Meet Your Kula: Krystal Prout

Part of what makes us so unique are the amazing members of our Yogi community, our kula. Each month, we’ll feature one member of our yogi community, chat with them about their practice, learn more about what draws them to yoga, and get to know each other a little more.

Meet our Prajñā Yogi, Krystal Prout.

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, I am Krystal, mother, yoga practitioner and instructor. I currently live in Alberta, Canada teaching yoga and raising two amazing kiddos.

What started your yoga journey?

Yoga had always been a whisper and for years I had wanted to try a class. In the fall of 2015 I had two small children when a local yoga studio opened in my small town. I was looking to gain strength and flexibility and also get a little bit of “me time” in too. It only took two or three classes before I started to feel an inner shift. I fell in love with the physical practice all while unknowingly beginning an internal healing journey.

When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?

After an on again off again practice for about a year, I decided I was going to get serious about the practice. A little over six months after that, about two years into my yoga journey, is when people began to ask if I was teaching classes and suggested I should. I had never even considered the thought of being a yoga instructor. In the span of a couple weeks several people, including my mentor & teacher recommended I take my yoga teacher training. I took those nudges as a sign from the universe and enrolled my RYT200 in the fall of 2017.

What type of yoga do you teach? What drew you to this particular form of yoga?

Though I have training in Hatha, Yin and kids yoga, my heart beats for Vinyasa and Power yoga. I prefer to practice this style myself so naturally I’m drawn to guide it as well. There is something very powerful about these styles and watching students get stronger, playful and pushing themselves during their practice is very rewarding for both them and myself.

How has the practice of yoga affected your life? Spiritually? Mentally?

As I began to do “the work”, (the physical practice), it simultaneously began to start the work internally. My teacher would always say in class “we’ve opened up the front side, the backside...but the hardest part to open is the inside” and this is exactly what happens when we continue to go deep in our practice.

After taking my training and learning so much about the yogic concepts, I really wanted to begin to live true to myself. Taking responsibility, honoring myself and how I choose to speak and behave. Of course I still have a lifetime of work to do but yoga has pushed me to explore my values and lean into virtue.

What does the concept of Prajñā mean to you? How do you see this embodied in your practice?

Prajñā to me is wisdom. This concept, for myself, is about listening to my body. Knowing that my body is so wise and it will guide me if I simply listen. Embodying this in my practice means; listening inward. It means; if it feels good to push then I’ll push and if it doesn’t feel good, knowing when to let be. It also means being okay with where I am in my practice and letting that space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.

Has this understanding changed throughout your yoga journey?

It definitely has changed throughout my journey of practicing. When I first began I was always pushing never wanting to find softness or stillness in the poses or in the mind. As a beginner, I was perhaps a bit aggressive in wanting to advance. I also had no idea of the capabilities of my body. Five years into my yoga practice and I'm continuing to surprise myself with what my body is capable of doing.

As you look back throughout your yoga journey, what advice would you give to other yogis?

Consistency is key. Don’t give up so soon on whatever you’re working on whether that be a meditation practice, the physical practice of yoga or some thing else entirely. Small changes over time become big changes. And try not to put yourself into a box of limitations. Knowing that your practice can look different each day, will feel different each day and that’s OK and to embrace that. Boxing yourself into limitations of “not being naturally flexible” or coming in with an injury or not loving your body type can mentally block you from moving forward in your practice. Each time you step on your mat enjoy the process and if you are not loving your practice, know that it’s ok to switch it up.

Are there any mindfulness practices or techniques that you use to center your practice? To open your mind?

I am a big fan of breath work. Incorporating breath work into my practice literally transformed it. I typically begin my practice with mind-body connecting. I will focus on feeling my body connecting physically with the mat (feeling heavy and grounded, then I begin to imagine my body extremely light - like I could float!) then I move into breath cleansing (retention breath and big sighs out to clear and create fresh energy), and finally calling in my ujiyi breath (this is my favourite prana) starting to create heat, sound and focus for my practice.

Where can we find and continue to support your work?

You can find me on Instagram at @krystalsyoga .This is my favourite place to share my practice and connect. I also have online classes that you can find linked to that account and in 2021 I’m looking forward to creating more virtual spaces for yogis to connect with me online!

You can also practice alongside Krystal with our Third Eye Opening Asana: 

I open my mind to all that I have learned and all that I do not yet know. I seek to deepen my understanding of both myself and others with non-judgment and a free heart.


Meet Your Kula: Whitney Davis

Meet Your Kula: Whitney Davis

 

Part of what makes us so unique are the amazing members of our Yogi community, our kula. Each month, we'll feature one member of our yogi community, chat with them about their practice, learn more about what draws them to yoga, and get to know each other a little more.

This month, meet Whitney Davis, our Ahimsa Yogi.

blonde female in purple yoga clothes
Tell us about yourself!

I'm Whitney! I'm a yogi living in Florida with my husband and one-year-old son named Bodhi!

What started your yoga journey?

I started my yoga journey in my freshmen dorm room. I started yoga to find relief from anxiety and to increase my flexibility and strength.

When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?

I decided to become a yoga teacher after leaving a career in social work. I loved the idea of helping individuals tune into themselves and find peace and healing through the yoga practice.

blonde woman yoga on the beach

What type of yoga do you teach? What drew you to this particular form of yoga?

I am currently a stay at home mom, but when I was teaching I preferred to teach vinyasa and yin. I love those two styles of practice because they help us find balance.

What grounds you in your practice?

Meditation and my breath help me stay grounded. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I try to get on my mat and flow with my breath or sit in stillness.

How has the practice of yoga affected your life? Spiritually? Mentally?

Yoga has helped me stay present in all facets of my life. I’m naturally very hyper and a “type-A.” This leads to anxiety and since I’ve incorporated yoga into my daily life, I have found more moments of equanimity and peace.

blonde woman in splits

How do you incorporate what you’ve learned from your practice both on and off the mat?

I try to incorporate the breath practices I use on the mat in my life. I notice when I take those moments to go inward or breathe deeply, I am much more patient and centered.

What would you share with a beginner?

Enjoy the journey and try not to wish for what is next! It is easy to see advanced asanas and feel defeated or intimidated, but every yogi was once a beginner too and we learn the most about ourselves in the journey of our practice.

How has your understanding of Ahimsa grown and changed over the years?

At one time, I felt ahimsa was only about nonviolence to other beings. But over the years I have realized that I need to extend that nonviolence to myself and body. There were days I would teach my students to be kind to themselves, but then not extend that kindness in my own thoughts and standards towards myself.

blonde woman beach yoga

 

You can follow Whitney's yoga journey and connect with her at @whitneydavisyoga. You can also practice the Ahimsa Asana alongside Whitney this month with our Ahimsa Core Strengthening Asana with our mantra:

I offer peace, love, and compassion to all beings. I greet each moment with grace and understanding.


Achievement or Experience: What's Going to Make You Happier?

I want to be happy. Don't you?

I'm going to take a leap here and suggest we'd all appreciate being happy and content, yet we pretty consistently get in our own way. I can give you at least 17 examples every day of things I do to get in my own way.

Can you relate?

In yoga, we practice the state of being present and non-attachment. Lovely, yet lofty goals these are. It's too easy, even in the midst of our practice, to get bogged down by anxieties and the pressure of feeling we aren't doing enough. We're not enough. We haven't achieved or experienced enough. And I believe it boils down to priorities. That and how we define achievements and experiences in their relationship to happiness.

Are you game for a short questionnaire?

Answer the questions below to determine if achievement or experiences are more important to you currently. 

*Side note: we change our minds. Sometimes it's achievement, sometimes it's experience. But knowing where you are right this moment and connecting it to your overall sense of well-being might help enlighten you to some shifts that may be beneficial. And also, sometimes it's both. We really can have it all, but often we don't need both. We just need the one. Let's explore this further.

  • Are you currently doing some type of project? This can be completing a degree or remodeling your bathroom. If so, are you enjoying the experience or mostly focused on the end result?
  • Are you traveling soon? Is it for work or pleasure? What are the goals for this trip?
  • Name the last thing you did just for the experience of it and describe how it made you feel. Did it have a positive or negative impact on your happiness? Or was the impact either neutral or minimal?
  • List the last thing you did that gave you a sense of achievement? Write down every adjective about how it caused you to feel. Was it worth all the effort required to meet your goal? Are you happy with the level of achievement you reached?

Experiences have the deep potential to completely alter our lives. It just depends on how often we seek them out and how big or small we play it. Have you ever been on the fence about going to a dinner party or event and ultimately decided to go and met someone who straight up changed your life? Conversely, have you ever opted no for something and always wondered what if? And on those occasions, we've opted for the experience of being along, reading, walking in the woods, meditation, yoga practice, or anything else we enjoy and that enriches us. There is no such thing as missing out. If we do thing A, we can't do B or C. It's the equation that drives us and choosing wisely is how we increase our happiness.

Achievements also vary widely in degree and impact. If I've achieved not eating any dairy for a week, do I notice the results? Do I feel any different? Am I proud of myself for doing something a little challenging in the same way I felt challenged training for and completing a marathon? I was happy about both, but one took a hell of a lot more effort than the other.

The key is always balance. Small yet meaningful achievements and experiences daily feed us and propel us forward. Big goals met and deep, meaningful events can have long-lasting effects and even change the course of our lives. So can achievements. Let's celebrate them all and keep bringing them on.

Achieve the practice you deserve! Sign up for our monthly yoga box to receive implements to experience the practice that leads you to a deeper understanding of yourself.


Soothing Aromatherapy Oils to Bring Balance to Your Mind

7 Soothing Aromatherapy Oils to Bring Balance to Your Mind

Negative thoughts and emotions can significantly impact your life and well-being. Although you may not be able to control or ignore those thoughts and emotions (nor is it all that effective in the long-term to even try), you can at least take advantage of the many natural therapies available to help balance out your state of mind and stress-related tension running through your body.

Aromatherapy is just one of those natural therapies that can offer nearly instant positive effects. All you have to do is obtain an essential oil with mind-balancing properties to diffuse in a room (or in your yoga space), combine with carrier oil for a fragrant lotion, drop into a bath, sprinkle on your pillow before med, gently inhale before meditation, or use in massage therapy.

Here are just seven essential oils that are known to help balance emotions, improve mood, and help bring clarity to your mind.

 

Lemon

All citrus essential oils have a positive, uplifting effect on the mind that can really come in handy when you’re feeling down in the dumps, but perhaps none is as powerful as lemon. Lemon essential oil can help combat feelings of anger, burnout, depression, fear, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, and even grief.

 

Frankincense

Centuries ago, frankincense was considered more valuable than gold for its incredible therapeutic properties. When you feel like your mind is all over the place and keeping negative thoughts at bay seems nearly impossible, look toward frankincense essential oil to help improve focus and boost concentration while minimizing irritability and restlessness.

 

Rose

When you really need to get back in touch with your higher self so you can spread kindness and compassion while embodying love and joy, rose essential oil can certainly help. Rose helps get rid of your worries and reduces self-centered feelings like jealousy and fear so you can open yourself up to the world around you.

 

Bergamot

Part of the citrus family, bergamot is another essential oil that’s well known for its mood-balancing properties. Use this uplifting essential oil anytime you’re dealing with emotional stress, anxiety, sadness, confusion, depression, or poor concentration to calm those feelings and give yourself a much needed emotional boost.

 

Clary Sage

Clary sage works to balance a wide range of negative emotions and may be especially helpful for women suffering from the effects of hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycles. Whether you’re feeling out of control due to anger and aggression or stressed out with excessive worry and anxiety, clary sage is a powerful essential oil that can help.

 

Roman Chamomile

In autumn when excess vata is a risk, roman chamomile can aid in balancing out vata-related feelings of anxiety. This calming essential oil is also especially helpful in reducing destructive emotions like anger, aggression, recklessness, and impulsiveness—so keep it handy for when you’re feeling a little hot-headed.

 

Lavender

Lavender is the most popular essential of all for its versatile uses and wide range of healing properties—and this is especially true for its calming and relaxing effects on the mind. The aroma of lavender is powerful enough stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which govern’s the body’s “rest and digest” system. For everything from anxiety and panic, to mood swings and nervous tension, lavender can do some pretty remarkable things to hep bring the mind and body back to equilibrium.

Image (edited) via Your Best Digs on Flickr


Balance

Ayurveda tells us that autumn is a vata season. Its dry, windy, rough, cool, and unpredictable qualities can leave you feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually imbalanced if excess vata is not tamed.

To balance vata, look toward cultivating the following practices in your life. Doing so will help make the seasonal transition not only easier but more enjoyable as you continue to grow yourself in the dark and quiet months leading up to winter.

Stress Relief

Now is the time to take a step back and be honest about what’s stressing you out. Whether it’s a bad habit you’ve developed or an excessive amount of responsibilities keeping you busy, you have to put your well-being first if you want to resolve it. This might involve taking more time for yourself, replacing a bad habit with a healthier one, making an effort to get enough sleep every night, or even making it more of a priority to indulge in therapeutic practices (such as yoga and meditation).

Warmth

As the temperature continues to drop, your body will begin to crave more warmth. By warming up the body, you essentially help ward off many unwanted effects of excess vata—including bloating and constipation, dry or chapped skin, and difficulty tolerating cold and wind. Build heat with sun salutations in your practice, take warm baths, give yourself a soothing self-massage, enjoy spices in your meals, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to cuddle with your pet, spouse/partner, kids, or anyone else with a warm body!

Nourishment

Nourishment goes hand in hand with both stress relief and warmth. Take good care of your body by keeping your skin moisturized, your mind calm, and your body well fed. Favour foods that are higher in fat and protein, giving preference to sweet, sour, and salty tastes. You can also add a generous amount of oily foods to your diet as long as they’re of high-quality. Think olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil, and ghee.

Relationships

When vata becomes imbalanced, you may find yourself suffering from mental and emotional states like nervousness, anxiety, fear, restless thinking, and scattered feelings. In addition to meditating on these feelings, be sure to keep close friends and family members near. Knowing that you are loved and connected to others during the colder seasons can help pacify negative thoughts and feelings when they have a tendency to get out of hand.

Groundedness

Last but not least, establishing a sense of groundedness to the the Earth and the present moment will help you stay balanced as you work on letting go of what no longer serves you while embracing what is. Try to get in a good routine with your daily habits (meals, exercise, bedtime) and engage in healthy practices that encourage you to turn inward. Here are a few one-minute grounding techniques you can use this October and beyond as you quietly work on discovering more about yourself and prepare to grow even further into the new you.