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.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 3, 2015

Power of Movement 2014

The Power of Movement

I had the amazing opportunity to lead the Yoga class for the Power of Movement event that was held in Toronto yesterday. Power of Movement is a national one-day fundraising event for arthritis and autoimmune diseases held yesterday in 23 cities across the country. YogaFit played a major role in most of these events with instructors and assistants helping to spread the word of Yoga and how everyone can benefit from a consistent yoga practice – everybody and every body, according to YogaFit :)

Before we started, I was surprised that I wasn’t nervous to teach to such a big group and in fact I was excited. To be able to share my yoga practice, something I hold so close to my heart, with hundreds of others, many for whom this was their first experience in a yoga class. My mother, who suffers from arthritis herself and a big inspiration for me wanting to be part of this event came out, along with many others who also deal with arthritis pain on a daily basis. Some shared, such as Farah Nasser from cp24 news, remarkable stories of debilitating autoimmune diseases and how they have overcome in their own way to be where they are today.

Beth often mentions how “our health is our biggest asset”, a phrase I also use a lot in my teachings. I was reminded yesterday how true this is. To be in physical pain everyday, the exhaustion that follows one around, and then to smile and pretend nothing is wrong, that is inspiration. To work tirelessly for a cause, raising money and awareness on top of fulltime jobs and taking care of families, that is inspiration. Looking out in to a sea of faces yesterday, knowing that everyone was there to support not only this cause but also each other was just simply beautiful! And then reflecting on the other hundreds of people right across the country doing the exact same thing, quite simply takes my breath away.

I am so grateful to have been chosen to lead the class yesterday. Truly an honor to guide this incredible group through practice and meditation and I was humbled by the sheer energy and love by everyone involved in yesterdays event. I am already excited for next years event and the fundraising possibilities we can achieve together!

In love and health,

Lisa xo

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | February 25, 2015

Sticking to a Dedicated Wellness Practice

As I begin this piece I want to make it clear that everyone is challenged from time to time with keeping up a personal practice. Even your favourite zen yoga teachers! Life gets in the way, our priorities can change very quickly surrounding our family or jobs or winter, or summer for that matter. However, when we are on track with our own wellness practice we are more focused on real priorities, we make better decisions, we feel connected to our self.

A dedicated wellness practice should follow all elements of wellness from mind to body to spirit. Here are my tips for finding and staying with our practice:

  1. Make space. Find a space in your home that is dedicated and always ready for your practice. A mat that stays rolled out cushions, candles and lighter ready to go. Your books, journal or essential oils, whatever it is you need. Your space can be as small as a meditation cushion takes up. Practice saucha (cleanliness) and keep your refrigerator and cupboards organized so you can easily find your healthy snacks or prepare meals. If you find things get cluttered again quickly no problem, make space in your schedule to reorganize. Repeat as often as needed.
  1. Make time. No matter what you think, you have time to make anything happen in your life. It’s up to you alone to set your priorities. In my experience when I think I don’t have time for me it’s because I’m losing time lost in my thoughts, grabbing snacks for a quick energy fix over long term benefits. If you are still unsure please go back and read the first paragraph. Until you experience the effects of a steady wellness practice you will continue to doubt. I know this because that was me! Set a specific time in your day dedicated to your practice and stick to it everyday. If that time stops working, set a different time and keep going. Set a reminder alarm in your phone, book off in your calendar.
  1. What’s your love list? If you had time (see #2) what are all the things you love to do just for you? Be specific. Let your wellness practice start there. Make sure you include at least one thing every day. You will quickly find your stress levels change as you look forward to this special part of your day.
  1. Include meditation. If you can’t sit still for longer than a minute, trying to meditate for 30 is only going to make you feel bad. Start with a minute, than try to 2, 3, 4, I think you get the idea. Try different forms of meditation until you find what works. If that stops working try something else. Walking meditations (even in winter) can be so peaceful, if you live close to nature even better but not necessary. Seated meditations can be done in silence or to music. Choose what will help you stay focused.

Hope this helps a little. Special thanks to Drew for inspiring me to write this article, as I stated earlier we can all use some help from time to time to get back to our own wellness practice. Happy to report this has been a cathartic experience as one of my top “love list” items is sitting down to write. xo

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | October 3, 2014

On Writing (again)

Another night of tossing and turning, Facebook scrolling and I see a quiz on how to find your dream job. I generally think I have it, but thought well why not. The answer: a Writer. I’ve been doing my usual again. Getting caught up in the business of business, neglecting my workouts and asana practice, haven’t written in months. And on a night that I’m finding my myself riddled with anxiety, worrying about all the things “good yogi’s” are supposed to be able to let go of, staring straight at me is: be a writer.

I have kept a journal on and off my entire life. A place to purge, to ramble, despair or pray, whatever needs to come out at the time. What I’m inspired by, troubled by or overcome in gratitude for. Over the last few years I’ve shifted a lot of this into my blogs. Relating much of my life to what I have learned through my yoga practice. Trying to take the thoughts I’m having and spin them around to something positive, a life lesson. Trying to live in gratitude, which is really where I find myself most of time. Making time to write, just like all the other things we need to do for ourselves tends to take last place. If only knowing and doing were easier, right!

But at 3am last night when every muscle in my body hurt for no reason other than stress. My constant mantra of “this will pass your life is good” was trying to push pass the zillion negative thoughts to no avail. Questioning all my decisions, the thousand things on my to do list, how many things I’ve fucked up and whether I’m buckling under pressure… These are things I find difficult to admit: this doubt, this fear.

This is the trouble I have with writing publicly, how to work through the veil; to not give everything away, to protect myself from vulnerability. Most of my writing comes after the darkness has faded and it’s my melancholy that gives me the words I need to express. Even today. Yet somewhere between this calling out from the depths of Facebook, and my real neglect of self-expression through words I feel a stronger truth needs to be told. This admission of being human (shocking I know!) how easy it is for us to forgive others and still our ego stands in judgment. How quickly the waters of negativity come when we push ourselves too far, the waves lashing out against those standing too close.

So rather than the flowers and butterflies, today a little darkness needed to come out. However, without darkness there can be no light.

Namasté, Lisa

 

PS – I still feel I need to share that I do feel lighter already. An hour yoga class this morning (with my dear friend Joy Keller – technology is amazing!) and French toast and coffee for breakfast. Letting the little things add back up again. Xo

 

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | July 9, 2014

July = Joyfulness

YogaFit’s theme for July is Joyful, and what a better way to kick this off (and give myself a kick to get writing again!!) than by re-visiting an old post on Santosha: Contentment. Joy for all the blessings that surround us, happy for the sake of being happy! enjoy xo 

 

When I think of Santosha, the second practice of the Niyamas, or personal code of ethics, I think of being at peace. Of finding acceptance and gratitude, of letting go what we can’t control and making changes to those we can. More often than not the only thing we can control is our own perception or thoughts behind what is happening: the actions of others or situations we find ourselves in. When I first learned about the Yamas and Niyamas, it was Santosha that I had the most difficulty with and now I tend to find it the easiest. It’s amazing how our own perception, our own thoughts both send us off the deep end towards a downward spiral and yet have the absolute same power to bring us back from the cusp to a celebration of life itself. Patanjali says, in the Yoga Sutras, that yoga is the science of the mind. While it is extremely difficult to control our monkey minds, through the practice of Santosha we can begin to notice when our thoughts are beginning to spiral and teach ourselves to step out to the place of the witness. To stop and realize what we are getting so upset over and if it is really worth it. One of the best statements I’ve ever heard at a training was that “we all have stuff.” How true is that! And we really do. We all experience heartbreak, illness, death, but it is how we process these events in our life that make the difference. Trust me, we need to process our emotions and feel terrible and sad or mad during these times, my only question is at what point can we decide to move forward, to stop dwelling on these events allowing them to define us, or to live in regret. Creating a gratitude list was and continues to be the cornerstone in my journey for santosha or contentment. The other important element, and one that is new for me is a daily meditation practice. Recommended to me by Anand, from my recent trip to India as an aid to quiet my extreme Pitta dosha (or fiery nature) I have noticed a difference after only a few weeks how much calmer I am through the chaos of my everyday life. By taking just 20 minutes every morning as soon as I wake up, for the rest of the day I feel more present and at peace through every situation. Giving me the opportunity to step back and decide what my reactions will be in certain situations and taking time to observe my thoughts and if they are helping or harming. It is very easy in the western world to get caught up in the media slogans of what we don’t have and what we need to be happy. However I lay odds that you already have everything you need, we just sometimes need a little help to remember. This week take time for reflection, whether through meditation, journaling or talking to a close friend. Notice if it is you who is getting in the way of your own happiness. What changes can you make to bring more peace and contentment into your own life. In love and light, Namaste xo, Lisa.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | April 2, 2014

On Intuition and Spiritual Awakening: Sixth & Seventh Chakras

After spending the last few weeks focused on balancing our chakras 1-5 (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart and throat) we find ourselves at our final two the sixth chakra or third eye, and seventh or crown chakra. 

Our third eye is so called, as long ago it was believed we had a third eye that was all seeing, laying behind our forehead looking inwards as oppose to outwards as our physical eyes do. Now we know that our pituitary gland lies in this same spot, the pituitary gland responsible for releasing hormones to other endocrine glands. This space, our Anja chakra, is our intuition, all knowing and our place of peace within. The knowledge that we know best what is right for us. At times it is our exertion of independence, at other times the trust that we are on the right path. Following our dharma is trusting in our intuition and sixth chakra.

The demon of this chakra is illusion, living a lie or living in a dream world separate from reality. Meditation is key for bringing balance to this chakra. Stilling the mind so we are able to see our truth. The colour is indigo or purple,

Practice Pose: Childs Pose, forehead on the mat

Chant: sound OM

Essential Oil: Serenity (DoTERRA)

Moving on to our seventh or crown chakra, located at the top of our head, sometimes known as spiritual awakening or surrender. It is opening ourselves to the boundlessness of the universe and supreme consciousness. The colour is purple or white, represented in the silence that proceeds OM. Opening our minds, moving away from expectations and judgment brings balance and light to this chakra, thus the opposite of a closed mind results in blocked energy. When our subtle body is aligned and we have done the work to bring balance for all chakras below we experience freedom, knowledge and bliss. One of my favourite quotes (as stated in our Level 3 manual) “I am not a human doing, I am a human being” – unknown.

The demon of this chakra is ignorance, also the source of all obstacles (kleshas) to calming the mind-stuff as stated in the Sutras of Patanjali. So we search for right knowledge and we let go of the rest. Again we trust our truth, and allow ourselves to simply BE.

Practice Pose: Relaxation Pose

Chant: no sound

Essential Oil: Elevation (DoTERRA) 

Moving into April, our theme of the month is renewal. Practicing surrender and trust as means to continue on our upward spiral. Focusing on the positive, on growth, on new beginnings, see you soon!

Namasté, Lisa xo

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 24, 2014

Chakra Balancing: Heart & Throat

In continuing our path to Chakra Balancing from my last post, we finished in the centre of our subtle body, our heart centre. Just as when our root chakra is out of balance, it throws all the above chakras off, the same can be said for the heart chakra. When we are in a period of grief or out of touch from the love within us, all areas of our life will feel affected. We will be out of touch from both our sense of self, emotional – second chakra, and sense of power – third chakra, but also our spiritual connection, seventh chakra. Anahata, the Sanskrit word for our fourth chakra, means un-struck. My interpretation of this is to live from our hearts as though we have never been hurt before. The idea of a heart that has been struck representing grief, heartbreak, or being jaded against love for fear of being hurt again. Our hearts are the element of air. When our hearts are in pain it is difficult to breathe. When our hearts are open, like being newly in love, we feel energized and joyful.

 

Granted at times in our life we will need to grieve, we will need to spend time in mourning to process the pain of losing someone close. Yet, there are so many times in our life we find ourselves slipping in to this same sensation without reason. Heart meditations can be strong daily affirmations to promote the boundless love we have within us. To connect us to all living creatures, for us to feel empathy and compassion to those we come in contact with. Sitting in meditation, can help us uncover blocks or feelings of vulnerability in our heart centre, and without analyzing why they came to be, simply moving to clear the energy through breath and a general feeling of lightness.

 

Practice Pose: All backbends such as Camel Pose

Chant: sound YAM

Essential Oil: Breathe (DoTERRA)

 

Moving on to our fifth chakra, or throat, comes our ability to speak our hearts truth. The demon of this chakra is lies. Whenever we know we need to say something, but are blocked by a lump in our throat, this is our fifth chakra creating a physical stopping point. Our throat is ruled by our voice, when we talk too much or are at a loss for words the ability to speak with clarity is impaired and note: this is not only about communicating with others but also, and sometimes more importantly communicating with ourselves. To find relief for our throat chakra, either journaling or chanting can be very healing. Ruled by vibrations and the element of sound, chanting a simple OM can open up our throats and voice and move us towards our truth.

 

Practice Pose: Fish Pose

Chant: sound HUM

Essential Oil: Whisper (DoTERRA)

 

Fulfilling our dharma, what we are meant to do, is an important aspect of understanding our truth. Living with an open heart, in lightness, peace and clarity.

Namasté, Lisa xo 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 12, 2014

Chakra Balancing – Root, Sacra, and Solar Plexus

The word chakra translates to mean spinning disk. If we think of each spinning disc aligning as a pyramid on top of the other, we quickly realize the importance of ensuring our base or first chakra is in-tune before moving on to the next. This isn’t to suggest that a predominant imbalance in our higher chakras mean everything is out of alignment however, there may be a noticeable disturbance. So just as we create proper alignment in our asanas from our base upwards, the subtle body will react in the same way.

Our root chakra (muladhara) is located at the base of our spine, attributed to the colour red. Our root chakra, is our base: our home base, our profession, what we need in our society to survive. This chakra will become imbalanced when we find ourselves between homes or jobs, when the very things we rely on in our life are taken away. Connected to feelings of being grounded and connected to the earth, taking a barefoot walk on the grass is a simple way to get in touch with this chakra. Also, setting up the comforts of home, even (or especially) when traveling, like pictures of loved ones will help. Knowing that we have the right to be here and using this as a mantra to support our yoga practice and meditation.
Practice Pose: Chair Pose
Chant: sound LAM
Essential Oil: Balance (DoTERRA)

Our sacral chakra (svadhisthana) is located between our navel and our pubic bone, signified by the colour orange. This is the place of our emotions, our creativity our sexuality, the parts of us that make us – us. The element of water is attributed to this chakra and so being close to bodies of water like the ocean can be very healing for our emotional health. Fluid movements in our practice are important, even the simple flowing from pose to pose. Knowing we have the right to feel, owning our emotions and being true to ourselves are practice points for this chakra.
Practice Pose: Cat/Cow flow
Chant: sound VAM
Essential Oil: Citrus Bliss (DoTERRA)

Our solar plexus chakra (manipura) is located between our navel and diaphragm, attributed to the colour yellow. This is our power center, what drives us forward. Stress and digestion are also linked to this chakra. Feeling out of control or like we are being forced into something will cause a disturbance to this chakra. Knowing that we have the right to act, to take charge of our own lives are necessary points here. Signified by the element of fire this element is our sense of power or inner strength.

Practice Pose: Plank
Chant: sound RAM
Essential Oil: Digest Zen (DoTERRA)

These chakras are all attributed to our sense of self. They are all developed in the first few years of life. For a chakra to be in balance we must be careful that we resist both over and under stimulation of what each of these chakras represent. Balance itself is fleeting and depending upon our nature we will trend fairly consistently to one direction. Listening to our bodies, our thoughts and our reactions inside our yoga practice will teach us a lot about ourselves, deepening our awareness of self. Remember this work should always be done free of judgments, expectations and competition, and with both patience and forgiveness.

In love and light,

Lisa xo

Join me at the YogaFit Studio and Training centre on March 15 for a 90 minute workshop on Chakra Balancing. 898 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON. For more info or to register, click here.

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