Distance Learning Project #1: Teach Yoga

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I’m a certified yoga teacher. And this means I have to start teaching. It only makes sense, right? I’m still in the works of recapping my teacher training (30 days is a lot of days!), but now that that part of my training is complete it’s time to begin the next phase, the Distance Learning Projects.

These projects must be completed in the next 11 months (I have until February 2014) and each project must represent one of the 7 pillars of Moksha. I’m Growing My Yoga, teaching yoga, and trying to live my yoga all over again…May is going to be a lot of yoga! The cool part about these distant learning projects is that I get to create them. I can write, make something, make a video, anything! The world is my oyster and the possibilities are limitless. I have a really good feeling about this.

Project #1: Teach. I have to teach 4 classes (2 60 minute classes, and 2 75/90 minutes classes) to a group of 6 people or more. And get their feedback! I need 24 feedback forms in total and 4 self reflection forms on how I felt the class went. Then I must report to my senior teacher supervisor Rose Cortez (hi Rose!) to talk about how each class went down.

I’ve been working away at the feedback part since returning home from training and New Orleans. I’ve taught a few work colleagues outside at lunch, I practice taught a few classes at Downtown, but this isn’t enough. I quickly realized just telling people the day of that I’m teaching a class that evening means people won’t come. Friends and family (ummm… Erin!) are busy and I get that. So I’ve created a schedule for the month of May.

I have until May 15th to get this done. So please come to my free classes! Yes all my classes free with the exception of my community class on Fridays. Community classes are $7. That’s still a rather good deal for hot yoga. Join my Facebook event for updates, schedule changes or additional classes.

See you at the studio!

My last trade night ever

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So Thursday night was it, an evening for the history books. My last trade night at Moksha Yoga Downtown ever!

It was my last night of spraying sweat mats, folding the laundry, and cleaning the toilets. It’s hard to believe that almost 3 years ago to the date I began trading at Moksha Yoga Downtown, my most favourite Mokska of all! Moksha Yoga Downtown is my second home. Or rather, it is my home because this place is where my heart is. It is a place I grew to love and be loved at. It is a community of the most amazing people, teachers, and friends. Wait, I’ve been living in Toronto for 3 years? This is crazy!

As I begin the next phase of my yoga life, I can’t help but think back to that very special day when Moksha came into my life. My mother and I were business clothes shopping at the Gap on Queen West. Yes, you heard me correctly. Business clothes shopping at the Gap. I needed a new interview outfit for finding an internship.

My mom is a special lady and does not take well to the busy, urban city with all it’s hard side walks, street cars, and taxis zooming about, let alone stand shopping on the streets of Queen West. Forget it! But still it will be a day I never forget. And how can you when your mom causes a scene and terrifies the adorable sales girl to help her daughter find business clothes? Especially when the adorable sales girl would become my very first Toronto non-school friend. (Maybe my mom knew exactly what she was doing after all!)

Cait McGrath was the adorable sales girl and after my Mom interrogated her with questions only a Mom would ask we really did become friends. “Jill, be friends with this girl,” were my Mother’s exact words. And so Cait gave me her email address and we met up for bike rides, coffees, and yoga. Cait was so great! Afterwards, I quickly became a Friday evening Karma regular at the studio (Cait’s trade night). I was a broke student and couldn’t afford yoga. But karma made it’s way back to me because not long afterwards, an opening came up for Thursday evenings. And I was in. I’ve been so ever since.

My love for everyone at MYD goes so far beyond words. This is where I discovered myself, my passions, and my new ideas for happiness and drive in my life. I’ve laughed here, I’ve cried, been alone and this was my cure. I owe so much of my life, in such a short period of time, to this place.

And now that I’m leaving it feels so sad. I don’t know Thursday evenings outside of the studio. What on Earth will I do?! But as every door closes another opens. I have home to come back to after LA.

And trust me I’ll come running back!



Karma at Moksha Downtown & Come And Swap It! – more TNT fundraising efforts

I wanted to invite you all to two events – one is coming up tomorrow and the other next month – the 8pm Karma Class at Moksha Yoga Downtown and Come And Swap It! (a clothing swap soiree!).

Everyone knows what karma means in the yoga world, the idea that if you do something good (or bad), the universe will find a way to repay you. Whether it’s good or bad depends on your intentions of the deed. Yogis like to give back in good ways. Remember the LYM fifth pillar Outreach? This is a perfect example of expressing good Karma. Which was the week Cecilley and I truly devoted ourselves to run with Team In Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. I’m hoping karma will find a way to get us $8,000 before October 14th.

As part of Moksha yoga’s philosophy giving back is in their blood. Every studio has karma class (donation-based classes) that help support a charity of Moksha’s choice, or a cause or charity dear to the heart of the individual studio. I am truly blessed to belong to such a wonderful community at Moksha Downtown. And without a doubt Erin (the studio manager) was behind me 100%. She has kind enough to offer this Friday’s Karma proceeds to go towards my and Cecilley’s marathon mission. Thank you, Erin!

So please come join Cecilley and I at 8pm this Friday, August 24th. We promise good karma will come your way if you do! If anything it is a great way to practice hot yoga at a cheaper rate then paying the regular drop in fee.

But, if your Friday evening is taken up by other activities we understand. But don’t be shy for Saturday, September 15th at Cecilley’s apartment we are hosting a clothing swap for all our friends, which includes you! Drop a donation at the door and come brows though an assortment of stylish new finds to update your fall wardrobe. From dresses, to shirt, to pants, shoes and accessories there is no way you will walk away empty handed. You can find more details on the Facebook event post, so check it out!

Don’t have clothes to swap, no problem. We’d rather see you there and walk away with something new then not show up at all. Also, to make the afternoon that much sweeter, there will be grown up refresherments and snacks for our guests. As well as a fun playlist. Hey, who knows when you’ll be need to strut your inner model down an imaginary runway and when you do music is needed. Our DJ is taking requests. Okay, so I understand a clothing swap isn’t exactly fitness related. But! My yoga friends and teachers are contributing yoga clothes – so there you go a clothing swap can be fitness related. Now that you’ll have new workout clothes you will have no excuese not to go to yoga or run or whatever it is that you’ve been holding back from doing.

Good karma, good clothes, good food and lots of fun. Please come.

Funky, funky vinyasa

What: Creative Vinyasa
When: Saturday @ 4pm
Where: Moksha Yoga Downtown (577 Wellington Street West)
Who: Jackie Szabo

After the fantastic (or rather insane) Saturday morning roomie date which consisted of running and pilates, it was my turn to take Jenn to try something new. She picked pilates so I picked Jackie’s 4pm vinyasa class! Oh, I was beyond excited! Warning: this class should not be attempted by beginners or anyone who has never taken a Jackie class before. But for anyone else, I highly recommend taking this class. Seeing how I haven’t been to a vinyasa class with Jackie since Costa Rica, I was dying to go, and Jenn wasn’t totally convinced that Moksha yoga is challenging. I took great offence to this, as Moksha is practically my life. I knew Jackie would change Jenn’s mind and make her see things my way. Jenn does Bikram Yoga when she does practice. Boo!


Me showing off my yoga moves before a run. I am awesome.


The afternoon brightened up as we hopped on our bikes and headed to the studio. The whole 4pm gang was there – Lee Ann, Jackie, and my fellow 4pm yogi Michelle – to welcome us. I love this place so much. I gave Jenn the grand tour then we went inside for class. I sneakily placed my mat beside a fellow yoga retreater Joy, who I spotted out as soon as I entered the room. She was my bus and surfing buddy in Costa Rica and the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet. As Jackie began class I felt a tickle at my side and knew Joy had seen me too. This made me happy. Joy is an amazing yogi to practice next to. I feel myself feeding off her energy and graceful practice.

Jackie warned us on Tuesday (the 8pm has become the meeting class for the whole Costa Rica family to practice together) that Saturday’s class was going to get funky. Returning fresh from a trip to San Francisco, Jackie had some tricks up her sleeve. We began with a shoulder stretch then moved in to gentle movements, then began our transitions from triangle to triangle twists then to warrior two. I was confused. And this was only the first variation! Then we moved from pigeon to crow pose. How I successfully managed to do this, I may never know, but I have conquered crow pose. I can actually hold this pose with both feet in the air for longer than 3 seconds.

Now I have a new challenge: side angle crow pose. At least this is what I’m going to call it. We moved into this pose from eagle, we squated and twsited our elbows to our hips then with our hands on the floor you kick our feet out to the side. Or something like that. I saw a girl actually do it before I attemped this insane yoga pose (if you’d even call it one). My jaw hit the floor. But I was feeling good and determine to do it. And I actually did! My feet came off the ground and everything! Joy can attest to this success as I had her laughing as hard as I was. I have another new challenge: some strange looking leg split, but one of your legs is hoisting the other up and your twisting your arms to the oposite direction. You’ll have to talk to Jackie if you want to know what I’m talking about.  I fell. I fell right out of this pose and on the floor, staring Joy right in the face. This got a few more laughs out of her. Poor Jenn, I hope she was having as much fun as I was. But this why I love Jackie’s classes so much. Jackie isn’t afraid to test your boundaries, and she makes yoga both challenging and fun. She keeps true to the traditional Moksha series, but makes every class her own. You’ll never know what’s coming up with Jackie and I like that the most!

Jackie once told me Diane Bruni (from Downward Dog) and Christi-an (from Kula) fuel her soul. Well, Jackie, you fuel mine 🙂

The Horrid Day 9

Thank goodness this month is almost over! That’s all I have to say. I’ve been counting down the days till the end of January since the beginning of my 30 Day Challenge challenge was presented to me. Day 21 down, only 9 more to go. I could have swore off yoga for the rest of my life a mere 12 days ago, but now I just might become an even bigger yoga machine than I already am! I feel like a yoga superstar and this is a very cool feeling.


But, if you were to ask me how I felt 12 days ago — well you probably couldn’t have asked me because the sound of the word yoga would have made me punch you in the face — I would have told you I’d killed myself before doing another yoga class! And I was serious. My challenge had become the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do, just like that, literally overnight. Let’s go back these 12 days ago shall we, back to day number 9. It was a Thursday evening (of which I couldn’t be more happy about. I love me my Thursdays at Moksha Yoga Downtown!). It was a long week, but an awesome week. I visited the new 889 Yonge and Spynga just a few days before. Still, I was not mentally prepared for what was in store. Dun-dun-dun….

I held off doing the 6pm class, when surprise! I found out Rachael Kess was teaching the 8pm 75 minute Moksha Flow. Yay!! This would make any Downtowner very happy. I hadn’t seen nor taken a Rachael Kess’s funky “stare at the wall instead of the mirror class” in forever, and I need me some Rachael Kess on a regular basis. (Okay, so maybe it has to do with the fact she spoils me with a little touch of her Thai Yoga Massaging at the end of class, but hey I live for this would give up anything for it. Anything.)

Sadly, this night I didn’t get the touch of Rachael’s magic hands. And I didn’t well deserve it. I practically did nothing, but lay in shavasana (which is still doing yoga and still counts, thank you Rachael Kess) the entire class and the poses I actually did do, let’s just say it was a good thing classes are silent. I could have screamed or cried or even both. I am have put too much expectations on myself to kick some yoga butt or maybe it was the sly gesture of placing my mat so Rachael couldn’t miss me. Whatever it was the Yoga Gods were indeed punishing me this particular night.

Ugh, this was the worst class ever.

I had no idea yoga (or my mind) could be so hateful. Nothing against Rachael, it was my body that was doing the hating. I was tired, grumpy and couldn’t stop telling myself how much I hated yoga. Rachael would deliver an instruction and I would scream out “NOOOO!” or @%&$ this sucks!” This unsettling feeling haunted me. Yoga is my release, my escape, what was happening! I could have slapped something or someone.

Then something amazing happened I went to class Monday night expecting to see Jackie. Jackie would fix everything. But surprise! Jackie turned out to be Brendan, and he saved my life. I don’t know what it was but I was back! I guess even yoga machines need fixing every once and awhile. Brendan I will be forever grateful for saving me from this 30 day challenge.

I will probably never do this again. Or maybe I’ll just skip Day 9.

But, some advice for any yogis thinking about attempting a 30 day challenge for the first time like moi: mix things up, go to different classes, different studios and try different teachers or take classes at irregular times. A change in scenery is key. And learn to live with how you’re feeling each day. Every single day of the 30 will be different. If you’re struggling it’s okay. If you’re rocking it, even better. Either way, accept what’s going on and move on. I, sadly, learned this the hard way.

Have you ever had a difficult yoga class or workout? How did you power through?





Monday Miles: Marathon Training Week #2



This week was an exhausting week, but a productive one. Working out this much means I’m tired and achy all the time — but I sleep great! Again, I moved the training plan around to fit my needs (Tuesday’s running-to-yoga plan was so good I might permanently switch Tuesday with Wednesday). Thanks to a bunch of snow Thursday night, my jumping rope and hill training plans didn’t quite work out. But there’s always this week, right?!


At the beginning of the week, I didn't even own this fancy contraption. Now, I know how to use it! Impressive, right?


Here’s how week 2 of my marathon training broke down:

Monday: 60 minutes Moksha Yoga

A morning workout? Check! A yoga class? Check! Having a yoga-obsessed sister is helpful, they can guilt you into waking up at 6am to stretch in a hot room.

Tuesday: 6.2km in 44:00 minutes; 60 minutes Kula yoga

Tuesday was a workout breakthrough. Running to yoga is my new favourite thing.

Wednesday: 9.4km in 1:11:30

This run was a bit of a slog. After three straight days of yoga, I felt stiff. But I powered through — need to keep those kms up!

Thursday: rest

This was not a planned rest day (Friday was), but after a tough work day and an exhausting run the night before, it made sense to flip Thursday and Friday.

Friday: 6.4km in 45:38

Friday finally brought us WINTER! Snow was everywhere. I went out and bought a pair of YakTrax after reading a positive review on Run with Jess. I totally count that as a workout in itself. Shopping is physically, mentally and financially exhauasting.

Saturday: 12.1k in 1:40:26

Not the fastest pace, but when you add -20 degree weather and an icy and snowy trail to the mix, I’m just proud we finished this one. My pal B. guided me on a loop through High Park, through the Junction and along the rail line. I love how running gets you out into new neighbourhoods — and makes you feel like a badass when passers-by look at you like you’re insane.

Sunday: 7.0k in 54:08; 75 minutes “detox” yoga

On Sunday, I was determined to hit the 40k total for the week — and try out my new pair of YakTrax. I accomplished both, and discovered my second new favorite thing of the week: winter trail running. In the afternoon, I hit up EnergyXchange for the first time on my Passport to Prana for a “detox” class. It was more intense than I was hoping, but let’s face it: I was hoping to lie down for an hour and call it “exercise.” Expect a full review in the next few days.


My goals for this week? Simply to keep it up. Last week was a solid fitness effort and if I can keep that up until May, this marathon might not be so hard after all.






Unexpected Day 5 of My 30 Day Challenge

After a glorious day of sister bonding, running, epic brunch, and yoga AND me registering for my first 10k race ever, I have now been persuaded into doing a 30 day challenge. How did this happen? I’m asking myself the same question.


This will be me in thirty days. Just you wait and see.


After working at Moksha Yoga Downtown for over 2 years now, I have become part of a religious Thursday night “Yin Crew”, all of whom worship the teachings of the lovely Julia Gibran. One avid follower, other than myself of course, is my friend Tiffany.

So whom do I run into at mine and Erin’s Sunday night 90 minute yin class (which is actually not that surprising), is none other than Tiffany herself. A fellow east coaster living in Toronto, she is fresh off her return from her Maritime Christmas vacation and in much need of getting yoga back into the yoga groove.

Well, Tiffany has kicked her yoga return into high gear with a 30 day challenge and now I’m along for the ride. “Starting off Monday with 7am class, why not?” she says. Which then turned into “Why not do a 30 day challenge with me? You might as well.” Lucky for me, counting back my yoga from last week, I’m actually going into day 6 of the 30 lying ahead. I guess that’s not so bad.

I say this now, ask me again when I’m on day 17.

Now Tiffany and I are partners in crime on this 30 day adventure. A new item to add to my 2012 resolution list. I’ll be very excited to cross this off!


Image via lululemon’s Flickr account.




Just another Thursday

I don’t know about you, but if I’m looking for a quick fix yoga is my go to. And there is no better place to be than Moksha Yoga Downtown on a Thursday Night. One, Thursday just happens to be my trade night at the studio and second it’s Yin Yoga night! My favorite!!

Sooo soothing! I could sleep right on that floor...

For those not familiar, let me introduce to you Yin Yoga. This style of yoga focuses on the deep connective tissues in the body and finds an amazing way to stretch these out. Primarily, targeting the shoulders and hips you will deepen your overall practice in a whole new way! Any regular yogi should be at a yin class on fairly regular bases. It highly recommended – not only by myself – but most yoga teachers will tell you the same. Don’t be alarmed when you hear you’ll be holding poses for 3 to 5 minutes (yes, this does sound scary) but trust me you’ll be surprised at how fast 60min flies by!

Oh and I should also tell you, these classes are done mostly on the floor lying down and don’t require much movement. Sounds great, right? So come say hi and make the late night visit for class – the only downer is the time, 9:45pm, but you’ll sleep like a baby afterwards.

Or if this is too late for your schedule, there is a 6pm class on Sundays. You’re body and practice will be sure to thank you after class. I’ll probably be there too.

Yeah, I practically live there. It’s that good.