathing deeply. Try to take a time out for five minutes, but even doing this for two minutes is helpful.
With meditation, it’s a great idea to create a routine each morning in which to start your day with a sense of calm. Meditating during acute times of stress is great too, but making it an everyday habit can help ward off that stress to begin with.
CLICK HERE to find some guided meditations for kids.
Come to Class
By practicing the above tips, you and your kids can take charge of your back-to-school stress so that everyone experiences a better transition.
If you’re practicing yoga on a regular basis, chances are you’re a fairly health-conscious person. So at Parallel Yoga, we’ve come up with 4 smoothie recipes fit for a yogi! The following smoothies are delicious, nutritious, and full of yoga-inspired goodness.
Please give them a try and let us know what you think!
Green from A to Zen
As the name may imply, this smoothie has everything in it to get your body to where it needs to be. It can serve as a full meal replacement, and because the nutrients are blended, it can be absorbed and used by your body almost immediately. (No heavy digestion necessary!)
Between this smoothie and your deep, conscious breathing, you’re giving your body an excellent start to the day. Throw a little yoga class in there, and your body will love you. Go find your zen with this smoothie.
- Handful fresh spinach
- 1 kale leaf
- ½ cup frozen blueberries
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 scoop unsweetened hemp protein powder (like Vega)
- 1 tsp. chia seeds and/or shredded coconut (to garnish)
- Combine first 6 ingredients in blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Sprinkle with chia seeds (or coconut) to garnish, and enjoy right away.
Breathe & Banana
This banana-heavy smoothie is chill and full of protein and potassium—a mineral imperative for great heart health, and for facilitating the conduction of impulses in nerve cells.
“Deficiencies of potassium have been linked to an increased risk of hypertension, kidney stones, osteoporosis, carbohydrate intolerance, stroke and cardiovascular disease.” (1)
This smoothie is a great heart helper!
- 1 frozen banana (peeled)
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 tbsp. almond butter
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts and/or a sprinkle of oats (to garnish)
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Garnish with a walnuts (or oats), and drink immediately.
Yin/Yang Smoothie Bowl
Sometimes you want smooth, and sometimes you want a little crunch. This smoothie bowl gives you the best of both worlds!
- 1 frozen banana (peeled)
- 6 frozen strawberries
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup vanilla soy milk
- 1 tbsp. chopped pecans (to garnish)
- 1 tbsp. Pepita (pumpkin) seeds (to garnish)
- 1 tbsp. hemp hearts (to garnish)
- Combine the first 4 ingredients into a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix).
- Blend until thick and smooth, adding a little more soy milk if necessary.
- Spoon into a bowl, and garnish with pecans, pepitas, and hemp hearts.
- Eat with a spoon, and love every second of it.
*If you want even more crunch, feel free to add some granola.
Similar to Breathe & Banana, the Tropi-Calm is a calming, muted smoothie that is high in vitamin C and iron—both of which need each other to be absorbed properly. Think of this smoothie as centered, balanced, and perfect for restoring harmony in your body.
- 1 banana
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
- 1 mandarin orange
- 1 cup pure coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. unsweetened, shredded coconut (to garnish)
- 3 chopped dried apricots and/or slice of orange (to garnish)
- Blend first 4 ingredients well.
- Pour into glass, and garnish with coconut, apricots and orange slices.
- Drink immediately!
Enjoy, and namaste, yogis! xo
Yogis. You know we love our studio, but we also love to shake things up once in awhile. This summer, we’re offering one yoga class a week at Glenridge Park from 8:30-9:30pm on Wednesdays. This is your opportunity to find out why taking your practice outside can produce major benefits to your regular yoga routine!
Not sure? Read the following 5 reasons to practice yoga outside this summer:
You Become Better Connected to Your Neighbourhood
Giving up the privacy of a studio to practice yoga outside can be empowering for you and encouraging for onlookers! Also, the sound of the birds and other wildlife can help you feel connected to what the world is like in your immediate environment.
Your neighbourhood is a great place to practice yoga!
The Terrain Makes it Harder
Challenge your body with an uneven surface to practice on!
If studio yoga has become a bit monotonous for you, then outdoor yoga should take you to the next level. Typically, practicing yoga outside increases core tension and demands better balance.
There’s No Competition for Mat Space
You know when you arrive twenty minutes early to class so you can throw your mat down before space becomes dismal? Yeah–you don’t have to do that with outdoor yoga!
With plenty of available space, you can roll in 5 minutes early and set up wherever your beautiful heart desires. Speaking of beautiful…
Practicing yoga outside is beyond scenic. If you’re getting tired of staring at a wall while in tree pose, consider outdoor yoga. Birds, bees, flowers, and actual trees.
That becomes your yoga environment.
You Become Intimate with Nature
We realize nature has been a running theme in this post, but here’s the deal: you and nature? You’re one and the same–you deserve to spend more time together.
Especially in the summer when the option is available to us almost every day!
Becoming more connected to nature is an actual practice–it’s called Earthing! By practicing yoga outside, you engage in a form of Earthing that is beneficial for your body, mind, and soul.
Yogis, consider attending our new Wednesday night yoga classes in Glenridge Park, taught by Jess from 8:30-9:30pm. Sign up in studio or online, using the Mind Body app.
Ah, summer. Here we go! While it’s usually a fun-filled, busy time of year that we all try to fit as much into as possible, it’s also important to remember to take some time.
(Like, for doing slow, meticulous, quiet things.)
But first, what is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness
Here are 20 ideas to help you have a mindful summer:
- Walk in the rain
- Meditate outside
- Go for a walk by yourself without your phone
- Go for a hike
- Sit by a waterfall
- Read a book on mindfulness
- Practice conscious breathing
- Pet an animal in silence for 5 minutes
- Go earthing
- Paint on canvas
- Commit to keeping a journal
- Write some poetry
- Eat an entire meal in silence
- Take a 24-hour technology break
- Create a peaceful space in your house
- Intentionally watch a sunrise AND sunset
- Practice daily gratitude
- Initiate a conversation with a homeless person
- Volunteer somewhere
- Stretch for 5 minutes every day
Wanna be especially mindful? Try going through this list every month! Or sharing it with others. Or adding your own ideas to it.
To be extra awesome, try attending a yoga class three times a week or more! By the end of the summer, you’ll be thanking yourself for both upping your mindful game and getting in shape, both physically and mentally.
And because we’re big fans of yoga and nature in combination, we’re offering Yoga in the Park on Wednesdays at 8:30pm starting in July. Attending this class each week can help you add yoga to your schedule while practicing with the birds and the bees.
For more information, visit our website or stop by the studio. Happy Summer, friends!
Namaste, lovely yogis.
There are many benefits to practicing yoga, and relief from stress and anxiety is just one of them—but it’s a big one.
Many medical professionals believe that stress and anxiety are underlying issues that contribute to a huge variety of diseases, including digestive disease, some types of cancer, obesity, skin conditions, and many more.
By ridding yourself of the triggers that cause anxiety in your life (or learning how to manage it more effectively), you can give yourself a leg up when it comes to disease prevention. That’s huge! And at the time of year when kids are taking exams and sports are wrapping up, life can sometimes feel out of control.
But yoga helps.
Here are 5 ways in which yoga can help to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, while also teaching you to deal with them in ways that are productive and healing:
Yoga Teaches You to Use Your Breath
We all breathe, but learning to breathe consciously and mindfully at times of stress and anxiety can be a huge asset to your health and well-being. Breathing deeply and purposefully allows your body to take the heart rate down, circulate more oxygen to the bloodstream, and feed every single little cell with nutrients.
When this happens, our body is given a signal that we do not need to be in fight or flight, and we can relax.
And we do.
Yoga Invites Humility into Your Life
Practicing yoga helps you realize that everyone walks a different path, and consequently, your problems are not unique to you. You’re not the only one in class with a rebellious teenage son or daughter. You’re not the only one struggling at work.
And you’re not the only one with tight hamstrings.
Yoga teaches us that although we are each immensely important, we move as one and all need to respect one another in order to reap life’s rewards. This realization can be deeply powerful in combating chronic stress that leads to anxiety.
Poses and Postures Help Reduce Inflammation
Your organs feel your stress and anxiety, and although you may not feel the effects immediately, they do, and it’s only a matter of time until you recognize that.
Your body responds to stress by creating inflammation. In an effort to protect itself, your amazing body creates a buffer between its very important parts, but this buffer is not meant to be permanent.
Yoga helps to reduce and eliminate inflammation by increasing circulation (bringing more oxygen to the brain and body), calming the mind, and creating a collection of healthy thoughts and emotions within ourselves that we can draw from when we feel the need to.
Kind of like a mental health toolbox!
You Learn to Be Still
Think that 10 minutes in savasana is just a show? Think again. Some people have a harder time staying in savasana than they do in pigeon!
Because laying still in the day without expectation of sleep invites thought into your mind that you may not want there. But dealing with those thoughts in a safe place instead of avoiding them is the healthier alternative.
Learning to be still can help you eliminate a lot of stress—that’s why meditation is so amazing for your body, too!
Competition Stays at the Door
Many of us compete with each other and even ourselves without even realizing it. While competition can definitely be healthy, it’s also unnecessary to be steeped in all the time. Learning to put aside competitive feelings can have a very positive affect on your body—and your anxiety levels.
Your body is intuitive.
We are remarkably designed beings, capable of knowing physically, emotionally, and spiritually what we need and when we need it. Although sometimes difficult to remember or wrap our heads around, we are complete and perfectly molded.
Your body is not separate from your mind, which is not separated from your soul. Intuition flows seamlessly though these moving parts of each one of us, and we need only to pay attention to know the answer to this question: what do I need?
When our eyes feel tired, we close them and gift them rest. When our stomachs growl, we eat, and feel fulfilled. When we are sad, we shed tears, and become cleansed. We know, intuitively, how to care for ourselves, and by extension, others.
Even Albert Einstein, who of course is known as a scientist, has been quoted as saying: “I believe in intuition and inspirations…I sometimes feel that I am right.”
The practice of yoga helps us to connect the seemingly separate parts of ourselves, because it emphasizes connection. We use our breath to connect our muscles and our minds. We chant together to enrich and liven our souls; to connect to one another. We close our eyes and place a hand over our heart to connect everything that is us.
“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you.” –Deepak Chopra
At Parallel Yoga, we like to help inspire connection within ourselves, as well as others and the community. If you’re new to our studio, we hope you leave your mat feeling above anything else, connected.
You and I and everyone within our studio—we are the same, and we are intuitively connected because we are divine.