You’re Invited to our Holiday Open House! Enjoy a week of free yoga and daily giveaways with the Seven Days of SATTVA!
The SATTVA Blog is back! We want this blog to be a resource for people to stay up to date with what’s happening at the studio and in the community. We know that the SATTVA School is so more than the physical space we occupy, so we’re designing this blog to support the energetic space that we all share no matter where we are in the world, or with our practice.
With that in mind, our intention for this space is to create a deeper connection with each other, and to build an online hub of yoga, lifestyle, culture and wellness with SATTVA at it’s heart. Watch this space for an added facet to the SATTVA practice and community. We are so happy that you’re here.
Peace Day and the Inner Peace Project: Inner Peace to Outer Peace
If you’ve been spending time at the SATTVA School of Yoga recently, you may have heard our teachers and students refer to September 21st as ‘Yogi Christmas’. An entire day devoted to cultivating peace is, for us, as exciting and energizing as the feeling of Christmas.
September 21 is an internationally recognized cease-fire, and is declared by the United Nations General Assembly as a day dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace among all nations and peoples. To honour this day each year, the SATTVA School celebrates with a community yoga practice and meditation led by Rameen, and it is a chance to come together and celebrate what peace means to each of us.
It’s also no coincidence that the Peace Day shares space on the calendar with the autumn equinox. The hours of daylight and darkness come to equilibrium, and we are given the opportunity to nurture a sense of balance and ease in our lives. When we experience balance, we also experience peace. At the heart of this, it is a sattvic state of being.
With every year that passes, this day becomes more and more significant to the SATTVA community, and has rapidly grown in attendance, depth and potency. The studio becomes an epicenter of people cultivating inner peace, and extending this energy to outer peace in their own lives and larger community. It is truly one of the most special days of the year to be at the studio.
This year we decided to evolve our Peace Day event into something more. With the knowledge that our community has shown up so consistently and powerfully for Peace Day over the years, we felt it was time to merge two causes very close to the heart of the Sattva practice, and create a fundraising opportunity as a means of further building peace in the community.
For a bit of context, Rameen and the SATTVA School created a seva project dedicated to providing yoga and meditation to the wider community. In 2015, the Inner Peace Project was formally launched, directed by senior SATTVA teacher Katie Mahon. The Inner Peace Project is designed to offer yoga, breathing, and meditation classes to community organizations working with marginalized, vulnerable and at-risk populations.
The belief is that a yoga practice can be a way to heal from all types of trauma, and we want everyone who might need this to have access to it. The Inner Peace Project brings yoga and meditation practices out of the studio and into the lives of those who often need the practice the most.
Since the launch, the Inner Peace Project has been working closely with Edmonton’s Youth Emergency Services Shelter (YESS) clients and staff. Once a week, SATTVA teachers offer a yoga practice, breathing and meditation to staff and clients at YESS. We recently had the privilege of hearing from some of the staff at YESS just how profoundly yoga has impacted their lives as well as those of their clients. Here is what they had to share:
What does having yoga at your facility mean to you?
Adriana: Working for YESS and trying to help homeless youth navigate our city and the systems and supports that we have in place does not allow for a lot of eagerly anticipated moments. The work that we do is challenging and difficult and can often feel overwhelming. Having yoga once a week is something that I very much look forward to. Similar to checking in with my co-workers, and the debriefing process that this work requires, having yoga as an established part of my work schedule is extremely valuable. It has provided me with a good focal point in creating a balance of taking care of myself in order to address the needs of others. In order to be the best that I can be at my job I have to take proper care of myself. Yoga has allowed for that self check in process to occur more naturally and in a very consistent way.
Carly: Having yoga at the Armoury has allowed me to actually take some time out of my day to devote to me. Sometimes it’s hard to turn your brain off during short breaks and actually feel relaxed, but taking some time to focus on different postures and positions in our yoga sessions gives my mind a well-needed break.
Shiraz: It gives me time to centre myself and ground myself so I can deal with the high stress nature of my job. It also gives the youth a chance to have a quiet moment while working on themselves.
How has this yoga program impacted you - professionally and maybe even personally?
Adriana: I had a very serious back injury 13 years ago and as time has progressed my personal care for that injury became more of an afterthought. The introduction of the SATTVA school of Yoga to YESS could not have been better timed. I have noticed a huge improvement in my daily pain and I have also felt much more motivated to do the daily exercises and practices that help to alleviate that pain. I find it quite exhilarating to go through the week focusing and practicing on what I learned at yoga that Tuesday morning.
Carly: This may not seem like much, but after only a few sessions of yoga I was finally able to touch my toes!! I also feel a lot more focused when I return back to the floor at work – it’s like I get to restart the beginning of my day.
Shiraz: Personally, it has helped me with my posture and helping to regulate with my emotions more. That’s how it also helps me professionally as well!
How have you seen this program impact the youth at YESS?
Adriana: It is remarkable to take part in a yoga class alongside the youth. It’s very important to create spaces where youth and staff can meet at the same level. It is so good for the youth to have positive role modelling from the staff at YESS and then to be a part of the process themselves is that much more amazing. I have witnessed a very positive vibe and energy from any youth that take part. The experience seems to trickle into the rest of their day and guide the decisions that they make for themselves in a very positive way.
Thank you so much to Emily and to SATTVA.
Carly and Shiraz: We both think that the youth who have participated have been more interested in practicing mindfulness. They are more open to trying new things, and more interested in the practice of meditation and finding space for themselves.
Our manager Soso Dhillon shares her Ayurvedic Date Tonic recipe to bring warmth and pacify Vata this winter season.
As we reach the last month of the year it only makes sense that we leave the year on a strong note, and the SATTVA strength sequence is just that!
If you're familiar with the SATTVA Yoga practice, then you know that we cycle through sequences every month that bring your awareness and attention to different aspects of the body. We begin the year with the Front Body sequence and then move through Side Body, Back Body, and Strength. Once this 4-month cycle is complete, we repeat the process all while adding some new postures to each sequence.
The aspect of the body that we will be focusing on for the month of December is strength.
In the SATTVA practice, we bring our attention to unique lines of awareness, and this Strength sequence of postures ask us to find the centermost, innermost central axis in the body. This line begins on each foot at a point of origin directly in front of the heels, up through the very center of the legs converging at the pelvic floor, directly through the center of the torso, all the way up to the crown of the head. At the chest, the strength line splits to follow along each arm and connects to another point of origin located at the center of each palm.
Moving through all yoga postures with specific awareness and integration of these body lines is of utmost importance for a safe, effective and sustainable practice!
As we move into the month of September, the SATTVA School of Yoga will shift the attention from the perspective of Strength (the innermost central line of the body) and move towards more anterior lines that stem from the Front Body.
Doing yoga in your sleep? Sounds like my kind of yoga!
Now that I have your attention, let’s back up for a second. Yoga nidra is not doing yoga in your sleep. It’s another one of those ancient practices, aptly described as yogic sleep, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping or the "going-to-sleep" stage. It’s a deep, meditative practice without the formalities of sitting in - what could be uncomfortable for some people - meditative postures. Instead, you lie on the floor like you do in savasana and go to work on your body, breath and mind.
For someone who has a lot of trouble falling asleep or having a full, restful sleep, this practice has really helped me calm my mind, soothe anxieties, and allows me to drift into a deep state of meditation. Yoga nidra has helped me accept the feelings that arise that moment right before you drift into sleep land, which as it turns out, is when I’m feeling the most vulnerable. Thankfully, yoga nidra helps to calm my mind and body and work through stress, accepting that these feelings may come and go but that they aren’t my reality.
The name of the game is conscious relaxation.
Let’s walk through how this works.
Lie down on your mat and close your eyes.
Start mindfully breathing. Deep inhale and exhale.
As with anything yoga related, set your intention. (I often focus my nidra practice on gratitude. Rather than “counting my sheep” to help me settle into sleep, I think about all of the great things in my day that I am grateful for.)
Release all tension in your body. Scan from the tips of your toes, to the tips of your fingers, and out through the top of your head. Let go of anything that is no longer serving you in this moment.
Find your inner drive. The best way I’ve had this explained to me is to find my happy place. (Very Peter Pan-esque, hey!) Is this place somewhere you’d like to revisit? Is it a feeling or state of well-being when you’re feeling your best? Concentrate on this.
Breathe into this space. Breathe in peace and gratitude and breathe out insecurities and negative thoughts.
As emotions or thoughts come up, acknowledge them. Mull them over, and let them go. A good method is to ask these thoughts or feelings what they need. Where do you feel these thoughts in your body?
At the end of your practice, come back to your intention for a moment. Breathe.
And slowly bring yourself back to a wakeful state, just as you would from the end of a meditation. Be gentle and give yourself the time to slowly come back.
The interesting thing about a yoga nidra practice is that you really do learn more about yourself. You learn about the thoughts and feelings that occupy your subconscious and you understand how to work with these thoughts and feelings rather than bury them further inside of you.
Now that you have a sense of what it’s about, you can catch a weekly yoga nidra class at the SATTVA School every Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30pm with some of your beloved instructors to go deeper into your nidra practice. You can also access a full guided yoga nidra sequence on SATTVA Online that will easily lead you right into sleep.