My first Ontario winter living out in the country, and some days the snow doesn’t stop falling.
We make decisions sometimes; stop at the corner store, run that extra errand, or perhaps to stop and check the mail on the way home. I decided to stop and check the mail a few short days ago. Driving on our country roads you need to pull over to hug the edge as another car comes to pass, and sometimes that hug can pull us right in.
Within seconds, me alongside my two little companions, found ourselves in the ditch. Over the years, and especially over the past year as we’ve navigated the pandemic, I have come to realize how much we need eachother. How much all of life, needs eachother.
The kindness of everyone who passed, offering their help. A beautiful young soul drove the 15 minutes away to borrow his grandmothers tractor. I didn’t know if he was going to come back, trusting……surrendering into the ditch, breathing with my companions………….and trusting. When did we stop dropping everything to help one another, especially when we need it the most. Or when did that become a rare occurence. I have shared this story with a few friends and I am surprised at how shocked they are by the kindness of strangers. Once upon a time, there was no question, we helped without hesitation.
Suddenly, we saw the tractor meandering along the snow covered country roads, and this incredible experience of joy bubbled up from inside of me. Who knew a tractor could bring so much relief and so much happiness (I guess it depends on who you ask). I turned to my 11 year old son and asked him what he thought I should do to thank this caring young man, in his wise 11 years of life he asked me
Why would you need to do anything?
If you gave him something in return for his offer of help, he would feel obligated to do the same if he ever needed help, can’t you just say thank you and accept the help? If you gave him money, he would feel bad asking for help if he didn’t have money. You would want the same if the situation were reversed.
Mom, just promise to pay it forward.
Ahhh my eyes filled with tears, and it made me sad that in our society there are often strings attached, the simple kindness of strangers – helping eachother because it’s why we’re here – at the base of it all, how can we be of service to the greater whole, for no other reason than our innate nature to care.
I am so grateful, and will never walk away when someone has fallen. This doesn’t have to look big, and there needn’t ever be an expectation of anything in return. It’s why we’re here. In community we all do our part, we bring our strengths to the table and we offer our gifts. Those gifts are anything from knowing how to drive a tractor and having an open heart to help the lady and her 2 children as they find themselves stuck in a ditch with no way out, to offering a love filled soup to nourish your family or your neighbour, fixing a pipe, finding a book off a shelf for someone, or writing a masterpiece as a creative expression of your soul and balm for the soul of others…….
Reciprocity; nurturing the circle of helping hands, we offer from a place of compassion and gratitude, and we learn to accept, and the circle continues.
This week I ask you to take a bit of time to ponder a few thoughts
How would you respond if someone needed help, a stranger? In small and big ways?
How have you recieved the support of someone else’s kindness, often in unexpected ways?
What does community mean to you, and what do you think your offering to your community is?
What does reciprocity mean to you? What might that look like in your own life?
Consider deep gratitude and appreciation as a form of reciprocity.
What are you grateful for today?
I’m grateful for tractors, for a lovely young man who offered help, for the snow and the ditch that offered me this learning, and I’m grateful I live in such a special community.
Thank you for taking the time to share my thoughts today, as I watch the snow continue to fall outside my window.
Karma Brown, in her latest book, The 4% Fix, talks about how we all have the same 24 hours in our day and that we all have the choice of how we use our time. She asks a big question- if you could take one hour a day ( 4% of your day) and devote it to something you’ve always wanted more time for, what would it be? Could you begin to set time aside on a daily basis to explore your passion?
She also suggests that in every day we try to incorporate 4 categories:
Health/Wellness (maybe some yoga? A walk?)
Creativity (endless choices)
Family /Friend time
Productivity (cleaning a closet, baking, learning something new)
How does your day stack up?
Pranayam: 4 part Breath of Joy- (3 inhales/ sniffs through nose and 1 strong exhale through the mouth)
Come to standing.
Inhale (sniff)and reach arms up to the sky. Inhale (sniff) again and brings arms out to the sides.
Inhale (sniff) a third time and reach arms back to the sky. Exhale with loud sigh through the mouth and sweep arms down towards the ground, knees bent to allow the spine to relax. Keep going.
Imagine you are conducting your own orchestra- feel joy!
Airplane Forward Bends- inhale, raise arms overhead, lift ribcage and add a slight backbend if available. Exhale as you bend forward from the hips allowing the arms to swing back behind you, palms facing ceiling. Continue with powerful breathing and let yourself fly!
Standing hula hoops to Torso Circles- begin making small circles with the torso, as if holding up a hula hoop. Reverse. Then bring hands on hips and make bigger circles in both directions.
Windmills- feet fairly wide apart, arms outstretched at shoulder height, palms down. Inhale at centre, exhale and reach left hand towards right foot. Inhale back up to centre, exhale as you change sides. Keep going.
Standing Squats- legs are shoulder width apart. Arms straight out front parallel with palms facing down. Inhale fully, exhale and squat down into crow pose with arms remaining out front. Exhale and return to standing. Work at your own pace.
Seated neck rolls- come into easy pose. Begin slow, conscious neck rolls in both directions.
Postures: To get your energy going and strengthen the heart and immune system
( work up to 2 minutes per posture)
Knee Raises in place- begin walking with knees high or running in place and punch fists out alternately. Use a powerful breath with each punch. To end: Inhale, exhale and stand perfectly still and feel the energy moving through the body. Feel centred at the navel.
Cross crawls- Remain standing. Raise bent left leg towards chest, right arm straight up to the sky. Alternate arms and legs. Coordinate with a powerful breath. Imagine you are a tin soldier marching. To end: inhale deeply and balance on left foot, right arm up. Exhale down and change sides.
Frogs– bring heels together and point toes outward. Squat down with buttocks close to heels, arms between knees, fingers on floor in front. Inhale and straighten the legs, bringing head towards knees, exhale and return down to original position. Start with 10 and work up to 26.
Leg stretch– legs are extended out front, feet are flexed. Inhale and reach for the sky, exhale and reach down towards the toes. Hold and breathe long and deep.
Seated spinal twist– in easy pose, hands on shoulders. Inhale and twist left, exhale and twist right. Allow your head to turn looking over each shoulder.
Heart meditation- sit in easy pose with a straight spine. Raise arms up to 60 degree angle, fingers together, palms face the ceiling. Feel the stretch down the arms. Breathe long and deep through the nose. After a minute or two, release the arms down to the knees and sit quietly, bringing your total awareness to your heart centre. Breathe into your heart.
Come lying on the back, arms by the side palms up, legs comfortably apart, eyes closed.
Take a few deep inhales through the nose, hold and tighten every muscle, then exhale loudly through the mouth. Repeat 3x or more.
When you return to a seated position, come to stillness and repeat this lovingkindness practice.
May I be at peace, May my heart remain open,
May I awaken to the light of my own true nature,
May I be healed, May I be a source of healing for all beings.
Sending you a big hug today, I feel like we all could use an extra hug these days.
A few weeks ago I was blessed to be a case study for a dear friend (who happens to be my husband) who recently completed the Core Gift Discovery Workshop, to help support people to dive deeper into themselves and explore the unique gifts we all come here to share. What I found most impactful, was that some of the more traumatic events of my life were what came through as I discovered my own core gift. Often its these pivotal moments that don’t always make sense that inform what we commmit our lives to, where we find passion and deep inspiration.
I invite you to take some time over the next little while and contemplate a few ideas.
When do you feel at home in yourself? Or is this a foreign concept?
Contemplate the idea of purpose and gifts. What do they mean to you personally? This may be woven into the fabric of your working life, or it may be an area of your life where you recharge or you seem to keep going back to – fueled by passion, emotion, and a deep genuine concern. Your working life may help to support your purpose, it’s not always that clear.
Perhaps pull out your journal and write or sit in silent contemplation, writing and expressing without editing. It amazes me how often we edit or script our responses – even in our personal journals. It’s time to drop the scripting and show up – exactly as you are – life is to short to be any other way. At this juncture in our lives, it’s also a good time to reflect on what you truly care about; what do you think deserves more of your time and energy, and does it also support the whole?
The seeds start within us and the way they are expressed are uniquely ours – but there is a reciprocity that’s necessary, like the seeds in our gardens. It’s not always easy to recognize that those seeds are waiting for nourishment, deep inside of us, or what that nourishment needs to look like. When we’re able to move from a place which honours what we contribute to the greater collective (no matter how small or large), feeling deep gratitude for the seeds we contain, and then we step forward in our lives in a purposeful way – this is when magic happens.
As you ponder the presence of the seeds inside of you, I wonder what arises?
Is there an area of your life that ignites passion inside of you or fill you with strong emotions that urge you forward? OR is there something that keeps coming up for you, maybe like a soft whisper, wrapped in curiousity? Hmmm if you listened to that whisper and offered that curiousity some attention, I wonder what that would look like for you?
What did those hard lessons in your life teach you?? Often the difficult lessons are when we’re shown a glimpse of what our core gifts may be, or they may evoke something so strongly inside of us, that they show us where our voice is needed. This is not always easy, this I do understand.
I believe we all have the potential to tap into something greater than us, and our seeds which hold are gifts as sacred, are a larger and a necessary part of the whole. As Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us (thank you Sarah), can you acknowledge any fears that hold you back, invite them along for the ride (suppressing them only gives them more power), tap in, explore, nurture what is stirring softly or loudly making itself known from within you, fear and all.
If you want to move through the core gifts discovery process, there are many amazing humans who can support you, you can go to The Core Gift Institute to find out more.
Sending you so much love, and reverence for your core gifts – whether they are shining brightly or hidden, awaiting the perfect moment to be discovered and nurtured into life.
“Every human being is born with some sort of gift, and inclination or an instinct that can become a full-blown mastery. We may not see our gift for what it is. Having seen it we may choose not to accept the gift and its consequences for our life. Or, having claimed our gift, we may not be willing to do the hard work necessry to nurture it. But none of these evasions can alter the fact that the gift is ours. Each of us is a master at something, and part of becoming fully alive is to discover and develop our birthright competence.”
You Are Beautiful, and I am so grateful you exist!!
Welcome to your Wednesday Wellness Reflection,
A little exploration on the importance of healing touch during a time much of our world is deprived of positive physical contact.
Compassionate touch is one of the most sacred ways we can connect as beings; it allows us to move beyond the physical barriers we create and respond to each other in a deeply nourishing and healing way.
As the number of cases of illness in all of its forms increases in our world, there also exists an increased need to connect in this heartfelt healing and loving way, especially as we navigate a world where physical contact has been greatly withdrawn over the past year. We are coming through a very fear infused and touch deprived chapter in many of our lives.
Touch given with a therapeutic and compassionate intention has the potential to affect an individual physically, emotionally, and spiritually; it can soothe physical pain; and also create space for the mind to come to a place of stillness and acceptance. Through simply being present with an individual and offering comfort, not ignoring their pain or even necessarily trying to fix their condition, an environment for a deeper level of healing is fostered.
When I began giving massage therapy to individuals with cancer, through complex care and at end of life; it increased my understanding of human suffering and the ways in which it is a shared suffering. I have also witnessed the incredible impact touch can have on an individual when one meets them in this place.
My hands have made contact with a person and the separation between us seems to dissolve. I have physically felt and seen peoples bodies soften and rest into the support of the therapeutic massage, the healing intention and my hands. I have watched their breath become deeper and more restful as they respond while the treatment helps to soothe their pain – on a physical and an emotional level. It is in these moments that I truly understand the phenomenal power of touch.
Massage is a safe therapy to receive with many conditions, however this does not negate that there are important considerations when receiving treatment. It is important to ensure you work with someone who understands pathology and the changing needs of the body. With careful modifications, a well-trained and educated therapist can provide massage during diagnosis, during medical treatment, when in remission, through palliative care with a terminal diagnosis and through survivorship.
The benefits, which I have witnessed first hand, are invaluable. Reflecting on my clinical experience over the past 20 years, as well as reference to the reputable studies that have successfully been done, massage has helped people with; pain management, anxiety, depression, disconnection from the body and/or from people, self esteem, body image, muscular tension, stiffness and pain, nausea, fatigue and feelings of isolation or loneliness. It can also help with the emotional impact of the awareness of a problem that needs care, and a diagnosis of any type.
When I enter a therapeutic relationship I also often find that a primary goal of our time together, is to support the reintegration of a person, reminding them that they are so much more than a diagnosis, so much more. Often what is needed most is a safe place to rest, to offer comfort, to offer positive and very human care, and to help with symptom relief specific to the individual
Massage and therapeutic touch have the potential to be such a healing and supportive addition to a persons circle of care. Every person is unique, and every person’s story is unique, which needs to be deeply honoured regardless of what a person is going through. The experiences and the stories I have been privileged to share with people through my hands and my heart have shaped me as a massage therapist, as a yoga teacher and how I experience life as a whole.
General guidelines of important medical areas to discuss with your therapist would look something like this:
(adapted from Tracy Walton’s “Massage therapy for people with cancer: Fear and Healing”)
Whether/how/where issue is currently manifesting
Current or past treatments (surgery/radiation/chemo/bone marrow transplant/etc.), side effects, complications, and discuss how this will be considered in the massage treatment
Discuss lymph node involvement and risk of lymphodema
Discuss medications and their effects
Discuss if dialogue with your medical doctor would be appropriate and necessary, based on your health history, status, and stage of progression.
A continued update to any changes in your health is essential, and it is also necessary to check your response to every massage treatment to ensure you are always getting the best possible care.
Most importantly, how YOU are
This is definitly a simplification and a general look at some key specific medical areas that need to be covered when you have a more complex condition and you’re seeing a massage therapist for the first time. Not all areas noted above will be relevant to everyone, and in other people there will be a need to expand on the complexity of the above information. When these concerns are discussed openly and honestly between you and your therapist, there will be a greater sense of trust and the treatment can proceed with more confidence for everyone involved.
The gift of touch is shared, as is the suffering, and connecting in this way can pave the path for true compassion and healing. It is my hope that we as a society will not continue to embrace the fear of the unknown or the fear of illness, but rather embrace the mystery and humanness of life. There is a sacred element in sharing this journey with others through touch. The people that I have worked with have allowed me to integrate the beauty and the intuition of massage, but also to deeply respect the science behind massage, the body and disease and to see how massage can positively affect a person when the bridge between the science and the art are joined in a mindful way.
With a deep respect for the human body, and the safe spaces where we can put ourselves back together again,
Much love, Amber
(This is a modified piece I wrote – honouring where we find ourselves in the present, previously published with the Victoria Cancer Resource Center newsletter, and the East Coast massage network conference publication on cancer and massage)
February is associated with Love- a time to focus on the heart and lungs, one of the most powerful centres of the body both physically and emotionally. When our hearts are open we can more easily see our troubles as blessings.
There is a significant strain on the heart right now which shows that we need to open and strengthen the heart centre. As adults we can be so serious about life and the world- an open heart can help us to be in the moment, help us to feel gratitude.
This week, please take a moment to reflect on this wonderful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.
Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
Three Minute Heart Meditation:
In a seated position, begin taking a few long deep breaths, eyes gently closed.
Place your hands over your heart chakra. Focus on an image that makes you happy- a person, a place, an object. Begin to notice a sensation of warmth, openness, love building around your heart. Let it flow through your body. Let it soothe you as your fill your body with love.
Warm ups: 2 minutes each
Standing Forward Bends– bring hands to prayer pose at the heart, take a few deep breaths. Inhale and stretch arms overhead, palms stay together, adding slight backbend if available. Exhale bending from the hips towards the ground.
Standing Side Bends- legs are fairly close together. Bend to one side stretching the opposite arm over the head. Alternate smoothly from side to side, inhaling as you stretch, exhaling as you come up. Keep the chest square, do not let the torso bend forward or backward.
Torso Rolls- Hands on hips, circle the torso in both directions. Circles can be smaller at the outset, increasing in size as the spine warms up.
Windmills- Feet fairly wide apart, arms outstretched at shoulder level with palms down. Inhale at centre, exhale and reach left hand towards right foot, inhale back to centre, exhale as you change sides.
Seated neck rolls- Come into easy pose. Begin slow, conscious neck rolls in each direction.
Postures: (2-3 minutes per)
The first two exercises work the physical heart. Feel the flow of that special heart energy into the physical heart, your heart chakra. Allow your body to relax.
Remember that we are all going through this pandemic together and we will get through to other side!
Arms out to side, palms down, fingers together. Begin to cross the arms and hands back and forth in front of the body. Alternate the cross right on top, then left.
Eyes are closed as though looking at tip of nose.
Inhale as you open and pull the arms back, squeezing the shoulder blades and opening the heart. Exhale and cross in front. Inhale Sat and exhale Nam- (try to hear the sound of Sat Nam in your breath). Keep it powerful!
To end: Inhale, stretch arms out front, reaching through the shoulders. Hold, exhale and rest.
Extend left hand out in front, palm is turned up with fingers to the sky- straight out from your body.
Bring right hand behind back, stretch it out, palm up as high as possible towards the sky.
Sit straight, chin in, breathe long and deep.
Follow the breath- inhale, suspend , exhale- each breath becomes a little longer. Listen to your own heartbeat.
Try to stretch left shoulder forward, right back and create a stretch across the heart.
To end: Inhale, hold breath and stretch, right shoulder back, left forward- exhale. Repeat 3 times.
Let it go, hands on knees, sit with eyes closed.
Feel energy in the heart centre- pumping blood and magnetic energy. Our hearts carry the strongest magnetic field in the body. Allow the heart energy to calm the mind.
3rd Exercise– Meditation: Hummee Hum Brum Humm
Raise arms to shoulder level, elbows are bent parallel to ground, fingertips touch to start in front of body, palms face down.
Chanting Hummee Hum– pull the arms back to create stretch in heart- as though bringing shoulder blades to touch.
Keep elbows at shoulder height as you bring fingers almost to touch in front of the body as you chant Brum Humm. Continue with this back and forth pattern.
To end: Inhale deeply, pull arms back at height of shoulders, open across heart, exhale and release.
Take a few moments to relax completely on the back or in easy pose.
Send loving kindness to all your loved ones and to yourself.
Welcome to this week’s Wednesday wellness reflection.
I invite you to take a moment and close your eyes, or find a calming focus point. Tune into your breath and notice how it feels flowing in and flowing out.
Is it difficult to concentrate on that rhythm?
Does this simple breath practice support a calm internal state or do you notice a wave of anxiety? Try if you can to just stay curious to what’s happening for you in this moment.
If your mind is wandering, perhaps invite your attention back to your breath, consciously invite ease and peace into your body and try to be gentle with yourself.
In this space of stillness, I wonder how you’re doing?
Take your time here, honouring however you show up right now.
I went for a walk in the woods the other day searching for peace and quiet. As I stepped outside however things were different, the normal quiet I have been accustomed to in the forest, had been I felt robbed, by the sound of a jackhammer echoing through the trees.
I was craving quiet as it was my first day alone at our home after 6 weeks, needing time to decompress, I had a strong desire and raw base need for silence.
With that first step I could feel my body growing more tense, annoyed at how they could ruin my time of solitude. I traveled through irritation, to annoyance, to what seemed to be anger bubbling up inside of me. As I walked and breathed into the whole emotional soup that was steadily brewing, I could sense all the emotions from not just that moment, but from this past year, coming up to the surface, triggered yes, by the jackhammer – it felt like they were breaking through the stone of how I thought I was, allowing me a window into the truth of my core in this moment.
At a certain point I found myself sitting beside a tree, tears streaming down my cheeks, no longer aware of the jackhammer.
Something happened in that moment, a deep sigh of relief, for that sound that only minutes before brought up anger slowly urged me deeper – deeper into the woods and in that journey, deeper into myself.
Slowly my breath too deepened, and I could truly connect with the contact points beneath my own body as I leaned into the constant comforting support and nurturing embrace that I find only as I sit upon and connect with the earth. As the soup simmered I sat in silence, gratitude seemed to flow through me for the workers who are simply helping my neighbours to create a home in the forest, they were not intentionally trying to steal away my silence. Gratitude for the miracle that has brought me and my family to these healing woods. I felt gratitude, believe it or not, for the sound that urged me deeper inside, yes the jackhammer itself.
I was able to detach from the external distractions, realizing to immerse myself in that much needed quiet I first needed to find it in myself, regardless of what was happening around me. There is no cave that can bring us that silence, it is what many spend their whole lives searching for, and meanwhile it’s always here patiently waiting inside.
We talk about this so often in our yoga classes, and we experience glimpses of the practice with the hopes that those glimpses will come with us as we roll up our mats. Sometimes those distractions or external “annoyances” we attach to and blame for a practice that we feel didn’t serve us, that pulled us out of our center – however often those are the times on our mats that often serve us the most – helping us to realize sometimes how far from our own centre we have actually strayed.
With everything happening in the world, I feel the fragility of life a little more these days, recommitting to my own life experience for this brief time I have in this body. I am also reminded to step out of the experience of I a little more often, and reflect on the bigger picture, all the pieces in the grander puzzle.
If you can, I encourage you to take a little bit of time over the next while to:
Think about your own motivations as you move through the ups and downs of your days.
Think about the way you respond or react to life.
Consider the impact of the stress, the pain, and the uncertainty in our global community on you. Are you able to acknowledge how perhaps your feeling the feelings that are being felt outside of yourself. Hmm, you may want to read that again, less confusing on the second read through!
Can you be gentle with yourself, and carve out windows for you – despite the jackhammers, and all the other external distractions that will assuredly arise in those moments.
Consider what triggers you, and perhaps dive deeper.
“Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts, I hope this reflection helped you in some small way on your own journey.
Please know I’m holding you in my heart,
With so much love,
If you want to practice with Amber on your own schedule, in the comfort of your own home, consider subscribing to her exlusive weekly wellness capsules and practice videos. To find out more click here
I am so grateful you are here as we explore this weeks Wednesday Wellness Reflection.
As I ponder our practice today the snow glistens on the tree branches and the sun is shining, nourishing the earth and the trees that take root upon her sacred ground. Personally I love the snow (for brief windows that is), gazing upon the magical white flakes – each so precious and so incredibly unique, hmmmm like each of us. I consider the winter as an invitation for a little deeper introspection, a time to cocoon so we are clear when the spring arrives.
Today I offer you the exploration of tree. Take a few moments to connect with your breath, feeling into the rhythm you arrive with – in this moment. Notice how you feel today, are there parts of you that need a little extra care? Take as much time as you need here, and then when you feel ready we’ll explore this powerful posture.
In Sanskrit tree pose is translated as Vrikshasana, Vriksha means “tree”. In this posture we explore balance, steady and rooted as we bring one foot against the lower leg or inner thigh of the other. Your arms may raise from prayer pose at the heart and slowly stretch over head just as the limbs of a tree stretch up towards the sunlight. You will wend your own way into your perfect tree today. Some days my tree is found lying on the ground covered in moss, somedays I embody a brilliant Charlie Brown Tree, and others I rise into my favorite majestic white pine.
As you approach your practice today, I suggest you also call on the support of a chair, a tree, or wall if you’re working with your balance, being gentle with wherever you are.
To come into tree feel your feet grounded, sensing your own roots traveling from the soles of your feet down deep into the earth. We steady ourselves on one leg, engaging the muscles so our trunk is strong – but our knee remains soft. Our opposite leg slowly lifts either resting toes on the ground with your heel against your lower leg or ankle, or perhaps it raises up from the ground resting against the inner aspect of your calf, or it may go even higher pressed against your inner thigh. We create stability by counter balancing our lifted leg and our sturdy trunk. As we find strength here, our hands come up to rest at heart center in prayer pose or they may lift up towards the sky, stretching your branches out exploring. Keep your gaze at a steady point, and don’t forget to breathe.
I offer you some reflections to ponder in tree pose:
Where are my roots, are they solid or just skimming the surface?
Have my roots spread? Do they continue to deepen?
When the wind blows do I stand tall, or am I blown out of the ground?
Where do my roots get their nourishment? Am I feeding my roots, or depriving them of that nourishment?
Which roots are mine, and where have my roots become tangled with something or someone else’s?
Am I willing to prune my tree, releasing that which stands in my way for optimal growth?
There is a lot of medicine in the tree. I recommend coming into the posture 2 times on each side if that resonates for you, stay focused on your roots, feel your breath, invite ease into your body as you stand strong.
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama
What are you grateful for today? Take some time, and feel your gratitude right in your heart, send it out into the world.
I am grateful for the trees; they provide shelter, oxygen to help nourish, homes for so many, medicine in it’s bark, needles, leaves, flowers and for all the bounty they offer us in numerous ways.
I am grateful for the history of my own roots, and all the rocks along the way.
Just sending some information on our online offerings, as many have reached out over the last while with a few questions, I always love hearing from our amazing community.
Thank you for your continued support of Surya Daya. We have so much to be grateful for; those of you joining us for our online offerings – it is such a gift to be able to stay connected with each of you, those of you who periodically check in with emails, those of you who came out and donated to our Interval House karma class on Christmas eve, where we managed to raise $350 for this incredibly important resource and service in our community, and to all of you generous souls who who have donated your old passes during these challenging times.
We have a few online offerings which continue as we ease into 2021.
I continue to offer a few anchors for you;
Tuesday afternoon Mindful Movement and Meditation from 2 – 3:00 pm – We move through a mindfulness based practice of breathwork, gentle movement, and meditation. You will be guided through some very gentle postures and somatic based movement reconnecting you with your body and encouraging easeful movement. The meditation practice is often a seated guided practice drawing on various mindfulness based techniques to bring you deeper into the calm oasis that lives inside of you – it is there, it just gets hidden sometimes. We begin to understand the patterns of our mind through practice, and invite a less reactive way of being in the world. The class ends with a few restorative postures and an extended relaxation to help you integrate the session and deepen your relaxation.
Saturday morning Integrative Kundalini Yoga class from 9 – 10:15 am – This more energizing holistic class integrates pranayama, meditation, toning and mantra practice, asana (postures), functional stretching, and deep relaxation. Each class has a particular focus to support you to feel the best you can in body, mind and spirit. Rooted in a Kundalini foundation, we integrate various other practices and lots of space to explore the movements to help to support you in evolving your own yoga.
We are also excited to offer you a new online offering.
Margie is facilitating a 5 week session Monday mornings from 10:00 – 11:00 am, starting Monday, January 25th : YIN YOGA AND QI GONG. Combining Qi Gong, Yin Yoga and energy medicine, this class hopes to help you feel more balanced, nourished and vibrant.
The ancient practice of Qi Gong gets energy flowing in your energetic body through the meridian system. Qi Gong practice combines gentle movements, meditation, breath practice and gentle self massage of the ears, hands, feet and neck. All of these self care practices encourage the harmonious flow of energy throughout the body, supporting the organ systems, the nervous system, the immune system and the emotional body.
Yin Yoga is also a gentle practice of longer held seated or lying down yoga postures, which stretch the connective tissue that unifies the entire body. This system is intimately intertwined with the meridian or energy system, supporting the flow of Chi through our meridian channels.
Yogic theory tells us that we have 72, 000 energy lines flowing in our bodies. Think of these lines as rivers of Chi. The easeful movement of this Chi is the secret to feeling energized and healthy.
This class is for all levels. You will learn techniques that you can use everyday, and for many years to come to enhance, nourish and sustain your vital energy, the key to your health
We will keep you updated if any new classes become available.
Amber has also created a video subscription, now available in Canadian dollars (I’m so excited to announce that!!), where you recieve exclusive practices in varying lengths from 5 minutes to 20 mintues, as well recordings from all my live classes. This project was inspired by all of you, born out of requests over the past 11 months, and I am honoured to offer you this extra support. It is a pay what you can model with varying options, and you get practices emailed directly to your inbox Mondays – Thursdays. White pine members also get unlimited free access to live classes, as well as a bonus weekly pranayama practice.
Contemplating this next chapter for Surya Daya and wellness support in our town, every day it becomes even more apparent that we have a responsibility to share these teachings with our community. My priority is to deepen the way we can be of service, and to support you the best way we can in our new way of being in this world.
We need stress management practices, yoga and meditation now, more than ever.
Please know, through closed windows and from a distance, I am here holding safe space for you, and there is a group of us planting seeds.
It is important for us to continue to make our support and our yoga resources accessible and available to YOU, regardless of your present situation. This is a time like no other where we need these tools and techniques, and the healing that happens when we dive a little deeper into our practice.
We invite you to sign up for the classes you’d like to attend in the following way.
Second, just click on the class (es) you’d like to attend that week (or the weeks ahead) and the system will walk you through the registration process. It’s easy, and only requires your name and email address to reserve your spot.
24 hours before the classes you have registered for, you will receive an email with the Zoom access link and password for the class. Click on the link to join the class via Zoom.
If you’re unable to attend, or find on that day you have “zoom fatigue”, no worries. We won’t use your passes for classes you haven’t physically attended or logged in for.
We do have several different tiers of consideration for payment that we are offering. If you are able to contribute a little, we would ask you to consider our pay what you can model – where you can simply send us an etransfer in the amount that you’re able, either class by class, or as a lump sum amount. As I mentioned, our primary intent is to help support you right now, whatever that needs to look like with your present situation.
If you have an existing Class Pass in our system, we will be using those passes automatically. Once you’re registered we can better keep track of your attendance and more efficiently use your pass.
We have created a new Online live class option – with a drop – in fee of $9.00 to purchase click here or a 5 class live on-line pass package for $40 to purchase click here. These new online passes can be purchased through our website or you can send an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. These passes do not expire and are only available for use for our online offerings.
If you don’t have a studio pass, no worries and no stress – remember we’re a yoga studio, the last thing we want to create for you is stress. We have our pay what you can option (these payments can be sent via e-transfer to email@example.com or you can mail a cheque (send us an email and we’ll send you our mailing address). no amount is to small, here you get to choose. Please just send us an email to let us know your situation.
24 hours before before the classes you have registered for, you will receive an email with the Zoom access link and password for the class. Click on the link to join the class via Zoom.
You will not be prompted to make a payment in the registration process, that is done either by etransfer, sending an email if you are mailing us a cheque, or by credit card on our website
If you have subscribed to Amber’s video subsciption you will recieve the recordings from only her live classes 24 – 48 hours following the class. White Pine members also recieve free unlimited access to Amber’s zoom classes.
If ANY of this is confusing, then please take a deep breath and take your time reading over all this information a second time. If it is still confusing, then please give me us a call at 613-451-2891 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are here to support you, through this time and beyond. We are excited at what the future holds for all of us. It may look different, but hopefully we are all being given this time of uncertainty to clarify what is truly important as we move forward in our lives.
Kundalini numerology tells us that 2021 in a number 5 year, marking the beginning of a powerful global shift. A number 5 year is all about transformation, change, possibility and building momentum for personal breakthrough and growth.
Number 5 also represents endurance, and to have endurance we need energy! We also need a strong navel point and a steady emotional centre to get us through the challenging months ahead.
If you are just starting back to yoga after the holidays, be patient and gentle with yourself! What is important is to get on the mat!
In the words of the Bhagavad Gita, “ Yoga is the journey of the Self, through the Self, to the Self.”
To build immunity- this is my go-to pranayam for the winter months. Try to practice this powerful breath every day!! (A sure way to build endurance!)
Inner Sun Breath:
Come to a comfortable seated position.
With left hand, the thumb holds down the ring (sun) finger and the remaining 3 fingers are straight up. Elbow bends and hand comes near shoulder, as if in a salute.
Make a fist with the right hand, index finger (Jupiter) is straight up.
With Index finger, block off Right nostril and begin Breath of Fire through the Left nostril, the sun nostril.
With each breath move the diaphragm up and down, the navel comes in and up on the exhale.
Keep the breath very powerful and create heat!
Standing Warm ups: Try to work up to 2 minutes
Standing Torso Rolls– begin slowly, gradually increase the range of motion. Feet can be comfortably apart, hands on hips, begin circling the body around the hips. Go in both directions. Excellent for the liver and digestive organs.
Standing Spinal Twist– Cross hands over heart, or bring arms up to 60 with palms facing and gently twist left to right, inhaling left, exhaling right. To finish take a big inhale with hands crossed over the heart. Hold that energy in the heart centre. Exhale.
Forward Bends: Inhale and reach up, add a backbend if available, exhale and reach forward towards the ground. Try to keep the legs straight to stretch the sciatic nerve. Inhale back up and continue with full, deep breaths.
Standing Cross Crawls: Imagine you are marching like a soldier. Inhale and raise right knee and left arm together, smoothly change sides lifting left knee and right arm. Helps to balance the brain and emotions. Keep a strong, steady pace.
Kriya for Energy & Rejuvenation
This kriya is short but powerful. It helps us to strengthen our capacity to endure. It builds stamina, courage and strength, physically, mentally and spiritually so that we can meet the current challenges with grace and vitality.
This set is to be done with a chair, ledge, or support to hold on to. If you have a partner, even better. Try to hold each posture for 3 minutes or more.
Grab the edge of a sink, stable chair, or your partner, and walk the feet back until you are holding your body at a 45 degree slope from heels to head. You will feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Begin raising and lowering alternate heels, walking in place without lifting the toes off the ground.
Arms and legs are fully extended and the body bends slightly in the middle. As you walk, you may lower your head; it does not have to be held up. Walk vigorously and work up a sweat.
Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and extend the arms above your head with the palms facing forward, the elbows slightly bent, and the fingers spread wide apart.
Swing your arms from side to side, keeping the hands above shoulder level. The momentum of the arm swing will cause the hips to swing if you are doing the movement with enough force. (Put on some great music and move!)
Once again grab the edge of the sink, stable chair, or a partner. Bend at the waist with your head down between your arms.
You will feel a stretch in your lower back and in the backs of your legs. Relax and stretch for several minutes.
Come on your back and relax for several minutes. Begin by taking a big inhale, hold and tense every muscle of the body, exhale cannon breath and let go. Repeat 3 times.
To end your practice, come back to easy pose, close down the eyes, hands comfortably in your lap.
Flowers don’t open and close according to who walks by. They embrace all of what they are and show it to the world around them. The peony doesn’t try to compete with the cherry blossom, and the cherry blossom doesn’t try to compete with the tulip – they own what they are and trust the timing of their true nature. You’re being called to do the same.
– Rebecca Campbell
Do you own the truth of who you are?
Or do you change depending on whose company you keep?
Regardless of past patterns, or how others sometimes like to put you in a box – it’s important at this stage of our lives to break out of any boxes.
In yogic anatomy we think about this being human in terms of having 10 bodies that comprise components of our unified self. We consider all these precious aspects; the good stuff and the stuff we often try to hide away, understanding that there are many elements to living a balanced life. On our practice mats we have the opportunity to remember that we are more than just a body, or just a mind, we have the opportunity to reconnect with all these amazing elements that make us whole.
In last week’s reflection, I mentioned taking just 3 minutes in your day – is it that hard to find for your self care.
Well it definitely can be, I understand. Being in another round of lockdown with my boys home, I am juggling the responsibilities of not only my own care, my professional responsibilities, but also the new territory of having us all home yet again, establishing a new rhythm with school, work and hmmmm self-care.
Finding 3 minutes is not always that simple, but it is essential to maintaining peace of mind and moving from a place of wholeness and truth, especially when we’re being challenged. Believe me, I understand.
If that window becomes blurry, be gentle with yourself as tomorrow is yet another opportunity to find at least those 3 minutes.
The place we’ve been finding most of our deep breaths together has been in our backyard forest classroom, where we’ve also been greeted by many friends whom we share this land with. A beautiful buck, many white tailed deer, our friend the wise owl, all the winged beings, the voles, and our constant companion and new friend the woodshed bat. Breathing in the healing that the forest offers us, I find my 10 bodies and all the aspects that come together within me, seem to easefully weave together as one.
From a yogic lens, what are your 10 bodies??
This is a very brief snapshot, simply intended if you’d like to keep reading, to give you a little more insight and a consideration in supporting these elements within yourself. Which might I add, spending time in nature is the best medicine to help you integrate all these beautiful aspects of yourself. Perhaps this isn’t of interest, but I thought you would like the choice to read on or not.
I realize, this is a bit of a longer piece, some food for thought.
1) The Soul Body – your inner light and foundation, where you connect with feelings of safety. When strong and balanced you easefully live from your heart and there exists a gentle flow with the ups and downs of life. We accept easier, and we find comfort and stability in our inner guidedance. To support : Singing, dancing, heart opening postures and practices, truthfully anything that helps you feel alive and inner joy.
2) The Negative Mind – provides you with discernment and protection. Important as it helps to warn you of danger, helping to keep you safe, strengthens your trust in your own intuition and personal judgement. To support: Commit to yourself care, no matter what – commit and value that time for you. Quiet time in meditation is very supportive, practicing saying no when something doesn’t feel supportive.
3) The Positive Mind – allows you to see all possibilities and opportunities in front of you. The positive mind creates an expansive worldview within, it supports an inner framework of hope and trust. To support: Use positive affirmations, doing postures to strengthen and support your naval point, open around your heart centre, waking up the energy inside of your body every day.
4) The Neutral Mind – This aspect of yourself corresponds to your heart centre, allows you to weigh in the positive and the negative coming to a neutral and equanimous place. To support: adopt a daily silent meditation practice, working with breath practices where we allow a pause after our inhale and again after our exhale, tuning into your heart centre when making decisions. Increased awareness of breath patterns.
5) The Physical Body – This is your sacred body temple, it requires your consistent and dedicated care. When your physical body is at ease you’re able to more fully participate in life. This also represents our teacher aspect and gives us confidence when we feel strong physically. To support: move your body daily, nourish yourself with water and foods that support you, ensure a balance between exercise and healing rest.
6) The Arcline –An aspect of your energy body. This gives you the ability to clearly project your truth out to the world, and supports you to feel stable and centered. This corresponds physically with your heart center and your pituitary gland. To support: spend time in meditation with your eye focus at the point between your eyebrows, and explore movements that move the arms across the front of the body and over the head.
7) The Aura – The protective energy around your body. A strong aura supports you to attract what you need to thrive, and to repel anything that drains you or negatively affects your life force. Helps you to feel confident and secure. To support: hot and cold showers, dry brushing, practices that help you to clear negative energy and create healthy boundaries, meditation, singing, cleansing pranayama.
8) The Praanic Body: Life giving force, the flow of energy through you. Helps you to feel awake and alive, and often more trusting that you are exactly where you need to be and have clarity in steps you need to take to move forward in your life. To support: Any pranayama (breathwork) practices.
9) Subtle Body: Your sensitivity, your patience, and your calmness in whatever life hands you. Your ability to respond to your intuitive knowing. To support: Quiet listening meditation, and committing – with an open heart – to a spiritual practice for an extended amount of time.
10) The Radiant Body: This is your radiance, your courage, your personal power and presence. When this is strong you feel you are the flow of life, and attract what you need to do what you’re here to do in this lifetime. To support: daily exercise, pranayama, dancing and singing, surrounding yourself with people that uplift you, committing to your daily self-care.
Sending you love as you travel on your path, holding you in my heart
Till next week,
If you want to practice with Amber on your own schedule, in the comfort of your own home, consider subscribing to her exlusive weekly wellness capsules and practice videos. White Pine members also get unlimited access to online classes with their membership. To find out more click here