Maureen Rae's Yoga Studio | 5324 Dundas Street West Etobicoke, Ontario M9B 1B4

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Maureen's Blurb of the Month:Namaste, Folks! Let’s Hit the Hay!

(Origin: Probably related to the fact that in the U.S.A. in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century mattresses often consisted of old sacks filled with hay or straw.) Yikes. I am getting itchy just thinking about it!

Anyway…….Rest. Part of every yoga class. What’s the big deal about rest anyway? Most beginners feel that it’s a waste of their time! “I sleep every night! I should pay someone to tell me to lie down and rest during the day?!! What a waste!”

But far from being wasted time, from the moment we slide into Savasana, fascinating things begin to happen! (In fact, there is a practice in yoga called Yoga Nidra (Yoga Sleep) that has seen immense popularity in the last few years in treatment of folks with PTSD.)

We are aware that a whole raft of functions takes place during sleep to make sure that we get optimal benefit from our nightly rest. But most of us are not getting enough sleep!

Sleep is the time the body can undergo repair and detoxification. Poor sleep patterns are linked to poor health - and those who sleep less than six hours a night have a shorter life expectancy than those who sleep for longer.

So sleep has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

But that is for another day.

Now....how about rest. Just resting....? Does rest have a similar profound effect on every system in the body....in every cell of the nervous system, the muscular system.....well, EVERY system? The answer is a resounding YES!.... A few benefits....(for those of you who are not yet convinced!).....

• a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration,
• a decrease in blood pressure,
• a decrease in muscle tension,
• a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen,
• a reduction in general anxiety,
• a reduction in the number and frequency of anxiety attacks,
• an increase in energy levels and in general productivity,
• an improvement in concentration and in memory,
• an increase in focus

The eminent U.S. sleep specialist Dr Matthew Edlund suggests if you can't sleep, a rest can be just as curative as sleep. The key is how you rest.,,,,and let’s be clear, ‘rest’ doesn’t mean couch/TV ‘resting!’

Dr Edlund regards watching television as 'passive' rest. Although this downtime does allow for a degree of cellular renewal, the brain will still be buzzing (indeed, studies show that in some of the brain's 'rest' states, more energy is used up than when the brain is performing set tasks.)

Active rest' is what is needed. This can make you more alert and effective, reduce stress levels and give you a better chance of a healthier and longer life.

Dr Edlund describes four different kinds of active rest: social, mental, physical and spiritual (using meditation and prayer to relax). No specific time is indicated but he believes it's vital to factor each into your daily life.


This is defined as spending time with friends and relations and even chatting to colleagues.

No matter how busy you are, it is vital to build this into your day. A famous U.S. study in the late Seventies found that socializing isn't just pleasant, it is crucial for our survival, with sociable people at reduced risk of heart disease and other serious illnesses.

More recent studies have confirmed this link, proving that social support helps you survive a cancer diagnosis, fight off infectious illness and ease depression as well as reducing your risk of dying from heart attack.

Just chatting with friends has been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and provide hormonal and psychological benefits. Indeed, most researchers argue that social connections are at least as significant to your rate of survival as obesity or whether you smoke.

The good news is that sex also counts as social rest.

Aside: What does this have to say about our increasingly solitary lives?


Today we all try to do too many things at once - texting while driving, eating while watching TV - and we've lost an understanding of the brain's need to focus on one thing.

Doing this for even a short period has been shown to affect the nervous system, change blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. The idea behind mental rest is to get so engrossed in something simple that the big stuff no longer bothers you.

One way is to teach yourself a very simple form of controlled concentration.

Practice: Look straight ahead and roll your eyes up to the top of your head as if you're staring at the ceiling.

Next, with your eyes looking straight up, slowly close your eyelids. A really good 'eye roll' such as this will show lots of white on your eye as you close the eyelids.

Concentrate on keeping your eyes looking up while your eyes are closed. Take a deep breath in to the count of four, and out to the count of eight. As you exhale, feel the sense of relaxation spreading from the back of your neck down your body, until you feel it spreading to your toes.

Imagine you are on a beach on a sunny day, or a sun-dappled forest. Or walking in this environment and take note of what you see.

When you are ready to finish, keeping your eyes rolled up, breathe in deeply and open your eyes. Then roll your eyes down. (My eyes got really tired doing this practice!)


This is about actively using the body's processes, such as breathing, to calm body and mind.

The best way to do this is to stop and take a few really deep breaths. Breathing deeply fills the lungs with oxygen, opening up collapsed air spaces, sending richly oxygenated blood around the body.

Practice. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward. Look straight ahead and try to align your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders into an imaginary vertical straight line. Roll your shoulders back, tuck in your chin and breathe in deeply for the count of four, feeling the air filling your lungs as your chest expands.

Breathe out slowly to the count of eight, hearing and visualizing the moving air as you breathe. Focus only on two things: keeping your alignment straight and breathing deeply and evenly. Another excellent form of physical rest is to nap (for 15 to 30 minutes) if you're feeling tired.


Brain scans have shown that people who meditate are able physically to expand parts of their brains, growing bigger, fatter frontal lobes - the part that controls concentration, attention, focus and where we do much of our analysis of problems.

Meditators are also able to build up more grey matter in the midbrain (which handles functions such as breathing and blood circulation) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (important for muscle co-ordination and active memory).

They also show changes in the structure of the thalamus, a part of the brain critical for processing information flow from all parts of the body.

Praying has similar benefits. U.S. research has shown that people who regularly attend religious services live longer than those who do not. Although some of this benefit must lie in the social connection, scans show the brain responds in a similar way to prayer as it does to meditation.

All very interesting, don’t you think?!! Let’s get some rest, Folks! For more information: The Power Of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough, by Dr Matthew Edlund.

As always, we welcome your comments and stories. Sharing your experiences can often go a long way to helping others to ‘see.’ Please feel free to email us at info@mraesyogastudio.com

Click here to read Maureen's previous articles


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Congrats 100 Hour
100 Hour Intensive Graduates




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Maureen discusses Hot Yoga
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New Yoga Teacher Workshops.....
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June 18/19 Cape Breton, NS
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All New DanceYoga Program
Afro-India Persuasian
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April 4, 11, 18, 25
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Fast Track Teacher Trainings

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Weekly Yin Yoga Class
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Corporate Training

Did you know that our studio provides CORPORATE CLASSES AT YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS? Find out more.


Erich Schiffman
Erich Schiffmann and Maureen Rae


Voted Etobicoke's Best Yoga Studio 2009!


Yoga In Motion

Lynda Cralli, Maureen and
Christine Ling! (L – R)
Some of our amazing teachers!


Yoga Training


Maureen Rae's Yoga Studio specializes in Yoga Teacher Training!

2 Day Fast Track Fitness Yoga Teacher Training and Certification
For more information please click here.

Are you searching for a deeper practice? Many students complete our Yoga teacher training not to teach others but for their own spiritual development. Our curriculum fosters self-improvement, self-inquiry and self-knowledge. The companion manual serves as reference material long after the certificate is completed. Click here for testimonials.

It's not as expensive as you think. Our prices are quite reasonable, usually much more reasonable than the price of other studios in the Greater Toronto Area.

A Yoga Teacher Certificate is issued at the completion of our Fast Track Yoga Teacher Training Program – Module One.

For other training sessions at our studio, have a look here.

at work



Mr. Pigeon Pose

Maureen Rae's Yoga Studio is owned and operated by Maureen Rae, Reg. N., E-RYT, Certified Nia Dance Instructor.

She has trained with Erich Schiffmann of Santa Monica, California, the Desikachars of India, and Angela Farmer of Greece, among others. Maureen teaches a flowing Vinyasa Style yoga class, integrating techniques from Viniyoga(henceforth to be known as Yoga in the style of Krishnamacharya) ...and favours function and feeling, over form.

She is known throughout the industry for innovative sequencing.

Find out more...



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