What are your goals this year? How will you attain them?

 Musings, Yoga  Comments Off on What are your goals this year? How will you attain them?
Jan 062017

retreatThe other day, I asked my husband if he had any New Years Resolutions. He answered in a way that is similar to how I feel. He said, “I feel like I’m continuously working on myself. Not just once a year.”

But, starting the calendar year, there are certainly goals (business, health, financial) I want to attain. I have plans. A lot of them. And from experience, I know that when I get those plans onto paper, something magical happens.

When I was studying Yoga Therapy at  Re:Source I took a workshop with Carina Raisman and Peter Lavoie called Move, Meditate, Manifest. We learned very simple ways to get our desires and goals … organized… so the Universe can help make those things happen. I came up with personal, professional and health goals for 10, 5, 1 years and the present moment. When I looked at my goals a year later, I’d reached all my short term goals and was even as far along as five years in the future with some stuff!

Was it magic? Partly. But as Melanie Richards, the owner of Happy Tree, says (or was it Lisa Lajoie?), “The Universe is not your bitch.” What does that mean? We can set goals, send them out into the ether, but most of the time we’re going to have to work towards bringing things to fruition.

retreat1For me, I like to use a simple chart to get organized, based on what I learned with Carina and Peter. Some people like to create a vision board. There are lots of examples on Pinterest, and my friend, Stephanie is hosting a workshop called CRAFTING YOUR VISION FOR 2017: Exploring Your Life Path through Creative Wisdom on Saturday, January 14, if you would enjoy being guided through the process.

I’ve written before about this subject… The Law of Attraction, as it’s sometimes called. But the thing I keep remembering is that this is a process of Co-creation. That a prayer for something is far less likely to manifest into something real, than if we take real and concrete steps toward attaining our goals.

For me, last year I was working hard to achieve a better work-life balance. I can tell you, that I just got to spend nearly two weeks off with my kids, who were off school for the holiday. Career choices my husband and I have made allow us to do this and I don’t take this for granted for a minute. I also set an intention to consolidate my schedule, minimizing the amount of time I spend running from studio to studio, and I decided I would no longer teach regular classes on the weekend. So that was 2016. What about 2017?

My vision board or my goal setting chart for the year, isn’t something I’m going to post here. It’s something I am putting together and will keep close by to remind myself of where I am, where I’m going, and how I need to get there.

What would you like to feel, create or experience this year? This month? Right now?

I’m hoping that by writing this, you will start to think about doing something similar if you haven’t already. And I’m hoping that if you’re a parent, you help your children understand that they really can do and be anything they want.

Happy New Year!




Fear, pregnancy and how yoga can help

 Yoga  Comments Off on Fear, pregnancy and how yoga can help
Jul 052016

paolaFear is a subject that comes up a lot in a prenatal yoga class, birth workshop, or meeting with a doula client.

And with good reason! When we give birth for the first time, we are entering uncharted territory. Most of the time, when we do something for the first time we are at least a little scared–fear of the unknown. Add the unknown and countless unsolicited horror birth stories, plus all the unrealistic Hollywood movie scenes. Terrifying, right?

Fear can be a good thing. There is a fear that legitimately protects us from danger. It’s the reason we don’t run into the middle of the highway at night. But there’s another kind of fear that is not healthy. Our disconnect– which allows us to fear being judged, embarrassed, abandoned, neglected… So many of us spend our days walking around in the Stress Response (fight or flight) worried, paranoid, terrified something is out to get us. The same physical, emotional, psychological reaction we’d have if we were in actual danger. Our muscles tense (glutes, traps) jaw, fists clenched. We do not breathe properly. That’s to say all the way down into the belly. Most of us breathe only in the chest.

So first step, remember to breathe!

Fear can be a huge disservice in labour.

  • The aforementioned Stress Response, tense muscles = more pain
  • Adrenaline which naturally kicks in when we’re afraid, cancels out oxytocin (the LOVE hormone–you see, love really is the opposite of fear!) We need oxytocin to continue contractions and we need contractions to continue for the cervix to continue to dilate and for baby to come out
  • Adrenaline can increase blood pressure and heart rate (as well as breath– remember, breeeeeathhhhe)

Fear can slow or stop labour.

It can be easy to ignore our fears in pregnancy. I have prenatal students who will bluntly say they’re refusing to think about their fears. About labour, baby, becoming a parent… I gently encourage those women and anyone reading, to spend time with those fears. Acknowledge your fears. Validate them. Deal with them! They are real!

birthingWe go into greater detail in my Yoga Birth Workshop and prenatal yoga classes, but I wanted to leave you withhttp://mamanaturale.ca/wp-admin/post-new.php this amazingly helpful exercise by Pam England, author of Birthing from Within, for dealing with fear in pregnancy.

Taming Tigers

  1. Write down all the things you hope won’t happen.
  2. Look your tigers in the eye. (Let your imagination flow into your fear.)
  3. Ask yourself: What do I need to do to tame or escape each tiger? (i.e., what will make my birth place safe?)
  4. DO IT! (Even if you are afraid.) Get help if you need it.



The obligatory retreat (or, leaving my family again)

 Yoga  Comments Off on The obligatory retreat (or, leaving my family again)
May 242016

Pretty cool place to sleep!

Recently, I did something that I was absolutely dreading. I went on a five day yoga retreat in Sutton, Quebec. Sounds brutal, right?

In it of itself, I wasn’t dreading the retreat. 5 days of yoga and workshops with a solid group of people I love. No need to cook, I’d be served glorious vegetarian food every meal. Fresh air, a cozy cabin to myself…

But I was not looking forward to leaving Babe and Bug. Some of you, whether you are parents or not, will understand this and some of you won’t. I had never, ever, spent a single night away from my Bug. No longer does he need me to fall asleep. Sometimes he still nurses to sleep, but those times are rarer and rarer. He can fall asleep with Papa or a babysitter. Babe also does not “need” me to function day to day. We invested, bug time, with this Attachment Parenting thing, and see how it’s paid off. Again, some of you will understand this and some won’t, and that’s okay. I had left Babe a couple of times as a doula, two nights for our “honeymoon,” when I was 6-months pregnant with Bug, and another time when my friend Rebecca convinced me to go with her to the Eastern Townships when Babe was nearly 2!


free time

Just now, I went back and read that post about the Eastern Townships, and it was a very similar thing, the feelings I was having as I was about to embark on my Happy Tree Yoga Hatha Teacher Training retreat at Au Tournant Du Coeur. But this time for 4 nights. The what if’s? What if they got sick? What if there was an emergency?

Just like the time Rebecca and I went to the blueberry gite, no emergency. No nothing. If they needed me, they could call. This was not a Vipassana retreat (although Au Tournant Du Coeur is at the old Sutton Vipassana centre and we did have one day of silence). The whole family made it through quite happily. Including me! When I voiced my concerns to friends, they mostly tried to assure me I’d be “fine,” once I got there. I didn’t think I would be. Especially on that day of silence. I’d be lost in my own thoughts and start to panic. The last time someone suggested something so preposterous, was the same Rebecca who tried to entice me to Strom for a day at the spa. Instead I went to a private clinic and insisted on a prescription for anti-anxiety meds. Truth. The idea of being left alone with our thoughts can be frightening.

This was one of the biggest realizations I had on my retreat. Kicked off by this funny and true clip by Louis CK, which we watched at the retreat. Feel free to watch it. It’s funny and relate-able. I doubt I’m the only one who sends a text when I’m sitting in a split-second of terrifying silence. And yes, I do do the yoga and meditation thing. That’s how real this is!

Especially the day of silence and juicing, I realized that I talk too much and eat too much. That I’ve been foolishly (humanly) looking for distractions instead of dealing with the real life things that need to be dealt with.  It’s the thing about texting or going on Facebook instead of sitting quietly. The thing about bolting when a relationship gets hard. About taking up something new instead of challenging yourself to get to the next level of difficulty. So often we look outside of ourselves for answers. for love. for acceptance. compassion. But we don’t need to look any further than our own heart. Truly. I know this in theory, but it was interesting to finally see how it has been playing out in my own life.

I don’t plan on taking another retreat anytime soon. Although I have a newfound confidence in my the birth doula-ing that I have been (re)committing to. As I mentioned in our closing circle in Sutton, I am so glad that this retreat was obligatory. Just like I say to the moms who come to my Mom and Baby Yoga classes, “This might be the only time you relax this week, so please, emprofite!”

Here’s to relaxing and self-care when no one is forcing us to do so…

May 252015

Eko-LiteI have about 10 yoga mats. Some were given to me, others I bought for 5$ a pop when a local yoga studio cleared out mats people had long forgotten. I use them for my summertime outdoor yoga classes so the quality really isn’t very important. Up until very recently, I’d just grab one of these ratty mats and head to work. Or I’d just borrow a mat from whatever studio I taught at that day. But in starting to take better care of myself, I thought, HEY! I DESERVE A GOOD YOGA MAT!

Enter Manduka’s eKO Lite Mat. I’d had my eye on these mats for a while. I’m bothered by the waste that is caused by all these crappy yoga mats so many of us use. I get (totally get) why people might not want to shell out 60$+ on a piece of rubber they might only use one time. (Did you see that Craig’s List ad??) But run of the mill yoga mats–including the 10 that I have– are made of all kinds of yucky chemicals. I primarily teach Mom and Baby yoga and kind of cringe when I see a baby gnawing on a toxic yoga mat. Most yoga mats are not good for us, our babies, or the planet. They’re made of things like PVC, BPA, azodicarbonamide, phthalates…


Shoulder stand at Happy Tree

So, in doing my eco friendly yoga mat research, I kept coming back to Manduka, and was recently lucky enough to get my hands on one. In the yoga world, we talk a lot about manifestation and the joke among my closest friends is how if I want something, be it a blender, crockpot or yoga mat, I make it appear thanks to this here blog. Which is what happened with this mat– Manduka sent me my very own eKO Lite Mat to review, and is going to give one to a lucky mamanaturale reader!

There’s always a chance, when I review something, I’m not going to like it. That’s not the case with this mat–I adore it. But at first, I was a little worried. I have used mats, like this one, which are meant to be used in hot yoga, and I really dislike the texture. You see the Lululemon ones all the time, totally scratched up from normal use (and I find them to be slippery). Often, they are also super thin, which to me defeats some of the purpose of using a yoga mat.

This Manduka mat, which is 4mm thick, has a really cool texture on the top. (They call it the “rippled water top”) it doesn’t scratch and it doesn’t slip. It’s made of biodegradable, sealed-cell natural tree rubber which was not harvested in the Amazon. The softening process is done without the toxic foaming agents and plasticizers found in other mats (see above!) What this means, is that if in Mom and Baby Yoga class, one of the munchkins craws up and takes a nibble, it won’t be too bad for her. I might not be impressed though, these days, this mat is my baby.

Crow at Espace Shanti

Crow at Espace Shanti

The day the mat arrived, I missed it and had to go to a Fed-Ex depot to get it and I was beyond excited. I really do receive a lot of cool things to review on this blog, but this thing takes the cake. I got my mat on a Wednesday night and on Thursday I used it to teach a Mom and Baby yoga class at Equilibrium, two Prenatal yoga classes at Happy Tree, TAKE a Hot Yoga class there (seriously super grippy when I was super drippy), then head with my new precious mat Espace Shanti where I teach Hatha/Yin. What a day. But I had the company of this luxe yoga mat.

I’m not one for “stuff,” and have definitely had moments snobbishly turning my nose up at spiritual materialism. But every teacher and every yogi deserves a good yoga mat that’s not going to make a giant footprint, right?

You might have noticed the huge Manduka ad on the side of this page. I’m an affiliate, so if you buy something from them through that link, you’ll be supporting this blog! Thanks in advance.

If you’d like to enter to win your own Manduka eKO Lite Mat, answer the following question in the comments: Why do you practice yoga? A second entry if you also tell us which yoga posture brings you inner peace.

Namaste and good luck!