Yoga Project: Final Self Assessment

Photo Source:The Resilience Centre

If you have been following along with my yoga journey, I thank you.  It has not been an easy road, honestly.  I want to talk about the goals I had at the beginning of this journey, which goals I achieved and which goals I still need to keep working on.

What were my goals:

  1.  To attempt to increase my energy, focus and positivity (and ability to manage the fast pace and stresses in my life)
  2. To fit in 3 sessions of yoga each week
  3. To find online resources for doing yoga in my own home (and attend some face-to-face yoga classes)
  4. To learn more about the history of yoga
  5. To learn more about the different types of yoga, the purposes of yoga, and which types of yoga were beneficial for what purposes
  6. To learn more about whether or not yoga is cultural appropriation
  7. To talk about the idea of yoga being part of a larger lifestyle and way of being
  8. Although I didn’t think to state it in the beginning, another goal I had in mind was to begin to blog about my experience of being a vegetarian and buying vegan products (also part of a yoga lifestyle)
  9. Another goal that I did not think to state at the start was finding an online community of other yogis

In order to keep track of goals #1 and 2 I kept a self-evaluation and a record of my yoga practice (see below).  I used a 4 point scale for the rubric which you can see here: Google Document of my Rubric and weekly Progress.

I would like to talk about my success first; Goals #3-9.

Goal #3: I believe I was quite thorough in researching the various Online Resources For Yoga .  There are literally millions, if you include all the videos on YouTube.  So obviously it was impossible to review them all.  I came to the realization that it was not necessary for me to pay for an online yoga site (which there are hundreds of).  I am very happy with the site that I have been using: Yoga with Adriene. I will continue to use this site.  I hope my reviews will be beneficial to others who may find my blog online.

I was not successful in attending any face-to-face yoga classes, as the times for nearby yoga studios just didn’t work well into my schedule.  As a busy person, I prefer to do my exercise in the comfort of my own home.  And I believe that is my prerogative.  Of course, I have attended yoga classes in the past and would consider it again, at times when my life is a bit slower paced.

Goal #4: Yoga History: I posted once about Yoga History 101 as well as Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?.  I learned a great deal about the history of yoga during my research for writing these 2 posts.  I developed a greater understanding of the origins of yoga and an even deeper appreciation for it as a result.  I understand that our western view of yoga simply as exercise is not nearly sufficient.  I would love to have the ability to become a yoga teacher and continue to learn from well established and authentic yogis.  However, I don’t see that in my near future, unfortunately.  I also believe my research in this area can be useful to others who may have a similar desire to learn more about these topics.

Goal #5: Purposes and Types of Yoga:  I posted once about this.  I learned a lot from this research  and I hope this will be useful to others.  I would have liked to have spent more time actually trying each type and specific poses within each one.    I also would have liked to have done more research about meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises).  However, I believe both topics are too big for the time allotted in this particular learning project. So overall, I am happy with my research in this area.

Goal #6: I referred to my post on Cultural Appropriation in Goal #4.  I learned a great deal from this research.  I believe it is an important question.  I’m glad I included it in my project.

Photo Source: Pinterest

Goal #7 and 8: Yoga as a Larger Lifestyle:  I repeatedly shared this article about this concept.  For me, it is basically being calm and kind (to all living beings) in all things, at all times.  It includes thinking of our existence in an energetic-spiritual way, not just the physical. It might also include Being a Vegetarian and Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental.  It was empowering for me to share my experiences and opinions on these topics. I hope it will be beneficial for others to read these posts also.

Goal #9: Finding an online community of yogis: I have just begun to develop a following and find others who I want to follow.  But I feel like it is a good start.  I know that there are people out there that I can reach out to if I have questions, need support or just want to chat with someone who is similar to myself.  I am glad that I started on this journey and will certainly continue to blog, follow others and research further about these topics.

Ok, so those are the goals that I feel pretty good about.

Now for the ones that didn’t go as I had hoped: Goals #1 and 2:

The primary reason I chose this project was to see if I could keep up my energy and maintain my health and well-being throughout the course of this class, through regular yoga practice.  There are basically 3 parts to that statement: regular yoga practice, energy and overall health & well-being.  How did I do in those 3 categories?  I’m sorry to say I did not achieve any of those goals!

I had planned to practice yoga at least 3 times each week.  Unfortunately, I found that most weeks it was a struggle to fit in even 2 sessions of yoga.  Did I find it beneficial when I practiced yoga?  Yes, absolutely.  I don’t think there is any question that regular exercise of any kind is immensely beneficial for everyone.

As I was unable to fit exercise into my schedule at least 3 times a week, I did not receive the benefits of increased energy or overall well-being.  I was sick with flu and colds frequently.  I was frequently tired, I experienced a great deal of stress around completing all my daily responsibilities.  My overall well-being, I’m sorry to say, is not very good at the current time.

I was very disappointed about this.  I had always been able to fit exercise into my life previously.  I did it as a new teacher, during my pregnancies, after I had tiny babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and new-schoolers.  At this point in my life, I find it the most difficult to maintain a regular exercise practice.  I miss it.  And my health is missing it also.

Are there other factors involved?  Yes, of course.

I have not been getting enough sleep throughout this time, which makes it difficult to exercise, reduces energy, makes one more likely to get sick and also increases the likelihood of emotional and mental stress.

Also, as any teacher can tell you, teaching is a stressful job.  And trying to balance the profession of teaching with raising a family is not easy.  The needs of the teacher/mom always seem to come in last.  And stress affects the body in so many ways.  Many teachers experience  depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other emotional/mental/physical health problems.  It seems to me that teachers are at a higher risk of developing these issues compared to those in other professions, although the data on this may vary somewhat.  Dealing with the many issues regarding youth and the changing education system takes it toll.

I suppose it is unrealistic to expect yoga to fix all of this!  Well, perhaps if everyone in our society began to practice yoga…. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon!

Perhaps I could try harder to squeeze yoga into my life – get up earlier in the morning, be more “forceful” or disciplined with myself, try not to feel guilty about taking time away from my kids to do yoga or involve them in it.  Perhaps I could focus on other types of exercise that I can do with my kids and/or husband (especially now that it is spring): walking, shooting hoops, bike riding, etc.

In any case, I will continue to try to fit yoga and other exercise into my life.  I will also try to maintain everything I have learned about the yoga lifestyle.  I am thankful for all that I have learned through this project and will continue to learn more in the future.  I plan to continue to blog about these topics, as well as others.

Overall, I consider my yoga learning project a success.  It has given me the opportunity to learn more and develop a further appreciation for yoga.

Please see a complete list of my yoga project posts below.  And please share any thoughts you have about my yoga project.  Thanks for following!

Photo Source: Google

Google Document of my Rubric and Record of Weekly Progress

Weekly Self-Evaluation Record

Date (week of): # Yoga Sessions/ Type of Yoga Mental Focus Energy Positivity Comments
JAN23-JAN 30
1 Yoga For Energy 3 2 2
Feb 6 2 Yoga For Energy 1 1 2
Feb 13  1 Restorative Yoga  3  3  3
Feb 20  1 Restorative Yoga  2  3  2
Feb 27  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2  2
Mar 5  2Yoga with Adriende  2  1  2
Mar 12  2Yoga with Adriene  2  1  2
Mar 19  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2 3
Mar 26  2Yoga with Adriene  2  2  2

Weekly Self-Evaluations of my Yoga Progress   I Love Yoga!   The How and Why of My Yoga Project   Bikram, You’re a Disgrace   Yoga History 101   On Being a Vegetarian   O   nline Resources For Yoga   Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental   Purposes and Types of Yoga   Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?   Yoga Progress Feb 20   Yoga Progress Feb 23   Yoga Progress March 2   Yoga Progress March 6  Yoga Progress March 19


Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?

Yoga has become a popular activity in western culture.  I have been practicing yoga on-and-off for about 16 years and have recently started a learning project to try to learn more about yoga, improve my own yoga practice and discover if a regular yoga practice would increase my energy and well-being.  You can read more about that here.

Over the past year or so I have begun to hear this question more frequently: Is yoga cultural appropriation?  At first I was surprised by the question.  But it soon began to make more sense.

So first, let’s look at what exactly is meant by cultural appropriation, also sometimes known as cultural misappropriation.  Wikipedia defines it as “the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture”.   Wikipedia explains cultural appropriation further;  when elements of one culture (music, dance, spiritual ceremonies, modes of dress, speech and social behaviour) are adopted or “borrowed” by people of another culture.   When asking whether a behavior is cultural appropriation those who study it  consider the issue of colonialism; unequal relationships between indigenous peoples and the colonial power, or a marginalized group and a majority group.  They also consider whether the marginalized group feels disrespected by the behavior.  They ask whether these cultural elements are trivialized, used for fashion, or if they lose their original meaning.

Jaswir Dhillon claims that yoga is not cultural appropriation, but that yoga is for everyone, that it is beneficial for all and should be available to all.  I learned that yoga means “union”.  Dhillon is from India and has experienced colonialism firsthand.  I strongly urge you to read his article, as he explains these views so much better than I can.


Photo source: Susanna Barkataki

Susanna Barkataki disagrees, and explains how to decolonize your yoga practice.  She states that the million dollar industry of yoga in North America has taken it out of context.  She explains that she is not saying that yoga is only for people from India, but that the true purpose must remain intact.  Barkataki offers 5 ways to decolonize your yoga practice: 1. look within yourself, 2. explore, learn and cite correct cultural references, 3. ask ourselves, and other yoga teachers, the hard questions, 4. live, know, share and practice all 8 limbs of yoga, not just asana and 5. be humble and honor your own and other people’s journey.

Anupreet Sandhu Bharma explains that you must consider whether yoga is religion or not before you can understand if it is cultural appropriation.  She tells us that Hinduism is difficult to compare to western religion.  There is no word for religion in Sanscrit.  The closest word that exists is Dharma, which can be understood as a righteous way of living.  Yoga was intended as a way to meditate and be at one with your spirit.  Bharma states that,  “it is through the practice of Yoga, one can reach Brahm, the Supreme, Absolute Divinity, attain moksha (loosely translated as liberation from the cycle of births and deaths)….the eternal way of life”.  Again I encourage you to read what Bharma has to say as it is truly insightful.

You can read more from S.E. Smith or Sarah Ratchford who agree that yoga is indeed cultural appropriation.  Or you can check on some conversations on Quora about the topic.  You can also learn about the Take Yoga Back movement.

After considering what these authors have to say here are my personal thoughts.  I have learned a great deal from what each author had to say and I plan to continue to learn more about the true purpose of yoga.  I will continue to be sensitive to the culture with which yoga orignated.  My yoga practice is in my own home.  I refuse to make it about capitalism and commercialization.  It is entirely about connecting myself to my inner spirit.  I also meditate and practice breath exercises.  I am just a beginner.  I have so much to learn.  I will continue to honour the origins of yoga.

So do I believe that western yoga is cultural appropriation?  I think it depends.  Yes, sometimes, I believe it is.  However, I believe it can be done in a manner that is not cultural appropriation.  I plan to follow the advice of Susanna Barkataki as I continue my yoga practice.

What are your thoughts?



Purposes and Types of Yoga

In my research about different types of yoga I have found five basic purposes for doing yoga.  I have also found over thirty different types of yoga.  Below is a list of the purposes of yoga and the types of yoga I found.  Meditation and Pranayama (breathing exercises) are also important yoga practices.  See also the sites below where I found this information.

Five Reasons for a Regular Yoga Practice: (in no particular order)

1. Stress release, better sleep  (yin, hatha are good for this purpose)

2. Better focus, concentration, energy (meditation and Pranayama are best, see below)

3. Pain Management, healing from an injury – (Iyengar)

4. Fitness, Weight loss – (ashtanga/power)

5. Sprituality, preparation for meditation – (yin, hatha)

Types of Yoga: (in no particular order)

The most popular types of yoga are Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Yin Yoga and Iyengar.  Over the years yoga has evolved and changed (in some good ways, and some not so good ways).  See my post on Yoga History.  Some of the many other names that have been given to types of yoga are found below, for interest’s sake.

Sattva, ISHTA, Integral, KaliRayTriYoga, Bikram/HotYoga, Hatha, Vinyasa/Power,

Kundalini, Ashtanga, whitelotus, Iyengar, Baptiste, Anusara, Restorative/Yin,

Svaroopa, Jivamukti, Prenatal, Kripalu, Sivananda, Viniyoga, Tantra, Ananda,

Bhakti, Jnana, Laya, Karma, Raja, Mantha, Moksha

For more information on these types of yoga see the websites below.

Some helpful sites about Yoga:






What is your favourite type of yoga and why?

This week’s Yoga Practice: March 19

This week’s Self-Evaluation

This week I was able to fit in three sessions of Yoga with Adriene (Yoga camp, Days 8, 9, 10).  My practice definitely increased my energy, positivity and ability to deal with stress.  I felt calm and relaxed.  Each time, my practice helped my body to loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Please see my post this week on Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Socially Conscious and Environmentally as this relates to a Yoga Lifestyle.

Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Socially Conscious and Environmental

Previously I have posted about the idea of a Yoga Lifestyle as well as my choice to be a Vegetarian as part of my lifestyle.  I would like to share another part of my lifestyle that has come about as a result of being a vegetarian and believing in the Yoga Lifestyle; using cruelty-free, vegan, environmental and socially conscious products as much as possible.

First let me explain what each of these mean.

Cruelty-free –  cosmetic products that do not test on animals; including make-up, lotions, shampoo, conditioners, soaps, cleansers, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.

Vegan – products (as above) that do not use any ingredients that come from animals; such as gelatin or glycerin and also includes leather

Environmental – products that do not harm the environment (the use of or the production/packaging of the product)

Socially conscious – products that are not made in factories that use/support forced or child labour.

I began researching and purchasing products adhering to these principles about five years ago.  I have since learned a great deal and found many companies and products that I love.  It isn’t as difficult as you might think to support these principles.  And I believe that the more we, as consumers, buy according to these principles, the more demand there will be for companies to adhere to these principles.  If we can reduce suffering of any kind, why wouldn’t we?

Unfortunately, I still have some leather furniture in my home, that was purchased before I began buying vegan.  I still own some leather shoes and boots.  I have not gone so far as to get rid of these items.  But I do the best I can with my new purchases.

Also, I have found it difficult to buy clothing that is socially conscious.  There are a few sites online.  And occasionally I will find clothing in a local store that is tagged saying it is made in Canada, or is socially conscious.

Some of the products that I have fallen in love with can be found below.  Some of these can be found at grocery stores or Old Fashioned Foods.  Some can be found at hair salons.  And others have to be ordered over the internet.  Other products can be made at home with basic ingredients from your fridge or pantry.  Generally, if a product is organic, it is usually vegan as well in my experience.  Some of these products are very reasonably priced and others are more expensive.  I believe living this way can be achieved even on a meager budget.  All of these products are beneficial to the skin and overall health, as opposed to toxic, harmful ingredients in other products.

Many of them make products for men, women and children.

Pacifica – cosmetics and cleansers

Neuma – hair products

Desert Essence – hair products, lotions, soaps, toothpastes

Kiss My Face – hair products, lotions, soaps

Gardener’s Dream – face and body wash and lotions


These pictures are my own.

I would encourage anyone to try these products and others like them and increase the demand for companies to be more socially conscious, environmental and kind.

You can also look for these symbols when you shop.

Leaping bunny  

Vegan Symbols 

And read more at these sites:

list of vegan beauty products

Another helpful list

I would love to hear from others about your experiences!

Online Resources for Yoga

Since I began focusing on my Yoga Learning Project I have researched many online resources.  I would like to review the sites I have tried as well as tell you about the pros and cons of Online resources versus in-person resources.

The best resource I have found to date for my own personal preferences is Yoga with Adriene.  Adriene’s site is through Youtube.  See more about my thoughts on this site in a previous post Week Four – Yoga Progress.

Some of the other resources I have tried are:


Jason Crandell on Youtube

I also enjoy going to local yoga studios when I can.  We have many in Regina.  Below are the three studios I have tried out over the years.  They are all fantastic.

Mind’s Eye Yoga Center

Maha Yoga

Bodhi Tree

However, I prefer to practice yoga in the comfort of my own home and without having to spend money.  I believe we should all be able to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle without spending a dollar.  Yoga was not created thousands of years ago with the intention of making anyone rich, only healthy, happy and more aware.  This is why Yoga with Adriene is currently my first choice.

I certainly understand that Yoga Instructors need to make a living.  And I am glad this option is available.  Without having an instructor in person, you do miss out on having someone to help you make corrections to your poses.  You also miss out on the relationships and energy of others in the room.  Having a community is certainly an important aspect in learning and progressing at anything.  I am currently trying to build an online community.  This also fits into my busy lifestyle more easily, as it is challenging getting to a studio for scheduled classes.

I would love to hear from other yogis out there.  What are your thoughts on paying for yoga classes? And what are your favourite online sources?

Yoga Progress: March 6, 2016

This was a busy, stressful week!  Don’t we all have them – the weeks that are even crazier than a typical week!?

I was able to fit in 2 sessions, one of which was encouraged by my daughter who is also becoming a young yogi herself.

My energy was low and I was not able to make any progress in my yoga skills.  But the two sessions that I squeezed into my week certainly affected my well-being in a positive way.

See my self evaluation here.

Week Four -Yoga Progress

This week I’m excited to tell you about some of the progress I have made in finding ways to fit my yoga practice into my life, my success in researching online sources for Yoga and how I have learned to accept my current ability level as a yogi.

Previously I had sampled some yoga videos from Sattvayoga and YogaGlo. I tried both of their free trials for two weeks.(SattvaYoga costs $10/month and YogaGlo costs $18/month). In both these sources there was a lot of choice and the instructors of the videos I watched seemed very good. I’m sure these sites would be beneficial for anyone wanting to practice yoga. However, after consideration I decided it is unnecessary to spend money in order to practice yoga.  There are plenty of sources for free on the internet.

In my search for free sites I found an absolutely wonderful resource: Yoga with Adriene: 30 Day Yoga Camp.

Adriene Mishler: Blog

The instructor, Adriene Mishler, created a series of 30 days of yoga vidoes. Adriene’s focus is to help us Find What Feels Good. This is the name and focus of her paid site for all things yoga.  Adriene is quirky, in a great way, fun and easy to follow.  I really appreciate her laid-back, positive, individualized approach to teaching yoga.

Each of the sessions in the 30 Day Yoga Camp series have a specific focus such as “I create”, “I embrace” or “I accept”.  I really like this aspect as well.  It is helping me to be more mindful.

During the first few weeks of my yoga project and practice I was attempting an exercise regime that I would have practiced a few years ago, when I was in better fitness than I am now. It was familiar and I wanted to “push myself”. However, in the spirit of yoga, I have realized that it is important to accept myself as I am: including my current level of fitness and stamina. I may be able to gradually work back to where I used to be. But I need to focus on where I am, here and now. And that’s ok.

Printable Quotes

As a result, Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Camp is just what I needed! It is gentle with an appropriate amount of challenge. She provides tips for different levels. Most importantly she takes the time to remind us to move into poses in our own time, in our own way. She reminds us to take a minute to feel the pose, wiggle or ease left and right, forward and back and pay attention to how it feels and what our body is trying to tell us. The videos tend to be about forty minutes long, which is perfect for my lifestyle.

This week I started the Yoga camp while at the University gym, as you can read in my previous post. On two other occasions, I practiced the yoga camp in my home. I have not been able to practice these lessons on successive days, but I am ok with that, for now. This is the first week that I was able to complete three sessions of yoga. So this is already progress!
On one of the days I practiced with my daughter. I really enjoyed doing yoga with her. It was great to have a partner and I’m happy to involve her in the beneficial practice of yoga also.

My favourite place to practice is in my home. However, I am glad that I have the option of practicing at the University gym while my daughter is at her synchro practice. The idea is to fit yoga into my life in whatever way I can.

I have also been able to spend about 15-20 minutes doing some light walking on my treadmill or in the gym.

I have been dabbling in yoga for about sixteen years. I have gone through times when I have had a regular yoga practice. However, my life has gotten busier over the years as I have added in children and graduate work. It feels good to have made positive progress towards renewing a regular practice. I feel like I will be able to sustain this exercise on a weekly basis. I am confident this will in turn increase my energy and help me in dealing with life as usual in positive ways. You can also see my self-evaluation here.

If you have any tips or advice on fitting yoga into your busy lifestyle I would love to hear from you!



On Being a Vegetarian

I have been meaning to post about being a vegetarian for a while.  So here it is.

People often ask why I made the choice to be a vegetarian.  There are five reasons.

First, I have never really liked the taste of meat very much anyway.  I remember my parents having to force me to eat it as a kid.

Secondly, the decision happened as a result of my daughter.  She was six when she learned where meat comes from.  She was very upset and said she would not eat meat anymore.  My husband and I decided not to make too big a deal of it and we let her stop eating meat.  We thought she would change her mind and go back to eating meat in a couple weeks.  We should have known what a determined young person she is.  She has not had a bite of meat since.  At the time, we did some research about vegetarianism and learned about other sources of protein.  I learned how to feed her and soon realized that this was something I wanted to do also.

The third reason is that I am an animal lover.  I do not feel right about killing animals or having someone else do it for my food.  Honestly, I do not judge anyone who eats meat, just as I hope they will not judge me.  It is a personal decision.

Another reason I choose this lifestyle is that I have learned that meat production is extremely detrimental to the environment.

Lastly, I have found that I feel better when I don’t eat meat.  I have read that your body uses a great deal of energy to digest meat and it is actually quite hard on your body (especially red meat).

As I was considering whether or not to become a vegetarian, I watched the video Earthlings.  That cinched it for me.  It is a very difficult video to watch.  However, it is extremely informative.

Vegetarianism also fits with the Yoga Lifestyle I have referred to in previous posts.

I believe that being a vegetarian is much easier now than it would have been twenty years ago.  There are so many options.  Most restaurants have vegetarian menu choices and vegetarian items can be easily found in grocery stores.

The main protein sources in my diet are beans, quinoa, nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.  I really do not like the taste of soy so I avoid it.  I have found many delicious recipes on Pinterest. There is always an alternate way to make anything so I never have to miss my favourite foods. For example, I used to love ginger chicken.  So I found a recipe to make it using cauliflour.  You might think it sounds crazy – but it is delicious!

I would recommend a vegetarian lifestyle to anyone.  The next step for me is veganism!

Now, eat your veggies! And feel free to comment!


Yoga Success!

Finally I had a great yoga session!  There were two reasons my practice was a success;  my instructor and the venue.

I found a series of videos by Yoga with Adriene. She has a blog, website and YouTube channel.  I started her 30 Day Challenge.  Adriene’s focus is on paying attention to your own body and making your yoga practice work for you. I love that!  There are many options because every day and every person is different.  Sometimes your body is tight in one area and then the next day your tightness is in a totally different place.  I really enjoyed day one of the challenge.  It’s great for beginners but also good for more advanced yogis. I highly recommend it!

However,  I did feel a bit like a weirdo…. My daughter has synchronized swimming at the University on Mondays and Fridays.  I live in the north end so it’s not worth it to drive home and back again.  So I decided to use the open gym time tonight to do my yoga practice.  (Actually I really wanted to use the dance studio space,  but there was a class in there.) So I built up my courage, grabbed my mat and my phone and went into the gym.  There were a few people that came in to shoot hoops. I felt a bit embarrassed but kept going anyway.  I walked a few laps around the gym afterwards too. I felt great!  Maybe it should be more normal to see people doing yoga at the gym or park or wherever anyway – just as normal as seeing people shoot hoops. No one gave me any funny looks or seemed bothered in any way.  So I will get over feeling weird about this!  I was able to focus on me and my yoga practice,  with no distractions.  I will try it again.

Shout -out to Vanessa who I saw there before I started my yoga. A little spontaneous moral moral support never hurts!