29 Jan 2014



As I begin the self-study portion preceding my first 200-hr teacher training, I have started to contemplate what kind of yoga teacher I want to be... In thinking about some of my favourite teachers over the last decade of my practice I've noticed that they have some things in common.


When teaching an all-levels yoga class, I can only imagine how hard it is to find a balance between too much and too little explanation of the asanas. Great teachers use their words wisely and explain the postures in a way that is helpful to beginners, with subtle cues that will benefit all levels of yogi to find something deeper within the posture.


Sometimes, a simple adjustment creates that 'Ah-HA!' moment that makes you realize that you've had downward dog all wrong for the last three years. Or all that's keeping you from (finally) reaching your toes is that extra bit of guidance from your instructor's helping hands.


With certain styles of yoga, teachers are to keep to a verbatim script through the series of postures to keep consistency, and I understand that. But for me, I like a teacher who isn't afraid to let their vulnerability show and shares their experience with the class. Great teachers bring themselves into the intention they bring into the class, they share (short) stories of their struggles and triumphs on and off the mat with their students, because they know that what they are teaching them in the studio goes so much deeper than the postures themselves.


I get it, yoga is a serious art and science. Yoga can bring you through dark places within yourself. But, like life, yoga can't be serious all the time... It's light and its joyful too! Great teachers bring an element of fun to their classes. Sometimes it's with music, others with little jokes while you're holding your most unpleasant posture for what seems like f-o-r-e-v-e-r. And the best teachers are capable of making you laugh, too. Often at yourself.


Never in a physical way or beyond what your body is capable of, but the great yoga teachers along my yogic journey have been the ones that know what I am capable of, even when I don't, and push me to get there. Without these great teachers, I never would have been hold to hold a handstand or have attempted some of the crazy arm balances I have since fallen in love with.

Rachelle Taylor is a love warrior born and raised in the heart of Canada. This gypsy searched far and wide for inspiration, beauty, and bliss only to return home to Winnipeg where she founded Prairie Yogi as an expression of her love for creativity, yoga, and community.

26 Jan 2014

4 PATHS OF YOGA- The Yoga of Synthesis

Photos + Article courtesy of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp

Swami Sivananda’s Yoga of Synthesis integrates the four paths of Yoga in order for us to develop spiritually in a wholesome manner.

Karma Yoga or selfless service 

Known as the Yoga of action, is the core of the entire Sivananda Organization. In simple terms, it is the ability to serve others without any expectations of being rewarded. In today’s world, it is a norm to work/serve only if there is a monetary goal or reward waiting at the end of it, it is hard for many to imagine doing something out of just love- love for God, 
through love for humanity.

Karma Yoga helps to purify the ego, as it aids us in forgetting our own wants and putting the needs of others before ours. It teaches us to be detached from the word we do, and to focus on being an instrument of the Devine.

Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of devotion 

In Swami Sivananda’s words, Bhakti Yoga is the easiest and surest way to attain Devine-Realization in this present age. Through prayers, chants and worship, it is easy for us to transform our emotions into devotion, this in turn opens our hearts, giving us the ability to love all unconditionally and removing any sort of prejudice.

Raja Yoga

Raja Yoga deals with the control of the mind, by practicing awareness, and observing the tendencies of the mind. A set of do’s and dont’s are prescribed to help purify the mind, enabling us to slowly control the flow of thoughts, thereby giving us balance and clarity.

Jñana Yoga or the Yoga of knowledge 

This is the intellectual approach to Yoga. By intensely studying Vedanta, and contemplating life and its meaning, we start to understand the true nature of the soul within us. It is an extremely difficult path, as aspirants need a lot of will power, determination and courage to face the truth that comes with such contemplation.

Serve. Love. Give. Purify. Meditate. Realize’- Swami Sivananda

In order to understand the seed from which the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre grew, we must go back to September 8th, 1887, Pattamadai- South India. On this day a blessed soul named Kuppuswami was born into an orthodox and devout Brahmin (priest) family.

From a young age he showed an affinity towards spiritual practices and the study of Vedanta (philosophy), had an innate desire to serve humanity. A qualified doctor, he worked in Malaysia for over a decade, often giving free medical treatment to the poor. He started a journal named Ambrosia to raise awareness about various health issues.

Disillusioned with the superficial level of healing that medicine offered, he left his job and embarked on a spiritual quest in India. He then met his Guru (teacher,) Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, in Rishikesh, who initiated him as a Sannyasa (renunciate/monk) and gave him the name Swami Sivananda Saraswati.

From the early 1930s onwards, Swami Sivananda embarked on extensive tours of India and Sri Lanka, stirring the hearts and souls of thousands with his spiritual magnetism and strong vibrant voice. Wherever he went, he conducted kirtan (chanting), delivered lectures and taught people how to keep strong and healthy by practicing yoga asanas and pranayama (proper breathing).

Swami Sivananda founded the Sivananda Ashram (1932), Divine Life Society (1936), Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and authored over 200 books that spread the message of love and service.  He had disciples around the world, belonging to all nationalities and religions. His unrestrained generosity, spirit of service, deep devotion, and his good humour, set his life as a shining example for aspirants to follow.

25 Jan 2014


The Civka family.
Julia Civka with son Jonah and yoga instructor, Amanda Coe.
Yoga vigil participants.
I wanted to share with the Prairie Yogi community the details of a beautiful candlelight yoga vigil that I hosted January 10, 2014 in honour of my Dad. 

My father, Paul Civka, was a super cool guy from the Czech Republic who loved soccer, hockey, music, nature, traveling and most of all, his family. Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 56. Despite the illness slowing him down, he still continued to sing with The Pas Community Choir, cycle everywhere he went in town and entertain those he came in contact with. He was known as a prankster in town; a trait that he definitely passed on to my three sisters and I.

When Dad died on November 16, 2013, I knew that I wanted to do something special to honour him. I asked local yoga instructor and owner of Kuhlektiv Yoga Studio, Amanda Coe to lead a yoga class in Dad’s honour. She graciously accepted and suggested a candlelight yoga vigil at Robert A. Steen Community Centre. On the evening of Jan 10, 2014, thirty of my closest friends and family members joined me for a beautiful vinyasa flow class to honour my Dad.

As the class began, Amanda said “this playlist is seriously one of the funniest and weirdest playlists I’ve ever made.” My sister then turned to me and said “that was dad, funny and weird.” The playlist consisted of the following songs: Ave Maria, King of the Road, Hallelujah, Feliz Navidad and Somewhere over the Rainbow. At a few points during class, the music randomly cut out; something that Amanda said has never happened before. We think it was our Dad’s spirit that was letting us know he was present with us.

Since Dad loved animals, Amanda had us in crow pose, downward facing dog, eagle and cobra. Amanda spoke of how our Dad was a fighter and he truly was. He endured a knee injury and reconstruction, brain surgery twice and a hip fracture with a repair in the past three years. As we practised the warrior series, I felt that the entire group could feel his strength. Amanda also had us in heart opening poses to release grief and to feel protected by Dad. Every posture was strategically planned to honour and respect our Dad in some way. Even during the song Somewhere over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, she led us through a series of bridge poses; just like we were the rainbows appearing after the storm. This concept truly reflects our Dad’s journey; he suffered so much physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually over the years and now he can enjoy the rainbow after the storm.

My sister and I discussed after the vigil just how cathartic the experience was for us. We were wrapped in love by our friends, held up by Amanda leading us through the healing journey and were watched over by Dad who was likely smiling with pride that yet another party was thrown in his honour.
Thank you so very much to the group for attending and for your generosity. We raised over $500 for the Parkinson’s Research Foundation. Also, a HUGE thank you to the following people who assisted with the organization, provided refreshments and donated prizes for the vigil: Amanda Coe, Jacquie Daoudi, Jacquie, Gord and Rianna Friesen, Sam Machulenko, Diana Smith and Laura Wesenberg.
We love you Dad. May you rest in peace. Namaste, Julia Civka  

Julia Civka Civka lives in Winnipeg, Canada where she works as a nurse. Civka has been practicing yoga for 15 years and finds the breathing, asanas and sutras of yoga very grounding. "I began practising initially to prevent injury from running and teaching aerobics but then I became hooked on the spiritual aspect."

24 Jan 2014


Introducing our newest Prairie Yogi apparel:  There's No Place Like Om tank and Northern Lights yoga tights! We've partnered with beautiful script artist Kal Barteski again to create these awesome yoga tanks inspired by the big prairie sky and golden fields. Our newest tights, created locally by Prana Vida Style were inspired by the northern lights that dance in our big prairie skies. LOVE!

Want both? 
You can have it all - and more! We have put together a perfect package with our newest tights & tank with 50g of our Asanaberry bliss tea! A wonderful gift for your valentine... Or yourself ;).

You can find these items on our online shop and we will also have them for sale at our UNION: A Partner Yoga Event on February 17th.

21 Jan 2014


Thanks to our sponsors A Little Pizza Heaven and PMA!
Another awesome Prairie Yogi event comin' at cha! On Monday, February 17th 2014 UNION- A Partner Yoga Event will be taking place at Union Soundhall from 6-8pm. 

This evening, guided by Andrea Robin, will be a powerful yoga practice meant to deepen your relationship, expand your friendships and meet new people! Afterwards, we'll have wine and tasty snacks for everyone to enjoy.

Tickets are $30 each or get a partner pass: two tickets for $50 (limited # of partner passes available)


Written by Regan Tataryn

As a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor I understand the benefits of using props in my yoga practice and when teaching yoga classes. If you have not taken an Iyengar yoga class before, we use props including foam and wood blocks, straps, chairs, the wall (including the rope wall), bolsters and blankets to name a few in order to help our students learn the basic poses in yoga.

BKS Iyengar, who is the founder of this method is an innovative living yoga guru who is 95 years old and still practices all classes of poses for several hours a day including headstand and shoulderstand. BKS Iyengar studied under T. Krishnamacharya when he was very young back in the 1930’s. He came to study yoga due to ill health. Back then Iyengar did not receive specific instructions on how to learn yoga or perform the poses correctly, he was simply told to go and practice and then teach to find out on his own. It was through this self-discovery and the observation that some of his students could not take the classical shape of the pose without some support that BKS Iyengar developed the multitude of props that many styles of yoga now know and use widely today.
photos courtesy of Yoga North
In the Iyengar method, props have an important role. In the beginning when students are first learning the poses, props such as wooden blocks are placed underneath the hands in standing poses to help the student obtain the most accurate or correct shape. This helps the students optimize the building up of strength, mobility and stability in the muscles and joints. We also teach students how to do a supported version of shoulder stand, using a stack of 4-5 blankets or a large foam platform and a couple of blankets to support the shoulders so that the weight of the pose ends up on the shoulders and upper arms and NOT on the neck. With this support in shoulderstand the student will be able to build enough strength to lift the legs and become vertical in this pose. We may also use blankets to sit on in seated poses which is especially useful for someone with tight hamstrings or a tight back. The blankets can provide some lift for the student to obtain a better forward extension or twist. These examples are some of the ways in which we use props in the Iyengar method.

One of the more recent classes I taught that was very interesting and a lot of fun was an entire class using the chair as the main prop. What is interesting about using the chair is that it gives the student what they need no matter the starting point. It gives more stability to stiff people and restricts the flexible person so that both can work deeper in the pose.

photo courtesy of Yoga North
When using props in yoga they provide the student the opportunity to learn something in the pose in a different way. Props can add stability and allow you to build more strength into your yoga practice, but they can also take away some mobility from the pose. It is important to know why you are using a prop in the pose, what does it give the pose and what does it take away? At the same time it is also important to practice without props to see where you have improved in your poses and where you can add or remove a different prop to enhance your pose.

Aside from helping beginners build more strength, stability and flexibility as well as affording higher level students the opportunity to deepen key aspects of more advanced poses, the props are a boon to people with more limited mobility in their joints. Seniors, people with cancer or recovering from cancer and students with other limitations benefit tremendously from the support of props.

In addition to offering several classes a week for students of all ages and abilities Yoga North offers three types of specialized classes where props are used more extensively. We offer a Mens, Seniors, Cancer (register through CCMB) and Restorative classes. In the Mens class flexibility tends to be more of a challenge therefore the poses that are taught are modified with that in mind. I have more recently had the opportunity to teach the Seniors and the Cancer classes. In the Seniors classes we often have students with joint replacements and/or people with tighter hips, shoulders, knee and balance challenges. In the Seniors classes we focus on strengthening and opening up the hips, knees, shoulders and improve balance by modifying the poses so that they can still benefit physically and mentally.

The Cancer class is a deeply restorative class as students are either currently undergoing treatment or are just recovering from treatment. The goal in the cancer class is to provide a lot of support in many reclined poses and some inverted poses to restore the nervous system and allow the body and the mind to let go. Here we use a lot of bolsters, blankets, chairs and straps so that the body can completely let go. One of our recent students described the poses as “having given them a big hug.” When the body learns to let go, then the mind will follow. There is also a published study through CancerCare Manitoba on the benefits of this class which has been led by our senior teacher Val Paape for many years. Overall all students in the study experienced less pain and side effects from treatment, less anxiety and better overall quality of life. Finally, the Restorative class provides an opportunity for any student whether seeking physical or mental/emotional support to take a yoga class that is less physically vigorous and still get the mind/body benefits of yoga.

In essence the props provide students an opportunity for their own self-discovery. BKS Iyengar regards the body as the ultimate prop in yoga. One of his quotes from his many books states this clearly: “Yoga is not by the body for the body, but by the body for the mind, for the intelligence.” Although most people come to yoga for the physical benefits, many will also experience a noticeable beneficial effect on the mind as well.

Regan Tataryn is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor Introductory II, and Partner at Yoga North in Winnipeg. Visit Regan and the team at Yoga North in their new location at 894  Westminster Ave: they would love to show you how props can enhance your yoga practice and how you can use props in a variety of ways to deepen, strengthen and improve your poses or settle the nervous system. 

20 Jan 2014



It is with great enthusiasm that we announce Prairie Yogi Magazine's Prairie Love – a yoga festival bringing together art, music + community on Sunday, September 7th 2014 in Winnipeg, MB.

Prairie Love is an inspiring one-day event set in nature, using both the indoor and outdoor venues at the environmental and educational centre, Fort Whyte Alive. We aim to bring an unparalleled experience to the Prairie region by offering festival participants: yoga classes with renowned instructors; tranquil meditations; educational nature hikes; empowering speakers; live art installations; and musical delights from local musicians and Djs.

Sounds epic, doesn't it?

Sweet! Check out our website, save the date, like Prairie Love on Facebook, follow us on Twitter & Instagram, and join our mailing list to stay up to date on festival information,  ticket pricing, and workshop + schedule information.

19 Jan 2014


January is an odd month. We find ourselves left in the aftermath of December festivities, New Year's Eve has come and gone, and here on the Prairies we find ourselves in the deepfreeze. It can be a little depressing for many of us. You may begin to feel sluggish and lacking in motivation and energy. Fortunately we have ways to keep our fire stoked. Ginger tea, spicy food and...you got it....yoga! Here are some of my go-to poses that are sure to get your energy moving and your blood pumping.

Flow these three poses together in a practice, or if you're just needing to motivate yourself to get moving off the couch.

Utkatasana - Powerful pose

Stand tall in mountain pose with your big toes together. Bend your knees, sitting your hips as low as you can without arching your back. Lift your hands up to the sky. If you have tight shoulders, bring your hands shoulder width apart or even bend your elbows at 90 degrees like a cactus. For even more heat bring your palms together at your heart. Take an inhale to lengthen your spine and on an exhale twist to the right, inhale back to centre and exhale twist to the left. Breathe and twist each way five times.

Bakasana - Crow pose

Squat down low and bring your palms to the ground shoulder-width apart. Make sure your fingers are spread wide so you have a big, stable base to balance on. Bring your knees to your upper arms. Your arms are going to act like a shelf for your legs to balance on. If this pose is new to you bring your shins to your upper arms and make an X with arms and legs. Start to bring your weight forward into your fingertips. You want your fingertips to act like brakes so you don't fall too far forward. When you get comfortable here try lifting one foot at a time away from the floor. One day, with practice, both feet will lift. For those who have been practicing bakasana for awhile you can jump from crow to chatarunga and take a vinyasa. If jumping isn't an option walk, step or crawl back!

Navasana - Boat pose

Come to sit with your feet together in front of you. Bend your knees. Sit up nice and tall and reach your arms out in front. With a tall spine, begin to lean back. You want to make sure your lower back doesn't collapse in this pose. If you find it hard to sit up tall with your feet on the ground, stay at this stage and begin to build your core strength. If your lower back is staying long you can lift your feet and bring your shins parallel with the floor. Imagine there was a string pulling out the top of your head helping you to sit up nice and tall. The last stage here would be to straighten your legs. Be mindful though, if your hamstrings are tight that will make your spine round. Take your time with this pose, building strength and flexibility. Keeping proper alignment will help you get stronger faster and will prevent injury. Breathe deeply, smile into your brain, try and enjoy yourself! It's a tricky pose, but frowning is only going to make it worse!
And remember, the best way to deal with winter is to get bundled up and get outside. Winter is beautiful if you can get out of the house or car. Walk through the park and stand still to listen to the quiet. Go for a skate on the river and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate. My favourite is walking at night and seeing the moonlight make the snow sparkle like crystals. Appreciating nature will always make you happy, no matter what the temperature.

Our January 2014 Prairie Yogi of the month, Clancy Sullivan hails from beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia and calls Saskatoon, Saskatchewan home. Teaching yoga has allowed Clancy to follow her bliss and do what she loves... This includes, but is not limited to: cracking jokes; dancing like a fool; seeing the world; and teaching/practicing/living yoga! - 

16 Jan 2014


"Whether you’re a professional hockey player or play beer league for fun consider laying down the mat. Yoga is something you can do for your body to give it a break from the pounding a body can take in hockey."

What does Stanley Cup winning goalie Tim Thomas credit his success to, and the Great One Wayne Gretzky do regularly throughout his illustrious career? Yoga.

Based on the success of superstar yogis like Thomas and Gretzky, yoga is clearly beneficial for hockey players... but why? According to Darlene Sveinson, yoga instructor and health and wellness coordinator for the Balmoral Blazers hockey team, there are five key physical skills that hockey players need, which yoga provides: speed, agility, strength, quickness, and power.

Off-ice training for hockey players usually consists of calisthenics, heavy leg presses or running the ladder. However, here are some alternative yoga moves that can help develop speed, agility, strength, quickness, and power as well. 


A player can be wonderfully skilled, but if they cannot make it to the puck in time, they never have the chance to use their skills. The length of a player’s stride is the foundation of their speed. The emphasis on stretching the legs and specifically the hamstrings in yoga can give a hockey player that quick step needed for racing to the puck. 

To increase speed try Supta Padangusthasana or Reclining Big Toe pose. To try the pose lie on your back and hold your leg straight up in the air with the aid of a belt. You can also work on your balance by doing this pose standing up with your leg straight out in front of you.


Strength is so advantageous in hockey especially when battling in the corners or clearing people from the front of the net. Yoga develops strength by training muscles and joints to be stable when holding a posture. 

Plank pose if perfect for building strength. You can move into the pose from downward facing dog. Draw the torso forward until the shoulders are over the wrists and the back is flat in a straight line, as if doing do a pushup. 


Awkwardness in skating or moving will slow a player down. In yoga, one is often reminded to stay in the present moment and concentrate on the breath. This concentration trains the body to be coordinated and agile. 

To increase agility try tree pose where you stand on one leg and bring the bottom of your foot to rest against either the side of your calf or inner thigh. When you are balanced bring your hands together into prayer. Make sure to switch legs to keep the body balanced and to not rest the foot on the side of the knee, which will put too much pressure on the joint.


“Power is a combination strength and quickness,” said Sveinson. To increase power try Pigeon pose. This pose stretches the hockey tush that players are famous for. A ton of strain is put on the gluteus in hockey as it powers every stride players take. This position also opens the hips, which can be very beneficial for hockey players as hips can become very tight and immobile on a hockey player because they are used with every stride. 

Although most players posses a great amount of power, players should remember not to muscle through postures. This can be tough for hockey players because of their strength and hardworking nature. Have strength and determinations while practicing, but remember to “make is peaceful,” said Sveinson. Good check-in points are the face, mouth, or tongue. If these areas are tight, remember to relax them to get the most out of the practice.

Sveinson also warns against any pose that strains the groin area. Groin injuries are very common for hockey players. Try to keep a healthy balance of keeping the inner thigh healthy and flexible and overusing the muscles. “Stretching should work, not hurt,” said Sveinson.


Quickness is a key factor in gaining possession of the puck. “Quickness is a combination of speed and agility,” said Sveinson. Any pose that works on a player’s agility will help their quickness, such as triangle pose. 

Yoga can also simulate some awkward or asymmetrical positions, which a player might find them self in a game. Yoga teaches one how to find balance in that posture and that balance can translate to the ice. 

Not only does yoga help with the physical needs of a hockey player, but the mental requirements as well. Yoga gives athletes the time to find that quiet space. Yoga helps improve focus and concentration and provides an “overall feeling is wellness,” said Sveinson. 

Glenn Ing, certified yoga instructor and lifelong hockey player, including time in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats, thinks yoga can balance the repetitive motions in hockey. Players usually lean forward for entire games and practices. Back bends and poses like the cobra and camel can balance even out the constant leaning forward in hockey.  

Yoga also helps with lung capacity because of the concentration on breathing said Ing. Injuries run rampant in every age and level of hockey. The flexibility yoga provides prevents injuries and can help those recovering from injuries. “The more flexible one is, the less the chance of injury,” said Ing. Yoga also flushes our toxins in the body such as lactic acid reducing stiffness and increases blood flow to muscles, speeding up healing.  

Whether you’re a professional hockey player or play beer league for fun consider laying down the mat. Yoga is something you can do for your body to give it a break from the pounding a body can take in hockey. 

“Yoga is that special time where you don’t have to worry about anything else. You come out more energized and more alert,” said Ing.

Written by Krystalle Ramlakhan

13 Jan 2014


With holiday gluttony in our recent pasts, January is a perfect time of year to cleanse and renew - to warm up, sweat out the lingering toxins and replenish our bodies with goodness.

Prairie Yogi's BODY - MIND - SOUL Cleansing Workshop at Stafford Street Hot Yoga, was a perfect way to detoxify from the holiday overload and brought another fantastic yoga event to the prairies.

The sold out event hosted twenty yoginis for a 90 minute Bikram style hot yoga class followed by an Ayurvedic demonstration by Kalee Mund (we learned how to make Ghee!) and a community meal of cleansing Kichari and tea with sweet stuffed dates for dessert.

If you missed it, you can still make your own cleansing Kitchari at home with Kalee's recipe card below- you can add whatever veggies you like (the one's you got delivered in your Fresh Option box this week will work nicely) to add more nutrients to this cleansing curry base.

Due to popular demand from our participants, we have also included the recipe for yummy saffron and maple yogurt stuffed organic dates - a simple crowd pleaser!



-1 large container of dates


-1 container of plain greek yogurt (or strain plain yogurt for same effect)
-Organic maple syrup
*Creativity with the recipe is allowed (and encouraged!) Feel free to substitute or add your favourite spices to the filling

-Prepare the dates by slicing the top of the date and removing the pit.
-Make the filling by mixing together the spices in with the yogurt.
-Stuff the dates with the filling and leave in refrigerator until ready to serve


6 Jan 2014


Say hello to your first Prairie Yogi of the Month for January 2014! Clancy Sullivan lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and we just LOVE her to bits.