For Goddess Sake: Get the Girls Together and Have Some Fun

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A call to shed the layers of social conditioning and negative beliefs, to begin to deeply love our bodies and connect to our personal power. I entered this world in record time and weighed in at 10 lbs. In a society that values a woman by her size, I was a rule breaker by mere existence. Not to mention, as I grew older, my personality began to match my body; BIG!!

Big heart, big feelings, big voice, big dreams.

In the early years, I was oblivious to the social norms I was breaking and loved living large in every way! I would sing, dance, run around unabashedly in a bathing suit, and take up as much space as I desired. It was quite beautiful. At approximately age eight, I was called to downsize, in every way. This was when the fat shaming began and I started to learn the hard knocks of life; girls should remain small in every way.

Our bodies, our voices, our personalities. Be nice and do NOT take up too much space figuratively and literally. My exuberance deflated from my enormous personality. I was painfully aware that I did not naturally ascribe to the rules of being a girl. So, for years, I worked hard to learn and follow those rules. Be nice. Be small. Be pretty. I have tortured and abused my body, mind and soul in attempts to follow these rules. I realize now, this was an impossible and painful aspiration to chase. I recognize we all have our unique stories and I honour whatever yours is.

I know the familiar feeling of "not good enough" is what bonds us together. We can support one another through the shame and rise together to reclaim our power! It has taken years for me to slowly peel away the layers of teasing, humiliation, rejection, conditioning, shame, rage, and lies. At times, I have felt so raw and exposed I feared there would be nothing left to me. She was in there though, awaiting my return. The passionate, precious, wild, beautiful little girl who loves big, dreams big, and walks with her head held high. Every day, I try to connect with her and nurture her so that she can live out loud in every way.

It doesn't always go according to plan, but I am not giving up on her. Body love is a personal journey without a defined prescription. It is a journey I will likely be on for many more years but I invite it all. The pain, the beauty, all of it. Every day is an invitation to return to and love our bodies. So, I invite you to show yourself some body love, right now, in this moment. Let your intuitive response, be your guide.

Does your body need rest? There is no "right" answer, only what feels right for you. Now, try to meet that need today as an act of body love and self compassion. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the internal and external messages that tell you, you are not worthy, anchor yourself by asking those questions. Ask them over and over again until they become your default. Let them be your compass as you peel back your own layers to reveal and feel how truly beautiful and worthy you are!

The photo is of my brother, my aunt , and myself 'living large'! She struggled most of her life with body image issues but accepted ME just as I am. You will forever be in my heart, and one of my guiding lights.

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Like some of you, I was intimidated by yoga. So, for years, it was a practice I avoided with great effort and success. During my twenties, I decided to take a giant leap out of my comfort zone and attend a hot yoga class. For those of you who are not familiar, it is a yoga class facilitated in a studio with the temperature cranked to approximately 92 degrees. I mean seriously, I was sweating before the instructor even introduced herself!

Not because of the poses, or the instructor, but because I could not escape from my thoughts.

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From the moment I walked into that studio, I was already comparing myself to others and highlighting with great detail my physical flaws. The entire hour was uncomfortable and my self-conscious thoughts only seemed to amplify and intensify with each movement. Dear God, what if I fart in downward dog and the smell is trapped in this hot sweaty room with all these beautiful and thin women!?

Surely they would know it was the giant, awkward, new girl! It was sixty minutes spent drowning in a sea of my own sweat and self-loathing. When the chimes resonated to indicate the end of class, they also chimed my freedom from the hot hell I was trapped within.

It has been a few months since I began practicing yoga regularly, and it has been an empowering and painful emotional more than physical experience that I would recommend to anyone. Through yoga, I learned how disconnected I had become from my own body enter extensive memoir on the reasons why and how to slowly return to myself through breath, intention and movement. Thankfully my instructor was patient, compassionate and respectful of my insecurities and created a beautiful space for me to begin the process of reconnecting to, and loving my body.

Here is what I have learned and wish someone would have shared with me prior to my sweaty shame bath about the practice of yoga; It is NOT about your clothes, your size, your shape, or whether you can contort your body like a Cirque Du Soleil performer. Yoga can be a powerful and personal journey back to yourself. There will be moments of peace, joy, and relaxation and there will be moments of fear, struggle and frustration. It is all a part of the process. If you have become detached from your body, your emotions, or your thoughts, yoga can be the gentle friend to guide you back home.

It is a personal practice where YOU get to choose what benefits to gain. It can be deeply healing for your mind, body and soul, or it can be one hour where you can escape daily stresses and lie down for five uninterrupted minutes during Shavasana.

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If you are contemplating stepping out of your comfort zone, or had a hot messy experience like myself and want to try again, remember this: YOU belong and you are brave for just showing up in the face of your fears. Namaste ;-. Although a complicated question which has many different answers, being well is something we all strive for.

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A teacher by trade, Sarah has always enjoyed helping those around her gain knowledge to empower them. As Sarah learned, there is no quick fix to achieve wellness; wellness is about bringing daily positive practices into your life to cope with challenges. Wellness cannot simply be achieved by fixing one facet of yourself, but must involve balancing all dimensions—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social—to create a fulfilling life.

Whether we want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, care for children, or just be around to celebrate our 90th birthdays with those we love, we must learn to treat our physical bodies with respect. With this in mind, increasing range of motion, improving mobility, and strengthening the body are a few reasons why Sarah practices yoga.

Emotional: Of course, emotions are an essential part of being alive, but the more challenging ones can often be better managed to reduce stress and create more peace. Yin yoga helps to improve the functions of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is sometimes called the rest and digest system. Through a deep and constant awareness on the breath, Yin yoga helps practitioners tap into the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for emotional processing and release.

Each pose may evoke a different emotional experience, helping individuals to look at these emotions from a place of stillness, compassion, and non-reacitivity. Mental: When is the last time that you gave your mind a break? On the other hand, a question to ask yourself that is just as important is "When is the last time you stimulated your mind or learned something that inspired you? Yoga workshops and classes are just the place to find balance between stimulating the mind and giving the mind a rest.

For many of us, our mental faculties are often overloaded. Yoga workshops are just the place to give your brain a rest, and allow you to be more focussed tomorrow. Sarah integrates mindfulness into her yoga workshops to allow participants to fully exist in the present moment.

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Spiritual: Taking the time to embrace the spiritual side of our beings is also necessary. Whether you have specific beliefs or not, yoga can allow you to feel at peace with yourself and thus make your daily life feel more meaningful. For Sarah, the social benefits of yoga are in holding space for others, that is, allowing those around you to go through what they need to, as you work through your challenges as well. While teaching yoga and mindfulness, Sarah encourages reserving judgement and, instead, sending comforting and reassuring thoughts to those around you.

Sarah teaches classes, workshops, and individual sessions to share what she has learned about balancing the parts of ourselves to bring wellness. Once a month, she even offers a yoga and music event where local musicians provide a concert for yoga participants, thus combining the benefits of yoga and music! Anne-Marie delved into the art of energy healing in when she began studying chakras, and quickly learned more when she began studying Usui Reiki in When she discovered the help she could offer people through these techniques alone, she began learning many other methods of energy healing, and she continues to take regular courses.

Although it encompasses many different techniques, energy healing predominantly involves using the hands in a heart-centred and intentional way to balance and harmonize energy fields in the body. Energy healing therefore helps to shift energies that are ready to be altered—be they physical, emotional, mental or spiritual—to achieve improved peace and wellbeing. Anne-Marie integrates a variety of techniques into each healing session. She chooses what techniques to use through conversing with her clients and helping them to determine their individual healing goals. Some techniques Anne-Marie uses come from the following schools of energy healing:.

Practitioners believe that unprocessed emotions and traumas may be stored in the body, and Healing Touch may help to release them, as well as empower clients in self-healing. Janet Mentgen developed Healing Touch in the s and the Healing Touch Program continues to expand and grow internationally. It is considered one of the most respected and valued integrative therapies in health care facilities where holistic methods are practiced. Mikao Usui in The word Reiki comes from two Japanese words—Rei, meaning spiritual, all-knowing wisdom, and Ki, meaning life force energy.

In the First Degree of Reiki, the techniques involve using the hands to rebalance energy. In the Second and Third Degrees of Reiki, symbols and distance healing methods are learned to enhance energy healing. There are different forms of Reiki. Anne-Marie works with clients who experience many different kinds of issues: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

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