Confession Time

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I have a confession to make. I didn’t always love yoga; in fact, I didn’t really like it very much. The first time I did a yoga class was in university (where I was a dance major) back in the 90’s. I hated it. I didn’t understand all the inhales and exhales through my nose, and savasana? Don’t even get me started on my thoughts on “just” lying there at the end of class. Fast forward to sometime in the 2000’s, I was working as a dancer on cruise ships and I was living in LA for rehearsals. A group of dancers & singers would get together for a yoga class every now and then. This time I didn’t hate it, but I still didn’t get it.  It seemed like we always did our class right when I was starving and couldn’t concentrate on anything other than my stomach wanting all the food. Fast forward again to me back in Toronto and no longer dancing. I started taking a lunchtime Ashtanga class, the first class was tough, but I loved how athletic the class was and so I went back. It wasn’t long before I was practicing Ashtanga 3 times a week . I was still figuring out the breathing, but savasana became amazing.

I started to really love going to class and getting on my mat. I loved being able to leave class and feel like I was floating because when I practiced all my worries just went away. All that mattered was me and my mat. It made sense for me to get certified as a teacher. I went to Downward Dog since I loved Ashtanga and it was the perfect match for me. As a former dancer, I loved all the anatomy behind what we were learning. I found myself connecting more with that part of the practice and the more I was learning, the more excited I was about the idea of teaching.  As soon as I got my certificate I was hungry to get teaching.

For the two years or of teaching I always felt like I was playing the part of a yoga teacher. I didn’t feel authentic. So I started to pay attention to the classes that I found myself at again and again. As a result of that, I got certified as a Jock Yoga teacher. I loved classes where I was being really challenged athletically. So, my teaching started to reflect that…..but I realized something was still missing. I was a dancer for most of my life, starting when I was 3, until I stopped performing at 30. I loved moving my body and challenging how I moved my body, so why not bring that into my yoga teaching and sequencing? So I started.

When I put my classes together I think of it like I am choreographing a dance.  The music, the movements are a puzzle to be pieced together. I like to link poses together and move through pose after pose, with each side lasting about 10-20 minutes each (depending on the length of the class). Moments where I flow and moments where I like being still, moving deeper into each pose. The more honest I started to become in my approach to how I taught my classes, the more fun and  passionate I became about my teaching and I wanted to share my style with as many people as possible. I mean let’s be honest; there are a lot of us yoga teachers here in the city. We aren’t re inventing the wheel so we need to find our niche, what makes us…us! I like to take chances and push things a bit and, dare I say, rock the boat a little.

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You want to know some more truths about me? I am not just a yoga teacher. I am a wife, mother and a runner, who runs many races a year. 2015 I raced 9 races alone (5 of which were half marathons). Running is incredibly important to me, so in order to be at my best on race day, I have a run coach who has me hitting the gym along with training runs each week.

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What else? There are actually a lot of things in yoga that my body can’t physically do. Everyone is built differently; we all have bones and joints stacked in a different way. I used to get really down about what I couldn’t do, until I realized it really doesn’t matter. If I can’t do it, why do it? It doesn’t mean I will never be able to do certain things, it just means that I am good with where I am in my practice now, and isn’t that what it should be about? More truths? Are you ready? I am a yoga teacher and I like red wine, I like red meat, I love reality TV and will happily watch The Bachelor each season. There are some days where my practice is a few sun salutations because that is what my body needs. I like to play a variety of music and lately you may even hear some Drake in my classes, because why not? For me it is about moving your body, strengthening your body and your mind. It’s about how your body feels when you stretch and lengthen. It’s about not worrying about anything for however long you are on your mat and letting your breath guide you. It is about taking time for you. I love teaching athletically challenging classes that will have you working up a sweat, break some “yoga rules”, build your strength and have you leave with some serious yoga brain! Because come on, who doesn’t love some good yoga brain?

I hope to #seeyouonthemat soon 🙂

 

Find Your Zen

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As a yoga teacher/runner living and working in downtown Toronto, I am always excited to hear about cool events happening in my neighborhood and this event taking place at the end of the month at Leon’s Roundhouse is no exception.

I have been living in downtown Toronto for quite some time and I walk around a lot, but I have never been in the Leon’s Roundhouse store.  Whether it is a training run or on my way to/from a Jays game, I always think to myself that I want to check it out,  but it’s never the right time.  I am always on the lookout for home décor advice for my condo. Leon’s Roundhouse offers beautiful, affordable and contemporary home furnishing and décor options perfect for both condo and home owners. It seems silly to not go when it’s practically in my backyard.  Well Leon’s has finally given me the perfect reason to  get through the front door, by offering FREE YOGA!

On Saturday, June 27th, you can find your zen and liberate your mind and home from clutter.  There are three different yoga classes that are 60 min in length,  (9:00am, 10:15am and 11:30am with instructors Laurie Campbell, Sheldon Shannon and Naomi Zahler). Did I mention that it’s a FREE? I’ve signed up to attend the 11:30am class. The yoga will take care of your mind, BUT what about the home clutter? They are offering FREE one on one Feng Shui consultations, just bring your home décor photos and you will get advice to find your zen at home. You will also get free smoothies and fresh pressed juice. You will leave Leon’s with a new sense of calm and a free yoga mat. There is so much FREE going on here it is crazy!

What a neat idea for an event.  It’s no secret that your mental state is often a reflection of your surroundings; so having a messy, disorganized living environment can affect your mood and mental wellbeing. That’s why Leon’s is helping Torontonians free their mind, body and space.

It is super easy to sign up for, just click this LINK make sure you RSVP for the time you want to attend 🙂 I hope to see some of you  there!

P.S: While everything is free, a donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is encouraged and can be made on the Facebook registration page or at Leon’s Roundhouse.

 

 

Yoga Playlists

I have had quite a few requests lately to share my playlists with everyone, so I figured the best place to do this would be on my blog! I think it is great that my students are enjoying my playlists so much 🙂 I will continue to post them every few months.

Enjoy!

What I am playing for summer:

Power classes at YYoga & Yoga Be
Evelyn – Goldmund
The Wind – Ganga
In The Waiting Line – Zero 7
Stranger – Katie Costello
Take me to church – Sofia Karlberg
I’m not the only one – Sam Smith
Cry me a river – Michael Buble
Islands – The xx
Don’t wait – Mapei
Girls just wanna have fun – STRFKR
What I did for love (feat.Emeli Sande) – David Guetta
See you again (feat.Charlie Puth) – Whiz Khalifa
Sail – AWOLNATION
Bright – Echosmith
Can you hear them singing – Startle the Heavens

What I am playing in December:

Yoga Barre (at YYoga)
Closing – Wah!
Everybody’s free (to feel good) – Qindon Tarver (Romeo & Juliet soundtrack)
Light – Dr. Toast
Faded – ZHU
Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Do it again – Royksopp & Robyn
Girlfriend (The Neptunes remix) [ feat. Nelly] – *NSYNC
Sweet Dreams [Steve Angello Remix] – Eurythmics
Heaven in our Headlights – Hedley
Dangerous [feat Sam Martin] – David Guetta
Take U There [feat Kiesza] – Jack U
Five Hours – Deorro
Try a Little Tenderness – Ottis Redding
Ain’t no sunshine – Bill Withers
Woods – Bon Iver

Yoga Bootcamp (at YogaBe)
Evelyn – Goldmund
Everybody’s free (to feel good) – Qindon Tarver (Romeo & Juliet soundtrack)
Light – Dr. Toast
Faded – ZHU
Loneliness (chill house Mix) – Buddha Bar
Saltwater (Original Mix) – Nora En Pure
Pompeii (kat Krazy Remix) – Bastille
Do it again – Royksopp & Robyn
Sweet Dreams [Steve Angello Remix] – Eurythmics
This is what it feels like (feat Trevor Guthrie) – Armin Van Buuren
No Diggity – Chet Faker
By Your Side (Neptunes Remix) – Sade
Woods – Bon Iver

Power Vinyasa
Absence of Fear – Bliss
Rock on Hanuman (Omstrumental) – MA Yogi
The Leaving Song – Chris Garneau
I’m in Here (Acoustic) – Sia
How will I know (Whitney Houston cover) – Sam Smith
Jubel – Klingande
You Need – Bengsons
You & Me (feat Eliza Doolittle) [Flume Remix] – Disclosure
Moonsoon Malabar – Bombay Dub Orchestra
Indusufi – Buddha Bar
Waiting For – Kolombo
The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack – LIARS
Disappear (Demo Version) – Mikky Ekko
Doesn’t Mean Goodbye – Jon McLaughlin
Chandelier (Live at Howard Stern) – Sia
River Flows in You – Yiruma

Yoga Barre 
Rock on Hanuman (Omstrumental) – MC Yogi
Jubel – Klingande
All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
Jump – Flo – Rida (feat Nelly Furtado)
I’m a Freak (feat Pitbull) – Enrique
I am the Best – 2NE1
Break Free (feat Zedd) – Ariana Grande
Hot-n-Fun (feat Nelly Furtado) – N.E.R.D
Don’t – Ed Sheeran
Last Chance – Kaskade & Project 46
Hideaway – Kieza
Youth (Disco Fries Remix) – Foxes
Without You – Max Schneider
May Be – Yiruma

 

Yoga For Runners

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Yoga and running. These two forms of physical activity couldn’t be any further from one another on the exercise spectrum, but together they can help any runner reach new personal bests through breath and stretching that strengthen the whole body. By introducing yoga into your training, I can guarantee that you will offset the effects of running’s one- dimensional nature AND as an added bonus you and running will live happily ever after.

As a yoga instructor I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following excuse reason why one does not have a yoga practice “I’m not flexible enough”. To anyone who says this I say “Ah, heck to the no”. Yoga is not just for people who can wrap their leg around their head, it is about the journey towards touching your toes (or wrapping your leg around your head – if that’s what you’re in to) and allowing your breath to carry you from one position to the next.   As runners, we often forget about the breathing part, especially when faced with those pesky things called hills. Instead of focusing on our breathing, we often hold our breath till we reach the top. Let me ask you a question, when you do that, how do you feel once you reach the top? Tired, heart racing, and maybe like you can’t go on? Whatever you are feeling, I am sure that it falls into the negative category. With something as simple as proper breathing, you will find that you can calmly run one kilometre to the next – including hills, with ease.

As runners, we experience a ton of pounding, tightening and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating and loosening work.  The body starts to compensate to avoid injury by working around any instability, which means our body compensates by putting stress on muscles, joints and the entire skeletal system. If you’re off balance, every step you take forces the muscles to work harder. Tight muscles get tighter and weak muscles don’t have a chance to strengthen, and this is when you end up spending more time in recovery than in training.

Runners can use yoga to develop strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind.  You learn how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent yoga conditioning you can engage, strengthen and correct muscle imbalances which will improve posture and help with recovery. Mental focus is also extremely important for us distance runners and yoga has a meditative component that can help keep you calm and focused through any training run and/or race.

From personal experience, I can vouch that if you only run during training for a race, you are not giving yourself your best chance on race day. When I last ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon back in 2008, all I did was concentrate on adding miles and speed (putting my regular yoga practice on hold), and wouldn’t you know it, that failed me.  At the 24km mark, I developed tremendous IT band pain and spent the rest of the race in agonizing pain. Since adding regular yoga classes (in addition to teaching) into my training routine I have become a new runner. I am more in tune with my body; I spend more time training and less time resting/recovering. I am stronger, and on race day I am not only physically ready, I am mentally ready.

Still think that the benefits to yoga for runners are overstated? How does this grab you; with a straighter spine, a stronger core and better focus — you’ll find that you will become a more efficient runner.

Check out Get Fit in the City where I take you through a short yoga flow you can do at home. You can also join me on Sunday, July 7th  at Chopra Yoga Centre, for a special Yoga for Runners Workshop, click on events and then scroll to the bottom.

**until then you can look for my name on the schedule (Lisa Davidson) and drop in for one of my other classes**

See you on the mat/pavement.

Photo Credit: Eva Redpath BCBD Retreat, Cabo San Lucas 2013

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Transformation, Digital Champion and Chopra..oh my!

A week ago I returned from a transformation retreat with an incredible group of BCBD women. We spent a week in Cabo San Lucas, starting our days with meditation and yoga smack dab in between the ocean and pool. We followed that with a delicious breakfast, a breakfast so good that sadly I have not come close to making oatmeal that delish. We then got our butts handed to us by the lovely Eva Redpath in a BCBD bootcamp style class; I would run to lunch afterwards!

First day on the beach squatting…as you do.

beach squatA group shot of us girls after working hard!

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We would enjoy some down time by the pool or lounging in a hammock before getting together for some pretty emotional coaching sessions. I may or may not have cried multiple times. Last but not least a 4K run at sunset  (or sunrise one morning) on our very own private beach, and of course dinner.

This was my second year taking part in this incredible adventure, and my second year having the opportunity to share my passion of teaching yoga!

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It was my second year of setting and sharing goals. This year however I know that I am strong enough and in the right place to be held accountable for all the goals that I have set. Maybe it is the boost of confidence I have now after landing a teaching job at the gorgeous Chopra Yoga studio, and having an amazing opportunity to inspire people to run and join the Toronto Yonge Street 10K as a digital champion. Yoga and running are just two things that I am passionate about, and what I want to motivate and inspire people to do more of. Being where I am right now is simply amazing, and it just makes me realize how much more I want!

My days are now spent preparing classes to teach each week, and of course preparing playlists for those classes, planning my runs (both with and without my almost 2 year old son in a jogging stroller), being a mom, a wife and being honest about what I’m feeling and what I need. Life is too short to spend your days unhappy, angry and bitter. My vision board that I made on the retreat sits on my nightstand where I see it not just before I go to bed or wake up in the morning, but multiple times a day. It is a constant reminder that I am strong enough to go after what I want, need and deserve.

I have huge goals for running and yoga. I thank Chopra for bringing me on as a teacher and Canada Running Series for bringing me on as a Digital Champion for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K – anyone who follows me on twitter I’m sure has seen many tweets ending in #TYS10K….now you know why. Spread the love and join a great race, while you are at it, come on out to Chopra to stretch out 🙂 ! And of course thank you to the lovely ladies I went away with, and thank you to Eva our leader.

I know that big things are coming my way and I am 100% ready for it.

Get Fit in the City, Episode 5: Jock Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

In this week’s episode of Get Fit in the City, Eva (and myself) took a Jock Yoga class with Mr. Michael Decorte. If you haven’t had the pleasure to set foot in one of his classes, you truly are missing out.  Don’t let the name intimidate you at all, Jock Yoga is Michael’s take on power yoga where emphasis is on strength, endurance and toning. Jock yoga is designed for men and women, flexible or not. If you desire breaking a sweat in an intense class (like I do!), then you have to get yourself in one his classes as soon as you can.

In addition to making you hold Asanas (postures) for what seems like an illegal amount of time, Michael uses contemporary music throughout his class. Imagine if you will downward dogging to Madonna or Coldplay…. I love it! By the end of a class he will have you feeling strong enough to tackle an arm balance or two. Michael is also famous for the following quotes “one more”, “last one”…..between you and I, he is totally lying. That always means at least another 3-4.

If you like his regular classes and are really feeling up for a challenge, Michael does yoga bootcamps every few months. What exactly is a yoga bootcamp? Every Tuesday – Thursday from 6:45 – 7:45 am (yes am, not pm), he will put you through vigorous sequences that target different parts of the body on each day. Tuesday – legs, Wednesday – core (my fav!) Thursday – arms(which means so many chaturangas, you pretty much lose count.) Don’t you fret though! You work everything all the time no matter the day; you just have extra special things to do on certain days. I have been through three bootcamps and even though waking up at 5:15 is not my favourite thing to do, I look forward to doing it for his classes.

In addition to having super strong and amazing classes, Michael’s instructions are bang on. You honestly never have to take a peak around to see what other people are doing, he speaks super clearly to ensure that you understand and are not pulled out of your practice. Will you find traditional Ashtanga in his classes? Of course you will, but it is with a twist. You can attend a traditional Ashtanga class anywhere in the city. Where else will have you holding warrior 2 for the longest 10 second count ever (sometimes while holding yoga blocks in each hand!) Oh and you can rest assured that if anyone drops their arms, or comes out of a posture too soon, he will start counting from 1 again….My advice, don’t be that person!! And don’t be fooled thinking that when he turns his back you can rest….he knows all of our little tricks.

Want to try a class yet? You should, you will be hooked. I know I certainly am. Michael is definitely my favourite teacher. Check out his website to see where he is teaching and get yourself there: JOCK YOGA

Don’t be afraid of a little (or a lot) of sweat. It’s good for you 😉 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget to watch: Get Fit in the City

Get Fit in the City, Episode 3: Barreworks

 

 

 

 

 

In the latest episode of “Get Fit in the City”, viewers had the opportunity to watch Eva take on a Barreworks class. Barreworks – located  on Queen Street West, opened in Toronto back in June and it has been building steam ever since. Based on the fitness sensation that has hit New York and Los Angeles, the BarreworksTM system was created by a team of certified fitness, yoga and dance professionals, to achieve a long, lean and strong dancers physique.  If you have seen the video – and if you haven’t, then you have to watch it – you will see that Eva was led through the Mixed Level Barre class by Paulina. This class is a 1 hour muscle sculpting and cardio workout where they used fun props such as resistance bands, weighted balls and the barre itself to work their entire bodies.  I didn’t take part in this class, but as I watched it, I was envious.  Let me tell you, I will definitely be getting my butt into that class very soon! Paulina has an infectious energy that gets her class moving with great music pumping in the background.  I watched as Eva and the rest of the class broke a crazy sweat all while smiling and forgetting that they were working hard! Now that’s the way to work out.  They did stretches, lunges, jumping, planks, and bicep curls, and, of course, my favourite Ab work.  Are you new to fitness? No need to worry, this mixed level class is just that, you will find a mix of levels, and Paulina will talk you through modifications as needed.

Because it is relatively new to the Toronto fitness scene, I didn’t have any expectations from the class and the studio, but going there certainly surpassed anything I was thinking. Located above the famous Duke’s Cycle, Barreworks is a bright, big and clean space.  There are three studios, one of which is for spinning. Yes, there is actually a spin/barre hybrid for all of you who like dancing while riding a bike ;).

In addition to their signature Mixed level class, Barreworks offers: Barreworks express, which is basically a 40 min version of what you would find in the one hour mixed level class – perfect for all of you who work nearby and want to break a sweat at lunch ;), Spinbarre and Yogabarre. As a yogi myself, I have since gone back to the studio to check out the Yogabarre. Jaimee, who teaches it, is simply awesome. She teaches a Hatha vinyasa flow, but with her own flair added to it. In this class you will find unique stretches and flows and I loved that the class never stopped moving (unless of course you needed to). It was literally like performing a dance for an hour and fifteen minutes. It was the perfect combination of strength and stretch. So when you do get to the studio, I highly recommend this class as well!

So there you have it, my opinion on a great new studio that you have to check out! Why are you still sitting there reading? Get over to Queen West now!!