Yoga & Biomechanics for Runners Workshop

Thanks Alice & Kris! Photo is from ChatterRunGirl.

Thanks Alice & Kris! Photo is from ChatterRunGirl.

What: Yoga & Biomacanhics for Runners
When: Sunday, May 26th @ 12:30 p.m.
Where: Moksha Yoga Danforth (372 Danforth Ave)
Who: Kris Sheppard and Alice Toyonaga

I am really excited for summer. Like really, really excited for summer. And most of all, or most surprising, I’m excited to run! This summer I’ve decided running will be for me. 2012 will forever be remembered as my summer of hell! Okay, I’m being very dramatic here, but fundraising is not easy, and Cecilley and I did nothing but train and fundraise. Not that that was a bad thing, I did spend pretty much my whole summer with Cecilley! And met some great people along the way. Then we celebrated our hard work in California. Okay, so 2012 was not the summer of hell at all.

My goal this year is to work hard, get faster, run farther. I want to become an all round better runner. I think it’s time. The Blue Nose and Around the Bay taught me that the human body is physically capable of doing many things under pressure or stress (and with little training, I may add). Not that I want to promote this fact! If you’re running longer distances do yourself a favour and prepare. Join a clinic (like me!), hire a running coach, find a running group, or get together a group of friends to run with. It’s easier than you may think. Toronto is full of great organizations and people doing great things. Or just ask me! I’ll do the research for you!

With my new goal on the horizon of running faster and running properly, I signed up for a running workshop hosted at Moksha Yoga Danforth with Alice Toyonaga. This was an excellent place to start my summer of running. Alice (aka ChatterRunGirl) is a marathon runner, Moksha teacher, and a big inspiration and mentor of mine. Alice is so great!

Alice has been traveling from coast to coast hosting running and yoga workshops at Moksha studios all over Canada. See. This is why Alice is great! Lucky for me, and the Toronto community, Alice partnered with Dr. Kris Sheppard, a chiropractor at Absolute Endurance Training and Therapy and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, to host a yoga & biomechanics for runners. My love for Alice and my goal of running a marathon compelled me to go. Obviously.

We met at the studio strapped on our sneakers and away we went for a light 2k run to get us started. During the run Kris and Alice broke down the components of the workshop and addressed the importance of proper active recovery, which yoga can do for all athletes!

Back at the studio Kris took us through a series of exercises — lunges, squats, high knee running — to demonstrate proper running technique. Just from observation Kris can tell the type of pain you may experience, he can tell your range of motion, where you carry your weight when you run, as well as knows your foot strike. Apparently I’m a quad dominate runner with weak ankles. Kris has worked with many different clients from sprinters to long distant runners, to the everyday runner, like most of us attending the workshop. Kris, we may have to talk. But watching myself run, I can think of anything worse…

Afterward was Alice’s turn. She lead a beautiful sequence focusing on strengthening our quads and our butt muscles — something we runners really need — then we stretched everything out. Our hips, our hip flexors, this was a treat. Also in attendance was Vanessa Montenegro from Flipswitch Studio who happened to be assisting during Alice’s class. And for the first time in my life she got me to engage my glutes! I actually felt the sensation of firing up my butt. Ha! Thanks, Vanessa! After all this time you think I would have learned.

What a perfect day. The weather was incredible, but better yet the information I took in, along with the great company, made this workshop one of a kind. Thank you Alice, Kris, and Vanessa! And thanks to you too, Brent and Michelle from Moksha Yoga Danforth. I telling everyone right now to attend the next one. Keep your eye on Alice she is going great things.



Marathon Training Day #1: Moksha Flow

This is my yoga bag. Like it? I made it. If you look realllllly close (okay not that close) you can see all the crooked seams. It's spectacular.

This is my yoga bag. Like it? I made it. If you look realllllly close (okay not that close) you can see all the crooked seams. It’s spectacular.


Marathon training day one. It was technically a “rest” day but my schedule says “rest or cross-training” and it’s New Year’s Eve and I didn’t have anything else to do today. So I went to yoga. I did the 3pm flow class at Moksha Danforth. I don’t do Moksha regularly and I forgot how stupidly hot it can be when you aren’t used to it. I struggled and sweated and made my shoulder a bit achy. (I fell off my bike Friday — slush = slippery — and landed on my shoulder. I will ice it once this post is complete and I expect it to be 100% soon.)

Despite my struggles, it was good to push myself outside my regular yoga routine and have one great sweat before I say goodbye to 2012.

Tomorrow, the running starts.


$5 workshops – 5 trickiest yoga poses

This is me at a race, not at yoga. But I was happy then and am happy now, so it works!


What: $5 Yoga Workshop
When: Sunday, October 26 @ 1:30pm
Where: Moksha Yoga Danforth (372A Danforth Avenue)
Who: Scott Miller & Alice Toyonaga


Holy smholly?! Who knew such a thing existed? But it was very true and really happened at my now newest second favourite Moksha studio (sorry Danforth, but Downtown will always be my home). However as the newly crowned NOW Magazine’s Best of T.O. 2012 Reader’s Pick for Best Yoga Studio I can certainly see why. $5 yoga workshops gets my vote too! Something like this is rather rare and extremely fantastic. So, clearly, I signed up for as many as I could.

Since, Jackie Szabo’s departure from Toronto I’ve had a huge yoga emptiness inside of me. I miss her teachings and classes so much it hurts (I’ve got a whole sad story on this to share for another time). Of course I’ve been thinking about her and how she’s doing, but more importantly I’m trying to make her proud. I’m considering the Moksha Yoga Teacher training and I really want to understand yoga more¬†thoroughly. For days when I can’t sleep, or when some muscle in my body somewhere aches, or if there is ever some internal funkiness going on, or if I just need a really good stretch, those yoga teachers they know. They know all the ins and outs and cues to fix/cure/heal everything without popping some pills or taking medications. I want to know these secrets.

Cecilley and I, months and months ago, went to Moksha Danforth one Saturday evening for a yin yoga class with Amanda. Not only was this class one of the best yin classes of my life, I realized how much I like the Danforth studio. It’s super cute and friendly and has a warm feeling of welcomeness. And it doesn’t hurt that a few of my Downtown teachers also spend time at the Danforth. Bonus! There is absolutely no reason to be afraid of this place if your a Moksha first-timer. Great location, great teachers, fun environment, all good things! But back to the life changing yin experience, afterwards I realized I could easily do these poses at home or at work (if really needed to). Just remembering what we did is challenge. That’s where it all began for me. I want to get to know yoga better. Some of the wrist and foot poses really got in there good. Stretching out the arches in your feet and really sinking into your hands not only helps to prevent carpal tunnel it feels amazing. Like I said, yoga teachers know what’s going on.

Since then I’ve been receiving Danforth’s monthly newsletter. I figured I might as well broaden my Moksha network and maybe discover new things to do along the way. Which is exactly what happened when the October newsletter arrived in my inbox. October was the studio’s 30-day challenge and to commend the yogis taking part, every Sunday was host to a new yoga workshop. A $5 workshop. Where Cecilley and I had other things going on earlier that month, I signed up for the last two workshops of the series.

The first workshop I attended was mastering the art of the 5 trickiest poses of the Moksha series. While tag teaming the workshop Scott and Alice made the class open to questions and discussions – this wasn’t your typical yoga class. The 5 poses were Prayer Twist, Warrior Two, Pigeon, Dancers, and Camel – these are not everyone’s idea of the trickiest poses, but these were the poses voted by the Danforth yogis. I was game regardless. After breaking down each pose, one by one, Alice and Scott went over everything. They described the proper alignment, breath within the pose and how to come in and out of each pose properly while demoing. Visuals are great. Really seeing how a pose is done properly is one thing, but taking the time to feel how the pose should look like (emphases on the feel) is another. Scott and Alice made sure everyone knew what and how each pose should feel. Yoga is all about the feeling and not the actual doing. It was a fantastic opportunity, all for the low cost of $5! Thank you Alice, Scott, and Moksha Danforth!

But seriously, when you really take your time to “feel where your body is going in the pose” yoga all of a sudden becomes really hard! Even in my regular practice I can’t help but think of these 5 poses in a different way now.

Next up, I’ll be a Crow professional. Crow (Bakasana) is the next (and apparently best) workshop. We shall see!

The birthday yoga challenge

What: Hot Hour
When: Saturday @ 12pm
Where: Kula (304 Brunswick Ave)
Who: Aaron Slade


What: Moksha
When: Saturday @ 3pm
Where: Moksha Danforth (372A Danforth Ave)
Who: Amanda Montgomery


What: Music Flow
When: Saturday @ 6pm
Where: Moksha Yoga Downtown (577 Wellington St. W)
Who: Peter Ward


Yes, it is true I was crazy enough to do three yoga classes on my birthday. Who does this?!? Well, I did and my original plan was to do four classes. Now you can call me really crazy.

The dream of taking on this city wide yoga challenge began three birthdays ago when my boss Kelly at Fashion Takes Action treated me to a yoga and lunch date for my birthday – we actually celebrated a day early because she was tried up with meetings on my real birthday. We took class at Moksha Danforth (Kelly’s regular yoga spot) and this is where I discovered you get a free class on your birthday. The girl at the front desk suggested I come back the next day because class would be free! I didn’t go the next day and have regretted it ever since. And from this very day on I’ve been determined to find out: what other studios in the city are kind enough to give free classes on birthdays?

Last year my birthday was on a Friday and I couldn’t do yoga all day on a work day. Well, I could have…

So, this was the year, my birthday fell on a Saturday and I was determined to squeeze four classes in one day: one at 889, Moksha Uptown, Moksha Danforth and I am Yoga. This was the tentitive plan. I wasn’t sure if Moksha Uptown or I am Yoga would comp my class but I really wanted to do Jock Yoga and Ballet Sculpt. I brought my Passport to Prana just in case, although I would have had a strong case for letting me take class (or, I think so anyway). This was until Erin’s friend Jen told me Kula gives free classes and she would join happily me for bithday yoga. I was totally in, considering Erin bailed on me for her monthly Pubruns. I needed someone to take a class with me!

Then sadly, my four classes became three when I discovered a George Brown friend was in town and wanted to treat me to birthday coffee. At first, this was perfect I would take the 8am at Moksha Danforth then meet her for coffee at 10am, then take the 12pm Hot Hour at Kula with Jen. But brithday coffees turned into birthday brunch when another friend joined us and I couldn’t skip out on meeting my George Brown buddies! My morning class would suffer, not my belly.

First class of the day was awesome, a much better Kula experience than my last. Thank you Jen!! I then hopped on the subway to catch the 2pm at Moksha Danforth because I knew a free class would be waiting for me there. But with all these different studios and times (and somewhat last minute planning, oops) I mixed up my schedule and class was at 3pm not 2pm. Oh man, I thought a yin class would have been a good choice at some point in the day, but that didn’t happen. Another bump in my challenge.

But not to fear Moksha Downtown would treat me to a free class, obviously, so I booked it to the 6pm music class. Which may have been birthday fate because who do I see that morning at brunch was none other than Peter Ward himself. I left Moksha Danforth feeling very sweaty and great I also saw another Moksha teacher Leah Von Zuben as I was leaving the studio. All this yogi love, I could have burst!

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this amazing day of birthday yoga when Peter Ward sang “Happy Birthday” to me in class! Hey, it was a music class atfer all and I did request a special birthday shout-out or birthday pose. I was not expecting a birthday chant with our “Oms”. After this class Erin treated me to birthday dinner and tickets to a Spice Girls tribute concert (totally made up for missing yoga with me). Then I had to pack for Costa Rica! Best birthday ever.

For anyone looking to do some yoga (or lots of yoga) on your next birthday Kula and Moksha Danforth will happily comp your class. I promise to discover more places next March 3rd. It will be a Sunday and I have a year to plan my schedule.

And for your pleasure, Wannaba, the Spice Girls tribute band. I know you’re jealous.