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How To Have The Best Yoga Practice (at Home) Ever

Parts of this post where originally published on Sept 25, 2013. It has been entirely updated for your reading pleasure. Enjoy the tips! Last week I opened the doors to my 20 Day Online Yoga Challenge. This flexible and fun challenge is perfect for keeping up a regular practice over the summer if you happen to be away or are simply looking for something outside of your regular studio class. However, it takes a certain mindset to cultivate a solid home practice. And sometimes trying to self-generate inspiration on the yoga mat becomes more of a chore than a joy. So in addition to sharing my challenge with you, here are some ideas to help you create a consistently, outstanding practice at home. 1. Make Space and Set the Mood Before you begin your practice, make sure you have everything you need, your mat, your blocks and clothing appropriate for your environment and the temperature. At bare minimum, you need enough level, uncluttered surface area immediately surrounding your mat to move on.  In an ideal situation, you should set up the space to be beautiful, inspirational and alive. The space and mood of your setting then becomes an extension of your practice and makes you feel joyful and ready to have the best practice possible. Be rigid about being comfortable enough to let go on the mat.  This is so important! One might think yoga in a forest at twilight is going to be blissful…and for the mosquitoes eating you alive, it just might be. Find a place to practice whether it’s indoors or outdoors that isn’t going to pull your focus off the mat for any reason.
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Yoga and Lack of Motivation (20 Day Challenge)

Yoga is a lodestone practice for many people. We turn to our mats to keep the body and mind happy and healthy. We get on the mat to work out the stagnation of careers that keep us sitting all day or working our minds to the brink of exhaustion. For you, yoga might be the constant in a life filled with ups and downs and growing uncertainty. But what happens when you suddenly don't feel motivated to get up and on to your mat or to your favourite class? I have written about this before, but as we enter the summer months this topic may require another look. The fact is some of my regular students take the summer off and then come back to their mats in September with pangs of regret that they didn't make room for yoga during those balmy months. After that brief hiatus, the body starts to crave the rhythm and fluidity of the postures while the mind reaches to find space and clarity that a good yoga practice can provide. And I understand completely. While the weather is beautiful I like to spend more time outside enjoying the warmth, hiking trails, and any combination of pools or lakes I can jump into. But on those longer breaks from my yoga practice, it feels like something is missing. Yoga is not just a physical practice afterall. It is a ritual of movement that can awaken and connect with the subconscious levels below our daily operating system.  More and more I see how many of us need that time on the mat in order to be more aware and deliberate in the world. That is why this summer I am determined not to let my practice wane. But like I have mentioned so many times before on my podcast, for most of us having an accountability partner is key to helping us stay on track and stick with our commitments. So, I want to be your accountability buddy on the mat. Today I am opening the doors to a 20 Day Elemental Yoga Challenge. From July 1-20 I am going to create a series of videos (and a few audios) that you can follow for your daily practice. The challenge is to do at least 20 minutes of practice per day. If you have the time and energy for more you can simply pile up a few of the sessions together to great the length of your desire.
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Yoga and Inner Strength

Yoga is a powerful practice. Physical asana (the poses themselves) can help to make your body supple and strong. An hour of movement focused on honouring your body and your breath can produce countless positive side effects for your well-being. But sometimes due to the relaxed nature of many styles of yoga, it is easy to forget about one of the most important benefits to regular practice; inner strength. True, that there are many more intense physical and spiritual paths that demand the cultivation of your deeper resolve. It takes momentous effort to climb a mountain or participate in an IronMan. And surely, monks living in secluded monasteries know a thing or two about self-discipline. But for ordinary people who don't wish to become elite athletes or dedicate their lives to religious practice, yoga is one possible path to developing profound inner strength. One simple reason is that study of yoga in any and all its forms takes discipline. It takes time and effort to embark on a physical or spiritual practice like yoga and once you get deep enough, you realize that there is no prize and no public acknowledgment to pat you on the back for getting to your mat (unless you are an Instagram yoga star, but even that attention is fleeting). It sometimes takes heroic effort, but it is your own personal resolve that causes you to show up again and again. And the benefits you experience are the ones you create for yourself because you showed up and paid attention to both the limitations and the opportunities on the mat that day. No one else can do your practice for you. You can't outsource it and it is a project that will take a lifetime. Cultivating inner strength however, doesn't have to be grueling.
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Kiss Winter Goodbye With This Spring Yoga Playlist

On Friday nights for almost a decade when I am in Hamilton,ON I teach a Friday night Yin Yang class. De La Sol has been my teaching home for a long time and this class is one of the highlights in my work week.  Now that we are officially into May I wanted to share a Spring inspired playlist that includes some of my favourite songs to use on the mat to get the body moving at this time of year. Enjoy and let me know what tunes you are rocking on your mat right now.
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Week 3: Get Organized

Updated from its original format. First published Sept 9, 2013
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Tips to Get Motivated For Spring

Happy Spring Equinox! The first day of Spring is a huge relief from winter's chill. Today we can start to look forward to new growth and possibility for the season ahead. As an Elemental Yin Yang yogi this is also the time to welcome Wood energy into your life for the next few months. (If you aren't familiar with Wood energy you can learn about the basics here.) In preparation for all the creative output and work we are planning for here at Aquin Yoga HQ, I spent some time this weekend decluttering my office. (That's a picture of my badass library in fact.) But decluttering physical space is just a part of my Spring cleaning routine. The most important way I prepare to get productive for these next few months is by cleaning up my thinking and getting clear on my goals. To do that I use an array of tools and techniques and my hope is that by sharing them with you, you will find a few more ways to make your Spring amazingly productive.
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Erin's Hawaii Yoga Playlist

I don't mean to be a #weathertroll to my friends on the East Coast and back in Canada, but the other night I sat on the beach with my friend Holly and Baby Ray watching whales breech off the North Shore of Oahu. After that we went back to Holly's amazing house and hung out with the dogs while we waited for the guys to finish a round of golf. Holly and her husband Ashley made us a serious feast and we all chatted and chowed down under the stars. We had such a good time. AND we started talking about inviting more people to enjoy the vibe here so... I am officially planning a retreat here in Hawaii next year (I will post details as I have them but if you are interested just email me directly and you will be the first to know: erin{at}aquinyoga.com) In the mean time, I wanted to send back some aloha to you in the form of my current yoga playlist.
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Celebrating Love and Low Drama Relationships

I am not a Valentines Day kind of gal.
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Is Yoga Working For You?

  After the launch of my new book, I began The Elemental Yin Yang Podcast: A Fresh Perspective on Yoga and Life and if you have been listening you know that this project, like my book, has little to do with yoga asana, and everything to do with yoga as a life path.   Physical yoga is a tool. If you use it consciously it will help do more than change your body and help you relax. As a method, yoga offers a chance to see how you deal with your own emotions and expectations.   The way you show up and work through a challenging posture or sequence is likely the way you deal with challenges in your life.    The way you allow yourself the freedom to let go into savasana is reflective of how well you are able to find ease in the pockets of time when you need not act or react.   Something that has been unfolding more and more as I record these episodes for you is that as powerful a tool as yoga asana may be, most people aren't using it to its full capacity because no one is teaching you how.    Yoga classes give you a glimpse of the freedom and perspective available if you choose to redirect your attention elsewhere for a time.    But most teachers and students stop there. They get a pleasant experience on the mat and try desperately to cling to that space while cramming themselves back into a mundane life.    Sadly, most people can only handle these two extremes for so long before they decide that "Yoga doesn't work for me."   Yoga is not a magic bullet that will change your life.   Yoga doesn't work...
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A Gift Guide for the Hard to Buy For

If you are anything like me, right about now you are starting to enter holiday hyperdrive, especially what to get for the trickier people on your list. In years past I have been on my game and shopped well ahead of time but a few days ago I realized that I have next to nothing done and very little time left. Since you are reading this blog, I will assume you probably also have a few people in your life who are more difficult to find gifts for. The hardest people are my list are actually the yogis.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my yoga family, but what do you give the spiritual seeker who might not be as interested in the world of material trinkets that thrill others?
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