Find Your Zen in the Canadian Rockies this September

Back into the grind after a summer of road trips, cottage time and holiday-ing? Here’s my latest piece for Avenue Magazine about finding Zen in the mountains. (You’ll have to head to the Canadian Rockies to take advantage of these ideas!)

Excerpt:

Autumn brings with it a change of colours and, more often than not, a mountain of stress. As summer vacations give way to the familiar juggling act, consider leaving the busyness behind to tap into what matters most.

If Zen is what you’re after, look no further than the Canadian Rockies, where these six activities will let you reflect, refocus and recharge.

Continue reading → “Fall Into Focus: September’s Best Ways to Find Zen in the Mountains.” 

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

tuja wellness and Running with Bears

tuja wellness

Back in February 2011, a friend of mine gave me a shout to help write and edit a few pages for a website called Healthy Living Canada. It was a small, simple website listing a variety of wellness resources and vendors in Canada. To keep this story relatively short, I came out of my first meeting with them with questions about their vision for the site, where they wanted it to go, and how they would go about doing that. We all realized the site could be much more. HLC brought an amazing Project Leader, Kyla Gaertner, on board to revitalize the site and build the business into a full fledged, nationally-focused website that is now called tuja wellness. After a lot of blood, sweat and tears, the site finally launched this past week!

I have had the pleasure of writing all the vendor write-ups for the Banff/Canmore destination, writing articles for the site, providing some general consulting and kick-starting their social media platforms. It is so nice to start tapping into my own interest in health and wellness and have a place to share my research and thoughts. I look forward to seeing tuja wellness continue to evolve and grow. You can learn more about the amazing tuja wellness team here.

tujawellness.com, as of May 2012.

Running with Bears

OK, I’m not really running with bears, but I recently wrote a piece for IMPACT Magazine about how trail runners can avoid dangerous encounters with wildlife on the trails! The Wild Run appeared in the May/June 2012 issue (pgs. 82-83). You can read the article in IMPACT’s digital edition or pick up a copy of the magazine at locations throughout Alberta and B.C.

Thanks for reading this update, and have a great week!

30 Things I Learned About Yoga (Yoga Challenge: Day 30)

30 Days of Yoga = approximately 36 hours on the mat in 1 month and a whole lot of learning…

1. One of the best ways to awake from Savasana is in the same way you would wake a lover or a small child: with gentleness and tenderness.

2. When we humble ourselves, let ourselves rest and reach out to others for help, we are made stronger by the community and energy that surrounds us.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography: http://www.zizka.ca

3. Sometimes allowing ourselves to feel pain is the only way to get out of it.

4. Yoga is not about the how. If yoga is about anything at all, it’s about the who and why. It forces us to be aware of who we are being and why we have come to the mat.

5. If we really watch our breath – notice when it is smooth and when it is laboured – we’ll know when too much is too much or when it is time to try something new.

6. Yoga is a great chill pill if you’re ever feeling stressed at work, had an argument with your partner or feeling overwhelmed with life’s circumstances.

7. Remain present in the small things.

8. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you felt yesterday, how solid your practise was compared to today or what progress you’re making. Each day you come to the mat is a new day. Ask yourself, how am I feeling in this very moment? And that is where you are.

9. What teachers do you have in your life?  Who and what can help you heal whatever is a wound within your own personality?

10. It’s fine, and totally necessary, to have a good sense of humour about yoga.

11. Yoga is an incredible gift. It’s not something that we should be consuming like a chocolate bar. Receive it like a gift that you didn’t expect and didn’t deserve.

12. Take yourself – your thoughts and goals – out of the equation and no doubt more will become available to you in yoga than ever before. Goals have their place, but will only be effective if you allow the journey to mean more than the destination.

13. Instead of expecting the same thing for our practise day after day, we can go into each practise expressing a different quality depending on the day of the week.

14. Treat your body as a temple. Don’t feel you “can’t eat this” or “can’t do that,” but be prepared to take the necessary measures to flush it out eventually and bring your body back to all its shiny goodness. That stuff won’t come out on its own.

15. Have a ‘play date’ with yoga sometimes. Just go and have fun with it, try new things, explore and come into it like a kid again, full of excitement.

16. Yoga prepares us for challenges we face in life.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography: http://www.zizka.ca

17. Sometimes doors will only open up if we open them on our own.

18. Getting to yoga should be the least challenging part of your day.

19. Imagine how your practise will change if you consider that each breath in brings you expansive power.

20. Don’t waste your mind in yoga. Just keep it focused on your body and on being free from judgement.

21. Open yourself to the community that surrounds you. People are there to support you and encourage you if you let them. So many of us walk through life thinking we can do everything on our own. We simply cannot, nor are we meant to.

22. Each time, approach the mat like you never have before.

23. There is no suffering in yoga. When we come to our mats, we are there to heal, find peace and overcome fears.

24. The true yoga challenge really exists off the mat.

25. Keep changing. Keep things fresh. Life is boring if you’re reading the same page recurrently.

26. Lean on others and lean on your mat like it was a warm embrace. Let yourself open up just a little more each day and breathe through any pain that comes up. Work hard to avoid that knee-jerk reaction of getting out of postures that are uncomfortable.

27. In our quest for freedom from any shackles in our life, we need to push ourselves to new things while still erring on the side of reason and caution. Don’t lose sight of the end goal. There is no freedom in pushing too hard and hurting ourselves more.

28. If you ever feel panicked in your breathing in class, attend a Pranayama workshop or spend some time at home working on your breathing, even just for 10 minutes.

29. Yoga won’t be a healing force if your mind isn’t open to that possibility.

30. Yoga is 100% an individual and collective experience. How is that possible? Your individual practise has a ripple effect in your life and the people you interact with each day.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.


3 Intentions (Yoga Challenge: Day 29)

This is the first time in this challenge that I am writing a post in advance. While it would be great to have been able to write after each class, I want to make sure a post goes up each day of the challenge but I’m headed out ski touring until Sunday evening.

So, I won’t be practising yoga on Day 29, unless I can fit in a session high up on the Wapta Icefield at Bow Hut. I have been known to pull a Downward Dog or two in the most random places. It feels pretty nice to stretch out the kinks after a long, hard day out skiing with an overnight pack.

Lately, I’ve been really intentional about bringing particular lessons into my practise. So, because I can’t write about the class and lessons from Day 29, let me tell you what I’d be bringing into my practise on Day 29.

Lesson from Day 29

1. Not to stop in Upper Plank in my Sun Salutations. I learned this from an instructor about a week ago and it has changed my practise completely. Yoga is often taught with a pause in Upper Plank before lowering in Chataranga Dandasana. Ever since I started flowing directly into Chataranga, whether back from a forward fold or in a Vinyasa, I can’t really explain it, but everything in yoga seems stronger and more fluid.

2.  To really use my breath as an indication of how far I can push in each posture. If I find it difficult to maintain my breath, to lay off a little or change the posture slightly. If my body is feeling really open, I often have less challenging my breath.

3. Open my mind to the possibilities of yoga. I was reading yesterday in Meditations from the Mat (pg. 270) about how yoga is “a program of forced integration.” So often our minds are disconnected from our bodies and “souls are disconnected  from our hearts,” the book says. This is why some people have found dramatic healing in yoga. It forces those aspects of ourselves to come together as an “integrated whole.” This has been important to my practise. Whatever ailments or injuries are bothering me, yoga won’t be a healing force if my mind isn’t open to that possibility.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.