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.


yoga gift box holidays|yogi surprise

The Unacknowledged Presence in a Yoga Gift Box

Have you heard the joke about the only thing the yoga teacher wanted for their birthday? "Just your presence."

Both presents and presence exist in each adoringly cultivated yoga gift box. There's a whole lot more than the contents inside.

A yoga gift box means all of your shopping is done

I mean, if you dig shopping more than breathing, that might not be great news. But if you're a pretty typical holiday shopper who feels a bit overwhelmed by the whole process, then we've got you. The lucky yoga lover in your life knows when they open your gift that you know them well and you want to remind them every month that they are loved.

Sharing a yoga gift box with others is a delightful part of the joy

Last month, when I opened my gift box and saw the cute purple yoga sox with tread on the bottoms, I knew exactly who would be getting them. Amy, I know you'll be wearing them every practice and it makes me smile to think about how much you appreciate them. There's something for everyone in each yoga gift box. We all know a crystals lover. And each of us has that friend who lives for mala beads.

Give a yoga gift box to a couple of friends to enjoy together

If you have two friends whom you know would love a monthly yoga gift box, you could even purchase one for them to share. It would give them the perfect reason to connect each month and explore the contents of the box together, discussing how best to enjoy them in their practice. They will also undoubtedly find items they can collectively gift to other friends, increasing the web of sharing.

We all love receiving gifts in the mail

Each time the Yogi Surprise yoga gift boxes show up at my door, that dopamine hit never fails. It's exciting to know that you don't know exactly what new interests and passions the contents will provoke. Ever since the boxes started to arrive, our home is never without burning incense. Meditation has become part of our daily life. And self-care is now a clutch component for a day well-spent.

Receiving a monthly yoga gift box encourages positive feelings with far-reaching effects

While you're in the process of exploring your yoga gift box or witnessing a loved one enjoy theirs, excitement, generosity, thoughtfulness, and curiosity come alive. These feelings are so contagious. The first time I opened a box, I immediately made a list of others whom I knew would really appreciate it. It feels thrilling to give loved ones something we know will bring them joy and elicit the above-listed feelings in them too.

I was discussing The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman with a student yesterday. These love languages include (in no particular order): time spent, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical affection. The student remarked that gifts are her number one love language. She said when she receives a gift and it's clear someone really thought about her interests and passions, it fills her cup to an overflowing level. It's a lovely way to feel and observe in others.

You have many gift box options

Yogi Surprise offers 3, 6, and 12-month subscription options to meet your budget and gifting desires. Or consider our self-love box as a one-time gift if a subscription isn't what you're looking for.

We also have a specifically curated box for men. The number of men practicing yoga in the United States continues to grow yearly. And we see you men and want to support your specific needs within the wide lens scope of the practice.

We are so looking forward to enjoying the holiday spirit of giving and receiving with you this year.

 


7 chakras guide practice|yogi suprise

Fun 7 Chakras Guide

The first time I heard the term 'chakras' I was mostly concerned with how to pronounce it

I was new to yoga and taking a class where the teacher was discussing the chakras meaning. She zeroed in on the root chakra, Muladhara, and explained this was where everyone needed to begin. Without stabilizing and balancing this first chakra, she clarified, a secure and sound foundation could not be laid. This terrified me. I was certain my root chakra was a mess and I was doomed to have a low-functioning chakra system. I'd never become enlightened or experience less suffering.

So I started to do some research. A lot of research, actually.

Question everything and know that everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the chakras meaning and how the system works. And our various chakras shift in balance constantly because our lives do.

We are always evolving and growing. We change our minds, hearts, and beliefs. The main thing is to consistently be in the role of learner and remain endlessly curious. Sure, balance is a damn fine endeavor. But when life creates a tsunami, your system just may experience a bit of turbulence. Studying the chakras gives us an emotional framework to connect to our bodies and the indicators something is off so we can address it. That's all. The goal is not perfection and maintenance is required.

So where to begin? That's what I wanted to know too

Let's begin with the basics. Just a few clutch pieces of information offering you a 7 chakras guide to tiptoe into the meanings, functions, and practices to find more balance. For now, wrapping your minds around the vital components will allow you the time to process and scratch just a little below the surface.

7 Chakras Guide: quick and easy

Root (Muladhara) Chakra

The root (first) chakra is located at the base of the spine (the pelvic floor). To be clear, the indication of where each chakra lives is about our subtle body, not our actual physical form. Our root chakra's main job is to provide a strong foundation and offer us a connection to our most basic needs and a sense of security that these needs are being filled. Our survival is our most basic need and the instinctive urges we feel, hunger, thirst, sexual satisfaction, sleep, and safety are all indicators of this chakra being in balance and offering us a strong infrastructure on which to build the fortitude of the ascending chakras.

Root chakra basics: 

  • Element: Earth
  • Sense: Smell
  • Color: Red

If you're looking to strengthen your root chakra, try this guided meditation for healing. To stay grounded, practice yoga postures that help you stand in your truth and strengthen, such as Tadasana, mountain pose.

Sacral (Svadishthana) Chakra

The second chakra is positioned in the lower belly and associated with the sacrum.  The sacral chakra is about our emotional and sexual connection to ourselves and others. This chakra is where our creativity lives and thrives. When this chakra is in harmony, we feel joy, expressive, and energized.

Sacral chakra basics: 

  • Element: Water
  • Sense: Taste
  • Color: Orange

To really connect with our sacral chakra, we have to remain open and flexible to change and acknowledge where fear arises and possibly holds us back because we don't want to fail. Connecting to ourselves with passion and enjoying pleasure without guilt or too much need is an incredible way to find balance in the second chakra. Try nurturing the second chakra when eating, truly tasting and savoring your food, enjoying every morsel without hesitation. Spend time with loved ones and give into being fully present, putting down the phone, turning off the TV, and avoid multi-tasking. Just be with that person and enjoy the time you have with them.

Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra

The solar plexus chakra is the third primary chakra. It's located between the belly button and sternum. The solar plexus chakra is all about our self-worth and personal power. In a balanced third chakra, we have a sense of willpower and self-control. We aren't afraid to speak our truth and we own our success with confidence and an understanding that we've earned it.

Solar plexus chakra basics: 

  • Element: Fire
  • Sense: Intuition
  • Color: Yellow

To balance our solar plexus chakra, we need practices that help us to accept ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. Practice yoga poses that make you feel peaceful and glorious, happy to live inside your own body. Use mantras to stoke the internal fires that bring you alive and continue to feed your inner conviction.

Heart (Anahata) Chakra

The heart chakra is the fourth in our system and its location, you guessed it, is by our heart and lungs. Compassion, connectedness, joy, and transformation govern our center chakra. Our heart chakra is a bridge between earth and spirituality. It's where we foster happiness and connect our sense of self with absolute love and beauty.

Heart chakra basics: 

  • Element: Air
  • Sense: Sixth Sense (Higher Self)
  • Color: Green

 

To find a greater sense of stability in the fourth chakra, connect fully to a pranayama practice and devote more time to meditation to center yourself. Practice loving acts and thoughts and commit to self-care rituals and random gestures of kindness.

Throat (Vishuddhi) Chakra

The 5th chakra is located at the throat. This is our communication center and affects our voice box, speech, hearing, thyroid and parathyroid glands, which regulate our metabolisms. We develop our ability to both speak our truth and communicate effectively as well as hear others utilizing the throat chakra.

Throat chakra basics: 

  • Element: Space
  • Sense: Sound
  • Color: Blue

There are many ways to create symmetry within the throat. If you have trouble talking, practicing chants and speaking up for yourself are the practices for you. If the opposite is true, a silent meditation retreat could do wonders for you. Get outside and enjoy nature, noticing the details and astounding beauty all around you. Being with yourself and quietly contemplating your good fortune is another way you can find an energetic shift here.

Third Eye (Anja) Chakra

Our sixth chakra is located near our eyebrow line. This is our command center, where our senses and intellect meet. Growth, stillness, intuition, clarity, and openness are the qualities that exist in a balanced third eye chakra. Self-knowledge and consciousness are fully realized.

Third eye chakra basics: 

  • Element: Light
  • Sense: Sight
  • Color: Indigo

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhanam) is a helpful practice here for finding mental clarity and insight by balancing our subtle energies and opening us up to a more profound level of consciousness. When we can find stillness in both our bodies and minds, we are free of distractions that keep us from the continued pursuit of truth and knowledge. Meditation and calming restorative practices that allow the subtle shifts to happen are best utilized to encourage balance in the third eye.

Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra

Finally, the seventh chakra. Our crown chakra is positioned beyond the realm of our bodies and mental functioning. It's beyond our physical selves yet it's also the height of where we can reach with our consciousness. Some refer to the crown chakra as the state of enlightenment. When we as human beings can reach beyond ourselves and our individual experience to live on a higher plane far past what we could previously imagine, our seventh chakra is balanced.

Crown chakra basics: 

  • Element: Oneness or Transcendence
  • Sense: Beyond Consciousness
  • Colore: Violet

The practices here encompass all of the other 7 chakras. To celebrate and encourage ourselves to go beyond and become inspired. Gratitude for everything and affirmations steeped in our spiritual connection are how we encourage this chakra to open and flourish.

There is a vast world to explore when delving into the realm of the chakra system. Keep learning and seek out information and practices to assist you with alignment and sense of your place in the universe. For a more in-depth look at a 7 chakras guide, visit The Chopra Center to continue your studies.

For more information about each of the chakras, see the complete guides:

 


Why You Really Do Need to Go Hug All of The Trees

I knew the second I spotted her that she was the one

There she was, just as majestic and impossibly beautiful as a living creature has the capacity to be. She beckoned without paying me any attention at all. With zero chill, I raced in her direction and hurled my body fully against her's. We became one, me and that Quaking Aspen, and the feeling of our full embrace will never quite leave me. Or leaf me. And speaking of leaves, I took one from the ground as a memento of our brief but impactful time together.

There's quite a lot of evidence that tree hugging has many benefits

Not only are you fully aware that you feel better after getting in that snuggle, but you may not notice some of the more subtle yet highly impactful benefits tree hugging has to offer.

In his spellbinding book, Blinded by ScienceMatt Silverstone explores the health benefits of hugging trees and the vibrational healing powers that this simple act has to offer. Trees offer specific vibrations that trigger positive responses in our biological behaviors when we commune with them and tap into their restorative powers.

If all it takes is just one tree hug per day to make us healthier and happier, um, why wouldn't we make this a priority?

Aletheia Luna details how the freshest air we can breath is right underneath a tree. Some of the more important health benefits include:

  • lower blood pressure
  • enhanced digestion
  • happier mood
  • more developed breath patterns
  • balance in our nervous systems

Do you really need more reasons to go find a gorgeous ever-inviting tree to hug?

Incorporating tree hugging into travel is a remarkable way to build in memories about your experiences with the great outdoors and the variety of landscapes, foliage, and unique properties the staggering number of tree variations can offer. Turning tree hugging into an integral component of the way we travel will make us more susceptible and receptive to the cultural attributes and needs that exist all over the globe.

Each tree has it's own interesting stories, experiences, and wisdom to offer. Set up your practice in front of the most enticing tree you can find. Offer homage to the tree by thanking it for providing inspiration, shelter, nourishment, and serving as a gigantic reminder of how crucial it is to ground and set roots even if you're traveling. We root by being fully present and grateful for our unique surroundings.

There is a long history of peacefully advocating for trees by hugging them in protest of tearing them from the ground. That advocacy goes both ways and the trees will continue to serve and teach us no matter where we go, what we do, or who we continue to evolve into being.

Tree hugging separates us from those who offer love and support from those who take without thought of consequences. I want to be in the former category and I want it to be a hallmark of my character.

Start in your own backyard. If you don't have a tree right there, go find the closest one to where you dwell. Pay respect on the daily and take that sense of acknowledging nature and all of its glorious offerings with you no matter where you are. It will feed your soul, improve your health, and most importantly, the trees deserve it.


March's Theme: Connection

“When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection—love is born. We want to be connected. That is the meaning of love, to be at one… You would do anything for the benefit of the Earth, and the Earth will do anything for your well-being.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Yoga is about connection. To practice yoga means to embark on a journey of connecting deeper with oneself and one’s environment—including all the people, plants, animals, objects, and events within that environment that are experienced through the five senses.

Connection is cultivated by accepting all that is, exactly as it is. To experience real growth, you can't just accept the good and ignore the bad.

So if you want to really harness the power of your practice to connect deeper to your true self, to others, and to all of reality, then you have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable.

Here are just a few very helpful tips you can take with you to move deeper into your yoga practice.

 

Let Go of Expectations

There’s nothing wrong with having goals or expectations for yourself and for your practice, but attaching yourself to those goals/expectations has a tendency to draw you away from reality and into your mind where your mental checklist of goals resides. This is troublesome if you want to learn from your weaknesses and struggles rather than simply focus on what's going right.

Here are just some goals or expectations to recognize in yourself and consciously decide to detach from:

  • Expecting to always be able to perform a certain pose or sequence because you’ve done it previously or because you’ve been practicing for a long time
  • Expecting to grow noticeably stronger or more flexible in a certain amount of time
  • Expecting each yoga session to get easier
  • Expecting to feel good every time you step on and/or off the mat
  • Expecting to feel laser focused and unfazed by emotions during your practice

 

Get Back to Basics

Don’t assume that you should only stick to intermediate or advanced poses and sequences just because you’ve been practicing for years already or are already very fit/flexible.

Even the most experienced and fittest yogis have to check their egos from time to time, and challenging yourself to step onto your mat from a beginner’s perspective is a great way to strengthen your connection to the practice. Consider taking beginner level 1 classes that focus on the basics of proper alignment and breath integration to remind yourself of what it means to create a strong foundation in every pose.

 

Make Meditation a Priority

Yoga is a form of meditation integrated with movement, but you can enhance the meditative effect of yoga by starting and ending every session on your mat with a few minutes of seated meditation.

Before you get up to stand in mountain pose/push back into downward dog or end in savasana, take a seat in lotus, half lotus, easy pose or any comfortable seated pose of your choice so you can close your eyes and focus on your breath. Doing so will help calm your thoughts and heighten your awareness of what’s going on inside you in the present moment.

 

Keep a Journal for Your Practice

Once you’ve completed your long and restful savasana, grab your journal to write about or make notes about what you just experienced.

Maybe your mind seemed restless, or you felt more fatigued that usual in Warrior II, or a certain hip opener triggered some unwanted emotions. Documenting experiences like these and reading over them later contributes to the process of self-study, allowing you to draw meaning from them and learn from them in ways that deepen your connection to yourself as well as to your practice.