Happy Boxing Day!

While many of you may be using this day to partake in Boxing Day sales madness, and others still fulfilling family obligations, some of us on the fourth floor are all about taking advantage of the laziest day of the
year to relax and play with all of our new toys.
 While the hectic holiday rush is over, the beautiful lights are still up
and the leftovers are still fresh, so go on. Put your feet up and follow
these simple steps for the ultimate veg day.

Get your Netflix on

Is there anything better than a guilt-free movie day?  We love streaming our fave classics like 16
and She’s All That without having to scour the Internet for a working
link or, god forbid, leaving the house to go to a video store (those are still
around in some places, right?)  We know what you’re
thinking – is Canadian Netflix really worth the $7.99 a month? YES! But don’t
take our word for it; use the free one month membership when you sign up to
decide for yourself. Still not impressed? Use a hotspot shield to hide your IP
address and dig into that sweet, sweet US Netflix (but you didn’t hear that
from us).

Order In

Lots of restaurants and grocery stores may
still be closed, or have limited hours. If you don’t have a wealth of leftovers to keep you satiated for the
day, don’t risk it. Check OrderIt.ca or
Just-Eat.ca to see what cravings you can satisfy without stepping out your
door. Remember, the origin of Boxing Day comes from the yearly tradition of
tipping and gifting all the household service people (housekeepers, handymen,
delivery drivers) so don’t forget to spread some of that post-holiday cheer.

Catch up on “me time”
Nobody wants to carry the stress
and troubles of the past year into the new one. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to finish, have a bath, Skype your
long distance besties, paint your nails or hey – have an all-day nap. And you know, just
because you’re keeping it low key doesn’t mean you have to stay completely
sedentary. When was the last time you
went for a leisurely stroll, or did yoga in your living room? Everyone is
allowed to phone it in once in awhile, so you have the fourth floor’s permission
to Treat.Yo.Self. You’re welcome.

Rant: Know your yoga etiquette

Here on the fourth floor, we love our yoga. What we don’t love is fellow yoga-goers who don’t respect the peace, tranquility and silence (!) of the space. 

As much as we learn to focus internally, have a clear mind and not succumb to distractions – when the person behind you rips up their mat or casually walks out for a bathroom break, it really grinds our gears. 

Having dabbled in moksha, ashtanga, hatha, yin and a myriad of other practices (you might call us ‘yoga tourists’ – we’re still settling on studios and types of yoga), we compiled a pretty robust list of yoga pet peeves from our combined years of experience. We’re sharing this so hopefully others will practice good karma and respect the space and people around them. 

We think this applies to many aspects of life, but (for the purpose of this post) especially yoga. When you’re attempting to listen to your instructor speak and someone awkwardly steps over you, then asks you to move your mat so they can fit? Worst. Show up early, get settled in and help make the class enjoyable for everyone. 

Leave your mat behind
If you don’t have enough time to stay for final shavasana, (in our opinion, one of most important parts of your practice) then take your towel, water and tip toe out of the room. Here’s what always gets us – LEAVE YOUR MAT. Ripping your mat off the floor and running out is distracting to your fellow yogis and a little rude to your instructor – especially when you take off as they’re still talking. Leave your mat, then come back and get it after you’ve changed. 

Before the instructor walks in is not a time to chat with your friends about your day or the cute guy in the class (tempting, we know) – save it for the change room. This is the time when you’re trying to get in the zone and perhaps practice a little self-meditation, while prepping yourself for the class ahead. So, shhh.

cute kitten doing yoga! (we had to)
Bathroom breaks
–    Bathroom breaks are distracting. Double the annoyance if someone walks out while you’re trying to hold dancers pose. You know how long the class is, plan accordingly.

It’s way easier to hold pigeon when people aren’t accidentally bumping you.

Towel policy

We hate when yoga studios have a ‘towel policy in effect.’ This policy is supposedly to guard against slipping. Not everyone sweats a lot (even in hot yoga) and it’s annoying that we either have to carry a towel, a yoga mat, wallet and a change of clothes, etc. or rent one for $2.

Enormous class sizes
If you’re feeling like a sardine, you’re probably not giving 100% to your practice. We think there shouldn’t be more than 20 people to one instructor. Otherwise, they’re not able to watch everyone carefully enough and yoga can be dangerous, yo. Especially if you’re trying to pull off some more advanced moves or attempt a handstand. 

That’s a lot of OM. 

Tiny change rooms
While we’ve been making our rounds of the city’s yoga studios, we’ve noticed that there’s one thing in common to all: tiny, cramped change rooms. 

To make matters worse, classes start and end back-to-back, so everyone is cramming into the room at the same time. If studios can’t expand their room sizes, we’d suggest posting the following signDear fellow Yogis, please respect the following rule when in our tiny change-room: THE NAKED GUY/GIRL ALWAYS GETS THE RIGHT OF WAY. Thank-you, management”. That should help solve those awkward brush-bys.

A few more little things: 
  • Older men that wear too short shorts. Distracting, and not in a good way.
  • Deep breathers! There’s always one person who goes too far with the yoga breathing and it’s really distracting.
  • Farts. Obviously. It might be the only good reason to excuse yourself from a class.

Rave: Jogi Health and Wellness Activewear Line

Oh, Joe Fresh Style. Just when we thought we had all the accessories, work outfits and cute bathers that we needed, you went and did it again. Enter the 42-piece Jogi collection. And to be clear – it’s pronounced Yo-gi, not Jo-gi. Clever, aren’t they?

True to Joe Fresh style, this new line of health and wellness accessories is very reasonable. How affordable? Nothing’s priced over $45.

Sold at select Loblaw stores, don’t let the name mislead you; the collection spans well beyond yoga gear. Here are some of our favourite items:

Yoga gloves, $10. For those readers who are hot yogis, you know the feelings of frustration when you’re schvitzing during downward dog. These gloves grip the mat, keeping you firmly in place. There are also yoga socks to boot. No pun intended. $10

Now we wouldn’t use the term “lazy” since we are talking about activewear items. However, something about “convenient” workout kits gives us the extra boost to get moving. Jogi launched such workout sets as the Step Set shown above, that comes with the right equipment for the focused workout you are looking for. The Elemental Jogi Kit, for example, features a non-slip yoga mat, two yoga bricks and a yoga strap to improve strength and flexibility. $40

The cardio kit also does the “convenient” trick. We can improve our cardio endurance and performance with a jump rope, or neoprene ankle or wrist weights for some added oomph. Finish it off with cushioned push-up bars, and our workout for the day is done. $25

Finally, the universal balance board. Taking us back to the playground days, these funky-looking boards are a fun way to work on your balance and core. $20

With so many different workout options, our excuses are limited. The pieces are cute, in pretty colours that motivate us to create our own gym and get jacked. Pronounced j-acked, not y-acked.

TIFF ’10: Theatre Yoga

We heart TIFF. Really, what’s not to love about this fabulous Toronto institution? Three hundred films shown over 11 days, red carpets, parties and celebrity sightings galore – sounds like our kind of fun. The thing is, by day two we’ve usually ditched the heels, by day six we’re speed dialing our RMTs, and by day 10 we’re yearning for a quiet night in.

We asked our favourite yogis, Sari Nisker from Spynga and YuMee Chung from Passport to Prana, to give us their top moves for staying limber, energized and feeling our best at this year’s fest. Om(g)!

Pre-fest: Downward Dog
Starting with a quick pre-fest downward dog is a perfect way to get more oxygen flowing to your star-crazed brain and getting your body ready to move. Begin on your hands and knees, with hands and knees positioned shoulder and hip distance apart. Curl your toes under and lift your hips back and up towards the stars. If you feel much of the weight in your shoulders or hands, bend your knees a little and draw your chest towards your thighs. Take 10-15 deep breaths, which will allow the blood flow to reverse and will instantly lift your mood. Being upside down is the secret celebrity youth potion, don’t ya know?

In line: quads and hips
Excitedly waiting in line for a film (and hoping to catch a glimpse of a celeb)? This is a great opportunity to stretch your quads and hips. Stand tall, shift your weight to your left foot and begin to bend your leg up from your right knee. Draw your foot back, reach down and grab your right ankle, and slowly bring your heel towards your right glute (butt). To intensify the stretch, allow the right foot to draw back into your hand to create some resistance. Take a few deep breaths and lift your chest as you hold the position. Remember to get an even stretch and repeat with the other leg. Ladies: please move with caution if you are in heels that are more than one inch in height.

In your (coveted) seat:

Close your eyelids and move your inner gaze along four points (holding each for one slow, deep inhale and one slow, deep exhale through your nose): (1) up towards your forehead, (2) down towards your chin, (3) over to the left ear, (4) over to the right ear. Then, do three slow clockwise circles with your eyes before doing three counter-clockwise circles. Finally, rub your hands briskly to generate some heat between your palms and cup them over your closed eyes. Breath deeply a few times, allowing the heat to relax the muscles and calm the mind.

Your eyes need some stretching too.


Sit up straight in your seat, and lower the right ear towards the right shoulder until you feel a gentle pull on the left side of your neck. If you’d like a deeper stretch, place your right hand lightly on the head to encourage the movement. Enjoy for five deep breaths before turning the nose to point down towards your right underarm, until you feel the stretch move a little closer to your spine. Stay for five breaths and repeat on the left. Inhale deeply, and lower the chin towards the chest with an exhale. As you inhale, roll the right ear towards the right shoulder, and as you exhale, roll the chin back down to the chest. As you inhale, roll the left ear towards the left shoulder, and as you exhale roll the chin back down to the chest. Repeat four to six times.

This will feel amazing.

Sitting forward in your seat, place your right hand on the back end of the right-side armrest and place your left hand on your right knee. Inhale and grow tall through your spine, and then exhale as you twist to the right, letting your hands give you some leverage. Look over the right shoulder and keep your seat grounded, resisting the urge to let your hips turn with you. Take five deep breaths in this simple twist before switching sides.

Like this! Only…cooler.

Nourish and stretch
Eating and drinking during TIFF is vital. Waiting in line for water and snacks, open and stretch out your shoulders. Bring your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers and imagine that you have Brad Pitt’s hand on your upper back and you never want to let it go. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and stretch the arms straight down towards the red carpet. Breathe and smile brightly.

Practice these stretches daily while watching the hot lineup of films at TIFF this year. Your body will thank you on September 20, when it’s all over!

Photo credits:

Meet Our Client: YuMee Chung

YuMee Chung is the brains and the beauty behind Passport to Prana, a unique yoga program that offers people the freedom to try their city’s best yoga studios by eliminating the cost barrier that comes with yoga in a big city. The Passport To Prana card retails for a one-time fee of $20 to $30 (varies depending on the city) and gives the card holder access to try one class at 10 to 70 studios (varies depending on city).

Chung taught yoga for years before launching Passport to Prana with business partners Raj Gandhi, Prajna Harsora, Scott Peterson and Jim Benedek. She has taught yoga to CEO’s, Hollywood directors and high-profile celebrities, including Val Kilmer and Diane Lane, and offers yoga instruction on her personal website.

Photo courtesy of Marc Davidson

What do you do?

I work with Passport to Prana to promote the practice of yoga in major North American cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, New York and San Francisco. We started out in Toronto five years ago and we expect to be operating in more than 20 cities by the end of the year.
I’m a lawyer-turned-yoga teacher and I play a business development role at Passport to Prana, which to me means dreaming big and not being afraid to stand traditional business practices on their head. And, yes, I do occasionally bust out a headstand while on the job.

How long have you worked with rock-it promotions?
We’ve been with rock-it promotions for three years–three very happy years!

What do you love most about your job?
I love that my job doesn’t feel anything like a job. I’m one of the lucky ones who can say I followed my passion rather than doing what was expected. Also, it doesn’t hurt that my co-workers are all talented, creative, funny and kind people who share my enthusiasm for the work we do.

What do you like least about your profession/industry?
Technical difficulties. Sure, they’re a fact of life for online businesses but they’re the one thing that threatens my yogic calm.

Photo courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann

What’s your next big goal?
We always say we won’t stop until Passport to Prana gives you access to all yoga studios everywhere!

Why is public relations important to you and what you do professionally?
We know we have a great product but without PR nobody would know about it. PR puts us on the map and brings clients to our door.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share about your PR experience?
A PR professional who really “gets” what you do and is enthusiastic about working with you is worth her weight in gold.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: Etsy.com. Nice business model, nice execution, nice way to spend all my disposable income.
Designer: Berlin-based BLESS.
Book: Whatever I happen to be reading. At the moment it’s Black Swan Green by David Mitchell.
Snack: Too many to say–I’m a snack monster. I would be 300 pounds if I didn’t do yoga!
Season: Spring, Fall and everything in between.
Sexy: Shiny, happy people.
Inspiration: The yoga practice and the people who do it.
Drink: Jasmine tea.
Motto in two words: Breathe and smile (Russell Simmons taught me that one after a sweaty yoga class at Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC).
Idea of perfect happiness: The state of missing nothing.
Indulgence: Date night with my husband.
Greatest achievement: Hopefully still to come.

Passport To Prana is available in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton and will launch in Winnipeg this August. This year, they have also launched Passport To Prana programs in the US cities including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York and Dallas.