Meditation Monday Recap

On Monday, I attended my very first meditation class. Yep, even though I have done (and trained in) lots of yoga classes, workshops, and seminars, this was the first time I went to a meditation specific class. And honestly, I was a little nervous.

I received a free class pass from the YYC Run Crew & Lululemon 4th Street for Modern + Mindful, which is a relatively new meditation studio located in the Beltline of Calgary. I only had the pass for a couple of weeks, but I finally decided to go. Coincidentally, I am working on a big project/paper for one of my counselling summer courses that involves mindfulness, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to experience a class from both a personal and professional level.

So yes, I did say I was a little nervous about going. Seems funny to write that down, but that’s the truth. Thoughts that ran through my head… what if I can’t meditate? What if my mind runs wild? What if I experience some anxiety? What if I fall asleep?

Modern Mindful Calgary Meditation

Time to meditate ❤

Seriously, it seems like a crazy amount of questions to ask yourself before a meditation class.

Once I arrived at the studio, the lovely teacher showed me and another newbie around the space and gave us sort of an intro to meditation and the different sitting options. Right away I felt comfortable and at ease in this beautiful space. It’s set up quite nicely to give you moment of relaxation before class starts.

In class, I chose the Alexia Chair and got myself comfortable. The teacher (Sally Powis-Campbell) played some lovely background music and started to guide us through some visualization and breathing tips to help us bring our mind back to the present. I don’t actually remember a lot of what she said during the class, so I am hoping that is a good thing.

Did my mind wander? Of course. Was I able to bring it back to the teacher’s voice and music? Yes. I’ll be honest though, this was difficult. I often choose guided meditation at home and I lay down on my mat, so seated meditation started to get challenging for me. My back hurt a little bit, and I tried not to focus on it. At one point, I felt hot sitting there… so, I went back to breathing to take my mind off that. At another point, I felt slightly anxious and wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or fall asleep. These were truly some interesting sensations that came up during the class.

Ultimately, the 30 minutes seemed to feel long & short at the same time. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I did feel very relaxed and peaceful at the end of the session.

Modern Mindful Calgary

Trying my best… (also, ironic sign placement)

Overall, this was a lovely experience and I look forward to going to the studio again. The teacher was warm and welcoming and the space was inviting and relaxing. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to spend time there… it would be a good space to journal or reflect. My kind of space. Many of us could use a little mindfulness in our lives, so if you’re local, I encourage you to check out Modern + Mindful!

Have you attended a meditation class before? How was your experience?


Getting Lost in More Ways than One

Did you know that every time I try a new path while running, I get lost?

I often run the same paths/trails over and over again because they’re comfortable – or guaranteed to be clear – and that gets a little boring. So, occasionally I’ll decide to go a different direction to try a new path and to take in new scenery. And then I get lost. It’s actually quite funny. This happened to me a number of times in Toronto and now here in Calgary.

On the weekend I went for my long run in the morning in an attempt to beat the rain coming in the forecast. I took one of my usual paths but then decided I would run on the opposite side of the river for a change. Well, that path turned out to be still quite icy and slushy and it’s actually changed since the floods ripped through the city in 2013. I forgot about this. I forgot how this might change the path from when I last ran/rode my bike on it in 2012. Silly me. I went far enough on the path until I realized I would get very lost or I would end up in too much ice/snow and possibly hurt myself.

Run Calgary

There was a point that I stopped and cursed myself. I was upset for getting lost AGAIN. Was this a stupid move for me? Was this a sign that I shouldn’t try new things – in running and in life? Yeah, I went there for a moment. I was approximately 11KM into my run and I was feeling a little tired after negotiating icy paths for about 3K, so my mind went a little crazy for a few minutes. I also managed to somehow mess up my watch and lost my distance, so that frustrated me too.

But then I had to tell my brain to f*ck off. Seriously, there was no need to go into the dark thoughts. It was a nice day out… the dark clouds were coming and I wasn’t dressed for rain, but it wasn’t too cold out. I just had to shake it off and go back the way I came to get back to a familiar area. No big deal. So, I took 3 deep, long breaths and started my watch again and took off back the other way. I negotiated all that damn ice again and got back to a familiar spot on the trail so that I was able to navigate myself back home. I beat the rain just in time and only ended up going .66KM over my planned distance for the day (10 mins over my goal time though).

Once I just let it go, it ended up being a nice run and a bit of an adventure. But, isn’t that how life goes sometimes? Occasionally we can take surprise turns, get frustrated, but then end up back on a path in the right direction. Sometimes it may be the wrong direction, but that’s the journey, right?

Yoga March 2016 YYC

Got to hide those runner feet lol

Funny enough, this run almost parallels where my life is right now. Running in all directions, getting lost, getting frustrated, and having to tell my mind to be quiet. Thank goodness I went to a wonderful 2 hour yoga class hosted by Kim McNeil Yoga so that I could take my mind off things and be around supportive and wonderful people. I realize I need more of this in my life right now. I probably shouldn’t get lost too many times during my runs, but being “lost” in an amazing yoga class can be relaxing and freeing. And seriously, this is what I need right now.

How do you deal with getting lost (life or when outdoors)?

Thinking Out Loud #2

Oh hey look, I’m Thinking Out Loud on a Thursday… Now I’m doing it right! 😉

(ps. If you’re sitting there wondering what I am talking about, check out Running With Spoons to find out more about this great blogging opportunity excuse to ramble on about a few key topics in your week.)

I’ll just get to it then…

– I am exhausted. Yes, I know we all are really, but I haven’t slept very much over the past 4 – 5 days and it’s starting to get to me. I can’t seem to sleep through the night, I toss & turn, and wake up A LOT. Not really sure what’s going on, but I need to figure it out fast. If you’re wondering, yes I do drink caffeine. I have one cup of coffee in the morning and then one decaf coffee later in the morning/early afternoon, so I don’t think I’m consuming that much. I might have to switch out the caffeinated coffee to test it… but, I’m going to wait a few more days to see what happens. It’s puzzling to me because I’m running & working out more as my marathon training has ramped up + I have magnesium before I go to bed. I guess I will have to see if this is just a minor thing or if it lasts longer. Either way, I’m sleepy!

Running Calgary

– Somewhat related… maybe I need to look at my nutrition and make some adjustments. My weekly mileage isn’t extremely high yet, but I have amped up the runs and workouts and it may be time to add in more foods to keep my energy up. I generally eat quite healthy with a few small treats here and there (wings & nachos, hello!), but I may start to need more protein and possibly some supplements as training goes on.

– Back in 2013 I wrote this post and submitted it to the Elephant Journal. It was a goal of mine & it actually came through and now here I am 3 years later finding myself in the same situation that the post refers to. At the time I was working with an amazing cause called Power of Movement and I was surrounded by yoga and great teachers pretty much every day. I had completed my yoga teacher training in 2009 and sort of got away from teaching as I moved to Calgary to Toronto and back and lost my way a little bit. After this article, I did not go back to teaching. I got sucked up into my admin job world and didn’t pursue additional steps to get back into teaching. Why? Well, because I actually have a huge fear of speaking in front of groups of people. I want to teach yoga/fitness and this is my major fear. Crazy, right? I think so. It’s kind of ironic that I’m back in this place that’s mentioned in the post, thinking again about how I want to get out there and teach classes, have fun, and inspire people… but I’m afraid. There’s something to admit, eh? The next step is to really consider what I should do to move beyond this fear. To put myself out there. To go after what I want.

Home Yoga

GoPro + Yoga + Coffee = 🙂

– Can I just say that I’ve been enjoying this mild Calgary winter so far? It’s helped my running by allowing me to get outdoors to train more & I think it’s also kept some of my seasonal affective disorder at bay. I’ve been through a lot over the past 2 months, so I’m glad that the winter blues haven’t really been thrown into the mix. This city is going through some tough times as well (economy down, job loss, etc.), so it’s nice to have the mild weather allowing people to be outdoors and staying active during this downturn.

– Anyone else scoping out spring running gear yet? Mild or tough winter, I think it’s fun to check out the new colours and patterns coming out for the spring. Now, to just keep my wallet in my purse and to only purchase what I need. (New Saucony Guides are in my future because I need them for training 😉 )

What’s got you thinking out loud on this fine Thursday? 

First running injury

Well, it was a long week.

A long week waiting for my first running injury to heal. A long week trying not to feel discouraged and embarrassed. A really long week waiting to be able to do my next run.

Last weekend my left ankle wasn’t feeling great. I had some pain on the inside portion, but I mostly ignored it. I actually ignored it enough through 6.25K and then just ended up making the situation worse. So then I need to be put on rest. Rest! No running for a week. Who knew this would drive me crazy?

I was fortunate enough to get some acupuncture to help, while also icing, and resting it. I was frustrated waiting all week, but honestly this probably helped me a lot. I finally got out there yesterday and ran 4K just to ease back into it. Happy to report that I did not experience any ankle pain during the run or even 12 hours later.

Part of me finds it funny that something so minor could really throw off my training. Was I not taking care of myself? Was I increasing my distance too fast? I’m not really sure what brought this injury on, but I do know that it made me feel discouraged. Negative thoughts crawled up into my mind – what did I do wrong? Is running for me? How can I run 21K if I can’t even run 8K without getting injured? It’s amazing what the mind can do to us at times. The fear was really creeping up on me and I had to find a way to let it go. In this situation it was great to have my yoga practice. I still wanted to be active, but I didn’t want to push myself too much and make the ankle injury worse. Yoga was great for this purpose, but also for calming my mind. Focusing my mind on positive, relaxing thoughts instead of the self-deprecating ones. This really made a difference, helping me take my mind off of things and just allowing myself to heal. Sure, I’m back to shorter distances now as I ease back into my running, but I know it’s a process that I have to go through to get stronger physically and mentally. That’s what this running journey is all about isn’t it? There may be pains and tears, but there’s also triumph and joy.

See you out there!

How did your first running injury make you feel? Were you able to stay positive?


Spring Onzie Giveaway Winner

First of all, I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to everyone that entered the Spring 2014 Onzie Yoga Apparel giveaway this past week.

I really enjoyed reading all of the comments regarding what you’re looking forward to this spring. Your posts also got me really excited for farmer’s markets, fresh grass, patio hopping, and more. But, if you’re in Canada right now, you might feel that this winter has been relentless – especially with the cold temps returning and possibly snow again! Hopefully we can all find little ways to get ourselves through this chilly weather, whether that’s daydreaming or actually taking a trip somewhere warm. (Not in the plans for me right now, so I’ll have to stick with imagining it’s spring haha!)

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for… the winner is


Tina E!!

Hope you enjoy those lovely, colourful spring clothes from Onzie!

Be sure to check out their site, Facebook page, Instagram, and/or Pinterest page for gorgeous pictures and posts about yoga and their apparel.

Stay warm and smiling out there!


Spring Onzie Giveaway!

*** This contest is now closed. Thank you to all who entered! ***

It’s been a loooong winter.

I’m not sure why, but it feels like this winter has been even longer than the last. It’s possible that I say that every year, but either way, I’m ready for this season to end. Last week, almost serendipitously, Onzie contacted me after I had spent an afternoon daydreaming about spring and all the joys the new season brings. It’s like they knew that I was thinking about beautiful colours, fresh air, and lighter clothing. Yes, I long for the days when I don’t have to complete a workout adding on layers along with my heavy winter coat and boots.

That’s why I’m super excited to bring you another giveaway from Onzie Yoga Apparel to celebrate the launch of their Spring 2014 Collection. If you don’t know much about Onzie, this great company hails from southern California, where all of their fabulous products are made. You can read more about their story here, but just know that Onzie apparel is light, free flowing, versatile, and comfortable for all of your active needs. I love these featured pieces for yoga and the shorts are also perfect for running. The top is even cute enough to wear with a casual outfit, when the weather gets warmer of course!

This past week also got me thinking about the other aspects of spring that I am excited about. I know that I can’t force the weather and I shouldn’t ruminate on it too much, but I can’t wait for that warm, beautiful air and the chance to have the sun shining on my face. Here’s a few other things I’m pumped about for the changing of the seasons:

5 Things I’m Looking Forward To This Spring

~  Running outdoors and the early season races

~  Fresh grass and beautiful blooming flowers

~  New bright colours and light, fresh clothing

~  Bike riding and more outdoor activities

~  Cheerful, fun attitudes after a long, dark winter

And now for the giveaway details!

Prize is one All in One Tank Top and one Full Coverage Short (pictured below & at the bottom – you get to pick your own patterns and sizes)

Contest open until Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST

Contest open to residents of Canada and the United States


What you need to do:

~  Comment on this post about what you’re looking forward to this spring

For awesome extra entries (make sure to tell me what you did in the comments of this post):

~  Like Onzie on Facebook

~  Like YogiCrystal on Facebook

~  Follow Onzie or YogiCrystal on Pinterest (2 entries if you follow both!)

Good luck everyone!  

(Apologies to the dudes, but you could submit some entries and try to win these for that special gal in your life!)

Onzie giveaway winner…

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who entered the Onzie Yoga Apparel giveaway by sharing their favourite yoga memories. I loved reading every one of them, all of you are very inspirational!

The winner has been chosen and notified, but please feel free to continue to share your favourite yoga/fitness/running memories on that post or this one. I find that it’s nice to reflect on these moments of joy in our practice, while also sharing it with others as inspiration and motivation. Reading about some of you that were able to achieve certain yoga poses over time reminded me of poses that I am still struggling with. This made me think about how I need to stop avoiding them and start challenging myself to work on them (hello handstand), which will be great for both my body and mind.

Congratulations to the winner and to all of you for having such wonderful memories of your practice! Keep up the OM-azing work! ; )

Also, a huge THANK YOU to Onzie Yoga Apparel for donating this awesome prize to one of my lucky readers. I love sharing great products with you, so I was excited at the opportunity of spreading the word about comfortable and colourful clothes for yoga and everyday life. Enjoy!  ॐ


Onzie Giveaway!

** This giveaway is now closed. But please feel free to share your favourite yoga/fitness/running memory as part of the discussion **

Recently I was asked to think about my favourite yoga memory or experience, and to be honest, this was a tough one to answer. Even though I haven’t traveled to India or been on a major yoga retreat (yet!), there are still so many good memories to look back on…

– My first ever yoga class – I was stiff!

– Touching my toes for the first time – had an awesome Iyengar teacher help me get there

– Meeting so many great people at workshops and my home studio

– Workshops with Julie Gudmestad and Jawahar Bangera

– My first shoulderstand without props – after a few years of re-building from a neck injury

This list could go on!

But, I’d have to say that one of my favourites would be graduating from yoga teacher training. After so much time of working hard, learning more about yoga and myself, and connecting with my fellow trainees, the graduation was a time of elation and positivity. Ready to go out into the world to share this gift of yoga and filled with so much new knowledge. What a great day!

I have come far from that graduation in 2009… on my path, off my path, challenged time and time again. Currently, I am not teaching, but I know I would love to get back into it again. I want to share my love of yoga with others, I want to help them like my teachers helped me, and I want to have fun with great students while being connected to such an amazing community. I’ll get there, but in the meantime I need to keep learning from those around me and sticking to my daily practice.

And one way to help this daily practice is to have comfortable, flexible clothes. That’s where this giveaway comes in! Onzie Yoga Apparel is graciously giving away $75 towards their amazing clothing that you just have to check out. I’ve had the experience of wearing their Gypsy Pant and Dip Dye Muscle Tank (pictured below), which are both hot pieces but also perfect for yoga. These items allow for all ranges of movement and flowing, while also allowing you to keep cool and looking good. Plus, these pieces look so great, they don’t have to be worn for just yoga. The pants are great for throwing on with a tank on a nice spring day or the Dip Dye Muscle Tank can be worn with your fave pair of jeans and a gorgeous scarf. Onzie has many other items that can be worn in so many different ways, check out their site for more info and to see the gorgeous colours and patterns available.

Details for the giveaway:

Contest open until Sunday, April 21st 11:59 pm EST

$75 of Onzie Yoga Apparel up for grabs (how awesome is that?!)

What you need to do:

– Leave a comment telling me about your favourite yoga memory (or fitness/running if you haven’t tried yoga yet)

– Extra entry – Like Onzie Yoga Apparel on Facebook (let me know you did this in the comments)

– Extra extra entry – Like YogiCrystal on Facebook

Good luck!!  ॐ

Dip Dye Muscle Tank (pic from

Dip Dye Muscle Tank (pic from

Gypsy Pant (pic from
Gypsy Pant (pic from

Yoga Weekend Bliss…

Now that I’ve had the time to let the adventures of this past weekend sink in, I wanted to sit down to write and reflect on the awesome events I had the pleasure of participating in. It was a yoga filled weekend, and even now I am still feeling the buzz that comes from this great practice.

On Saturday I had the honour of attending Yoga Unite here in Toronto, which is a fundraiser in support of the New Leaf Yoga Foundation. For those unfamiliar, New Leaf is a non-profit that offers yoga programs to youth who are facing barriers such as neglect, abuse, involvement with the criminal justice system, socio-economic issues and more. Needless to say, this is an amazing organization doing great things with the youth in the community who deserve access to healthy activities, such as yoga.

The event had silent auction items (of which I won one!), massages by donation, Vega samples, live music, and more which everyone was able to take part in before and after the yoga. Right away I will tell you that the yoga class taught by Chantal Wade, Ella Isakov, Duncan Parviainen, Ashley Holly, and Jordana Halpert was AH-mazing. These teachers were able to make this class flow seamlessly, which was certainly helped by the transcending music of Darren Austin Hall. Darren sang, played the guitar, and the crystal singing bowls so well that I felt like I was taken away out of the room, out of Toronto even, and placed in a yoga sanctuary. Seriously, if you have never experienced crystal bowls before, give it a try. Right now. The vibrations from the sounds are extremely relaxing and healing, I just can’t get enough. I left this event on such a yoga high that it was difficult to imagine topping this afternoon spent with friends and the community, all while giving back to such a great organization.

Sunday followed up with another afternoon spent in the bliss of yoga. This time in a workshop held by Ashley Holly and Jordana Halpert called Vision Flow. This workshop involved the theme of ‘letting go’ paired with restorative yoga poses and guided meditation. For those that know me, guided meditation works best for me right now, so this practice was both relaxing and revealing. Ashley and Jordana work very well together, again seamlessly, transitioning between sections of the class with no effort or disruption to flow and relaxation. I left this class feeling so serene, I barely remember the hour long transit ride home. I was off in yoga-mind-land somewhere and it was great.

In the end, this past weekend had me feeling positive and in a sense, ready to take on the world. Such an amazing feeling, that I don’t want to lose it. Situations will arise that will challenge this feeling and the key is just to take things as they come and never let that feeling of positivity and hope go. Being surrounded by passionate and engaging people certainly helps and I am very glad to have made these connections since living in this new city. I look forward to what is next and am taking it one day at a time, it’s the best we can really do. ॐ

Setting up at Yoga Unite

Setting up at Yoga Unite

Bad yoga day…

What do you do when you have a ‘bad yoga day’?

You head to class with the best intentions, have a delicious protein smoothie an hour before, and once you get on the mat you are uncoordinated and floppy… How do you react?

Well, today I didn’t react in the best way. I focused on how my poses were going wrong. I over-thought about why my balance wasn’t with me today, and I started to let it fester in my mind. Not a good idea mid-yoga class.

Not a good idea in general.

This doesn’t happen to me too often in yoga, this is usually the time I take away from berating myself. But every 2-3 months or so, I have the kind of class where I let my mind get the best of me and go down a negative road in the class. My inner voice starts telling me I’m not good enough to do this class, I’m too clumsy, I can’t do the poses as well as everyone else there… Etc etc. Even while this conversation is going on in my mind, I know it’s a bad idea. I know I need to stop it and just go with the flow of the class.

But it’s not always that easy, is it?

I already know that our bodies respond differently and can feel different each and every day. So sometimes, just like bad running days, I can have ‘bad yoga days’. And that’s ok. We’re not at optimal performance every single day, even if we want to be. Sometimes that little bit of sleep we missed can affect us. Maybe something else going on in our lives is tying up our mind. And maybe, just maybe, the time change throws us off a little bit. (Anyone else feeling a little sluggish?!)

Presently, I think I have a lot on my mind and I wasn’t fully letting it go for the yoga class today. Other thoughts were creeping up in my mind when I was supposed to be focusing on the flow and the enjoyment of the poses. And I have to realize that it’s going to happen sometimes and that it’s not the worst thing in the world. I also have to work on letting it go when these things creep up in my mind. I’m usually pretty good, but I find verbal and visual queues can be helpful.

Maybe the teacher sensed my tenseness, maybe she could read my face when I was struggling in balance poses, but she gave the right verbal queues when I needed to hear them. She told us to breathe and say in our minds “let go”, which after a few breaths really started to work. My mind went to that mantra and the negative thoughts started to fall off me to the floor. I dropped them for the rest of the class and even still feel pretty good as I’m writing this a few hours later. Amazing how those two little words can adjust your thought pattern and bring about peace in your mind. That’s powerful.

In the end, I probably shouldn’t say it was a ‘bad yoga day’, but it was an experience. It was part of the journey. And it served as an awesome reminder that when the mind is going places that don’t serve us, switch up the thoughts, say a mantra and move the mind into a more peaceful place. This doesn’t just apply to yoga classes either, do this anytime… At work, on the bus, in a long checkout line. Whenever you feel like your mind is wandering into a dark place, work on your own little mantra and bring it out into the light. We can do this!  ॐ

Have you ever had a ‘bad yoga day’? How did you turn it around?