Advice for New Yoga Teachers by Kathryn Flynn
Date Added: August 20, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
On this summer’s yoga retreat – nourish + ritualize – I woke up the earliest each day. Put on the coffee, and then had sufficient agitated energy with the busy-ness of the week to want to run. My morning asana wasn’t shaking the anxiety, and so I took the little terrier at Shanti Retreat, Gypsy, with me for a jog.
The first five minutes were difficult. Gypsy jumped, circled and barked at me, clearly confused as to what we were doing. A somewhat seasoned dog owner, I gave her more distance between us and held her calmly but clearly by the leash to diminish the circles and jumps. Eventually, she may have been too tired to continue jumping, but either way we figured out a rhythm and both spent our morning crazies with a few kilometres of movement and fresh air.
It reminded me of teaching yoga specifically, as everything does, but what I noticed is true of any situation where you are leading the less experienced. When we are uncertain of what is going to happen, it is natural for us to react both physically and mentally with signs of distress, confusion, and anxiety. (The fear centre of our brain – the amygdala – fires up our fight or flight response.) With familiarity, we develop self soothing techniques and realize and integrate the healing potential of curiosity and new pursuits. (We reallocate mental energy away from the amygdala and back to our prefrontal cortex, the assessment centre of the brain.)
As facilitators, it means we need to be the best prepared we can be so that when our students experience panic, we do not follow suit. We continue to provide the container within which they can explore their experience and perception, rather then diving into that experience with them.
This is simple to do and does not require seasons of teaching. It means being the best prepared for where you’re at, which includes preparation and ensuring YOU are well taken care of so that the situation is not triggering for you. You don’t need to have all the information, but you do need to be as grounded and self-aware as you can be. That means prioritizing practice, meditation, and self-study (svadhyaya).
What’s really cool is that this means you can be an amazing teacher without immense physical skillfulness. Big ups to my handstanders and bendy girls, but physical ability doesn’t mean much as a facilitator to those whose goals are less… bouncy. Precisely because I am a slower runner, I felt no desire to force Gypsy to keep up with a faster pace. She was led out of her comfort zone with the new experience, but not so far that she felt frustrated and I felt held back. A faster runner may have found Gypsy limiting, but I was able to find her motivating and charming. (The cows we jogged past looked up occasionally to see if the “good girl!” shouts were for them.)
Our skills as leaders are not in what we can do, but how we allow others to explore what they can do with curiosity and a sense of support. Get your own work done, so you can be in compassion and clarity as they do theirs.
See original post on Kathryn’s Intelligent Edge Yoga website.
5 Stunning Yoga and Wellness Retreats in North America by Carrie Pallardy
Date Added: July 16, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
Ditch the same old yoga studio and take your mat to the great outdoors. Step into downward dog against the backdrop of the ocean, desert or mountains at one these five gorgeous yoga and wellness retreats.
The bonus? They’re all in North America so are perfect for a luxurious long weekend away…
Prana Del Mar is cradled in the desert in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but remains just steps away from the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The palatial suites here come with ocean and garden scenery, custom teak furniture and private baths. Prana Del Mar’s menu is a dream come true for the health conscious foodie. Discover elegant dishes created from the retreat’s own organic garden and local produce. Fresh seafood also finds its way to the table. If you love what you taste, take a cooking class with the resort’s chefs. After you’ve eaten your fill, take your yoga practice to Prana Del Mar’s Sun or Moon studios. For those in search of peace and adventure off of the mat, snap some awe-inspiring Instagram shots while whale watching, hike the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains or take a snorkeling tour for a glimpse beneath the waves.
If you’re on the hunt for a spiritual trip, Cali is the perfect answer. The state’s Esalen Institute embraces the dramatic landscape of Big Sur with an ocean view, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs. Try out the shared housing for a group experience. If you’re looking to connect with just yourself, opt for a private suite overlooking the ocean. The private redwood deck is the perfect spot to catch up on all that reading you keep meaning to do or just listen to the sound of the waves. While you can take your yoga practice here, the Institute is about so much more. Grab your partner in crime for a couple’s workshop or come out solo for a creative class. Whatever calls you here, you can’t miss a soak in the cliffside hot spring baths.
Coastal retreats may be the go-to yoga and wellness destination, but the Shambhala Mountain Center proves inland havens can hold their own. Take your warrior pose to a whole new level with this 600-acre retreat in the Colorado Rockies. The crown jewel of this spot is the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, an intricate, graceful Buddhist structure built to honor the Center’s founder. The Center’s philosophy honors the simple things in life. Accommodations are humble, but the scenery is opulent and the experience transformational. Book a self-guided getaway to blaze your own path, or sign up for of the more than 100 different programs offered throughout the whole year.
For the vacationer and yoga hound who craves white sand beaches, Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreatis absolute bliss. This retreat sits on Paradise Island, only accessible by ferry ride from the Bahamas capital city of Nassau. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat takes the practice of yoga to heart with a schedule designed to invigorate and heal mind and body. Between getting your happy baby and cobra poses on by the beach, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, sit in on a spiritual talk, munch on snacks from the Health Hut or dance the night away during a concert.
Find your inner calm with this fortress of solitude ensconced on Wolfe Island in Ontario. Stay in waterside or garden view high-ceiling, warm wood cabins. The Shanti Yoga retreat goes beyond the studio to offer canoeing, kayaking, biking, hammocks and a water trampoline. Detoxify in the retreat’s infrared sauna, sip from a cup or two at the wellness tea bar or journey inwards for meditative walk through the locations very own labyrinth. Sneak a few days off of work for a mid-week getaway or take some more time for a full retreat.
Still on the wellness hype? Check out these stunning sanctuaries. Or browse these luxe tree house hotels for another vacay with a difference…
By Carrie Pallardy
Carrie is a writer with experience in healthcare, educational and lifestyle content. As an inveterate Chicagoan, she is constantly seeking new ways to enjoy and write about life in the Second City.
Calling All Chocolate Enthusiasts!
Date Added: July 1, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Whole Foods Living
Calling all chocolate lovers, consumers, enthusiasts and the like!
Is that you?
I sense yes?
Recently I had the privilege of cooking up a storm for our June Mid-Week Getaway guests – brunches and dinners and, oh yes, desserts as well. If you’ve visited Shanti, you probably look forward to our delicious vegetarian meals more than the yoga, am I right? Just teasing. But maybe not. In the kitchen one afternoon, I got my hands muddy with chocolatey goodness and whipped up a batch of these beautiful (and gluten free!) chocolate cherry brownies. The recipe called for raspberry, but we had some charming cherries on hand, so I got spontaneous and luxurious.
Double Chocolate Brownies
2 1/2 cup of ground almond
1/2 cup of brown rice flour (I used quinoa flour)
2 tablespoon of melted coconut oil
3 tablespoon of coconut sugar
2 heaped tablespoon of raw cacao powder
3 tablespoon of date syrup (I used maple syrup)
1 cup of almond milk
75 gr of dark chocolate (I used vegan chocolate chips)
400 gr of fresh raspberries (I used frozen cherries)
Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
Click here for instructions on how to put these beauties together. Pure decadence. Pure vegan and gluten free gorgeousness. Namaste.
At the end of our Mid-Week Getaway, I also had the privilege of hosting an event in the yurt on our grounds on the evening of June 23rd: Earth Medicine: Chocolate Movement Meditation. Incoming sacred Guatemalan cacao…
Let me paint you a picture…
We chopped up this 1 pound brick of pure, rich, organic and ceremonial cacao all the way from South America, dissolved it in a big pot of boiling water, flavoured with sea salt and maple syrup, and head straight to the yurt…
We begun in seated meditation with Monsoon Point playing in the background, and were guided gently into a receptive state to allow the sacred cacao medicine to work through us, encouraging her to work with us. We allowed the sweet vibrations of our Tibetan singing bowls to permeate our spirits and slowly, as we transitioned into a very earthy, tribal set of music, we opened up and let it all go…
Thirty or so of us got the chance to experience the magic of cacao in sacred and safe space, together in community, alongside some of the beautiful musical findings of DJ Liz Diaz of Conscious Dance Parties Toronto. People came from Kingston, from the Island, from Toronto, and as far as Ottawa for this ecstatic gathering, coming together to celebrate the summer solstice in the best ways possible – with dance, and with chocolate! Ah, the pleasures of Life… So sweet.
It was such incredible energy here at Shanti. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be here offering these gifts, these opportunities, for movement and for connection. Quickly after settling back after final relaxation, everyone began to inquire about the next gathering. Stay tuned for more information on this one, and check in with my website at http://subtlesubstance.tumblr.com/
Namaste, blessed ones, and hey, happy Canada Day to you! What are you grateful for?
The gifts of this country.
It’s June! (It’s Now!)
Date Added: June 5, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
June, hello, you’re here! You’re here early, no? Same time last year?
You must be right.
Well, you look great. Truly.
Did you change something about yourself?
You are so warm and so bright and so promising.
Thank you for coming.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been home from our Southern winter travels for two months now, almost to the day. I am finding the importance of finding the time each and every day to just be. No, not to just be. To be. To really be. To connect. To breathe, consciously. To exist, mindfully and completely. Unconditionally. Whole heartedly. And it’s not that this time has to be found, or dug for, or uncovered. Time is always here. We always have it. It’s here. We forget that sometimes. We forget that, in a breath, during an energizing inhalation, or a restful exhalation, or any kind of breath in between, mindfulness is accessible. The moment is here. Let’s tap in together, at the end of this sentence. Take a breath with me? …
Take another? …
You have time for one more, don’t you? Let’s…
How did it feel? Were you anticipating the next moment, the next breath, the next unfolding, or doing, or event? The end? The next thing? We are here. June is here. Spring has arrived. We are all complete, exactly how and where and as who we are. Let’s rejoice in this truth. How about now?
With the shifts and the changes and the movement occurring all around us as we move from the winter’s womb to the sensations and the zest and the robustness of the spring and summer, I feel it is important to anchor into the present as you feel necessary. Make it a daily practice. And consciously. With deliberation, pause and allow in the beauty of the season; of this present second, rising and falling before us; of the blades of grass along the lawn, individually and as a team reaching up at the sun and stretching and soaking it in, just because it feels so good. Allow your time, your life, to feel so good.
Last weekend we at Shanti welcomed, for his first retreat offering here, Nigel Walker of Ottawa, for a nourishing and summery retreat. He shared with us the gift of yoga. If you’re in the Ottawa area, definitely see if you can squeeze in a class with him. The way he describes and outlines and phrases things is so immaculately crystal clear. From instructing a yoga-model to demo wheel pose, to guiding us through a sweet savasana (with live music), his offerings landed really well in my body, and seemingly the bodies of those around me in the yurt. Happy inhales; delicious exhales. And, incredible weather, all weekend long. The sun was our good friend, consistently and profoundly. I think I spotted tan lines. On Saturday night we had a bonfire (and s’mores for hours) accompanied by the talented and magical Lucila Al Mar, also of Ottawa, who will be releasing her first album this October. Nigel and Lucila brought with them their crew of blessed yogis and yoginis from Ottawa – a powerful and beautiful yoga family. Their spirit showered Shanti’s grounds and they left on Sunny Sunday, leaving a trail of magic, a spiritually delicious after taste. Thank you Nigel, thank you Lucila. Until next time!
This past weekend, we had back Roxanne Joly alongside Dr. Kristy Lewis, also from Ottawa, for a completely nourishing and informative weekend. Their offerings included workshops on ayurveda and naturopathy, yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, meditation, acupuncture, and all of Shanti’s amenities to help promote total and complete wellness. Lucky ducks! An eclectic bunch of yoginis graced Shanti with their presence, including a lot of swimmers! It was so nice to see so many people out enjoying the water, insofar as it inspired me to take a Saturday evening dip right before dinner. “It’s as though all of your organs say HELLO!, all at once,” a guest described to me, after her afternoon swim. Refreshing. Ahhh…
Happy June’ing to all!
The Shanti Family
BHAKTI and the BHAV
Date Added: May 26, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
Ahhh… We are still riding the waves, still in the bhav from this past weekend’s bhakti celebration. Music, chanting, yoga, dancing, meditation, inspiring workshops, and delightful and vegetarian meals upon meals.
bhāv or bhāva – भाव
Spiritual feeling or attitude ; devotion ; the religious attitude of immersing oneself in the thought of God. According to Swami Kriyananda, the term “bhav” has multiple levels of meaning. It is the way one views God, and also the way one views oneself in relation to God. One can view God as wisdom, as love, or as a particular deity. Each of these is a type of bhav. For example:
“When [Paramhansa Yogananda] was in the bhav, or attitude, of wisdom, he was like a Himalayan yogi in a cave.”
—Swami Kriyananda, A Handbook on Discipleship
Every piece of this weekend was truly memorable and heartfelt. The morning meditations and hatha yoga practices, the scrumptious brunches, the movement meditation in the yurt, the afternoon free time to enjoy the property, the breeze, the sun, the water, the dinners from the heart, and the kirtan! Jai Ma, Jai Ma, Jai Ma… Out of the head and right into the Heart…
What is Kirtan, you ask?
Krishna Das writes… ”A practice like chanting [kirtan] gradually bestows on us the ability to let go of pain in our hearts.”
Jai Uttal writes… “Whether kirtan is sung, screamed, or cried, it’s all praise.”
Rumi writes… “With every breath, I plant the seeds of devotion. I am a farmer of the heart.”
and my new found favourite understanding of kirtan, Sean Johnson writes… ”Kirtan is a form of purification and liberation. The mantras sensitize us, polish away the clutter in our heads and melt the numbness in our hearts, so we feel clear, awake, and brilliantly alive.”
An afternoon celebration of kirtan in our Green Tara Room…
Lana Sugarman, Narada Wise, Chris Gartner…
Evening kirtan with Brenda McMorrow…
Love for All…
The altar, the devotion…
Mr. Gartner in the Light…
From left to right, Shanti’s Head Chef Landon Chatteron, co-creators Darin and Wendy Madore, and kirtan artists Brenda McMorrow, Adam Bauer, Chris Gartner, Lana Sugarman, and Narada Wise. Namaste.
Do you want in on next year’s Bhakti and Yoga Celebration? Stay tuned for our 2017 Retreat Lineup. Keep your August long weekend open and spacious for this offering in the making! To be continued…
Spiced Banana Bread (Gluten Free)
Date Added: May 18, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized,Whole Foods Living
This recipe is far too delicious & nutritious not to share with our readers… Shanti Sous Chef Mike recently whipped up four loaves of the best gluten free banana bread known to mankind for our guests (and staff!). This recipe was found in a new Shanti kitchen favourite by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre called The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: A Complete Nutritional and Cooking Guide for Healthy Living.
SPICED BANANA BREAD
Makes 1 loaf
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (we used tapioca flour)
1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
…and I would recommend pinches upon pinches of cinnamon, too!
5 large organic eggs (veganize it by substituting with 5 flax eggs: 5 tbsp flaxseed + 25 tbsp water)
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 medium bananas)
1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil (and more for greasing the pan)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE MAGIC…
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8.5 x 4.5-inch bread loaf pan with coconut oil.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In another mixing bowl, beat together the wet ingredients with an electric mixer. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat together.
3. Pour batter into prepared and greased pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, then loosen the sides with a knife, and turn over onto a wire rack, allowing to cool completely.
Divide up some healthy slices, share with friends over tea, and even double, or shall I say triple the recipe to enjoy all week? Freeze a batch for next week? Delicious served with nut butter and good conversation!
Snack well, be well,
The Shanti Family
How To Step Into Spring & Break The Stress Cycle by Francesca Durham
Date Added: | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living Seasonally & Locally,Living with Yoga,Shanti's Retreat Offerings,Uncategorized,Whole Foods Living
When your stress levels reach an all time high, listen to your body because it knows when to feed your soul. Quiet time to decompress, gain clarity and perspective is necessary for healthy conscious living.
Staying calm and peaceful for most people is not an issue. However, staying focused day after day, meetings, deadlines, multi tasking, flexing between projects, emails, relationships and constant technology interruptions will eventually take their toll. There comes a time when you need to disconnect from it all, break the stress cycle, and return to a place of inner peace.
When’s the last time you invested in yourself? Well, there’s no time like the present to do just that. My recent discovery of Shanti Retreat located on Wolfe Island, a Ferry’s ride across the water from Kingston, certainly left an impression. More important, it reminded me how necessary it is to take care of oneself. The best way to break the stress cycle so you really can step into Spring starts with listening to the call for R&R. Shanti retreat makes a perfect weekend or mid-week getaway.
Run by co-creators Wendy and Darin, Shanti is a hidden gem on the island. I learned this tranquil retreat is frequented by many clients who return year after year. And, the staff are some of the kindest most warm hearted people you’ll ever meet.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Just remember, it’s never to late to step into Spring. What matters most is believing wholeheartedly you’re worth it.
by Francesca Durham
Date Added: May 15, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Living with Yoga,Shanti's Retreat Offerings,Uncategorized
A very moving weekend was had by all this past weekend at Shanti. Angela Jervis-Read of Toronto joined us for her second season at Shanti and brought with her the beautiful offering and gift of yin yoga. Yin yoga is a slower paced style of yoga with asanas held for longer periods of time. Its teaching in the west was found by the martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink, who has definitely contributed to allowing for a more relaxed and nourished society through this practice. Yin poses apply only moderate stress to the body’s connective tissues, tendons, fascia and ligaments, with the intention of increasing the circulation of the joints and increasing flexibility.
Yin is described as “a more meditative approach to yoga. [Yin] aims at cultivating awareness of inner silence, and bringing to light a universal, interconnecting quality,” and is intended “not as a complete practice in itself, but rather as a complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise – yang.”
Appropriately, the weekend was rather rainy, a beautiful symbol of yin, allowing guests to surrender entirely into yin; the feminine, more passive, more curious side of Life, allowing emotions and feelings to arise up to the surface and to wash away with the rain’s river. Mother Nature always has a way with arranging herself, giving us all what best serves us, moment by moment. She knows.
In from the rain, guests helped us out with our labyrinth project by painting a rock to contribute. An inspired set of 11 or 12 yoginis from the group painted the afternoon away over good conversation, relaxation, tea, and a slice of the best gluten free banana bread that I think I’ve ever tasted. Stay tuned for this recipe…
A relaxing and rainy Sunday afternoon, here we are, another retreat has come and gone, flown in and flown out. Thank you to Angela and all of your guests for your receptivity through this weekend to the gift of yin. I am truly yin’spired.
Look for Angela back at Shanti the same weekend next year, and also for a mid-week retreat in the Autumn.
P.S. If you haven’t practiced yin yoga with Kim Eng’s DVD Presence Through Movement: Yin Yoga, I highly suggest you to allow her yin to inspire and change and mold your yin. We sell it here at the Shanti Boutique for $27.50+HST.
The Shanti Family
Manu, Mona, and May Mid-Week Getaway
Date Added: May 13, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
Last week we had back the wonderful and magical Manu Akshobhiai for a spontaneous and sweet three day spring retreat, Tuesday to Thursday. Manu has been hosting retreats here at Shanti for a number of seasons, and has lately been offering two weekend retreats with us each fall – one with focus on the practice of yoga nidra (“yogic sleep”), the other focused on truly going within with a 3 or 6 day retreat in complete silence. This week, Manu’s guests – an intimate group of six – got a real taste of the teachings and offerings that he shares, in the form of seated and walking meditations, energy based hatha yoga, and an incredibly powerful practice called tandava. Tandava is known as the dance of Shiva, described as a dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. We were guided by Manu throughout the session to soften our breaths, our tongues (to dissolve tension), and our bellies, or our hara (also known as the dantian, or our life force energy). Moving from this place of softness and curiosity without judgement really allowed us to connect to our intuition, our creative energies, allowing for a greater sense of connection to ourselves, to the Divine.
Last weekend, the magnificent Mona Warner graced us with her presence from Kingston for a women’s weekend of self-care over the mother’s day weekend. With her own mother by her side, Mona lead her guests through an inquisitive, gentle and compassionate weekend. Together, everyone had the chance to dive into learning more about themselves through an ayurvedic lens. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing modalities based on the notion that health depends on a balance between the mind, body and spirit. Mona helped her guests become more aware of their own unique elemental make-ups – air, earth, ether, water, and fire – so they could form their lives in a way best suited to their unique bodies, their minds, and their spirits!
This past week, Sunday to Thursday, we had our first Mid-Week Getaway offering of the 2016 season. A few guests joined us for 1, 2, 3 or 4 evenings here on the Island for a relaxing time away from their day-to-day and into down time. We began with a beautiful Italian Sunday evening dinner for all, and started the week off fresh Monday morning with a meditation in our yurt lead by Darin, followed by a hatha yoga practice lead by Wendy. It was a small group through the week, with six or seven or so guests at a time, which made for a bonding experience among all. This is such a beautiful part of the Mid-Week offering, I find, when guests have afternoons of free time between the morning brunch and the evening dinner to connect – with themselves, with nature, but also with one another. Advanced practitioners, and curious yogis who wish to start a practice, and all others in between, come together to rest, relax, nourish and nurture themselves. Friendships are formed so easily when you give yourself the time to slow down and really open up, go within, and reach out to a fellow yogi or yogini turned friend.
We look forward to welcoming you this season – one weekend, one week, or even one evening!
The Shanti Family
Happy Spring, Stay Sweet!
Date Added: May 1, 2016 | Comments (0) | Filed under: Uncategorized
This weekend, the beautiful and wholesome Maria Carr returned for another visit from Port Perry Flowyoga with a family of friends with beautiful offerings. Her long time friend Shirley came again alongside for her annual Saturday evening sage circle, and “Kala on Fire” came over again from Kingston to share the gift of movement meditation on Saturday afternoon in our yurt. This group, like last weekend’s, gave themselves the gift of taking in the documentary Awake: The Life of Yogananda on Friday evening after our delicious and infamous black bean and quinoa burgers, perfected over the seasons by Chef Landon, with so much guacamole – leftover guacamole?!? When does this ever happen!?!
We were blessed with beautiful weather, especially so on Saturday, and it was so nice to see everyone out using the chairs overlooking Brown’s Bay, reading and lounging and really taking in the energy of retreat. Many guests, I noticed, took time alone, even if they came with a friend or family member, to really connect – with themselves, with their book, with their practice, with nature. A beautiful reminder, this is, to carve out time for ourselves as the sweetness and softness of spring slowly turns into the sometimes business of the summer. It’s magical to see so many people come through Shanti who have this commitment to going deeper in their lives, to committing to wellness, to living a holistic life, to bringing in Spirit each day.
And, with Spring comes new installments at Shanti…
…a gorgeous new green house for the soon-to-be kale and cucumbers and tomatoes and sprouts and….
a new landscaping installation including several native tree species, blueberries, and high bush cranberries!
Spring is here! Stay sweet!
The Shanti Family