Archives for category: Yoga in May

The vegan diet is a more effective way of curbing climate change than driving a hybrid car (according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Chicago). This is worth repeating: eating less meat is a more effective way to help the environment than driving a hybrid car or reducing the amount you drive your vehicle.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that started in 2003.  The non-profit initiative encourages people to cut meat out of their diets once a week to promote environmental sustainability and preventative health.  This campaign has become an international movement, with cities in U.S.A., Belgium, France, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Holland, Canada, Finland, Taiwan and Australia promoting Meatless Mondays.  Ghent, Belgium was the first city to officially promote Meatless (Thursdays, or VeggieDag, in their case) with government-funded support.  In April of this year San Francisco council adopted a meat-free resolutionMeatless Mondays is now endorsed by celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Alec Baldwin, Chris Martin, Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Pollan and Mario Batali.

There are three main reasons outlined in the media to reduce meat consumption:

1. Reduce your carbon footprint and help fight global warming

Cutting meat out of our diets is by far the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions -more than those emitted by all forms of transportation combined (which account for 13 per cent) and is a leading cause of deforestation and water pollution.  In Canada, it takes seven times more land to feed a non-vegetarian than to feed a vegetarian. With one-third of the world’s cereal harvest and 90 per cent of the world’s soy harvest being raised for animal feed, the energy required to grow these crops is a major factor in toxic gas emissions.

2. Help your current and future personal health

Avoiding meat and high-fat animal products lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, decreases obesity and prevents heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.  Cutting out meat once a week will increase veggie and greens consumption and make you aware of alternatives to the standard North American diet.  It’s time we start taking responsibility for the impact the food we eat and the lifestyle we live has on our health and well being.  Read more about this.

3. Boycott animal cruelty

The factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to maximize output while minimizing costs.  From PETA: Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats: neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, and drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions.

For a clear portrayal of the brutality of standard factory farming, watch Meet Your Meat.

As outlined in the documentary Food Inc., increasingly strict laws are being passed in the States that make it illegal for consumers to view the conditions of factory farms owned by large corporations, like Monsanto.  The fact that government-backed laws can be implemented that block us from viewing the food we are putting into our bodies epitomizes the misconstrued realities of the modern food industry.

This movement is hot hot hot and we’re bring it to Victoria, baby!

For my PR and Marketing class my team is currently putting together a PR campaign to promote Meatless Mondays here in Victoria.  Although this started as a hypothetical campaign, we are now in touch with Trevor Murdock of Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association, who is planning to actually get the campaign going here in the city!  I had the opportunity to talk about Meatless Mondays on CFUV’s Break’in Ice: The Climate Change Reality Radio Show, with Richard Habgood and Brian Gordon.  There should be a podcast of the show out soon.  If any city in Canada is going to be a Meatless Monday city it should be Victoria.  We can be leaders in health promotion here on the West Coast and increase our notoriety as a forward-thinking and green city.

Cutting meat out of your diet one of the seven days a week isn’t the biggest deal

Check out for ways to get involved, meat-free recipes and other news about the international movement.  What it comes down to is that not eating pork, beef, or fish one out of seven days of the week is not the biggest deal in the world. If choosing a veggie burger instead of a beef burger once a week will have a significant impact on the health of your own body and everybody’s planet – can you really say no to that?

What’s important to know is that if you join in Meatless Mondays, you’re not saying that you’re going to become a vegetarian.  It’s not an all-or-nothing deal – the point of the campaign is to raise awareness around the global impacts of meat consumption and start a discussion and provide knowledge for people in their everyday lives.

Cut out meat once a week and help your planet, your body, and the animals.


Yesterday I went to a Moksha Yoga class.  The Moksha studio offers a Karma class a couple times a week, where a minimum $5.00 donation goes to a different charity each month.  Among all their studios they raise between $30,000 and $40,000 every year from Karma classes. This month’s donations are going to the Surfrider Foundation.

Moksha Yoga was founded in 2004 by two Canadians and is based on the philosophy of trying to attain moksha, or enlightenment.  Every studio owner must sign an agreement to operate under strict environmental and ethical standards, including using non-toxic supplies and offsetting their electricity consumption to achieve zero footprint.

Moksha is similar to Bikram in that it’s in a heated room, but the atmosphere is very different.  I feel more of a typical ‘yoga’ vibe in a Moksha class than I do in a Bikram class.

First of all, it’s not as hot.  Still a full-body sweat, but you can manage to change and put a hat on and still look decent to go run errands after a class, which I did yesterday and would be next to impossible to do after a sweaty Bikram class.  I’ve only attended Karma classes at Moksha, and these are an hour long (whereas Bikram classes are always 90 minutes).

Moksha is refreshing in that the postures vary and always happen in a different order.  Bikram classes follow the same 26 postures in the same order every class.  There are definite benefits to the consistency of Bikram’s, but it’s nice to not know what’s coming next in the series at Moksha – I find it easier to focus on the moment and not anticipate what I’m going to have to do soon.

Most importantly, the dialogue in Moksha is much softer and more peaceful than at Bikram’s.  In a Bikram class the philosophy is that if the teacher keeps chatting throughout the whole class, this will allow the student’s own mind to stay still and quiet while just listening to the words.  In Moksha there’s not as much talking, and the way they talk is different too.

Instead of saying “If you’re not locking your knee and giving it 100% then the posture hasn’t even started yet” (Bikram’s) a Moksha teacher might say “Listen to your body and do whatever works for you today – right this moment – and be happy about that.”  In other words, the atmosphere is much more ‘go at your own pace and listen to your body’ at Moksha, while at Bikram’s it’s more ‘you’re here for a reason, might as well push yourself to do the absolute best you possibly can.’

Both approaches work for what they are, but I find I can actually meditate and get outside my thoughts at Moksha, which is harder for me to do at Bikram’s.  I also find I don’t ever sit out of a posture at Moksha whereas if I’m not going 100% in a Bikram posture I might just give up and lie down.  It’s like with anything in life – if someone isn’t telling you that you have to do it you’re more likely to actually do it (we’re so rebellious like that).

In short, I can’t say which type of hot yoga I like better – I like them both for different reasons.  I think I like the way Moksha makes me feel during the class better, but I appreciate the fast results I get from enduring Bikram’s.  There’s a fantastic interview with Ted Grand, co-owner of Moksha, and he really outlines their philosophy as a community-driven yoga studio.  His approach to yoga and spirituality and a healthy diet is so good-hearted and real and it makes me want to support Moksha.

Here’s a little clip from the interview:

AINSLEY MAGNO: You’re not the end all or be all, and you’re not the set structure. Like you said in the workshop, you’re a playground, a breeding ground for people to get into it, to try it and go from there.

Read the rest of this entry »

1. It’s HOT. The room is 104 degrees (40 degrees Celcius) and can feel hotter depending on how many people are in the room and what time of day you go.  You’re going to sweat like you’ve never sweat before (and will learn to love this!)

2. Don’t be afraid to get naked.  Meaning, almost naked.  A sports bra and spandex shorts are ideal.  You might get up close and personal with your tummy rolls doing weird things – but it’s worth it – the less clothing the better (see # 1).

3. If you go regularly your skin will start to glow and feel as soft and smooth as the first time you shaved your legs (I pretty much assume only females read my blog) but really – hot yoga skin – incredible.

4. Don’t leave the room.  Just don’t risk it – some of the teachers get angry and you never know who you’re going to get.

5. Lie down whenever you want to (it’s better than leaving the room  -see # 4).  Sometimes I just lie there (I’ve even fallen asleep during class).  This isn’t the best, I know, but every once in awhile, if you’re just not feeling it then you’re not feeling it and that’s that, take a breather.

6. Whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it – i.e. the times I’ve fallen asleep my body probably didn’t receive as many benefits as when I’ve pushed myself and stretched more than I thought  could.

7. If you practice regularly (most say at least four times a week would be considered regular practice) your body will start to even itself out and settle at the ideal weight and shape it is supposed to be at.  This means you could gain weight or lose weight (of course this is coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle).

8. You need to drink a lot of water.  My teacher tonight was reminding us to drink even more water right now since spring is starting and it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated.  This depends on the individual, but 3-4 litres a day is recommended.

9. Try not to eat for at least two hours before the start of class.  You get into a lot of funky positions and if your body’s trying to digest something at the same time this can cause trouble.  I ate a cheeseburger right before my very first class when I was seventeen.  I will never do this again.  I had to sit in my car for about 40 minutes feeling nauseous before being able to drive home after that class.

10. You will get something from trying hot yoga.  Whether it’s peace of mind; heightened awareness and focus; toned body; clear skin; flexibility; decreased back pain; happiness; breathing technique; cool yoga outfits; or anything else.  For me, I know that the more I practice yoga, the better the rest of my life is, and if I can encourage others to try it out for themselves I just might be the happiest girl since Meg Ryan at the end of Sleepless in Seattle.

This has nothing to do with yoga but this version of Juevos Rancheros is my favourite meal right now and I want to share it with the world!  Here is what you do.

1. Spread refried beans on a tortilla (I like Dempster’s Ancient Grain) and put it in the mic for about 20 seconds.

2. Put a whole, ripe avocado on top (just spoon pieces out and spread them over the tortilla).

3. Toss chopped green onion and a couple fried eggs on top.

4. Pour on some salsa and a little hot sauce if you’re feeling sassy (which I always am), eat with a knife and fork and enjoy!


Today is Day 8 of yoga in a row and I feel most excellent.  Someone told me yesterday that I look exuberant and I’m going to attribute that to all the yoga!

I thought about how much I did not want to go to yoga all day today, ever since I woke up.  Turns out the negative anticipation was a lot worse than the actual class.  I went to my chiropractor appointment and he commented on how my spine is so much better than it ever used to be, and he doesn’t know why but it just seems to be getting better every time he sees me.  So fantastic!  I know it’s definitely from yoga (I’ve been doing Bikram’s for about a year and a half) because there’s nothing else I do that strengthens and stretches and moves around my spine.

So this made me pretty excited to go to yoga.

I got to class early, had a nice little nap on my mat before the bright fluorescent lights came on and interrupted my slumber, then made a little pact with myself that I was going to have a wicked class.

I had a wicked class!!  The teacher said he woke up this morning and thought today is backward bend day (fitting, considering my revelation at the chiro about my spine’s improvement).  Everytime someone moved in savasana he added ten seconds to the camel pose.

So we ended up enduring a 70 second camel pose (this posture’s normally held between 20-25 seconds).  It felt wooooonderful, really.

I had way too much energy after this power class to sit on the bus so I powerwalked my little heart out all the way home to the beat of Lady Gaga.

Happy healthy spine = happy healthy life (to quote a phrase they use often at Bikram’s).

Day one and two of this challenge I did 9:30p.m. Bikram’s (hot yoga) classes.  I had planned on doing Bikram’s again today but it was beautiful outside and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the hot and sweaty studio.  So I decided to try something different.  I signed up for‘s (free!) weekly class and took my laptop into my backyard and did a 50 minute class on the grass in the sunshine!  It was glorious.

This week’s class is an introduction to Kundalini yoga. It was fun!  She did all these funny moves like “the frog” and this other one where you lift your butt off the ground with your arm strength and straight legs out front and then plunk yourself back down on the floor over and over.  There was a big focus on ab work which killed me a little bit.  There was also about a minute of that one (I’m sure you did this when you were little) where you hug your knees into your chest and just roll back and forth, up and down along your spine.  It feels unreal.  Plus the instructor says a couple minutes of this move a day increases youthfulness – sure, why not!

I liked this cause it was refreshing and different than what I’m used to.  If you’re looking for a cheap way to afford yoga, or an alternative to packing your mat and heading to a studio, register online and try this week’s class!

Ok now I am going to do thirty days of yoga every day in a row.  It will probably mainly be Bikram’s hot yoga, since I already pay for a pass there, but I’m going to try out as many different types around Victoria over the month to see what they’re like! is a fantastic resource for viewing all the yoga classes offered everyday in the city and has links to their websites and information.

Anyways, in thirty days time I’ll probably be able to do this: (ha).