Self-Care: Small Steps

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Self-Care: Small Steps

Want to know a secret? I'm pretty terrible at taking care of myself, even though I have this business that is all about making self-care possible for people. I've been asked before to speak as an expert on self-care, but I've always hesitated, feeling like a hypocrite, like I don't have any answers. I live in an almost constant state of GO-GO-GO and varying degrees of burn out. Something has to shift.

Real life

It occurred to me that maybe there is value in sharing honestly about my own challenges with self-care, because we are ALL in process - BUSY, putting everyone else's needs before our own, and just trying to get by. When we scroll our newsfeed, everyone seems to have it more together then we do. My Instagram looks like I'm always having adventures with my kids and there's all this exciting stuff happening at the studio... We share about what's beautiful or what's working, and don't tend to include the meltdowns and the mundane and the struggle. So stop comparing your backstage to everyone's show! No one has it figured out. We are all faking it.

Smile Tiger cappuccino

Be KIND to yourself. What advice would you give your very best friend? Tell it to yourself. Try writing it down! Journalling can be a really helpful way to clear your head and shift your focus. Just open a book and start writing. I've been writing for a few minutes before bed. (By that I mean, I did it last night and it's a habit I want to cultivate, so I'm declaring it to you! Accountability really helps me follow through.) When I feel overwhelmed by my to do list or I'm being hard on myself about a day, I find it really helps to do a "positive focus", where I write down the things I DID do. If you can't think of anything, start small. Own the tiniest of victories. Suddenly that flop of a day doesn't look so bad.

Put your feet up
Thea & Carin

Speaking of the never-ending to do list... time is never going to magically appear. We need to be intentional and creative about inserting small acts of self-care into our busy days. Self-care doesn't need to be a grand gesture. Maybe it's sitting and drinking your coffee while it's still hot, or lighting candles and busting some great tunes while you cook, or having a stretch on the floor while you watch Netflix. Make your downtime quality time. Maybe self-care is a gradual shift in mindset, a skill that we strengthen with practice. What is the next tiny act of kindness you can show yourself? Choose something achievable and declare it to someone. I just looked at my week and figured out when I can actually get to a yoga class, and then I wrote it in my calendar (because if it's not in my calendar, I'll never do it!) Connect with the WHY. “Because I should exercise” isn’t a juicy enough reason. How do you want to feel? Be creative about fitting it in - maybe you can sneak out to a class on your lunch break or take a meditative walk instead of driving. Some people find that consistency helps when they are building a habit; but if your schedule is all over the place, pencil it in wherever it fits! Enlist the support of people who love you. Explain why it’s important. 

Within the mundane moments of your day are opportunities to be mindful. While you’re waiting in line or washing the dishes, feel your feet on the floor, notice your posture, notice your breath. Pause and really see your kids. Take in that beautiful blue sky. This isn’t something you can fail at. We are all in process and every day is a starting place. Right now, wherever you are, connect with your breath. Acknowledge your effort and all that you give. Ask yourself what YOU need, and what small first step you will take. Write it down, tell someone, share it here. 

Put your feet up

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Finding the Perfect Fit: A Tour of our Class Schedule

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Finding the Perfect Fit: A Tour of our Class Schedule

If you've been curious about which class might be the right fit, this post is for you. I asked our teachers to describe their vibe in a sentence or two. Have a glimpse through a week at amma, and see which class is calling to you.

MONDAY:

9:30 YOGA (Jyoti): Set the tone for the rest of your week. Move and feel your way through your practice. I love to give space for students to explore their own movements. 

11:00 MOM & BABY (Thea): It feels good to move, and is reassuring to be with other moms & babes in a supportive space.  

6:00 PRENATAL (Karla): A warm and supportive class where expectant mamas can empower themselves through movement and tap into the power and transformation that pregnancy brings while finding a space for deep relaxation and connection with baby. 

7:30 YOGA (Thea): This upbeat, playful class flirts with the boundary between nurturing & challenging.

TUESDAY:

10:00 MOMS & MOVERS (Megan): A feel-good practice for parents, while the babies get into mischief. Not the most zen yoga experience, but so much fun.  

4:30 KIDS YOGA 4-7yr (Jackie): Laugh and play in a yoga adventure designed for kids! Through games and practicing yoga poses, we’ll learn body awareness, patience, coordination and creativity.

6:00 YOGA (Jackie): This open-level class is tailored to meet the needs of the students. Regardless of what you’re working on, we’ll keep this class interesting and relevant to your practice. 

7:30 PRENATAL (Jackie): Connect with your body and your baby in prenatal yoga. Stretch, strengthen, and cultivate breath awareness in a way that will help you prepare for your birth experience.

8:45 YOGA (Julie): Send the kids to bed and get to your mat for some playful active practice and followed by some serious chill time on Tuesday nights!

WEDNESDAY:

10:00 MOM & BABY (Carin): Mom and baby yoga is a dedicated hour where you can be present with your little one in a soothing space, move your body, and feel good. This class focuses on discovering optimal ranges of movement and increasing muscle strength and joint stability. We also incorporate the babies in inventive ways! 

12:00 YOGA (Carin): Build strength and stamina, increase your movement intelligence, and most importantly - have fun while you do it. This class will have you celebrating the middle of the week. 

4:30 KIDS YOGA 8-11yr (Julie): Life is changing, learn how to go with the flow. This practice combines a physical practice, a mindfulness practice and some general horseplay to help these kids prepare for all of the changes coming their way.

6:15 FAMILY YOGA (Julie): 45 minutes of time well spent! Join your children in learning a little about slowing down and focusing on your breath and a lot about goofing off and moving your bodies.

7:30 GENTLE PRACTICE (Tiffany): In a world that so often asks us to do or be more, Gentle Practice offers a space to soften, to breathe and to slowly explore your many sensations; A chance to listen to, and to be kind to, your body as you move through a variety of movements and supported postures. 

THURSDAY:

11:00 MOMS & MOVERS (Jyoti): We practice together while our little ones play. Each class is an adventure and though there are many interruptions we all get to flow and carve out some peace.

12:30 YOGA (Jyoti): Flow in your own way, with options to Vinyasa or find stillness. Always room for therapeutic adaptations or more athletic practices.

2:00 MOM & BABY (Karla): A fun and easy going class catered to the new mama with a variety of relaxation and strengthening poses to leave you feeling calm, energized and connected to yourself and your baby. 

6:00 PRENATAL (Thea): Stretch the achy places and get strong for the work ahead! Build trust in your physical instincts, learn to use your breath and draw reassurance from other women who are on this journey. 

7:30 RESTORATIVE (Tiffany): A chance to rest. To be held. To let your body let go. Follow your breath, or sensations that you notice in your body, in a variety of supported postures - or use the space to just be. 

FRIDAY:

10:30 TOTS YOGA (Thea): Get silly with your little one! Through play and adventure, we learn yoga poses & breathing techniques. 

12:00 YOGA (Thea): A fun flow class that starts out chill, builds to something stronger, and winds it down at the end. Re-start your day on your own terms and feel great all afternoon. 

5:30 FRIDAY FLOW (Megan):  A fun, high energy flow with a few challenging poses and a playlist that is sure to have you dancing through your poses.

SATURDAY:

10:00 YOGA (Julie): Get your blood pumping and your body moving to prepare you for your Saturday adventures. Enjoy an active practice to energize you for the weekend ahead. 

11:30 PRENATAL (Thea): Connect with your breath, make some space, get stronger, stand taller, feel calmer. This hour is about taking care of you.

SUNDAY:

10:30 FAMILY YOGA (Christine): After the busyness of the week, Sunday morning Family Yoga is an ideal way to play, be active, and reconnect with your child. Act out an adventure, make your way through movement games, and explore partner poses together. End class with guided breathing and rest to help calm little bodies and minds.

1:00 YOGA (Christine): Sunday afternoon yoga offers an opportunity to cap your weekend with active self-care. Enjoy a slow and mindful practice that helps build strength and body awareness. Learn how your tendencies and postural habits can affect how you feel, and re-set yourself for the week ahead.

7:30 FLOW & SLOW (Julie): Why not have it all, enjoy a moderately active practice to get your body moving and then slow it down with some gentle restorative relaxation to help you take on the week ahead.

So what sounds like exactly what you need? Sign up for your next class here while you're thinking about it, because time never magically appears. We have to seize it. 

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What is Restorative Yoga?

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What is Restorative Yoga?

{by Tiffany Howes}

At the end of most of my classes I say something along the lines of  “I’m happy to talk to you about what we just did, or about anything else.” I, very much, mean it when I say that; It’s helpful to hear about students’ experiences &/or questions.

So I was excited when recently, after a Restorative Yoga class, a student approached me to ask how I would describe the differences between a “regular” yoga practice and a restorative yoga practice. Such a great question! One that I typically don’t delve too far into right before students (who are often in a Restorative class to release and relax) are about to practice, but one that could be helpful to learn more about.  

Here’s what I had to say (& some thoughts that have come to me since that conversation):

Supta Baddha Konasana

Restorative Yoga is different than most other yoga practices in that, instead of supporting your own body in active poses, your body is supported by a variety of props that encourage you to let go of all effort. Rather than building physical strength, restorative yoga postures can provide a reset to the body by allowing it to be held effortlessly.

The slowed pace and supported postures can help to bring the nervous system into parasympathetic mode which allows for rest, digestion, repair, as well as slowed heart rate and breath. Many of our day to day lives keeps our nervous systems in sympathetic mode (fight, flight, focus); most of us could benefit from more time resting, digesting and repairing.

Restorative Yoga can be great when you are feeling tired, weak or stressed from your daily activities. It can also be helpful during/surrounding major life events or transitions, or when recovering from injury.

(This post only skims the surface and is intended as a starting point. There are many resources online or in print about Restorative Yoga and its effects on the nervous system &/or pose suggestions. One that I return to often: Relax & Renew by Judith Lasater.)

Hope to see you in class soon!

Tiffany Howes

Tiffany teaches Restorative Yoga on Thursdays from 7:30-8:30pm. She also teaches Gentle Practice, an introspective yoga class that arcs between easeful exploration, gentle movement and supported postures, on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30pm. Save your spot here.

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What Family Yoga is all about

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What Family Yoga is all about

Kids Yoga - tree pose

The primary focus of family yoga is promoting bonding between family members, while still having the opportunity to soak up all the other benefits of yoga practice. Yoga helps equip children and parents alike with tools to help them balance the stresses they face in life. Yoga helps to improve your confidence, optimism and, of course, your sense of humour; I frequently incorporate humour into our family practices, whether that be through stories or laughing at ourselves when we tumble over! More points!

Family yoga provides a space where there is some structure, yet there is space for each person to explore and find their voice. In performing partner poses communication is key and continually encouraged; sometimes it may even require some problem solving if the pose is toppling or one body is significantly smaller than the other. It encourages you to consider how other people may experience the pose and how your actions may impact them and the pose you create together. Shared family recreation time has been documented as an important factor that supports resilience. Family yoga helps to develop child social skills and cognitive skills; it improves the families’ cohesion and adaptability.

Make family yoga your family’s ritual and see first hand the benefits of strengthening your mind, body, spirit and family unit. Amma Yoga classes help foster community with space to play, snack, and chat before and after classes. We also encourage dialogue during classes, to foster connection. Hope to see you in a class soon!

Family Yoga happens weekly on Wednesdays from 6:15-7:00pm & Sundays from 10:30-11:15am. Email thea@ammayoga.ca with questions! 

Written by Kendra Hinton

Kids Can Meditate

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Why it's important for everybody to know that every BODY is welcome!

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Why it's important for everybody to know that every BODY is welcome!

{by Julie Raineault}

As you know, Amma strives to create an environment where everybody, every BODY, can come and enjoy the services we have to offer. Whether you are expanding your family in our prenatal classes, spending time with the ones you love in our family classes, or taking a break in a grownups only class, the general consensus around here is that Amma welcomes you as you are with a wide open heart.

We've all heard the song: "Oh my god Becky, look at her butt!" (Now you are probably singing it.) Maybe at some point in your life you overheard some nasty comment from someone whispering behind you. The world wants us to want to change ourselves, to try some fad diet, to buy some magical pill, to put ourselves through the ringer over and over and over to try and be something that looks like an airbrushed picture in a magazine that is not even realistic for most people.

How about instead we focus on the truly important message in that song, the truth that Sir Mix-A-Lot was getting at, the fact that his anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun!

It doesn’t matter what you look like, what size you are, what clothes you’re wearing, or how your butt looks in those pants. We want you to do you and to love whatever it is that you do. We also want the world we live in to love you too. So let’s embrace our buns and show the world that every BODY is beautiful.

We're excited to be a part of the Self-Care Marketplace at this wonderful event on Tuesday, April 25th: a special screening of the film Embrace at the Princess Twin Cinemas in Waterloo. Tickets are available online HERE and all proceeds from will go to support Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

You'll find Julie teaching a class that feels great and makes you laugh on Tuesday evenings at 8:45pm, Saturday mornings at 10am or Sunday evenings at 7:30pm.

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