Local Flavour: Smooth yoga moves

Chantal O’Sullivan of Shanti Yoga “relaxes” in one of her poses, a green detox smoothie by her side. But she doesn’t want the gymnastic contortions and flexibility of yoga to scare off potential enthusiasts. O’Sullivan says yoga is for all ages, of all walks of life.   - Adrian MacNair photo
Chantal O’Sullivan of Shanti Yoga “relaxes” in one of her poses, a green detox smoothie by her side. But she doesn’t want the gymnastic contortions and flexibility of yoga to scare off potential enthusiasts. O’Sullivan says yoga is for all ages, of all walks of life.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

Three years ago Chantal O’Sullivan was working a stressful job as a reporter in Vancouver and trying to find ways to relax in between the 24-hour news cycle.

She decided to leave her job and take the plunge into owning her own business, opening Shanti Yoga in Tsawwassen. Although she still writes, yoga has become her passion and her main stress reliever.

Chantal says that sometimes people don’t even realize they are physically and mentally stressed out until they take a yoga class.

“I love bringing people together and I love making people feel good,” she says.

The slow and steady breathing and the relaxation helps repair the body and mind from the damage done by working in a fast-paced world.

Chantal says that yoga makes her feel stronger and her body responds to the exercise.

“Like a lot of people as soon as I tried it I like it,” says the 30-something yoga instructor, recalling her first experience at the age of 18. “Right away I knew it feels good.”

Chantal says she understands that many people are reluctant to try yoga for the first time because it can be intimidating to see people perform difficult moves or touch their toes if the person is inflexible and out of shape.

She says there’s no need to worry.

“People have this idea you have to be fit to do yoga, but you don’t have to. You just have to be able to breathe.”

Breathing deeply in a calm and quiet environment isn’t just relaxing, it’s also good for the lungs and blood circulation.

Being in a quiet environment helps because until a person experiences complete silence, one doesn’t realize how much noise pollution there is in a city.

When students are ready to try more complicated moves (see photo at left), the mental focus takes the person away from the responsibilities of groceries, work, and other daily chores.

Chantal says that because our lives are so busy and yet often sedentary–sitting at computers in an office–for people to relax it takes conscious breathing and concentration to make a person feel really alive.

“It’s important that everybody who comes to yoga class feels good when they leave,” she says.

People take yoga for all sorts of reasons. Some come in for fitness, others for spiritual and emotional reasons.

It’s also for all ages and fitness levels. The less flexible you think you are, the more you need yoga.

“I love living in Tsawwassen because it’s such a healthy place,” says Chantal, adding with the amount of running and exercise people get here, they need to stretch before or afterward.

Her Shanti Yoga shirts have Tsawwassen proudly stenciled on the back.

Part of yoga is being conscious of what you eat because it can affect your mood and overall health.

As a result, this week’s Local Flavour smoothie recipe (available online in the Lifestyles section was found by Chantal in a surfing restaurant in Costa Rica.

To make a smoothie you need a super powered blender. The advantage to smoothies is that any left over vegetables don’t need to go into the compost.  They can find new life in the blender.

Through trial and error Chantal has found the healthiest and best tasting smoothie recipes.

“When you make a smoothie you want it to look good, taste good, and super charge you for the day.”

Green Detox Smoothie

(Makes enough for two large smoothies)

I found this scrumptious smoothie in a little surf town in Costa Rica, where we are holding a yoga retreat this December, and I've modified it to make it my own.

It's so healthy and it's actually delicious! I think it's the perfect post-yoga treat.

1-cup: pineappple
1-cup: kale
1/2 cup: cilantro
1 peeled lemon
1 banana
1 peeled orange
1-cup: coconut water
1-cup: ice cubs

Put all ingredients into your high powered blender, like a Vitamix, and blend until smooth.


Tip: This recipe can be adjusted to taste. For instance, if you want to sweeten it, add some raw organic honey. Also, feel free to ramp it up by adding super food boosters, like coconut oil or hemp hearts for added nutrition.

Tip: If you like making smoothies, consider doing a lot of the prep in advance. For instance, cut up your pineapple as soon as you buy it and freeze it in chunks. It keeps things simple, fast and convenient.

Tip: Play around with proportions to suit your own tastes. Have fun!

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