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.

Relieve Abdominal Tension with the Forrest Roll

For centuries, philosophers, psychologists, and scientists have questioned the human decision-making process with rhetoric to support an argument for either the head or the heart. The greatest love stories in literature capture this dilemma; consider the film Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann. 

You must have faced a similar dilemma when assessing your relationships, work, and health. Do you follow your gut instinct, or do you weigh your options and go with the most logical approach? 

When you are healthy (your gut health is strong) and aware of how you feel (you process your emotions), you make decisions based on embodied cognition—meaning, you decide based on a blend of rational thought, intuition, and emotional association. 

Angst, discomfort, excitement; there’s a reason people say they get butterflies in their stomach when nervous. The neurons in the belly-brain are firing and sending messages via the vagus nerve to the brain. To relieve physical and emotional tension, you need to treat the body as you would the mind with mindful practices.

From Forrest Yoga, the Forrest Roll releases tension at the lower abdomen. This process works to lessen the physical and emotional strain on the body for you to feel more relaxed and connected to your belly-brain where intuition resides.

How the Forrest Roll Works 

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. 

The benefit of such mindful movement practices is that you become more aware of how your body processes and receives information through the brain, heart, and belly to develop embodied cognition and act with greater clarity and integrity. 

The Three Brains: Mind, Heart, Belly

Neurological research supports how there are three brains for humans to exercise in the decision-making processes. The mind for analytical function, the heart for emotional processing, and the belly for intuition. This data supports and illustrates that combining the three brains is the best way to assess situations, avoid danger, and process information. 

Two systems in the body process and receive information. Instead of using polarizing language to create conflict and separation, these unique systems may be seen as complementary when deciding how and when to act. The mind-brain is slower to process information, rational, and deliberate, whereas the heart-brain and belly-brain are faster to process, intuitive-based and rely on emotional associations. 

Your belly-brain is where you connect to your emotional body. How you feel is intrinsically connected to what’s going on in your abdomen, thanks to the network of neurons that line the stomach. Extensive research has been done on the relationship between the brain and the stomach to illustrate the interconnectedness between mental clarity and digestive health. Whether a piece of food or an intangible idea, what you put into your body affects how you feel, think, perceive, and interact with others. 

According to scientific analysis, there’s a vast network of neurons that line the stomach that provides immense amounts of information to the rest of the body regarding how you feel and how disease is processed. Hundreds of millions of neurons in the stomach help you feel your inner world and connect to sensations in your body as you process the world within and around you. The stomach has more neurons than the spinal column and the peripheral nervous system, second only to the brain. 

The physical digestion of food helps you process nutrients to provide energy to the body and its systems. The abdomen is also the place where you digest and process your experiences. The mind-brain is where you attain consciousness and make decisions in your day-to-day. The belly-brain is where you connect to your emotions and the physical sensations that give context to your day-to-day experiences. 

Release Abdominal Tension with the Forrest Roll

If you have digestive issues (IBS), are pregnant or are on your moon, please be very careful as you come onto the roll or take the lesser variation with fists in a child’s pose. 

Watch the short tutorial on how to set up your roll on YouTube.

Contradictions

If the Forrest Roll is too intense:

Make two fists and tuck your fists into the lower abdomen and then take a child’s pose. The fists create stimulating knots on the lower abdomen; it’s less pressure than the roll. 

How to make the Forrest Roll:

  1. Create a little snail roll by rolling up your mat. 
  2. Fold the edges of the mat inwards. 
  3. Roll the mat up from one end until you have a small roll.
  4. Place the roll at the center of the navel and recline on your belly.
  5. Stay up on your forearms and extend your legs behind you.
  6. Hold and breathe into your abdomen for several minutes.
  7. Come off of your roll and lay your mat down on the ground. Take Balasana (child’s pose) or recline on your belly and breathe into your lower belly. 

Considerations

  • You may feel a pulsation around the lower abdomen and the navel; this is normal. 
  • You may feel a stretch around the groins and lower spine as the psoas release. 
  • You might use a rolled-up towel or blanket in place of a yoga mat. 
  • The more you bend your knees and prop yourself up onto your forearms, the less intense this will feel in your abdomen. 
  • Start slow and ease your way into the pose.
  • Try to hold this shape for 3-5 minutes. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Classes to take with the Forrest Roll:

Where the mind-brain is rational and clear-cut, the belly-brain is abstract and non-linear. You may not know why you feel what you feel. Issues that arise in the gut may cause mental turmoil or physical angst from something ingested or an unprocessed emotion or unconscious idea. There’s evidence that supports how gut health can positively affect mood and anxiety via the vagus nerve. 

A vinyasa class featuring arm balancing as you move towards mayurasana, peacock pose. Twists, back strengthening, hip opening, wrist stretches, and neck release are featured in this class. 

Kapalabhati breath stimulates the digestive fires and creates heat in the body. This class works with the idea of inner alchemy as you’ll be invited to consider the challenges you’re experiencing on an individual or a collective level. What lessons keep showing up? 

A watery class inspired by Ana Forrest Yoga, you’ll move toward Dhanurasana (bow pose) as the peak pose. This class uses a bolster to support core strengthening and resistance; this action brings awareness to the abdominal muscles by pressing into the bolster.

Back and gluteal strengthening is balanced with side body and quadricep lengthening. Move through a fluid and dynamic flow to create heat and space across the chest’s front and back. 

The Role of the Vagus Nerve in Your Body’s Health

The vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in the body, carries information back and forth between the mind-brain and the belly-brain. The vagus nerve originates at the base of the head, where it connects to the brain and traverses down through the stomach. The vagus nerve connects to and transports information to the body’s major organs, including the brain, lungs, liver, stomach, kidneys, spleen, colon, and small intestine. 

The vagus nerve performs regulation of heart rate, respiration, and digestion. The vagus nerve balances the nervous system and triggers a response of the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as rest and digest mode. In rest and digest, you feel calmer and connected to creativity. Deep, slow breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, as does yoga and meditation, and is a feature of the vagus nerve. 

Here’s how anatomy teacher, Erin Moon, shares the importance of the vagus nerve in managing stress:

“Anytime we deregulate, we work with polyvagal theory. Stephen Porges is the author of the Polyvagal Theory, whose research revolutionized our understanding of the polyvagal nerve. The polyvagal nerve is the tenth cranial nerve that starts at the brain and speaks to all body parts. 

The polyvagal theory essentially puts a brake on the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight mode, where we feel distressed or anxious. It can be a momentary stress event or ongoing stress event that tells your body to go into a fight or flight. You can strengthen your vagal brake the same way you strengthen a muscle. Working with polyvagal break asks the vagus nerve to do its fundamental job; to put on the brake and stop fight or flight to shift the body into the parasympathetic nervous system, aka rest and digest.

One of the greatest interventions that we have as yoga instructors is breathing techniques/pranayamas. Breathwork can be both excitatory and calming, like Kapalabhati breath or Nadi Shodhana. During pranayama, you’re going through a whole stress cycle; you’re asking the vagus nerve to take the brake off to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, and then you’re asking it to put the brake back on to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system. With every breath, we’re practicing taking the brake on and off. Every time you take a breath in, it’s excitatory. Every time you take a breath out, it’s down-regulating.”  listen to the interview on the Practice with Clara podcast.

Why You Care About Digestive Health

Your emotions live in your abdomen; the belly-brain is where you identify unprocessed emotions and connect to your feelings. Fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger; all live in your gut. The roll may help relieve emotional tension and help you connect to how you feel by bringing awareness to the lower abdomen. 

When it comes to supporting the immune system and the overall health of the mind and body, stimulating the digestive system, known as Agni in Sanskrit, helps keep the body strong, safe, and healthy. The roll is one of the ways we stimulate good Agni in the physical body to reduce toxins and remove waste materials. 

Toxins are presented in many forms, such as food, intense emotions, or unnecessary violence. Healthy digestion offers an opportunity to prevent toxins from amassing and causing illness and imbalances.  

Ayurvedic Counsellor Maria Garre advised on how to purge the toxins that accumulate in the body: 

“There’s mental ama and physical ama. If we take care of our Agni and take care of our gut health and digestion, we don’t have to worry about ama. We focus on the positive, on creating strong Agni.” 

For more information on the energy and emotions surrounding the abdomen and gut health, please listen to the interview with Maria Garre on the Practice with Clara Podcast, or read the blog post.  

10 Tips for Creating Strong Agni:

  1. Do heat-building pranayamas, such as Kapalabhati breath.
  2. Do core strengthening exercises. 
  3. Release facial tension with the Forrest Roll. [ link ] 
  4. Eat foods that align with the seasons. 
  5. Drink herbal teas and lots of water. 
  6. Practice meditation and other techniques that soothe the nervous system. 
  7. Get enough sleep.
  8. Stick to a routine—cultivate a daily ritual around mindfulness.
  9. Consume less sugar and alcohol.
  10. Learn about Ayurvedic practices to support your immune system during fall.

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 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 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.

Purification Through Air: The Power of Pranayama

Air is soft, spacious, and all-pervading. Air gives us life, it has no boundaries or limitations, and travels beyond what the naked eye can see. Air reminds us of our inner expansiveness, our ability to grow beyond what we think we’re capable of, and represents a lofty intelligence spoken from the heart. Subtle, vulnerable, and asking nothing in return, air creates an environment of belonging by accepting all beings. 

Air is one of the five elements in the body that we discover in the natural world. Each of the elements rely on each other and require balance to restore harmony: fire needs air to thrive as water needs earth to provide a container. The air we breathe also feeds the plants and soil. When we breathe air into our body, cells are revitalized through the deliverance of fresh oxygen to the lungs, blood, organs, and tissues. Energetically, air is a purifier to cleanse the mind and body of hyper-active or static states of energy.

In a previous #PracticeWithClara podcast, Clara shared tips and tools to understand the subtle body, which is profoundly affected by how we breathe. The breath is key to understanding the relationship between the mind and body, as well as our relationship with ourselves and the rest of the world. A teacher of meditation and yoga for over a decade, Clara’s classes on the Practice With Clara Site are peppered with pranayama techniques to open the inner body and develop a stronger connection to the life force within. 

This article captures the symbolic quality of air in our everyday lives and the importance of recognizing the elements in our day-to-day interactions. It also shares a few of the powerful pranayama practices and kundalini kriyas to purify the mind and body to create spaciousness within so you might interact with more compassion and calm. 

Air as Giving and Sustaining Life

Just like we need air to keep our bodies alive, we need compassion to stay connected to each other and the natural environment. Without air, our organs, brain, cells, and tissues die. Without love, we lack the bond of belonging. Air is essential to our physical survival as love is essential to our emotional survival. 

We’re connected to nature and all species through the action of breathing, inhaling and exhaling to sustain and give life to each other. We’ve a reciprocal relationship with nature based on the process of inspiration and respiration: trees absorb air and take in the carbon dioxide, then, with help from the sun, oxygen is released back into the atmosphere. 

Air is symbolic of our relationship to all that is around us, animals and plants, and the people in our communities. Our love has no boundaries, no limitations, like the air we breathe. Separation, judgement, and rejection of others and our love is as unnatural as stopping the flow of breath in the body. We cannot function without the flow of life moving through us, be it air or compassion. 

Air and Anahata Chakra

Our heart center is how we connect to others and live with a sense of lightness and compassion. In a previous post on Anahata Chakra, I shared practices and techniques to bring awareness to the heart space. Air is the element for Anahata. Each of the chakras are associated with an element to tap into the energies of the natural world that are reflected within the body. When we’re out of alignment in our physical body, this affects our mental and emotional states. Practices for the heart to open the shoulders, lengthen the side waist, and strengthen the back body, provide a sense of spaciousness inside that’s reflected in our interactions with others. When we feel space and lightness within, we’re better equipped to interact with these qualities and ways that inspire compassion and love. 

The Power of Pranayama

The fourth limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Pranayama is the mastery of breath-control and recognition of the relationship between the breath, body, and mind. Prana means life force. Pranayama is control or constriction of life force. It’s the energetic current created in the body we control by bringing awareness to the breath. Focused pranayama brings a state of calm to the body and mind, influencing the body’s central nervous system to have an effect on the hormones released, thereby shifting our emotions and how we feel. 

The body is made up of energy lines called nadis, which affect the body’s subtle energy. There are three main nadis in the body: sushumna, ida and pingala. Sushumna is the central channel that travels from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and the source for each of the seven chakras. Ida is the channel that travels along the left side of the body, and pingala is the channel that travels along the right side of the body. The aim of pranayama is to understand the flow of breath by gaining awareness of how the breath lights up the nadis, shifts our subtle energy, and overall transforms how we think and feel. Pranayama is the key to inner transformation and one of the most accessible tools for yoga alchemy. 

Moving Meditation for Purification

In this short Moving Meditation class with Clara, you’ll move through a variety of kriyas to purify the mind and body, pranayama to open and expand the lungs, and meditation to relieve stress and connect to silence. Pranayama and kriyas have the power to shift our energy, from feeling anxious to grounded or stagnant to uplifted, these breathing techniques have the power to transform. 

4-Part Breathing

Benefits
This pranayama provides a sense of grounding and creates stillness in the body and mind. Great to practice if you have high-energy and want to calm down.
4-part breath is also known as Sama Vritti. In Sanskrit, sama means ‘equal’ and vritti means ‘flow’. This technique balances the breath by breathing in/out and retaining the breath to calm the heart-rate and nervous system.

How To
Inhale for the count of four
Hold at the top for the count of four
Exhale for the count of four
Hold at the bottom for the count of four

Repeat several cycles and then sit in meditation to be in how you feel. 

Kundalini Mudra 

Benefits
A clearing technique to purge excess energy by sharply exhaling through the mouth. This technique keeps the energy moving and high. Great to practice if you want to stay elevated and awake but still purge any excess stress or tension. 

How To
Inhale sharply through the nose and make a fist with your hands
Exhale sharply through the mouth and sparkle out your fingers

Repeat several cycles speeding up or slowing down as necessary. 

Sufi Grinds

Benefits
This moving meditation relieves tension in the low back and brings flexion/extension to the spine. Sufi Grinds draws the energy upwards from the root of the spine to the crown of the head. Great to balance any nervous energy and clear away static energy.

How To 
Inhale through the nose and arch the spine as you lean forward
Exhale through the nose and round the back as you shift backward

Stay seated and draw circles with your body by rotating the torso. Create larger and smaller circles and imagine drawing energy upwards from the pelvis to the crown of the head. Root down at the seat to feel grounded as you move. 

Lions Breath

Benefits
Lion’s Breath connects you to your inner child, creating a space for play to rid the body of amassed stress. It relieves tension, improves circulation, and opens the front of the chest, neck, and throat. 

How To
Exhale sharply out the mouth and stick out your tongue with your fingers anchored on the ground. Add a growl or any sounds, including laughter, as you exhale.

Air: A Reminder to Keep Things Moving

The flow of life is all around us. Nature reminds us that stagnation is not possible. The seasons express the cycles of change we move through and undergo. From the sunflower seed to the strike of thunder, we’re surrounded by signs that capture the eternal connection of creation and destruction. 

Our bodies provide a tangible contact with the world and a means to connect to others as we establish relationships, build community, and feel the flow of love that arises as a result. When we feel the pulse of life in our bodies by bringing awareness to the breath and engaging in physical activity, we break-up any stagnant and/or stuck energy and release anxieties that threaten to dismantle our connection with the universe and inherent love. 

In the new class this week, Keep It Moving, the idea is to move with the flow of your breath, create rhythm with your body, and connect to the environment around you. 

Keep It Moving

Keep It Moving 

Keep it moving with Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga in this air-inspired yoga class that stimulates and frees the body with quick and subtle movement. As you move, focus on the ujjayi breath and ask yourself: how does this movement feel and how does my breath correspond? The element air is associated with curiosity, intuition, motion, light, and quick-wittedness; keep this in-mind as you breathe.

* Learn more about Clara’s 300 hour yoga teacher training OR 200 hour yoga teacher training courses. * Interested in more classes from #PracticeWIthClara, check out our vinyasa flow yoga, online yoga classes, or try out the 30 day yoga challenge.

New members receive 7-days free.

Rejoice in the Unstruck: Vulnerability of the Heart

The heart invites one to discover its mystery, loving wildly and unabashedly, surging forth with desire and promise regardless of paralleled demands of the mind. Without limitation, the heart reaches out into the world and reveals goodness, a sweetness, capable in all beings. Compassion resides in the heart and when left unexamined may become a space where sorrow blossoms and spreads. Tending to the heart is expressed in the tenderness and care we give ourselves and extend outwardly to others and to the world around us. Seeking the truths of the heart is to examine our inner longing and vulnerability, the tools and practices that bring us back to the deep seat of quiet within ourselves. Our vulnerabilities may be subject to exploitation via anger when we lack the awareness or direction in how to proceed. Asking for help, looking to communities for support, and exposing vulnerabilities might be successful in leading one to a path where shedding fear and witnessing desire is finally possible. To get stuck in a cycle of fear, lack of commitment, or loss of perspective, is part of the process in unearthing the courageous heart. 

Clara and I discussed the unstruck heart on the #practicewithclara podcast where we explored the heart’s capacity to expose vulnerability, establish truth, and ultimately, enhance the spread of compassion unto ourselves and others. The heart is a symbol of spiritual transformation where love and receptivity become the tools for inner alchemy. In this article, I’ve provided heart-opening practices and a

The Unstruck Heart: Anahata Chakra

The epicentre of the human body, the heart represents our spiritual evolution and ability to transcend the physical realm. The fourth chakra, Anahata is the middle of the seven chakras positioned along the spine and located at the centre point of the chest where the heart resides. The heart is where spirit and matter collide, bridging the gap between thought and action and delivering our deepest desires to the material realm as we unearth and respond to our inner truths. Anahata translates from Sanskrit to English as the unstruck, expressing this idea of a space that is pure, fresh, unhurt, and clean. Free of grief and past sorrows, we become free to accept and explore the many ways to give and receive love. 

The element that expresses Anahata chakra is air, which represents spirit, lightness, spaciousness, and equanimity. Air for the yogi, relates to one’s vitality. The Prana, or breath, is the lifeforce contained within and how our life force is created and sustained. Our breath is the initial way we link the ethereal realm with the physical realm through the energetic exchange in breathing. The practitioner who develops and controls the breath through pranayama techniques may attain higher states of awareness and consciousness. In yoga, we focus on the breath to nourish the body, settle the mind, and stimulate the nadis-energy lines, including the chakras along the spine. The evolution of our bodies and minds rely on breath, from bringing oxygen to the lungs to removing toxins, releasing emotion and purging negative energy, the breath is the gateway to addressing the subtle body and crucial factor in maintaining wellness. 

The sacred space of the heart leads us toward the power and immanence of love, the importance of establishing relationships with others and ourselves, and the means to heal old wounds and traumas. We are drawn to love, relationships, and a desire to let go and heal, and yet it requires a deep commitment to a practice that helps us address our vulnerability, fears, and pain. Working with the heart chakra asks that you delve deep into your own inner truth and address what you need. Examples of some insights that might surface include: asking for help and expressing humility; letting go of a relationship that no longer serves; receiving past pain in order to heal the wound and move forwards with more integrity. 

Our hearts may be our guides in providing access to a deeper intuition that’s felt. You cannot rush, rationalize, or dissect the desires or the lessons of the heart. The heart’s compassion and innate knowledge surpasses any judgements imposed by the mind, but together, the wisdom of the heart and the focus of the mind may deliver the devotee to a place where healing is possible, connection is intensified, and a deep understanding of the yearning we all share in accepting ourselves and each other is made possible. 

Space Within: A Mantra for Peace

A practice, purpose, teacher, or guide may assist you in your development of the heart chakra, in listening to its wisdom and honouring your inner truth. The heart’s freedom and play surges forward when we embody what it means to be human and take responsibility for our own happiness. A happiness that’s achieved when we heal, accept and receive all that is coming, and strive for balance. Happiness within is quickly transformed to happiness without, extending to all corners of our environments and those around us. When we’ve compassion for ourselves only then may we extend our compassion to others. It starts inside and moves outward as we gain clarity, confidence, and recognize our contribution to our evolving reality. 

Light up your heart chakra with a mantra for peace to all beings and elements in the universe: Join Clara and her 300-hour YTT students for call and response before diving in together in this mantra for peace

Open Your Courageous Heart: The Anahata Playlist

A curated collection of heart-opening practices, the Anahata Playlist invites the practitioner to feel and express beauty within the body through dynamic movement and breath. Open your heart, strengthen your back, visualize a lotus symbol at your heart centre, and dedicate your practice to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty. 

heart-wide-open
Heart Wide Open

Heart Wide Open

Move your body to feel and connect to what’s inside, this backbending-focused yoga class opens the hamstrings and chest, and strengthens the back and deep core muscles. Flow through a series of lunges, balancing postures, and twists, before taking a variation of camel-pose from a low lunge.

A Neat Bow

A faster-paced vinyasa practice to open the front and lateral/side body while preparing you to explore bow pose, camel pose, and wheel pose. Clara guides a dynamic sequence to build heat and strength before back-bending, before cooling down with hip-openers and twists.

heart-a-neat-bow
A Neat Bow
heart-know-theyself
Know Thyself

Know Thyself

Explore the movement of your spine in a fluid vinyasa sequence that targets the side waist, strengthens the mid back, and inner thighs. This class is simple, short, and smooth, with opening for the heart space and shoulders as your enhance the flexion and extension of the spine. 

Beauty Within and Without

Discover your natural fluidity and balance in this Prana Flow inspired class with Clara. A practice dedicated to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty, you’ll start seated for a brief meditation and mudra for beauty. Enjoy a smooth and slow flow with fun transitions as you explore leg balancing poses to build strength and stability.

heart-beauty-within
Beauty Within & Without

Discover the Devotion of the Heart

Practices of the heart require a deep devotion in heart, body, and mind. When we commit to ourselves and choose to move from the sacred space of the heart, we step into our inner truth. Honouring and moving from the heart takes time. It may take years to recognize our fears, vulnerabilities, and sorrows. It may take years to shift these energies into courage, resilience, and positive forms of self-expression. Be patient and cultivate a practice for devotion to stand firm in what you feel and believe is true. Devote yourself fully to this transformation. Dedicate yourself to this process of revealing your courageous heart and fostering relationships with others that feed this process. 

Learn how to access deeper emotions in this post: Moving With and Managing Emotion
Transform fear into courage in this post: Explore Your Strength and Tools for Transformation



Strength in Body and Mind: Tools for Transformation

Clara Practicing

The universe throws events our way to challenge our capacity to persevere and evolve. When we choose to confront our pains, the transformative process we undergo can reveal a courage and compassion that prevails in spite of obstacles and conflicts. Strength comes from a deep space within. Whenever we feel the pressures of the world on our shoulders, we may call upon our inner strength to triumph and endure. Evolution requires that we examine the ways to grow past our individual and collective limitations, that we harness our energy to create a better future for the next generation. To do this, we rely on our mental, physical, and emotional strengths to persist through such times of lack, loss, and uncertainty. 

In a previous discussion in one of the #PracticeWithClara Podcasts, Clara shared some of her growing pains as a new yoga teacher as she transitioned from teaching in New York City to Vancouver, BC. In the process, Clara accepted the challenges she faced and further developed her skills as a teacher. In order to thrive, strength in body and mind are required. The relationship between the body and mind affects how we interact and associate with our environment. Succumbing to fear that grips us when we’re uncomfortable, unsure, or insecure, is to give-in to the body’s immediate physiological response to stress, initiated by the onset of the stress hormone, cortisol. 

To counter the fear and shift the body’s prime response, focusing on and developing a practice for strength may assist in shifting the mindset and attitude to one that’s more receptive to change. Clara’s advice to new yoga teachers is to keep showing up and practice, for we have the capacity to transform new actions into mastered skills through consistency and repetition over time. Mistakes may be a great teacher if reflected upon and perhaps present a way to grow past initial limitations and fears.

In this article are tools to cultivate courage to persevere through difficult times, with courses in meditation, mantra, and yoga that develop strength in body and mind.

Call Upon the Strength of Durga Maa

Durga is the Warrior Goddess and protector of the universe. As an incarnate form of the feminine energy Shakti, she appears to battle the evils of the world. The Mother goddess, Durga means fortress or a protected place. To call upon Durga is to enter the fortress; a stronghold where mankind is protected from evil forces including selfishness, greed, hatred, arrogance, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. Durga wears red to symbolize action, and rides astride a tiger or lion carrying various weaponry in her eight hands. 

Durga’s Origin Story:

Durga was summoned by the Gods who were unable to slay the evil demon who threatened to destroy the world. Mahishasura, the evil buffalo demon, received a great gift from the God Brahma, who said that the demon could never be killed by man or God. Mahishasura conquered the world and was poised to claim the heavens when the Gods called upon the feminine divine forces in the world- Shakti- for the legend did not say anything of the evil buffalo demon being triumphed over by the Goddess. Durga arrives as an incarnate form of Shakti, blazing forward and piercing Mahishasura with her trident, one of the many weapons she brandishes in her

Harness the power of Durga:
Durga Flow (60-mins)

This strong vinyasa practice leads a strong leg and core-centric class, with balancing poses to challenge and test your stability.

Durga Mantra (10-mins)

Chant to Durga and connect to inner courage and discipline.

Durga Meditation (5-mins)

Focus on your courageous heart and inner strength.

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Durga Flow

“Durga’s transformative power carries a conviction that comes from deep inside the body, and with it often comes a sense of ‘Now!’–meaning the time is now. When that knowing is strong enough, it is followed by an action. You will willingly put your body and your speech on the line to change the situation–whether it is an internal or external one”.

– Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti

Get Strong Classes & Playlists ⚡️ 🎧

Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we feel sensations of fear, potentially causing depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound effect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the neurotransmitters and hormones released. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, may create resilience in body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and invite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and allowing a positive energy to guide the way. 

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Stand On Your Hands
Stand on Your Hands
Handstand Play

A short vinyasa flow sequence that gets your blood flowing and heat building right off the gates!

Handstand play and preparation from downward dog progresses to a fiery flow of twists, upper back strengthening, and backbends. 

A Welcomed Season
Standing Backbends & Balancing

Connect to your body with this fluid vinyasa practice inspired by a poem by Hafiz. 

This vinyasa flow sequence includes a little bit of everything, with twists, hip openers, inversions, backbends and standing leg balances. This class features standing backbends and a focus on the process versus a peak pose.

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A Welcomed Season
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Taking Flight with Flying Pigeon Pose
Take Flight:
Flying Pigeon (Galavasana)

Get fired up with a series of arm balances and inversion play in a sequence that builds towards a peak pose.

Including deep hip openers, twists, and handstands, you’ll build toward flying pigeon pose in a sequence designed to test your stability and strength. 

An Offering 
Prep for Tripod Headstand 

A slower paced vinyasa practice with an emphasis on mandala/circular shapes. Open the inner leg line and strengthening the back of the pelvis as you prepare for tripod headstand. 

**If you’re dealing with any neck/shoulders issues, refrain from doing the peak pose.**

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An Offering with Tripod Headstand
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Unfurl Your Peacocks Tail
Unfurl Your Peacock’s Tail
Pincha Mayurasana Practice 

Join Clara in a vinyasa practice focused on Pincha Mayurasana, feathered peacock pose. Regardless of whether or not you get the peak pose, all the shoulder and back body opening is beneficial. Along with core cultivation work based off Forrest Yoga, you’ll finish your practice feeling stronger.

Peacocks represent patience, kindness and luck in Indian thought. With inversions, the more patience and kindness you practice with your body, the lighter you can become!

Resilience in Body and Mind

When we strengthen our body we also strengthen the mind. Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. Confronting your discomfort and moving toward the places where you feel physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged may develop virtues such as patience, humility, and courage. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we’re feeling sensations of fear and causes depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound affect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the body’s neurotransmitters and hormone release. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, will ultimately create resilience in the body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and excite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and defining the energy that will guide you along the way. 

 

Stay Curious: Retreat Planning for Yoga Teachers

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Social distancing has provided many opportunities for us to get creative and curious about the ways we might stay connected and embrace community. It was one woman from the West End who initiated the nightly clapping at 7pm in support of Vancouver’s Health Care Workers, an event that’s since amassed with folks across the city who gather each night and light up the streets and seawall with their collective music and cheers. Curiosity insists upon a story of inspiration through a path less travelled and events born of the courage, consideration, and sheer determination to move forward despite obstacles along the way. 

As one of millions who lost employment and connection to community with the turn of events in March due to CO-VID, Clara and I came together to create the #PracticeWithClara Podcast, a space to share yoga related content with our community. With no clear direction or end in sight, the ways in which we come together has and will continue to dramatically shift, causing entrepreneurs, community builders, and creatives to change their perception of work and how to maintain and build relationships. It’s an uncertain period and a time to question how we want to appear in the world; a time to develop an attitude of curiosity; and a time to see all the ways we might innovate and bring our deepest desires to light.  

As one who’s passionate about shaping and contributing to the community, Clara provided insight on how to host a yoga retreat and experiences for guests to go deeper into their practice in one of our podcast discussions. From managing guest expectations, to creating a budget and selecting the location, Clara shared her top learning highlights for yoga teachers and anyone who wishes to host events or workshops abroad. Planning a destination yoga retreat may be a ways off given the current state of the world, but nobody knows what the future holds. Sometimes it’s through events and stories of others that we are able to appreciate and discover more in how and what we wish to offer. Right now is the ideal time to investigate what type of value you might bring to your community, allowing the curiosity for what could be to spark new ways for community contribution and inner growth. 

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DESTINATION RETREAT PLANNING 101

List the benefits and features of your retreat 

Frame your retreat in terms of the benefits your clients will receive as well as the features in the pricing breakdown and promotion. You want to give as much information as possible to highlight all of the awesome perks provided through descriptive language and captivating photography. Use inviting language and imagery that’s clear and specifies what to expect to attract the guests that are suited for the experience you’re shaping.  For example, the features of a retreat could be: yoga everyday, lodging and food, additional activities such as hiking. Whereas the benefits of a retreat could be: escape in nature, make new friends, learn and explore yoga in a workshop. 

Create copy around the benefits of your retreat to give more of an incentive for guests to sign up. You might ask: What will guests leave with? What might they discover? Who and what will they connect with? Retreats are a space to go inwards and create a space for deeper conversations, personal revelations, and intimate connections with others that are not possible in a yoga-studio setting. Communicate these benefits to guests so they understand the value in what this experience offers. 

Manage expectations & be clear in your communication 

Get super clear in what you offer during the time breakdown of your retreat. As soon as your guests sign-up, send an email outlining exactly what to expect day-by-day. Clara provides an itinerary breakdown for guests which includes:

  • Time
    The time of day that you’re together on retreat and the time that you’re apart. Clara gives a lot of space on her retreats for guests to explore the area, pursue activities of interest, and time alone to rest and reflect. 
  • Cost
    What exactly is covered in the cost of the retreat and what is not. For example, state clearly if flights, taxi, shuttle, and other modes of transport are covered. Be really clear and direct up-front about the deposit and whether or not it’s refundable, and include a breakdown of additional costs that may/may not arise.
  • Food
    Depending on the destination some meals are covered and some are not. Communicate where and when guests are responsible for covering their own meals and where they can find food off-site. 
  • Yoga
    You’ll likely include several yoga classes on the retreat in the initial cost. You may want to include bonus classes, workshops, privates, or anything else that you may be certified in (Reiki, Thai massage) at an additional cost for clients to book with you. 
  • Extra activities  
    Depending on the destination you may offer time and resources to events in the area such as snorkeling, guided tours, cooking classes, bike rentals, and so on. 
Pick a location and investigate 

Choose a location that you want to explore and/or you love. Clara chooses her retreat locations based on the areas she wants to visit. Before you host your retreat, be sure to explore the area ahead of time (Clara usually goes to the location a few days beforehand) to get a better understanding of where you are and what’s close-by for guests. Useful resources to share with guests ahead of time may include: a map of the area, potential transit and/or car rental, food/bars, shopping, nature hikes/swimming, as well as local airports and hospitals. 

Plan a year ahead & budget 

Give guests ample time, especially if you’re going out of the country, for people to accommodate for the time off, get child-care, and/or save money. A lot of retreat centres require a deposit well in advance to save the rooms and accommodation which means you’ll be putting quite a bit of your own money down up-front. Clara’s first retreat twelve years ago she paid out of pocket. Some tips in terms of budgeting for your retreat:

  • Accept that you might not fill up all the spots and/or  break even, and that you may take a loss on your first few retreats in terms of making money. 
  • Assume that your first few retreats will have low(er) registration and decide if you have a minimum number of participants to run your retreat. Clara’s rule of thumb is to never cancel your retreat, no matter what! 
  • Anticipate hidden/unknown costs and have the money saved to manage such uncertainties so you’re not surprised or burdened with unwanted debt.

One way to build momentum for your retreat is to host your excursion around the same time each year so your guests can count on the trip year after year. Returning customers is ideal to keep building community and momentum as you learn. 

Co-teach with a fellow teacher 

You’re the host of the party, you have to be ON the entire time and present for questions and conflict should they arise. It may serve to collaborate with a fellow yoga teacher who shares your passion and can assist in holding space for your guests. It may also benefit to buddy up with a co-host who can offset your strength and skills to provide an experience that’s diverse and well-rounded. It supports the teaching community as an entirety when we promote each other and hold each other accountable in all that we do! 

VIRTUAL INVITATIONS: WAYS TO CONNECT

The broad selection of online platforms available has provided many ways to stay connected regardless of physical obstacles. More so than ever before, we’re able to provide value, engage, educate, and entertain through online platforms where content is easy to distribute. Virtual classes, workshops, teacher training, and similar experiences allow individuals to stay connected and consume media at their own pace and time. 

As destination retreats may be on-hold. for the rest of 2020, the #PracticeWithClara Community has gathered in a variety of online spaces to stay connected and learn from each other. Below are some of the ways you can find Clara online, which may also spark some incentive or idea for you to bring value to your online communities. 

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Practice with Clara Online 

There’s a bevy of online spaces to market and share yoga content with platforms like YouTube and Vimeo where you can create a channel for free. Clara’s YouTube Channel shares highlights and yoga content from her platform: Practice With Clara. You can access Clara’s content anywhere, anytime via desktop, android, iPhone, Apple TV, and Roku. One of the perks on the phone apps is the download feature that allows you to watch the videos offline. With yoga styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Prenatal, in addition to videos on mantra and meditationyou can try for 7-days free

NEW CLASS : Spice It Up 

In this short and spicy vinyasa yoga class you’ll get your heart pumping and blood flowing to build heat and burn off any excess energy and tension. Clara guides practitioners through total-body movement as you shake it out from head-to-toe with Alejandro. 

#PractiveWithClara Podcast 

Start a podcast or launch a video-series where you discuss a topic of interest that provides something of value for your community to engage with. You can listen to the #PracticeWithClara Podcast where we discuss yoga and related philosophy, unpack the business of yoga, answer questions, and lead experiential/guided meditations. Watch past discussions.   

 Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are a great way to amass community members and create an archive of content that can be shared and commented on. The #PracticeWithClara Facebook Group is where we share the latest videos, podcast sessions, blog posts, and other resources with our community members. We invite our community to post questions and feedback, and drop journaling prompts to be shared and discussed. Connect with us on Facebook to connect to like-minded peers across the globe. 

Instagram Live 

Instagram Live has quickly become one of the top spaces for individuals to create and share a variety of videos including topics in fitness, cooking ,and beauty. Clara and I host the #PractiveWithClara Podcast on IG Live to engage with listeners before turning it into a video series to share on YouTube and as a Podcast. We’ll be back on Instagram Live with the #PracticeWithClara Podcast on Monday, May 4th @11AM PST! 

LEARN MORE ON THE BUSINESS OF YOGA

Moving With and Managing Emotion

Moving With and Managing Emotion

Observing emotion and sitting with how we feel takes practice and patience, especially when we’re feeling really strong emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and/or disgust. Water is the element that represents emotion and the unconscious mind. In contrast to ether, the idea of space and consciousness (featured in last week’s post), water’s connection to emotion is made material and tangible through the relationship to the body. 

Emotion is an automatic reaction the body has to certain stimuli, feelings arise once the brain becomes aware and conscious of the physical changes. We use the words emotion and feeling interchangeably, however, on a physiological level we receive the emotion first as a direct unconscious message in our body. The emotion is then delivered to the brain where we consciously sift through and assess how we feel.

Emotion as a Message

All emotions are a signal that your body is trying to tell you something and express a truth you may have missed. The message will keep being sent, growing bigger and stronger, until it’s received.
– Clara Roberts-Oss

When we don’t acknowledge how we feel or learn to move with and manage our emotions, we run the risk of creating toxic environments within ourselves and for those around us. Our emotions are not who we are, they’re characters we experience for a period of time. f we don’t learn how to express our emotions, we may experience them for much longer–creating a lasting feeling like despair or depression

Body Map of Emotion

What we repress is expressed in other forms; whenever we suppress how we feel we throw off the energetic balance in our body. It disturbs our Qi (energy) and the harmony of our internal organs, which can cause illness and/or disease and disrupt our emotional state. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each emotion is intrinsically linked to a specific place and organ in the body. When we block emotion it affects the overall health of the body and mind and the place in the body where the emotion resides

GRIEF / DEPRESSION / SADNESS 

Grief lives in the lungs and is associated with the large intestine. Grief also affects the heart and may last a long time as we process letting go. It has a profound effect on our energy and disrupts the flow of energy in our body. When we make space to grieve and sit with our sadness, we give ourselves permission to let go and give in to our sorrow. When we hold onto our grief and our loss, we run the risk of entering a state of depression where we may get stuck and block the flow of energy in our body. This may be expressed in the body through a difficulty releasing bowels, lung function, and oxygen circulation. 

FEAR

Fear lives in the kidneys and the bladder, which are associated with the element water. Fear is a normal emotion to experience but when ignored or avoided it can have devastating effects on our body and mind. Fear of the unknown or of change and a refusal to accept and adapt to life evolving around us may be expressed with issues in the kidneys. 

WORRY / ANXIETY / OVERTHINKING 

Worry is connected to the spleen, stomach, pancreas and is represented through the element earth. Insecurity and anxiety affects our digestion, through understanding and accepting a situation in our lives. This is expressed as a lack of trust in the universe and having faith that everything will work out. This drains our body and literally affects our digestion as the angst sits like a ball of energy in our belly. When we have a lack of faith, this creates a sense of heaviness, overwork, and stubbornness. 

ANGER / FRUSTRATION / RAGE 

Anger lives in the liver and gallbladder. Frustration and fury block us from moving through how we feel and letting go of what no longer serves. Repressed anger may show up as irritation or resentment, and show up with headaches, dizziness, and disrupt liver/gallbladder health. 

JOY / HAPPINESS / LOVE

Joy lives in our hearts. When we nourish ourselves and do things that bring us joy we feed our heart center and are better able to process our experiences. When we lack joy we may feel stuck, sad, and have difficulty connecting to others. Obsessive joy is also dangerous and may point at a scatteredness and undirected energy causing mental disorders. Agitation and insomnia could be the results from mania or obsessive joy. 

The Brain / Body Relationship

Our brains are just as disturbed as our bodies by unresloved and repressed emotions, especially the limbic system of the brain. Our emotions trigger and activate specific centres in the brain, sending signals to the body as the brain processes the information. Emotions are energies in motion and as we become better at sitting with the sensations that arise, we create space to heal and adjust to the shift in energy. 

The limbic system (deals with emotion and memory), autonomic nervous system (regulates blood pressure and breath-rate), and reticular activating system (regulates behaviour) interact in the physiological processing of emotion. The limbic system categorizes our emotional experience as either good or bad, producing and regulating dopamine and serotonin levels, aka the ‘feel good’ hormones. The autonomic nervous system assists in arousal in response to emotional cues. The reticular activating system arouses the cortex and allows for emotion to be interpreted more effectively by the brain. A disruption to the conversation between your body/brain, such as repressing or avoiding how we feel, affects the delicate systems that keep your energies balanced and your mental and physical body’s healthy.

Grounding to Receive Emotion

Acceptance is key to move through emotion, as is forgiveness. Letting yourself feel all that there is to feel starts with acceptance of where you are and all the emotions that arise. Without acceptance there can be no progress or movement toward healing. Forgiveness is the second step. Without forgiveness we may become stuck in patterns that do not serve when we can’t forgive ourselves and let go of our actions of the past. This is where emotions such as guilt and shame are layered over the emotions we initially felt. We want to address what arises instead of adding layers of emotion onto the pile of emotions that we already don’t know how to deal with.

Issues and conflict arise when we feel like we have to do something or respond immediately to our frustration. fury, or fear. There are some cases when a prompt response is required, but most of the time if we took a little space to let the emotion mellow and our bodies to come down from the intensity, we would be much more capable of making an informed decision on how to proceed. Meditation, reflection, journalling, breath-work; all are practices that create space to calm the body and quiet the mind. Such practices are key to grounding and sitting with emotion so we might move through how we feel. Yoga, hiking, cycling, dancing, swimming, boxing; rock climbing; physical activity is a great way to release the accumulated emotional, physical, and mental tensions that amass when we feel intense emotions. Purging the body of excess energy through fitness and sport has a grounding effect and also makes the mind more clear and capable of finding a resolution. 


NEW CLASSES THIS WEEK:

The Ability to Sustain

A practice to quiet the mind and ground the body, this vinyasa class will have you start seated to focus breathing into your belly and heart. Ideal for pregnant yogis or anyone seeking a slower-paced vinyasa class.  

Yoga Nidra

Nidra translates as “sleep” in Sanskrit. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation to bring your body and mind into deep relaxation. Recommended for everyone and can be helpful for those working with stress, anxiety, exhaustion and burn out.

Additional Resources

Balance energy with  Ayurvedic medicine, the sister science of yoga

Yoga & meditation to embrace the Water Element 

On Honouring and Receiving Change

adaptability

The ability to adapt and move with what arises is one of the greatest teachings of yoga as we learn to become more flexible in body and mind. Letting go of how we want to feel or how we think something should appear is one of the key themes Clara often asks her student in class: to let go and be with what is. When we let go and allow ourselves to open to receive new ideas this may provide access to a wider range of experiences, relationships, and concepts to shape the realities we share. In a previous post on Ayurvedic Medicine, we discussed the unique energies that make up our world and the importance of cultivating a lifestyle that strives for balance. The aim of Ayurvedic Medicine and the practice of yoga is to move with the fluidity and flux of the universe as we adapt to change in this weird and wonderful world we live in! 

Adapting to change is a key factor in growing and thriving in work and our work relationships. When we’re faced with discordance and discover ripples of discontent rather than giving up or surrendering to obstacles we might use this as an opportunity to learn and grow past our current state. The power of adaptability was beautifully expressed when Clara went into labour last week a full three weeks early. It was untimed and unexpected, as many of life’s major turn-of-events (sometimes) seem to be. Clara’s business model thrives on her super power of moving with the unexpected rhythms of the universe. Clara creates, adapts, and receives based on what’s happening moment-to-moment while she honours her goals and the necessary guidelines that keep her business alive. 

Clara and I discussed some of the tactics she’s used as she adapts and moves through pivotal shifts in her career as a yoga instructor, business owner, and digital media presence. Below are some of the highlights from the #PracticeWithClara Morning Gathering that illuminates the importance of going with the flow and adapting swiftly to change to grow a business.

The Will to Change and Soften

Move toward the people, places, and projects where you feel good about yourself and thrive. When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more energy and abundance to give to the project and those around us. Change occurs when we least expect it and, more often, when we’re unhappy or discontent with where we currently are. Keep moving toward the areas where you feel supported, challenged, and alive; the creative fires inside will continue to spit out the flames when you and your team feel good about what you’re creating. 

When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more confidence in ourselves and encounter setbacks as opportunities to shift what we’re doing and learn something new. Resistance becomes our greatest teacher. When we move past resistance and simply be with what is, we may begin to see where we need to let go in order to keep moving forward. 

For seventeen years, decade Clara has taught yoga in studios, retreat centres, and outdoor events, in countries all over the world, planning and executing experiences for yoga by herself and with other yoga teachers and enthusiasts. Clara knew that there would be setbacks, including but not limited to: low registration for retreats, last minute cancellations (for plane tickets and accommodations), conflicting opinions with studio owners or co-hosts, and disgruntled guests for a myriad of reasons. For every story that seduces and inspires, there’s a story of defeat where things didn’t go as expected and plans were changed beyond human control. One of the things that allowed Clara to stick it out through the periods of discomfort and tough-love lessons, was her passion for her craft and confidence in what she provided for her community, peers, and guests. 

From New York city teaching public yoga classes, to launching the #PracticeWithClara Community apps and online yoga platform, Clara’s built a business where she gets to do what she loves (with long hours, no shortcuts) and works alongside her life partner, Alejandro Arce, who manages the business and marketing for the #PracticeWithClara community. 

In our talk last week Clara shared some of her key learnings in how to build a business organically and adapt to the swift and surprising kicks from the world we’re all treated to time and time again. 

Clara’s Advice to Yoga Teachers: 

Do what works for YOU (and be in LOVE with what you do!)

Everyone has their own management style and workflow so what works for one person will not work for everyone. No one way is better than any other way, it’s about finding a process that serves and making realistic goals to pave a little outline for the path we want to take. Seek advice and ask all the questions, but be willing to examine your own work habits (including work/life balance) and how you prefer to interact with your community, peers, and colleagues, before writing a guidebook for how things ‘should’ be done.

Provide clear and constructive feedback

The feedback style of the #PracticeWithClara team is very straightforward. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to pivot quickly, try new things, and keep building momentum. Through clear and constructive feedback we’re able to quickly assess and readdress the things that propel us forward or hold us back. Learning how to give feedback that’s  meaningful and productive, with a clear call-to-action is valuable. It develops critical thinking skills and communication skills that we could benefit from in our work or intimate relationships.  

Hire someone who’s confident in what they do

Hiring someone who’s capable and confident in what they bring to your business enables you to refine your focus as you create something that really resonates with your community. It creates a sense of trust between you and the other person as the relationship develops with all members pitching in and equally contributing to what’s being created. It also allows for the communication to flow and feedback to be delivered with a bit more ease. When you create an environment where individuals feel supported and safe in sharing their opinions, they’ll feel more at ease in voicing their ideas and bringing new content to the business. You can’t be the best at all of the parts in your business as it grows, so developing relationships with people you know you can trust for their skills is key to manage your workload and lifestyle balance. 

Don’t force it, go with what arises

Don’t try to force anything, go with what arises day-by-day. Clara’s business model evolved over a decade as she kept adding to her business over the years. There was no rush to a specific point or create in ways she wasn’t ready for. It all came naturally. The mentorship program, where Clara provides feedback to aspiring yoga teachers, evolved naturally when a student asked for her advice. The launch of the iPhone and Android apps naturally evolved from Clara’s online web platform from an idea of Alejandro. Copying what others are doing is just that: copying something that’s already been done. Make space to explore and for new ideas to emerge, and be open and willing to receive what arises; you never know, a comment from a student may inspire something totally unique to the industry!

Soften the story

Getting caught up in a specific story or idea may hinder your ability to move forward and see all the other possibilities to be explored. When we create narratives around a particular subject and drive so hard toward a set list of goals, there’s less room to shift and see what else may be swimming in the sea of potential. Be willing to shift your to-do list. Be open to adapting to new events as they arise. Allow yourself some space to listen to those around you and see how your ideas and incentives land before driving full-force into what you initially set out to do. Sometimes, when we soften the story, new endings emerge that may be better suited to what we’re trying to achieve. 

Seek Inspiration and Guidance

I undertook a mentorship program with Clara after completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, of which I also took with Clara. I seek inspiration from a variety of teachers in my local community and abroad, but felt strongly about aligning with a teacher who could gently encourage me into the world of yoga, multifaceted as it is in movement, philosophy, and business management. Clara was a teacher I felt I could trust, had practiced with for over a year, and shared a lot of my same values and passions (which included philosophy and reading). To this day I am grateful for my decision to seek out a mentor and learn from Clara as the experience shaped my teaching experience and how I create and contribute to the yoga community in Vancouver, BC. 

Why You Might Seek a Mentorship:

You’re going to miss your mishaps

Whenever I get really excited and dive head-first into a new project, be it professional or personal, I develop rose-coloured goggles for whatever it is I’m creating. Be it a new yoga sequence I can’t wait to teach a class or a poem I feel captures beauty. In dedicating unmeasured time, passion, and effort into a project, I become attached to my final product and may miss potential points where my message is convoluted or confused. This happens a lot, this inability to critically analyze my own work due to my closeness to it. Having a second opinion, and someone who can’t point out where you’re wrong/confused/mistaken, is essential to creating a finished product that truly resonates with your audience. This is where feedback from someone with the experience and expertise in your field will help you develop and grow your craft/business/product. 

Develop your signature style 

Growing a business or passion project requires a lot of patience and persistence. The beads of wisdom Clara served in my initial years of teaching helped me develop my teaching style, connect to local studio owners, and discern how I wanted to speak to my passions through yoga (weave in philosophy and literature). Without guidance, my temperament would have gone in fresh out of my YTT, in a time where my methods lacked creativity, consideration, and confidence. With Clara’s ongoing insight and feedback, I was able to grow into my voice and honour the space in the room that I shared with students. Instead of the insecurities and fumbles we make as new teachers, I was able to enter the community with a little more clarity around who I was and what I wanted to create with my students. 

Go With the Flow and Let It Go

Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She’s the deity one would call upon when seeking insight, learning something new, or looking for inspiration. Saraswati is a combination of the Sanskrit word, saras which means “pooling water” and vati which means “she who possesses”. She’s associated with rivers and lakes, with the fluidity and flow associated with the element water. One of the ways you may invite a more fluid energy into your life is to practice with more vinyasa-flow style and emphasis on breath. Clara has two offerings this week that honour Saraswati and the practice of letting go:

NEW CLASSES THIS WEEK

Saraswati Flow
Join Clara for a Saraswati-themed vinyasa yoga class. This class is fluid and powerful, connecting you to the essence of the Goddess as you breathe.  

Saraswati Meditation
A meditation for Saraswati to inspire something new or harness the knowledge to gain the momentum to move forwards.

And if you have questions or want to be a part of our discussions, you can join the #PracticeWithClara Community!

The Quest for Balance: Etheric and Ayurvedic Practices

ether and the quest for balance

‘Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering “like” stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.’ 
Indra’s Net, Rajiv Malhotra


With the ongoing practice of social distancing access to public resources is limited, dramatically shifting the way we occupy and explore space. While our external surroundings are minimized, making our physical worlds much smaller, there’s ample opportunity to develop our internal landscape and create space within. A practice of creating space inside may help to harmonize the body/mind and guide one through periods of upheaval and uncertainty. 

This week on the #PracticeWithClara Morning Gathering we discussed the concept of ether, which represents space and consciousness. Clara and I discussed ether and its relationship to Eastern philosophy, yoga, and other meditative practices to instil balance and create harmony in one’s lifestyle. According to Ayurvedic medicine, we contain the five elements within ourselves and the same five elements are reflected back to us through the universe. The elements represent the dynamic forces of nature and are one of the ways we seek to bring balance in our lives and the world.

Enjoy these highlights from our discussions this week!

You can join the conversation on Instagram weekdays, at @11am PST.

Ether and the Birds-Eye View

The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Ether is unique in that it’s contained in each of the elements whereas the rest of the elements are not expressed in ether. Ether represents space, consciousness, and the expansiveness of all things. When one moves with the essence of ether, one explores the world with a wider lens to broaden their perspective. With a broad perspective, one may move away from the small self (the ego-self) to the higher Self. The higher Self represents one’s consciousness and the capacity for awareness and realization of the interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. One might call this a connection with the Divine or God. 

Clara shared a story that captures the idea of broadening one’s perspective based on the bug’s eye-view and the birds-eye view:

There was a bug in a rug who went about his day, seeing only what was in front of him. One day, a bird flew down and scooped up the little bug and flew up high above the rug so that the bug could see the beautiful tapestry of the rug (s)he lived in. All of a sudden, the bug became aware of how big and beautiful the rug was from a higher perspective, observing the full landscape of the rug and all the little bugs who lived in it. 

In this story, we might be the bug, occupied with our day-to-day routine and perhaps begin to feel lost, lonely, and/or depressed. With the birds-eye view, we might gain perspective and witness the beauty of the world and remember that we are all a part of a bigger tapestry. The tapestry of the rug represents our interconnectedness. We each play a part in constructing and contributing to the global narrative, no matter where we are or who we are in the world. Sometimes we need to take a moment and step back, to gain the space necessary to see the sacred all around us. 

A Practice for Ether and Interconnectedness

The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Ether is unique in that it’s contained in each of the elements whereas the rest of the elements are not expressed in ether. Ether represents space, consciousness, and the expansiveness of all things. When one moves with the essence of ether, one explores the world with a wider lens, broadening their perspective. With this widened perspective, one may move away from the small self (the ego-self) to the higher Self. The higher Self represents one’s consciousness and the capacity for awareness and realization of the interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. One might call this a connection with the Divine or God. 

Clara shared a story, as told by Alan Watts, called a Bug in A Rug:

There once was a bug who lived in a rug. He went about his day doing what bugs do in rugs, complaining about what bugs complain about. One day a bird flew by and picked up this bug. As the bird flew higher and higher, the bug looked down and realized he lived in the most beautiful rug in the world. He never knew what the rug looked like because all he paid attention to was what was in front of him. This is the difference between the bird’s eye view and the bug’s eye view. 

The bug’s eye view represents how we generally see the world–what’s in front of us, what we have to deal with on a day to day basis. The bird’s eye view represents how we see the world when we widen our perspective. Some methods of widening our perspective are through travel, meditation, yoga, climbing literal mountains, and the like. The tapestry of the rug represents our interconnectedness. We each play a part in constructing and contributing to the global narrative, no matter where we are or who we are in the world. Sometimes we need to take a moment and step back, to gain the space necessary to see the vastness that is the universe and how we are a small part of the bigger picture

Weave Ether into your practice in these classes with Clara:
Ether Meditation
Crown Chakra Vinyasa
New Class: Ether Flow

Seeking Balance through Ayurveda

To be in the subtle state of ether where one feels calm and at ease, the rest of the body’s energies and elements must be in balance. Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic practices of medicine, originating over 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurveda holds that overall health and wellness of an entity depends on creating balance in both body and mind. Ayurveda believes that true healing happens when you fix the source of the problem versus the symptoms. When you see a Ayurvedic doctor, they ask not only about physical symptoms but ask about your state of mind and stress levels. Heal the whole human

According to Ayurveda, each individual is made up of a particular blend of the five elements, this is known as your dosha or constitution. There are three doshas, pitta, vata and kapha. Pitta is the combination of air and fire. Vata is air and ether. Kapha is earth and water. Your constitution has two states, prakriti and vikriti. Prakriti is the constitution you’re born with, which depends upon your parents doshas, what happened in utero and the first two years of your life. Your prakriti does not change. Vikrti is the doshic constitution that you’re in at the present moment and includes the last six months of your life. This state is affected by sleep, activity, diet, stress, relationships, and environment among other things. Understanding your dosha is a two-part process. First, you would look at your prakriti (what you’re born with) based on your bodily structure, how you handle stress, how dis-ease shows up in your body, your digestion and what habits you are naturally drawn to. Second, you would look at your vikriti, what’s going on for your right now. Are both these states the same or have you veered off course? 

A Brief Introduction of the Doshas:

VATA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Flow and Vinyasa classes
Constitution: airy, light, anxious, imaginative, creative, forgetful.
Balance: yin yoga practice, grounding meditation, deep breath, root/lower chakras to bring the energy downwards, heavier and warm foods to nourish. 

PITTA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Ashtanga and Bikram
Constitution: fiery, hot, dry, sharp, quick, angry, intelligent, assimilation of new ideas.
Balance: cold and cooling foods, emphasis on longer exhaled breath, grounding/calming meditations, yin-style practice or moving meditation, very little caffeine/stimulants.

KAPHA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Yin and Restorative
Constitution: heavy, lethargic, smooth, glossy, grounding, warm, loving, slow.
Balance: strong breath-work (breath of fire), cold drinks, vinyasa/hatha yoga practice to get things flowing.

The rule of thumb in Ayurvedic Medicine is “like attracts like and opposite heals.”

If you’re feeling anxious and your energy is high (vata) you may want to seek the opposite energy to ground with yin-yoga (kapha). If your energy is excessive to the point of feeling hot/angry/over-stimulated (pitta) you may want to seek the opposite by doing slow, fluid, moving meditation (vata). If your energy is heavy and slow (kapha) perhaps that serves where you are in the day, or perhaps you should perform some fiery breath exercises to stimulate and get things flowing (pitta). 

The foods and beverages you consume, hours slept, stressors at work or in relationships, and various other factors all contribute to your doshic constitution and affect how you interact with the world at any given moment. 

To bring balance each morning you might ask yourself: 
  • Where am I emotionally?
  • What food choices can I make today to create balance?
  • What does my practice look like based what I need to find balance?
Tour the Element Series to discover a playlist and practice to honour each of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Ether within. 

Understanding the Energy of the Gunas

Samkhya is one of the oldest philosophies of yoga dating back to the Vedic period in the 14th Century. The word Samkhya translates as “numbers” and is a philosophy based on theory and empirical data. There is no Atman (Divine/God) or soul in Samkhya, instead the philosophy centers around the concepts of Purusha and Prakriti to explain how the universe works. Purusha is consciousness and would be best described as the ether/space element. Prakriti is matter. All the tangible things in the world are made of prakriti. Prakriti is expressed through the three gunas that create matter: tamas, rajas, and sattva. Akin to the doshas, each of the gunas relate to a particular type of energy. The interplay of the gunas and energies each creates and determines the life it exhibits.

Tamas: inertia, lethargy, darkness, ignorance | KAPHA
Rajas: passion, power, action, will, potential | PITTA
Sattva: compassion, lightness, truth, balance, purity | VATA 

Classical yoga philosophy is based on Samkhya philosophy. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote extensively working on being more sattvic. Sattva is free from anger and judgement, there is a higher intelligence and wisdom that comes from a clear self-understanding and trust in what simply is. Practicing a sattvic lifestyle would mean observing and balancing your doshas, depending on what you need (opposite heal’s!) each day. Typically, sattva is associated with eating local foods and lots of greens and whole grains, exercising and spending time with nature, getting enough sleep, and honouring relationships and environments that do not contribute to adding stress. 

If you want more information or access to resources, please join the #PracticeWIthClara Community Facebook Group

New Classes Online

Ether Flow
This slow and smooth yoga class asks you to create space inside and out by moving in-tune with your breath.
Rest with Ease 

Created for pregnant yogis, this class is ideal for anyone who wants a slow stretch and to open the shoulders, side body, and hips.