Teacher spotlight: Chris

Last day of TEACHER SPOTLIGHTS! We finish off with Chris.
What is your favorite yoga asana? “That’s tough. Every day I need something different — sometimes I need to dance, sometimes I need asana, sometimes I need to make love, and sometimes I need to simply sleep. So ask me one day and the answer might be anahatasana. Another day it might be to stay in bed a little longer. If you begin to look at yoga not as a system of static poses, but rather as an expression of your life force, the notion of a favourite asana really begins to dissolve. In fact, the notion of a formal class starts to seem a bit strange too!
What do you like most about teaching? “What I love about teaching is the sharing of knowledge that happens — not only from teacher to student, but from student to student and student to teacher as well. I like to think that we are all holding pieces of one another, like pieces of a puzzle. If we drop the guru/disciple, teacher/student, elder/child etc. relationships and meet each other as equals who happen to be playing different roles, then it opens up limitless possibility for personal fulfillment. Suddenly, my greatest insight in life may come from a janitor. A spiritual guru on a pedestal may suddenly become irrelevant. When we can get past this idea that any one of us knows more than the other, we can share all of our puzzle pieces freely. When we share freely with one another, the larger picture of our own life, as well as what’s happening collectively, becomes clearer.
“What is your favorite non-yoga activity? “Just like my favourite asana, this changes on a regular basis. Some days it feels right to get on my bike and ride. Sometimes it’s cooking. When there are so many possibilities, it can just be about what feels best in any given moment.

One thing we don’t know about you? “I really only fell into teaching yoga by accident. As I like to say sometimes, a case of “Whoops, I succeeded!”. Serendipity has been an enormous force since — it keeps me inspired in all kinds of great ways, sometimes large and sometimes small. The wonder of the present moment is a gift that’s continually opening.”

Teacher spotlight: Eileen

Day 8 of teacher profiles and its time to check in with the yogi who started it all; our mamma owl Eileen!

What is your favorite yoga asana? “My favorite asana right now is tadasana. It’s the basis of so many postures for good alignment. It’s seems so easy to get into but there is so much happening when you start to break down the posture. I love the strength I feel when I am standing in my mountain and the focus I settle into while in the posture.”

What do you like most about teaching? “Meeting and getting to know the yogis and yoginis that show up on their mat is my favorite part if teaching. I have made some many amazing friends on this journey ♡ ”

What is your favorite non-yoga activity? “My favorite non yoga activity is eating!! I love to bring people together and sharing delicious food and drinks. ”

One thing we don’t know about you? “As much as I love to eat, I am a terrible cook.”

We are so blessed to learn and be inspired by Eileen the creator and owner of Red Owl every week on the mat.

Teacher spotlight: Mathius

Day 7 of teacher spotlights and it’s time to chat with Mathius!

‘My favorite yoga asana is Virasana, as it is a deeply meditative pose for me. I like the gratitude I feel when my students are overjoyed with their practice! My favorite non-yoga activity is spending time with my fiance Clara and our puppy Duke.  I can write a fantastic poem from time to time!”

Catch Mathius on the mat subbing for his fellow owls as well as Fridays for Karma Yoga.

Teacher spotlight: Clara

Teacher spotlight day 6! Let’s check in with Clara.

What is your favorite yoga asana? “Agnistambhasana (log pose). I LOVE anything that opens up the hips!”

What do you like most about teaching? “I didn’t become a yoga teacher on purpose (ha!). I went to India in 2014 solely for self exploration and to enhance my Ashtanga practice. I came away a teacher! What I love most about teaching is that I am supporting others in their attainment of health and wellbeing. As a teacher I also love that I can share what yoga is to me, which is less about moving the body and more about developing our consciousness as human begins.

What is your favorite non-yoga activity? “Mathius and I just got a puppy (Duke), so my newest activity is potty training and taking very slow walks because Duke’s ears are longer than his legs and he trips every couple of steps :-)”

One thing we don’t know about you? “Aside from teaching yoga I work as a birth doula and childbirth educator. I have a strong passion for women’s rights and their right to give birth where, with whom, and how they choose. The current system of birth is plagued with negative messages, policies, and professionals who have lost sight of the natural strength and intelligence of the female body. My work is to support a shift in consciousness so women go into birth feeling educated and in control of how their child enters this world.”

Teacher spotlight: Johnny

Day 4 of TEACHER SPOTLIGHTS. Get to know our newest member of Red Owl Yoga – Johnny!

My favorite Asana… “I actually don’t know the name of it. A teacher friend of mine called it Phoenix when she saw me do it the first time, but google does not agree. Essentially, it starts as crow, but then remove the legs from the equation and send them out behind/above you… so you’re just balancing on chatarunga arms. As my float back to chatarunga developed, this just sort of happened, and I realized that I can hold it there. Really fun way to float back… now if I can only figure out how to breath at the same time!! Haha!”

What I most like about teaching… “I’m really enjoying the thought process before the actual class right now. I’ve been told that I care too much, but I plan my sequences before hand and then work through a sadhana or 2 with the plan to see how the flow of it feels. I’d like to think that this effort is part of the reason that I see big smiles on the faces of students as they’re leaving.”

My favorite non-yoga activity… “Camping!! Realistically, it’s more like “glamping” (glamorous camping) but whatever. My daughter and I have decided to make sacrifices in other parts of our world in order to live a minimalistic life… in a van down by the river! We spend from early May until mid October living in our camper at a campsite. Maybe one of these day we’ll do some actual camping… up a 4×4 trail and with a tent, but for now… we “Glamp”. Campfire and marshmallows almost every night… life is good!”

One thing you don’t know about me…. “Hmmmmm… I kind of stumbled into my YTT. Given my work schedule, I never in a million years expected to find a teacher training that would fit into my life. I had at one point expressed interest, combined with slight disappointment… and suddenly a very dear friend of mine was putting on a teacher training with 2 schedule options… BOTH of which fit into my world (aside from having to miss some time with my little girl). Naturally I felt like it was meant to be, so I signed up with the sole intention of deepening my practice. That intention grew, and I had a desire to explore and “teach a class or 2″. I then desired to have a full circle effect and teach one class at the main studio that I’ve attended. Within a week after completing my TT, I had accomplished all of these goals (the practice will continue to deepen I’m sure), yet I desired more. Now, I have the desire to (as a 20 year teacher friend of mine says) “Share the Yoga Love.”

Thanks for sharing Johnny! Check the schedule to see when you can join Johnny on your mat for Karma Yoga Fridays 11:30 – 12:20.

Teacher spotlight: Megan

Its day 3 of TEACHER SPOTLIGHTS! Yippee. Here is Megan!
What is your favorite yoga asana? -“urdvha dhanurasana (full wheel pose).”

What do you like most about teaching? “I love watching students as they progress and become more comfortable in their bodies. I especially love seeing a student get into an asana that they have been struggling with for a while.”

What is your favorite non-yoga activity? “other than the yoga studio, the theatre is my second home. I love the feeling I get when I am in a theatre, so I feel especially blessed that I get a 2 for one package deal when I’m at Red Owl. Both of my favourite things in one place!”

One things we don’t know about you? “I have an extensive collection of old movie musicals. I love to travel. I was once an avid kickboxer. I love dogs. And I think I might hold the world record for best Tetris score.”

Teacher spotlight: Jenn

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT day 2 features the lovely Jenn.

Favorite asana: “Surya Yantrasana ( Sun Dial Pose) I love the opening of my hips and hamstrings and the space it creates in my side body. It’s one of the poses though that keeps me most grounded.”

Most Like about Teaching: “My favourite thing about teaching is being able to help people. Whether that’s to assist students on their journey in their asanas or to be there as energetic or emotional support. It always puts a smile on my face when a student says I brightened their day with yoga!”

Favourite non yoga activity: “Yoga does take up a good portion of my day, but I have recently found enjoyment in playing Volleyball recreationally. I also really like swimming!”

One thing you don’t know about me: “I do love living in Edmonton, but I grew up on a farm and have a strong connection to nature. Even though it can be quite cold I love camping in the mountains. Always being able to connect back to mother earth is one thing helps me reset and get my thoughts clear. I also really love to travel and immerse myself into a countries culture. If I could buy an around the world plane ticket today I would…. That’s the dream!”

Teacher Spotlight: Erin

Our Teacher Spotlights (lovingly curated by Clara) were so popular on our Facebook page that we’ve decided to recreate them here!

Favorite asana: “Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall), because 1) it was the first yoga pose taught in the first class I ever went to in 1999; and 2) it’s my mental and physical reset button when I’m tired.”

What I like most about teaching: “Everything! I actually wrote a blog post about it awhile ago. But if I have to single out one thing, it’s this: Teaching yoga allows me to share what I’m truly passionate about –  the teachings that have been passed down to me by my teachers, the empowerment of taking an active role in one’s own wellness, and the beauty of a practice that meets you exactly where you are.”

My favorite non-yoga activity: “It’s a tie between cooking and riding my bike. I’ve always loved cooking. It’s a mix between art and science. I especially love finding ways to make food that’s both incredibly healthy and decadently delicious. For the past four years I’ve volunteered in the Edmonton Folk Festival Site Kitchen, cooking up gigantic amounts of yummy food for my fellow volunteers. I also love exploring the city on my bike. I commute by bike for about 8 months of the year, and this year I plan to keep going right through the winter!”

Something you don’t know about me: “This winter I will be starting an aquaponics operation with my husband and a few friends! Aquaponics integrates growing fish with growing veggies without soil. Water from fish tanks provides nutrients for veggies, and the plants purify the water for the fish.”

We are happy to bring in the new year with new month passes!!

Passes can be purchased from any instructor, starting mid December.

$80 for a month pass
$210 for 3 month pass

All prices include GST. 

Relax, Restore, Recalibrate: The transformative power of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep”, is a practice of deep relaxation through guided meditation. Originating in India, Yoga Nidra has been used to reduce stress, improve mental focus, and generate emotional balance. It’s suitable for all levels of physical ability as it is practiced in complete stillness.

Nidra is the ideal antidote to our busy, task-oriented lives. In deep relaxation and meditative states, we can actually change the frequency of our brain waves from Beta (intense alertness) to Theta (a dream-like state where we can access our unconscious) or even Delta (deep relaxation and a feeling of oneness).

The transformative power of Yoga Nidra lies in its ability to tap into our subconscious and literally re-write the “programming” that guides our day-to-day conscious life by working with a sankalpa, or resolve. If you’ve ever set an intention at the beginning of a yoga practice, you’re already somewhat familiar with sankalpa. In a Yoga Nidra practice, a sankalpa is always phrased as a positive, present-tense affirmation – such as, “I am completely healthy and well”. Planting this seed of sankalpa when the brain is in a relaxed, aware and receptive state is the key to transformation.

Yoga Nidra is practiced while taking the pose of savasana, or corpse pose. It is important to support the body with cushions and blankets, and practice in a quiet dark place so that the body and mind are able to completely relax.

In the structure of a typical Nidra practice, we move through the five koshas (layers or sheaths of our being)  in a specific order.

The first sheath, Anamaya Kosha, is the physical body: the temporary shell that is our outer presentation to the world. Through systematic guided relaxation, Yoga Nidra brings each part of the physical body into the field of our awareness and then releases it.

As we move deeper into the second layer, Pranamaya Kosha, we focus on the more subtle energetic body: our breath, circulation and the life force within. Yoga Nidra uses breathing techniques to draw awareness to these subtle undercurrents.

The third layer, Manomaya Kosha, takes us into the depths of the mind, emotions and nervous system. Through a series of visualizations, we cultivate relaxed acceptance of the wide spectrum of emotional experience.

Underneath our thoughts and emotions is the fourth layer, Vijnamaya Kosha or the wisdom body. As we enter a state of awareness and insight, we can connect with our deepest heart’s desires and uncover inner wisdom that we may  have forgotten.

Finally, at the centre of it all is the Anandamaya Kosha, or “bliss body”. We’ve all accessed this layer when we’ve felt a deep connectedness with other beings, the dissolution of worries and conflict, and the feeling of being “in the flow”.

Before and after exploring these five koshas, we plant the seed of our sankalpa or affirmation and allow it to work its magic. It can be helpful to work with the same sankalpa over a series of Yoga Nidra practices until you feel you have fully explored or manifested that particular affirmation.

After a Yoga Nidra practice, it’s common to feel a deep sense of relaxation and well-being. The more often you practice, the deeper your journey and your insights will be. These techniques have been truly rewarding to me as a teacher and a student, and I am forever grateful to my teacher Tanis Fishman for introducing me to the inner world of Yoga Nidra.