Friday, December 18, 2009

Man I LOVE the holidays! Especially when it involves time off work, snowed in days, warm fireplaces, holiday parties with friends, wrapping presents and baking cookies! The thing I remember most about the Christmas holiday when I was growing up was baking cookies...and LOTS of them. My grandmother used to make at least 20 different kinds of cookies and then give them all away to seriously, everyone in the neighborhood. Not only that, but all her Italian lady friends would do the same thing! Josephina and Lydia are the two I remember. And "L'il Francis", the lady who lived across the street from us, well she would do the same thing! Up until she died two years ago, she would send me the largest box of amazing, homemade Italian cookies for Christmas. I so cherished every last bite.

Times are different now. For some of us families are very spread out geographically. I know for me, coming from now divorced parents, my kids aren't offered the same amazing "tribal" upbringing as I was. With relatives around all the time, grandma babysitting and holiday cheer with tons of family members....It's not a bad thing, it's just different.

And what does this offer them and us as a family? An opportunity to make our own memories based on the lovely ones I had. So every year we break out the mini-lighted houses and adorn the fireplace with fake snow and a little city, we put lights up inside and outside the house and we bake cookies! Up until this year, I was basically doing the entire thing by myself. I would put the kids in their high chairs, or bouncy seats on the counter when they were really little and they would just watch me. Then recently they would "help" by tossing flour and sugar all over the place and eating the sprinkles for the sugar cookies. This year was different. We made 8 different kinds of cookies and the girls actually helped! We had so much fun!

It made me think of how quickly time flies. Don't wait to make memories. Think back to what was super fun for you at this time of the year and do it! Do it alone or with someone you love! But do it!

I would love to hear your story .... what did you love to do during the holidays? And how do you celebrate now?

Peace all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

100th Birthday Speech

On a recent yoga retreat, I assigned Omwork to the ladies and just this past weekend we got together and shared it with each other. The assignment was to write their 100th birthday speech. What would we say at our 100th birthday? Sounds like an easy enough question right? But the task was all about visualization; visualizing who you would be on your 100th birthday. I was very impressed with one of the participant's speech. She compared life to a swing. It was so incredible I thought I would share it with you - with her permission of course. Thank YOU Julie for being an inspiration to me.

As we arrive, we come into the world and the light shines, a blanket is wrapped around us and somehow we manage to begin our journey from our little world from where we started.
Think about this for a minute, and realize that it is a bit like being wrapped in the arms of a loved one who holds you fast, as they sit on a swing. The next swing you might know would be the kind that holds only you with some type of support around you that wraps around you and supports you.

For a time in the unfamiliar world – you are held, rocked, and cared for before you begin to stretch out on your own, and you are provided with experiences for your life and your time to explore begins.
When the chair swing supports you and allows you to feel the air and one can begin to feel the wind on your face, smell the freshness, see the sky and you might wonder what else is there beyond the swing?

As we grow and stir allowing us the freedom to move about – support comes from your family and people you meet along your journey, as they nurture your growing needs. In time, this support brings each of us to a time when we can step forth on our own. We can meet people along the way who enter our world and some even become our friends.
We can now graduate to a flatter swing that can hold us, and we are moving into a space that does not surround us – we are allowed to move and yet hang on. By this time, we still have the gentle pushing of the people who love and care for us, but still allow us the freedoms we have to have in order to keep moving forward.

Our growth is happening – we are walking and running. We are growing and changing as our body and our minds develop and get stronger. We have been allowed to develop in our own way and to make choices about our own directions.
Are you still in your swing? Yes. I would imagine that you are trying different things in that swing and making choices about the things that you would like to do. How high to go, when to slow down, what to do if you stop – hanging on tightly, holding on with one hand, reaching for your friends who swing next to you, jumping out of the swing while it is moving – like decisions we make - all about life’s choices as we grow.

THEN finally - we are mostly on our own – looking forward to what might be ahead, searching for answers to our many questions - basically we are
Swinging free – feeling – looking out and beyond and sometimes when you pump while on the swing you may look behind…

During our development, each of us had many highs and lows but between those extremes of happiness and despair or heartbreaks, we have found that as we slow down, there is a life that does not need to be all or nothing and we continue to search for that balance between the swings.
That time, when you are slowing down, is when you can pay attention to the wind in your hair, the warmth of the sun on your face, enjoy the raindrops dropping from the sky – a moment in time, a balance to feel and to be suspended. A time to just be. The swing has allowed you motion, support, and given you the sense of freedom and suspension all at the same time. Your world is around you. You have grown and the peace and awareness is now your support as you begin to think about leaving the swing behind when we reach the point where there is no more movement.

We have searched and continued on our journey. Some of you have realized your goals – maybe looked for new ones and always continued to scan the horizon of opportunity. There is always movement.
As we grow older, we can still sit on the swing, but by now because of the passing of time, the movement is not so great – there might still be some highs and lows – always there is the continuing motion, constant change but it is so in life. Life continues in the time between the swings – always moving, searching, growing – constant change.

So, as I celebrate with family and friends and you have listened to my reflection about life and our individual swings, I hope to continue to sit in my swing or just be where ever I am and find the peace that I have found over the years during the time between the swings. At the same time, I hope to maintain the feeling of the support of the swing and of those around me who give me a gentle push to continue forward – and know that the time between the ups and downs is life and we are always where we are meant to be. Enjoy the ride. When the swing does slow down and that motion ceases I can let go and it will be OK.

And, when we are gone, someone else will know the feeling of being on a special swing and another journey will begin anew as each new life begins.

No truer words have been spoken Julie. To everyone ..... live life on a swing and let the wind blow in your hair!

Monday, November 23, 2009

It always humbles me when people in the community come together for a greater cause. This past Sunday we had our First Annual Yoga Day at the Vancouver Yoga Center. All proceeds went to Evergreen4kids and what a fabulous time we had.

I had a friend from Estacada, Oregon come out and teach a class. Another friend from Ridgefield teach another class. All for what - to remind ourselves that we are One. That when we work together we really can make change!

The best time, by far, was the kids yoga class. WOW - what a hoot kids are! They just move, breathe and roar like lions without inhibition! In fact, one little 3 year old decided she was hot and took her pants off during class and finished yoga in her undies! It was a crack up!

I want to thank all the staff from Dentus for coming out to support our cause. You ALL are such an amazing bunch. If I am ever looking for a job, I will come knocking on your door!

And to Melonie at the Vancouver Yoga Center. Thank you for your graciousness by allowing us to use your space. It was perfect and so incredibly delightful.

To Brenda - what an inspiration you are to me. You passion and love for those kids just inspires me to alwasy be my best. And your presence with everyone you meet is something to emulate. Thank you for allowing me into your world.

You can see all of our photos on Facebook - I had to take photos of those kids! They are just incredible, natural yogis!

If you didn't get a chance to attend and you want to help Brenda and I with her school and her "kids" in the Dominican you can choose from one of the following:
Bring items such as large, chubby crayons, construction paper, educational color books in Spanish and copy paper to the Vancouver Yoga Center. Dana will get it to Brenda immediately! Or you could send a check, made out to Evergreen4kids, to 7102 NE 157th Avenue, Vancouver, WA 98682.
Thanks everyon for all that you are and all that you are becoming. Thank you for being a part of my world.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Motherhood = Yoga

Motherhood certainly brings out the yogi in me! How conscious can one person be! I awoke this morning to two little angels sleeping in my bed. They must have fallen from the sky because I know I told my children that they were old enough to stay in their own bed.

Nevertheless I laid there for quite some time thinking, "They really should be in their own beds." And "I should get up and put them in their beds." And then wondering, why are they in here anyway? What's going on in their little minds and hearts that all of a sudden, they want to sleep with me. And I'm not talking about them laying in their own spots on my bed. No, they were both basically on top of me. And when I moved, even an inch, one of them would throw their arms around me and continue to snore; deep in sleep.

And then I realized that my only intention at that moment was to seize that moment. I heard the "shoulds" loud and clear and realized the only thing I was meant to do was love this moment. One day they won't come waddling in my room at 3:00am - instead they will be coming home at 3:00am. And they won't want to come and cuddle with me that's for sure.

The sound of their little "snoring" and methodical breath lulled me back to sleep.

I guess the point of the story is to again, and as always, be present. Notice when you hear the word should pop into your mind. That's not the voice of your heart - your heart never says should. It just says do.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Treats

I am so in love with my kids I swear! I would still be asleep in this crazy world if it wasn't for them! We went trick or treating this weekend like most parents did I would imagine. What a flash back for us all isn't it?

This Halloween offered me so many lessons....where to begin.....

It was so iupsetting for my little Ava (who has a nut allergy) to not get as much candy as all the other kids. It seemed like everyone was passing out candy with nuts this year! I was so sad for her I wanted to run out and buy her a bag of licorice! Knowing full well that I would have her give most of it away this week anyway. (We send our candy to with the help of

Anyway - after our evening of trick-or-treating - "no nuts please" - we woke up to seeing our lovely carved pumpkins smashed out in the street. I was devastated. My first instinct - to hurry and clean them up before the kids woke up. Why? To protect them of course. :)

And then this morning - getting ready for school. Trying to explain to them why they don't need 3 pieces of candy a day and how nice it would be to send some of their candy to our troops overseas. Not all of their candy - just some.

So I'm not sure if I am doing it right - I am just trying to go with the flow. But one lesson I have learned this week is that disappointment plays a huge part in our lives. More specifically, how we handle disappointment is really what matters most.

I have finally realized after being a mom for only 7 years, that I can't shield them from everything. Not a nut allergy, a pumpkin bandit or war. The only thing I can do is lead by example - showing love, gratitude and compassion for all lving beings on this planet.

Funny how the little things offer us such amazing lessons eh?

Have a stellar day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spiritual Warrior Retreat

There is power in numbers. Especially when you are talking about women who come together and collaborate on how to change the world. Our 1st Spiritual Warrior Retreat was an amazing success. It's really phenomenal what happens when we become still and are surrounded by amazing, courageous, connected women.

Starting off the weekend with stillness and silence was really a key factor in all of the amazing things that happened. Doing something simple like walking to the beach in silence changes the energy around you. Thoughts jump around your head - you notice them and notice yourself wanting to talk and then just sit with that thought. Doing that three or four times connects you to what is around you - for real. Not the illusion in your mind but the energy force that surrounds you without you having to do anything at all.

We discussed Ayurveda and how it plays such a huge role in our lifestyle and daily habits. We took the Passion Test (Fulfilling Your Souls Purpose) and had some incredible "aha" moments. We talked about the Chakras and how these systems in our body run programs for us every day that may or may not be working for us. All these things combined really changed perspectives for many of us.

I feel blessed to have been able to spend this kind of time with these women. Not only because each individual has such an apparent gift and I was able to share it with them. But also because each one of them coming together reminded me how fortunate we are right now to be alive. How truly powerful we are when we stop and breathe.

Most of these women didn't know anyone at the retreat but by the end, they were all planning a reunion. The force of our inner-connectedness can move mountains and I have no doubt that we will.

Thank you ladies for opening your life to all of us. I feel so very, very fortunate to know you, to be around you and to have been able to share such a magical weekend with each of you.

For those of you interested - there are photos posted on Facebook of our retreat. You can also get more information about upcoming retreat by signing up for our Weekly Om at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Worldwide Yoga

The response to this contest was interesting....I posted a request for photos of YOU doing yoga anywhere in the world and I have to say, I LOVE the one in Greece!

Thanks Sandra for taking your yoga off your mat! You are such a joy to have in class each week!

And thank you to everyone else who sent in photos! They were all awesome!

On to one of my new projects....I am putting together a book about how yoga changes lives. I need YOUR help! Please send me a story about how yoga specifically changed your life in 250 words or less.

Please send the story in Word format and include your name, address, telephone number, email and website if applicable.

You can also submit a story about someone you know. For example I heard a story about a 79 year old man in Los Angeles who had emphysema. The doctors told him he had a short time to live. He started yoga WHILE he was still smoking and 10 years later, he is still alive and doing Bikram Yoga every day.

This could be misconstrued as a sales pitch for Bikram Yoga - it's not. It's a testimony about the power of our mind and the strength of our bodies. When they work together, we can create miracles.

Deadline for submission is Friday, October 31, 2009. Please send the story in Word format and include your name, address, telephone number, email and website if applicable. Email your submission to The book will be completed before the holidays. Perfect gift for family and friends... share the gift of yoga with those you love....YOUR story!

Have an incredible day everyone! And pass this on to anyone you know would be interested!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Power of Love

I heard a great quote the other day in yoga class. "When the power of love becomes stronger than the love of power, our world will experience peace." You know who said that? Jimi Hendrix.

Isn't that profound? Really!

This weekend I attended an amazing workhop in Seattle that spotlighted Gregg Bradden, Bruce Lipton, Cheryl Richardson and Caroline Myss - all amazing, cutting edge authors. And collectively you know what their message was?

Love rules.

That's it! How simple is that?

Love is where it's at people. If we can give and receive love to EVERYONE - without exclusion, we are in harmony with the Universe.

Try it - see how it goes.

If we can think globally - what a difference love could make, we may just change this world.
Love blissfully, without boundaries, without conditions and without expections!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dropping the Mask

The Universe certainly has a way of reminding us to be grateful for what we have. Not only that but in times of near crises or turmoil, it has a way of stirring up hidden or buried emotions and fears. Feelings that usually remain dormant in our day-to-day routine.

Last week my husband took a hot yoga class with me. Let me preface this by saying that hot yoga is not something you jump into. It's like preparing for a marathon. You take it slow and do what your body can do at any given time. It's a practice that is a true test of being in the present moment without ego and judgment.

Regardless of my loving warnings, he went full out and did the entire class. At the end of class he asked if it was possible if you could "pull" a lung. No, but shortness of breath is common. After all, you just spent 90 minutes moving and breathing in a room that was 105 degrees.

So we dismissed his ailment as a side effect of the yoga class and figured it would go away. After 5 days however, I knew it wasn't normal and urged him to go and see a doctor. He instead wanted to "ride it out" and run and ride his bike hoping it would feel better.

After the weekend went by I demanded that he see a doctor. I was mad and felt like I was dealing with a 5 year old but I couldn't force him to go like I could my kids. But why was I mad? Mm hm. First flag of consciousness. That question .... why am I having this emotion? What is it really? Not anger.....

Nine days after the yoga class he went in and was told by the doctor that he had to immediately go the ER. His lung was collapsed completely. He had been walking around for 9 days with a collapsed lung. WHAT? But he didn't go straight to the ER. He came home first to see me and to research it on the Internet. WHAT?

So now I am angry! What is he thinking? But alas, those two gorgeous angels are there, staring at me, watching to see my reaction. Another flag of consciousness. Here we go - I'm about to imprint an event in their minds that will stay there forever. What do I want that memory to be? Not fear, not anger, not, fun, adventure! I ask the girls to go upstairs, put on warm clothes and grab their some toys they can fit in their purse. We are going on an adventure!

While the kids are upstairs I am telling him to get off the computer, off the phone and into the car. The whole while he argues with me! He wants to call the hospital and find out what they are going to do to him. Mm hm...third flag of consciousness. What is he thinking? He's fearful. And how does he deal with it .... not anger, denial....delay.

But the anger of my own fear can't relate to his delay and denial and I just get more frustrated. The girls come down and we immediately change the tone, get in the car and drive to the hospital.

I feel a weight lifted from me when we arrive because now I know he has to listen to someone else besides me. He is obviously not happy because he knows this too. Both of us are so scared. After 2 hours the doctor informs him that he indeed has a collapsed lung and he will have to wear a tube in his chest to re-inflate it. All will be well at some point.

This story brought me to so many conscious moments but I picked this one lesson to sum it all up.

Wouldn't it would be easier if we went directly to the root of our feelings instead of masking them with other emotions like anger, stubbornness or denial? Wouldn't it be great if we could just say, "I am really afraid that you may die or spend a extensive amount of time in the hospital. I don't know what I would do without you. Can we please go?" OR "I am really afraid of what they are going to do to me. I just want to provide for my family. I can't get sick like this. I'm super scared right now." That would mean we would be completely conscious in that moment! This one action would bring us directly to our conscious truth! How could that change things?

Why do I share this? So many reasons. One is for me - to get it out and off my chest. To make sure that the thoughts in my head aren't haunting me at night. And I know that I am not alone in these types of situations. By sharing we are able to open the curtains to others so they may "see the light" as well when something similar happens in their life.

Finding our truth affords us freedom from suffering. It opens us to a whole new world that is light and bright. Know that almost all feelings stem from fear or or the other. Take a look at your own reactions and emotions. See if they can be traced to fear or love. I bet they can.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conscious Consumer

I can't help but chuckle when I put those two words together. Conscious consumer....don't they sound funny together? I just picture this mad dash of people heading to the store for silly things or eating without thinking about what they are doing.

And I chuckle because although I know I am more conscious now in my thoughts, words and deeds, I still have those moments of unconscious conformity. We all do - big deal!

But what does it mean to be a conscious consumer?

This is what I interpret it to mean...we are aware of the mortality of all things. We are aware of the many choices we have and we choose what is best for us in that particular moment. We make decisions based on the overall good for as many people as possible.

These two little words - conscious consumer - encompass so many things. Take shopping for example. How many times do we breeze through our list - purchasing the same things week after week? How often do we walk down the grocery store aisles without thinking? Just grabbing what we always get - never entertaining the idea that there may be something better out there for us.

And how many times do we choose something that we know is not healthy for us (or for our kids) but we get it anyway? Or worse, we take the kids shopping with us once again and impulse buy just to get them to be quiet while we finish our shopping.

You wonder how I know these things? I do them too! Just a lot less often now!

What would happen if we actually considered where our food came from? Who packaged it? Was it done with love? What type of energy went into the processing? Why did it have to be processed at all? Is there a better choice we could be making?

How is it packaged? Is there a "greener" choice we could be making? Maybe a more Earth friendly company has the same item but it's packaged in recycled material that can be recycled again. That choice may be more expensive right now but if we looked at the bigger picture, it's much more cost effective.

What's in that food? Can't read more than one word? See high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list? Put it back - choose something else! Why? Because it's synthetic! Our bodies crave natural foods - it helps us to be less dense and become more conscious!

What about how we shop? Why do we have to "go" to the store at all? I mean really. Why aren't we shopping more online from the comfort of our own home? I have been shopping online lately and let me tell you - my spending has decreased by about 20% just from impulse buying alone! Now I sit comfortably on the couch sipping a glass of wine after the kids go to bed. That's what I'm talking about!

What do you think shopping online does? Saves us time, saves labor costs, saves money in gasoline, allows the smaller companies to showcase their products without much overhead, and gives us the opportunity to think a little more.

Dare I say we become more globally aware?

Our family has been super focused on recycling lately. My daughter came home every day this week and reminded me not to toss out any of the garbage from her lunch. She wants to make something with it. I'm not sure what that will look like but man, if we can teach our kids to recycle, make sounder, healthier choices and think more on a global scale - by golly this world may just change!
See how you can help. Educate yourself, educate your kids, educate your kids' schools! A simple search on the Internet for "conscious consumer" brings up many websites about fair trade and how to become more globally aware!

Start a program in your child's classroom! Teach them about recycling, composting, packing a healthy lunch and making better choices.

Remember, the Earth isn't ours, we are just borrowing it from our children.

You can also check out my Facebook page about ShoptoEarth (look at the badge to the right) - this company has got it goin' on. Cutting edge of the economy and the environment. Or go to and see how every little bit helps.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yoga means Union...right?

Ok - I know that yoga means union; Om is the sound of Oneness; when we practice we release judgment and expectation; and all yoga styles are born on the same principle of uniting with the Divinity within. Am I missing anything?

Why then am I seeing so much division between styles and lineages? What do I mean you ask? Why can't Bikram Yoga and Anusara Yoga be housed under the same roof? And why can't we do Vinyasa and Iyengar in the same facility? I would LOVE to do Bikram two days, Vinyasa two days, Iyengar one day, Kundalini another and Anusara another. WOW what a dynamic week that would be!

Am I missing something? Am I crossing an imaginary line that makes even the most heart-opened yogi cringe? Are there places in the United States that DO this? Offer various styles under one roof? PLEASE tell me where they are! Those individuals are on it!

I understand that some teachers are adamant that their style is the BEST style but why? Doesn't that go against the creed of yoga? That we are all One? How can we, as yogis say, "Oh you have been doing that style - forget it. This is the only style you will ever need."

I started with Iyengar; teach Vinyasa and have been practicing Anusara. I tried - what an amazing class that was!

As some of you know, I recently began taking Bikram Yoga classes, aka Hot Yoga. I love it! I love what it does for my mind, my body and my spirit. I have never felt such dedication and committment to any practice or fitness regime in my life! But I LOVE and miss the creativity that Vinyasa brings me. Can't I do both?

I did some research about Bikram: read one of his books and Googled him on the Internet. Interesting guy. I agree with alot of what he says but there is also alot I don't agree with. Does that mean I can't do his practice? No. Does that mean that I have to stop teaching Vinyasa or practicing Anusara with Melonie? No.

It means I have now walked the talk of yogis all across the nation. We are One.

It's disenheartening to witness some yoga practitioners "defending" their yoga practices as if it were a religion. No wonder some people won't try yoga, they think it goes against their religion! Yoga is NOT a religion...remember?

Religious disagreements sure create a bit of global havoic, don't you agree? Do we really want to separate yoga styles too? I thought yoga was about peace and harmony and unity? Why should we have to pick one over the other?

From what I am learning, all yoga styles have the same underlying create Oneness with the Divinity within - they each just have various ways of getting there. What is wrong with that?

So for you yogis out there, please enlighten me on this subject. I truly would like to know if I am the only one out there missing some important message in the art and science of yoga.

And for all you people out there who have not practiced yoga yet.....

It's NOT a religion! If you have tried it and didn't like the style you tried, try a different one! You will LOVE yoga... It is seriously the BEST thing for the body, mind and spirit!

Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not taking no for an answer...

OK - this is a big one for me. I could use some feedback on this. And you don't need to be a parent to comment either!

This blog is about surrendering to the disappointment of a "no" answer or following through until you get a "yes" or at the very least, get a "no" from the top dog.

As a mother, I want what's best for my kids. Who doesn't right? I want them to go after what they want; fearless of rejection or judgement. Let me give you a specific example of something that happened today - bear with me here while I explain the scenario.

I start teaching yoga classes today at my daughters' school which is very exciting...for my older daughter. I teach to the elementary kids - not the preschoolers. My little one is a preschooler. So of course, my little one is very disappointed, very angry and very upset. She is crying and pouting, has her arms crossed across her chest and her eyes are all red - I am even sad for her.

On one hand, I could say, "Hey kid, this is the way that it is. There's nothing I can do" and on the other hand, I could try and figure out how to "beat the system." Then a thought comes to me. Why can't she help me in one of the classrooms? It would be just for today and maybe next week. Not a huge deal, at least not to me.

So I ask her teacher, the teacher in the other classroom, and the principal of the school, who obviously has the last word. She adamantly says no.

At this point, I don't question. I am sure she has reasons that I don't understand right now. So I tell Ava, "That's it babe. We went to the one in charge and she said no. That is the final decision - let's respect the rules."

Of course now she is really, really upset. Crying hard and loud as I leave her off. I can hear her as I leave and my heart seriously breaks.

So my question is this....did I go too far? Should I have just not even asked? Should I have just said, "That's the rule kid, tough break?" She was crying either way. Or can I teach my kids to ask for what they want and don't take no for an answer unless you went to the one in charge? How far do you go, even if you think it's above and beyond what other people want or expect? Is it ok to act "special" in order to get what you want in life?

I think so but maybe I'm arrogant. Or maybe I just think I'm special. But why don't we ask for what we want? Why do we take that first "no" as an answer? Michael Beckwith says that when you hear that first "no" you should start singing...."La la la la....." over the voices and continue on your merry way.

Hmmmm.... as I write this, I now know I found the answer for me. However, I would LOVE to hear what you have to say about this. As a parent or not! How do YOU handle the "nos" in life? Who do you allow to make or break what you want?

Great question for Monday morning eh?

Dana Layon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Close To Home

So many times we look outside for our lessons in life. We turn to TV, media, mentors and workshops. Really, the learning and beauty is so much closer to home.

Learning is always within we know that right? But sometimes we miss our own beauty so we look to the next best person: our partner or spouse. In this case, I look to my husband.

For so many reason I am choosing to write this blog. One is there is so much to say! Two is because he is a valuable team player that often gets ignored. Three is because I am not sure we are stroking our spouses enough. This is the person we chose to spend our life with! (Maybe I'm the only one who takes her husband for granted but I would guess I'm not.) And finally, they say not to wait for someone to be gone before you tell them how special they are, so here goes.

In April we went from a two car family to a one car family. As most of you know, this could be difficult and upsetting, especially if you are a busy family who likes to participate in life! Instead of letting this get anyone down, my husband went out, bought a mountain bike and declared that he would ride his bike to work everyday during the summer.

Very optimistic idea for such a realist.
So all summer he's riding his bike - never once complaining. Then one day he decides to enter into a triathlon at the end of the summer. I mean, why not? He's trained all summer long right?

This weekend we head to Lincoln City for their annual Sprint Triathlon at Devil's Lake. It was incredible. He did so well! In fact, he came in third place in his age group and 20th overall (176 participants in all). I was stunned... but not really.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I think it's fun to share. I forgot what it was like when it was just me and him. And I was there for him this weekend - no one else. What a rush!

Because we can find such grandure in our own homes. We lose sight of that sometimes when we are busy or focused on something else. We take those closest to us for granted. We don't mean to but we do. And when we do, we miss out on such lovely lessons, such beauty and such love. When we become parents, our focus shifts to those little ones. And how lovely they are .... but this relationship comes first; no exceptions.

So what did I learn - what did my husband teach me?

Look on the bright side...all the time! If we were attached to material items, losing our car could have caused a lot of problems. He turned it around and made such a positive experience out it for us all.

Competition is good - it has it's place. How could our kids ever learn about being non-competitive unless they understood how to compete!

Humility. He rode his bike every day ... including today, the day after the triathlon!
Perseverance. He did it completely even when he didn't feel like it.
Commitment. He enrolled in the triathlon, completed it and performed well!
Courage. He never did this before! No idea what to expect...just jumped right in!

I feel so proud and lucky to have such an incredible role model for my girls! Just a lovely reminder to notice those who are close to you. They are close to you so they can teach you lessons about yourself. Every day, allow yourself to be reminded about why you chose this person to be your spouse or partner. All those qualities are there...sometimes we just don't notice them.

Start today - find the beauty - reignite the fire - put them first again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Living Your Yoga

In my Zen Flow Yoga Teacher Training/Life Transforming program, we talk about the 8 Fundamentals of teaching or practicing yoga. Now, I make it very clear that these 8 Fundamentals are not the end of the line as far as learning. I also make it very clear that yoga has been around for thousands of years so nothing I am teaching is new information; it's only my interpretation.

One of the 8 Fundamentals is to try new yoga styles and new instructors. Especially if you are new to yoga. This is so important! We talk about releasing judgment in yoga so if your first yoga class is a bust and you really hate it, try it again! Try someone new, try a new facility...just don't give up! And if you have been practicing a certain style for your entire life, it's time....try something new...just once!

Yoga is a science and various practices work differently for each individual. Not only that but if you reasearch and study yoga, every single style talks about stillness and finding our Self in our pratice. Yoga is not a religion but sometimes it is treated that way. People cling to their practice and/or their instructors like it was the ONLY thing out there.

I have actually witnessed students leaving a class when there was a substitute teacher. I'm not kidding! That is so sad! Not only for the substitue but also for the student - they may be missing some new life lesson. Consider for a moment the absent instructor. Wow, the responsibility they carry if they are the only one who can bring that student to a state of "enlightenment".

Personally I have been practicing Vinyasa Yoga for years. This has been "it" for me. While running my business, I really didn't make time for my own personal practice. But now, ah now I have time! No more excuses - I decided to heed my own advice and try new styles.

I started by taking Anusara from an amazing lady here in Vancouver. I love Anusara - opening our heart in every pose. It helps that she is such a gracious and loving person herself.

More recently I started taking Bikram Yoga from yet another amazing lady here in Vancouver. I really thought I would die the first class - truly. My heart never beat so fast. But, as in all styles of yoga, we talk about listening to your body. So we stop when we have to. We breathe when we have to. We sit down when we need to. Now, after only 4 classes, I am in LOVE with this practice. It's the first thing that has ever made me sweat so much!

My first love is Vinyasa; I love the creativity of the yoga-dance in my classes. The movement, the breath, the organic way each class flows. I will always practice this style because it speaks to my heart. But I have to say, from a yogic perspective, try it all and mix and mingle. It's the only way to really live life full out.

We yogis are a community of individuals - deep down, wanting to change the world and raise the consciousness of its inhabitants. Why hold ourselves to one teacher and one style? Don't you think we could make more change with more of us in one corner!?

And what about a hot that's what I'm talking about!!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Off to School!

Wow - where did the summer go? I mean, yesterday I was making a list of all the fun things we wanted to do this summer and today I'm getting the kids uniforms ready for the morning! For those of you who know me, you know we did everything on our list....berry picking, beach combing, library tours, mall shopping, camping - you name it, we did it!
However, the end of the summer seemed to hit us all like a slow rumbling earthquake. It was fabulous and then the rumbling from beneath the surface began. I can't help but wonder what I could have done differently.
It seemed like the last two weeks were crazy - like the stars were completely out of alignment. No one wanted to share, take turns or be patient with each other. Kids were whining every second of every day, or so it seemed, and I simply thanked God I didn't decide to home-school my kids this September!

We had such a blast this summer but I have to say ... I am ready for those little love bugs to go back to school from 9:00am-3:00pm. If it will buy me 2 hours of not having to answer a question, figure out who started it, clean up from a meal or buckle a seat belt, other than my own, I'll take it! Now keep in mind I don't watch TV, eat bon bons or work out like a fiend. No, just some silence during my day would be nice.

How many moms out there have answered over 50 questions in one minute? I have! How many have spent their camping trips in the bathroom with one child at a time because no one ever has to go potty at the same time! And how many have threatened to give away all the toys unless they learned to get along? Anyone besides me actually toss toys out the car window?

Before you gasp and say, "Wow, I thought she was a yogi", realize I am a yogi but I am also a mom. The only difference may be is that I am totally aware of what I am doing. I am actually conscious when I tell my girls that my head is going to pop off and spin around in circles if they fight over Barbies one more time! This gets a laugh every time.

I love my girls. And I am so grateful that I was able to hang out with them all day, every day this summer. We all learned so much about ourselves, each other, how we relate and how we are all so alike but yet, so different. Mostly, I think we all appreciate the time we have away from each other so we can come back and share what we have learned on our own.

Thanks to my lovely girls for an amazing summer! I adore you with all my heart! Thank you for offering me so many opportunities to grow and change this summer. And thanks for all the times I regressed ... those are opportunities too!

These are the days.....we will remember.....

I will remember every single one - with love.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


We went to Cannon Beach last weekend, just for the day - the girls, me and my husband. What a goregous place. Reminded me a lot of Del Mar, California where my husband and I met about 13 years ago.

On our way home, my husband and I were talking about how we would really like to move back to the beach someday. We were discussing how much we really miss that lifestyle. Isabella pipes up from the back seat, "So if you liked living at the beach so much, how come you moved?" Ouch...reality....right in the kisser.

Why did we move anyway? Let me be clear... we both know and understand that all choices made in our life leads us to the road we are meant to follow. Do we regret moving up here from sunny San Diego? Not even for a second. In the 6 years we have lived here we have made more friends, shared more stories and lived more than we could have ever imagined. But the question asked by this little angel deserved an answer. Honestly I didn't know what to say.

So I politely told her that we really wanted to see what it was like to live in the Pacific NW. We had lived at the beach for so long we wanted to see what it would be like to live where there were four seasons, a snowy Christmas and mountains visible from every window of our house. That seemed to appease her curiosity but the question still rang in my head. Why did we move up here? I LOVE San Diego!

My husband and I have always been ... non traditionalists. We were living the "life" back in San Diego. We had an 800 square foot apartment, garage sale furniture, 4 blocks from the beach, no debt and a lifestyle that allowed us to travel every year to exotic places. Then we had Isabella and it all changed for some odd reason.

We were under the impression that since we had a baby we had to act all grown up and be super responsible.... what does that mean anyway? To us, at the time it meant, buying a newer, more reliable car, buying a house, contributing to a retirement plan, getting a "real" job, moving near family, finding affordable housing. None of those things sounded like me but I went along for the ride.

So now, here we are, 6 years later, yearning for that simple life again. A life that allows us time and freedom and space to roam around without so much "grown up" responsibility to carry on our shoulders.

Am I saying that we should live a hippie lifestyle? No, not necessarily - although it does depend on how you define "hippie". I am suggesting however, that we can reevaluate what's important and make decisions from there. When you get close to losing every material possession you "own" you realize you really don't "own" anything and nothing is important but the time you spend with each other. Nothing ever matters but the quality of life you are living.

It doesn't matter if you rent or own. In the end, nothing belongs to you anyway. What matters is if you are happy where you are. Can you make it through with joy and gratitude even if you aren't in the "perfect" environment? Do you see the beauty in each day as it is presented and ask for more? That's what matters.

So we spend a glorious day at the beach. Racing down hill, swimming in the ocean, making sand castles, eating ice cream really fast and digging for China at the beach. In the past I may have said, "Oh man, I wish we could live here". Now I say, "How much fun is this?"

I admit I conformed to what I thought I "should" be doing when we moved up here. I know that one day we will once again live at the beach. I realize, most importantly that each decision I have made brought me here. That even though I conformed to what society would define as "best for me" - I now know that I have the gifts within me to make the choices that work for me - regardless of what society says. But I would have never known it had I not gone down this road.

Following your heart may not always mean that people will understand you, let alone follow you. But in the end, whatever decision you make, make it from your heart. Let it speak the loudest. And know that whatever decision you do make, leads you to a road that opens you up to being who your were born to be.

The Little Things in Life

I have to say that I have always thought that I had this higher purpose. That being a stay at home mom was just not enough for me. I have always needed more for some odd reason. Now, before you go gasping and getting all huffy let me explain.

Since I have been home this summer I have realized that I am no where near ready to stay home all day with these little people. I LOVE THEM WITH ALL MY HEART but I do believe they need more than me in their face all day.

But I have to say that nothing in all my years of corporate executive positions, traveling the globe, entrepreneurship and teaching yoga...nothing made me feel more like I was part of a Higher Purpose than this experience we had the other day.

My girls and I are sitting in the family room hanging out. I hear this huge rustling in the trees in our backyard. I look outside and see the branches from our tree just falling onto the lawn. I have no idea what is happening but I hear chirping so I head outside, mini-Me's following me in awe of course.

I get about a foot away from the fallen branches and see a mother squirrel grabbing it's fallen baby by the back and then watch her scurry behind the tree to a secret location of safety. I can't believe it! A baby squirrel has fallen from our tree! Then I notice the second baby, not so lucky, still under some branches, pulling itself out so it can be seen by someone who will hopefully save it. Now these baby's eyes aren't even open yet. I am in tears, immediately identifying with this mother squirrel. Oh my how sad she must be that her babies have fallen out of their nest. My girls are watching me intently and I am seriously overwhelmed with the feeling of true Oneness.

So I first grab one of our cats and tell my oldest daughter to put her in the garage. I then go into the house and call the vet. They tell me to nail a box to the tree, pick up the baby squirrel and put it in the box so the mother can come and get it. And I am thinking, really? I'm supposed to pick up this baby squirrel? Won't the mother eat it if is smells my scent on the baby?

Meanwhile, I notice my other cat running after the mother who has come for the other baby. I am yelling at my cat (yes yelling) to stop .... poor kitty. It's her natural instinct after all. So we get the other cat in the house and I find a box. My girls are awesome. They are chanting, "Go mommy. " And "Hip Hip Hooray for Mommy!" from the upstairs bedroom. They want to get that aerial view.

So I nail a box to the tree and I look down at this baby squirrel. Time seriously stops. We are One in that moment. I comfort the baby and pick it up. It's no bigger than my cell phone (NOT an iPhone, an old fashioned cell phone) and I can't believe how gorgeous it is. It is chirping as I pick it up - scared and hungry. I gently place it in the box and put a few branches in it. I can't believe this.

Within an hour the mother comes to rescue her baby and the girls and I have a Popsicle, celebrating the fact that we made a huge difference today in our own little backyard.

Nothing in corporate America can touch that. Not one thing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Facing Our Fears

Is anyone else completely terrified of Ferris Wheels?

This past weekend we went to the Clark County Fair. Honestly, the fair really isn't my favorite place to be but I always have fun watching the girls in amazement.

Ava - my little daredevil - really wanted me to go on the Ferris Wheel with her. I didn't want to tell her I was afraid....I couldn't do that. So I agreed. OMG! I was terrified to get on that thing with her. Where that fear came from I am not quite sure but I was seriously afraid.

So we get on and she is totally excited! I can't get her to stop leaning forward - she was making the seat we were in rock and it was freaking me out! The wheel was moving because other people were getting on and I seriously wanted to get out.

She kept laughing and looking down and then looking at me. I was so happy to have my sunglasses on so she couldn't see my face. She is so intuitive; she would have seen right through me. So we are going around and around and I am wondering when this thing is going to stop!

I was trying to enjoy it and experience it through her eyes, really I was, but it was difficult! I didn't realize I had my arm around her so tight until she said, "Mommy, please! Get your arm off me!" Poor girl!

And of course, you know, at the end of our ride, we were stuck at the very top while everyone else was offered the opporutnity to get off. How does that happen? So we wait and all I can hear myself saying is, "Lean back Ava." I didn't look down once.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, we get our chance to exit the ride. My husband is like, "Great job you guys! How awesome was that!?" I feel like I am going to throw up but everyone else is so happy and excited.

I enjoy their excitment and realize that once again, one of my little angels helped me to grow and face a fear.

Thanks Ava!

Face Time

When I first closed the studio and was offered the opportunity to spend every day at home with my girls, I was so thrilled! So thrilled in fact that I actually entertained the idea of home-schooling them. For those of you who know me, you know this could have turned into quite a challenge for me but you also know, I am always up for a challenge!

Now 8 weeks into summer vacation I know, at this point in my life, I am not ready to home-school. Not even close. But I have learned many, many valuable lessons while being at home and I am grateful beyond words that I was given this opportunity.

I always go back to the reality that my daughters were born to teach me something. I am only here as their guide - they are my lesson and as soon as I accepted that, it made life very easy. In fact, my new mantra is "What quality can I birth during this challening situation?" Every single day I am offered the opportunity to birth more and more qualities that move me more toward the mom I really want to be. Too many times to count actually.

Patience has been a big one that keeps carrying over week after week after week....
Anyway, sometimes I get it and sometimes I fall right back into my old patterns and behaviors. But the Universe is there reminding me .... next time you'll get it... not to worry. I will keep giving you chances to get it right!

A valuable lesson I have learned is how taking the time each day really helps. I was talking to a friend of mine and she mentioned that she read that the "appropriate time" we should be spending with our kids each day is something like 15 minutes, twice a day. Both of us laughed and agreed that was crazy. That was nothing!

So I decided to really look at what I was doing to spend quality time with the girls. Not just letting them play on their own, or going to the park and watching them run around or even watching movies together. I'm talking real, quality, face-to-face time.

It's amazing what a shift it makes in our day.

That's all they want. Our face - listening to them intently without distraction. But isn't that what we all want? To be heard?

So we swim and have dive races. We paint, we take turns reading, we play tic-tac-toe and hangman. And I am doing these things before I sit and do my writing or my reading or my phone calls. I sit and spend 15-30 minutes doing something with them several times a day and it works!

Maybe I'm the only mom out there that didn't get this. Maybe I'm the only one who was trying to get some "alone time" before I gave them "face time". But for those of you who are in the same boat as me, wanting some alone time .... give them face time first. It works every time and the love, respect and admiration that is created for everyone in this situation really is incredible.

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New to Blogging!

Welcome to Zen Yoga Off the Mat Blog!!

Thanks to my husband for creating this forum for me. I kept bugging him about it and then when he created it, I didn't know exactly what to do with it. Story of our life sometimes right? You get what you want and then think, now what do I do.

So I have been thinking about this space and contemplating on the mission of this blogspot. To relate every day experiences with our yoga practice. To find "enlightenment" through every day circumstances. That really opens it up!

My ideas are endless as most of you know who know me! But we are leaning toward book reviews, monthly poses, interviews with some really awesome authors I know and pictures of YOU, my yoga dudes and divas! In your most amazing pose! Fun stuff...where can YOU do Dancers Pose????

Tonight, I posted all of the articles I wrote for local magazines and publications. They are interesting and full of really cool information; especially if you are new to yoga or even thinking about trying it out. Read through them send them to people you know!

At this time, I am guessing that most of my blogs will be about something I learned being with my kids all day. That's where I'm at right now. After working 60 hours a week at the yoga studio and now thrust into part time yoga instructor, full time mom, believe me, my days are full of fabulous learning experiences.

They won't always be like that though so I invite you to read them even if you don't have kids. The lessons these little ones give us are amazing. Right back in your face is what I think all the time when I am with them. I teach them some lesson and within hours, they are recalling it - showing me how I disobeyed the lesson.

It's crazy! How do we do that as parents? We get on our soapbox of "all knowingness" and tell them how it IS and then we turn around and do exactly what we said not to do. No wonder our kids are confused. In fact, my older daughter told me that the other day she was confused because I told her how important it was to wear her glasses and she said, "I'm confused. You don't wear yours."


So - for this time around - let's just say welcome to my blogspot! Some days the writing will be deep and profound (you'll know I had time alone that day!) and other days it will be funny and lighthearted. Feel free to offer your thoughts and ideas too! I would be happy to post something you have on your mind too. My mind is nowhere near, all THAT! So write away! Just make sure it's moral, ethic and legal is all!

Have a peaceful day everyone! Check out our site at!

The Heart of Our Breath

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

It’s a staggering fact – heart disease is a killer. According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, causing about 1.5 million heart attacks each year. Additionally, more women than men die from heart disease in the U.S., and 1 in 3 women are living with it today.

Since we all know the statistics, instead of living in fear, let’s ask ourselves: What causes heart disease and how do we prevent it? There are risk factors that can’t be changed such as genetics and aging. Otherwise, the following risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled by incorporating yoga and meditation into our daily lifestyle:

Physical activity
High blood pressure
Smoking cigarettes
Drinking too much alcohol

First and foremost, yoga influences the hypothalamus gland directly, the area of the brain that controls endocrine activity, and helps prevent heart attacks. A complete yoga program consists of breath control (pranayama), physical postures (asanas), sleep control (yoga nidra) and mind control (meditation). Our yoga practice can look different every day – practicing physically to tone, strengthen and stretch the body one day, meditating, breathing or reading a book in silence the next. Yoga is dynamic and can change our life, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically.

Let’s start with the simple act of breathing. Normally we use only 1/3 of our lung capacity when we breathe, if we are breathing at all. When we slow, rhythmic breathe we allow the body’s systems to function properly. Breathing slowly and rhythmically increases circulation, lowers blood pressure, lowers the heart rate and tells the brain that everything is working perfectly in the body. Conscious breathing takes us away from “flight or flight” mode and brings us to a state of calm awareness.

Breath control not only improves circulatory and respiratory function but is also a key component in mind control. We all experience stress regardless of gender, age and socioeconomic status. It’s how we perceive or respond to that stress that is important. If we can breathe when we are uncomfortable, anxious or stressed, we reduce stress and make decisions on how to react or not react with much more clarity and less emotion. Controlling our emotions with our breath can lower our blood pressure immensely.

When we control our breath consciously and are aware of our emotions, we make conscious decisions with regard to our physical body. We realize we are in control of our own health – we decide to exercise, eat right, and smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. It’s all our choice that can be made with clarity once we slow down long enough to know what’s right for us.

Because of their effects on both the physical and energetic bodies, specific types of yoga postures can be used to control and even prevent heart disease.

Upper back bending poses that open the chest, improve heart function and respiration: Matsyasana (Fish), Kapotasana (Swan), Bhujangasana (Cobra), Ustrasana (Camel)

Side Bending poses open the energy channels of the liver, gallbladder and heart to help remove physical and energetic blockages in the heart and the chest: Parighasana (Gate), Maricyasana (Twists), Virabhadrasana (Warriors), Trikonasana (Triangle), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)

Spine lengthening poses promote proper postural alignment, reducing compression of the heart and the lungs facilitating proper functioning of the heart. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge), Dandasana (Staff), Marjaryasana (Cat), Adho Mukha Savanasana (Downward Dog)

Relaxing poses such as Savasana produce a deeply calming effect on the body and has been proven to reduce stress and lower blood pressure in just a few weeks.

The physical practice of yoga is all encompassing because it combines physical activity, breath control and mind control. Classes can be as short as one hour or up to 2 hours. It is advisable for beginners to seek the yoga class that is right for them.

The value of guided instruction is priceless. Be sure to seek a certified yoga instructor prior to beginning yoga on your own. Many injuries related to yoga are caused by lack of instruction, attending a class beyond your level of fitness and performing the poses incorrectly for your body. Be sure to find the right yoga style and instructor for your body.

Go to for more information.

Yoga and Spirituality

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

Spirituality can be defined as a sense of connection to something greater than oneself, which includes an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence. Equally important, spirituality influences physical and psychological health.

Cultural historian and yogi, William Irwin Thompson once said, “Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization”.

Yoga is not a religion but it can be the most powerful spiritual journey you may ever take in your life. It is a personal practice which brings us closer to our spirit, our inner guide, our intuition, our emotional and spiritual self. By quieting the mind, we hear the most.

In its simplest form yoga means union: to unite – bringing mind, body and spirit together. To be present in every moment – whatever it is we are doing: walking our dog, or playing with our kids. Each of us arrives with different intentions: peace, empowerment, strength, guidance or just a great stretch. We come to class, free of distraction and honor our personal intentions for one hour, ultimately connecting with our spirit.

Most often, we are too busy to unlock the potential of our mind and spirit. How do we feel? What are we thinking? What is important to us? These thoughts can become overwhelming without deeper examination. We come to yoga to slow down – to breathe deep and focus inward to evaluate.

Yoga can bring us closer to our religion through spiritual contemplation if that is our intention. However, yoga can also create openness in our hamstrings that we have never felt before. Yoga can introduce us to the people in our community – creating new relationships. It can make us physically stronger through sun salutations, warrior poses, plank and downward facing dog. Yoga can help reduce our stress and increase our immunity. Yoga can help relieve all over body pain resulting from chronic illness such as arthritis, insomnia and fibormyalgia. It can also help people going through cancer treatments, recovering from a stroke or dealing with cardio vascular issues.

In our Western World, we tend to dismiss these healing modalities that have been around for thousands of years. Yoga, massage, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, meditation: they all have merit in healing. They have helped to heal the sick and comfort those with terminal illness. They have helped people become stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Come to yoga with your own personal intention. Erase the misconception that is a religion. Accept that it can elevate your sense self through spiritual meditation. For those of you who already do this – hoorah for you! You have found a key to spiritual and emotional health. For those of you who are not quite there yet, give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Love Your Body

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

Too many times we look in the mirror and are discouraged by what we see. Our hair should be longer, our teeth whiter, our legs smaller our breasts bigger. And that’s just what I see when I look in the mirror! The point is: we all do it, even yoga instructors.

In our society, the media drives what we are supposed to look like. Thin bodies, flawless skin, shiny hair but they don’t ask us how we feel on the inside. Do any of us know? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and looked past your face – inside your eyes?

The majority of people who come to my yoga classes don’t have perfect bodies – there is a whole range of people – big and small, young and old, fit and not so fit. They come to class with different body types and different intentions.

When I started yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes, I couldn’t find my breath, and I definitely couldn’t do any of the poses I do now. From all the cardio and weight training I had done over the years, my muscles were strong but tight and it was difficult to take long, deep breaths. Savasana (Final Relaxation) was the most difficult pose – five minutes seemed to go on forever!

After I had my babies, I found myself starting from the beginning. My center was hard to find, my physical body had completely changed and my personal hurdle in each class was self-acceptance. I had to accept that my body wasn’t as thin or as strong as it was before. My yoga class took work – it didn’t come easily. This time, Savasana was my favorite pose because I could sit in complete silence – treasuring each last minute.

We grow into our yoga practice. Coming to class each time can bring us something different – we name our intention at the beginning of class and honor that intention throughout our practice. We eliminate judging ourselves as each day is different. We release any thought of competition or expectation of the class so we can be fully present and accepting of where we are in each pose.

When we quiet or mind during our deep breaths, we allow ourselves to look inside. Yoga teaches us to look at ourselves from the inside out. What inspires us; what makes us happy; what humbles us. It also teaches us self-acceptance.

Yoga is not a destination to the perfect body it’s a journey of self-awareness and acceptance – being content with where we are right now in our bodies and in our life.

Check out the class the works for you at

Basic Benefits of Yoga

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

What is Yoga?
Yoga can be many things. It is first, an ancient philosophy originating 5,000 years ago in India. The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “union”.
Hatha Yoga means “yoga for health”, and is the physical aspect of the practice. It renews, invigorates and heals the body. Simply, yoga is a physical and psychological discipline seeking balance. In yoga we seek to balance the mind, body and spirit.

Is yoga a religion?
Yoga is in no way connected to religion. However, those who practice yoga have said to have found a stronger connection with their personal religion through their practice.


Reduces Stress
Through slow, rhythmic breathing we can lower our heart rate and blood pressure; thereby reducing stress.

Increased Immunity
Through deep breathing and conscious movement, the amount of oxygen in our blood increases, the amount of carbon dioxide decreases, assisting the blood to flow more efficiently. This in turn increases our immunity functions

Improves Flexibility, Strength, Balance and Posture
Although yoga does improve flexibility, postures are also great for strength, balance, mental focus, awareness and concentration.

Pain, Anger and Depressions Decreases
Yoga can help to minimize chronic pain through specialized yoga postures. After continual practice, we notice an increase in vitality and an overall sense of well-being.

Weight Normalizes
Yoga is a wonderful complement to any other exercise regime. It can help keep weight off and balance your workout routine.

Do I need to be a pretzel to practice?
Absolutely not! Anyone who commits to a yoga practice can experience the health benefits. Classes can be modified to fit individual needs.

Supportive guidance from a certified yoga instructor can help anyone follow the path to a more well-balanced life. It is important to remember that yoga does not always mean movement. It may be quiet and focused thought, slow and methodical breath, awareness and focus. When we quiet the mind, we hear the most.

If you are interested in a yoga class that fits your level of ability and interest, check out for information and get started today!

Yoga for Athletes

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

Everyone is doing it – this thing called yoga. Doctors are prescribing it as an alternative therapy to reduce stress; physical therapists are recommending it to help patients rehabilitate; personal trainers are suggesting it as a complementary activity to cardio and weight training and schools are offering it as an elective in physical education courses – learning to balance the mind, body and spirit.

Simply put, yoga means “union” – uniting breath and movement, uniting mind and body – being present in every moment – not thinking about the next.

Some of the most prominent women in sports practice yoga.

Tennis pros Venus & Serena Williams and Martina Hingis swear by their regular yoga practice. Golf pros Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods, basketball stars Lisa Leslie and Michael Jordan and the entire US Women’s Soccer team have admittedly improved their athletic performance through a regular yoga practice.

Benefits for Athletes
All athletes can benefit from a regular yoga practice – football players, swimmers, tri-athletes, cyclists and gymnasts to name a few.

Increased Awareness
It all starts with the breath. Through slow, rhythmic breathing we become more aware of our surroundings and what is happening within our body. The breath is the foundation of reducing performance anxiety and improving concentration.

Increased Muscle Flexibility, Range of Motion, Core Strength, and Balance
All of these things benefit athletes no matter what the sport. All yoga poses require core strength and stability; routines are comprised of dynamic flowing poses lengthening and strengthening the muscles. By relieving tension from the muscles we can increase our range of motion in our hips, shoulders and spine.

Injury Prevention
Probably the most important benefit of a regular yoga practice is injury prevention. When we are more aware, more focused and strong through our core – we are less likely to get hurt.

Check out our website for class times and get yourself hooked on yoga today! Truly, the cornerstone off all athletic programs!

Yoga and Pregnancy

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

Times have changed when it comes to exercise guidelines during pregnancy. In the past, moms-to-be were told to rest up for the nine (ten) months of pregnancy. Thankfully, those days are over and today’s modern mom-to-be can look forward to less weight gain, less stress and more energy as a result of exercise.

Yoga Benefits
For pregnant women, the benefits of practicing yoga are endless. Yoga increases strength and flexibility; promotes balance and coordination and develops deep breathing patterns which helps in relaxation. The breathing technique -- known as ujayi -- requires you to take in air slowly through your nose, filling your lungs entirely, and exhaling completely until your stomach compresses.

Learning how to do ujayi breathing primes you for labor and childbirth by training you to stay calm when you need it most. When you're afraid -- during labor, for example -- the body produces adrenalin and shuts down the production of oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. Yoga training will help you fight the urge to tense up when you feel the pain, and show you how to breathe instead.

Yoga Precautions During Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy is highly encouraged, but it's important to use caution and common sense when doing so. It is advisable to obtain physician consent prior to beginning any yoga class. Additionally, it is imperative to inform the instructor about any complications such as high blood pressure, a breech baby, chest pain, leg cramps or continual fatigue.

If you've never done an inversion, (ie, an upside down pose such as a head stand, shoulder stand or down dog), this is not the time to attempt one. Ask yourself, I know I can do this but should I? Although many women who are used to these poses can continue to do them well into their second trimesters, it’s not always safe.

Avoid positions that stretch the abdominal muscles too much, such as deep forward or back bending and deep twists. You're more apt to tear and strain muscles now because pregnancy hormones, which allow the uterus to expand, also act on all connective tissue.

First Trimester
There aren’t many restrictions this early in pregnancy. Just remember to follow general safety guidelines such as drinking lots of water, breathing deeply and regularly and accepting that your regular routine will require modifications as time goes on. Listen to your body and trust what it tells you.

Second Trimester
By now, morning sickness may have subsided. Hopefully you feel more energetic. Take advantage but be mindful to not overdue it. Listen to your body at all times. Make sure you are working with a yoga instructor, specially trained in prenatal yoga. Your balance and coordination may be off a bit so be aware of that. Also, as the ligaments and joints begin to loosen up, hold poses for strength and release when it’s too much. Some women may start to feel uncomfortable on their backs now; some may not. Notice how you’re feeling and if it feels okay to lie on your back, do it and elevate your feet while you’re at it.

Third Trimester
You're probably feeling less graceful now that your belly is bigger. Perform standing poses close to a chair for support to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to you or your baby. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through different poses with greater stability.

Best Poses For Pregnancy
More important than just poses, I recommend attending a specialized yoga class for prenatal women. After continued attendance, it may be alright to do most poses during a home practice. Remember though that attending a regular prenatal class creates bonds and friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime.

Cat/Cow: This position helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy. Get down on your hands and knees, arms shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart. Inhale and lift your heart, stretch back through your tail and concave your spine. Exhale and roll your spine, lowering the head, pressing through the hands. Repeat following your breath.
Childs Pose: From any kneeling position, sit your tail back toward your heels. Sit back as far as is comfortable and rest your head toward the mat. You can stack your fists and rest your forehead there or use a block. Otherwise, stretch your arms out long in front of you and lower your forehead all the way to the mat.
Modified Down Dog: Anchor a chair onto your mat or against the wall. Lean over and press your palms into the seat of the chair. Walk the feet back away from the chair, the belly will be parallel to the floor, as if the baby was lying in a hammock. Feel the stretch from your heels up your calves, through the hamstrings and then all along the spine. Your head should only be low enough that when you shake your head “no”, you should be able to feel your ears near your biceps.
Squats: You should squat every day to relax and open the pelvis and strengthen the quadriceps. As you start to feel heavier in pregnancy, use props such as blocks or a pile of books to rest your bottom on. Focus on relaxing and letting your breath drop deeply into your belly. Stand facing the back of a chair with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Squat toward the floor as though you were going to sit down in a chair. Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Most of your weight should be toward your heels. You can also do this against the wall for support.

Other good poses during pregnancy are the standing postures Warrior II, Side Angle Bend, Triangle Pose, Reverse Warrior, Tree pose and Modified Dancers Pose. These poses help strengthen your joints and improve your balance. Warrior poses can also ease backache and sciatica.

Prenatal Yoga Classes are held every Wednesday at the Vancouver Yoga Center. Contact us at to register prior to attending class.

Embracing Menopause Through Yoga

written by Dana Layon, ERYT

When you understand menopause and how yoga can help you can:

Make nutritional choices that will be in alignment with your personal needs
Find relief from symptoms of peri-menopause through yoga postures and breathing techniques
Make lifestyle choices that better fit your needs as well as the environment
Redefine your outlook on menopause and what it truly means to us as women

What is Perimenopause?
During the perimenopausal transition you may experience a combination of PMS and menopausal symptoms or no symptoms at all. This process can begin anywhere from about 35 years old to 45 years old.

What is menopause?
The word comes from Greek roots: “Meno” meaning “Month and 'Pausis' meaning, “Pause”. Menopause in its true deep meaning is the end of a woman’s fertility.

Our Renewed Outlook
Our society tends to look at menopause with despair. While instead we should be embracing this time – looking at it as a time of wisdom of kundalini energy – inspiration and renewal.

Society has been slow to show the menopausal woman the same patience as we show to our teenagers going through puberty. Technically and clinically the same thing is going on. Hormonal imbalance – same thing, different time frame.

On the contrary – instead of celebrating a woman’s “coming of age” – our culture bombards her and the 50 million other women who will enter menopause within the next 15 years or so – with images of barrenness, of stooped women who are brittle of bone but could come alive and be young again with the help of pharmaceuticals and elective surgery.

The most important thing you can do for yourself prior to getting to menopause is to enter into those years as healthy as possible – body, mind and spirit. If your diet has included fast food, white sugar, non-organic choices – your body may rebel physically. If you live a high stress life, only exercised sporadically, laughed only randomly – you may enter into menopause feeling depleted, your adrenals will be physically depleted, your nervous system overloaded and your endocrine system will be imbalanced.

Find time for meditation and contemplation. Participating in activities that soothe our hearts so we are at peace with what is and see the joy we hold within ourselves.

We all know there are many symptoms related to menopause: Hot flashes, heavy or erratic periods, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, fuzzy thinking
Headaches, urinary incontinence and heart palpitations.

What we found – in relation to each of them – is they are all related to an estrogen/progesterone ration imbalance. Additionally, our symptoms usually are in direct proportion to the level of stress we are experiencing in our daily lives.

All of these symptoms can be pacified by practicing yoga and meditation on a regular basis. Coupled with a healthy balance of nutrition and supplements that fit your personal needs, menopause and perimenopause can come and go without such drama and anxiety.

Stop watching television programs and reading magazines that are telling you what you should be doing at this “stage” of your life. Instead, go inward and listen. Stop and breathe, deeply and intentionally create your reality of what menopause is.

Remember what some of these great doctors have said about menopause – “it’s a time in our lives when we can use our extra energy to bring about change in our community. We can surrender to what is and shine from the inside out. If we are ready to finally, after all these years, ready to go inward and examine the beauty that truly lies within us. Find that spiritual place of peace in the stillness of your own heart.

Hot Flashes
Fact – 80% get them
Estrogen/Progesterone ratio imbalance
Caused by stress – anything that affects your central nervous system

Why do we get them?
No one really knows. But, we do know it all starts with a gland located in the brain called the “hypothalamus”. This gland controls and regulates many functions in the body, including temperature. It also controls the pituitary gland and production of hormones that serves as a primary connection to the endocrine system. It is my belief a balanced endocrine system is the key to hormone regulation and in return can reduce or even eliminate hot flashes. Exercise and nutrition can be the vehicle in which to balance the endocrine system.

How can yoga help?
Awareness is the key Know what it is that causes them and then change your attitude when that situation happens again.

Breathe more

Inversions are simple poses that bring the pelvis higher than your chest will help tremendously.

Forward bends and supported backbends are cooling poses that can help pacify the nervous system, restoring a sense of calm, peace and connection with the earth

Suggestions to alleviate insomnia
As women we are always thinking – even when we are sleeping. Below are a few suggestions that use yoga and meditation to help relieve insomnia.

Go to be at the same time every night – allowing yourself at least 8 hours of rest.

Before your set bedtime – read a book that interests you or meditate. Listen to your breath and only your breath – letting go of the thoughts from your day.

Your evening ritual should begin with writing in a gratitude journal – recounting the circumstances during your day that you are thankful for.

Eat dinner at least 4 hours prior to your bedtime.

If frequent urination occurs, do not consume beverages at least 2 hours before bed and do not consume any stimulants or diuretics 5 hours before bed.

Upon waking each morning – spend at least 5 minutes slow, rhythmic breathing before starting your day. If time permits, write your intentions in your journal. Phrase them as…”My intention today is to…..” instead of “I want…” or “I need….”

Exercise early in the day – pranayama practice every day, alternating days with cardiovascular and strength training for heart health and bone health.

Practice yoga at least once daily – even if it’s only 15 minutes of stretching.

Find something beautiful each day to cherish.

Basically a daily practice of yoga and meditation can calm the nerves and bring about peace within the mind and heart.

For more information about our next Embracing Menopause Through Yoga workshop, go to