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5 reasons to go away on a yoga retreat

“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been re- arranged by the hands of man.”

Imagine waking up and having the following choices to fill your day:
2 yoga classes, massage, swimming in the ocean and/or pool or deciding to take an excursion surfing or biking. Over the years I have been fortunate to be able to attend and lead many yoga retreats at some of the most immaculate retreat centers in Costa Rica and Mexico. The experience of putting behind the day to day routine of your life is so refreshing and gratifying. The retreat centers have a calm and nurturing environment and are in serene settings with nature that you can’t help to feel relaxed. It is a slice of paradise that is filled with people from around the globe also searching for remote places to revive and renew themselves. It is one of those experiences that no matter what you do or where you go remains fixed in your memory. Maybe you are back at work or having a family dinner and that feeling descends on you again and you feel that peacefulness and calmness and it takes you back. This is one of those experiences.


1. Foster a new outlook on your health and create new habits.
You “actually” meditate and take time for relaxation. You practice yoga daily and not have to worry about fitting it in to your schedule. Instead of reaching for that sugary snack you begin to crave a fruit smoothie.

2. Meet new like-minded friends
Nervous about going alone? This is a vacation where you feel safe, nurtured and make new friends. Something special happens when you put together a group of people in a beautiful, natural setting joined by a passion for yoga. You are bound to make special connections. Many students have fostered life long friendships.

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3. Learn about yourself
When you change your routine you see things differently. By breaking the pattern of busy-ness you actually feel more relaxed and clear. You might even get a new perspective on your job or current relationship. It gives you the space to think about what you value and what you are most passionate about doing.

4. The food
A whole week of someone cooking you delicious organic fresh food for three meals a day. They are mostly vegetarian and you see how its possible to have a whole week of delicious nourishing real food cooked from scratch. The best part is they do all the dishes too!

5. You leave feeling better than you arrived.
When you take a week to de-stress and relax you leave feeling more in harmony. Your stress melts away. You might even come home more energized and excited about your life.

To learn about our next retreat in Costa Rica click here.


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Guiding Intentions to Help Keep You on the Path

an aim that guides action
purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct
a determination to act in a certain way

What is Your Intention?

What are you hoping to create? What are looking to get rid of? Why do you practice Yoga? Yoga is a unique experience for everyone. Each one of us can find something in it that will resonate with our hearts and minds. Each time you come onto your yoga mat you can have a completely different experience than the last time. Whatever is happening currently in your life can come up. If you’re holding onto anger, resentment, fear, anxiety. Yoga gives you the opportunity to let go of all this! This practice is profound, it is powerful, and it can be life changing. For yoga to work, bring an open mind to your mat each time. Breath, breathe, breath. Life is a journey not a destination. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Setting an intention is not focused on a future outcome. Intention is “your reason” why you practice yoga. It allows one think about what they are looking to create on their mat. Intention is a practice or path that is completely focused on how you are “being” in the present moment. While experiences the ever changing flow of life, your attention is solely on the always present “now”. You choose an intention based on what matters most to you. You follow up intention with focus and most importantly, commitment. A commitment to match your actions with your inner wisdom and spirit.

You will begin to notice how in yoga as class goes on you will experience a release. Remember that feeling. What might seem like problems may actually be invitations for change. Yoga is simply a state of mind. Our hope is that we maintain the yoga throughout our everyday living. The poses and movements in yoga mimic life. The poses and movemnets are opportunities or experiences for us to practice living. You attempt to maintain clamness and focus throughout. By not reacting to the challenging moments you lessen the power of your weaknesses. This allows you to strengthen yourself physcially, emotionally, and spiritually.

By setting an intention to your practice it will put your positive thoughts into action. These actions and intentions result in phenomenal power! We practice focusing which allows us to be present. We practice breathing which makes us calm. And letting our inetntion guide us is why we practice yoga.

When we set an intention we are practicing living in the present moment. This is quite different than setting goals which is more focused on future outcome. ie. job promotion, finding a spouse, etc. This makes yoga and intentions special. Look at setting an intention as something you “practice”. It’s a journey, not a destination. Yoga is a place to be, not a place to get. We are fully aware of every moment. Your intention is what is of deep importance to you and you follow through with the highest level of committment. You match what you know to be true with your actions in life.

Yoga does not have an On/Off button. You can not just turn it on and become instantly forgiving. These inetntions stay with you daily. But being aware of what you need to work on is the first cruscial step.

By contastntly remaining focused on your true intentions, it will allow you to livea fuller, freer life! One that is not attached to wanting, achievemnets, doubts, and insecurities.
This will enable you to live a life in harmony and balance. One that is focused on making other people happy instead of oursleves. The greatest gift is giving: our love, our time, and a part of ourselves.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

Of course life will present us with its ups and downs. But by staying grounded with your intentions you will be able to move with flow. This commitment to being who you are and being comfortable in your own skin keeps you from the obsession of wanting and achieving. This will not keep you immune to pain and fear but you will have a way of staying strong through it all. It will keep you in command of your happiness and being joyful regardless of the external events.

Positive intentions lead to positive results. Negative intentions lead to negative results. Positive and negative intentions lead to positive and negative results.

Try to not judge yourself as you work through the process. Stay focused on being present. Awareness is the first step toward moving to positive results.

For example, if you go to yoga and you are already consumed with thoughts of vanity i.e.. , I wish my ass was smaller, I wish I had more money, I wish I was flexible like her... If you focus on these things in yoga you will end up with “negative results”. You will end up being more obsessed with these things and remain in your day to day thinking.

If you to go yoga and your already consumed with thoughts of vanity but you focus your intention on positive thoughts i.e Not wanting and Gratitude you will begin to free yourself of these self limiting thoughts. By staying grounded in intention we now have control in how we react to events and circumstances in life. This is mindfulness.

How do we know if our intentions are coming from the right place? Do the right thing without fear of failure.

We must move from what is called “the heart center”. This is our inner wisdom or our awakened inner mind-heart that we must rely on
By living a life filled with intention you stay anchored to loving and giving to others. It gives you the strength to resist falling for ego, vanity, and materialism. By practicing and practicing these intentions will eventually become your way of life. By giving it attention it will thrive and grow! Yoga is confrontational we must commit and work on what we know we need to work on.

Keep trying to connecting with this inner wisdom that we possess. Let go of the thought that it will be easy. You may fall off the path, just get back on. By continually coming back to your intention you move towards freedom and your own true self. Keep coming back to your heart center.

If you are struggling on this pose, you know why you’re in yoga. If you are’s ok. You can work out giving up the struggle. We go to yoga to work on the things we need to work on. Like being more gentle, being more patient, being more forgiving. We do the work on ourselves so we can give it to others. We got so exited about going to a yoga class. then we find ourselves in a challenging pose and we start questioning ourselves. yoga imitates life. sometimes hard, sometimes it’s rosy. Breathe!

“all star yoga words” to infuse with your Intentions:

and LOVE

think of these words while in a difficult moment holding a yoga pose

Yoga helps us find focus and clarity on the mat which can be carried off the mat. What we do on the mat is a direct reflection of how we live and approach life!

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You’re never too old to be a kid again

Blog Post By Catherine Gignac: Growing up, people used to tell me that I was too serious — I mean, really serious. For some reason, people (boys) just loved to tease me and say that I couldn't take, or make for that matter, a joke. I never liked when this happened and even though I always knew I was silly at my core, I was a serious student. I had goals! I had dreams! I had to achieve, achieve, achieve! glow_blog_post

In hindsight, now that I've grown more, achieved what I envisioned for myself in my twenties (and let's face it, gone to college), I can see that I was totally too serious in many ways in my teens. Now, those of you who've been to my classes know my silly often outweighs my serious. I had to grow into that, but I'm so glad I did.

A lot of this story mimics our yoga practices. We come to our mats with the intention of becoming flexible, strong, skinny, detoxed and toned and we take ourselves so seriously trying to conquer new poses. Achieve, achieve, achieve! While there is definitely a place for us to consider all of the above with a healthful intention, sometimes the seriousness and the goal-setting gets in the way of us really getting anywhere with ourselves.

That's one of the reasons why I love teaching our glow in the dark yoga class, Glow With The Flow. It's literally designed to be silly and way less serious than a typical practice. Not only are neon-clad yogis a bit more relaxed when we enter a room full of black lights but we also come out of our shells and a push the envelope a bit more in the dark. It's impossible to be serious in an utkatasana while singing along to Drop It Like It's Hot with sixty other people doing the exact same thing.

My intention when teaching each glow class is to get everyone to fire up their silliness a bit more — whether it be in life or in their practice. There's not much that brings the child-like (or college-student-at-a-dance-club) mentality out in us once we hit "grown up" age, but when the opportunity presents itself, take it. Jump on it. Glow with it. Life and yoga are about a lot more than achieve, achieve, achieve. Sometimes it's the silly that brings us into our own.

I hope you can join me for Glow With The Flow, part of the Amazing Yoga Gathering Weekend on Saturday, June 28th at 7:30pm! I promise it'll be a silly good time. - Catherine Gignac

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Home Meditation Practice Tips

IMG_3990You’ve heard it a million times ... ‘cause it’s true. We all need to meditate!

I often here people say, “I just can’t meditate. I tried it once, and it didn’t work for me.” 

Well, no kidding! That is like saying I tried to run a marathon without any training and it didn’t work for me. It’s a completely normal feeling.

The truth is, it takes time to calm a busy mind and some days will be turbulent. Absolutely everyone can benefit from relaxing when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Of all the things we give our time to on a daily basis, feeling calmer and healthier with a 5-15 minute commitment is well worth it.  

Something to know is that there are many types of meditation. Meditation is not a right or wrong experience it is just doing it that counts. As is the human experience, we tend to try to complicate things and make excuses about why we can’t do something.

But the truth is, meditation is simple and just takes practice to sit quietly for a few minutes each day. To get started, begin with just 5 minutes every day.  As you get more accustomed then slowly work up to 15 minutes.

1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine (use pillows, cushions or props that help you feel comfortable).
2. Close your eyes.
3. Pay attention to your breath.
4. Scan your body for any parts that do not feel relaxed and visualize your breath moving to those parts.
5. When your mind drifts to planning or fantasizing (and it will), return to the present moment by focusing on your breath.
6. Don’t worry about how well you are doing.

If you feel like you need some more guidance, check out our online classes. We just uploaded a brief, simple guided meditation that you can use over and over from home. Happy Meditating!

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It’s all about insta


So, we know where all magic happens – on Instagram! We love this platform for sharing poses, wisdom, inspiration, and more. Please join us, and follow @amazingyoga and we will follow you right back! #bringonalltheselfies #amazingyoga

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Happy New Year!

Amazing Yoga Shadyside 32

We would like to extend a Happy New Year to everyone!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for visiting the Amazing Yoga Studios in 2012. We are eternally grateful that you allow us to be of service to you for your yoga practice. We wish you all the best in 2013.

"Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all facts." - Albert Einstein

2012 was an exciting year as we continue to strive towards enhancing your yoga experience. What was new at AY: Click to continue...