Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Yasmin Yoga Website


We've moved our blog to my brand new website: 

Come visit us!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mental & Material Clutter

WHOA! Nothing is more humbling and insightful than lugging all of your belongings up four flights of stairs. That's right, we are finally moved. I am currently sitting in a pile of boxes and stuff in what will one day (hopefully, soon) be our office. I can't believe how much crap I have! Who knew that this silly yogi, who sometimes brags that "there is no sentiment in objects besides the sentiments we attach to them," would have so many silly possessions. I'm actually a little embarrassed, particularly because of all the petty arguments I had with my partner Craig about my wanting to keep this, that, and the other thing for whatever reason. Clutter is so personal...

We did get rid of a lot of stuff before the move, but clearly we have a lot more to do. My friend Tracey Mackenzie, who is a wonderful feng shui specialist, interior designer, and professional organizer offered me some help, which has been useful. I thought I'd share some of her clutter reducing tips, in case anyone else out there is suffering from the pack-rat syndrome.

1- Don't attempt clutter control alone. Seriously, we all need an outside person (not spouse) to point out how ridiculous your arguments are for keeping five old cellphones "just in case".

2- Create sections or bins for "Keep", "Giveaway", "Recycle", or in the rare case, "Toss", if the other sections really don't apply.

3- Here's the kicker: You get five seconds to decide which bin each of your items go in. (Any hesitation is a sign of weakness and will likely result in a forced giveaway.)

4- If there are items that serve no real purpose other than to evoke memories, Tracey's advice is to take a picture of object of sentiment value and send it on its merry way to the next clutter-bug or hoarder.  I had to do this with a several home made crafts given to me by my younger students over the years. Taking a photo of each gift made the parting less bitter.

5- Get rid of whatever you are not keeping for sure right away or you may change your mind and keep that old Easter bunny basket, which is currently staring me down across the room.

6- Tracey's last words of wisdom: "If you get rid of the old, you make room for the new."

Good luck, my friends. Please post any other clutter management or organizational suggestions you might have. Goodness knows, I need it!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Stomach Flu Natural Remedies

Oh, the stomach flu! What a nasty bug. And one I got to know quite well in the last few days. Yes, that's right, after my emotional and material purging over the last couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to physically purge the toxins out of my body. I feel much better today, albeit still a little weak from the torment of vomiting my guts out on Wednesday night and wrestling with fever yesterday.

Having spoke to a few friends and colleagues, I hear I'm not the only one recovering from this aliment, so I thought I'd share some ayurvedic remedies should you also be affected by Viral Gastroenteritis (a.k.a the stomach flu).

First, how do you know the difference between the stomach flu and food poisoning?
Although the stomach flu and food poisoning have similar symptoms (vomiting, headaches, fever, loose stools, etc.) and are both an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, their cause differs. Food poisoning is a bacterial infection resulting from eating something disagreeable, whereas the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis is a viral infection contracting by contact with an infected person. Both conditions usually last one to three days, but it may take two weeks or longer for the digestive system to regain its full strength. However, if you are affected by either food poisoning or the stomach flu, your immunity and digestive system was probably weakened to begin with. This is why in the same family, one or two people may get sick and the others not, even if everyone was exposed to the same food or virus.

So, how do you get over it? 
  • Rest is top priority. Stay warm and cozy in bed and just sleep and/or breathe deeply.
  • Avoid dehydration by taking small sips of room temperature water once vomiting has ceased. (Small sips are important, as big gulps with may further aggravate the system.)
  • Re-hydrating with electrolytes is important. I used the new Vega Sport Electrolyte blend in water and it helped a lot. But, you can also make your own: 1 c water  + 1 tsp agave nectar (or maple syrup) + 2 tbps lemon juice + a pinch of salt
  • Rice water is also soothing. To make it, simply boil brown rice (organic is best) with double or triple the usual amount of water. When the rice is ready, strain it and drink the water.
  • Clear broths or other clear, non-acidic beverages are beneficial.
  • Fennel and coriander tea is good too. Just put about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground fennel and coriander seeds (equal parts) in a cup of hot water and let steep for five minutes before drinking.
  • When you are ready to start eating again, I highly recommend plain rice with maybe a little yogurt or ghee + a Kitchari diet for a few days. ("Kitchari" means "mixture" or "stew" and is a staple food in India). Below is a recipe for Kitchari.
  • Go see a doctor or health care professional, if you have blood in your stool or if your symptoms get worse after a couple of days. 
  • There are many wonderful ayurvedic herbs that can also help rebalance the digestive system, but these can only be recommended on an individual basis, as not all herbs are appropriate for all people. I should be up and running in a few days, so if ever you want to set up an ayurvedic appointment you are welcome to contact me:

KITCHARI RECIPE: The best comfort food to get the digestive system back on track...
1 c split mung beans (soak for 1 hr before using)
2 c brown rice
4 1/2 c water
3/4 tsp sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp freshly ground cumin
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp freshly ground fennel seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
Small pinch of Hing or asafoetida (It helps prevent gas and can be found at an Indian store.)
About 1/2 - 1 c easily digestible veggies (zucchini, sweet potato, carrot, turnip and/or squash)

Put everything into a pot & bring to a boil. Then cover & let simmer for on Low for ~45mins. Enjoy with 1-2tsp of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut butter or oilve oil. For a little pro-biotic boost, adding a table spoon or two of plain yogurt is good with this dish.  (Tip: avoiding adding the veggies, if your digestive system is very weak.)

Don't know how to make ghee? It's really simple.

Melt 1 pound of unsalted butter (organic butter is best for therapeutic applications and if you can find grass fed cow butter all the better) on stove and let simmer for 15-20 mins on low heat. Stir continuously. Scrape foam off the top and discard. After about 15-20 mins, it with stop boiling and become clear. At this point, turn off heat. Let cool for 5-10 mins. Then strain (with cheese cloth) into clean, dry container. Cover and store in cool, dry place like pantry.

* Please feel free to also post your own suggestions for stomach flu or food poisoning cures!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Art of Letting go

As we sift through drawers, closets, and forgotten boxes, the dust makes my eyes water and my nose stuff up. Emotions well inside. I remember the young student who gave me this red card with the embossed deity on it the cover. He was seven at the time he was in my kids yoga class, but he must be in Cegep now. There’s also an astrology book found in this collection of stuff. The instructor who gave it to me way back when doesn’t speak to me anymore because of a disagreement. In other box, I find every attendance sheet of every class I ever taught since 2004. I can’t believe that was eight years ago, and I really can’t believe I’m in the process of packing up and moving out of my studio.

This was my week to sort through everything at Om West and decide what stays, what to recycle, what to discard, and what to bring home. On Thursday afternoon, I sit on the floor of Studio 1 and sort CDs. There are a couple without labels. I put one into the player and the notes of Yann Tiersen’s theme song for Amelie begin. Suddenly, I’m lost in a cloud of memories and undistinguishable feelings. I stare at the window and try to regain my composure. “We’re almost done,” I tell myself. “Soon this will all be over.”

I’m not very good at organizing, so trying to figure out what to do with all these accumulated documents and materials is stressful for me. It’s a lot of small intestine work, my friend Nadia would say. I feel constipated, both physically and mentally. But miraculously, after three days and several car trips later, we’re done, and the studio has never, in its 15 years of existence, been more orderly. 

By 8:30pm, Craig, who all day was helping me sort and stay focused, is waiting by the door. The car is packed. But all of a sudden, I have an urge to sit and have a good cry. The lump in my throat has become so large, it’s restricting my breath, and my lower lip is quivering uncontrollably. It finally hit me— All the decisions I made here, all the people I met, all the events I’ve hosted… I never before realized what I actually created and did in this place. I don’t want to leave. I feel like going back upstairs and hugging every wall.  

Craig walks over and puts his arms around me and whispers things like, “Everything is still going to be here next week,” and “Think about all the you’re now going to have.” But I know I just have to let myself release emotions until I feel better.

We eventually make our way home. I am comforted by conversation with Antoine, the new owner, and a bowl of warm Thai curry that is delivered to our door.

So now the sorting is over, and it’s end of a monumental year.

Craig and I are in Bancroft, Ontario at Kat and Vito’s alpaca farm. My friend Jamie Lee, the artist, and Ron Obadia, chocolate yoga co-founder are here too. I’m happy to be celebrating the start of 2012 surrounded by beloved friends. We have a big bonfire planned tonight and I brought a box of paperwork to burn. This will be my way of symbolically letting go of the past.

It’s the dawn of a new beginning, and the start of a new adventure. I’m ready and I’m so stoked.

Kids Yoga Camp 2008

Practice your own letting go ritual this weekend: 
Write down anything and/or everything that has upset you. Then, as soon as you are done writing, destroy the paper by burning or shredding it.
Cleaning out closets and storage boxes can also be liberating. 
Then, take time to be silent so inspiration can come.

Happy Happy New Year. May peace and joy prevail.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eco-Christmas Ideas & New Year's Manifestion exercise

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

The Holidays have always been such a special time of year for me, and for my family. My dad is Mr. Christmas. He absolutely adores these festivities, and my parents home is the perfect setting. They live an gorgeous cottage just outside Montreal that is nearly 120 years-old. The living room has this incredible cathedral ceiling and a massive stone fireplace. Decked with twinkling garlands and a 10 foot tree, this room is Christmas personified. It's so nice to spend a few days here.

I am so grateful for all my blessings and my heart is full of joy and exhalation as we come to the end of a most memorable 12 months.  And an incredible year lies ahead! 2012! Amazing. A historic adventure, I'm sure. I pray for peace, compassion, and global tolerance and acceptance.

Made yesterday and full of Holiday cheer, here is my first video in a long time! (Yes, I'm a little rusty in front of the camera...) In this video, I'm sharing some of my own Christmas traditions-- my eco-gift wrapping ideas, my make-shift decorations, and a special Alternate Nostril breathing exercise designed to promote energy, happiness, inspiration and love, while relieving stress, fear, frustration and anxiety.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year full of inspiration, creation, light, love, health and wealth. 

Much love,

Monday, November 21, 2011

My 30th Birthday!

The police shut down my party on Saturday! It was a blast. Plus, I got the skeleton I wanted!

Today is my actual birthday. Thirty years old! Holy Moly!

Many people have asked me how I feel turning 30, and I have to say I'm so freaking excited! I cried on my birthday when I went from 12 to 13, because I thought that entering my teens meant I was no longer a child. Thankfully, I now know that childhood can last a life time. I feel like I am simultaneously 6 and 108, and this will never change.

In the last year, perhaps more so than in other years, I feel I've come into my own. I know and like myself much better than ever before. I attribute this shift of perception to all the knowledge I'm acquiring in Ayurvedic school. I am more understanding and accepting of the things I didn't like about myself before, such as my tendency to be a stubborn perfectionist. As my good friend Natalie predicted, I am now less interested in trying to be someone I think I should be, and more interested in enjoying myself and just being who I am. This has been an amazing experience, because not only am I more accepting of me, I am more accepting of others too. And I am having so much more fun!

Speaking of fun, I am so grateful to have been able to share my birthday celebration with my friends, family and teacher training students, who got me the six foot skeleton as a group gift (which is killer! Thank you!!). And even thought the police kicked everyone out of the loft at 12:30am, I got to wear a tutu dress and we really had a radical time. (The drums were awesome. James, you rule.)

I am also grateful to be passing my studio on to two lovely new owners and I am excited for what's coming up: Craig, my beloved, and I going to Paris for ten days at the beginning of Dec. and we will be moving in to our own place hopefully by Jan. 1. Plus, on the professional side, I have two dvds
coming out Dec. 6 in stores across Canada, and I now have my own jewelery collection with! So exciting!!

PS If you are one of my lovely yoga students, remember it is customary to do 108 sun salutations on your yoga teacher's birthday! (Wink!)

PPS Thank you to Craig for all the organizational genius and to Miranda from Ahimsa Yoga for the great space! xo

Friday, November 4, 2011

Embracing Change

I have a big announcement... I sold my yoga studio.

It seems strange to see those words and even stranger to say them out loud. But it's true. After being the sole proprietor of Om West Holistic Centre for five years, I am choosing a new path. This is no doubt a huge change for me and it was a difficult decision. I have spent 17 years at this yoga centre.

My yoga life began in the dimly lit, carpeted studio at 46 Ste Anne Street in Pointe Claire Village, which is about 25km west of downtown Montreal. It was circa 1996 and no one cool had ever tried yoga expect maybe the Beatles 30 years prior. I'm an awkward teenager working part-time for Gigi, the owner of said yoga studio. With her encouragement/enforcement, my friend and I start practicing Ashtanga yoga with Mark Darby, who is fresh from India and impatient with awkward teenagers. (By the way, Darby is now a renown world-traveling yoga teacher, but he had his Western debut at Gigi's humble little studio, as did several other yoga masters.) For some reason, I stick with ashtanga yoga, although I distinctly remember not having much affinity towards it back then. 

A few years later, at age 18 or 19, I end up on a deserted island in British Colombia learning yoga from Claire, a spirited 24-year-old who had taught yoga in Costa Rica. I'm mesmerized by her soulful beauty and I wanted to be like her, so because of her prompting, I started teaching yoga to kids. The summer ends and I'm back in Pointe Claire. Gigi puts me in charge of the kids yoga program at her Centre. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I borrow a book from the library and I make it up as I go along. (Admittedly, making things up as I go is a tactic I continue to rely on to this day!)

Two years later and I'm in Australia for a year. I'm at RMIT university. I am teaching adult yoga, and I attempt to record my first yoga cd (alone in a basement radio booth). It's January 2003 and I'm back again at the Centre in Pointe Claire Village. Gigi convinces me to stay in Montreal and manage her centre. Good call, because in the year I was Down Under, North Americans go crazy for yoga. My evening classes quickly overflow. Pretty soon and I'm all over the place teaching 6000 classes a week and I LOVE IT, but I don't really have much formal training. So after briefly flirting with the idea of moving to Norway, I commit to living in Montreal for another year, and register for Mark Darby and Hart Lazer's 200 hour yoga teacher training. It's there I meet my best yogi friends Mark Laham and Jamie Lee. I'm extremely tempted to follow Mark's path of nomade yoga teacher, but when Jamie decides to buy Yoga Source, a studio in the South Shore, getting a studio of my own seems like a good idea. In 2005, Gigi offers to sell me her studio. I say, no. When she asks again in 2006, I say, yes, and acquire a bank loan.

I discover that owning a studio is a lot more complex than managing one part-time. Argumentative staff, a dissatisfied client, and big bills, there are moments I am sick with anxiety and stress. Someone says, "Why don't you try some yoga? Ha Ha," and I want to kill him or her. However, I then find Marianne, a wonderful mothery manager, who helps me get organized. A few years go by. The studio grows, and my responsibilities continue to increase. I'm overwhelmed and I really can't think straight. I need guidance. 

I find Lisa Lajoie, a spiritual mastermind, and she and I become pals. "I'm not sure if I want all these responsibilities, and I'm not sure I'm meant to be a yoga teacher. Sometimes, I feel like I poser..." I rhapsodize. Lisa and I talk a lot. But I still I don't know what to do. I pray for inspiration. I meditate. I write. I decide to embark on an inner pilgrimage, a mala of 108 practices. On April 15, Lisa suggests I start on the 108th day of the year, which is three days later. I protest I'm not prepared, but she shoots me her 'Don't mess with me' look, so I go home and freak out all night. Nevertheless, on the morning of April 18, 2010, I start my journey of 108 daily sun salutations in company of my friend Ron Cherilus and some of the students of Om West. 

Of course, what transpires next, are the 108 days of surya namasker that are already outlined in the pages of this blog. During this time, it becomes increasingly oblivious to me that I no longer want to run a yoga centre. But I feel like a mother afraid to admit she is too young to raise a child, so I keep my mouth shut, and force my way through hours of tedious administrative tasks. The 108 days end with a 32 hour consecutive yoga marathon at Om West. It's the most amazing experience of my life. I am doing my favourite thing in the world, I'm in my studio, and I'm surrounded by my favourite people. I am so in love with each moment. I don't want to let it go. 

Marianne and I part ways in the fall and Tasreen joins me as studio manager. Working with Tas is great. Along with my new business advisor, Blair, we implement procedures and systems. I'm learning a lot about business, and the studio is becoming busier. Sales are going up, but I still feel burdened with decisions and tasks. By Christmas, it's clear I need a radical change. At first, I think getting a partner would be helpful, and I toy with this concept for a few months. Unfortunately, a good partnership candidate fails to appear, so I start exploring other options. I sign-on, then quickly sign-off with a business broker. He doesn't understand the needs of the studio, and I'm determined to find someone who will care, really care about the well being of my Centre and the students who come there. My goal is to find new owners before I turn 30. I don't know the first thing about selling a business. With no broker and no leads, I worry, then I pray and meditate. 

What follows is rather serendipitous. One quiet Friday afternoon in May, I get a Marma Point Massage from Antoine. Afterward, we sit and have tea. He tells me how much he and his wife, Pamela, love Om West, and he says that if I ever consider selling it, to tell him first as they would be very interested. From there, we meet and exchange non-disclosure agreements. I spend the summer organizing more paperwork that I have in my entire five years of business ownership. But then things fall into place, and here I am. Pamela and Anotine will officially take my place as owners Jan. 1, 2012, and I will stay on to teach a few regular classes at Om West.

I have to say, it feels good to share this story. I am grateful beyond words to my parents, my boyfriend Craig, my teachers, my advisors, who have been there for me every step of the way. I have learned so much and grown so much. I feel I understand business now and I want to help other yogi entrepreneurs. I am a little nervous, but also excited, about what lies ahead.

I'm turning 30 in about two and half weeks, and apart from celebrating with family and friends, all I want is a skeleton. So if you happen to know where I can get one, or if you happen to have a spare, can you let me know?