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Economics of Happiness

Happiness is an important, but often overlooked item when someone is discussing how successful and well developed a country is.

Countries are often pitted head to head against each other, vying for the top spots on charts measuring average incomes of households, net profit earned, GDP, per capita income, unemployment rates, crude-oil prices, and how much their stocks are worth. We are now judging a nation’s development through these old-fashioned statistics or numbers. These statistics are brought together with some standard mathematical formulas, however it’s a good question if these numbers can also measure smile or sadness on your face? However, as society evolves, many other types of measurements come to light, from the serious, like the pay gap between men and women, to the silly, like how many public washrooms there are per square kilometer. Despite all of these measurements, though, the happiness of citizens is rarely talked about. Measuring levels of positivity, though seemingly insignificant, can determine the number of people immigrating to the country, help depressed people get the support they need, and even strengthen economy.

The lack of good feeling can also be the product of other more malignant factors, such as lack of employment, or an abundance of stress in general. Naturally, people will gravitate towards countries that may be less developed, but are in a more optimistic state of mind. It is surprising that stress levels, anxiety, or depression rates are higher in the developed countries than their less developed fellows.

Depression and other mental illnesses are life threatening. It is imperative people suffering from internal diseases get the help and support they need, which is why the happiness quotient matters so much. People are often more likely to seek help when they are confronted with the cold hard truth. Filling out the questionnaire that determines their positivity towards life, they can easily see if they are crossing over into dangerous, depressive territories. Even better, workplaces can retrieve the results, and then discreetly monitor employees who may be at risk.

Happier workers make for more productive workers, and a boost in productivity will naturally lead to more profit and a stronger economy. Plus, with less negativity, there will be less tension and stress in the workplace, leading to a happier environment. Also, as mental illness causes many health problems, a higher degree of contentment will put less strain on healthcare systems, and save the money that is usually put towards antidepressants and similar medications.

Obviously, happiness is an important, but often overlooked item when someone is discussing how successful and well developed a country is. What people often forget is that the men and women working within society are the ones that truly matter, not profit. After all, money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness, nor does it buy you true friends and loyal family members to look out for you. Our society needs to change from the money, money, money mindset to a more beneficial, healthier train of thought that focuses on inner peace and the enjoyment of life.

At last, if people of the country are not happy, then we cannot call the country developed, doesn’t matter what numbers are saying and what policies their government is adopting. A smile on a face is important!

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World’s Population Is A Lot More Obese Now

By Gurdeep Pandher

Although there are regions where food scarcity is a seemingly insurmountable problem, causing people to become malnourished and susceptible to diseases, it is doubtless that the growing global prosperity is easing the lives of those who used to be extremely impoverished. However, as famine is being resolved by new agricultural technologies such as genetically modified organisms, irrigation, and mechanized farming, a new issue has begun to surface. Obesity, a disease that used to be suffered by only aristocrats who were able to gorge themselves on rich foods, has now become a pandemic. In fact, the number of people who are suffering from obesity is greater than that of those who are underweight.

This phenomenon is indisputable, with the amount of obese individuals rising from 105 million in 1975 to 640 million is 2014. Although we like to blame the United States for being the main contributor to this trend (one third of its adult population is a victim, after all), the global pattern associated with this illness is often surprising. Lesser developed countries such as Libya and Egypt have obesity rates of 40.1 and 41.6% respectively, signifying monetary wealth is not the only indicator. After all, Japan, which is extremely well developed, has an obesity rate of only 3.4%. Although genetics and environmental conditions may play a role, it is definitely culture that determines the spread of the phenomenon.

Social factors such as the consumption of highly processed, fatty foods and the inactivity resulting from a digitized entertainment industry all contribute to the frightening trends in obesity. In fact, sellers of unhealthy foods typically specifically target children with fun mascots and smiling kids who are blissfully unaware that what they are eating is entirely sugar. Although it is stereotypically Americans who fall prey to these marketing tactics, Canada is not immune. With almost a quarter of its citizens (adults and children) diagnosed with this condition, it is seeking to make drastic changes in order to prevent further developments of this disease.

One example of Canada’s commitment is the proposed revision of the Canadian food guide, which currently promotes several misconceptions. It suggests that fruit juice, which is commonly highly processed and sugary with almost none of the nutrients found in real fruit (such as fiber and vitamin A), is equivalent to a serving of fruit. As well, it treats all milk products equally regardless of fat content, which means cream cheese and skim milk are equally healthy in their eyes. Also, they condone oils, but fail to disclose the health benefits from olive and other vegetable oils. Hopefully, these issues will soon be resolved to better educate the country.

However, making a distinguished improvement in Canada and the rest of the world will take time and prolonged effort. From encouraging children to join sports teams and play outside away from screens to educating the general public on the necessity of a healthy diet and regular physical activity, large cultural shifts are needed to make obesity a problem of the past. Otherwise, we may soon see a decrease in lifespan and quality of life due to the burden brought by our advancements.

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Be A Child Again

Do you remember those carefree days you spent when you were young, not a care in the world? Do you sometimes sit at home wondering what happened to the past version of yourself that loved ice cream cones, ran through sprinklers, and rode your bike everywhere? Obviously, we grow up and our interests shift, but you don’t have to give up being a kid for good. If you’re an adult every single moment of every day, it gets boring and stuffy; so go out and reclaim you childish side!

You don’t have to quit your day job in order to be childish, simple acts every day works just as well. In the morning, skip your coffee and get a hot chocolate. Instead of drinking wine, have some soda water. Just changing your diet to resemble a child’s can give you a fresh perspective. However, don’t go overboard. An occasional treat is fine, coke and chips for every meal is not.

This may sound like a no brainer, but going outside can raise your mood. Unless you were a very unhealthy and inactive child, playing outside with friends was probably the highlight of your day. Just for fun, schedule a sports tournament with your coworkers and friends over a weekend. It’s perfect for getting everyone together to unwind and be active. To make the day even more interesting, invite the children of your friends to join in. Before you know it, the day will have flown by in a flurry of fun and competition.

A huge part of being a child is the childish antics. It’s okay to be immature sometimes, so feel free to pull small pranks on your friends from time to time or make up inappropriate jokes. However, be aware your main responsibility is still to be an adult, so make sure not to go overboard. Also, make sure your pranks are harmless, and that your jokes are heard by your friends only after work hours, not by your boss in the office. Activities like a water balloon fight or laser tag, however, can be enjoyed with whomever you want.

With the right attitude, it’s very easy to awaken your childish side once again. Sometimes, you just need a break from reality and take a trip down memory lane. In fact, reverting back to a kid for a short time can boost your mood, and simplify your life. The next time you want to just bike the whole day away or break your diet for that snow cone, don’t feel guilty. It’s perfectly fine to indulge yourself.

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From grief-stricken to a good time – Five tips to rise

In life, everyone suffers some kind of downfall from time to time whether it be the passing of a friend or disappoint arising from a setback in their career. However, what defines a person is never their losses, but how they recover and learn about themselves in the process. Obviously, this is easier said and done, requiring effort and commitment to come to terms with grief and rise above it to face the brighter future, but the five steps outlined below simplify the process and provides a starting place for people who feel lost in the world.

Firstly, understand it is natural to be upset, and know that everyone, at some point in time, will go through a similar experience. However, after a few days, strive to get your life back on track by reintegrating one routine every day to gain back some control and sense of normality. For example, going grocery shopping, browsing your favorite store, and meeting up with a friend for coffee are all viable options designed to dull the impact of grief. Be open, and accept help from others. It is difficult enough to deal with pain even without having to shoulder the burden alone.

To cope during the earlier days, distractions are necessary to prevent sinking into a deep, dark hole of despair and depression. Exercising, watching television in moderation, and working on a hobby are all viable options for quelling the overwhelming desire to mope. This is not to say reminiscing about the past should be avoided at all costs, but it should be limited to only short periods of time in safety and comfort. However, if the pain does bubble to the surface unexpectedly, acknowledge it and move on without making a big fuss.

As many may already know, talking about loss is an important step on the road to recovery. It is still unacceptable to rant to your barista or post a five mile long status on Facebook, but having a chat with a few close friends can provide some relief. Closing in and detaching from the people who care is one of the most harmful actions you can take. Refusing to share with anyone is a sign of denial, which can slow down the recovery process and present barriers to future social interactions.

Although this may sound counterintuitive, do not only think of the good times. Remembering a friend’s laughter and companionship or how a supervisor once bought gourmet coffee for everyone at the office is normal and pleasant, but does nothing in the long run. To effectively deal with grief, your viewpoint needs to be at least somewhat impartial, taking into account the bad as well. Some negativity regarding your past can alleviate some of the feelings of losing something holy, allowing you to turn the rose-colored glasses towards the future instead.

Finally, believe in that you will overcome this hurdle, and find footing again in the very near future. Appreciate whatever glimpses of happiness that arise, without guilt or allowing judgment to register. It is genuinely all about perspective, with optimism always winning in the race towards recovery and living to the fullest once again. With the right attitude and an honest acknowledgment of pain with a reflective and open mind, the world will grow brighter in no time.

Though this process can be complex and difficult, the first step is always finding the courage and will to follow through with it in order to truly live once again. Grief is definitely unpleasant, but it is also a fact of life and denial of it will only aggravate the situation. Instead, take it in stride, learn from the experience, and rise up to reach the sky of happiness once again.

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Dealing with Sadness – Ideas and Advice

Dealing with Sadness - Ideas and Advice

We live in a crazily driven modern world. Our modern world and the pace of living in it often brings us all manner of complications, as well as a lot of fatigue and disappointment. For example, loss of a friend or family member may set us back in life. Even a friend or close family member who is in the hospital due to health problems may give you a sense of sadness that is very hard to shake off.

To cite other examples, if your new car breaks down or there are problems with your new home, you may find that sadness crops up and is difficult to deal with. In addition, a split with a partner or spouse may trigger sadness which seems to come straight from the core of your heart. If you are missing a friend back home or you live in a different country and you cry for your family and friends (whom you needed to left behind), your sadness may overwhelm you. Ego also factors in here. For example, you may imagine that your close friends do not admire you or that your boss is neglecting the efforts which you put in at work. Debt is another problem which brings sadness. Let’s say that you have have a big credit card bill in your hand and you do not have funds to pay the bill. This causes stress which may weigh you down with negative emotions!

There are a million reasons why people feel sad. In my personal life, I have faced sadness (even extreme) many times and I’ve successfully recovered from it. In order to help you do the same, I’ve written up some tips, which are meant to help you combat the ill effects of despair.

1. Short-Term Sadness is Okay: Every human being reacts to changing situations around him/her. It’s natural and normal to have these emotions. This kind of sadness is situational.  In other words, it’s related to our hardest life experiences. After all, a human being is not a machine. However, you do need to learn how to recover from it! Your recovery should be speedy in order to benefit your mental state, health and well-being.

If you are sad for days or months at a time, then you definitely need help or some outlet which will assist you with feeling normal again. Many things can work, such as talking to a good friend, reading a good book or finding a good video which helps you to understand the situation. If you’re seriously depressed, talk to your doctor – he or she can help.

2. Take Loss Positively: Losing a friend, co-worker, money, business, or anything else that you value may spark prolonged sadness and psychological setbacks. Keep in mind that nothing was yours which you lost! Think positively by reminding yourself that you enjoyed good moments with your friend or family member, or had some good experiences with your money or business.

If you gain perspective by reviewing your own personal history, you will realize that nothing is permanent. The best and brightest people of all time gained and lost during their lives, just like you have! Maybe you lost things that you used to own? This presents an opportunity to live a more humble life, without being enslaved by the need for luxuries and material possessions.

3. Feel Good About Your Mistakes: No one is perfect! We all make mistakes and, sometimes, we repeat these errors! Accept mistakes not as signs of weakness but as signs of courage. At least you tried! Consider the fact that all people in the world make mistakes and that you are no different from them! Laugh at your mistakes in order to change the way that you feel about them! Don’t be sad that you did something wrong.

Also, think about the fact that you may suffer from misconceptions. Maybe your family and friends are not thinking bad thoughts about you after all – maybe it’s just your imagination! People around you are very busy, they do not have time to think about your mistakes and weaknesses all of the time. So make an effort to avoid cluttering your mind with the idea that people are thinking terrible things about you.

4. Sad Poetry and Music are Ok in Moderation: Sad poetry, music, or literature may be used for short periods of time in order to fit your mood. Sometimes, I do listen to sad songs and feel good after listening to them, it may be the same for you. However, too much sad “entertainment” may actually trigger a downward spiral into depression. As I said earlier, it’s healthy to be sad for short periods of time, it’s okay to be sombre now and then.

However, healthy sadness is all about recovering from sadness quickly and returning to a happier state of mind!

5. Avoid Too Much Solitude: When you spend long periods of time alone, you may be prone to indulge in self-analysis and bad thoughts which keep your feelings of sadness alive. Many times, obsessive self-examination disconnects us from the realities of life which are all around us. For example, you may try to explore and connect with metaphorical images and figures when you are alone for long period of times! It’s better to live in the real world as much as you can, so do make sure that you go outside, get some fresh air, talk to neighbours or friends or take care of pets. This will help you to come out of your imaginative world which was created in response to your prolonged period of solitude.

There are many other strategies for dealing with sadness. However, I believe that the ones detailed here are great for self-help during tough times. Keep in mind that sadness and depression are closely related to each other. As I mentioned earlier, if you are always sad or frequently sad, please talk to your doctor. He or she can treat your depression and get you back on the right track.

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The Yukon Branches of Yoga

Photo submitted by: Jessica Read

The People – The Passion – The Practice

To grow a plant one must first prepare the soil. Make the earth friable so that the seeds will not be damaged by rocks, weeds nor the weight of the dirt. Then of course the soil must be watered in order for the seeds to germinate.

The seeds of yoga were germinating in Whitehorse, Yukon when I arrived in 1970. I enrolled in a Yoga class at the YWCA, now the High Country Inn. Joe’s manner was gentle and it belied his line backer shoulders. To my surprise he asked me to teach yoga when attendance increased beyond room capacity. Unabashedly, unashamedly I bought a copy of Light On Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. I know, it was presumptuous of me, but I followed the asanas (postures) and tried to mould myself into the fantastic shapes and configurations in the photographs. Ignorance is bliss. But I was more interested in the practical and physical benefits of yoga. Releasing kinks in my body, being more flexible.  That was my entry onto a path that I have followed to this day.

Jeannie Stevens was one of the pioneers of yoga and began teaching in the Yukon at Hellaby Hall, Riverdale Dance Studio, and a variety of make-do venues. Jeannie’s inspiration came from both B.K.S. Iyengar and the late Swami Sivananda Rhada. I was particularly intrigued by Jeannie’s style of teaching. The postures were taught as symbols, enabling us to explore not just the physical aspect of an asana, but their spiritual, universal, reflective and intuitive meanings. The Hidden Language of Yoga was one of the courses Jeannie offered, in which I remember we were given a posture to perform and then reflect upon it on paper. I did an upside-down tree pose because I was injured. This new perspective connected me to all of life in its diversity. Asanas are named after animals, plants, mythic gods and goddesses. Exploring yoga in this way had a profound effect on me.

Jeannie also conducted a chanting group (kirtan) with her partner Paul Stevens. How I looked forward to those sessions. In retrospect, I think of chanting as being Bhakti yoga, the yoga of surrender, the offering of ourselves into the ocean of consciousness that felt like a sea of love.  These chanting circles were not restricted to East Indian chants, but those of all denominations. Chanting enables one to get out of the intellect and connect with the heart.

Currently Jeannie teaches meditation, breath work and therapeutic yoga in Sidney B.C. Her book Yoga – A Journey of Self-Discovery is “a love-song to my teachers Swami Rhada and Gangaji.”  It is with gratitude that Jeannie came into my life and guided me through the dark nights of my soul. I bow to you Jeannie.

Erica Heuer's yoga session at the Alpine Bakery space. Photo submitted by Erica Heuer
Erica Heuer’s yoga session at the Alpine Bakery space. Photo submitted by Erica Heuer

Erica Heuer’s introduction to yoga began when she and her mom went to loonie Friday drop-in classes in Calgary. Also an Iyengar practitioner, she studied with Jeannie for a long time. Eventually she became a student of Iain Grysak in 2004 until 2012 in the Ashtanga style. Erica says that her practice of yoga has brought her “into the fullest potential of all that I can be.” Other teachers who have influenced her are Richard Freeman and Tim Millar. She now has completed her 500 hours of teacher training. “Teaching is so centering. It’s like a two-way door. You’re giving and so much is coming back. It’s nourishing. Yoga has purified me. It’s a gift.” This system of yoga is derived from the teachings of the late K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. He was known to say to his thousands of students, “99% Practice and 1% Theory. Practice and all is coming.” He designated the name Ashtanga to this particular style in order that practitioners not forget that there are eight (ashtau) limbs (anga) to the practice of yoga.

Erica Heuer’s introduction to yoga began when she and her mom went to loonie Friday drop-in classes in Calgary. Photo submitted by Erica Heuer
Erica Heuer’s introduction to yoga began when she and her mom went to loonie Friday drop-in classes in Calgary. Photo submitted by Erica Heuer

Jodee Dixon is another devotee of Ashtanga Yoga. She resides in Juneau, Alaska and teaches above the Alpine Bakery. “I see the benefits of preparing physically and mentally when teaching at 6:30 AM. Some will simply breathe and others do gentle movement. It’s the intensity that drew me to Ashtanga, an intensity that is more than physical. I’ve had a rocky relationship with Ashtanga. Feeling the challenge of structure, and my limitations. But the limitations are what teaches you. They come in waves. Like road blocks, especially practising on your own.” Jodee is up at 3:30 AM and on her mat at 4:40 AM before facilitating the Mysore class at 6:30 AM. “If I don’t have the structure, then I can’t do the work that is necessary. Becoming familiar with the sequence, I don’t have to think about what pose comes next, I can move with the flow of breath. I look forward to practice each night, but it’s still hard to rise at 3:30AM.” This is how Jodee explained how spiritual practice is woven into the first and second series that she currently practises. “ Ahimsa (non-violence) and santosha (contentment). It’s a moving meditation. There is no room for distraction if you stay with the vinyasa (sequence of postures). Over the last few years, my relationship with ahimsa and santosha is accepting what is, and not pushing forcefully, yet still doing the work. I work alone because a led class can be distracting. I feel that I am being forced out of my rhythm. But I also take led classes to force mey out of my habits. Her vision is to create a studio in Juneau that will offer a full rostrum from beginners classes to teacher training courses. I would like acroyoga  and partner yoga to be part of the offerings.”

Jodee Dixon is a devotee of Ashtanga Yoga. Photo submitted by Jodee Dixon
Jodee Dixon is a devotee of Ashtanga Yoga. Photo submitted by Jodee Dixon

When I practised Ashtanga yoga on a regular basis, I loved how each posture was linked with breath, drishti (gaze), and flow, linking it all into an exploration of ever deepening practice.

Both Tegan Brophy and Terice Reimer-Clarke are Iyengar instructors in Whitehorse. Tegan is a relative newcomer to the yoga circles. She taught in South Africa, owned her own studio in Namibia, taught in Abbotsford B.C. and moved to the Yukon in 2011. She teaches at the White Swan Centre and at The Studio in Granger. Terice taught at Golden Horn for twelve years and more recently above the Alpine Bakery.

Terice is a physiotherapist and likes “the meld between the physical body and pranayama (breath work). What appeals to me as a physiotherapist is the neurophysical and muscular alignment. The gift of Iyengar is based on principles that can be modified. The postures provide a strong base. If you practise Iyengar yoga then you are practising safely.” In order to maintain their certification, Iyengar teachers need 50 hours of continuing training every year.

Tegan Brophy taught in South Africa, owned her own studio in Namibia, taught in Abbotsford B.C. and moved to the Yukon in 2011. She teaches at the White Swan Centre and at The Studio in Granger. Photo submitted by Tegan Brophy
Erica Heuer’s introduction to yoga began when she and her mom went to loonie Friday drop-in classes in Calgary. Photo submitted by Erica Heuer

Tegan says that “Iyengar definitely helped me with my own health issues. He is the first to make hatha yoga scientific, in an objective repeatable form.” Tegan’s interest in natural health led her to study and complete her training as a homeopathic doctor. Her sense of adventure led her to the Yukon. “Iyengar is a meditation on the body. It’s evolving. It’s not static.”

I couldn’t agree more. I recently read that “Iyengar has the mind of a scientist and the soul of a poet.”

Jessica Read began her formal training at the Sivananda Ashram in India’s Netala Region in 2006. In 2006, Jessica opened the Breath of Life Yukon wellness collective by the waterfront. “My focus is to make it more of an open community, more accessible to a transient community. Most sessions are drop-in classes. Twenty percent are registered.” Her practice took a turn when she was drawn to the movement and free flow of vinyasa. Shiva Rea, whose own teachings follow the lineage of the late Krishnamacharya, became her mentor.  “I believe we need more freedom and consciousness in our practice in order to create an open body and still mind. Prana is the life force of every living being which is reflected through breath. It is less about the pose and more about the life journey. I use East Indian music as a backdrop to assist in the expression of the body/mind. Yoga is a journey to self-love and inner strength. We are capable of more than what our inner voice dictates.  Vinyasa provides the opportunity to experience and reflect on that deep level. I have an all-male class.” When I asked how it differs from a registered class, Jessica replied, “Energy! Besides a room full of testosterone, they feed the room with strength. I don’t need to coax them to engage their power. I need to encourage them to ease off and not try the hardest pose when provided with choices.”

Jessica Read began her formal training at the Sivananda Ashram in India’s Netala Region in 2006. In 2006, Jessica opened the Breath of Life Yukon wellness collective by the waterfront. Photo submitted by Jessica Read
Jessica Read began her formal training at the Sivananda Ashram in India’s Netala Region in 2006. In 2006, Jessica opened the Breath of Life Yukon wellness collective by the waterfront. Photo submitted by Jessica Read

Bonnie MacDonald began her yoga journey with Jeannie Stevens in the late 80’s. Several years of venturing to the San Francisco Iyengar Institute eventually led her to Rodney Yee and later Mary Paffard. She brought Rodney to the Yukon to give workshops. I was thrilled to be part of one of them. At the time I thought he was the rock star of the yoga scene in the Yoga Journal magazine. But it was Mary Paffard with whom Bonnie took a long distance teacher training certification which she received in 2006. “Mary integrated a Buddhist component into yoga.  Shavasana, (corpse pose) informs me.” This is how she explains it. “We want to live fully. We want to open ourselves to all that life offers. In the Western world, we are very good at efforting. Shavasana we must be totally relaxed in the body and completely alert in the mind. I integrate that concept of relaxation and alertness into all the asanas. I am exploring the practice that takes me into that sattvic place. I’m not looking for a balanced state where I get to hang out. I need to hone back into that state again and again.”

Bonnie’s statements definitely resonate with me in my sitting meditation practice. The mind wanders. We bring it back to the focus of the breath again and again. Or back to the focus of our meditation. Not hanging on, but returning to that sattvic place. Bonnie teaches at the Vista Learning Centre on the Mayo Road where one is surrounded by the majesty of mountains and sky and will soon offer classes at The Breath of Life studio.

Sabu Chaitanya was sixteen years old in India when he began practising East Indian philosophy at an Ashram with Vishnudevananda. “I became a pre-monk.” His regime seven days a week consisted of rising at 4:00 AM, showering, meditation, chanting and scriptural study (satsang). He also had a vigorous hatha yoga practice. After eating, he would do service (karma yoga) either at the Ashram or in the community. At 6:00 PM he ate dinner, and then did satsang.  “Every day was the same.” Except Sunday – residents of the Ashram didn’t have to practise hatha yoga on Sundays.” Between 2002 and 2005, Sabu ran the Sivananda Ashram in San Fransisco. He lived and taught in Montreal and Santa Cruz before moving to the Yukon in 2009. He currently owns and teaches at the Shanti Studio at Hawkins House. “Habits and character are developed through the practice. It’s a system of lineage. Every Saturday and Sunday there is an open meditation class at 8:00 AM. All my education was inspired by Vishnudevananda. He has given me a meaningful and disciplined life. My teachers are my backbone. I spent six years with Swami Vishnudevananda , 1987-1993. He was very joyous. He was a monk. He died in 1963. I feel the presence of Sivananda and Vishnudevananda everywhere. Sivananda was free. He was detached from the wheel of attachment.” When I asked Sabu why he left India, he replied, “I had more freedom to teach. In Kerala, India, I was influenced by a social reformer who was against the caste system. All humanity is one. We are all one. My vision is that everyone does yoga.”

Sabu Chaitanya was sixteen years old in India when he began practising East Indian philosophy at an Ashram with Vishnudevananda. Photo submitted by Sabu Chaitanya
Sabu Chaitanya was sixteen years old in India when he began practising East Indian
philosophy at an Ashram with Vishnudevananda. Photo submitted by Sabu Chaitanya

Indeed, after these interviews, it appears that yoga is for all. The seeds of yoga are scattered in all four directions of the Yukon. The branches continue to flourish, transforming our lives towards self-realization. I bow to the teachers of the past, present and the future. Namaste.

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Life Stays Healthy with Healthy Eating Habits

Life Stays Healthy with Healthy Eating Habits

The surge of rising obesity rates among all age groups is a matter of concern. In addition to increasing clothing sizes, it also increased our awareness of what we’re eating and how to be healthier. Though many people are well aware now that a minimum of six servings of fruits and vegetables are needed per day for good health, and high sugar foods are not good for you, converting knowledge into action is very difficult. I will show you how you can eat healthier and live better without completely rerouting your lifestyle.

When you eat anything, snacks included, be sure to measure out the portions so you know just how much you are eating. At mealtimes, use a smaller plate, so it takes less food to fill it up. You don’t have to be a scientist to recognize chips and burgers are not the best for you, so why do so many people still eat them? The answer is simple; many people eat unhealthily because junk food is delicious. If you say you don’t find pleasure in ice cream and Doritos, you are lying. Many people can’t stand healthy eating for this reason. Most of the times, without the thousands of chemical flavouring in processed food, the taste is bland. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Most spices have no fat and low calories, but pack a punch. Cinnamon, lemon juice, vinegar, and oregano are all flavourful, natural things you can use to spice up your meals. In addition, there are many different blogs out there dedicated to providing delicious and healthy recipes.

Through discipline and patience, you can put yourself on the path to a better life. Sure, junk food can be tasty, but the flavour only takes a second to dissipate, and once it passes into your body, it is far from heavenly. It may seem difficult to cut out all of the chips and chocolate right away, but take small steps every day and you will soon see results. Though it may seem like a chore now, your body will thank you later by being energetic and healthy.

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Rein in your Emotions

Emotions are useful in many types of situations, working better than logic to get you where you want to go. However, sometimes, you just cannot afford to give your feelings the run of the place and completely disregard logic. Relying too much on emotions can make you temperamental, seem unprofessional, and be hard to cooperate and reason with; so how can you quash down your feelings when necessary? By assessing the situation, responding instead of reacting, and taking responsibility for your actions, you can be calm, professional, and collected.

When something happens, whether positive or negative, you should evaluate what is going on before you do anything. Consider what has gotten you to this point objectively and what you steps you need to take to resolve or move forward from this present moment. Get rid of any biases or excuses. Instead, take on the role of a bystander. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind and calm down. If you choose to, do a few simple math problems in your head, as that activates the logic part of your brain and push invasive emotions to the back of your mind.

Next, after knowing the situation, respond to it whether than react. Reacting means to act without thinking, much like how you angrily reacted when you caught your younger sibling in your room when you were a child. Responding means you make a move only after careful consideration. Think of your life as a chessboard. What piece should you move to get to where you want to be? How would you move that piece? This way of thinking puts you in an outsider’s position, where you can carefully consider how you should respond to the situation without the burden of emotions, which can ruin a cool-headed approach.

Finally, you must take responsibility for all that you have done, the good and the bad. Instinct will tell you to run away, make excuses, and push the blame towards someone else, but logic dictates that the correct thing to do would be to fully embrace the role you have taken in this situation. Whether you were an instigator, an observer, or a victim, you must clearly address what position you were in when this event occurred. Your coworkers and boss will appreciate you more for your honesty and professional ways of acting; they might even overlook your mistakes if they were minor.

This is not to say emotions are burdensome or useless, but that they have a specific role that should only be played when the time and place is right. When you are with your friends or family, feel free to let yourself run wild. At work however, it’s best to tightly rein yourself in and not give your emotions too much credit. When you are in a professional environment, you must act appropriately, making decisions with your mind rather than your heart. When you do this, you are more likely to make good choices, and advance your career.

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Train your Brain

Train your Brain

Your mind is a powerful and important organ of your body, dictating your life. Without it, you would hold no consciousness and be nothing more than an empty shell. In your prime, your brain is sharp, focussed and clear. However, as you age, the mind dims, causing you to have short term memory loss, and find it hard to concentrate. Obviously, you want to slow and eventually stop the damage, but how do you do it? Thankfully, the process to recovering your clarity of mind is not at all difficult…

Make yourself learn something new every day. Whether it is how to get from your house to the new shop that just opened or taking a lesson in astrophysics, every bit counts. Keep your brain active, and open to absorbing new information. Each lesson you learn imprints on the brain, carving out new thought patterns and keeps it curious. The more you learn, the denser and more complicated your mind is wired, which means it can come up with more solutions to problems in less time.

In addition to active learning, embrace challenges in the field you are familiar with to introduce new ways of thinking and to expand on your knowledge. If your boss is asking you to begin a large project, don’t shy away from it. Instead, tackle it head on and don’t back down from complications. The harder you work to resolve issues, the better your mind will be for thinking on your feet and quickly adjusting to new situations. If your work place does not offer enough challenges, go seek out some on your own. Run a marathon (strengthens body and mind), or try your hand at programming apps.

We live in a high tech world where newspaper puzzles are near obsolete (but are still fun!). Instead, there are a wide variety of applications and programs that improve your mental abilities through daily training games that usually take no more than a few minutes. Play on the bus, in the waiting room, or on your lunch break; flexibility is one of the best things about using this option to strengthen your mind. In addition, some apps are free, and most offer a free trial, so you get to try all of the benefits at no cost to you.

Even if you are at your peak, some brain training exercises can’t go wrong. They’re fun, and raise you up to be a lifelong learner that embraces challenges and fosters curiosity. You don’t even have to set up a time to improve you mental capabilities. Most of these ideas can be incorporated into everything you do, everywhere you go. No more excuses! It’s time to get your brain on track.

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Pull an All-Nighter

Pull an All-Nighter

As much as we hate it, it’s sometimes unavoidable to work late into the night. Whether it’s an exam that you’re cramming for, or a project that has been left to the last minute, concentration and focus always seem to evade us. In addition, the caffeinated rush from the five cups of coffee you just drank probably isn’t helping neither. No matter how much you detest being a night owl, it’s still important to know how to work efficiently at the wee hours, which is why you should read the tips below.

First of all, ditch the caffeine – all of it. No coffee, energy drinks, soda, chocolate, or processed food of any kind. Instead, get some fruit (apples are proven to have as much of a boost as a cup of coffee due to its natural sugars) or a granola bar, and drink lots of water. No matter what, stay away from high sodium or high fat foods, which can make you sleepier. If you really need a boost, get up and physically move your body. Do squats, jog in place, or even go for a late night run (on the treadmill, preferably). The exercise moves blood to your brain, making studying easier in addition to providing a burst of energy.

This is a no brainer, but is still important enough to be reiterated. Turn off all distractions and you will have a much easier time studying. Your phone goes inside your bag, not beside you on the desk. To increase concentration, work in small periods only. Set a timer, and after every twenty minutes or so, get up and move around. Every hour or so, take a quick snack break and drink some water. Staying hydrated prevents eye bags that are notorious aftermaths of a long night.

After a while, when the going gets really tough, consider taking a power nap. A twenty minute nap (be sure to set a timer!) refreshes your brain and makes you ready to start working again. However, if you find you just can’t keep going anymore, go to bed. There’s no point in wasting more time only to end up with work of poor quality. In fact, if you begin working the next morning with a clear head, you may end up finishing quickly with better results.

Working late is not entirely unavoidable. If you plan out your time well and never procrastinate, you may almost never have to stay up late. Realistically, you will get much better results if you space your work out over a long period of time. However, when you do pull an all-nighter, it’s important to know how to make the most of your precious time. If you follow the tips above, you can likely get most, if not all of your work done with minimal pain. Just remember to reward yourself with sleep once you’re done.