Note from Clara: The Anniversary

Hello friends,

Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Twenty years ago, two planes came crashing into two buildings that had been in my field of vision for what felt like my whole life. Twenty years since, I experienced how quickly my world can change within the span of a few hours.

I grew up in New York City —or should I say —I lived my formative years in the big apple. I had always wanted to live in NY. I would visit at Christmas and summer breaks and loved the energy of the city. When I was 11, my parents asked if I’d like to move to New York and live with my mother or continue living with my father in Montreal. I didn’t even skip a beat—I said yes.

I wasn’t expecting how much culture shock I would feel—going from a super artsy elementary school in Montreal to a public school in Queens, NY. I was blown away by the amount of anger, sadness and overall tension that would be my school, neighborhood, and friends—AND I jumped right in. I loved how much diversity there was— in people, ideas and neighborhoods. I could smell the hope and possibility all around me. It was very inspiring. My biggest takeaway of New York is that it is EVERYTHING. It is the super-rich, poor, diverse, racist, filled with possibility and destitute, a place where people fulfill their dreams and others lose them. Normal folks going about their normal days, others living a fantasy. It’s the city of extremes, and I loved all of it.

Then September 11th happened. We all remember where we were, what we were doing, who we called, who we lost. Sitting where I am now, and the year we’ve just had, i.e. pandemic—just in case you forgot— the one thing that really got me through that time was community. My community and the larger NYC community. It felt like we were all in it together. People showed up to help how/where they could and to grieve. We got through that very challenging time together.

This year has been so different, in all the obvious ways and that it’s felt so isolating. We are going through something so big, yet we haven’t been able to help or grieve together, at least not physically. So many underlying feelings have bubbled to the surface of the collective: Me Too, BLM, climate change that is now a crisis—along with our individual sh*t. I feel as though I’ve been left alone to sit with/reflect and try to figure out where the heck to go from here.

So, where does that leave us today? You? Me?

It’s left us in a paradox

  • Appreciating the time and space, we are given to reflect on who we are, who we want to be and how we want to show up for our families/community AND missing our “normal” lives and pace we were used to moving at.
  • Connecting to my community through the weekly live classes AND missing the community I would see in the studios on a daily/weekly basis.
  • Learning how to connect with each other in creative ways (i.e. Zoom parties, YouTube weddings, etc.) AND missing how simple it was to meet up with people or go for dinner.

You get it.

There have been pivotal times in each of our lives that have changed the way we see/think/feel – some deeply personal and others on a more global scale.

I leave you with a few questions to ponder:

  • What have you learned about yourself this year? What have learned about those around you?
  • When was the last pivotal point in your life? What did you learn about yourself? How did it change the way you lived?

My answers…

I’ve experienced and learned so much about anxiety – my anxiety – how hard it is for me to live with so many unknowns. I’ve learned, again, how important it is for me to connect with people—people outside my bubble. What I’ve learned about those around me is how different we digest/process fear.

My last pivotal point was birthing my daughter Karmen. I learned and am continuing to learn so much about myself. Do you have a couple of hours – just kidding, but not. The biggest takeaway from this process we call parenting is that the goal is not to be perfect at it but instead to continue listening to Karmen, connecting to my intuition, and knowing that it’s all temporary. Umm, hello yoga, hello life.

In other news…

I’ve shared a new slow flow vinyasa yoga class on my YouTube Channel, Blue Throat, featuring inversions with shoulder stand. This short class is perfect for anyone seeking to open the front and side body and features Vishuddha (the 5th chakra) as the theme as we’re heading into a 7-Day Mantra Sadhana Series on Monday, September 13th!

Through mantra and the power of sound, you can shift and transform whatever you’re sitting with or working through.

One of my favourite mantras on the Practice with Clara site is the Shiva Mantra—for a more playful and upbeat mantra, you might take the Shiva Shambo Mantra.

Books to assist you in your exploration of mantra that I’ve found helpful include:

  • Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton
  • Shakti Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Forrand

My weekly recommendations –

If you have any questions about training, poses, or anything else related to yoga, you can email me, post in the Facebook Group, or write us a review on the apps, and we’ll gift you a month of yoga!

Sending love and a virtual hug,
Clara.

New Yoga Class: Anniversary

Can we hold two opposing feelings at the same time?

Can we feel the heaviness of a catastrophe and the lightness of the everyday miracles?

Join Clara for a 60-minute slow flow practice where we explore holding opposites. This class will work with standing leg balances, and arm binds moving towards Flamingo pose.

Prop to have: 2 Blocks, 1 Strap.

For September, our theme is “Everything but the kitchen sink.” There will be a variety of classes to give you a little bit of everything so that by the end of the month, we’ll have covered all the things – yoga poses, breathwork, mantra, meditation and philosophy.

Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist for this class.

Release Abdominal Tension with Forrest Yoga

The Forrest Roll creates constriction at the lower abdomen to restrict the flow of blood, massage the internal organs, and release the fascia that wraps around the muscles located at the belly.

This practice creates more space around the gut to breathe deeper and provides access to the hip flexors.

A symptom of our society today is very tight hip flexors from sitting at a desk or in a car. Tight hip flexors cause pain in the low back and compression at the lower spine. To relieve low back pain, releasing the hip flexors is one way to create space around the tailbone. The Forrest Roll may also assist in relieving knots in the belly from fear, anxiety, and other emotional stressors.

Watch the short tutorial to see how to make the Forrest Roll:

The Forrest Roll is a way to activate the digestive system through compression to the abdomen. Constricting the blood flow to the organs creates tension, so oxygen-rich blood flows through the body when you come off of the roll. When you restrict the blood flow, the release will create more space in the body and a surge in fresh blood to the restricted area— in this case; it’s the abdomen. This practice may encourage better digestion and healthier organs.

Benefits of the Forrest Roll:

  • The roll softens the muscles around the lower abdomen to give the organs an internal massage.
  • Relaxing the abdomen around the roll provides more access to the psoas muscles, aka the hip flexors. A soft abdomen provides the psoas with a deeper release. The psoas becomes tight and stained from sitting and sit behind our guts, so when we soften the belly, we have more access to the psoas muscles in front of the spine.
  • As the psoas release, you may feel a rush of energy down the legs (tingling or heat).
  • The roll releases the psoas muscles at the front of the pelvis, which aids in decreasing low back pain—a good pose to perform before or after a backbend class.

Read the full blog post: Relieve Abdominal Tension with the Forrest Roll

Join a 7-Day Sadhana on September 13th

In Hindu and Buddhist tradition, a Sadhana practice is a commitment to daily prayer to attain enlightenment.

The discipline (tapas) effort in Sadhana helps cultivate an inner awareness of your responsibilities and reactions to adversity.

In Sadhana, you show up every day—especially on the days you do not want to. Commitment is easy when you are happy, well-rested, and have the time to dedicate to your practice. Sadhana is difficult when you are irritated, bored, tired, and lack the patience, effort, and energy to commit to your ritual.

A transformative spiritual experience— Sadhana translates as ‘realization’ from Sanskrit.

Join us for a 7-Day Sadhana Series to celebrate the power of mantra and movement this fall.

Monday, September 13th – Sunday, September 19th, take the on-demand classes of your choice!

For the inaugural 7-Day Sadhana Series, we’re featuring mantras and short movement practices for you to feel clear, grounded, and more attuned to those around you.

Mantra is a powerful tool to focus your mind and attention on a specific word or phrase. Chanting mantras help you release positive energies into the universe.

Here’s how you join:

1. Get the Mantra | 7-Day Sadhana Series playlist on your Practice with Clara App.

2. Join the community Facebook Group to connect with yogis worldwide.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

Join me for an experiencial practice!

My favourite thing about yoga is getting to watch people have a connection with themselves.

 

Yoga at Home

Reaffirm your commitment to a home yoga practice!

Read our post on how to set up a home yoga studio and the benefits of joining the Class of the Day.

 

✧ Join the Community ✧

Our community boasts yogis from countries all over the world who gather and co-create the spaces we share on the Practice with Clara platform.

Join a community of over 1.3k yogis from around the world in the Practice with Clara Facebook Group

· Share your feedback

· Seek help and motivation from the community

· Discuss and receive input on yoga challenges and injuries

· Cultivate a global community

· Exclusive access to content and upcoming events

· Bring your ideas and questions to the Practice with Clara Ambassadors 

Take a LIVE yoga class with Clara each week and join hundreds of yogis worldwide. 

· Ask Clara questions in the live Q&A after class

· Participate in a class with Clara and the community

· Put in your request for a specific class

· Build to a peak pose in a vinyasa-style sequence

· Learn modifications for injuries

· Receive how-to guides to advance your practice

More Opportunties on Practice with Clara

See the History of Our 30-Day Yoga Challenges 

Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

Join an Upcoming 30-Day Yoga Challenge

See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga, for free? 

Check out our Free Yoga page to see the latest offerings. 

Choose from three unique, free, offerings: 

30-day challenge
7-day series for beginners
7-day series for advanced vinyasa yogis 

✧ Community Feedback ✧

vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga

✧ Frequently Asked Questions ✧

1. What is the Practice with Clara Membership & App?

Practice with Clara is an online platform and Apps that allow you to take your yoga with you anywhere, anytime! With hundreds of classes in various styles, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Prenatal, and Meditation, there’s something for everyone at any level of the practice. The Practice with Clara Membership provides a monthly or yearly subscription package with the first 7-days free for you to experience the courses. 

2. How is the Membership Different from the YouTube Playlists?

A membership to the Practice with Clara Apps provides:

  • Access to the members-only library of yoga classes
  • Weekly LIVE classes with Clara
  • Unique events and workshops
  • Downloadable assets including:
    • Monthly Calendars
    • Journaling Booklets
    • Spotify Playlists
  • Access to a community of yogis worldwide 
  • Q&A sessions with Clara
  • & much more!

Clara’s YouTube Channel provides carefully curated playlists to introduce you to the free programs and yoga challenges for you to get a taste of what’s offered and commit to your wellness!

3. What Do I Get When I Join the 7-Day Program?

The 7-day programs include: 

  • 7-Days of Vinyasa Yoga Intensive
  • 7-Days of Yoga for Beginners

These programs provide a weeks-worth of yoga classes to ignite your yoga practice and cultivate a new, healthy habit. 

When you sign-up for one of these programs, you’ll receive:

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 1-week
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

These programs are free with no hidden costs or fees; PLUS, you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

4. What Do I Get When I Join the 30-Day Yoga Challenge?

We host quarterly 30-day yoga challenges that are always free for all members of Practice with Clara. Each yoga challenge is themed based on the season. We’ve provided our inaugural challenge, Reconnect | A 30-Day Yoga Challenge, as an email series for you to try to test your physical and mental discipline and endurance!

What you receive in Reconnect | 30-Day Challenge

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 30-days
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • A journaling booklet to incite self-reflection 
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

This program is free, anytime, with no hidden costs or fees, PLUS you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

 5.  I Want to Try the App, What’s Next? 

Great, we’re so happy to have you join our community!

To set up the Practice with Clara App, here are your next steps:

6. I’m Injured, Pregnant, or New to the Practice—Can I Join?

YES, no matter where you are at in your practice, there are classes for you on Practice with Clara. 

We’ve created playlists for beginners and those who are new to the practice.

we also have the Prenatal Collections with classes from the 1st – 4th trimesters that I created when I was pregnant with my daughter. 

Finally, I offer PLENTY of modifications and suggestions based on injury in all the platform classes. 

The biggest thing is to always listen to your body; your body is the greatest teacher.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

Note from Clara: How to Change Poison into Nourishment

Hello fellow seekers,

There is a myth about Shiva I’ve been thinking about this week. You may or may not have heard it—It’s the story about why his throat is blue. I will give a quick summary and if you’re interested in reading a full version of his story, click here (start on paragraph 7).

There was a time when the gods and demons were mortal. They had heard that there was an elixir that granted them immortality that could be found at the bottom of the ocean of consciousness known as the Samudra Manthan. As they churned the ocean, many things began to surface, including Lakshmi, gems and a deadly poison, Halahala. As the poison began to surface, everyone drew back, fearful of being touched by the Halahala. Without thinking, Shiva stepped forward and began to drink the Halahala. Parvati also stepped forward and held Shiva’s throat so that the poison would not go into the rest of his body and kill him—this is why in some iconography, he has a bluish tint to his skin.

Why have I been thinking about this myth?

The answer is twofold. First off, there are times when in order to get what we want, we have to swallow/take on/do things that seem deadly. Coming back to my ongoing theme of grief—we have a choice. We can sit back and not participate in what’s going on or step forward and drink what feels like poison for the situation/feeling/relationship to change. Shiva is known as the patron saint of yogis because he does not fear death – he does not fear change – he actively dances the Tandava, the dance of destruction. We yogis aspire and are inspired to do the same. We lean in, step forward and actively participate in our lives—which sometimes involves destroying what no longer serves—what is no longer working in our lives.

Once the dust settles, then comes the grief and the act of mourning the change. This, again, is where we can learn from Shiva. He’s seen dancing the Tandava, or he’s seated in meditation. I’m going to define meditation in this context as just sitting with what is. This is where I am right now—sitting, feeling and observing what is left—within myself and around me—not doing anything about it quite yet, just taking stock with what’s changed from dance.

I ask you, dear friends –

  • How would you describe what’s going on for you right now?
  • Are you dancing the Tandava?
  • Are you a spectator in someone else’s or the global dance?
  • Are you sitting in the aftermath of the dance? If so, what do you see?
  • If you were to close your eyes and ask yourself – How am I right now, what would your answer be?
  • What can you do today to honour how you’re feeling?

Ending with some beautiful words by Elizabeth Lesser:

“The best way forward is to let ourselves mourn what has been lost, to feel our very human vulnerability, to be kind and gentle and patient with ourselves and others so that when the time comes, we can welcome the new, unexplored areas of life.”
— Read the rest of the article she wrote here.

I’m excited to start the live classes again today on Practice With Clara, where we’ll dive into this theme. For more information on the class, scroll down. If you’re unable to join us, you can find the class in the New Releases playlist this afternoon.

My weekly recommendations –

If you have any questions about training, poses, or anything else related to yoga, you can email me, post in the Facebook Group, or write us a review on the apps, and we’ll gift you a month of yoga!

Sending love and a virtual hug,
Clara.

New Yoga Class: Poison Into Nourishment

Join me for a 60-minute vinyasa practice moving towards the arm balance mayurasana, peacock pose.

One of the greatest forms of alchemy is to turn something toxic into something nourishing. Some of the oldest yogis were alchemists, turning metals into gold. They came upon the pranayama, mantra and meditation practices and realized they could change their own alchemy.

Mayurasana is one of the oldest yoga poses. You’ll find it in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (one of the oldest texts about Hatha yoga) along with paintings of yogis in the pose. It is said to stimulate your Agni (spiritual/digestive fire), help you digest poisonous foods, and help you digest emotional poisons such as anger, greed, jealousy, anxiety, and spiritual ignorance.

We’ll be warming up with forearm and hand stretches. There will be lots of heat with twists and back strengthening poses.

Here’s the link to the Spotify playlist for this class.

Upcoming Events for You

We’ve planned a variety of virtual experiences to support you as we transition into fall. Take a look at our upcoming LIVE yoga classes and virtual events to see how you can reignite your connection to your practice in the coming months!
All members of Practice with Clara may attend all events and LIVE classes
—new members receive an initial 7-day subscription.
Take a tour of your spiritual basement…

It’s an excavation, an unearthing, and a time to decompress and dig deep into the spaces within yourself.

You’re invited to a Virtual Fall Equinox Retreat: Tuesday, September 21st, 2021.

The fall equinox is my favourite time of year. Join us for a day of self-reflection filled with meditation, journaling prompts, recipes, inspirational reads and a day of yoga and community.

Fall Equinox Itinerary

  • 2 LIVE yoga classes
  • LIVE opening meditation
  • LIVE closing circle
  • 3 on-demand classes
  • Recipes inspired by Autumn
  • Books, podcasts, and poetry
  • Journaling prompts
Your Fall Equinox eBook!
A transformative spiritual experience— Sadhana translates as ‘realization’ from Sanskrit.

Join us for a 7-Day Sadhana Series to celebrate the power of mantra and movement this fall.

Monday, September 13th – Sunday, September 19th, take the on-demand classes of your choice!

For the inaugural 7-Day Sadhana Series, we’re featuring mantras and short movement practices for you to feel clear, grounded, and more attuned to those around you.

Mantra is a powerful tool to focus your mind and attention on a specific word or phrase. Chanting mantras help you release positive energies into the universe.

Here’s how you join:

1. Get the Mantra | 7-Day Sadhana Series playlist on your Practice with Clara App.

2. Join the community Facebook Group to connect with yogis worldwide.

Save the Date…
October 1st- October 30th, 2021

Join us for an exhilarating 30-day experience that asks you to make space to surface the subconscious aspects of yourself. You’ll be tasked with tenderly examining the pieces of your persona you avoid or suppress and perhaps unconsciously overlook with yoga, mantra, meditation, and journaling prompts to encourage you through your process.

Here’s what you get when you join:

  • Lila Flow-focused yoga.
  • LIVE yoga every Saturday.
  • Meditations and mantras.
  • Repetition to aid with your learning + development.
  • Support from a community.
  • On-demand content to do the classes at your leisure.
  • Chance to win a gift from one of our partners if you complete the challenge!
Back by popular demand!
 

Back by popular demand!

Join us for the Art of Sequencing from Friday, November 5th – Monday, November 8th!

In this 4-day Art of Sequencing Yoga Teacher Training, we’ll unpack peak yoga postures, do a deep dive into Lila Flow Yoga Wave Theory sequencing, discuss themes, explore subtle body practices, and examine how and why we aim to create balance in the muscle groups and nervous system in a yoga class.

This program features the history and practice of vinyasa yoga, specifically, Prana Vinyasa Flow pioneered by my teacher, Shiva Rea. This style of yoga embodies movement, chanting, music, and breath control to direct the life force/energy (Prana).

Take a 2-hour LIVE YOGA CLASS with me each day of training.

Each LIVE yoga class is accompanied by a 1-hour on-demand lecture that delves into the intricacies and technicalities of alignment, advanced and foundational postures, subtle body practices, and themes.

Participants will have the option to review and reflect on the lectures and additional on-demand content 2-weeks after the training ends to embody the material and techniques.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

Join me for an experiencial practice!

My favourite thing about yoga is getting to watch people have a connection with themselves.

 

Yoga at Home

Reaffirm your commitment to a home yoga practice!

Read our post on how to set up a home yoga studio and the benefits of joining the Class of the Day.

 

✧ Join the Community ✧

Our community boasts yogis from countries all over the world who gather and co-create the spaces we share on the Practice with Clara platform.

Join a community of over 1.3k yogis from around the world in the Practice with Clara Facebook Group

· Share your feedback

· Seek help and motivation from the community

· Discuss and receive input on yoga challenges and injuries

· Cultivate a global community

· Exclusive access to content and upcoming events

· Bring your ideas and questions to the Practice with Clara Ambassadors 

Take a LIVE yoga class with Clara each week and join hundreds of yogis worldwide. 

· Ask Clara questions in the live Q&A after class

· Participate in a class with Clara and the community

· Put in your request for a specific class

· Build to a peak pose in a vinyasa-style sequence

· Learn modifications for injuries

· Receive how-to guides to advance your practice

More Opportunties on Practice with Clara

See the History of Our 30-Day Yoga Challenges 

Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

Join an Upcoming 30-Day Yoga Challenge

See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga, for free? 

Check out our Free Yoga page to see the latest offerings. 

Choose from three unique, free, offerings: 

30-day challenge
7-day series for beginners
7-day series for advanced vinyasa yogis 

✧ Community Feedback ✧

vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga

✧ Frequently Asked Questions ✧

1. What is the Practice with Clara Membership & App?

Practice with Clara is an online platform and Apps that allow you to take your yoga with you anywhere, anytime! With hundreds of classes in various styles, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Prenatal, and Meditation, there’s something for everyone at any level of the practice. The Practice with Clara Membership provides a monthly or yearly subscription package with the first 7-days free for you to experience the courses. 

2. How is the Membership Different from the YouTube Playlists?

A membership to the Practice with Clara Apps provides:

  • Access to the members-only library of yoga classes
  • Weekly LIVE classes with Clara
  • Unique events and workshops
  • Downloadable assets including:
    • Monthly Calendars
    • Journaling Booklets
    • Spotify Playlists
  • Access to a community of yogis worldwide 
  • Q&A sessions with Clara
  • & much more!

Clara’s YouTube Channel provides carefully curated playlists to introduce you to the free programs and yoga challenges for you to get a taste of what’s offered and commit to your wellness!

3. What Do I Get When I Join the 7-Day Program?

The 7-day programs include: 

  • 7-Days of Vinyasa Yoga Intensive
  • 7-Days of Yoga for Beginners

These programs provide a weeks-worth of yoga classes to ignite your yoga practice and cultivate a new, healthy habit. 

When you sign-up for one of these programs, you’ll receive:

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 1-week
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

These programs are free with no hidden costs or fees; PLUS, you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

4. What Do I Get When I Join the 30-Day Yoga Challenge?

We host quarterly 30-day yoga challenges that are always free for all members of Practice with Clara. Each yoga challenge is themed based on the season. We’ve provided our inaugural challenge, Reconnect | A 30-Day Yoga Challenge, as an email series for you to try to test your physical and mental discipline and endurance!

What you receive in Reconnect | 30-Day Challenge

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 30-days
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • A journaling booklet to incite self-reflection 
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

This program is free, anytime, with no hidden costs or fees, PLUS you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

 5.  I Want to Try the App, What’s Next? 

Great, we’re so happy to have you join our community!

To set up the Practice with Clara App, here are your next steps:

6. I’m Injured, Pregnant, or New to the Practice—Can I Join?

YES, no matter where you are at in your practice, there are classes for you on Practice with Clara. 

We’ve created playlists for beginners and those who are new to the practice.

we also have the Prenatal Collections with classes from the 1st – 4th trimesters that I created when I was pregnant with my daughter. 

Finally, I offer PLENTY of modifications and suggestions based on injury in all the platform classes. 

The biggest thing is to always listen to your body; your body is the greatest teacher.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

A Note from Clara On Celebrating Feminine Energy

Shri Ma!
Blessing and salutations to the great mother!
 
“The maternal or female energy is one of the earliest objects of contemplation and worship. ‘Ma’ itself refers to the universal creative force that’s represented in the powerful feminine deity Shakti.” – Alice G Walton.

 

Tomorrow being Mother’s Day here in the West – this is a wonderful time to honor the Great Mother (divine/Gaia), your mother (biological/spiritual), and Shakti, the feminine creative force of the universe. 

In honor of Ma, I’ve created a Spotify playlist of kirtan music dedicated to her many forms – Durga, Gayatri, and Kali. The intention of this playlist is for you to sing along while you’re creating, having the creative force, Shakti, moving through you. Examples would be cooking, cleaning, making art, or doing yoga. 

Another offering in the spirit of Shakti is a meditation and breathwork practice on fire – the energy of Shakti. This meditation is free for all and can be found on Soundcloud. 

For those of us whose mothers have left the physical world, it can be a hard Sunday to endure. I have found small rituals help me.

My mother loved receiving flowers, so each year, I usually make a little altar to her in my house and offer a small bouquet of her favorite flowers, peonies. 

For those of you whose mothers are still with us in the physical realm, here are 3 ways to shower them with appreciation: 

1. Call/write them and express your gratitude. 
2. Feed them – bring them a meal that you have either prepared or picked up.
3Gift a subscription to Practice with Clara 😉

Here’s the info for Saturday’s LIVE class:
 
Taste the Nectar

Join Clara for a rhythmic vinyasa practice inspired by her teacher, Shiva Rea’s, Prana Flow. We’ll start with a classic moving meditation to open the heart and breath then ride a vinyasa wave to Shavasana, corpse pose. 

There is no peak pose for this class.

Props you’ll need 1 block, 1 blanket. 

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

We’ve created a new playlist for sports lovers!

This playlist features five collections with classes for runners, cyclists, swimmers,  rock climbers, and skiers/snowboarders. Yoga is a great tool to cross-train and recover from strain on the muscles in said sport.

See how you can benefit from the Yoga for Sports playlist on the PWC blog.

Almost 50% Off!

Give the gift of daily ritual by purchasing a year’s subscription to Practice with Clara for $100 (Almost 50% off the regular price!) We want everyone to have access to yoga and rituals that help make the world a better place. PWC presents various styles and lengths of yoga classes, plus mantra and meditation for yogis of all levels—including expecting mamas! 

Mothers Day Special ends Monday, May 10th at midnight. 

 

Learn More About the Mother’s Day Special

 

Sending love and a virtual hug,
Clara & the Team. 

How to modify in yoga class when pregnant

A student of mine recently wrote to me:
I’m a longtime student of yours and I was wondering if I could ask you for some advice. I am pregnant with my first child (just 7 weeks). My yoga teachers have given me conflicting information – one says since I have a 10 year practice I can keep up my regular vinyasa practice in my 1st and 2nd trimesters (except for lying on my tummy in the 2nd) and the other says I should immediately refrain from forward folding and twisting.  Now I’m confused and I really trust your experience and knowledge and I’d appreciate your advice if you have some!
 
 
My reply:
There’s a ton of conflicting information around pregnancy, not only in yoga but with fitness in general.
 
The first thing I’ll say is that I am not a doctor so I’m just giving you another opinion to think about. Physio therapists are great people to ask if you’re not sure or want an educated answer. 
 
I’m prenatal and postnatal certified yoga teacher and I’m almost 5 months pregnant right now with my first babe.
It’s been quite a trip for me and I’m sure it has been for you as well.
 
I’ll just share with you what I’ve learned and intuited.
Prenatal yoga
In my prenatal training with my teacher, Shiva Rea, she really stressed being gentle in the first trimester as this is when miscarriage is more likely to happen. She encouraged newly pregnant Goddesses (loved her name for us) to really take it slow and listen to their own bodies about what felt right/good and what didn’t. Especially if you’ve been a long time practitioner, your body will let you know if the pose/transition is working or not working.
 
 
Midwives I’ve spoken to say that you can continue doing what you’ve been doing throughout your pregnancy, especially in the first two trimesters. The key is not introducing something very intense into your workout/practice that you were NOT doing before you were pregnant, as you don’t have the muscle memory or understanding of how the move works with a “regular” body. Make sense?
 
Your body will let you know when it longer works for you to lie on your belly. In my own body, during the first trimester, it felt terrible but early in the second trimester and tail end of my first trimester, it felt totally fine. Now it’s not working as my belly is bigger than my boobs.
 
 
Prenatal yoga image
The general rule of thumb when pregnant is not to twist or backbend too deeply. It’s not recommended to over stretch your abdomen since you’ve got a little bean in there. Now that being said, I’ve known quite a few yoginis who did full wheel throughout their pregnancy. So, what I always recommend around that is really listen to your own body. What can happen, especially those of us who have been practicing a long time, our ego can step in and say “we can do this!”.
 
Questions a few older yogini moms have posed to me are:
“Is it worth it?”
“To what end?”
Ask yourself, why am I doing this pose?
Does this pose serve the two of us?
 
I’ve been airing on the side of caution in my own practice and really taking my time. I haven’t been doing deep backbends, instead focusing opening my chest and getting my back body strong to prepare for the weight I’ll be carrying in the front body as my baby gets bigger.
 
My mantra has been “This pregnant body is temporary and I have my whole life to do all the things.” Why not chill a bit?
 
With twists, just do open twists so there’s space for your babe. Be mindful of where you feel the stretch. If you feel a “tug” deep in your belly, maybe take it down a notch.
 
Shiva recommended to take out inversions in the first trimester, again because it’s a precarious time. If you have an inversion practice, you can bring it back in in your second trimester. It’s recommended to do them against the wall so there’s no fear to flip over into full wheel. I’ve known some women who love inversions during pregnancy and others who did not. Feel it out for yourself.
 
Great rule of thumb: When you’re about to do a big movement, engage your pelvic floor and TA (transverse abdominals) first to stabilize your pelvis.
 
I’ve never heard anything about pregnancy being a contraindication of forward folds. The only thing I would say is about that is make space between your legs for your belly as you fold.
 
There are quite a few schools of thought that believe you should not twist, invert, do core work or backbend throughout your whole pregnancy. They are airing on the side of caution which I recommend to women who come to yoga for the first time when pregnant. Again, rule of thumb, pregnancy is NOT a time to introduce new intense forms of movement.
Clara roberts oss prenatal
The other thing to think about is that you have a ton of relaxin flowing through your body which makes the space around your joints a bit more loosey goosey so just be mindful of “over stretching”. I’ve been really working hugging in as I “stretch” so I can keep the insertion points of my muscles safe.
 
There’s a great online course called “Empowered Birth” on Commune that I would recommend. I took it and found it so insightful.
 
My last piece of advice is take a deep breath, trust that ahhhmazing body of yours and know that you know. 🙃
 
Feel free to email me about your journey or if you have more questions.
 
Enjoy the inquiry this time is offering you!
 
Check out my 20 minute video on how to modify in a vinyasa yoga class. 

Open to the possibilities

Vinyasa yoga

VINYASA
~to place in a sacred way~

💠

One of my favourite Sanskrit words -within the meaning it reminds me to give meaning to all that I do.

I’ve spent the last two weeks immersed in our 200 hour yoga teacher training following a fairly regimented schedule, getting up at the same time every day (5am!) and going to bed at the same time every night (8pm). We went through the history of this rich lineage (starting in the Indus Valley circa 2500 BCE), read and discussed two of the sacred texts (Yoga Sutras & The Bhagavad Gita), asked ourselves the bigger questions (what’s the point of all this?) and shared our own histories of how we came to be here.

I have taught this training many times however each time is different since the students, group dynamic and I am different. I love having Yoga be the common ingredient, knowing that the recipe and therefore the dishes will taste, feel, and be experienced completely different each time.

It’s a reminder to stay open to the possibility of each experience, letting go of expectations of what came before.

And now, it’s time to rest and reset.
I hope you’re having a wonderful transition into fall and hopefully see you further down the path,
Clara

Flow with me online. 

We’ve added the following new classes on our paid membership platform!

Stand On Your Hands (28 min)
This short vinyasa practice starts with heat right out the gates–core and handstand play–then goes into a fiery flow of twists, upper back strengthening and backbends. Ends with seated meditation or shavasana as you like. This is a personal fave.

Light Ourselves Up (8 min)
This short, yet invigorating, pranayama (breath work) practice is designed to create more energy in the body, focus in the mind and have a bit of fun while doing it. Great any time of day.

Unwind Your Shoulders (6 min)
This short flow was created to bring movement and relieve tension in shoulders and wrists after either sitting at the computer, cooking, making art or anything else that involves hunching over a table for an extended period of time. No mat necessary.

Hope you enjoy!

All the Hemispheres

Vinyasa Yoga Class Quote

Born between 1310 and 1325, Shamseddin Mohammad was a Persian poet known by his pen name, Hafiz or Hafez. Some claim that this name was given to him because he had memorized the Quran in 14 ways. Persian-speaking households have the poetry of Hafiz in their homes and many of them have memorized his poems and use the verses as proverbs. He was the most loved and influential poet of the century. Even today, he is regarded as one of the seven literary wonders. Emerson said about Hafiz that ‘’Hafiz is a poet for poets’. He had such a huge impact on the literary world that even Sherlock Holmes quotes his verse.

Poetry style and Inspiration

Hafiz’s style was lyrical or ghazal which is a style used to express ecstasy in mystical love poems. In his poems, he expressed faith, religious hypocrisy and spiritual romanticism. After his death, a lot of stories were made about his life. It is said that he learned the Quran by listening to his father recite it. Later, at a very young age, he also memorized the work of Saadi, who was his inspiration, Farid, Rumi and Nizami.

A tradition narrates that he used to work at a bakery, while he was under the mentorship of Hajji Zayn al-attar who was his Sufi master. At the bakery, he saw Shak-e-Nabat; a beautiful and wealthy woman. It is said that some of Hafiz’s poems are addressed to her. William Jones translated his work from Persian to English in 1771 and this inspired many Western writers like Goethe, Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Such great is his influence that Iran celebrated October 12th as Hafiz Day.

Hafiz in today’s World

Today, Iranian and Afghani music is inspired by his poems. Still, translators and interpreters are not certain about the meaning of his poetry. While some say it is lyrical, others find mysticism in it. Wheeler Thackston explains this by saying that the poet ‘’ sang a rare blend of human and mystic love so balanced… that it is impossible to separate one from the other’’. Today, many people find solace in his words and get memorized by the depth of these verses and how they can resonate so closely with his poetry. All the Hemispheres is a beautiful poem by Hafiz, translated into English by Daniel Ladinsky.

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving

Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
Chatting

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
You.

Hafiz-

From: ‘The Subject Tonight is Love’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Rest, it’s important

Clara Roberts Oss in vinyasa yoga pose
“The longer we live, the more experiences we accumulate. Some are pleasing, some are relatively neutral, and others are unpleasantly stressful. Left unresolved, all negative stressful experiences remain stored indefinitely in our unconscious. The various feelings, memories, and sensations related to unpleasant stress have a negative impact on your mind and how it relates to the world–and also affect your health and physical well-being…The good news is that your brain is elastic. When it experiences enough of an interruption between stress cycles, brain function returns to a state that supports well-being. This is where relaxation comes in. An ever-expanding body of research is showing the vital role of relaxation.”
–Rod Stryker, The Four Desires
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I invite you to take time in the next few days and lie down and rest your body and mind. For those of us who like to be guided, head over to my profile for a link to my Third Eye Meditation. It’s a 20 minuted guided meditation I recommend listening to while lying down. Let me know what you think.
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What do you choose today?

Vinyasa yoga pose
“Strengthen your mind and refuse to carry the burden of mental and moral weakness acquired in past years; burn them in the fires of your present divine resolutions and right activities. By this constructive attitude you will attain freedom.”
–Paramahansa Yogananada
*
The greatest lesson this practice has taught me is that I have a CHOICE. Do I want to continue to be angry–at the world, my mother, the people I was working with etc? Do I want to continue telling myself the same story of who I was/am? For a while, the answer was YES. Back in 1998 I was angry, self righteous, and hard core (insert trend of the moment). Then I started going to yoga regularly and I started to change. I started offering these toxic thoughts to my practice, sweating my prayers with 70 other people every day before heading to the restaurant I was working at. Slowly the anger started to dissolve and a quiet contentment started to surface.
*
We don’t have much control of the world around us but we have a CHOICE on what we do with our feelings, our action and thoughts.
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What do you choose today?

The goal is the technique

Clara Roberts Oss yoga retreats
“Meditation…is simply the creation of space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes. We provide space through the simple discipline of doing nothing. The basic practice is to be present, right here. The goal is also the technique. Precisely being in this moment, neither suppressing nor wildly letting go, but being precisely aware of what you are.”
-Chogyam Trungpa
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So much of mindful practices are about creating space in our minds and bodies so that we can truly see ourselves. When I have sat for extended periods of time, I have been able to observe my defense mechanisms, the narratives I have created that may or may not be true and how much of my experience is perception.
?
Acceptance of all aspects of myself has been one of the hardest pills to swallow HOWEVER when I am able to do it (because it’s a minute to minute decision), I am able to practice forgiveness with myself and others with more ease.
?
May I continue to see mySelf,
May I continue to accept and even love ALL aspects of myself,
May I forgive myself and others,
May I learn from my mistakes and make a conscious effort to create change.

Yoga Class Etiquette

Vinyasa yoga teacher training

The biggest thing to remember is the yoga room is many people’s sanctuary, so be mindful of how you enter, move through and leave the space. Think of the yoga starting as you enter the yoga studio. So much of this practice is about cultivating awareness.

Some questions to ponder as you land–what’s the quality of my mind like right now? How’s my body feeling? How am I affecting the people and physical space around me? How is it affecting me?

I created this list because I’ve been having discussions about yoga room etiquette so much lately, I thought I might as well write them all down. There’s many more to add to the list but here are a few to consider…….

Yoga Class Etiquette

Show up early. Nothing worse than running to yoga. Aim to be at the studio 15 minutes early so you can take your time signing in, putting your mat down, getting water and putting your stuff away. If you’re new to a studio, aim to be there 25 minutes early so you fill out all the paper work.

We’re all late sometimes. If this is the case and you’re able to enter the room, look around. If everyone is sitting in meditation, then just sit by the door and wait until students go into downward dog/first movement before you enter the space. It is very disruptive to move around the room as the teacher is centering the class.

My general rule for public classes is: show up early and stay until the end. If that’s not possible, then do home practice.

Leave all your belongings out of the room if you can. This is a major part of the practice—separating yourself from all your “stuff”. Enter the studio with just the clothes on your back, water bottle and yoga mat. If the studio has experienced theft, bring your stuff in, leave it in a corner or in the cubbies provided. Try to minimize how much clutter you have around you. Less stuff, less distraction.

Keep your voice down in the yoga room, especially if there’s quiet music or no music playing. This means the teacher is creating a quiet space for people to reflect and transition from the day. No one wants to listen to your conversation. If you’re having a catch up with your yoga buddy, go out into the tea room. If you enter the studio and loud music is playing, all bets are off. 🙂

Keep your cell phone out of the yoga room. If you have emails/texts to finish before class, sit in the tea room or change room and finish. When you walk into the yoga room, you want to leave the material world behind. Take this opportunity to connect to your internal landscape, letting the to do lists and such to fade into the background. This is one of the reasons we don’t wear shoes in the yoga shala/room, leave the outside world outside. If you’re on call, let the teacher know and sit by the door. Have the pager/phone on vibrate.

Try not to walk on other people’s mats.

If you’re new to yoga or this specific class, sit somewhere in the middle. You’ll be able to see examples of what the teacher is instructing all around you.

If you’re working with injuries or enjoy doing more “advanced” variations, go into the back row so you don’t confuse the newer students with your modifications/variations. Please don’t sit in the front row, it distracts everyone.

Take good care of yourself. If there’s anything being offered that doesn’t work for your body, then do something similar or rest in child’s pose. Remember that you don’t have to everything. A large part of the practice is listening to your body.

Be aware of how you affect the space—
-do a quick scent check before you come into class. If you can smell yourself, take care of it (wash or add another layer of deodorant). If you’re wearing strong perfume or oils, wash it off. Most studios are scent free. As you sweat, you “scent” becomes stronger and your neighbors will get whiff of it.
-If you’ve practicing Ujjayi for 6 months or more, it should only be audible to yourself and not your neighbor. Contain your energy.
-Especially in busy classes, keep your movements within the parameters of your mat.
-If you’re new to inversions (handstand, headstand, forearm stand and shoulder stand) and the teacher is offering an opportunity to kick up in the center of the room, don’t fling your legs in the air. I can’t tell you how many students have been kicked by a neighbor. Stay in control of your limbs. I would recommend practicing at home or after class when there’s lots of room around you.

If you didn’t like the class, instead of telling the teacher all the reasons why you didn’t appreciate their class, don’t come back. There are plenty of teachers. Ask the front desk for recommendations, let them know what kind of class you’re looking for—they’re usually very knowledgeable. That being said, if you felt unsafe in the class for any reason, please go directly to a manager and share your experience with them. Our number one job as teachers is to create safe space and if that was not done, then please help hold the teacher accountable.

If you need to leave early, tell the teacher prior and have your mat by the door. Ask your teacher when the appropriate time to leave is so as to create the least amount of disruption.

If lying down in savasana makes you uncomfortable, then sit in meditation or forward fold. As best as you can, minimize your movements during this time so others can enjoy their rest.

The biggest thing to remember is the yoga room is many people’s sanctuary, treat it that way.