Charmed Chatter

The musings of a Personal Trainer/Foodie, en route to adding Yoga Teacher to the mix!

I have a yoga beef! (I know that the two words "yoga" and "beef" will probably never be used in the same sentence ever again - but here somehow it just fit.) Lately, I've been reading a few blogs, where the authors have made reference to "popular yoga", "mainstream yoga", "power yoga" and the like - alluding that this yoga is not "real" yoga. Then, I've also seen mention of yoga that is not performed or learned in a proper "yoga studio" not being "real" yoga.

I take issue with this. HUGE ISSUE! In fact, as I read along I had to literally stop and pranayama my heart-rate back to it's usual slow pulse.

Who is to say what "real yoga" is?! There are so many different types of yoga, so many different pieces to what I see as an amazing and intricate puzzle, and like I see everything in life, each piece and each variation is a beautiful part of the whole. It's as if to say a daisy is less of a flower than a rose, because to one person its fragrance isn't as appealing.

This is REAL yoga!
I think that people come to yoga for many different reasons, and in our western world that reason may be more frequently than not, that people are driven by the need to have a workout. That said, the benefits of having a great yoga-style workout, and the possibilities that can arise from anyone taking that first step to beginning a yoga practice, are immeasurable. I myself started my own yoga practice with the goal in mind to increase my flexibility after injuries. And now, like a baby learning to walk after learning to crawl, I've begun to explore all the other nuances, types, and philosophies of yoga. All because I went to a "mainstream yoga class". Today, I believe that I could attend the fitness-club power yoga class, and still apply all the other factors that I have learned to that class.

I think that no matter what kind of yoga you do, no matter where you do it - whether in an ashram or in your living room - you are going to reap the benefits of getting in physical activity which are benefits to your heart, your muscles, your mood. When your mood is better and your body is healthier, you will be a happier person that will go into the world and add more than you would have otherwise. And really, is this not yoga embodied? The union of YOUR body and mind?! Yoga to uplift your spirit, yoga to bring you closer to your inner self, yoga to be a "practice", yoga to be YOURS?!

I believe "real yoga" happens on the inside. I hope that everyone everywhere takes the time to find a place that offers something that they will do on a regular basis - something they like and will stick with. In my opinion it has nothing to do with the studio you attend, or whether the workout is meditative or cardiovascular. Every time you honor yourself by doing something good for your body, good for the world, good for your spirit, or good for your fellow man, you are doing yoga. Real yoga.

Live, love, laugh, do yoga.


Held my breath for two days straight,
Held myself for my own sake,
When all I really needed
Was to let go... and...

Be stillness,
Stop all the silly self-deprecating madness that
Forces my soul to wither in sadness,
and be restrained by my 
own barriers. 

Ask myself look at the whole,
Ask myself to relinquish control,
Realizing that all I really need
Is just to be here, and here I'll be complete.
That, and to have my bare feet on a sticky mat...

The debate rages on over whether to have music or not have music in yoga class. It's a sensitive topic, because like any other art music is completely subjective. One persons noise is another persons symphony. In fact, funny enough, one of my best friends told me while chatting the other day that one of her instructors played AC/DC in her hot flow class and she "...JUST LOVED IT!!!!" Where, conversely, I would just not be impressed with hard rock getting me all out of my personal ebb and flow in flow class...

Now, I am a huge fan of the kind of tunes that just make you bob your head in a slow-mo-easy-go fashion... The kind of tune that while it's playing you can totally zone out because it's just sort of "there", bumping you along gently, leading you to new mindscapes.

So, this is my list of Flowtastic Yoga Tunes, to ideally accompany a 75 minute flow/vinyasa/Ashtanga Style class. You will notice there is only about 70 minutes of music, and this is because I think that it's important to have silence during my Savasana. When the instructors turn the tunes off at the end, I find it's much easier to sit and absorb my practice, and once I'm instructing next spring I fully plan to have a Silent-Savasana after every practice I lead!

Now, without further adieu....

1) Orbital - Halcyon On and On - Time: 9:28 - Listen to it here!
2) Massive Attack - Teardrop - Time 4:55 - Listen to it here!
3) Thievery Corporation - Until the Morning - Time 3:56 - Listen to it here!
4) Thievery Corporation - A Gentle Dissolve - Time 2:50 - Listen to it here!
5) Groove Armada - Paris - Time 5:35 - Listen to it here!
6) John Martyn (remix) - Sunshine’s Better - Time 5:46 - Listen to it here!
7) Nina Simone, Verve Remixed - Feeling Good - Time 6:05 - Listen to it here!
8) Astrud Gilberto, Verve Remixed -Who Needs Forever - Time 4:14 - Listen to it here!
9) Dido - Sand in my Shoes - Time 3:43- Listen to it here!
10) Florence & the Machine -Cosmic Love - Time 4:00 - Listen to it here!
11) Bjork - Unravel -Time 3:23 - Listen to it here
12) Moby - Rushing - Time 2:58 - Listen to it here!
13) Madonna (remix) - What it Feels Like for a Girl - Time: 4.38 - Listen to it here
14) Mark Farina Ft. Sean Hayes - Dream Machine - Time 5:26 - Listen to it here!  

I hope you enjoy my recommended yoga-tunes! If you did, you may want to check out some amazing compilation albums which have many volumes to choose from... They are:

1) Buddha Bar
2) Cafe Del Mar
3) Verve Remixed
4) Hotel Costes

Let me know what you think of my recommends in the comments!! 


When I was a child I was always being called a “Know it All”. This at the time was really fine, because I really did think I knew it all. I was happy with being such a genius actually, and so I continued with this “I know it all” attitude for a long time. The funny thing about time is all the stuff you find out you were wrong about during its passing.

Through the years, the biggest problem I’ve found with being a “Know it All” is when you enter a situation feeling like an expert, and leave feeling like a complete idiot.   

You go through various thoughts and emotions... Like, “What do you mean I FAILED the exam? Did I study and dedicate myself – well no, but I didn’t have to... I knew it all...” and “I don’t understand why my teachers are annoyed with me, they don’t even need to do anything for me, I already know it all...” and of course "Why doesn't everybody listen to me?!" (Obvious reason, is that they don't agree that you know everything!)

When this happens, it is inevitable that you go through various stages of denial. After all, who wants to admit to themselves that after all these years of being a genius, you are actually (gasp!) a normal person?! Then, if you are not a genius, and you do not know it all (or even close to it all), that means that you actually need teachers. You need people who are willing to share their experience and expertise to help you get closer to knowing more, and you need to listen to them and respect them. You also need to dedicate yourself and your time to anything that you truly want to excel in, and you need to put your heart and soul into it. And all this sure can seem like a lot of work when you have been used to having it all figured out without even trying!

In my case, it was a hard pill to swallow, and to be brutally honest I have moments where I feel it’s still going down.  

On the other hand, the wonderful things that happen when you stop pushing through life like a bull (or a bully) are absolutely amazing. For me personally, some of the great things that have discovered since my big epiphany some years ago are:

  • When you are going to try something new and you go in with an open mind and open heart, people will generally want you to succeed. When you go in as the know it all, people want you to be proven wrong – because you usually are wrong. 
  • When you try and fail, it is perfectly okay! People in your circle will comfort you, and try to help you to do better. As opposed to wanting to tell you “I told you so.” (Then secretly “high fiving” themselves in their minds!)
  • When you want to learn you will find teachers all around you. Teachers love to share. They do not, however, want to force anyone to learn. (They also don’t want to argue!)
  • When you don’t know everything, it means you can never be bored, because there is always something new to find out about, and life is much more exciting this way.  The older I get, the duller being “perfect” looks.
I still struggle at times with my “know-it-all-ness”, it’s hard to get out of an old and useless way of being and thinking, especially when you yourself love to be the leader. But in life, people don’t want to follow the small person who acts above everyone. People love an honest, open, and sometimes fallible leader... because it reassures us all that it is okay not to be perfect, and that in fact maybe its better not to be. 

Smiles and laughter!

So, you want to start a yoga practice...
You hear all the benefits touted all over the media, from your local newscast to your fave talk-shows and magazine, and you want to experience this “yoga”! But, studio yoga isn’t an option for you... Maybe you have commitments keeping you at home, or you aren’t a fan of joining a yoga studio. Maybe you just haven’t yet gotten enough of a feel for what yoga is about to commit to one, or you may just not have a suitable studio close enough to your home to be practical.

Whatever the reason for not joining a yoga studio, it does not have to be the end of your yoga journey!
Here I’m going to give you 5 steps to set up your “Yoga a la Maison Experience”. That’s the Frenchified way to say “yoga at home”, it sounds awesome, no?! Like Pie a la Mode... But I digress...

Anyhoo, I love yoga so much, both my home practice and my studio practice, and I just want everyone to share in the benefits! So go on, try this! You know you want to...

1) Find a practice to follow:
If you are new to yoga and you are going to be practicing yoga at home, you will likely need to follow some type of yoga program either from a book, or online, or maybe from a DVD. If you are brand new to yoga you will probably want to watch someone demonstrating the poses and helping to lead you through your practice, until you begin to remember the poses. Once more experienced you may be able to follow a written program, or maybe even design your own little series of poses.

Here are some great on-line resources to help you find a program to follow: This is a fantastic resource that offers you unlimited video access for only $10 a month! Never mind everything else on the site. Great site, and great classes filmed in great locations. You are able to download and save full classes for $3.99, or pay $9.99 per month for unlimited yoga. This site also has a free feature class every week! Another site with downloadable classes, and monthly memberships starting at $6.95 a month!

2) Create your space:
I think that when you are starting out in yoga, having the right ambiance is really important. Eventually, a focus of yoga is to be able to ignore your surroundings and get right into your practice, but initially creating a space that makes you feel at ease and comfortable, a space that you truly enjoy, will only improve your experience. Also, if you love your little yogic corner of the world, you will want to visit it more often!

I like to set up my mat in front of my fireplace, right beside my big living room window. If it’s light out, I’ll open the drapes and let the sun stream in on me, and if it’s evening sometimes I’ll light my candles, and warm some essential oils. The key is to put yourself somewhere you like to be, and somewhere without interruption.

3) Get the yoga equipment basics:
In order to have a great home practice, there are just a couple pieces of equipment you will want to invest in. These are:
  • A yoga mat (to cushion your hands and feet, and to stick to you and the floor so you don’t slip)
  • A yoga strap (to help with stretching and increasing flexibility in a gentle way)
  • Yoga blocks (again to help ease the poses so that you grow into your practice gently)

These can be purchased for very little, or a whole lot, depending on what you are looking for and how much you want to spend. You can find shops in your town that offer this stuff, but to help, a couple great on-line resources to purchase these products at a reasonable price are: This site literally has everything you need all in one place, from eco mats to cheapo mats to blocks to straps, you name it – it is here. US customers can enjoy free shipping too, and even buying from here in Canada the shipping ain’t too-too bad. You can get everything you need shipped to you for as little as $50 in the US and about $80 in Canada. This is a Canadian company with no affiliation to the above link. They offer all sorts of Eco yoga supplies. Shipping, strangely, is very expensive considering it is within Canada?! Gaiam offers some really cool yoga mats and supplies. The prices are also very reasonable, and shipping in the US is normally no charge. Not sure about Canada, because you need to order from the phone line as they don’t have international shipping available for website orders.

4) Get some cozy yoga duds:
Yes you are at home, and that means if you have a space with enough privacy you could practice in your PJ’s. Or in the buff!  But if you are getting in the mood to practice, you may as well feel ready from tip to toe!

Personally, I still like to get into my own personal cozy yoga gear. Which, for my home practice is usually leggings with leg warmers and a sports bra with a t-shirt or cozy top over it. This way I can start my practice out warm and as I get hot I can take off some layers.

Here are some great sites to get some yoga-inspired clothes; after all they say the right outfit open all the right chakras. I mean doors. Okay it doesn’t apply here, but I love clothes so here is where you can get some: This is a really cool site with really cool yoga clothing. It is all cozy cotton and the sizing is easy as they feature lots of drawstrings! (I heart drawstrings!) Check it out, and you will agree it’s chic and unique and very reasonably priced. It’s also a Canadian company! This company has some really nice stuff, at a moderate price point. Worth checking out! You either own some, or have heard of it... But did you know that the shipping from the website is FREE, in Canada or the US and there is a bunch of stuff online that you can’t get in the store! Check it out!

5) Make a commitment:
You will never see the benefits of any workout endeavors, or lifestyle changes, unless you apply them regularly and consistently. So make it a priority to commit to a routine!

Pick a practice that is the right length to allow you to incorporate it into your schedule at least a couple times a week. I would personally aim for 3+ days per week to really see the effects of taking this time for yourself, and your physical and mental well-being. Then run with it, carve the time out, and see where it takes you!

I am also currently running a little home-practice challenge, and if you would like to check it out, click here!


From the day I was brought into this world I was surrounded by a family of “I did it myself-ers”. 

My father, is one of those handy men who can literally “do anything” and not only can he do everything, he can do it all incredibly well. He was a diesel mechanic in the military before becoming a regular mechanic, before becoming a self-employed contractor. 

The house I was brought up in for the majority of my childhood and adolescence was the second of houses designed and built by my dad. But, not only was the house designed and build by him, the electrical, the plumbing, the flooring, the cabinets and heck, today even the kitchen table is built by him! 

My mother, on the other hand, was also one of those “I did it myself-ers”. But for her, it was on the (dare I say) more feminine side. The woman could sew and cook and clean and garden like nobody’s business. If you go through the house you will find the curtains were made by her, the plants were all grown by her, the cushions were made by her, and the decor was chosen by her. Amazing, really.

When we first moved in to “the new house”, I was six, and the house was a veritable work in progress. The floors were unfinished, the cupboards didn’t have doors, and while renovations were underway it was not at all strange for me to see my mom washing the dishes by hand in the bathtub. As a matter of fact, it was all perfectly natural and normal for me to see both my parents working away on the house when they weren’t “at work”, and I was always happily enlisted to help with whatever I could.

By the time I was a teenager, though, I started to wonder: “Why don’t you two just pay people to do all this extra work?” Like many teenagers, I pretty lazy and unmotivated... And I vowed that “when I got older I would not be like them!” I thought, I swore, I would never want to do all my own house work and all my own decorating, and all that extra stuff you could pay someone else to do – I would pay it!

And so, the years went on and I watched that house develop, ‘til it was complete... And now I’ve even seen it renovated through the years, (of course by my parents), and it’s more beautiful each time I visit. The tangible result of all the work and the workmanship put in by two people who truly loved this house, this home. 

Well, it turns out that we truly are a product of our upbringing, and I am a true testament to that. It’s funny, but after all this time I find myself looking around my home... And my cushions? I made them myself. The photos on my walls? I took them myself, and framed them myself. My walls? Were all painted by me (and my husband). My home is cleaned by me, my meals are all cooked by me, and my garden is grown and tended by me... And you know what the weirdest part is?! I simply would never pay anyone to do it. I would never want to now...

And I finally get why. 

I love the feeling of my hands in the dirt, in the paint, in the arts. I love the feeling of sculpting my own world. I love the way you need to “learn” before you can “do”. I love the pride in a job well done... 

I love to look down at my palms and say, I did this all with my own two hands.

Yes, this is a picture of my soup!
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy all the in season squash and one of my favorites is the Butternut Squash. It just has an awesome mellow almost melon-y flavor, that really makes a fabulously yummy soup. This recipe works perfectly during the "2 Week Cleanse Challenge". Check it out here!

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup...

-Ludwig van Beethoven

When I’m making soups like these, that are puréed after the initial cooking, I really try and use either “like colored” ingredients or white ingredients. For instance, butternut squash is a golden orange color, so I like to use things like yams, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, white onion, cayenne pepper and chill pepper. The reasoning is that at the end, when you puree the soup it remains a healthy and appetizing color. If you aren’t careful, and you decide to use, say, some dark green vegetables with this recipe it may taste really good, but it will end up being a nasty brownish color. I don’t know about you, but I like my food to look as good as it tastes!

Whatcha Need:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
1 cup of chopped cauliflower
1 medium white onion, diced
1 medium yam, peeled and cubed
1 cup of chopped carrots
3 cloves of crushed garlic (or 1 tablespoon of garlic powder)
1 box or 3 cans of ready to use chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you are vegetarian)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of celery seed
1 teaspoon of parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil (butter if you are not on a cleanse, or if you prefer!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot, or I prefer my cast iron pan, sauté all the vegetables together with the spices and 1 cup of broth for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the veggies are able to be mashed easily with a fork. Transfer the mixture in quarters to a blender or food processor and add one cup of broth each time to allow for easy blending. Put the mixture into a soup pot and set to simmer. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper or more of the paprika or chili pepper until you have the desired taste! Enjoy!

***The non- cleanse version***
When not on a cleanse, I will also dice up about a cup of ham and fry in a non-stick pan with no oil until slightly browned and transfer it to the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Then I will add a dollop of sour-cream and diced green onions when serving! Even more fantastic!

Happy eating!!