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Author Archives: marshal

Why Detox?

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Detox in a bottle, detox in a juice kit, detox in your yoga class! It seems everywhere we turn this word is tossed at us. Behind all the hype is a process in the body that deals with toxins and gets rid of waste. Consider that a cross-Canada study by Environmental Defence (Neumann J et al. (2005) Environmental Defence Toxic Nation: A Report on Pollution in Canadians) found that on average participants had 44 chemicals in their bloodstreams, including carcinogens, hormone disruptors, respiratory toxins and reproductive toxins. More than ever in history, we are exposed to toxic food, toxic personal care products, toxic air and toxic water. While the body is designed to be able to eliminate toxins, it is being exposed to a much larger load than evolution bargained for. So, the detox hype is definitely warranted! However, we need to do this properly and that doesn’t mean fads, but a thorough understanding of how to help the body’s detoxification systems.


Some symptoms of toxin overload (or sluggish detoxification) include fatigue, aches, joint pain, sinus problems, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, sleep disturbances, cravings, skin issues, PMS, excess weight and difficulty losing weight.

Detoxification does not have to be about deprivation or fancy supplements. Your body detoxifies best when it’s given the resources it needs to do that – healthy food! Our detox is designed to nourish your body with foods to help it balance blood sugar, support liver detox pathways, improve digestion and reduce inflammation. We’ll introduce lifestyle tips to reduce exposure to toxins and to help remove them through enjoyable activities, like detox baths.

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Fall is a fantastic time to try a detox. It’s an opportunity to let go of summer indulgences and shift to seasonal foods that prepare the body to survive the winter months with optimal health and vitality. Our group detox program will help you to strengthen your immune system and build adrenal reserves to better handle stress using real foods and delicious recipes.

It all begins on October 25th, find out more here!


Gentle Can Be Deep

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This fall at Octopus Garden, I am fortunate to teach a class that I feel so passionate about.  The class is Gentle Yoga. I teach it on Wednesday from 12:30-1:45pm and it is for everyone! There is no right way to be in this class. Instead of the “what”(or the pose), we focus on “how” we move and what arises.

Here is why we need this class. We live in a society that values doing over being, efficiency over connection, fast over slow and outcome over process. This class may be for you if are intrigued with the idea of moving slowly and mindfully as a way to connect with self. If you are recovering from illness or injury, manage anxiety and/or depression and want to practice self-care, give this class a try. My hope is that through this class, we will practice Svadyaya, or self study, one of my favorite Niyamas.

I have always used my asana practice to become more intimate with self – it is a vehicle for awakening.  Yoga is the discipline of forging connection. I have learned that I can’t always experience all the layers of me when I am pushing myself vigorously in a flow class. In fact, when I practice hard and fast, I sometimes bypass what I am feeling. By moving slowly, linking movement and breath and paying exquisite attention to what surfaces, I learn how to exist in this human body. I take these lessons into the world and in turn the world hands me material to explore on my mat. The process is not always comfortable but it is valuable and necessary if I want to continue to grow and manifest my highest self.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A safe, spacious container to explore being alive
  • A healing environment
  • A proposed theme as a jumping off point e.g., Satya, meaning truth. How can you honour and express your truth today?
  • Questions, suggestions, guidance and options for movement as opposed to direction
  • An opening meditation, either seated or reclining where we might cultivate breath awareness or practice breath techniques
  • Mindful movement in support of self-discovery.Emphasis on compassionately observing feelings, sensations, energy, breath, space.
  • One or two restorative postures and a long savasana to rest and digest
  • A short guided meditation may conclude the class and send us off into the world
  • Sometimes music, a quotation and/or a short reading

I look forward to see you there and I am leaving you with one of my favorite poems by David Whyte


Enough.  These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
Until now

Until now.


Lisa Mitchell

How Do You Practice Self Care? – Lisa Mitchell

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“Self care is not about self indulgence, it is about self preservation.”

A yoga teacher and acquaintance recently sent me this quote. Wham! It was one of those quotes that hit home immediately. I learned this lesson later in life — when I finally had to. As a woman and a mother, I was not so good at identifying my own needs and feeling like I could fulfill them. I might “run on empty” and then feel anxious, resentful (okay angry) and harried. It took me a while to “get it,” ask for support from my family and then put practices in place. I am still learning how to put me first. One of the non-negotiables in my life, is practicing yoga which includes breath work (pranayama) and meditation. One of the most healing, nurturing yoga practices I know is Restorative Yoga.

Restorative Yoga is about consciously choosing to take time to relax — a radical act for many. In Restorative Yoga, students use supportive props like bolsters (pillows), blocks, blankets and straps to move the body towards balance and health. Students remain in postures for longer periods of time to undo tension. You give yourself the important job of doing “nothing”!

I currently teach a Restorative Yoga class on Thursday evenings at Octopus Garden from 7:45 to 9:15 p.m. Consider this your personal invitation. I facilitate the class as a healing opportunity for you to be with your self and observe compassionately what emerges. It is very important to me to create a safe environment for students to “just be.” I consider myself fortunate to be able to teach from what I have learned in my own life. I hope you will feel this. There are often themes to my classes. I may ask you to set a healing intention for your practice. I teach breath techniques and may include a short meditation. My teaching style has been described as mindful. I have a particular interest in yoga for emotional well-being and will bring this flavour to my classes. I love poetry and inspiring passages and may share short readings.

Anyone can benefit from Restorative Yoga and you do not need yoga experience to participate. I pride myself on being welcoming and inclusive and I will help you get the hang of it if you are new. You might particularly want to explore Restorative Yoga if you are feeling stressed, anxious, fatigued, if you are recovering from illness, injury or loss.

I would love to meet you. See you on Thurs. nights at 7:45 p.m. Prioritize yourself — practice self-care.


Lisa Mitchell

Deepening Practice

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Send us your stories on Deepeing One’s Practice.  What deepens your practice?  What is your practice?

Recently I found myself in an early morning outdoor yoga class high on the shoulder of a mountain in a remote corner of southern Utah. Our classroom was a meadow in the shade of a stand of aspen trees. As a longtime student of literature, I was captivated from the day I began practicing yoga by the metaphors that are woven into the instructions for each asana. We are continually enjoined by our teachers to root our feet into the earth, to lift our gaze to the sky, to feel our bodies sway as we stand in tree pose, or to hear ujjayi breath as the sound of the ocean. In this particular outdoor practice, I was struck by the passage from the metaphoric to the literal: as I attempted to root all four corners of my feet into the earth, I felt not only the energetic stability of the ground, but also its unevenness, the unfamiliar bumps under my toes and arches that prompted me to accommodate my feet to the earth in new ways. As I sought my balance in vrikshasana, I fastened my eyes on a tree in the middle distance, a single spruce anchored tenaciously to a rocky canyon wall. As I lifted my eyes to the sky, I saw the crystalline blue through a shadowed mosaic of leaves. A local dog joined us partway through the class, occasionally stretching luxuriously from head to tail in a canine version of downward facing dog, rolling over onto her back with paws in the air for savasana. Our teacher decided that because the July Utah sun was already so strong, it would be prudent for us to practice moon salutes instead of sun salutations, a reminder of the many ways that the fierce summer heat of this land prompts us to modify our yoga and our lives. Practicing yoga in the open air returns us to the literal roots of this ancient practice, evoking how the forms of yoga mimic the natural shapes of the world around us, whether through the geometry of form or through vegetable and animal figures. Read the rest of this entry

Faith vs.Belief

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Today Pat and Myriam started five days of an early morning intensive.  As my path to Yoga Ed unfolds I realize how important these intensives are.  I also realize how important practice is.  If you want to practice yoga you must practice.  What does that really mean?  Well that means you have to attend everyday for a week, roll out your mat, and you guessed it, Practice.  If you still don’t get it, you have to peel back the layers of yourself, like an onion (yogis peel alot of onions), challenge your beliefs and jump in with Faith.  Today’s theme was exactly that. Read the rest of this entry

Our Family is Growing.

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To best meet the needs of our community, the Octopus Garden family is growing! Pat, Scott, and JP are excited to announce Octopus Garden College Street and Ahimsa Yoga Bloor Street. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide spaces to house our creative and community-oriented endeavours.

Octopus Garden
We are starting construction on a new 7,000 square-foot facility on College (just west of Dovercourt) and are planning for our grand opening on October 1st. This dynamic venue will include multiple yoga rooms, an integrative health and treatment centre, and a cafe offering delicious food and fresh juices. In addition, our new facility will provide a permanent home for our extensive Yoga Education Program. Pat and Scott are creating a vibrant, holistic centre which will offer a wide range of complementary services, with yoga and therapeutics at its core.

Ahimsa Yoga
In the fall, our Bloor Street location will become the home of Ahimsa Yoga. This location will continue to offer vinyasa style classes and also instruction of “Ahimsa Yoga”, a method of yoga JP has built around the principles of non-harming. In addition to regularly led classes, the Ahimsa Yoga Centre will also offer opportunities for teacher training and personal practice development. Click here for more details:

My yoga practice deepens…

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My yoga practice deepens every time I connect to my awareness of yoga living in my body as I am going through my day. When I pay attention to my breath as I sit in the car in traffic, I deepen my practice. When I sit on my front porch after a long day and close my eyes to focus my attention to the present moment, I deepen my practice. When I really listen to those around me and open my heart to connections and community, I deepen my practice. When I relate to my son from a place of openness and receptivity, I deepen my practice. When I catch myself thinking in ways that are judgmental and critical towards myself and others, I deepen my practice. When I come to class and practice asana on my mat with my community, I deepen my practice. When I give love to others more freely, I deepen my practice. When I trust the idea that there is a larger universal force that guides me and protects me, I deepen my yoga practice.

~ Elisse Peltz, Peer Mentor