Karma Classes: Give a Little to Your Heart . . . and Your Brain

Need some good karma in your life? Partake in the UBC Yoga Club’s Karma Class on Saturday starting at 1pm. Our Karma Classes are by donation, and all proceeds go to a particular charity or organization dependent on the month.

This month’s organization we are collaborating with is the UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation Club in order to support their goal of raising funds for cardiovascular research.


The UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation Club aspires to build a vibrant community of strong, heart-healthy scholars. They envision a vibrant community for UBC where UBC students, faculty and staff have a sound mind and sound body by adopting a healthy lifestyle consisting of a proper diet, adequate exercise and good habits (e.g. avoiding smoking, minimizing stress, going for regular check-ups as necessary etc). Using their awareness campaigns, they hope to inspire others to deliberately care for their heart, and to understand that valuing their heart and its health is the right start to valuing the gift of life. By providing educational materials and tools from the Heart and Stroke Foundation to the public, through their Research Match service and by hosting their annual Research Night. They endeavour to make the same community equally interested in learning more about – and appreciating – the wonders of the heart and brain. To find out more about the UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation Club, visit their website http://ubchsf.com/ .


Did you know . . .

-Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for Canadian women
-Heart disease is preventable and manageable
-Physical activity (including yoga) can:

  • dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • help prevent and control risk factors such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • type 2 diabetes
    • osteoporosis
    • certain types of cancer
    • obesity
  • reduce stress levels
  • increase energy
  • improve sleep
  • improve digestion

(source: http://www.heartandstroke.com/)

Give a little back to your heart and brain by doing some yoga with the UBC Yoga Club and supporting the UBC Heart and Stroke Foundation.




The Three A’s the UBC Yoga Club Guarantees

We all know that achieving three A’s is not the easiest academically, but the UBC Yoga Club has its own three A’s to offer you.  The UBC Yoga Club guarantees:

Accessibility: Our locations are easily accessible as we offer all our classes on campus mainly in the Nest (The Student Union Building) and the Hillel building (the building next to Brock Hall). Obtaining a membership has also become more accessible with our new online platform. On this link,  https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=628006 you can buy a membership with a credit card. You can also pay for classes ahead of time with the MindBody app. We understand not everyone wants to buy the membership with a credit card, that is why we also allow for people to buy memberships with cash before a class. Just come to class ahead of time and we will sign you up. You can also pay for drop-in by cash when you show up to class.

Availability: The UBC Yoga Club provides a plethora of classes which are available throughout the week. Our club guarantees at least 15 classes per a week with 1 class everyday (no classes on holidays), in order to make our classes available with your schedule. There is no commitment either as all the classes are drop-in. We provide all the props and mats, so all you have to do is bring yourself with a few bucks. Everyone knows how hectic the academic year can be, and that is why we try to make sure we have a comfortable environment available with certified yoga instructors to relieve the stress.

Affordability: Being a university student, sometimes it can be hard to go to yoga classes at a studio without breaking the bank. That is where the UBC Yoga Club comes in. We try our best to provide a comfortable and affordable environment to do yoga. Drop-in with a membership is only $2 per a class. Our membership also provides deals with our sponsorships. Head over to the “Work with Us” section and click on sponsorships if you want to find out more about the deals. The UBC Yoga Club’s membership for students before September 23rd, 2016 is $15 with our early bird promotion, and after this date, it will be $20. If you are not a student, then membership will be $30. This membership is until August 2017. We also now provide a one-term membership which is only $10 as not everyone wants to commit for an entire year or may be a student on an exchange. If you are not sure about yoga in general and do not want to commit to a membership, you can always drop in for only $5. When you come to a class, you do not need to worry about having your own mat and props , because we provide it for you since we know it can be expensive buying all the items needed for yoga.

Hope to see everyone soon!14047169_1034100586704520_3057555030976319110_o

What to Eat Before Practice – Nothing

Unlike all other exercises… what to eat before yoga is… nothing.
Doing yoga on an empty stomach makes you feel amazing and really helps you focus on your bandha. Not to mention, a lot of the poses involve inversions that stimulate your digestive system. Hence, doing yoga while your food is digesting can lead to a lot of discomfort. I find I get bloated, and the poses are executed poorly because of my inability to move comfortably.
If you are doing yoga in the morning, it’s easy to hold off on breakfast, however if you’re doing yoga in the middle of the day or during the night, give yourself around 3 hours beforehand – food free. If you have a hard time lasting three hours between snacks or meals, the recommended snack would be a fruit. If you are having a meal, definitely give yourself 2 hours to let your food digest. Furthermore, if you are to ingest fruit, try to give yourself 30-45mins to let even that digest. I’m telling you from experience, eating food before yoga can put a lot of pressure on your digestive system making you feel like the food will exit your body north or south. Gross, I know, but sadly true. What you should consume before yoga is water. Water is essential in preventing you from getting lightheaded during your practice… but you also don’t want to be leaving to go to the washroom in the middle of practice.
Also, you don’t want to eat before practice because you want the blood to circulate throughout your entire body. If you have food being digested, the blood will be pumping more so towards your digestive tract.
It’s important though to gradually change your body’s eating habits, not put it through a shock. There are certain foods that are just an obvious “no” to not eat before workouts – which would be gas releasing, bloating, spicy foods that increase your chances of digestive issues. However, if you have a high tolerance, by all means have that, just try to gradually move the meal earlier before your practice. Also keep in mind that foods with higher fat content will take longer to digest, so adjust the time accordingly.

What about after a yoga class?

Give your body 30 minutes to adjust, and then eat away! Try and eat healthily and avoid eating too quickly. Your body has had a large break without food and the first thing it needs is water. Yoga detoxifies your body which makes it that much more important to consume water before and after your practice. Also, the stimulation of digestion through yoga is aided by the consumption of water.

All of these point are suggestions I have come up with based on research, what I have been told, and personal experience. Whatever works for you, works for you, and like I said before, you don’t want to change your habits too quickly. Small changes can lead to you discovering a whole new comfort level in your practice that will make you want to hold off on eating until afterwards, trust me!

(Pictures found: www.meetup.com)

Crash Course on Pranayama (Breathing)

Major types of Pranayama:

  • Nadi Sodhana
  • Shitali Pranayama
  • Ujjayi Pranayama
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama
  • Digra Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Bahya Pranayama
  • Bhramari Pranayama
  • Udgit pranayama
  • Anuloma & Viloma Pranayama
  • Agnisar Kriya

When is the best time to perform breathing exercises?

Early in the morning on an empty stomach! It’ll get your mojo going and get your body jumpstarted for the day ahead. If this time is unavailable to you, late at night is also ideal. Find a place that is quiet with clean air and you’re golden.

Where to do Pranayama yoga?

“Pranayama techniques are best practiced while sitting on the floor on a folded blanket. This form of practice is applicable to padmasana also. However; any other posture will do provided the back is kept erect from the base of the spine to the neck and perpendicular to the floor. Bad and poorly performed posture will lead to shallow breathing and low endurance. One must empty the bladder and bowels before starting pranayama yoga.”

The best way to explain HOW to do these exercises, is to watch videos made by the experts themselves:

Ujjayi pranayama


Kapalabhati pranayama


Nadhi sodahana pranayama


Sithali pranayama


At the UBC Yoga Club we offer Kundalini yoga taught by Sat Mukh Tuesday’s at 12:30pm until 1:45pm. Through my experience of attending her classes, she integrates breathing into the practice with the goal of detoxifying the body. Her instructions on how to do these types of breaths are extremely helpful.
Our other classes such as Ashtanga and Hatha, incorporate leading breath before movements throughout the entire practice.

~ Don’t be afraid to try other classes! These exercises work wonders on your body! ~

(Pictures found:www.yogaoutlet.com, Information found: http://www.yogiclogic.com/Yoga-articles/pranayama-in-yoga.php)


ustra = camel
Sanskrit Name: Ustrasana



  1. Start by kneeling on the ground with your legs hip width apart. You should be keeping your pelvis down without engaging your glutes too much. It is important to remain relaxed, and not to tense up your hips. As you press the tops of your feet into the ground, also make an effort to do the same with your shins. 
  2. Once you have a comfortable kneeling position, place your hands on your lower back, in where the squishy part of your hands are on your upper buttocks – your fingers pointing towards to earth. Slowly lengthen and lean back. Make sure you aren’t straining your lower back by leaning too far backwards. Breathe and press your shoulder blades together to open the chest.
  3. Keep your head up, and stay here if you feel your hip flexors, and the entire front of your body in a stretch. Don’t push yourself too much! However, if this is too easy, you can work to reach your arms back to your heals.
    1. Preparatory Poses to help deepen this pose:
      1. Virasana
      2. Supta Virasana
      3. Salabhasana
      4. Dhanurasana
      5. Setu Bandha


I know personally this pose is extremely difficult for me to do for an extended period of time. If you are the same, do it in small increments and try the preparatory poses before tackling Camel Pose. Some people find this pose can cause back and neck pain or headaches from the blood rush. If this happens to you, make an effort to talk to your instructor and confirm you are doing the pose correctly. If it is still a problem, don’t push yourself! You do not need to be perfect at every pose.


In saying all the before-mentioned in regards to perhaps inhibiting reasons to do this pose, there ARE several benefits, or else it wouldn’t be a commonly practiced pose.

– Helps respiratory ailments,
– Stretches and actually improves an aching back
– Wakes up the body
– Reduces anxiety
– Aids in menstrual discomfort
– Stretches commonly un-stretched areas (front of the body, ankles, thighs, groins, abdomen, chest, throat, hip flexors)
– Strengthens and stretches back
– Improves posture
– Stimulates internal organs

***** The best help on improving on this pose will come from your instructor. Don’t be too afraid to approach them, that’s what they are there for. It will genuinely help in improving pose depth and also prevents you from practicing it wrong and acquiring injuries. *****

(Pictures found:chadyoga.me – Information: http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/camel-pose/)

Sanskrit – The Language of Yoga

Ever wondered what you were REALLY hearing as you moved from pose to pose? Our instructors normally first speak in Sanskrit and then translate the pose names, etc. to the English names we better associate with.

Sanskrit is a classical Indian language and “the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism”. Sanskrit means “refined” and is one of 22 of the official languages of India. It’s regarded as a language used mostly religiously.

“Vedic Sanskrit is the pre-classical form of the language and the liturgical language of the Vedic religion”, and it is now mainly used in religious Hindu rituals and ceremonies.

(Information found: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/sanskrit.htm)

So you might be asking, why Sanskrit for yoga?
History and culture.
I spent quite a while looking up this exact question in hopes to come up with something substantial but the truth is, it’s one of those “that’s just the way it is”. As yoga developed, the language was used as it was a language frequently spoken in the areas where yoga was booming. Now you might ask why do we still use it? There is something extremely special about practicing with the mantras in Sanskrit instead of English. Just think of it this way, imagine yourself meditating and hearing “triangle pose” instead of “Trikonasana”. Saying the Sanskrit mantra adds a whole new depth of cultural connection. Perhaps this is just personal opinion, but traditionally this language has been used and once you hear some of the translations you’ll understand why.
For example, you’ve heard this Sanskrit word every class, “Namaste”. What does it mean?
namas = I bow
te = to you
The translation to English is awkward and lacks traditional depth. The phrases take time to pick up but with enough repetition… before you know it you’ll be speaking the yoga language!

Here is a link to 200 key Sanskrit yoga terms to satisfy your new found curiosity for Sanskrit!


Our UBC Yoga Club symbol itself has a Sanskrit symbols! Ever noticed?

cropped-10486_10151094924483521_1103997231_n-1.pngThe U is clearly a person, but the B and C combine to create the “OM” symbol. However, for the purpose of our need to spell UBC, the C isn’t actually shaped that way in the real “OM” symbol. I’ve seen it either completely connected or in a shape that looks like an upside down and backwards C.

omsymbol     Om_Symbol

(Pictures found: yogamagazine.discover-yoga-online.comargawise.comashtangapictureproject.com)

POSE OF THE WEEK – Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

It’s that time again!

So if you’ve been practicing yoga for a while now you’ve probably noticed some poses are starting to become easier to manage, and you might even be waking up the next morning slightly less over-stretched.
That might mean it’s time to start learning some more challenging variations.
Tree pose is one with several.


This pose can be either detrimental to your body or extremely beneficial. Why? It’s commonly practiced incorrectly. The concept seems simple so people tend to push themselves in the pose quicker than they should – leading to incorrect posture and damage to the joints and back.

1. Stand tall, and DROP THAT TAILBONE. The core is engaged and working hard to help you balance on one leg, you’ll know it’s working if you’re making an effort to tighten up that butt and pushing your pelvis forward.

2. Put your leg in the right spot! This means, NO KNEE. I know the difference between your inner thigh and lower leg is large but by no means push yourself too far! Your hips are working to open without compensating your posture and balance so if the thigh is too far of a stretch, put your foot on your lower leg and work to open your hip to the side. Putting your foot on your knee can cause major damage, furthermore, your standing knee should be slightly bent to prevent a similar injury.
Claire Missingham
3. Your arms are not the focus. Sure you can work on deepening your tree pose by extending your arms up and out to the side as if you were holding a beach ball but DON’T DO THIS IF YOU ARE NOT DOING THE REST OF THE POSE CORRECTLY. The hands are normally either on one’s hips, in prayer, touching above or opened above mimicking – you guessed it – a tree.

4. Your breath and attitude are key! Balance is key in this pose, and that means mentally the most strenuous. Most people have the flexibility to do the pose, but without a clear mind and positive attitude, they tend to last no more than a couple seconds in the pose before they topple over. In saying that, toppling over is okay if it’s truly a difficult pose for you. Like I said, keep a clear mind and be patient. You tend to understand things better when you’re thinking less strongly about trying to understand it.


I mentioned above that you can place your foot on your lower leg or thigh, however some people work instead on opening their hips to “Half-Lotus”. This variation creates a deeper hip stretch and you can move your foot anywhere from the bottom of the thigh to the thigh crease if this is what you are working towards.
Claire Missingham
Some people even bring tree to the floor in a plank variation!
Claire Missingham
And I bet you didn’t guess there was such thing as an upside down tree…
Claire Missingham


BALANCE. Like almost every other pose I could list, this pose brings balance to your mind as the mind is working so hard to concentrate on balancing your body itself. Your legs and abs are working hard to keep you from falling, and the hips are opening to make other poses that much easier to do later on. Overall, so I don’t bore you, this pose (like yoga in general) will help you feel rejuvenated and awaken you and your body to be able to continue the rest of the day with your creative juices flowing at full speed.

(Pictures found: www.cafepress.comhttp://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/tree-pose-variations/)

Acro Yoga- aka “Couple’s” Yoga

So this is something that I just find amazing. If you’re finding your practice repetitive and you want to make it a more social event… try acro yoga.

Since I personally don’t know much about the practice, I’m using the source http://www.acroyoga.org/about/the-acroyoga-practice to help me out.

According to the website, acro yoga has three main elements:

1. Solar Acrobatic Practices

This is about trust. Strength, inversions and spotting are crucial in this type of practice. Very similar to gymnastic training, conditioning is key in the success of the poses. Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! The inversions are most dependent on the element of trust and partner acrobatics require a base, flyer and spotter. Pretty self-explanatory.

2. Lunar Healing Arts Practices

This is all about massage, therapeutic flying and partner yoga. The ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’ incorporate gravity, sensitivity an kindness to create a relaxing practice for both. Like in everything else, communication is key. The base is the one holding the flyer up, so it is important they both have massaging techniques understood confidently before using them in the air.
This whole process is an “inverted aerial massage”.
As the website puts it: “The base supports the flyer with their legs as the flyer hangs passively. The base uses gravity, stretching and sensitive touch to open the flyers upper body. When the flyer comes down they do massage on the bases warmed up legs. The session is complete when both partner have given and received, based and flown, inhaled and exhaled.”
Bodyweight and breath are important in opening and warming the body. Gravity and trust are the main ingredients.

3. Yogic Practices

“Yoga is the glue between the Solar and Lunar Practices”. The partner practices are as they so put it ‘fed’ by solo yoga. I guess what they are trying to say is, the yoga philosophy is equally as important as the physical aspects. Therefore, breathing, mantras and postures are no less important in acro yoga.

Wanted to keep it short and sweet. ANYBODY INTERESTED IN TRYING THIS? I think it’s pretty awesome.
Just be safe and choose your partner carefully 😉

(Pictures found:www.sharetheloveyoga.com)

Let’s Talk About Posture

I came up with this idea through my own realization that… I have TERRIBLE posture. Sure, I stand tall when I’m walking… but let’s be honest, being a student results in lots of slouching over.

What does this mean? Keep up with the yoga! Yoga, along with many other benefits, pushes you to continue your posture throughout the rest of your day. I have found that practicing on a regular basis, and given you are doing the poses correctly, you find yourself more prone to keeping that back straight and pelvis tucked under.

It is no question that having good posture ensures life long health benefits, so instead of boring you with too many health facts (also givenI am not a health professional) I’ll direct the rest of this post towards posture benefiting poses.

1. It may seem obvious, but Mountain Pose (Tadasana) Tadasanaallows you the time to focus on standing up straight and focusing more on relieving all of your mind’s worries. Rarely to we take the time to pay particular attention to the correct way to stand.

(Picture found:www.coastalbendhealthfoods.com)

2. Cobra Pose is effective in opening up your chest, shoulders, and also in strengthening the back which is beneficial for good posture. yp_cobra (Picture found: holisticonline.com)

3. The cat/cow movement is one of my favourites and is wonderful in stretching your back and increasing flexibility in your spine.
(Picture found: www.californiayoga.com)
4. Child’s Pose is one of the most popular poses because… who doesn’t love a resting pose. This is an overall relaxing pose that aids you in releasing the tension we generally hold through maintenance of posture. It’s one thing to maintain posture, but another to do it without unnaturally tensing your body.Childs-pose_stretch(Picture found: fashionsunrise.com)

5. Locust pose is amazing for strengthening your lower back and focuses to work on your butt, legs, arms… all while keeping your pelvis tucked under. Something our society doesn’t focus on doing so much. Keep that butt from sticking out too much unnaturally! Sticking out your butt is not only bad for posture, but also causes relaxation in your stomach which can lead to weaker muscles and accumulation of fat. Nobody wants a jiggly tummy, especially when us yogis are known for our lovely toned stomachs.
(Picture found: msmadhavi.blogspot.com)

So there is just a sample of the top posture benefitting poses. Of course any yoga pose will benefit you health wise which in turn leads to better posture. Who knew standing and sitting could be so complex?

(Featured image found: originalstrength.net)

Yoga or Pilates?

If you’re anything like me when I was first introduced to yoga, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between that and pilates. What makes them different? How do I know which one is better for me? Although I am no expert I thought I’d give you my two cents on the benefits of both.

Let me start off by saying both have strengthening, toning, stamina and flexibility benefits. Most importantly, both overlap in their effectiveness to tame your mind and work your body in a similar fashion.

Pilates is a more modernized version of yoga invented by a man named Joseph Pilates and stems from the foundations similar to Vinyasa yoga. Where pilates sometimes involves more equipment, with a larger amount of floor based exercises and different forms of breathing… pilates is a more resistant based workout that will most likely burn more calories than a standard yoga class.

In my opinion, yoga is a more historically effective workout that specializes more in the mind over weight loss. Most people who want to see a quick change in their bodies don’t do yoga for that very reason. I know when I first tried yoga, I thought it was too slow and an ineffective workout. But I was wrong. I could go on for a whole new post to how I was wrong and how I saw a larger change in my body fat percentage in two weeks a yoga than two months in a gym. Furthermore, if you are someone who can’t hold a pose for an extended period of time, then pilates may be more geared towards you. Yoga poses are held for longer and instead of increasing resistance as you would in pilates, to increase your succession in yoga… you move on to more challenging variations. Yoga is overall a more spiritual process that focuses more on your breathing and finding your centre. Chanting itself is a huge part of certain types of yoga classes that isn’t present in pilates.

I know I may sound bias in my brief description of the difference between pilates and yoga… but when it comes down to it, there is no better of the two. It all depends on the kind of workout you are feeling for that day and what you are trying to get out of each. If you’re trying to decide between yoga or pilates I say both. There is no better way to increase your strength, flexibility and stamina, than switching up your workouts.

(Pictures found: http://blogilates.tumblr.com/post/3696273044/pilates-versus-yoga-whats-the-diff-read)