The pain of Fall

Wow! I can’t believe Summer went by so fast and Fall is approaching so quickly!! The leaves are turning, the animals preparing for Winter, we have had our first frost warning out here on the acreage and last night we had a beautiful fire to warm up the house.

I have a love hate relationship with Fall. I love the beauty that unfolds before me; I love the harvest of all the organic veggies from our garden; I love the coziness of warmer clothes; I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes; I love soup;  I love the opportunity to withdraw a bit to read a book, do some personal development or watch a movie under the blanket with a cup of tea; There are so many things I love and am grateful for them all!

The one thing I dislike a lot, is the cooler weather and the pressure changes that makes my body hurt so bad; My Fibromyalgia always act up as the days begin to cool off and the knowing that Winter comes after Fall creates a shift in me that wants to hide under my heated blanket and wait it out until Spring. But that is not practical nor a positive action and I don’t think Don would appreciate it at all. I have to remind myself that I am a Fibro Warrior and I have many ways to support my body, mind and soul to support me through the dark, cold days. I have learned to embrace my limitations and shift my focus to positive thinking instead. I have figured out how to effectively grow my heart centred business by being there and supporting others to the best of my ability, while still practicing deep self care and self love.

This, however, is a work in progress as it is so easy to beat ourselves up, or to listen to other peoples words of how their bodies hurt more than mine (really…how can pain be compared?? It is so relative to the person experiencing it!!!), so I should be able to do what they do and more. This breaks my heart and chips away at my mental health which I work so hard at maintaining. (Depression in chronic pain suffers is extremely high.) Pain comparison is bullshit! It makes me so angry when people do it. Pain is so personal, and when we compare pain, someone is not being heard, seen or loved for their experience. Just because one pain is different from another pain, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. We may not be able to feel each others pain, but we can offer our help, support, compassion and empathy. My goal is that all Fibro Warriors, other Chronic Pain suffers and anyone experiencing pain of any kind find ways to practice self care and build up the mental muscles to not take on other people’s opinions. If you are someone who needs any kind of support, please reach out! You are not alone, you are loved and I am here to help you! ❤️

Over the next 2 months, I have stacked my schedule with a variety of classes, workshops and retreats to support your journey on the physical, mental and emotional levels. I hope you can take advantage of some of the offerings. You are so important to your family, friends and to the world! You deserve to be happy, loved, supported and living your best life. If I can support you in any way, please let me know!

Have a happy and blessed September!

Love & Light
Michelle

Prison Yoga Program

imageIt was Spring of 2013, I wanted to give back to the community in some way as part of my personal karma yoga practice and had just discovered an amazing program down in California that had yoga being taught successfully to the male prisoners in the San Quentin prison. Looking more into this program, I just knew that this is what I needed to do, and as fate would have it, it was around this time that I met Joe Sheen, the program’s director at the Fort Saskatchewan Corrections Center(FSCC). It is with his assistance, support, determination and hard work that this program began. He sought out the funding and space, provided me with an orientation and tour and got everything in place to make sure the program runs smoothly.

The FSCC Yoga Program officially began January 2014, and I can still remember the very first class and how extremely nervous and unsure I felt. I was escorted into the facility by Joe and introduced to the recreation staff, who have been and continue to be, an amazing support to both myself and the program, and I am thankful for all of them. When the first group entered, my plan was to be nice and it would all be ok…or so I thought…I soon discovered the need for very clear boundaries and that I couldn’t be a pushover, I needed to be firm. Those first few weeks were very interesting as I could get a group that was very respectful and open and the class would flow smoothly and on another week, the complete opposite, where there were disruptive individuals who I had to send back to the unit and the class felt like it would never end. The recreation crew and I would work together and through trial and error, we began to figured out how we could offer a good experience to those who wanted it and I learned how to be tough but still kind and compassionate.

Fast forward 18 months…The women enter the gym one at a time in a haphazard line and quickly make their way to a favorite colored mat or to a spot in the front or back depending on preference. Each week new faces are among the familiar, and there is an understanding of what to do and not to do. A quick introduction, an explanation of the rules and we begin. They settle on their mats, preparing for the practice. The next hour is theirs, to forget where they are, to move their bodies mindfully, to breathe and to begin or continue the process of self love, acceptance and forgiveness.

Every class begins with relaxing the body, a short meditation and some breathing exercises, followed by some warm-ups. The class is them dictated by first taking into account that the women have just eaten dinner, then the mood and energy of the class and the behaviors that are showing up. I teach to the group in front of me, most weeks, the class moves seamlessly along as the women move together, breathe together and heal together. As the class comes to an end, the women are given a few minutes of stillness, silence and peace before wiping their mats down and heading back to their respective unit.

Sometimes after a class, someone will come up to me and thank me, share a personal story or ask how they can continue practicing once they get out. It is these moments that my heart fills with joy and my belief that yoga can make a difference is reinforced. It is why I keep coming back.

I have often been asked why I teach yoga to the inmates and my answer is simple, because they need it. There is 100% guarantee that the women who attend my class will return to their communities and if the yoga program can make a difference for even one woman to help her make healthier choices to breathe deeper, to slow down,to be more mindful and present and to love themselves, then, to me, it is a very successful program. We must all, as Gandhi once said, “Be the change we want to see in the word”. I truly believe this and the yoga program at the Fort Saskatchewan Corrections Center is one of the ways I can be that change and for that I am deeply grateful for the opportunity.

Yoga For Parkinson’s Disease

I love my job…I feel so privileged that I am able to teach yoga and meditation full time and get to work with some amazing individuals on a daily basis. However, sometimes a class comes along and teaches me more than I could ever teach them and touches my heart deeply. This is the case with my class at Parkinson Alberta.

The courage, resilience, hard work and positive attitudes of the men and women who consistently show up despite the obstacles they must overcome, demonstrates that if there is a will, there is a way. I am always humbled that they come to my class. Did you know that one of the winners of the Amazing Race had Parkinson’s Disease? This fact not only gives me inspiration, it reinforces that anything is truly possible!

Parkinson Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that robs people of their motor functions due to the death of the cells that normally produce dopamine. It is a movement disorder. Some of the symptoms of Parkinson are fatigue, sleep disturbances, constipation and problems with hand writing. Also, the voice can become quiet like a whisper; movement becomes small, more like a shuffle; smiles become nonexistent; and tremors shake parts of the body. And then there are the emotional concerns of stress, anxiety and depression. Medical treatment is used to help with some of the symptoms and it is also strongly recommended that physical activity is consistently done. Yoga is an amazing complementary therapy for movement disorders as it exercises both body and mind, provides a way to fight back against the disorder and creates an opportunity for fellowship and social support.

The weekly yoga class at Parkinson Alberta focuses on ways to help with movement, balance, breathing, strength and emotional wellbeing. Big movements are done to keep the body limber and to help with day to day tasks of getting dressed, brushing teeth and putting on shoes. Balance is practiced, as it is an everyday challenge for people with Parkinson’s. Deep breathing and working with different breathing exercises help with projecting the voice and keeping the lungs functioning at their best. Building strength helps with stamina. And a relaxing guided meditation at the beginning of the class sets the stage for a mindful practice where stress and worry are encouraged to take a back seat. Together, the class meets challenges with humor, compassion and focus. They refuse to let Parkinson’s get the better of them, they continue to show up in their lives and live! They are my teachers!

The difference I see from doing yoga these past few months with these individuals is astounding. Arms are above the head and big smiles are visible…I truly have the best job in the world and I am so blessed!

Inner Fire Luminary

imageI am very excited to announce that I have been welcomed into the Inner Fire Luminary Program! Inner Fire is a Canadian Company that creates lifestyle clothing that fosters connection and honors Mother Earth. Their core values are: Respect for the planet, Nurturing of global community, helping one find their inner passion and promoting peace through positivity, laughter and mindfulness…the same values I hold dear! Visit their website at http://www.myinnerfire.com and use my personal 15% discount code (michelled) should you decide to make a purchase. Let’s support these companies who are making a difference!