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.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | March 3, 2014

Creating Internal Balance (Chakras)

tumblr_mgrzzaomc31rvt4izo1_12801The YogaFit theme for the month is Chakra Balancing. March being the cusp between winter and a promising spring, is the perfect time for a reflection of self. Where we are in terms of the resolutions we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year, along with all of our hopes and dreams for the future. A chance for us to really assess what is working for us or against us in both our personal and professional lives. Are we happy with where we are or do we feel unsettled? Working through different Chakra balancing exercises is a great way to not only feel more centered, but to get back in touch with ourselves. To feel more in-tune and better yet, more confident that we are on a upward leading path towards achieving our innermost desires.

To get there we need to start with where we are in this moment. The present. We can acknowledge our past but to create change (if change is needed) it must be done with where we are today. The best news is we don’t need to know anything at all about our chakras to do this work. If we have a regular yoga and/or meditation practice, chances are this work is continuously happening behind the scenes. All we need to do is notice our emotions and thoughts during our practice, honour where they have come from and from there create the shifts required.

A great example of this is noticing a particular negative thought and switching it into a positive. If we have negative thoughts surrounding body image, or a particular body part, we also need to understand that any negative thought against our selves is a mark against self-love. Without self-love we are not nurturing ourselves to be our best selves, which also translates into what we put out into the world and whether we truly believe we deserve to achieve our dreams. What seems like a loose comment: “I hate my legs” quickly turns into a broken record that plays in our minds for years. This comment will affect our 1st Chakra, negatively focusing on this area of our body; our 2nd and 3rd chakra by disturbing our thoughts of self on an emotional and empowerment level. Also our 4th chakra as it goes against self-love, our 5th chakra as negative beliefs and self-talk; which ultimately takes our 6th and 7th chakras out of balance through distrust and an inability to surrender to our higher power, hopes and dreams. Bringing it back, one negative comment has the power to ferment and grow, taking us out of balance and ultimately an upward path.

So this blog post is being written without any specific descriptions about a specific chakra on purpose, and for two reasons. Our chakras are not that specific but rather, up for interpretation by the individual. Certainly there are categories, but where an emotion or thought is categorized is not that simple as per the example above. In addition, I want for you to do the work on you first – as an act of self-discovery to see what comes up as oppose to, “I’m pretty sure I have issues with my xx chakra” and then focusing your entire practice here rather than allowing your own body to tell you what it needs.

So my challenge to you this week is simple. Self-practice: whether through asana (poses), meditation or journaling. Take time this week to simply be an observer, compile all the evidence per say and then start to make your assessments. Over the next few weeks I will be detailing the chakras individually with thoughts on practice and creating balance within them. Or, feel free to dig out your chakra balancing books (Level 3) or search the Internet. Just remember that all of this work is up for your interpretation and as we do this work, let’s focus on what is good and positive and move upwards from there.

In love and light

Xo Lisa.

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | February 24, 2014

Meditate on Love

I’ve been neglectful in my writing, and so I apologize to those waiting and also to myself as keeping my regular writing schedule has become part of my personal practice (also a bit neglected). I wonder too if I have been self-consciously avoiding this months theme of meditating on love. I had all my topics picked out: love attracts love, surrender to love, loving ourselves to love others but alas the words wouldn’t come and I had the opportunity to use my busyness to push it off again and again. The thing for me is that talking about love and emotions is really hard, and letting people in is equally as difficult. As a yogi, it is the one path I often struggle with the most. Certainly, I can and do love everyone and everything and I cherish Vedantism and oneness in a general sense. It’s love in its purest sense: the act of surrender, of truly baring ones soul to another that I struggle to put into words. Perhaps because this is my current reality, perhaps there simply aren’t any words. I think poets have long tried and with reasonable success. But really how do you sum up the purity of feeling with a few words?

 

And so we promise to live by our hearts, to do the work we do and follow our dharma. To surround ourselves in positivity and uplifting messages and self practice and care. But to truly live in love we must be honest with ourselves. We must confront the whispers in our heart, we must be fearless to live and act and speak on the deepest desires of our hearts, to surrender and to trust.  Anahata, the Sanskrit word for our heart chakra, literally translates to un-struck. To experience the purity of love, the freedom of our open hearts we must let go of the pain, the grief, the damage, whatever words we use to describe why we can’t move forward – why we are stuck or struck. We have no choice but to surrender and let the universe take care of us. We must practice true love, unconditional love for ourselves, for our friends, for our family and our partners. Unconditional love means no conditions. Love for loves sake.

 

Stephanie Adams, my very first YogaFit Trainer, posted this yesterday, and so I will leave you with these words:

 

“Something changes the moment you decide you’ve found a person you are ready to reveal parts of your soul to. Something stands out and makes the moment unique. A profound multidimensional clarity resembling a piece of carefully gathered stardust; As if you are whispering “finally” and your eyes fill with light and spontaneity. As if you do not care whether your heart will melt or crumble in the process because your brief courage undoes your tremendous fear of disbelief. You live for these moments; For you are, maybe for one second or more, sweetly forced to surrender yourself to unconditional intimacy. A moment of psychological reward smashing all self-imposed disciplines founded on terror. This is all you need. “

Anaïs Nin; “The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934” (viaviolentwavesofemotion)

 

 

Posted by: lisagreenbaum | January 30, 2014

Powering up our Immune Systems

Although this feels like the coldest winter I have ever experienced, I’m sure it is more reflective of the unusually mild winters the last few years. Either way in this time of year our immune systems are most likely feeling over-taxed.  We spend our time locked indoors, the heat blasting, with only the fresh air required to get from point a to point b. When we are outside we are tense from the chilled air creeping under our collar, hands jammed in pockets, backs tight and bracing, chest sucked in.

If you are like me, I chose to work through winter, and work a lot so that when the warmer months of summer arrive (and they will – they have to!) I can take a little extra time off to enjoy the season. Yet, over-working, stale indoor air (let alone airplane air) and choosing heavy comfort foods over fruits and veggies will certainly take their toll.

This is a great time to really enjoy the humid heat of a Hot Yoga practice, but really any style of yoga that we practice now is only going to help boost up our immune systems by improving our circulation and releasing stagnation. So from me to you, here are a few of the ways I keep myself healthy through the winter months – in mind and body.

  1. Keep essential oils close. I particularly love my DoTerra flu bomb (oregano, lemon, onguard, maleleuca and frankincense) I apply every night to my feet before bed, with an additional foot massage for grounding. For an extra boost during the day, I also rub it on the back of my neck.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Rest is one of the best things we can give to ourselves to reduce stress and relax weary muscles. Even just curling up in bed with a good book or a goodnight cuddle will go a long way.
  3. Homemade soup, making your own is a great way to avoid unwanted ingredients, in particular the salt content, and also a wonderful way to cram in additional nutrients. The warmth of soup also calms Vata, our airy Dosha, prevalent in winter months.
  4. Do Yoga! Whether our practice is gentle or intense, movement is extremely helpful for detoxification. Make sure that your practice involves plenty of twists (great for digestion) heart openers (to stretch the muscles of the chest) and hip openers (which also release the lower back) Specific poses such as opening through the shoulders/chest and psoas muscles bring renewed blood flow to key lymph nodes in our body, promoting health.
  5. Dress for the weather I hope this is a given, but seriously wear a hat, stuff on extra socks and winter boots and keep yourself warm. Why overtax your system spending all your energy just to stay warm. A bit of fresh air can go a long way, but you have to be dressed for it to enjoy it.

Wishing you a healthy and warm week!

In love and light :)

Lisa xo

PS – the one thing that I can’t seem to avoid is cuddles from my adorable and often very snotty 19mos old nephew. Those toddlers get you every time! But proud to say with sticking close to my list above – he didn’t catch me this time :)

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