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Taking your yoga practice off of the mat

Taking your yoga practice off of the mat

For many years, I was not able to practice yoga as often as I do now. Yoga was less popular, and my approach to life was a bit more “yang”?actually, way more “yang”. Even though my desire to practice yoga has been with me as far back as I can remember, when I was finally able to include a routine in my daily lifestyle, many things changed for the better. My experiences with yoga were sometimes challenging to describe and these discoveries made me wonder how other people felt about their own yoga practice.


I haven’t always had the words to describe how yoga makes me feel. Perhaps I didn’t understand how I felt, or maybe I just didn’t see the connection between yoga and my inner self. My life started to develop in a subtle and uplifting way. I started witnessing my thoughts objectively, as though I was watching them on TV and found that I was no longer driven by them.


When my inner monologue would begin to go downhill and turn self-deprecating, I found that, gradually, I was able to stop the negativity in its tracks, bringing my mind back to a positive place. In time I realised I was doing what others have referred to as “taking yoga off of the mat”. Those moments of inner positivity, reflection and stillness were the nutrients I needed to help me when I wasn’t in the studio.


The more I developed my yoga practice, the more I found that I had a stronger will to choose the path that was better for me, instead of just accepting whatever life would throw my way. I also found that I was better at listening to others and appreciating what they have to say; it even became easier to accept and move on from the things I didn’t agree with.


Now, I’m not trying to say that my life has been nothing but smooth sailing, I’ve simply developed my ability to navigate stormy seas. That is, when times get challenging, it’s easy for me to see the positive side to the situation, which wasn’t a simple task before I began to practice yoga.


So you see, the time you spend doing yoga is not limited to the time you spend on your mat. Once you leave, the inner peace you’ve attained extends out to the others around you, like a ripple effect. The positivity you find through yoga will affect the people around you, and they will, in turn, pass it along to the people around them.


Every time you return to your mat you renew your positive energy, restoring yourself and bringing life to you and the people around you. Your yoga practice goes with you wherever you go, carried in your heart. And that is taking yoga off of the mat!



Posted in: Open Door Yoga

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Six FREE activities you “can’t afford” to do, and why you need to start doing them

Six FREE activities you “can’t afford” to do, and why you need to start doing them

Some time ago I started to notice that the people around me were missing out on six essential daily practices, despite having unlimited access to them. It’s funny to think about how simple these acts of self-care are, yet we so infrequently take the time to stop and reap their benefits:

So when you feel like life’s most basic necessities have become a luxury, try improving these six areas of your life:

  1. Sleep: most of us go through every day sleep deprived, barely managing to drag ourselves out of bed for work on weekdays and reserving the “luxury” of a good night’s sleep for the weekend. We begin to take pride in our ability to function on less and less sleep, when really we are depriving our bodies of valuable recovery time. The reality is, when we get enough sleep we end up eating better, working better and are generally better equipped to handle anything life throws at us.
  2. Eat: mindful eating is no longer a common practice in today’s society: we eat while on our phones, at our computers, and while we watch TV. Studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown that mindful eating helps to reduce overeating and bingeing, which in turn helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce mood swings, cravings and crashes. Next time you sit down for a meal, try putting the electronics down and focusing on your food: chew each bite thoroughly, take breaks for water, and be mindful of the nutrients rejuvenating your body.
  3. Time: who has time anymore? This is one of my favourite free activities of all time?I hate when I have to say “I don’t have the time for that”, even though I say it a lot. I try to remind myself that the only time I really need to worry about is the present, that is, I have no control over the past or the future, so why worry about them? Instead, try to make the most of the free time you have and save some time to simply do nothing. You’ll feel refreshed, lighter and happier and when you take some time to relax and refresh yourself, it won’t feel so much like you haven’t got time for anything.
  4. Conversations: as free and easy as it may see to be, good conversation is scarce these days. Undivided attention, or even eye contact while speaking is rare and novel. I constantly find myself battling for attention against annoying mobile phones and short attention spans when I try to converse. It leaves me feeling odd, as though I’ve just tried to have a conversation with a TV. Next time you’re talking to a friend or colleague, try giving them your undivided attention and really connect with what they have to say. We would all be happier with a bit more human connection, and it’ll make your friends feel happy that you took the time to listen to them.
  5. Playtime: taking the time to play around and do silly things becomes less and less common as we grow up. We are so tightly scheduled, so busy, that letting loose and having fun now and again is a luxury we just can’t seem to squeeze into the calendar. We could all benefit from taking life a little bit less seriously, because life is too short not to. Every day shouldn’t feel like a chore, so save time to have fun.
  6. Laugh: how many times a day do you laugh? Studies have shown that adults laugh an average of 17 times as day, but I can tell you right now that these studies are wrong, because most of the adults I know laugh 0 times a day. Seriously, laughter is the best medicine! It’s not just a saying, it’s absolutely true. I did a laughter yoga session once, and at first I said I didn’t want to, because it sounded too hippie for me, but afterwards I felt lighter and happier! The human brain registers all laughter the same, whether it’s real or fake, so just going through the motions can make you happier. Everyone should have more joy in their life!


So, these are the six activities I think we should all start doing, because even though they’re free, it could cost you in the end.

Try to start making time for the things you enjoy, especially the things you’ve stopped doing because you’re “too busy”. Happiness is free, and it’s one of life’s most valuable qualities.

Posted in: Open Door Yoga

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Who are you spending time with?

Who are you spending time with?

As adults, our lives are usually fully booked. Maybe you’re are working full-time and spending quite a bit of your life hanging out at the office with your co-workers. Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the spectrum, as a stay-at-home parent or caregiver, and most of your time is spent looking after the children or an elderly parent.

Once the work day is over, you may be heading out to have coffee or dinner with friends, or to spend time with family, and of course let’s not forget the time we spend with our lovely partners.

After all these different activities and fun times spent with the people in our social circle, is hard to understand why we sometimes feel exhausted and drained.

The times flies by as social commitments consume our time; we go from one place to another, one conversation to the next, we take trips and attend workshops, and then there we are, wondering where the time went. What did we do all winter? Where did the spring go? We’re often so busy that we barely even notice the pages of the calendar turning.

This carnival of life happens so quickly, and we end up overlooking the most important person we should be spending time with: ourselves. We spend so much time accommodating the needs of our loved ones and the people around us, that we skip the transcendental key to keeping ourselves happy and make our journey worthwhile.

When we neglect ourselves, we start to feel distant and detached. We lose our presence in the moment and there is less heart and less flavour in our daily lives.

Starting the task of self-prioritising may seem difficult, but it can be done little by little. For example, try reconnecting with yourself by putting your cell phone away for a few hours every evening. Another little step you can take towards spending more time with yourself is to take short walks, even 15 or 20 minutes can be enough to put your focus back on you.

Little, easy tasks will help you develop new habits: read a book before bed instead of watching the news; indulge a little and run yourself a hot bath in the evening.

Basically, taking the time to do anything you enjoy can become your “time with yourself”, and even when you start small, you’ll start to notice how much lighter and more energized you feel.

The more you are connected to yourself the more you will be able to understand the others around you.


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Shine from within

Shine from within

When you cultivate your inner beauty, you can notice how it is reflected in the outside.

We are always so busy worrying about the looks, going from one hairstyle to another, clothes, shoes, make-up, yet, we oversee the inner side of the beauty work.

After a while of practicing yoga, I have realized more than ever that we are made of energy. We are this energy that attracts others, energy that rejects others. We are energy that brings good and bad things to our lives. Our inner intentions or thoughts will transform our days in either great experiences or struggles.

The experience that helped the must to come to the realization how beneficial was to work in the inside first, was meditation, or moving meditation, like the one you do in Hatha yoga.

I’ve realized that whenever I took the time to slow down, and focus in my yoga class I was able to stay more positive and calm throughout the days.

My face was more relaxed, less dark circles around my eyes, my back not hunching over, even my hair had less freeze. This may sound a little bit shallow if you focus only in the cosmetic benefits of it, but, I analyzed it a little deeper and thought, well if my face, hair, and skin are looking better this must be because my organs are also functioning better, right?

I can add that my attitude is more positive when I attend my yoga classes, and this definitely helps the way other may perceive me as an individual.

So, working in the inner beauty, working with what happens through your mind and your heart can definitely help enhance your outer looks. You will just be shining from within and the rest will just come along, naturally.

Definitely give it a try, invest time in your inner beauty, as you were with your external beauty. Enjoy the benefits and share with others

Rebeca Hernández


Posted in: Open Door Yoga

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Yoga … Everyday?

Yoga … Everyday?

Have you ever wished you could set up a daily yoga routine, but you never seem to get around to it? If so, you’re just like me!

Not a week goes by where I don’t dream of doing yoga every day. I love yoga and all of its benefits, yet I can’t seem to commit to a daily routine. Every time I feel my feet hit my yoga mat I thank Heaven for such a wonderful opportunity, and the moment I leave my mat I am already dreaming of the next time I’ll be back. However, life always seems to get in the way: we have meals to cook, we come home from work tired, the nasty weather discourages us from leaving the house to get to the yoga studio, or maybe we’re just too lazy to get to a class.

I’ve faced the same challenges time and time again, but I’ve decided to solve my problem once and for all. While there is nothing better than attending a class with a compassionate teacher who can guide you through each pose, making it to class isn’t always practical. So my solution is, as I’m sure you have guessed, is to practice at home! Since I don’t need to bring my mat with me to the studio, I can leave it set up in my apartment.

The set up: along with my mat outstretched on the floor I have a few blocks and a blanket. Nothing complicated.

Whenever I come home from work and need to unwind, I seat myself on my mat and breathe deeply and center myself by picking a mantra. Then I usually continue with a Cat Asana and then let my body tell me what comes next.

And thankfully, for the days when I lack inspiration, I can always find a class to attend at home here in this link. There’s nothing that can take the place of a yoga class, but when you’re stuck between yoga at home and no yoga at all, well, the answer is pretty clear.

Now when I motivate myself to do yoga I am satisfied, and I can happily sit on my bum and watch TV. I know I can always go back to my mat to recover my peace, get back to my center and just breathe again.

So I urge you to give practicing yoga at home a chance. It’s virtually effortless to set up your space and it’s nothing compared to how proud you’ll be of yourself for doing it. Now, whenever you feel like skipping out on yoga remind yourself of how good you felt the last time you practiced. I bet the thought will inspire you to get onto your mat.

Posted in: Open Door Yoga

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Practice Stillness

Practice Stillness

What does stillness mean?  I wondered for a while… How exactly does one practice stillness? As we are made of ever-moving atomic mass, how does one become truly still?

Even within our mind, it is difficult to achieve stillness: our thoughts jump from “my to-do list” to “why did I say that?” to “what am I having for lunch?”. So I wonder, how would I practice stillness if every aspect of my being is in constant motion?

The more I thought about it, the concept of stillness slowly began to take the shape of the centering exercise we practice at the beginning of a Yoga class:

  1. Seat yourself in a comfortable position
  2. Arrange padding under your sit bones, keeping your hips higher than your knees
  3. Keep your spine elongated and the pelvis upright, ensuring the spine is not rounded
  4. Bring one heel in towards your groin; keep your second leg straight out in front of you or rest it on top of the first foot (if you feel discomfort in your ankles or knees you may stretch one or both legs in front of you)
  5. Raise the crown of your head towards the ceiling, stretch your spine out long and tall
  6. Rest your hands on your thighs or knees with palms either facing up or down
  7. Gently close your eyes or lower your gaze downward

“Take a few seconds to adjust your body to this position. Breath in deeply, and take your time to exhale. Notice the noises coming from the street, feelings and sensations inside your body, thoughts going through your mind. When a thought comes to you, neither hold onto it, nor push it away. Simply acknowledge the thought and move on from it. Whenever your mind starts wandering, reign it in with a deep, cleansing breath.”

Take as long as you’d like to stay in this moment; this is what stillness means to me.

There are thoughts and activity everywhere, but I am floating in calmness and hope. At this point I am not forcing anything, nor am I pursuing anything. I am just there, existing in a space where my mind and my body are together as one.

This is what stillness encompasses for me.The experience of stillness doesn’t stay still, it keeps evolving. I wouldn’t dare to define stillness to you, this is simply how I find stillness, and I hope that you may want to experience this stillness yourself.

I would love to hear about your own experiences with finding stillness, whether through my method or one of your own creation.


I hope you get to enjoy a sip of stillness!

Teacher Rebeca

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Can you breath into a moment?

Can you breath into a moment?

Have you ever been in a yoga class, where your yoga teacher says: breathe into your back? Or breathe into your lower back? I bet the answer is yes, and I bet you wondered how does one exactly breath into the back? Or lower back?

After a few classes of hearing this expression, I started visualizing my inhalations going to my back, my lower back or wherever I was feeling tense.

With the warriors 1 or 2 I felt tension underneath my shoulder blades, so I breathed into my shoulder blades, later on I continued breathing into the back of my legs in every forward fold, into my hips in triangle and so on. Then I realized, breathing into my body parts will not only release tension but also made good sensations even better, after a good Yoga class I would continue the pace of my breath and the relaxation feeling would linger even longer.

My breathing awareness kept expanding to different areas of my body or, should I say ? “different areas of my life”? I consciously lengthened  my breath whenever I felt stressed out, or confused or when my mind was foggy.

Lately I am breathing even deeper into “moments” I am practicing  what I call “good moments stillness”. Through this new breathing technique you can extend the life of the good moments, it also works with feelings, thoughts and sensations.

Just when your mind tells you that everything is great with your life, you take a “deep breath into that moment” savour it, with your soul and exhale. As the present becomes past the sensation remains.

However when your mind say things are not as perfect anymore, breathe into that moment as well, the “ “good moments stillness” technique will switch your mind’s thoughts for a feeling of hope, which is also a pretty good feeling.

So, here I share with you the expansion of my breathing techniques, I am sure have already heard about this, but probably you were not aware of the name.

Let me know if this pranayama also works for you, or if you find new applications for it

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Stay committed to your practice, enjoying the life enhancing benefits

What Julie had to say about how she stays regular on the mat!

The community I’ve developed at open door supports my practice. Being engaged with the teachers and other students help me stay focused o the benefits of a regular practice. On the days when I just want to stay home for one more cup of coffee in my pj’s I receive a text from a friend encouraging me to meet up at the studio. It makes it easier to go when you have community counting on you.

Again to inspire other students, can you also share with us the benefits you receive from coming to class regularly?:

The benefits I’ve gained this past year are amazing. My posture and digestive system are better. My confidence and courage to speak my needs and show up in life have grown exponentially. My mind is clear and calm because of my regular practice. I even practice at home a couple times a week now (thanks to attending Hogan’s workshop ) when I just can’t make it to the studio. My body has started to crave yoga.

Posted in: Open Door Yoga, Student Profile

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6 reasons why you should not become a Yoga teacher

6 reasons  why you should not become a Yoga teacher


It has been a while since I started my yoga journey and at some point, I felt really inspired to become a Yoga teacher. Well, who wouldn’t want to be a Yoga teacher anyways? I mean look at them!  Always looking and talking pretty chilled, they smile when they greet you, lead you through a really good practice for 90 minutes and they go home!


It seemed like a pretty cool thing to do.  And I said; well even if I don’t end up teaching for a living, I can still learn how to practice on my own, right? Is definitely a good idea, I said. So I decided to sign up for the Yoga Teacher Training, last October.


Confident that after spending so much time as a student, learning the postures will come with no surprises. But let me tell you, becoming a yoga teacher was not even close to the simple basic idea of learning postures and Sanskrit I had in mind.


It was actually quite different, and let me give you 5 reasons to illustrate how things differed from my original simplistic expectations.



  1. You are stepping out of your comfort zone:


As a regular yoga practitioner, I thought I had at least 70% of the “homework” done, happily, I was wrong.


The teacher training approach is holistic, so it helped me setting goals for my overall well-being: focusing on better eating habits, setting a positive encouraging affirmation for the length of my training, and reviewing each goal every week, for a monitored personal development.  I can tell you I have improved in many areas and I still keep an eye on the ones I am still weak.


  1. Your world as you know it changes…and for the better

As you continue with the program, you become friends with your yogi fellas, they are the best, they are your strength and support when you are weak and in doubt.    


  1. You become one with your yoga community, students and teachers included.

You are more aware of your thoughts, and realize, that you can manage to “shut up“ ( read handle ) the chatting monkey that normally wouldn’t leave you alone, I call it “chatting monkey” I am sure you have a name for it and you know what I mean. That incessant internal conversation that is sometimes better on a leash.


  1. You become a more likable member of this society:

I thought that becoming a Yoga teacher in Vancouver was not a novelty. Turns out is totally the opposite, whenever I mention I am taking my training, people jump in happiness and volunteer right away to be your student if you need to rehearse your classes.


Believe me, this is really helpful, as practicing your class is fundamental: Your students are your teachers. (I will explain this in another blog entry)


I am currently setting up a practice with my colleagues at work, it will be a very short class but they can’t wait to get the rehearsal started. And I can’t wait either to practice my yoga teacher new powers on them.


  1. You’ll smile more

I am a very smiley person but for some reason, this program makes me happier, my yogi classmates and teachers make me feel accompanied in this journey, so I am happy throughout the lessons and the days when I need to practice on my own as well. As a result, I have new friends, teachers and yogi students friends, a brand new community in the making, and I am only halfway through the program.  Now, whenever I go to a class at the studio I can greet my teacher and say Hey! I am also becoming a Yoga teacher here at the studio and BAM! Yes, I am one of you!

    6.The gray clouds in the horizon are …still gray but

At least they won’t have the power to take over your happiness. When you practice yoga, or when you are a yoga teacher in the making, you are developing self-awareness. Whenever you feel sad or lonely, or wishing things were different, you with your new mindset, know that a fixed dwelling routine is not needed. Your less happy situations won’t anchor you for too long, you learn to let go, and carry on through the storms.


So, there you go, these are just a few reasons to make up your mind about becoming a Yoga teacher.

If you have other reason, I would love to read about them. I will post a few more in a few days.




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Take Shelter from the Storm

Take Shelter from the Storm

When we see a storm rolling in the horizon, it gets really scary and overwhelming.

There isn’t always a chance to prepare for what is coming, and ready or not whatever has to happen it will happen.

But not everything is bad news when the storm approaches, we can take shelter in ourselves and reflect on the external things that we want to change in life.

Here 4 benefits of taking shelter from a storm approaching in your life:

  1. Take your time to slow down: Start by catching your breath.  Breathe slowly and deeply. Savour this slow time and see how you can start settling everything that has been floating around in your life. The storm can only last so long, Before taking action you need a plan, start your plan, act on it once the the storm has passed.
  2. Clean up your “house” move things around, clean, get rid of the heavy stuff that you don’t need anymore, make room for the fresh air coming where the clouds have moved away.
    Heavy furniture and dusty floors only block the energy for new and better things
  3. Chill. There is nothing you can do to make things happen faster, go with the flow, build your resilience and optimism, get ready for when you come out to the sunshine.
  4. Stay optimistic, storms don’t last for ever, your time to shine will come back, and after taking shelter within yourself, you will feel stronger and wiser.So remember, we always go through stormy stages, but they only last so long, and we can overcome the rain. The sun is still out there, even when we don’t see it, the sun will shine again, better times will come our way.

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