Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hurts So Good: Foam Rolling Supports a Sustainable Yoga Practice and Active Lifestyle

Self-myofascial release (or SMFR) targets 'trigger points' in
the muscles, releasing tension and toxins while improving
flexibility and blood flow. Come get your roll on!

Yoga - like anything - can hurt or heal you. 

I’ve witnessed many students’ bodies, minds and hearts transformed by the power of asana, breath work and meditation. 

But I’ve also seen - and experienced first-hand - how painful chronic injuries can result from practicing in a way that’s overly aggressive, unbalanced and unsustainable.

Yoga is supposed to eliminate our bodily aches and pains not cause them, right?

Popular yoga in the West tends to have a disproportionate focus on sweaty, vigorous strength-building forms of practice - which can be excellent for burning through the stress and blockages of body, mind and heart. I first fell in love with this kind of yoga and I still teach and practice it sometimes. 

But like any repetitive physical activity, yoga will expose and exacerbate pre-existing imbalances in the body - i.e. one dominant leg works harder than the other; one shoulder or hip over-compensates for the weak side with an old injury; chronic tight back continues its unconscious default of taking on the lion’s share of the work, etc.

When we repeatedly work the body without proper recovery, it’s only a matter of time. Eventually tight, knotted, shortened muscles create stresses on joints leaving the body vulnerable to injury.

It’s usually not muscle but joint-related injuries that cause us to cease the practices we love. So why not make them sustainable by mindfully treating the day-to-day stiffness in our muscles and connective tissues resulting from practice? 


One super-effective way to loosen things up is self-myofascial release (SMFR) using a foam roller. The basic technique is this: you use your body’s weight in various positions applying sustained pressure as you roll over and release “trigger points” or sore spots that form in the muscles or tendons.

It’s like giving yourself a deep-tissue massage without the expensive masseuse. And if you’ve ever had one, you’ll know, at times, it’s a bit like tough love: in the moment, it does not feel so good, but you feel wonderful afterwards. 

I bought a foam roller a few years ago when I learned about the benefits of SMFR but it mostly just sat in my closet. My quads, hamstrings and IT band were so tight that I avoided the short-term pain of rolling despite the relief I knew it could bring.


When old hip and knee issues flared up again, I finally committed to rolling as part of my personal wellness program. I have to say it’s made a huge difference. Now I can run, cycle, hike and practice yoga without any joint pain or risk of injury. I feel free and strong in my body again. And I am truly owning my practice. 

Wanting to share what I’ve learned, I’ve recently design a 60-minute group foam-roller class set to soothing sonic beats where people can come get their roll on in a fun, relaxed small-group setting. The preregistered sessions will run out of my small home studio space located near Pandosy Village beginning in March. Cost will be $60+gst/4 classes with small group sizes so we have plenty of room to roll around!) For more information and to choose a session convenient to you contact me at 250.864.8401. 

Namaste, Jenn

Sunday, 20 October 2013


I've recently started my own 30-day challenge, inspired by so many students and fellow yogis who make the incredible commitment to deepen their practice and build the habit of yoga into their daily lives. It's so inspirational, especially given how early in the morning many show up for practice!

So far I've completed six days - carving out the space wherever I can - and I'm amazed by how quick and lucid the memory is, in my body, mind and heart, of why I chose yoga - or it chose me - or whatever; but most importantly why we keep coming together.

As a teacher, your personal practice can shift dramatically; instructing becomes a part of "living your yoga," but it can get harder to find time to squeeze in your asana practice. But no regrets. Not a single one. Teaching has deepened my connection with myself, my community and the world over the last six years in ways so rich that I can barely fathom some of the old poverties of being and relating; choosing a new, exciting, scary path rather than staying on an old, "safe" track which no longer nourished me, has taught me so much about taking risks and trusting in self and Universe; Great Mystery.

In many ways it brought even more up and close with yoga. Striving to align with yogic principles off the mat and out of the studio has been an ongoing passion and reality check - but walking the walk, I've come to realize, also means continuing to feed my mat practice. Even if it feels like there isn't time.

Every part of me needs it. And so does our world. By filling myself up first, spiritually speaking, I have so much more to offer; when we are full, we can nourish our relationships and our planet.

Getting too far away from asana practice makes me forget the feelings of exhilaration, space, freedom, peace, seamless and fully embodied ok-ness that my mat time manifests; not to mention, it puts me out-of-touch when teaching and gives me a bad case of asana envy.

When I get back to my mat, I remember. And I pick up the practice where I left off; life is a slipping in and out of yoga (Divine Union) and the space I carve out for mat practice always helps me to stay longer, slip less, keep committing.

Not every day can be a bad-ass Power Flow practice. There is a time for the tapas and samskara-burning heat of a challenging and transformative yang practice. And there is a time for stillness, and the healing, quiet waters of yin and meditative practices. The doing and the non-doing, the being and becoming. The evolution and involution. It's now and never-ending.

I love my mat more than ever - probably because it's collected everything from sweat and tears to nasal drip and dust. Such love is sacred and yields such abundant beauty but it is a relationship and an investment that, like any bond between two people, requires effort, work, time and, of course, love. Never stop giving to your practice and you will never stop receiving. Aum.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Go inside.
Turn a light on.
Shine it around.
Read the ancient writing on the walls.
Investigate the shadows.
Make your heart your home, again. 

And again. And again.

Inside, your real estate;
Axis mundi, temple of light.
Divine, here, unwind;
And know thyself.

Now, in folds of sweet solitude.
Drops of new nectar.
Golden glow of dawn.
Welcome, peace, here.
Like for the first time.

Fluid, but flowing in
New whispers of lovely.
Lovelier than any need.

The love inside is one step ahead.
Chase your pain,
Back to the breaking open.


Monday, 4 February 2013

The Yin and Yang of it

I am offering a series of workshops in the coming months that explore the yin and yang qualities of yoga. Through my own practice, I've learned that nurturing both aspects creates balance, and supports a dynamic, intuitive and sustainable yoga practice. 

I hope you will join me on this journey.

The Workshops:

Yin Sanctuary

Explore the other side of yoga. Yin is a deeply healing and restorative practice of asana (physical postures). We will get quiet, go inward and move safely into long, deep holds that target the body’s expansive web of connective tissues or fascia. 

Yin is the perfect complement to a dynamic practice and an antidote for stress and burnout: it helps relieve physical and emotional tension, lifts fatigue and makes the joints more “juicy” and mobile, while increasing the flow of prana (vital energy) in the body. We will use sensation as our guide, cultivate trust and open to “receiving.”

The Dates:

Yin Sanctuary ~ Sun. Feb 24, 4:15-6:15 p.m. @ Hot in Leduc $30 FULL!
RSVP as space is limited 780-986-5588

Yin Sanctuary ~ Sun. Mar 10, 1:00-3:00 p.m. @ Yoga Within $30 
RSVP as space is limited 780-450-9642 See Facebook Event.

Yin Sanctuary ~ Sun Mar 30, 1:30-3:30 p.m. @ That Yoga Place, Stony Plain $30
RSVP as space is limited 780-960-0868. See Facebook Event.

Yin/Yang Mandala

Experience the many harmonizing benefits of combining a strong, dynamic "yang" practice with a quiet, slow "yin" practice. We'll get sweaty and also deeply still. Strive. And arrive. Yang is the Sun. Yin is the Moon. Yang builds strength and feeds transformation. Yin honours the unchanging and essential wholeness of who you already are. Both energies are needed to balance mind, body and spirit. Come get your yin-yang on!

The Dates:

Yin/Yang Mandala ~ Sun Apr. 14, 1-3 p.m. @ Yoga Within, Edmonton $30
RSVP as space is limited 780-450-9642

Yin/Yang Mandala ~ Sun Apr. 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m. @ That Yoga Place, Stony Plain $30
RSVP as space is limited 780-960-0868

Got any questions about these workshops? Feel free to call or text me at 780-974-8401.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

To My Yoga

Yoga saved my life. Okay, not literally. But it reached me where no one and nothing else could, and started to reel me back in. 

Well, I had no idea what yoga was doing, of course, or even that I needed a line, but my body did. 

The first time I tried yoga I was in Fort St. James - about 250 km northwest of Everything, living (so to speak) in small-town northern B.C., and working like there was no tomorrow, as a reporter in a one-person newsroom.

Being in the moment was not even a concept to me. 

But the amazing thing about our physicality - and yoga - is that the body can experience what the mind has yet to put into words.

I was all brains and adrenaline, spending seven days a week chasing my dream to be a journalist, one idiom and adjective at a time. Headlines and deadlines. Nothing else mattered.

Until yoga woke me up.

It's like I was living in a perpetual storm without an umbrella or raincoat, and didn't even know it, and just for an hour I stepped out of it and undercover, and there was this instant of ineffable calm.

From that day forward, I sought yoga out in every town, city and country I visited. I grew a practice. I nurtured it through sunshine and inclemency. I became devoted to something, for the first time, whole-heartedly, because it made me believe - at first, in fleeting glimpses, and then more panoramic vistas which took my mind, body and breath away - that I was already, and always, whole. 

Where it all began. I attended my first public
yoga class in Prince George, BC in 2001.

Yoga did not peddle a religion or rulebook. It inspired a unique brand of faith in which belief arose through insights gained first-hand by my own heart and head. So there were no compromises. Only choices, which simply arrived, when other ones lost their hold on me. 

I am talking about self-limiting beliefs, actions, activities, relationships; the ones that keep our pain of separation - from our own true nature and our essential wholeness - at bay. Yoga taught me that we must chase our pain back to its source, feel it again in our bodies, sit through the anger and tears and mind games with our own disillusioned child, and then surrender. Just let go. As many times as necessary.

Through the rise and fall of breath, yoga spoke to me in an ancient and pre-linguistic language which moved my soul in ways that felt innately natural. Now we tussle, play, dance the dervish, revisit old and unforgiving places, explore new dimensions and re-route the bungled pathways I still travel on sometimes between fiction and truth. We laugh. We cry. But through it all, my trust in yoga only grows. 

Wholeness is like the cycles of the moon: sometimes it waxes and sometimes it wanes, but it's always there, night or day, winter or summer, rain or shine.

I've learned more about my self, human nature, Mother Earth, the galaxy, psychology, spirituality, people, politics, business, health and happiness from yoga, than from any book, course, job, goal or dream of living I ever had.  

Once, I believed that all I needed in life to be happy was my portable laptop (including wi-fi and online Thesaurus). Now, I travel with two soul companions: my trusty MacBook and my Manduka yoga mat. 

Yoga is my vocation, my ever-winding path, my teacher, my friend, and my lover - in whose eyes, is ever-reflecting that I, too, am lover and beloved.


Check out my current public yoga class schedule and upcoming workshops in Edmonton and area.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Word: Love

Workshop Links: Hot in Leduc and That Yoga Place.
Got Questions? Call me at 780-974-8401.

Meditate and Spread the Love: iSit and iKind

Thursday, 13 December 2012

iSit: Days 20 to 30 ... and onward!

With the holidays around the corner, who has large amounts of time to just sit around and do nothing?

With so many things on your to-do list, how can you possibly also carve out time and space for a meaningful meditation practice?

May I suggest, how can you afford not to?

Throughout the last week, I've felt the rising tension and anticipation on the roads, in the malls, at the post office, even in the yoga studio. 

Last Saturday night, I gave myself a flat tire when I ran impatiently into a curb backing up at a gas station. I was running on empty, literally, it was minus 100 degrees Celsius, I was hungry, tired and anxious to get home after being in a workshop all day. The karmic effects of my actions left me without a car, less time, more to do and a $200 bill for a new tire.

If only I could have been less reactive, I thought to myself. Maybe this meditation thing isn't going so well after all.

But here's the thing: Meditating is like turning on a light; the room gets brighter; suddenly you see more clearly and what you notice, now, cannot be unnoticed. This is a good thing. At least you're in reality.

I felt calm, absurdly at peace and unattached to the drama of "my little disaster." After all, I'd caused it. Now, at least, I could choose how to let the consequences effect me or touch others around me. 

Sometimes we catch ourselves in unconscious behaviour. Other times, it may be too late, but a least the fall-out doesn't have to be full of drama, delusion, blame or self-pity, and we can go on living.

The moments spent in intentional stillness and mindful presence directly affect the quality of your future moments. Meditation has a domino affect. Do it often and devotedly. My 30 day challenge is over but my practice has just begun. 

I will end with this quote from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra, which I highly recommend for anyone wanting to delve into a yoga and meditation practice: 

The Upanishads tell us, 'As great as the infinite space beyond is the space within the lotus of the heart.' From the time of your birth, you have been called to explore the world outside of you. Meditation is the exploration of your inner world. Yoga encourages you to be as familiar with your inner world of thoughts, feelings, memories, desires and imagination as you are with the outer world of time, space and causality. When you can move through both the inner and outer domains of life with freedom and finesse, you fulfill the highest purpose of yoga."

With a deep and full heart, Namaste. ॐ J.