Category Archives: Yoga

Following Intuition to a Spiritual Path

Walk Your Own PathMy spiritual path has been one led by my intuition.

As is true for many, my religious path was carved out in the first decade or so of my life by my parents. When I was about 15 years old I began to see that not only could I walk my own path, but that to walk a true path, it must be one of my own creation.

I found myself going to synagogue every Saturday morning as I had been for years and suddenly not feeling connected to the prayers we were singing. I left my confirmation class because I did not feel it was fair to those who were finding truth in that path for me to continue along beside them acting as if it was the path that made sense to me as well.

Walking away from that felt mostly okay to me, though there were times through the years where I found myself longing for something. I think it was mostly connection, community, ritual, and a sense of sacred space.

When I began practicing yoga regularly I found my way towards what I had been searching for. The yoga studio where I was practicing at the time felt deeply sacred to me because of the love and compassion with which the community was grown. The time there was for me and for no one else, and that felt sacred, especially with a young child.

I am not sure if I knew at the time how much this path would become part of my spiritual practice. I do know that I began to find my way back inside, back towards my own sacred home.

Years later and I have spent time and energy to walk deeper on that path. There have been tears and laughter and so much growth. I can feel although my teacher training has just ended, that this is a sweet beginning. I am beginning to recognize the elements that fill my soul and that call me to further exploration. I am following my intuition still as I have come to see that it is leading me on a beautiful journey.

With Love,
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In Getting Lost, I Am Found

Wake Up AltarI come back to the poses again and again, seeing what I can learn this time, what new way I can find my exploration on my mat.

Sometimes even when we’ve seen or experienced something dozens, maybe even hundreds of times, there’s still a new piece of wisdom waiting to be discovered.

And so I search.

I search my body for clues about what feels sacred now.

I search my surroundings for clues about where I’m heading next.

I search my soul for longings simmering beneath the surface.

In my searching, I get lost.

In getting lost, I get found.

This journey of life takes us on unexpected paths, takes us places we never thought we’d love and places we never wanted to go. There’s no escaping any of it. It becomes the landscape of your life and your power comes in choosing what you will learn from it and how you will go forth.

You can surrender to all that happens and decide that you are choice-less in the matter or you can find your courage, build up your inner strength, and continue to take each next step as it comes.

I think this courage is often what I’m searching for when I come to my mat.

On my mat, I am my only possible enemy.

On my mat, the rest of the world, for a time, melts away.

From that place, I can dive inward and rediscover the strength I know I have. Then when I rouse myself from Savasana, I know I can return to the world as a fuller version of myself, having seen the truth within me.

With Love,
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The Power of Connection

FairmountI stepped outside of the yoga studio and into the amazing sunshine. We had just taken a heartfelt offering of a class (one of my classmate’s clinics), and we were feeling good. We launched into a conversation about yoga and a few moments later a woman who was walking her dog, a beautiful white poodle, joined our conversation.

This is how I experienced community today in my old neighborhood, and it filled my soul.

By the time I walked away I barely had time to get lunch before picking my daughter up, I had less time to do some writing, and it was completely worth it.

We talked about so many important elements of a yoga class and why they are important. We talked about community and teaching and learning. It was a beautiful conversation to have at this point in my journey.

The conversation turned to adjustments and how these women really felt like they play an important role in the practice.

“I think that adjustments, even if it’s just a simple and gentle encouraging touch, allow students to feel seen,” I told them, to a resounding yes.

I’ve got another post that I’m waiting to hit publish on where I talk more about adjustments and modifications (which actually grew out of another conversation I had with a friend). For now though, let me share this.

You can be in a room practicing, listening to your teacher and allowing his or her words to guide you from posture to posture. You can feel connected to the community of others who are practicing with you. You can feel connected to the words the teacher is speaking (we talked about that today too, I’ll save that for another post because you know I have a lot to say about that).

What can help teach you so much about yourself and your practice is a lovingly given adjustment.

As a budding teacher and long time student, here’s a bit of what I believe an adjustment can say to the student:

You are supported
You are full of possibility
You are safe
You are seen
You are important
You are deserving

What beautiful things to share with a student.

You may not be local. You may not find your way to one of my yoga classes. I hope that as I explore new ways to share yoga with you through this growing online community that I am able to convey these messages to you. Because each and every one of them is true.

You are supported
You are full of possibility
You are safe
You are seen
You are important
You are deserving

With Love,
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The Door that Changed My Life

Choices from your pastAbout 12 years ago I walked through a door that would forever change my life.

I’d been living in a house in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia for a couple of years, half a block from a yoga studio. One day I decided I wanted to check out this yoga thing about which I knew nothing, and I signed up for a private class with the studio’s owner.

I found myself on a yoga mat feeling more connected to movement and to my body than I ever had and I knew that I had discovered something important.

By the time the 6 week beginner’s series that I signed up for ended, we had moved back out to the suburbs and I was no longer half a block from my newly found beloved yoga studio.

The next few years would find me on and off my mat. The off times came mostly with ridiculous excuses – teachers moved away, studios closed, my daughter’s bedtime changed. I used them all to pull myself away from a practice that I knew was changing me in so many ways.

I was finding my spiritual home.
I was connecting to my body.
I was creating consistency (while it lasted).
I was taking care of myself.

Over the years, the idea of yoga teacher training had crossed my mind, and I always felt drawn back to the studio where my journey had begun.

Little by little I discovered that my favorite teachers happened to have trained there, and at that point it became just a matter of when.

With my daughter in school a few days a week, the fall of 2014 was finally the right time for a journey that might feel like there’s never a right time.

I stepped into it being warned that it would be one of the best and most challenging experiences of my life. That has certainly been my truth for the last five months.

Here I am, all these years later, getting ready to walk through that same door to teach my first class to the community that first welcomed me to the path of yoga.

I am honored to continue on the path of all of those who have come before and to be there to welcome in those who walk through that door for the first time.

With Love,
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P.S. If you’re on this path or are curious about it, there’s till time to join us for Creating Your Practice: prompts to get you to your mat. Learn more and join us here.

Does Your Belly Feel Happy?

self love

“Start a conversation with your body,” my yoga teacher suggested when I asked a question about the meaning of where we hold tension in our body and why balance comes easier on one side rather than the other at times.

“Does your belly feel happy?” A question I overheard a mama ask her son in a coffee shop. I love that she asked him this!

It’s the self inquiry that we so often shy away from, as if we fear what messages we’ll uncover.

When you begin to tune in and listen to your body wisdom, you learn so much about yourself, and life starts to shift into place with a little more ease.

When I’m in pigeon pose in yoga class and I notice that my left hip feels more filled with tension I can make a mental note to go online and look up what energy held in the hips represents and see if it resonates with me. Or I can breathe into that space and notice what comes up for me in that moment.

There was one point in time a few years ago where a very specific situation filled me with emotion while in pigeon pose and I found myself realizing, “Oh, that’s where I hold all of that energy.” From that awareness, I could breathe into it and begin to release it with compassion.

The same goes for figuring out how to nourish your body in the way it desires. You can fill it with junk or with the healthiest of food but if it’s not what your body is asking for, it’s not going to land well.

Sometimes bread makes my belly feel full and unhappy. Sometimes yogurt brings a rash back to my underarm. Sometimes coffee makes me jittery. So I back away from them. Sometimes a salad just doesn’t do it for me.

Sometimes a croissant is exactly what my body wants. Sometimes yogurt and fruit is the perfect way to start the day. Sometimes coffee gives me focused energy. Sometimes those greens feel like the best gift in the world. So I enjoy them.

I talked in a recent e-letter about how different our bodies are. They are different from each other, but perhaps more importantly, they are different moment to moment. When you listen to the messages of your body, you become open to the shifts and changes that are happening within, on a cellular level, and you can invite in that wisdom.

What messages does your body have for you? Are you open to listening to them and learning from them? Please share in the comments below!

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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How Ritual Can Get You through Even When It’s Not There

You know those times when it feels like your world suddenly flips upside down? And then things just keep coming at you from all directions, at lightening speed, and you don’t even have a moment to catch your breath? Much of my summer felt like that.

Even though July and August were an emotionally draining time, I managed to hear myself say the following to my husband the other day, “Despite everything, I feel happy and calm at my center.” And I do.

Here I am taking a moment to catch my breath.

Here I am taking a moment to catch my breath.

Many of my self care rituals got lost in the shuffle of a complicated summer. In August, I saw my meditation practice drop away. I barely did any yoga. I’m not even sure if my kitchen was stocked with lemons for my daily lemon water. There was a week there where I barely ate (some people eat emotionally when things are tough and I found myself doing the opposite, not even making time for food).

So much took a back seat in August, but the idea of ritual kept me going. I knew that when I was ready, I could return to it, and I did. Coming from a place of non judgment I was able to honor the space I needed and to recognize and accept that I couldn’t do it all.

Mantra stayed with me. Breath work stayed with me. Lots of restful sleep stayed with me. And that was enough.

One day in the middle of the month, I found myself in a yoga class. Almost immediately I could feel the healing that was happening. The familiar movements. The feeling of home that my mat always brings me. It was a reawakening to one of the most important rituals of all in my life, one that follows me on and off my mat – the practice of yoga.

Whatever rituals hold meaning for you, whether they are ones that you can easily tuck into your day (like lemon water when you actually have the lemons) or the ones that take a little more planning (like getting to a yoga class or getting a massage), know that they are always waiting for you. When you meet them from a place of non judgment, you’ll be able to get through anything.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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The Gift of Savasana

savasanaWhether we love the pose or we try to avoid it as much as we can, each pose in yoga has something special and important to offer us. I was recently at a yoga teacher training info session and when this topic came up in conversation, she assured us that it is in leaning into the poses we like least where so much growth happens.

In a recent early morning home practice, I found myself re-discovering a lesson from one of the poses that is most difficult for me – savasana, or final resting pose. I was revisiting a similar lesson that I learned many years ago (that I wrote about here). Savasana brings up a conflict for me between my expectations and my reality. This happens a lot with me, and so it is no surprise that it plays out on my mat.

In savasana, when I want my mind to be still, it starts dancing. My asana practice acts as a great distraction from thoughts as I’m so tuned into what my body is doing in the present moment and how it feels. When given the chance, my mind activates again.

Savasana, I realized on this recent morning, offers a great gift. It allows us to experience something we often forget to give ourselves – it allows us to be held.

Sometimes, amidst all the craziness that comes in and out of our lives, that’s all we really need – just a few minutes to be held.

Embrace that gift when you give it to yourself.

What’s your experience with savasana? Please share with us in the comments below.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Gathering in Community So We Can be Mirrors for One Another

When I step onto my mat, I take myself on a journey inward. Yoga is not just a way to move my body; it is also my spiritual practice. I reconnect to myself deeply, and most of the time, if you watched me practice, you would see that my eyes are closed. This helps me to keep the focus on what’s going on for me internally – What am I feeling? Where do I want to create more space? What connections can I make between my body and my mind?

Recently, I have been practicing in two spaces that have mirrors, and this was a first for me. In the beginning, it threw me off balance – literally. I’d be searching for a drishti (a focal point), the small hole in the window blinds at my old studio now gone, and I’d see moving parts of the other people in the class, and sometimes, if I was close enough, I’d see me. As I’ve gotten used to it, my own eye is my best drishti for poses like eagle, wrapped up in myself, focusing on the one eye that is visible, a reminder to myself that I will always be there.

I’ve been thinking about mirrors a lot lately, not just because they are becoming part of my practice. I’ve been thinking about how we are not only mirrors for ourselves, but about how we are mirrors for others.

being a mirror

I’ve spent days trying to find the words to explain this, because in my heart I feel it so deeply.

It is so easy for each one of us to feel incredibly alone in our life – in our day-to-day struggles and triumphs, both big and small. It is so easy to tell ourselves that no one else could possibly understand, that no one else has experienced something quite like this, that no one else is like us, and therefore that something must be wrong with us.

We are so good at weaving these stories for ourselves, at closing our eyes and bringing our practice inward, that sometimes it’s not until we feel so off balance that we’re about to topple over that we open our eyes. When we do, what do we see?

When we have been lucky enough to find our community, our tribe, we open our eyes and see that we are surrounded by love and support, and that we are absolutely not alone. We reach out, we find the courage to speak our fears, our desires, our deepest hurts, and we find that we are not alone.

Being a mirror for another can be a powerful act of community and spiritual communion. We can do this in each and every action and reaction that we have, with ourselves and with others. Holding space for one another so that we all come to learn that we are not alone is what gives us the strength to take the next step, and the next, and the next, on this journey that at times feels painful and overwhelming but is always, no matter what, a blessing.

Some questions to think about as your journey through your day…

How am I a mirror for myself?
How am I a mirror for others?
What makes me feel most alone?
Where can I go to find my community, my tribe?

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Let It Go (and watch the magic happen!)

“I recently realized something,” I said to my mom. “I used to run really fast. I always won on field day in elementary school. I was fast. And the teachers never encouraged me to pursue that, never helped me see that as a strength. I feel like they took something from me by not helping me to cultivate that part of me.”

She agreed, and we had a brief discussion about how we can’t really go back and change things, but we can learn from them.

The truth is, I grew up hating gym class. I don’t like to use the word hate now, but I definitely hated gym class. I really didn’t enjoy any form of movement, and I was never really taught that it was important. It’s not that I didn’t see it from my parents – my dad played basketball and cricket, skied in the winter and worked out regularly. My mom was an avid runner. So why did I hate gym class?

Clearly from my memory, there was a time when I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed being out on that field, running as fast as I could.  I can remember playing soccer and being good. So I found myself wondering where the origin of this shift came from. I imagine part of the reason was that springtime often left me behind in gym class, relegated to running errands for the gym department who didn’t know what to do with the girl whose allergies were so bad that she couldn’t go outside without getting a bloody nose and having her eyes practically sealed shut. I wasn’t taught then about the importance of movement, and about the power that I had within me. I was taught (yes, by my teachers) that I was different and undeserving of support if I couldn’t be outside with the rest of the class.

This message stuck with me for a long time. Eventually, after years of feeling like it was completely natural that I was sedentary and that I didn’t really need to do anything differently, I found yoga. My view on movement changed a bit, because I found a space on my mat that was not just about exercise, it was about spirituality. My eyes also began to open to the importance of regular movement beyond yoga, especially as I was preparing my body for pregnancy, but I just couldn’t make it happen.

I think I was still holding onto this belief that I wasn’t an athletic person and that there was no point in trying. That all changed the other day when I stretched myself way out of my comfort zone. Remember how I have talked about how that’s the place where the magic happens? Well, in 45 minutes, I deconstructed this limiting belief and shut the old patterns down. Yes, in 45 short and sweaty minutes, everything changed.

photo by Justin N Thompson

photo by Justin N Thompson

I surprised myself quite a bit when I walked into Focus Fitness at 9:30 on a Sunday morning and signed in for a class unlike any I’d taken before – a class that combines spinning and yoga. I think the idea of the yoga part settled some of my nerves, but I wondered what in the world I was doing there, mostly-sedentary-little-me, getting ready to walk into a room full of strangers and hop on a stationary bike for 45 minutes.

I was lovingly welcomed into the group with full support. Someone even lent me a pair of sneakers (because I didn’t even think to bring those, see, my head really was on the yoga part!).

Here are some of the thoughts that ran through my head:

What the hell am I doing here?

There’s no way I’ll make it through this class!

Am I doing this right?

Oh my god this is HARD!

Okay, I’m pushing myself, I can DO this!

Wait, did I really just do 15 miles in 45 minutes?

I don’t know if I liked this.

I have to come back and do this again.

I AM capable of this!

I gave myself a gift the other day that went well beyond an intense cardio workout. I taught myself that for all of these years I’d been living a lie, and I don’t need to live that lie anymore. I do like how it feels when I move my body like this, and I am more than capable of it, I can rock it!

I limited myself by continuing to tell the story that I didn’t need a lot of movement in my life and that I wasn’t good at it and wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.

I kept living out that same pattern again and again – the one that told me I wasn’t like everyone else, that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t capable of this.

I’ve learned the importance of stretching myself beyond my comfort zone a lot in the last few years, and especially in the last few months as I’ve put together the Creating Fertile Ground Virtual Conference.  It wasn’t until this spinning class that I saw so clearly how quickly we can release our limiting beliefs once we recognize what they are and push ourselves to taking action to boldly step away from them and in the direction of growth.

So what’s holding you back?

What beliefs have been so deeply part of how you view yourself that it’s hard to imagine they’re simply not true?

And what can do to stretch yourself so immensely out of your comfort zone that you give yourself no choice but to release these old beliefs and make space for your Truth?

This is safe and sacred space, so please share here on over on the Facebook page.

Peace, Love, and Wellness,

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Healthy Homemade Granola

I got a craving for granola and yogurt. I had just gotten some organic, whole fat Greek style yogurt at MOM’S Market so I was halfway there already. I had made a huge batch of trail mix for a recent road trip, so I didn’t even need to gather the nuts and seeds. Within 20 minutes, my post-yoga snack for the next day was ready and waiting. And a bonus, I’ve got granola for a week! This is a great example how a little bit of prep can make healthy eating for the week happen with ease.

granola for the week