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5 benefits of doing yoga in the morning

I’m a big yoga fan. The movement and breathing wakes my body up and forces my mind to start working, without the added stress of work or life’s challenges. Even a short five or 10-minute practice is enough to to wake me up and send positive vibes throughout my day. While many people say doing yoga at night is advantageous, I think doing it in the morning has just as many benefits.

Here are five benefits of doing yoga in the morning:

Peace of mind: People often start their day by thinking about all the tasks they have to complete before 5 p.m. And then we think about what we need to take out for dinner and who is going to be home and who is going to take out the dog. It gets crazy. Instead of starting your day off stressed out, a 10-minute yoga routine can help you slow down and be completely in the present. Whatever you need to do can wait. These 10 minutes are yours alone.

Focus: The peace of mind you get from practicing yoga can help you set an intention for your day. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to feel? Whether you want to maintain positive thinking, despite a meeting-packed day, or if you want to be confident during a presentation or networking event, an intention will help you create the frame of mind first thing.

Helps digestion: Practicing yoga in the morning can help your body metabolize food throughout the day. By doing gentle stretches, especially twists that massage the internal organs, the body becomes more capable of releasing toxins from the body. It also allows for the body to better absorb nutrients in food.

Better posture: Many yoga poses focus on muscles in your back, forcing you to push your shoulder blades back and breath deep into the stretch. Once you start actively thinking about how your head connects with the rest of your spine, there will be no going back. These type of exercises are ideal for those with a desk job.

Overall fitness: While yoga may not burn as many calories as running a 5k, it can help you strengthen your muscles and tone your body. Through the movement, you are essentially supporting your entire body mass using your own muscles. Whether it’s a simple downward dog or something more challenging like a balancing practice, every movement activates your core. If you are looking for something to supplement your cardio — yoga is the perfect routine.

Do you practice yoga in the morning? Let us know your favourite poses in the comments below!

Why transformative travel will change your life’s journey

In a society ruled by expected instantaneous results and smart devices, it’s often healthy to tap into your inner peace. This can be done through self-reflection or connecting with the elements around us.

While indulging on you inner journey, try escaping on an outer journey too. “Transformative travel” is a term coined by travel industry experts to describe a vacation that helps the traveller connect with their deeper self and inspire consciousness in the world. The Transformational Travel Collaborative is an organization founded on the basis of encouraging travellers to indulge in personal and inner journeys while on vacation.

The purpose of travelling is usually to immerse yourself in the local culture. This is often done by interacting with locals, going on excursions, and enjoying unique delicacies But have you ever felt worn out after a vacation like that one? It’s almost like you need another vacation after your vacation!

 

Instead of traditional travel, try travel with purpose. Travelling by itself helps you to discover, grow, and evolve, but it can also play a big component to healthy living and elevated growth.

Veronica Persaud, a travel consultant and franchise owner of Veronica Persaud- Dream Vacations, views travel as a connecting component of our life’s journey. “When someone travels they not only discover new things about the world around them, but most importantly, how they fit into this world! It’s like being a part of one grand puzzle, each piece as important as the other,” she told Women’s Post.

This new approach to viewing travel is heavily linked to wellness. Transformative travel promotes luxury retreats that have a more natural and artisanal design rather than modern or urban. Every part of your getaway should be peaceful in some aspect — this can include yoga, fitness, or wellness-related activities. Many travel agencies have jumped on this wellness trend, promoting fitness and health rather than local nightlife. In St Lucia, for example, the official tourism board has declared November as the inaugural Adventure and Wellness Month.

Even celebrities have started to promote the idea of going off the grid and focusing on your mental well being. In 2016, Chrissy Teigen, model and co-host of Lip Sync Battle, went on a wellness retreat to Bali, Indonesia. Her collection of majestic and soothing images on her Instagram helped spur this kind of movement forward. The family stayed at the COMO Shambhala Estate, which is a wellness resort offering activities such as hiking, swing yoga and rafting. It also housed a resident nutritionist for designed health plans. On her Instagram, Teigen captioned,

“My body and mind have never felt so clear. Thank You for getting me to move again… and giving me some much needed body and nutrition schooling.”

To Amy: the most patient human in the world

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

 

Transformative experiences that take place while travelling have a long lasting effect on psychology and emotion. For a more transformative travel experience follow these tips by Women’s Post:

  • Consider your intention for travel
  • Write down the goals for your trip — for instance: make a marriage stronger, connect with family, mental health or learning a creative trade.
  • Be vulnerable and humble — don’t just view a country for its glamorous tourist bits, but speak to a local about their lives and the conditions of that country.
  • Do less — take time to relax and experience the feelings around you
  • Have gratitude for your new perspective
  • Recall your insights gained by the trip and give yourself a short break upon returning home and restarting work

Your personal purpose and connection also transcends to a consciousness of the world, resulting in your desire to make meaningful changes once you return home. If you are thinking of where to start a journey like this, consider Dream Vacations. 

What are your thoughts on transformative travel? Leave a comment below!

 

How to stay thankful when the world hits back

With all the stress, disaster, and hurt happening in the world, it may be hard to realize that each day is an opportunity to start fresh. As many people in the Caribbean are dealing with the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, there are many things that people around the owrld should be thankful and grateful for in this life. It’s a difficult feeling to know that you can only do so much for those in need. It also doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to remember what it means to be thankful. Little steps and tips daily can help you to become a more grateful person despite the chaos around you.

Keep it classic

Remember when people would actually speak to each other face to face and over the phone and not just over instant message or email? Sometimes the smallest things can make the world of difference to someone’s day. Maybe it’s a quick phone call to a distant friend or a written and mailed thank you note or letter. These little gems have become so unexpected that they are now moments to cherish. When you take the time to do these things, you are expressing more gratitude than just a “thx” in an email.

Remember to speak

Sometimes people get frustrated and that is understandable; however, it is unacceptable to take it out on complete strangers. Just yesterday, I was in line at Subway and there was one man serving approximately four customers. The man in front of me was visibly upset for having to wait an extra four minutes to get his sandwich. When his order was finally complete, he threw the money at the server and left the restaurant without a ‘thank you.’ The man behind the counter was visibly upset and he told me that sometimes people get the treatment they deserve in life. As a new immigrant to Toronto, from the UK, the employee told me that despite being a multicultural city, Toronto still feels cold to him in part to people like that. Nobody deserves to have money thrown at them, no matter the day you’re having. The best thing you can do is always remember to say ‘Thank you.’

Keep it on record

Many people get into the habit of expressing their emotions thorough journals and this is a good way to show emotional control and to keep track of your thoughts. Even if you are not into the routine of journaling, there are small exercises you can do daily to keep gratitude in perspective. Every morning or every evening, list five things that you are grateful for. Try not to stick to the broad and basic stuff like ‘my family’ and ‘my home,’ but instead think about your day to day experiences and the people you cross paths with in life. Be thankful for the stranger that held the door open for you this morning or be thankful for the feeling of sunshine in a balmy September.

Be Positive

Telling someone to be positive when everything is going wrong around them can sometimes feel like a slap to the face. Instead, make it your duty to reflect the best version of yourself to those around you. You have to be the one to make the decisions that will impact your life. Practice more self awareness and don’t bury your face in a phone while communicating with someone. Or even practice breathing and mediation in order to calm yourself and improve your mood.

Only one version of you

The most powerful thing you have over someone else is that you are unique. There is nobody else like you in this world. Some may have similar characteristics and traits, but you are in control of your life and the best thing you can do is be thankful to your body. Eat, sleep, exercise, and have fun. The moments may pass us by quickly and you don’t want to leave your life with regrets. The best thing you can do is make yourself happy because sometime happiness can be the most difficult thing to achieve

How to wake up in the morning if you are a night owl

Do you absolutely dread mornings and wish they didn’t exist?

DO NOT be alarmed! You are not alone! Mornings are the absolute worst, especially if you are a dedicated night owl. Unfortunately though, if you want to function in the real world, then you must learn to tolerate, and one day even enjoy mornings.

The best way to do this rather than wake up and throw pillows at your alarm clock, and show up to work looking like you’ve been at the rodeo is to develop a morning routine. Sound like a snooze? It is indeed the complete opposite, and will help you to wake up instead of rush out of the house in a mad frenzy every morning.

The absolute first thing you must do when you wake up is drink a tall glass of cold water with lemon if possible. It will immediately revive your dehydrated, tired body and give you that first kick to waking up. Once this task is complete, stretch from head to toe. And when I say that, I don’t mean simply raise your arms above your head. I’m talking a full-on cat stretch that engages every part of your spine.

Now you are ready to put your feet to the ground. Do it quickly before you lose motivation and fall asleep again. Once your feet are out of the bed, the day has started. Celebrate! Rejoice! You have achieved the first hurdle of your day. Next up, yoga.

Try doing 10 minutes of yoga, beginning with morning sun salutations. It gets the blood moving in your body and will help work out any kinks that developed through the REM cycle. If you prefer to self-lead, do so and if you need support, there are many 10 minute yoga videos to try out. Finding your preferred method of getting your body moving in the morning is essential, and if yoga doesn’t do it for you, try push-ups, Pilates, or jogging on the spot! Whatever works, simply remember to get your body moving.

After working up a (little) sweat, it is time for the shower. There is nothing better than feeling warm water on your skin and a meditation to go along with cleaning off the soap suds will surely set your day on track. When you are in the shower, close your eyes and visualize the warm water washing away all of your stress and anxieties. Imagine all of these fears washing down the drain and open your eyes renewed and refreshed physically and mentally. Listening to music in the shower is also a pleasant add-on.

Another essential, though it will come as no surprise since everyone is told to do this from age three onwards, is breakfast! Even if breakfast isn’t “your thing”, try to have at least something small and healthy to eat in the morning. If you are like me, and aren’t much of a morning muncher, try a smoothie instead. Make sure it is full of delicious and healthy ingredients including flax seed, berries (full of antioxidants), and protein powder for an extra kick. At this point, remember to take your daily vitamins too to keep your body vital and strong.

If you make this routine a regular thing and incorporate rehydration, exercise, a shower, meditation, and healthy eating into your morning, you will find that waking up becomes a pleasant experience rather than a complete and total drag. It is inevitable that people must wake up in the morning whether for work or school — so why not make it a happy part of the day?

What are parts of your morning routine? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Running helps Canadian singer Melissa Bel stay on a high note

Why do you run? Some people choose to run to loose weight or keep fit — all you need is a pair of shoes and an open road. But, there are many more benefits to running than simply overall health, just ask Canadian singer and songwriter Melissa Bel. In a phone interview, the Toronto native now living in Devon England talks about her music career and how running helps her both mentally and physically.

“It has been over a year now living in a rural village called Devon. It is a slower pace of life where everything closes at 5pm,” Bell says with a laugh. Despite missing the busy city life in Toronto, this Canadian pop soul artist finds running on country roads relaxing. “The city drives you to be busy. Having that balance is good,” she adds.

And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she isn’t doing media interviews or promoting her music, Bel is running. The movement helps inspire creativity and clears her mind. “I considered myself a casual runner and Devon is a beautiful place to run. It is a constant battle to run but it is the progress you can make it. I run one mile. Next day I will run two. It is therapeutic and is a good way to blow off steam,” she says.

“I originally started running to lose weight, tone up my legs, and improve my fitness. I’ve been an on-and-off runner for about six years, but recently have started to be more consistent with it. Possibly because the more mild UK climate makes it easier to run outside all year long. I’m actually thinking of doing my first-ever race in October, the 10 mile Great South Run (I have to stick to it now that I’ve said it on record!). I still run for the same reasons as when I started, but also to blow off steam, clear my mind, and challenge myself. It’s a bit meditative for me as well because it’s one of the rare times where I’m fully in the moment and not getting distracted by thoughts and worries. I’m fully focused on my breath and my strides.”

Bel is not working on any new music at the moment, but is rather promoting her recent album In the Light, which includes seven songs on the Extended Play. The album was released on Nov. 4 of last year.

This will be Bel’s fourth album and her music before was jazz and blues attracting fans in the 40’s and 60’s age groups and a huge following in Quebec. “My earlier albums were definitely more jazz and blues, with bits of pop, folk, soul and even rock,” she says. “I wanted to be more consistent as far as the genre of “In the Light”, and to be perfectly honest wanted a better shot at getting played on the radio. My goal with this album was to do something fresh and contemporary while incorporating my soul and blues influences. Hoping to gain some new fans while giving my existing ones something a bit different that they’ll still enjoy!”

On April 26th, Bel will be coming back to Canada. She will be in Toronto performing at the Cameron House.

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @ christineruns

Youtube – runwithitcb1

Meditation: the best way to relax with your kids

Children are often overstimulated with too much screen use, too many weekly recreational activities, and too much interaction with the busy urban world that surrounds them. Teaching children how to meditate gives them a stress coping strategy that will be last the duration of their lives. Using the power of breath in any given moment has limitless positive effects on a person’s ability to focus, calm down, and lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

Every night before going to sleep, my five-year daughter and I meditate together. She is often overtired when it gets close to bedtime and is also hyper from the many activities and social interactions of her school day. Meditating for 15 minutes helps both of us to relax and transition into the quieter part of our evening together. When I tell people I meditate regularly with a five-year-old, people often respond with disbelief. “How is it possible to meditate with a young child who constantly has the case of the wiggles,” they ask.

First off, don’t expect a young child to meditate for longer than 10-15 minutes. It is difficult for the little people to stay still and asking a child to remain in a meditative state any longer than a quarter of an hour is unreasonable. Children won’t stay completely still when meditating either, but it will be a positive experience as long as their eyes are closed and they are engaged.  My daughter and I use various online videos that are made specifically for children. They are free and a wide variety is offered. There are also a variety of free apps to download on your phone if preferred.

The main difference I’ve noticed between regular meditation recordings and alternatives made for kids is the way the information is presented. Kids’ meditations often include a storyline relating to a candy mountain or a princess castle that gives them something to imagine while they lie still.

At age five, children have spectacular imaginations and it is ingenious to use their ability to create fantasy worlds in order to get them to meditate. My daughter is so enthralled with the recordings and visiting these imaginative places in her head that she will actually ‘shush’ me if I ask her a question or interrupt. She takes meditating very seriously and it must be silent for the whole 15 minutes (very shocking and hilarious to hear my child asking me to be quiet).

Within the visualizations at candy mountain or the princess castle, the fundamentals of meditation are embedded into the storyline. When you get to cinnamon bun square, you must ‘breathe in deeply’ and ‘stretch your toes’ after you wake up in your princess bed. It works like a charm and is very relaxing. I recommend finding a children’s meditation that also includes motivational messaging alongside the breathing exercises. Our favourites also include messages that say ‘you are a great person’, ‘you are very smart’ and ‘think of all the people who you love and love you’. Motivational messaging and self-love meditations are incredibly healing and help give kids a sense of confidence and security.

Another important element when meditating with kids is a space to do it in. My daughter and I use specific pillows and lay down in our living room. If you have the extra room, create a permanent space meant specifically for meditating. It helps young children connect that space with relaxing and quiet time. I also allow my daughter to have her stuffed animals meditate with us too. Making meditation too serious will make it unenjoyable, and that isn’t very relaxing. Laying down in your meditative space and dimming the lights will also set the mood and helps kids to calm down faster.

Meditation has helped my daughter to fall asleep more easily and is fantastic bonding time for both of us. It also forces busy moms like myself to lay down and set a good example by relaxing for 15 minutes of the crazy day! I have noticed it also helps when coping with tantrums and emotional moments. My daughter will take deep breaths if asked and is slowly developing a life-long coping strategy for stress. In the midst of baseball, swimming, girl guides and work, it is important to slow down and enjoy your kids. Meditation allows for this time and space, and is an invaluable experience.

How do you meditate with your kids? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Roundup: 2016 Women of the Week

Every week, Women’s Post publishes a profile of a Canadian woman that has done something truly extraordinary. Our staff has spoken with a large number of inspirational human beings — some are volunteering their time, some have founded their own businesses, and some are trying to break down barriers in male-dominated industries.

Let’s start 2017 off right by rounding up all some of these amazing women into one post. Each one will include a link back to their original profile. Do you have a recommendation or suggestion for a Woman of the Week? Send it to kate@womenspost.ca.

Emily Ridout: Co-founder of 889 Yoga

Sometimes an idea just comes to you. In fact, it calls to you — and it can’t go unanswered. That’s what Emily Ridout said when Women’s Post asked her why she started 889Yoga, a yoga and wellness studio on Yonge Street in Toronto. For her, it was about bringing the practices she learned during her travels to the city she loved.

Marni Dicker: VP Infrastructure Ontario

The bulk of Dicker’s career has been in “a man’s world, with a hard hat on and steel toe boots.” A self-described “energizer-bunny”, she works full-time for Infrastructure Ontario (IO), chairs Women Build with Habitat for Humanity, is a distinguished visiting scholar at Ryerson University, is a mentor for the Women’s Executive Network, an executive sponsor of Women IO, and chair of IO Gives Back. All the while, she makes time to go to every single one of her sons’ football games.

Miriam Verburg: CEO of Bloom Digital Media

Do you remember those teenage years — all of the confusion, the expectations, and the social awkwardness?

That’s one of the reasons why Miriam Verburg helped to create the LongStory Game, a dating sim, choose-your-own-adventure type game that helps pre-teens and teenagers learn the ins-and-outs of dating. Users get to pick a character —boy, girl, or trans — and must solve a mystery while navigating social scenarios. Some examples include, bullying, backstabbing friends, alienation and immigration, and experimentation with their own sexuality.

Ana Bailão: Toronto City Councillor 

Ana Bailão moved to Canada, specifically to the Davenport area in Toronto, from Portugal at the age of 15 — and she hasn’t left. In fact, she now represents the ward as a city councilor. “It’s a part of the city that feels like home,” she said during an interview at city hall.

Jennifer Flanagan: Founder and CEO of Actua

More woman are getting involved in certain science, like medicine for example, but Flanagan says there is still a void in research and in technology-based industries. “Whether its health-based research that’s skewed because no women were involved — it affects research outcome. It’s really important to have those voices at the table. And so, that starts really early. Talking to girls – telling them that they can do science and we NEED them in science. We need to make sure women are designing the world of the future.”

Chantal Kreviazuk: Canadian Musician

Chantal Kreviazuk. Photo provided by Chantal Kreviazuk.

Singer and song-writer Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian icon who never fails to bring her listeners home. She is someone who loves the euphoria of performing, which is why after a seven year hiatus, she will be back to touring, promoting her new album Hard Sail. “To get to that moment [on stage], it is what we call enlightenment. It is so outer-worldly for me. It is like Christmas every day when touring. It’s scary as hell and exciting,” Kreviazuk says.

Kimberly Caroll: Body/Mind/Spirit Coach and Animal Activist 

Body/Mind/Spirit coach Kimberly Carroll has a voice that is calm, but focused. It has a powerful quality to it that helps each person she speaks with realize how important it is to care for themselves in order to impact change in others. After listening to her speak, it’s easy to understand her transition from a career in radio and television into a profession that allows her to motivate and help people.

Julia Langer: CEO of TAF

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is celebrating its 25th anniversary — and with that milestone comes an opportunity to expand its mandate to include the greater Hamilton area. TAF is an organization that looks for urban solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and while it focuses most of its efforts on Toronto, Julia Langer, CEO of TAF, knows that it’s time to expand.

“It’s about recognizing that opportunities for solving climate change are not limited to the 416.”

Erin O’Neill: Chief of Planning, Regional Emergency Operations during Fort McMurray Fire

Erin O’Neill was in Red Deer when she heard about the fire, accepting her new role as president elect of the Alberta Professional Planners Institute. She couldn’t go home and couldn’t get any information. “I was following twitter. I watched the news like everyone else,” she said. “I remember going to sleep thinking I would wake up and not have anything.” Her official position, Chief of Planning for the Regional Emergency Operations Center, meant she was in charge of all re-entry procedures — creating a Recovery Task Force, getting critical businesses like pharmacies and grocery stores up and running, and eventually helping people back into their homes.

Anita Krajnc: Founder of Toronto Pig Save

Anita Krajnc, animal rights activist and Toronto Pig Save Organizer.

Tragedy struck in Burlington last week when a truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned on the highway. Forty pigs were killed in the accident. Fearman’s Slaughterhouse then walked the 100 remaining pigs to be killed in their facility. Animal rights protesters were on the scene to witness a terrible lack of mercy on the part of the slaughterhouse workers. Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save tried desperately to save any of the traumatized pigs from being murdered. She was arrested for crossing police lines and trying to see the pigs that were being hidden from sight behind cardboard barriers. Krajnc was charged with obstructing a peace officer and breach of recognizance. This is the second time she has been arrested for her humane acts towards these animals.

Jazz Kamal: Boxing Coach, Spoken Word Artist, Musician

Kamal destroys the boundaries of what it means to be a repressed woman, and instead lives a life of truth and integrity. Her story is reminiscent of the fiery phoenix renewed, rising from the ashes stronger and ready to help others find their own light in a time of darkness. Kamal is a boxing coach and helps create a space for women to embrace their power and strength at Newsgirls, a women-only boxing studio in Toronto. She is also a profound lyricist and musician, creating political word-spins worthy of the hip hop greats.

Jennifer Keesmaat: Chief Planner for the City of Toronto

Photo provided by Jennifer Keesmaat’s office.

As Toronto’s first female chief city planner, Keesmaat is keenly aware of the importance of mentorship and constant learning. Of the directors she works with, only two are women. This gender gap is difficult to break. As Keesmaat explains, when you are in a meeting and 90 per cent of the people around the table are male, it can generate stress for women.

 

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Why you should unplug this year

Are you rolling your eyes yet? Have you closed this window? Please, before you leave to read something else, hear me out!

It’s true that every year someone makes a claim for a tech-free existence. As a reporter, that very thought terrifies me. Technology has become such a critical part of not only my life, but society as a whole. There is, quite literally, no way to live a digital-free life, which in itself is a pretty scary thought.

What I am arguing is the benefits of a short-term unplugging, or rather the importance of limiting your digital intake this year.

In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to go a day without technology. For example, personally, I wake up in the morning and look at my phone — what time is it? What’s the weather? Did someone comment on my Facebook page? I then travel to work, listening to a podcast and checking my Twitter feed as I go. Once I get to work, I’m on the computer for all but my bathroom breaks. Then, I travel home and sit myself down in front of the television to unwind. If I feel like it, I’ll check my emails after dinner and my social networks. Maybe I’ll play a game or watch Netflix in bed? All of this is to say that technology has, quite literally, become my life.

This is what led me to this realization: every once in a while we have to unplug, get rid of the temptation to check social media or the need to be up to date with our work 24/7. By unplugging from the digital world, it gives you the opportunity to live in the REAL world — not one that is judged by hashtags and filters.

According to Forbes, 61 per cent of people feel depressed after checking social media and 71 per cent say their devices contribute to their overall stress. This doesn’t shock me. Every time I pick up my phone, I see friends and colleagues succeeding in their workplace and/or messages from people upset with their life. Both scenarios evoke strong emotions in me, and that’s before I read all of the heartbreaking news posted in my feeds.

Technology also makes it incredibly difficult to separate your business and personal life. If you are always checking your emails on your phone, you’ll never get to experience anything else. Do your work at work, and when you get home, make sure to spend time with your family or on yourself.

An easy way to start this new chapter of your unplugged life is to remove all technology from your view an hour before you go to bed. Instead, do the dishes, read a book, or go for a walk. The artificial lights in your television or cell phones can actually trick your brain into thinking it should be awake. You may find you sleep better if you don’t check your devices in the middle of the night.

In the morning, instead of checking your phone first thing, make yourself a cup of tea and/or coffee first. Take that 10 minutes for yourself and think about what you are doing that day. Maybe do a short yoga practice or meditation. Starting the day with presence of mind, deciding what YOU want rather than what Twitter tells you to want, will help set the tone for the rest of the day.

Resist the temptation to take a photo of your food at a restaurant. Keep that phone in your purse! Unless your job is in food photography, no one really cares! Why not enjoy what’s in front of you, as well as the conversation happening around the table?

And finally, try to spend one day a week away from the television and/or computer. Go out of the city, meet up with friends, or simply run some errands. Find a hobby that doesn’t involve technology — knitting, writing, painting, or a sport! The entire goal of this unplugged time is to allow yourself to be present and aware of what is happening around you, without interruption or distraction.

I know unplugging can be hard — I myself suffer from withdrawal if I don’t check my phone after an hour or so. But, this year, my plan is to be more present. I want to try more things, be more alive, and that is not something I can do if I’m constantly glued to my computer or my phone.

Ultimately, remember this: living life is much more important than documenting it. With this kind of mentality, you can’t go wrong!

Woman of the Week: Emily Ridout

Sometimes an idea just comes to you. In fact, it calls to you — and it can’t go unanswered.

That’s what Emily Ridout said when Women’s Post asked her why she started 889Yoga, a yoga and wellness studio on Yonge Street in Toronto. For her, it was about bringing the practices she learned during her travels to the city she loved.

“Toronto didn’t have that yet. It was missing and we wanted to create that in our own city. A place where people could feel very comfortable to go on this path to healing and returning to who they really are, in a space that was clean, beautiful, and accessible”

889 is a quaint little studio located near Rosedale. The storefront is full of essential oils, juices, journals, candles and teas, in addition to props used for yoga, pilates, and meditation. As you head upstairs to the studio, the smell of white tea is unmistakeable. Class participants are free to enjoy a glass of water or cup of tea before and after their session. The studio itself is bright with lots of windows that allow the sun to shine in. It’s the kind of place that automatically relaxes you and breaks down barriers.

The studio has a very loyal following. As one member said, once you take a class at 889, “you’ll fall in love with it”. Newcomers are welcomed with a smile and instructors are patient with everyone, no matter their skill level. The ultimate goal is for people to feel comfortable and at peace — and in that, 889 is very successful.

“We are a beginner/intermediate studio,” Ridout said. “If you haven’t tried it, it’s very welcoming, kind, forgiving, and that is what we set out for. “

Ridout comes from a family of entrepreneurs, but decided to venture into academics instead. She studied commerce with a minor in French. Eventually, she dropped commerce and focused all her energy on linguistics.

Her first job following her graduate degree was with Butterfield and Robinson, a company that designs and runs tourist expeditions, mainly involving hiking and biking around the world.  Ridout started as a receptionist, eventually applying for a temp job in operations working on trips outside of Europe. Shortly after she became Expeditions Trip Manager, helping plan and coordinate trips, as well as acting as communication liaison with the guides overseas.

Ridout loves to travel herself. She spent a year in Spain learning the language and culture. It was actually in Barcelona where she took her first official yoga class, mostly as a way to make friends and use her beginner Spanish. At the same time, her sister Christine was also introduced to yoga during her travels to California and Los Angeles. They eventually got together and realized a passion had been ignited.

The goal wasn’t just to create a yoga studio, but rather a place of wellness, where Torontonians could experience what the Ridout sisters experienced during their travels. What’s unique about this venture was that neither sister was a trained instructor — just entrepreneurs with a vision.

“We wanted to own a business, run the business, and create a space where people can heal, do yoga and be at peace. Look at themselves from an internal point,” she said. “And we did it! We hired teachers. We hired healing professionals. We had no experience at all. It was just a calling. “

And that was about 10 years ago.  Since then, 889 has grown immensely, while still maintaining its foundation — to inspire happy, healthy, and peaceful lives. Ridout likes to say the studio is a reflection of how both sisters have evolved. They helped create and plan a 200-hour Living Yoga School, a program that transforms yoga lovers into capable instructors. Both sisters have taken this course and are now able to teach yoga as well as meditation classes.

They have also added a storefront that sells environmentally-conscious and Canadian-focused products and are teaching a number of private classes for moms and other women that combine essential oils with meditation and breathing work. Ridout is also designing a digital platform for these programs, especially for working moms with little time to come to the studio.

Her biggest piece of advice to women entrepreneurs is to simplify, and then simplify some more. “Keep the offer as simple and clear as you can. If you think its simple enough, break it down again. It makes it simpler for people to understand and get on board.”

Ridout also wants women to focus on something they are passionate about, something that lights you up when you talk about it. “There is enough room in the world for us all to do what we believe in and do what we love. If someone else is doing it, or doing something similar, there will always be your authentic version of it.”

“If you believe in something, create it and sell it. Don’t get discouraged by people who are already “doing” your idea, or something similar, or by a fear that you’re not good enough.”

Ridout has three children, who she says help keep her present and joyful.  She is currently working through “May Cause Miracles”, a 40-day guide to reflection, change, and happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein, for the second time.

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One woman’s journey in documentary, “As She Is”

“As She Is” is a documentary about one woman’s journey to discover what is missing in her life, and to recover her feminine identity in our westernized and often patriarchal society.

Director Megan McFeely embarked on a life-changing journey after experiencing the death of her boyfriend and two other family members in the span of three weeks. “My life fell apart 17 years ago and I began really trying to figure out another way. I never felt fully myself in the world and was being pre-constructed to live a certain way,” said McFeely.  “I started working with organizations that were trying to shift consciousness. I had to go to India and make the film.”

Director, Megan McFeely
Director, Megan McFeely

“As She Is” explores how the feminine is absent from many faucets of westernized society and needs to be embraced by both women and men. McFeely says she needed to draw away from the dominant and power hungry ethos of being a business woman, and instead wanted to live differently. “I started looking around for what it meant to live a life. What am I doing here? The question was so fundamental, that I started finding things that helped me understand,” McFeely said. “The question about the feminine came at a later state. It guided my life.”

Previously, McFeely had been working in public relations in San Francisco and had been a successful business woman in the software industry. After her life fell apart, she felt that her career focused on her more dominant traits and she desired to connect with her emotive side more deeply.

“I have been living from the masculine. My father was a federal prosecutor. I was really assertive and direct and I had a really good linear thinking mind. I was completely disconnected from the feminine,” McFeely said. “We were born into a patriarchy, and we have been trained. Our mind is more trained than our heart. The mind is a thing that separates us, breaking things down from the biggest to the smallest. The heart brings us together.”

McFeely quit her job and embarked on her journey to India to discover her feminine side. She decided to make a film, interviewing a variety of spiritual teachers and authors on the subject of the feminine and its import in modern society. Interviewees include Sufi teacher, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, who is the founder of the Golden Sufi Centre in Northern California, and explores spiritual consciousness and the significance of the feminine within.  Co-founder of the Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology at University of California at Berkley, Stacey Lawson, is also a spiritual guide and talks about the strengths of embracing the feminine in the business world in “As She Is”.

“Interestingly, McFeely is interviewed in the film, which is rare in a documentary. She described the experience of being the subject of the film and the director as vulnerable and humbling. “I was very judgmental of myself and I had to trust other people. Imagine watching yourself for eight months, it is really humbling,” McFeely says. “You have to accept yourself in a certain way. It was an amazing learning process for me to be in the film.”

Since the release of “As She Is”, McFeely has met women all over the world that feel similarly. Recently her documentary was screened in the Library of Alexandria in Egypt and was recently presented at the 14th Annual Female Eye Festival in Toronto. The festival showcases female documentaries and includes panels discussing women and the film industry.