Tag Archives: body and soul

The Big G Program

The Big G Program: Emotional rewards of a multi-generational relationship

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The Big G Program: Emotional rewards of a multi-generational relationship

For those of you who were lucky enough to have known your grandparents, and to have had a relationship with them, you’d most likely describe that relationship as one that was supportive and caring, with a hint of spoiling. Many grandparents would agree with this, and say that it’s their role to love and spoil unconditionally, and then send them home at the end of the day.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

The Big G Program

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto recognizes that the intergenerational relationship is a special one, and provides untold benefits for both young and old. When faced with a lack of positive adult role models for their in-school mentoring program, Leanne Nicolle, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto had an idea to reach out to retired individuals in the community and engage them in the program. The in-school mentoring program matches a young person with a mentor for one hour each week, in a school setting, to help facilitate a meaningful and connected relationship. The program is called Big G (for grandparent).

Time has value

So much about the recruitment strategy made sense. There were individuals who had time available during the day, and they were looking for new ways to become engaged in their community. For many, when you have a career you tend to have a sense of purpose. When you retire, your whole routine changes. You’re no longer getting up every day to go to work, and it often leaves a void in one’s life.

Shared activities

Sheila is a Big G ambassador, and has been matched with her ‘Little’ for close to two years. When she first met Leala*, Sheila remembers the other kids giving her questioning looks about how she looked too old to be a Big Sister. It was a small hurdle, and Sheila continued to come back every week to meet with Leala*. And, with each new encounter, their relationship began to grow.

Leala* loved to try out new looks when using makeup, and each week she would express her creativity and experiment on Sheila. It wasn’t long before Sheila started packing wipes to take with her, to avoid receiving strange looks on her way home. They now have a very solid relationship, and Leala* knows that she can talk openly with Sheila. They also like to work on fashion-related sticker books, play games and do a variety of crafts. Anything unicorn related is a hit with Leala*. Sheila says that she loves the variety of the activities, and that the program keeps her feeling young.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto is currently looking for people to become Big G’s. If you are interested in connecting with a young person in your community, call or visit their website for more information.

416.925.8981 | toronto.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/volunteer

*For anonymity purposes, Leala’s name has been changed.


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Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

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Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Kootenay Lake appears to be a glacier-fed river on the map. But, its impressive length (104 kilometres) makes it the fifth largest lake in British Columbia (BC). Protected by the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges, and bordering with Montana, Idaho and Washington states, many communities around Kootenay Lake became respite for American draft dodgers and counter-culture hippies in the 60s and 70s. As a result, a distinctive lifestyle arose – one that focused on personal development, simplicity and wellness.

Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin
Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin

Today, in addition to the recreational opportunities in the area, visitors are drawn to the locally sourced food, art studios and experiential healing options, which include Nelson’s Himalaya Salt Caves and Ainsworth’s natural, mineral-rich hot springs. The Yashodhara Ashram (Ya-show-dara), and its infamous Temple of Light atop a cliff on the east shore of Kootenay Bay, continues to offer respite for anyone who’s looking for it.

Photography, Andrej Galic
Photography, Andrej Galic

What is an Ashram?

By traditional standards, an Ashram is a monastery for East Indian religions. They’re typically secluded, allowing for proper attention to spiritual instruction, yogic activity and meditation. In the book Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author stops off at a more-traditional Ashram in India on her personal pilgrimage.

At Yasodhara Ashram, near Nelson, BC, they work to demystify the experience for westerners through practical, spiritual teachings, and an openness to all who come.

Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT
Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT

Yasodhara’s early beginnings

Swami Radha (formerly Sylvia Hellman) was a German-Canadian woman who had recently returned from extensive training in India. She had been tasked with bringing Eastern learning to Western ways of thinking. In 1963, Swami Radha stumbled upon the property known as Yasodhara Estates. Despite the original land owner having no clear connection to Eastern tradition, its title (akin to names of notable female characters from both Buddhist and Hindu scripture) was fortuitous – a sign for the Swami (spiritual teacher) to honour the divine feminine.

Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes
Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes

Since the beginning, the centre has been entirely lead by women. There was something special about this land – which inspired a very different type of Ashram.

Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT
Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT

A nurturing approach

Many residents of the Ashram participate in Karma Yoga (selfless service), by helping in the kitchen, tending to the acres of orchards and gardens, in addition to mending structures and other chores. The Ashram prides itself on its contribution to ecological sustainability. It’s been widely recognized for its efforts in bringing innovative, energy efficient technologies, and solutions, to its operations.

CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin
CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin

A generation of change

The use of the word ‘spirituality’ is intentional. Though many of the practices here have their origins, the Ashram honours all religions and spiritual beliefs throughout the centre. Classes and workshops encourage self-reflection.

Given the progressiveness of their philosophies, and a response to a cultural shift, this Ashram hosts visitors and residents from all walks of life, no matter their sex, faith, culture or orientation. Mature adults, particularly, are drawn to the opportunity to rediscover themselves. Life is defined by transition. You may have experienced the separation from (or the passing of) a spouse or a loved one. Perhaps you’ve recently retired, or you find that your role as a parent or a grandparent has been redefined. Adapting to a new reality that’s not centred around work or family may feel like a leap into the unknown.

Photography, Amy Allcock
Photography, Amy Allcock

What to expect

Yasodhara Ashram offers weekend retreats, as well as ten-day immersion programs – each is focused on a unique aspect of growth and discovery. Workshops and yoga classes are suitable for all levels.

Expect plenty of quiet reflection, and meals are eaten in silence. You’ll gain an understanding of the energetic chakra system, as well as tools to help transform pre-conceived attitudes, and deepen your relationships with yourself, and with others. Optional participation in the nightly satsang, which is an honourable gathering in the Temple of Light, includes songs, mantras and prayer.

Finally, expect to be captivated by the picturesque setting of the Yasodhara Ashram. It will definitely provide you with a renewed appreciation as it relates to your connection with the universe.

yasodhara.org

nelsonkootenaylake.com


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Body & Soul - Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Side-to-side lateral movements matter

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Side-to-side lateral movements matter

Photography, bigstockphoto.com

Most workout moves have us moving forward and backward, and up and down. Rarely do we move from side-to-side, or in a diagonal direction. Abby Johnson-Bertan, from GoodLife Fitness, says that we tend to focus our eyes in front of us when we exercise, especially with running and walking. Lateral moves can help us to adapt to unexpected movements, which could possibly save us from falling when walking the dog or hiking on uneven ground.

By adding lateral movements to your exercise routine, you can correct muscle imbalances, improve stability, strengthen smaller muscle groups, stabilize your pelvis and hips, and reduce injuries. Lateral movements include side lunges, side shuffles, lateral bear crawls and jumping jacks.

Body imbalances

Not only do lateral movements help to reduce injuries, but they also help to improve mobility and even out imbalances as we age. “Forward movements, like running and biking, use the same dominant muscles – stressing your hamstrings, calves and quads,” says Tara Laferrara, founder of the TL Method and co-owner of Compass Fitness. “You stress the dominant muscle groups, causing them to become increasingly stronger as your smaller muscles stay the same. Working the muscles on the inside and outside of your legs, for example, helps to keep you injury-free.”

LATERAL EXERCISES

Include in your regular workout a couple of times per week.

  • SIDE LUNGES 12 repetitions per leg x three sets
  • SIDE SHUFFLES 20 yards per leg x three sets
  • LATERAL BEAR CRAWLS 20 yards in each direction x three sets
  • JUMPING JACKS OR STAR JUMPS 30 seconds x three sets
  • SPEED SKATER 10 repetitions per leg x three sets

Step aside

Laferrara says that she includes lateral exercises in all parts of her workout, including the warm-up, workout, and cool-down, but she finds them especially important when warming up. “You are preparing your body for any movement that will occur in the workout. Even as a trail runner, which is primarily a forward movement, at some point you’ll most likely have to jump to the side to avoid tripping. You have to get your body ready for that.”

There are two ways to perform a lateral movement. When you move a limb away from your body, it’s called abduction. And when you bring it back in, it’s referred to as adduction. “These movements stabilize your joints and your dominant muscles,” says Laferrara.


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Ultramatic

Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

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Well adjusted – Sleep the night away in an Ultramatic bed

Your overall energy, along with a sense of well-being, is naturally enhanced after a good night’s sleep. For more than 33 years, Canada’s leading company for adjustable beds has made it their mission to help people live better, and longer, lives. This Canadian company recently rebranded, and introduced a lifestyle sleeping concept at their flagship location.

Ultramatic’s lifestyle adjustable bed is a game changer. Your body is always changing, so if you have sore muscles after a round of 18, require extra support for your lumbar, or a soothing massage for your back and shoulders, an Ultramatic bed can provide you the comfort that you need.

Sleeping with your legs and back slightly elevated can provide relief for acid reflux, sciatica, edema, sleep apnea, arthritis, back strain, leg cramps, swelling, pins and needles, and so much more. Adjustable beds may reduce snoring, and for some couples this can make a world of difference. Elevating your neck or back opens up airways and improves breathing.

Sleep recovery

You tend to heal faster when you get a better quality of rest. After surgery, or any kind of trauma, these beds are an oasis of relaxation. By slightly elevating your legs and back, blood flows easier to all parts of your body and puts less strain on your heart. With better circulation, the entire body functions better.

Lack of sleep also affects moods and how you handle day-to-day challenges. If you are tired, you tend to be less patient, which increases your stress level. By being able to adjust your mattress to suit you, you’ll fall asleep faster, and stay sleeping longer for a deeper, rejuvenating sleep.

More than a mattress

Select Ultramatic beds are programmable, and will move (with the push of a button) into your favourite position for reading or bingeing on Netflix. The therapeutic massage feature is wonderful for sore muscles, and with the under-bed light you can step out of bed with confidence in the middle of the night. You can also charge your electronic devices using the USB ports and control the bed using an app on your phone.

Ultramatic has developed a ‘wholistic’ approach in their flagship showroom in Toronto, where they’ve used soothing colours and natural greenery for a zen-like quality. Their sleep solutions ignite all the senses, from the silky touch of natural Tencel bedsheets, to the calming scent of lavender-infused pillows.

The friendly team at Ultramatic are well-trained in the science of sleep. Ask about their hybrid mattresses that combine the latest advancements, including ultra-durable Smart-Foam™, NanoGel™, and CarbonCor™ graphite-infused with time-tested cushioning materials.

508 Lawrence Avenue West

ultramaticsleep.com


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Ayurveda - An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

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Ayurveda – An ancient wisdom for aging adults

Ayurveda (pronounced ayeyour-vay-duh) is understood to be one of the world’s oldest health systems, originating in India more than 5,000 years ago. When translated, Ayruveda means ‘knowledge of life’ and is a sister science of the more commonly known practice of Yoga. Ayurveda is now being recognized as a reputable approach to total health, complementing Western medicine with the wisdom of the East. The philosophy is simple – we are meant to live with our body and mind in their natural, balanced state.

Photography, bigstockphoto.com
Photography, bigstockphoto.com

What is balance?

Working symbolically with the elements of nature, including air, ether, water, fire and earth, Ayurvedic tradition understands that these forces manifest in the body as three energy systems (Doshas) – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. A practitioner may recognize you as a Kapha if you’re naturally calm, patient and caring. As a Pitta, you are direct and like to get things done. As a Vata, you tend to be very energetic and creative.

Preserving your constitution leads to optimal health. Like the changing seasons, our energy systems evolve, and change, with time. When born, we were in need of developmental support, realized in the element of earth and the nurturing qualities of water (Kapha). The surge of growth and learning in adolescence is represented in fire (Pitta). In maturity, at a different pace of life, the air and ether around us challenge our bodies to stay nourished and vital (Vata). Our muscles become thirsty, our joints dry and our minds labour – begging us to take better care.

The vata years

Don’t over exert: Slow down and embrace activities that will encourage restoration, like yoga, swimming and leisurely walks. Balance high impact activities with gentle, intermittent movement.

Increase self-care: Give your body, and mind, some love and attention. Try massage, meditation, soaking and stretching.

Bring back a routine: Assess daily practices that you find enjoyable and work them into your routine. Maybe it’s that first cup of tea, a morning walk with the dog or a brain-teasing word puzzle.

Change your environment: If feasible, seek out warm, moisture-rich climates for revitalization, especially in the cold, dry winter months. Otherwise, get outside.

Eat with the seasons: Consuming fresh food cultivated in-season, aligns your body with the energy of the earth. Root vegetables, including potatoes, carrots and parsnips, ground you throughout the year.

Drink water: Replenish the natural moisture that is lacking as we age. Consume warm, or room-temperature, water throughout the day.

To help counter-balance aging, Ayurveda treats the root cause. You might be experiencing joint pain or inflammation, but treatment may be connected to your digestive system. Working with a practitioner, your daily routine would be reviewed, including the intake of food and drink (and expulsion), ritualistic tendencies, exercise regimes and environment, as well as hair and skin care. A personalized program would be developed as a result of an assessment, along with suggestions for daily self-care routines and lifestyle habits, in addition to a customized nutrition plan – all in an attempt to re-balance your body.

Photography by Kelly Moss
Photography by Kelly Moss

Kaely Bell is an Ayurvedic Counsellor and Yoga instructor.


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