Chaga Challenge – Day 1

Ever hear of Four Sigma Foods?
If you have, then you are familiar with their groundbreaking approach to wellness, if you have not, well, be sure to click here, or on their name.



When I heard about their 30 day Instant product challenge, I was inspired and asked the company if I could participate.
They were excited as well, and sent me a care package with 4 boxes of Instant Chaga mix, what I will consume 3 times a day for the next 30 days.

I started my day with a makeshift Chaga tea, basically the instant packet with hot water. I took it with me to my yoga class, which I had to teach and though I drank half on the way there, I finished the mug sporadically while teaching. I taught a hot BikYasa class, and between active savasana when I opened the door, I snuck some sips.
The earth warm taste had a musky sweet taste to it, and left me feeling rather nourished.

After my second class of the day, the noon flow class, I came home and decided to make a juice. I blended greens, carrots, apple, pear and ginger, mix a small portion of chaga with hot ater for a quick dissolve and poured it in the juice mix. The result was a scrumptious liquid lunch. It was so good that I decided to make it my dinner as well, this time only mixing carrot, apple and ginger with my chaga addition.

At the end of day one I feel rather amazed, lucid, clear and elated. Managed to teach 3 classes, two meetings, clean the house and enjoy the day.

Looking forward to what the day will bring tomorrow!


5 Reasons Never Teach from the Back of the Room

Yoga’s popularity and growth knows no bound. With new studios constantly opening and yoga teacher training filling Fabebook ads.
One of the fastest growing markets of yoga is Hot Yoga classes. These classes showcase teachers who use their voice alone to guide the class. Compare this with other yoga classes where the teacher sets up their yoga mat at the front of the class and while some will teach by example the entire class, other will move from demonstrating to walking and talking, and return back the front where their mat is.

There are pros and cons to both style of teaching, however, many hot yoga teachers seem to stand at the back of the room, behind the students screaming their instructions.

Here are 5 reasons why this teaching style is not only disrespectful but also devoid of building connections with students:

1 – When someone goes to the back of the room it indicates that they are hesitant, timid, shy and insecure. Is that the feeling you wish to leave your students with?
Face your own fears and stand at the front of the room.

2 – Yoga teaching is interpersonal communication. Do you communicate with your friends by sanding behind them and talking to them? How would you feel if someone was talking to you from behind?
Standing behind someone denotes a sense of superiority and dominance. Do you wish to subconsciously communicate to your students that they are inferior to you?
By standing in front of someone you are presenting a sense of connection, interaction, and respect.

3 – teaching yoga allows both student and instructor to discover that there is something larger than their individual sense of separation. When you stand behind you only reinforce the sense of separation.  Be part of the experience of discovering that place of peace, light, love and joy and stand in front of someone facing your desire to run away.

4 – Be the mirror for your students rather than to rely their reflection in the mirror.
When you stand in front of students you are able to be a reflection for them as to their unconscious habits.

5 – What exactly are you looking at? – let’s take the downward facing dog pose for example. Standing behind someone gives you direct view of student’s ass. Compare this with standing in front of them where you have a direct viw of their shoulders. Considering that DFD pose tends to put undue strain in students shoulders, you want to quickly identify this part of the body, rather than day dreaming about something else.

This last point I find most shocking, especially since the majority of practitioners are women who wear very short clothing. I have noticed in more than one occasion that male teachers standing in the back of the room are gazing at the groin of their students in poses where the leg is raised to the sky. Considering that there are more women teaching yoga, these suggestions might never have crossed your mind, but as a male yoga teacher trainer I find that once you seat students down and show them what it looks like from an observation perspective it becomes immediately obvious to the serious disrespect that can follow with such behavior. Whether male or female you communicate more confidence, with greater respect and ability to verbally correct body positions when you stand in front of students.

Remember, you just finished yoga training, allow yourself the confidence and create a space for trust between you and your students.

Gabe Yoga is the founder of H3 Yoga, an international yoga teacher training school that empowers teachers with tools and information that inspire and build universal communities. His training method and Hot Flow (BikYasa) program have been implemented in studios all around the world, from Thailand to Europe and the USA.

5 Poses to Increase Hip Range of Motion

by Gabriel Azoulay and Elina Sinisalo


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” (~Lao Tzu)

What if you could let go of all the unnecessary tension in your body? The tension in your mind? The chaos in your heart? What could you become?

YinYasa Yoga teaches you to open up your body and open up your mind, expanding and transforming not just your Yoga practice but your entire life through the simple practice of letting go.  This article introduces YinYasa Yoga and a hip-opening practice inspired by Paul Grilley’s work and sequenced by Gabriel Azoulay. It is specifically aimed at improving range of motion, reducing pain, achieving postural balance, and discovering inner Stillness.

We carry so much tension in our bodies, both physically and mentally. From a biological perspective, without this tension we would not sustain life as we know it. Gravity, the major culprit to our structure, both aims to destroy us, yet allows us to enjoy the incredible experience we call life. With Gravity in mind we can appreciate how the human body is an amazing work of Art. It is made up of a strong yet mobile skeletal frame, muscles that enable movement and flexibility, and connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons, which provide stability at the joints and allow muscles to act. Naturally the make-up of our bodies extends far beyond that, but from a simple physiological standpoint, our goal is to enable optimal use and functioning of these parts.

Due to sedentary lifestyles, sleep patterns, injuries, or over-use, our bodies begin to take on less than-optimal postural habits. Today’s modern life means that some of us spend too much time sitting and working in front of computers or watching TV, and we counterbalance our inactivity with hardly any time spent moving our bodies through the full range of motion through stretching, strengthening, or actively releasing the built-up tension. Others of us take on so many sports and activities that our bodies simply can’t keep up with the demands placed on them.  The end result is an imbalance, with certain muscles getting stronger and tighter while counter muscles become weaker and underused. Repercussions echo throughout the entire body, many of which go unnoticed. Low back pain, for instance, can be a result of years of accepting minor strains and avoiding movements that challenge the spinal muscles. Consider that sitting on the floor or squatting to use the toilet engages a balance between our stomach muscles and our Spinalis group (the muscles of the spine); we enjoy the comforts of chairs and sofas and sitting toilets, but as a trade-off we lose the benefit from these natural balancing mechanisms.

Our self-restricted movements translate into a sense of inflexibility that can express itself as pain when we attempt to reach our toes. Backbends, which are literally moving away from Gravity, become a thing of the far past. We attribute our growing stiffness to the aging process, but this is just an excuse. What we really need to do is recapture our childhood and re-teach our bodies and minds the flexibility that we once knew and enjoyed. Pain-free flexibility and balance in body and mind can all be achieved through the practice of YinYasa Yoga.

YinYasa is an expression of Yin Yoga, a practice introduced to the Yoga world by Paul Grilley. The term YinYasa was coined by Gabriel Azoulay, who has spent the last 20 years communicating the physical and spiritual benefits of Yoga and its sister practices through classes, workshops, and publications. Paul Grilley’s work on the term Yin Yoga is well recognized, and a simple Google search will provide great details on both the term Yin and why it is used in reference to Yoga. We will address the quiet aspect of Yin Yoga, but first need to consider the term nYasa. Derived from the word VinYasa, which literally means “placing something on another,” VinYasa often refers to Yoga poses composed together based on the movement of the breath. It inspires us to understand that a house can only feel secure if the foundational stones are placed correctly. If even one stone is positioned incorrectly the whole structure will fall apart. Thus VinYasa refers to an intelligent sequencing of poses to achieve a greater whole. The great sage Vamana Rishi was the first to use the term in relation to the scientific work of Patanjali, who described a step-by-step path to spiritual awakening. Patanjali described an Eight-step path, which when followed in order, would enable the practitioner to arrive at their destination, much as a builder laying down stones in the right order would reap the benefits of a safe, warm, and foundationally-sound structure.

Following this simple understanding, Vamana Rishi said: “Vina VinYasa Yoga Asanadin NaKriyat” – ‘Without vinYasa, yoga poses should not be taken,’ which can be interpreted as: “Without the proper placement of poses, yoga practice should not be done.” YinYasa is the proper placement of Yin Yoga poses to achieve a greater whole, whether it is freedom in the hips, greater range of motion in the low back, or stronger knees.

Yoga and Money

May 17, 2011

by Kristin Shepherd


First of all, thanks very much for the approximately 26 billion pieces of mail you sent after I posted a short blog about the cost of yoga classes. It may take me a while to get back to each of you on that one.

It seems it’s a contentious subject.

The mail indicates we’re far more conflicted about money than we are about yoga. No one wrote saying, “I have piles of money but I can’t stand yoga.” It was all about how much we love class and would like to go more often. How lovely is that?

Your mail made me wonder something. We know that yoga spills into every little bit of life: into relationships, food, career, parenting, political choices, etc.

Has yoga affected your relationship to money?

I suppose yoga has strengthened my impression that money is energy, and that the healthy flow of money into and out of my life has to do with the health (or not) of my own energy, of my confidence, my resistance, my fear, my flexibility and strength.

That’s one new yogini’s thought. What’s yours?

Thanks to yoga for showing up everywhere. Thanks to you, always, for the wonderful conversation,


Dr. Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on iTunes.

Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga: Capture the Energy of Spring

The yogis and nutritionists both agree that it is never too late, or too early, to consider sequencing your life today for a healthier tomorrow. I think of sequencing as both an art form and a science that anyone can master. All you need is sincere focus and attention from the beginning to the end of your vision. Trust in your body’s innate wisdom to guide you through the beautiful moment-to-moment discovery of presence—of the now. This is what ultimately leads to the spontaneous, blissful experience we call yoga.

I believe the more you practice adapting to new routines and seasonally breaking the momentum of habits before they become addictions, the stronger, healthier, and more open you become as a person. Instead of your world feeling boxed in by your routine, making seasonal changes helps you widen your gaze so you experience more in life, seeing new potentials and possibilities in your work, family, diet, adventures, and exercise routines that connect to the revolving world around you.

In the end, the practice of yoga—on the mat and off the mat—is really all about practice. Practice will lead you to your truth, to the essence of who you are.

Here are just a few of the spring practices from my new book, Art of Sequencing – Volume Two, to weave into your daily, weekly, or monthly routines:

  • Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination. More