Posted by: lisagreenbaum | February 19, 2016

Yoga + Arthritis

(Originally published: canfitpro magazine, Jan/Feb 2016 edition)

Yoga can be very beneficial for those who suffer from the painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms of arthritis, as Yoga offers both slow and gentle movement that can reduce stiffness in the joints. Optimizing overall joint health and reducing flare-ups, Yoga poses are designed to rebalance our physical body and strengthen the muscles that surround our joints. The result is less pressure in the joints and therefore less pain, more mobility.

 

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common are: Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage surrounding the joint becomes damaged or worn down and bones begin to rub against one another. Causes can be genetics, old injuries and poor postural habits. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes swelling and redness of the joint causing joint deformities particularly in the hands and feet.

 

Often those with arthritis feel weak and vulnerable. This can also be accompanied by exhaustion or even depression from the day-to-day life of chronic pain, leading to a decrease in overall health and even a decrease in immune system functioning.

Ensuring that our clients with arthritis are moving in a pain free range of motion is the best way to keep them safe. Taking extra time for a full body warm-up is also imperative.

 

Sitting in the doctor’s office with my mom last week, the nurse says: “if you don’t use it, you lose it!” How refreshing and re-affirming to have someone in healthcare telling patients exactly what we in the fitness industry tell our clients all the time. She went on to say, you have to push yourself when you are tired because if you don’t you will continue to feel worse. This is truly the catch-22 of Arthritis. It hurts to move. Those suffering need to work in that delicate balance of moving without over doing it, but also understanding the difference between mild pain that can be worked through and when it really needs to be a rest day.

 

My mom has had various health issues most of her life. Born with mild scoliosis that has become more severe post 60 as is common. Suffering a broken elbow that wasn’t properly set in her youth, a recent hip replacement and two knee surgeries, a diagnosis of Osteoarthritis was imminent. However, she was also diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis five years ago. An average day is a struggle between pain and general exhaustion.

 

Six years ago I completed the YogaFit Seniors training as part of my compulsory teaching hours with YogaFit. After years of telling my mom that she should do yoga, I was so excited to finally find a program that would work for her! Since then we have worked quite closely together, using the modifications I learned in the Seniors training as well as various other ideas picked up along the way. I’m happy to report today my mom practices almost daily at home on her own, with me checking in every now and then to see how she is doing. Knowing that everyday she feels different, she will begin by simply lying on her mat breathing and then letting her body decide what it needs that day. Sometimes its some light stretching, sometimes a more active practice with standing poses. Practicing Yoga regularly has helped in her pain management, and also to have a more positive outlook on what she can do, rather than focusing on what she can’t. She has also started taking a Chair Yoga class, a gentle class focused on both building strength and flexibility. Practicing Yoga has given my mom confidence. She sleeps better and feels better more often. When she hears me talking about Yoga with someone who is apprehensive to try, she always jumps in with: “If I can do it, anybody can!”

When working with arthritic clients, props such as chairs, straps and bolsters or pillows are helpful. The YogaFit senior strap is ideal as it combines loops down the length of the strap, creating the ability to slide hands inside the loop allowing for easier gripping. Props in general give individuals with hesitancy, stiffness or balance issues the ability to practice with confidence and safety.

 

Here are some key Chair Yoga poses to use with your clients after a sufficient warm-up. Make sure you choose a sturdy chair without wheels. Kitchen or Dining Room chairs work great. Avoid using anything with too much padding such as a sofa as balance will be compromised.

 

Key Poses:

 

  1. Downward Dog with the Chair: Standing facing the back of a chair, place hands on top and slowly walk back until a stretch can be felt through back and arms. Draw the navel in to protect the lowIMG_3712 back and ensure the heels stay on the floor directly under the hips. Knees are bent to support the pose. Stay here for a few breaths or gently flow in and out.

 

 

  1. Warrior 1: Facing the back of the chair and keeping hands on top. Step one foot back, straightening back leg and bending front knee. IMG_3724Using chair for balance, gently move in and out of knee flexion with front leg to build strength. Practice balance by lessening the grip or lifting one or both hands off the chair.

 

 

  1. Chest Expansion: Seated comfortably, walk the hands back on the seat as far as the shoulders are coIMG_3732mfortable, or gently holding the back of the chair. Staying here for a few breaths so that a nice stretch is felt through the chest.

 

 

  1. Chair Pose: Sitting in a chair, with hands on either side of the sChaireat just under the hips, practice hovering off of the seat for 1-5 seconds to build strength in legs. Great functional training exercise. As one gets stronger, stand up and practice sitting back towards the seat and flowing back to standing.

 

 

  1. Relaxation: Practice meditation techniques including deep breathing to relax stressed and tense muscles. Seated with hands resting comfortably in ones lap and eyes closed. BreathingRelaxation in fully through the nose until the belly expands, exhaling slowly and visualize tension releasing from the inside out.

 

 

YogaFit Canada is pleased to be a major sponsor of the Power of Movement, a one-day Yoga National Fundraising event for the Arthritis Research Foundation. Lisa Greenbaum will be teaching the Toronto Yoga class at Ryerson University on March 6th, 2016. This event is happening in 7 cities across Canada including a Virtual Class.

For more information: www.powerofmovement.ca

 

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | January 22, 2016

YogaFit for Warriors – A Healing Modality

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(originally published: Optimyz Magazine, July/August 2015 Edition)

At the close of 2015, 39 first responders and 12 military members had committed suicide in Canada, add another 3 first responders 3 weeks in to 2016 (Tema.ca). In addition, Statistics Canada has revealed that between 2004-2014, more military personnel committed suicide (160), than soldiers killed in combat (138) through the entire Afghan mission (2002-2014).

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is described by Veterans Affairs Canada as “an anxiety disorder caused by experiencing traumatic events, such as combat situations, physical or sexual assaults, disasters, terrorist attacks and serious accidents.” Veterans Affairs also state that approximately 9% of Canadians and 7.2% of military veterans will have PTSD in their lifetime. Additional research claims that PTSD will affect first responders during their career at a rate of 25% for correctional officers, 22% for paramedics, 16.5% for firefighters, 9-12% for police officers and 5% for military members. These are the people that put their lives on the line for the safety of our communities, cities and country. However, PTSD not only affects the individual suffering, it also impacts those closest to them: their husbands and wives, children, family members, friends and co-workers. In addition to those on the front lines diagnosed with PTSD are those who have suffered trauma; “everyday people” who have experienced tragedy, loss or abuse in their lives.

In an article published by CBC on May 27, 2015, the dispatcher for the Moncton RCMP shooting calls out the Canadian government for more support for those with PTSD. This sentiment is echoed by countless other media reports. There are support groups and resources available where one can talk about their experiences, but what about those who are not ready, or willing, to talk openly about it? What about the memories that are deeply supressed? Or those who believe they will lose their job, their family, their supports due to the stigma of PTSD if they come forward? For those suffering with PTSD or unresolved trauma, there is a loss of connection to one’s true self, the feeling of living inside the mind or emotions, and outside of the body. This disassociation can lead to self-abuse such as unhealthy relationships, substance abuse and in extreme cases, suicide. To move into a state of healing one must experience a union between mind and body, to get back in touch with our own bodies. This is also known as the practice of Yoga. Yoga in Sanskrit means Union. In its simplest terms, just by noticing our breath (Prana, or life energy) moving in and out of our body can lead to a greater mind-body connection. By utilizing the three-part breath (breathing only through the nose, slowing the breath down and then allowing the belly, ribs and chest to fully expand with our inhale and compress with our exhale) we provide an instant way to calm our parasympathetic nervous system. This actively releases our bodies from a state of stress, or commonly known as fight, flee or freeze.

Gaining in popularity in the western world over the last twenty years as a way to release stress, gain strength and flexibility, clarity of mind and empowerment, Yoga has actually been practiced for over six thousand years. Could Yoga, an ancient science of the mind, be the answer? Yoga’s slow methodical flow, linking breath to movement, taking time to feel and listen to the body is being proven by research to be at the forefront of healing trauma. The fact that Yoga can be practiced in any form by anybody, no matter one’s ability or mobility, is empowering and innately healing. In practicing Yoga, we are able to awaken our own inner physician. We learn to listen to the subtle whispers of our body, to acknowledge feelings and movement. We learn to trust ourselves on our journey of healing.

Neurological research is showing that when trauma occurs, we store these memories not only in our mind, but also in our body. Many of us experience stress to some degree in our daily life, and we can often recognize the signs of stress we are carrying in our body through tension headaches, stiff neck and shoulders and sometimes accompanied by digestive upset. As a protection mechanism for the body, trauma moves deeper. Just as memories can either be supressed or rise as flashbacks, the body stores trauma deep in the psoas muscle or hip. The psoas muscle attaches to the femur (leg bone), travels up the front of the pelvis and carries underneath the obliques (side waist) to insert into the lumbar spine. Issues with the psoas muscle can be felt either in the hip itself, it can translate to achy knees and/or ankles, or present as lower back pain. Also interesting to note, in the world of Yoga, this area of our body below the navel and above the pubic bone is our 2nd or Sacral Chakra. This Chakra is represented by our emotional body, the ability to be in touch with our emotions and our kinetic creative life-force energy. As a way to balance this area of the body we want to create flow and ease, hip openers and gentle stretches to get our life-force energy moving again. Essentially, the same focus in a trauma-informed class.

In practicing Yoga as a healing modality we need to focus on HOW we practice. Those who have experienced deep trauma may further increase anxiety by starting class laying still with their eyes closed like in Restorative Yoga, while at the same time a powered-up Vinyasa or Hot Yoga class may be entirely inappropriate as well. To fill this gap, YogaFit for Warriors was created by Lt Col Shaye Molendyke, a 23 year Veteran in the US Air Force and a RYT 500 YogaFit Master Trainer. As Shaye describes, “This deeper, scientific understanding of exactly how Yoga can affect our neurological and neurochemical pathways in the body has allowed us to create a powerful yoga therapy program, YogaFit for Warriors, to truly help those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as anyone with unresolved physical or emotional traumas. This advancement of understanding of what makes Yoga efficacious includes: slower mindful movement to awaken the emotional or limbic center of the mind; ujayi breath focus to stimulate the vagus nerve; and a physical focus on psoas and grounding postures to help release the high allostatic energy load of traumas stored in the body. This combination creates the opportunity for organic healing through yoga therapy and provides a new path forward for those suffering from not only PTSD but mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.”

YogaFit for Warriors is made up of 4 workshops that can be combined with YogaFit’s Level 1 foundation course to make up the new 100-hour certification program. These individual 2-day training workshops can be taken by anyone interested in teaching the program, and/or self-discovery and personal learning. Yogafit for Warriors, Balancing Moods, Restorative Therapeutics, Healing Physical and Emotional Trauma, Yoga for Addictions and the new Warrior Kids are currently being offered in Canada and the US along with International military bases including Germany and Italy. Further to that, YogaFit has developed the Warrior Ambassador Program as a way to link Teachers of the YogaFit Warrior program to Students, by placing teachers in Addiction rehab facilities, hospitals, mental health clinics, and military bases among others.

A typical YogaFit Warrior class is a combination of flowing movement along with restorative and therapeutic poses towards the end. After 1-2 minutes of deep breathing to centre the mind and body and become present, we begin a slow flow movement aimed to warm and increase mobility in the muscles and joints. In keeping with this slow pace the focus of the class is on creating rhythmic movement, linked to breath and designed to help discharge energy as well as facilitate the release of deeply held tension. In keeping with the YogaFit Essence of breathing, feeling, listening to our bodies, letting go of judgment, expectations, competition and staying in the present moment, we emphasize that the student is always in control of his or her own practice. A safe and nurturing environment is maintained throughout class. Emphasizing that the student is always in control of his or her own practice effectively connects the mind with the body while releasing trauma stored in the psoas.

 

As Shaye notes: “A mindful yoga practice leads to a healthy balanced body and mind. Over time yoga decreases emotional reactivity as we learn to embrace life more fully. Yoga practice helps us reframe situations so that we find more meaning even from difficulties and challenges. Essentially, yoga helps us to reclaim lost power, which is very important in healing trauma. Yoga teaches us that while we cannot control external events, we can control our reaction. Yoga gives us the tools to activate the innate healer within all of us.”

 

Yoga is increasingly being sought out for its innate healing properties. The practice of Yoga can be followed through many forms including Asana (physical practice), meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises) or in reading Yoga Philosophy. No matter your chosen path, with an open heart and open mind we all have the right to live the life we chose, to release pain and move forward with acceptance, joy and gratitude.

I’m very excited to be partaking in the Warriors Intensive put on by YogaFit Canada starting on Monday, Jan 25th and led by Shaye Molendyke, creator of the YogaFit Warriors program. I hope to have more to share with you soon. If you are interested in taking these trainings or would like more information on this type of healing class or one on one work please email me directly: lisa@yogafitcanada.com

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | January 8, 2016

The Leap of Faith

stock-photo-25291906-woman-leaping-through-the-skyEvery now and then we are faced with a challenge in our life that requires a leap of faith. Standing at the edge of a precipice knowing that change is required and hoping for the best. Whether it’s leaving or starting a new relationship or career, or following our wildest dreams.

 

Starting a new year is like a fresh start, a chance to take a serious look at our life, where we’ve become stagnant or what’s just not working anymore. Are we still holding on because it’s the safe choice, even if we know we aren’t happy? Unfortunately fear of the unknown is what keeps us in this space, spinning our wheels hoping for change but not making any effort towards it. If we want change we must be ready to accept it for better or worse.

 

In Yoga we have the practice of Isvara Pranidhana or surrender. One of our Niyamas, or as I call them personal code of ethics, the Niyamas also include purity, contentment, discipline and self-study and help us to take our Yoga practice off the mat. Isvara Pranidhana asks us to surrender to our higher power, the universe, the unknown. This act of surrender forces us to let go, to take a leap of faith, to sever our attachments and to release fear.

 

Often we have heard the saying, when a door closes another one opens. I have so many examples in my life of having to first close the door myself. This is a struggle and a challenge. To make that decision on your own, potentially without a plan and only a hope for a life raft waiting for us on the other side. This is the leap of faith. Taking the plunge, rising to the challenge, embracing our inner power, to surrender to the unknown. This is also the wonder of life. Seizing the opportunity for change and taking a chance on ourselves, that we don’t sink but instead find ourselves in the middle of our wildest dreams.

 

I often use the cue “dig deep” when teaching, as a way to cultivate our inner strength to face the challenge of the pose or movement. And so I ask you again, dig deep my friends. Find your power, rise up, take the leap. I guarantee you will be amazed by what you find on the other side.

 

In love and light,

Lisa xo

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | December 28, 2015

Shifts Happen: A Journey Through 200hours Yoga Teacher Training

(Originally Published: canfitpro magazine Sept/Oct 2015 issue)

What is this shift, this transformation that seems to happen to people when they start going through Yoga Teacher Training Programs? You can’t put your finger on it, but something is different. The way they really look at you when you are speaking as if they are totally listening. The new slowness in the way they speak as if they are consciously aware of the words they are saying. The truth is, something is different; a learned presence, a learned ownership of happiness, a learned confidence in living from the heart. As Gloria Vaughan from Kitchener, ON says: “It [Yoga Teacher Training] opened doors to mindfulness and being okay in moments where normally an unnecessary fight or flight response may have taken over. It has multiplied my ability to channel compassion within my heart, especially for myself now, as well as others – instead of judging as often as I did. I am also much more aware of my judgements and can have more rational thinking processes to undo these moments easier.” For Kay Pitre of Charlottetown, PEI, “The 200-Hr yoga teacher training has given me the skills to be a great teacher, but more importantly, it has allowed me to be a better student of life than I have ever been.”

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Yoga is the science of the mind, with the “goal” of Yoga to calm the chitta vritti, referring to our monkey mind. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a common text studied in Teacher Trainings and of the oldest known texts on Yoga (1450 BCE) transcribes this in the first two lines, Sutra 1:2 “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah, or The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” The rest of the text, divided into 4 books, describes why we should do Yoga and how to do Yoga. The result of this comes down to what Patanjali describes as an 8-step plan or the 8 Limbs of Astanga Yoga.

 

The 8 Limbs of Yoga:

Yamas: Social code of ethics divided into 5 principles – non-violence, truthfulness, non-coveting, moderation and non-jealousy

Niyamas: Personal code of ethics divided into 5 principles – purity, contentment, discipline, self-study, surrender

Asana: Poses/Postures

Pranayama: Breathing practices

Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses

Dharana: Concentration

Dyana: Meditative mind (cannot be taught)

Samadhi: bliss (cannot be taught)

 

So many of us in the western world are first attracted to Yoga through the poses (asana), to work on flexibility and to slow down in general. As one continues to practice Yoga, more and more the understanding builds that the poses are just a small (though important) part. We begin to experience moments of bliss and true connection during our practice that we want to further explore “off the mat”. It becomes the natural evolution in our practice to want learn more and share this with others and many are drawn to Yoga Teacher Trainings for this reason. Deepening our own practice as we learn the rich history of this 6000 year-old science of the mind. Our practice begins to naturally unfold to include all of the 8-Limbs.

 

My own experience through my Yoga Teacher Training journey occurred during a very volatile time in my life. The day before I walked into my Level 2 training I learned that my father had stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, I remember very little of the training. They say that Yoga finds you when you need it the most, and even though I had dabbled in Yoga for years, the time was now. I was desperately searching for a life raft, and I am beyond grateful that the gift I was given was Yoga over what could have been a much easier move towards destructive behaviour.

 

What Yoga taught me first was gratitude. Gratitude for each moment, for the time I had left with my dad and the chance to say goodbye. Gratitude for having been raised by an amazing man who taught me so much: confidence, loyalty and integrity to name just a few. Yoga also taught me to stay present, to live in this moment, our only moment of truth, giving myself permission to experience all of my emotions as I needed to. I have carried these lessons everyday in my heart. What is more is that I was able to share some of the simpler, but most powerful tools of Yoga with my family and in particular my mom. Teaching her 3-part Yoga breathing, and how to just be in stillness and experience the moment rather than running away or supressing what needed to be expressed. Above all, my Yoga journey and education has and continues to teach me to let go of fear and to trust in the process.

 

Kat Rios of Toronto, ON began her Yoga Teacher Training after a major weight loss. She had long practiced Yoga and wanted to share her practice with others, and what she uncovered on her journey was so much more. “The challenge was in the practice, the transformational language and sequencing… These were only the initial challenges and the list expanded with each course. The self-exploration has been mind blowing at times and quite an awakening of my mind and spirit. I love the analogy of the onion peeling and uncovering the layers of ourselves… The most important way is finding my personal power and knowing I truly am enough. Despite my initial misgivings and personal obstacles, a life-long adventure has begun and I will continue to discover more about myself and life as I peel back those layers with more study and practice.”

 

 

As mentioned earlier, Patanjali gives us the 8-step plan (8 Limbs of Yoga) however, he alludes, if we find the 8-steps daunting at first, to make things easier he gives us instead a 3-step plan. From our Niyamas: Tapas (discipline) Svadyaya (self-study) Ishvira Pranidhana (surrender) or in simpler words: do the work, look within, find peace. And so this is what we do. We practice, we listen, we honour and then we let it all go!

 

In YogaFit Trainings, we begin with what we call the YogaFit Essence. Often referred to as our motto, this is the heart of soul of our Teacher Trainings: Breathing, Feeling, Listening to our bodies, Letting go of judgment, expectations, competition and Staying in the present moment. As we continue through each class and each training, we continue to repeat these words and more and more they sink in. Think about it, the power to stop judging, the freedom to let go of competition against others, and often what is more important – against ourselves.

 

We have just completed our first 200hr Training Intensive at the YogaFit Training Centre in Toronto, with a cultural and generationally diverse group from all parts of Canada, Australia and Barbados. All of us in the office couldn’t help but notice the change in these individuals every day. As their knowledge of Yoga grew, so did their openness to the experience and each other. We listened as their lunch time conversations became deeper, and their laughter grew louder. The friendships formed between them will last a lifetime.

 

As a Trainer of Yoga Teachers, I have the incredible experience of watching this shift as a true witness. Seeing the change in people’s eyes as this new world of Yoga unfolds. Yoga teaches us about self-care and honouring our inner light to live a balanced and happy life. My favourite part is following my students as their journey continues beyond the trainings – how their self-practice in Yoga continues to impact their life in positive ways, how the student becomes the teacher, yet always remains the student.

 

Namasté

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | December 23, 2015

Let Presence Be Your Present This Holiday Season

(a repost from earlier in light of the season. wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday xo)

In YogaFit trainings, the very first thing we teach is the YogaFit Essence: Breathing, Feeling, Listening to our bodies, Letting go of Judgment, Expectations, Competition and Staying in the Present moment. Whether you currently practice Yoga or not, the YogaFit Essence is a message for everyone to become more aware – both on and off the Yoga mat. In this busy time of year, and as our clients slowly exchange their training time with eating time or general running around with stress time, let’s share this valuable message with them.

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Why is the best time of year so often the most chaotic? We spend the first part of the month completely consumed with the future and getting everything done, when it finally slows down we find ourselves looking back as if the whole thing were a blur. This very notion of living in the present moment is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves. When we live from a state of presence, we are able to enjoy and savour each moment. The world seems to slow down and our stress levels become manageable.

 

To be present all we need to do is pause, be here and breathe. Yoga teaches us to become present by slowing down, matching breath to movement and developing body awareness. We can also be present standing in line at the bank machine, searching for a parking spot or walking down the street. Stop and look around, what could you have missed? We so often become trapped in the idea that if we slow down nothing will get done. I promise you the very opposite is true. When we slow down, so do our thoughts helping us to think more clearly and make better decisions. When our heart stops racing and we are no longer living on adrenal overload, our overall health is better, we sleep better and we are better able to interact with others from a more centered approach.

 

This year let presence be the most important gift you give both yourself and your family this year. When we live in the moment, we live in a place of awareness rather than reaction. We see the full picture and not only what is within eyesight, and we stop taking things or relationships for granted. Enjoy this most precious time of year with your family and friends.

 

Time is fleeting – being present is forever.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | July 16, 2015

On Practice – Now.

I almost made the biggest mistake of my life a few months ago. I almost stopped exercising. It was a slow process, starting years ago when I slowly began cutting back from all the classes I was teaching as elephantmy travel/training schedule grew. I was just so tired and so my answer was to slow down my physical activity, which really makes sense. Unfortunately what I missed was the tipping point between being tired from over-exercising, to tired from not exercising enough. I started to lose my strength, my tone and my vitality. I was practicing yoga, but not the yoga I needed, choosing restorative yoga over anything more physical. I needed to start from scratch again, and decided to follow my same path from 15-years ago when I joined GoodLife as a member, BodyPump. Man was I sore for like a week! But, I made the commitment, I re-arranged my schedule and I have been doing it every week since. With renewed discipline, I began scheduling my workouts and yoga practice and sticking to it! Moving everyday, riding my bike, going to Yoga class over practicing at home so I stick to the full hour. It’s what I need now. In a few months/years it may be different again.

 

My most important lesson has been to stay present with how I am feeling. Determining whether I’m physically tired or just mentally tired, making the effort and pushing myself a bit more. I think I became so wrapped up in teaching technique and philosophy that I forgot the benefits of the practice, and started taking them for granted. Now I’m sleeping better, my mood is better, I’m thinking more clearly, I’m feeling more inspired to teach and I just feel great inside and out. I guess once again, it all comes down to balance and to being present. My next hurdle, getting back on my daily meditations J

 

In love and light,

Lisa xo

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | May 25, 2015

Wedding Day

In 5 days I will be married.

 

It feels strange to say. I’ve heard so many people through the years tell me, you’ll know when it’s the one. I always found that so confusing, mainly because at some point I thought all of my boyfriends were the one. But this time it’s different, I’ve heard that one too – but now I think I get it. I had a “vision” if I can call it that on probably my 4th or 5th date with my husband to be. He kissed me goodnight and in a flash I knew that this would be the kiss I would share on my wedding day. I knew I was going to marry him. I wasn’t in love with him, in fact I wasn’t even sure I really liked him, he was so different from anyone I had ever dated. I struggled a bit, pushed back at him, I was certainly confused yet somewhere inside me I knew that this was it. I never shared this with him until now.

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I really never felt grown up enough to get married (yes I am 40) I think I even tricked myself for a while into thinking it wasn’t what I wanted. I never dreamed of my wedding day, or even thought about what it would look like and yet here I am, a week away and it feels perfect. I found my match. Someone who truly supports me, and I know because he texts me that he believes in me randomly when he thinks I need to hear it. Pushes me to stay true to myself and just loves me unconditionally, a love that feels like freedom. In return, I am so proud of the man he is, the father he will become. For his passions and struggles and perseverance to make a difference in the world. A partner: someone to share tears and laughter with (not an invitation for tickling Bob!) someone to come home to, someone to continue grow up with, to practice Yoga with, to share theories of life and love with. To have a celebration day with our family and friends, as certainly a marriage is between two people, but it is also supported by the love and respect of those around us.

 

We finally picked a “reading” last night for our ceremony, a poem by Rumi:

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”

 

Special because we both had to go through many obstacles and challenges in life to prepare us for this moment, and for each other, yet at the same time it was as if we always did know each other. We decided not to write our own vows, choosing a more traditional course for our day. But if I were, I guess this would be it – a public declaration, and a wedding gift for my man. I love you baby, I’m so excited to be your wife and continue our life together.

 

PS – I’m also honoured to live in a country where marriage is between two people in love no matter their race, sex or religion. Congratulations to Ireland on the vote of yes! – Australia my home away from home we are still waiting for you.

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 25, 2015

Ayurveda for Life Balance

Anyone that has read more than one of my blog posts would know that I am on a constant search for balance in both my life and work. Who isn’t right! Yet this search for balance has taken on more elements since being introduced to Ayurveda, also known as the Science of Life.

Ayurveda is an ancient healing modality developed in India thousands of years ago and now practiced by many throughout the world. While the study of Ayurveda and Yoga presently are closely linked they both have separate lineage and long histories. Ayurveda looks at the world based on 3 doshas or constitutions: Pitta, Vata and Kapha. These doshas can be found in nature, in food and us – human beings. As it relates to our body both physically and energetically, our doshas comprise our Prakriti or “s” self, our nature, always changing. When we begin to understand our Prakriti we come closer to our Purusha or “S” Self, our True Self who we are on the inside that never changes.

shutterstock_3477100 copyAnd so we begin to study our doshas, our constitutional make-up as part of this work. Knowing that we have all three as part of us, we also tend to be more dominant in one or two doshas. This makes up who we are in the world. How we react to things from situations to our digestion. How we feel better in certain climates over others and also the types of people we gravitate towards. There are many dosha tests on the internet some longer than others. Understanding my dominate dosha has helped me immensely in my day to day life as well as helping me prepare for certain situations.

What was truly eye opening for me was my experience in the new YogaFit: Ayurveda 1 Training this past Fall. We not only looked at where our Dosha’s are now, but where are Dosha’s were in our earliest memory. What I learned is that through my “grown up” years I have had to take on new skills and adapt in some regards to the life I lead now, running a company, on the road most of the year etc. So even though I was always searching for ways to calm my dominate dosha, what I also need to focus on is how to bring myself back to my earlier constitution. What I was born with and where I will ultimately feel the most in harmony.

This is a long road of ups and downs – exactly like life. But the more you begin to understand your true nature the more you will feel connected to the true you. Practicing Ayurveda becomes similar to a Yoga practice but more comprehensive. It involves listening to your body & mind. Finding the right diet, sleep patterns, stress reactions and how to release stress and physical fitness (yoga!) All the things that help us come into balance. Studying Ayurveda, the small amount I have so far has been a gift for me; my practice will be life long. And with that I must close my computer after a long day of work, calm my Pitta fire by going home to a cool dark room and a quiet yoga practice to settle in for the night.

I plan to post more on the doshas and Ayurveda over the next few weeks. If you are interested in learning more, YogaFit has a 100-hour Ayurveda Certificate program. We are premiering this certificate in Calgary through 2015 with Ayurveda 1 + Ayurveda 2 at our Calgary MBF, register for both and save $100. http://www.yogafitcanada.com/events/mbfinfo/

In love and light, xo Lisa.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 21, 2015

From the Viewpoint of a Yoga Teacher Trainer

Last week I spent a memorable four days leading the YogaFit Level 4 teacher training at our Toronto Mind Body Fitness Conference. Such a wonderful group that came together, and I found myself as inspired by there questions as they were by the material we were discussing. Level 4 is centered on Yoga History and Philosophy, learning Sanskrit and reading some of the oldest known texts on Yoga, The Sutras of Patanjali and The Living Gita. Much of the discussion centered around connecting to our true Self. Our Purusha, the divine or light within us that is impermeable never changes. In order to connect to our Self we must first understand and accept our self. The difference noted by capital “S” Self versus small “s” self. Our Prakriti or nature is centered on our small “s” self. This self does change and change constantly. It is our physical body that changes with age, it is our preferences in life that also change with maturity. In understanding our nature and learning to love and care for ourselves in this ever-changing world we are able to connect on a deeper level to our “S” Self.

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The thing that I love the most in training is that this stuff really can’t be taught. It must be explored and questioned and ripped apart and brought into the light. Sometimes tears must be shed, sometimes ferocious journaling and sometimes just sitting in pure silence and presence is the right thing. For all it is different and then of course constantly changing as does our nature. What matters is we create the space. We empty our cups. Often this work is done outside of the training days, in reflection and solitude. In the training what I get to do is light the spark.

I have been through this work, many times and I expect many more times. This is the beauty of our Yoga journeys. As a teacher there is something so powerful in truly being the observer. Of watching this spark take hold. Rarely words are spoken, what I see comes to light in the eyes of the student. Like watching a small child learn something new. It is honest and pure in its discovery.

Our paths are our own, yet coming together whether in a training or satsang (gathering of people sharing ideas) shines the light on just how vast our paths are, how many roads we can take, that our discoveries of both our self and Self are never ending. I am so grateful for the continuous learning I receive from my students. The questions I have not thought to ask, the mirror of reflection, of seeing myself in others and of sharing pain, love and lightness.

And so humbly I leave you with the wise words of my teacher, Swami Vivekananda from The Pathways to Joy:

“There is no mystery in what I shall teach. What I know I will tell you, but you must not blindly believe. You must exercise your own reason and judgment, and learn from your own experience whether these things are true or not. Just as you would take up any other science, exactly in the same manner should you take up the study of this grand science of Yoga.”

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 6, 2015

My mom, me, Yoga & arthritis

With the 2015 Power of Movement event happening in just two days, (Sunday March 8th 11:15am at Ryerson University), I find myself digging out some past writing posts to share on what a fantastic event this is, and how it can really change lives. Giving people back their mobility is giving people back their freedom. I hope you can join me on Sunday or at an event near you to help celebrate and raise funds for those dealing with the pain of arthritis and auto-immune diseases.

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My mom has had various health issues most of her life. Born with mild scoliosis and suffering a broken elbow that wasn’t properly set in her youth, to being diagnosed with kidney disease and imminent failure at the age of 21. She received a successful kidney transplant 17 years ago J but years of intense anti-rejection drugs do take their toll, coupled with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, an average day is often a struggle between pain and general exhaustion.

Six years ago I completed the YogaFit Seniors training as part of my compulsory teaching hours with YogaFit. After years of telling my mom that she should do yoga, I was so excited to finally find a yoga that would work for her! Since then we have worked quite closely together, using the modifications I learned in the Seniors training as well as various other ideas picked up along the way. I’m happy to report today my mom practices almost daily at home on her own, with me checking in every now and then to see how she is doing. Knowing that everyday she feels different, she will begin by simply lying on her mat breathing and then letting her body decide what it needs that day. Sometimes its some light stretching, sometimes a more active practice with standing poses. Practicing yoga regularly has helped in her pain management, and also have a more positive outlook on what she can do, rather than focusing on what she can’t. She has also started to come to the Chair Yoga class we offer at the YogaFit Training Centre (898 Danforth Ave., Toronto) a gentle class focused on both building strength and flexibility. Practicing yoga has given my mom confidence. She sleeps better and feels better more often. When she hears me talking about yoga with someone who is apprehensive to try, she always jumps in with: “If I can do it, anybody can!”

**Unfortunately my mom is going to have to give this year’s event a miss. Her scoliosis has taken a bit of a turn for the worse over the last year and walking even a short space is a real challenge. I am happy to say that she is still attending her Chair Yoga class at the YogaFit Studio every week to help keep the mobility she has, and hopefully she will be back at next year’s Power of Movement event.

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