Let it go, to let it in

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I had the chance to go play with (aka ‘assist’) Ana and Jose last month.  Something that Ana said during one of our morning practices has been sitting with me and just over month later, it’s resonating and I feel it.

During our pre-class practice, Ana called me out on my lion’s breaths.  She said that I was moving things away from me effectively, but it was the uptick that I wasn’t doing enough. She told me to lion’s breath again, but that time, feel for my inhale.  Holy. Shit.

I’m really good at seeing what doesn’t serve me and working to eliminate it from my habits, my practice, my life.  But where I’ve been failing has been in how do I replace it?  The inhale, after a really big exhale, is even more important.  Can I bring in sweetness/kindness/hope/strength – the opposite of what I’ve just expelled?

I’ve been playing with this an intent in my practice and in my teaching the past few days.  My practice has already begun to evolve from a “race to get there” to more allowing the pose magick to happen.  I think that there are so many layers under letting in and I’m excited to continue feeling for what they reveal.  Where else in my life can I feel for what I bring in and work to bring in Beauty.

Take a good look at me now.

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I heard the Phil Collins song “Against all odds” randomly play on my phone this week.  That line – take a good look at me now – resonates with me so strongly.

Five years ago today, I scattered Mike’s ashes.  In a place known only to me, the vicinity known to a few others, I said good bye. His death – and more importantly my reaction to it – initiated every step on my path since then.  Yoga saved me – more specifically Forrest Yoga saved me.  Not many know how dark I went after Mike’s death.  But I went there.  I tried to numb out.  I tried to hide.  But here I am.

Take a look at me now.  I’m different.  I’m stronger.  I like to think I’m wiser.  I’ve stepped into being the dragon that the universe saw me being when I was born.

Take a look at me now.  I’m learning my worth doesn’t come from external forces but it’s something I carry within myself.

Take a look at me now.  My light, and the light I share with those of my choosing, is mine.  End of statement.

Take a good look at me now.  This is my life.  My path.  My magick.  I’m beginning to be more and more unapologetically me.  And that, to me, has so much power.  I’m mending the hoop of my own healing now.  When I work from a place of fulfillment, my students/teachers/friends/family feel it.

Truth Speak – 02/03/17

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I’m pretty sure we all suffer from them.  And when they hit us, we feel blindsided.  They are our nemesis thoughts.  The asshole critic that lives in our own head.  That never shuts up.  My critic, my nemesis thoughts, get more aggressive, more ugly, more hateful when I ignore them.  They spiral out of control.  They break my spirit.  Dim my light.  I’m sick of them.

Today on my mat, in a practice that I thought would feel good in my body and wouldn’t bring up much of anything, a few of these thoughts came up.  I felt them hit my body full force.  I stopped my practice.  I wasted some time by drinking some tea.  I almost gave up.

But I didn’t.  In a very brief moment, the voice of Ana Forrest snuck in.  She saw me.  And she reminded me that I learned a long time ago that those thoughts are lies.  To jump on a popular hashtag, they are #alternativefacts.

In Forrest Yoga, we teach to an apex pose – it’s the pose in the sequence that we warm the body up for, work on opening and creating space for, and is the “most advanced” pose of class.  My apex today was staying on my mat.  That one brief respite when Ana very much spoke the exact opposite of my nemesis gave me the courage to say those words for myself.  I cried.  And I tried to not cry.  But I cried more.

My apex today was showing up for myself.  Because I’m worth it.  Because my students are worth it.  My teacher is worth it.  My friends/family are worth.  I will continue to show up.  I will have my moments where my nemesis thought is loud, abrasive, ugly.  But someone, in that moment, will sneak into my mind and remind me – the toughest work is often done with another.  And I am not alone.

***I film practices to take pictures from often; I take pictures throughout practice.  This picture is that moment when the thought landed.  When I thought I wasn’t worth ….

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February, 2017

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Welcome to February.  My monthly intentions are still circling, they haven’t landed, but I definitely have some things I want to work with this month.  I’ve also added to my initial intention setting question.  While I feel for “who do I want to be on the last day of the month,” I’ve added a few additional phrases to help me shape my path – How do I become my biggest, my brightest, my best self?

With all of that, the word “healing” is pulling me in.  Healing.  For myself.  My students.  My community.  It can be a scary path – this whole stepping into and out for healing.  But in my core, in my cell tissue, I think we’re all worth it.  I’m a work in progress; so are these intentions.  Feel free to play along, to share your own.  Ask yourself that question.  Biggest.  Brightest.  Best self.

As a yoga teacher and healer, I commit to holding space.  For everyone.  Time on the mat is time to connect more deeply, more authentically with self.  I will honor this for every class, every student.  I will see you and I will not look away.  I want you to see me too.  We are same – human.  And there is much healing to be had from that alone.

I will see myself in all of my brightness, my scars, my hopes, my dark.  I am worth it.  So are you.  How can we honestly say we have come so far if we still refuse to see who we are? We cannot nor should we deny what we’ve come through.  But we should own up – take some pride even – in what we’ve accomplished.

I will act with kindness as my guide.  I will feel more.  And let others know how deeply I feel.  I will stand with everyone energetically – even if I cannot physically.  We stand together, or we pull ourselves apart.  I choose to stand.

I’m feeling pulled to be quiet – observing by seeing, hearing, feeling more.  I don’t know what that really means.  But for me, it’s a time to reflect on how I can give back, how can I be of service.  How can my healing story help yours.  And yours help mine.

We are same.  Human.

 

Breathe into your …

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I taught a class this morning.  And I did what I thought at the time was a Freudian slip…as the class was in pigeon, I used the cue “Inhale into the suffering.”  I quickly tried to correct to softening but the class wasn’t convinced.  We had a laugh, moved on with class, and it sat with me.

Because we’ve been taught that we should just pull the boots up and deal with our suffering.  That we should put blinders on and not see the pain.  Because we take (insert drug/drink legal or not here) in efforts to try and smooth the edges.  Why?

Because for what ever reason, we’ve been taught by the powers that be that only positive emotions are to be felt and are to be shared.  Have you ever had a shitty day, downloaded on a close friend/family member, and had the words “get over it” uttered your direction?  We don’t want to see or commiserate with another person’s rough spots.

That though is when we need to be seen and heard the most.  When we are the most vulnerable, we need others.  When we show empathy, we heal a part of ourselves that has been broken.  When we stand together, we realize that we won’t fall apart.

Why I (still) teach, 01/24/17

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I’ve had this as a blog post before, but as I said then – I think it’s important for teachers to revisit.  If you’re a teacher reading this blog, your turn.

I teach yoga because I’m still in love with the power of yoga to change lives.  I see it happen every fucking day.  I feel it happen every day in my own life.  There’s the obvious power on the mat, when we suddenly realize our own ability and take strides toward a pose that had previously intimidated.  I have moments off the mat when I’m reminded my breath, my strength, my power, and my worth all start with “my.”

I teach because I’m a student.  I want to learn.  From my teachers.  From my students.  From my friends.  I take every interaction in and process it because I’ve got a hunch – and pretty much always right – that there’s a nugget of wisdom in there.  And I want that wisdom.

But most importantly, I teach for my students.  They are the absolute ultimate reason I get up in the front of the room  Their commitment to being the best versions of themselves on the mat is inspiring; it’s humbling; it challenges me to be better.  Not because I want it.  But because they deserve it.

I got a gift of journals from a student.  As a “bad yogi,” I literally waited until today to open.  Not realizing there was a card inside.  I told you, bad yogi.  Quite frankly, her (BB) card to me reminded me why I teach – connection.  I see her weekly.  More than once most weeks.  And every time I am interested in her life; she (I hope) is interested in mine.  But we see each other.  We don’t look away.  And we support each other for what may lie ahead.

I teach yoga.  It’s my passion.  It’s my calling.  The universe has made it clear my direction.  I teach yoga because every day I want to become a better version of myself.  And I need someone to hold my hand so I won’t drift away.

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Truth Speak — January 16, 2017

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Five Years.

His death put me on this path.  His death changed me in ways I never thought could happen.  I went really dark the first few months after.  And in all honesty, some of that darkness remains.  A friend of mine, also my so incredible tarot reader, told me once that we who have the brightest lights are often the ones that come through the darkest dark.

I’m beginning to forget how he said my name.

Guilt.  I couldn’t save him.  Suicide is funny like that.  It leaves the survivors wondering what we could have done differently.  We question the last conversations, those precious last moments.  I’ve broken apart our interactions the final weekend for clues.  As a healer, I failed in healing.  One conversation repeatedly stands out.  He said something.  I felt something.  I called him on it, he laughed.  I shook it off.  Guilt.

This isn’t about him.

This is about me.  He chose to take himself out.  I hate being that blunt about it but he did.  And he didn’t care in that moment to think of someone else.  Anyone else.  Part of my healing has been to call him an asshole daily.  It’s a piece of homework given by my teacher that I do.  And now, more than a year after she gave it, I believe it most days.  There is more healing for me to do.

Starting fresh.

I’m lucky.  At some point, I realized I wanted to thrive.  Not just to live.  I don’t know what or how the catalyst kicked in, but it happened with the pull of Forrest Yoga.  I’m luckier still because the universe – in all its power – and the Sacred Ones – those that have gone before with all of their knowledge – granted me passage.  I don’t know if it was the fire from my dragon that put the spark of survival in me, but it burns brighter.  I’m learning more and more about dragon magick.  And I’m lucky to have another fire creature flying with me – the Phoenix.  New birth.  Fresh starts.  Out of the ashes comes Beauty.

Out of this darkness come the brightest light.

Intentions, 2017

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Well, it happened.  I think more than other recent years, many of us were ready for 2016 to get the fuck out and the words “overstayed its welcome” may be the message history has for the year.  While it’s important to move forward from the year, we need to also set intentions for the year ahead based on what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown.  I look at 2016 as a year of learning, growth, and major successes.  But it was also a year of sadness, loss, and some struggle.  I am not who I’m going to become without allowing each of those categories to have a purpose in my steps forward.  So if you’re struggling with finding an intention, don’t stress it.  Here are some of mine.  Feel free to use if they resonate.  Feel free to modify to resonate more strongly.  But most importantly, feel your way to the best version of yourself.

I teach Forrest Yoga and I take my “mend the hoop of the people” pledge from Ana very seriously.  Yesterday, while I called on the Four Directions for some inspiration, I felt the call to really step into being a healer – for myself and for others – in the year ahead.  I don’t really know exactly what it means just yet but I do have a few hunches.

I will challenge myself daily to connect with my spirit.  But I’ll use the power of connection to also connect more authentically with students, friends, family.  One of my hunches about helping to heal – primarily myself but others as well – begins with connection.  I want to see Beauty and feel gratitude every day.  And more importantly, I want to help others do the same.

I’ll continue my path of yoga.  I don’t have any specific “yoga goals” this year but I do have a general direction about where I want to take my practice.  And where my practice takes me.  I want to get stronger.  I want to stay more present.  I want to have fun while doing those.

How do I become the best version of myself?  That’s a question I ask daily and this year, I want to live it – every moment, every breath.  Feeling my way to the most powerful version of myself.  And the thought I keep having about this – I’m never going to stop growing.  Who’s in?

 

Ceremony

I just got back to DC from a week long yoga and ceremony retreat with Ana Forrest and Jose Calarco.  To say that I’m still processing is an understatement.  There is so much Beauty in ceremony and I’m excited to continue to learn/practice and share with my students.  As I watch the rain come down, I thought I’d share one of many attributes about what ceremony is – it’s connection.

We connect to an intention.  The intention may be something we come to the room with or it may become more evident as we connect more deeply to the greater powers.  While both work well, it’s important to know that if we come in with a specific intention and the Sacred Ones start guiding, it’s time to let them.

Connection to something greater than us.  In Forrest Yoga, we call that the ‘Sacred Ones,’ and they represent the Great Spirit that resides in all of us and those that have gone before.  The ancestors we can connect with go back to the beginning of time – that’s so much power.  Imagine what strength or knowledge they can share with us when we choose to feel and listen to them.

We connect to the Four Directions.  I think the Directions and Sacred Ones are tied together closely but I’m learning that most, if not all, indigenous populations call in the Directions.  Here, the directions may represent elements, animals, colors, traits, etc.  Element wise, East is Fire, South is Water, West is Earth, and North is Air.  These represent how I first learned the Four Directions during my Forrest Yoga training and those resonate with me greatest.  I’ve done some study on my own and have learned that other cultures and peoples have them assigned differently.

We connect to each other in Ceremony.  We as a people are broken.  It’s evident in our interactions, or lack of.  We spend more time looking at phones than seeing a person. We listen primarily as a means to craft our response and don’t actually feel the words.  Ceremony is a way to see, feel, hear another.  And to not turn away.

Intention – December

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The year of 2016 is coming to an end.  It’s been a year with some great moments and great memories.  This past year has offered up highs and lows, but I made it.  With less than 30 days to go, I’m ready for 2017.  But before I sing “so long, farewell” to 2016, there are a few loose ends.

This month’s intention, finally landing and making sense, is to learn who I am, grow into my spirit, and feel my way to where I want to next year.

Who am I?  Seems like a trick question, right??  But I’ve been through so much this year, I think it’s important for me to step back and to remember who I am at the beginning of the day.  I’m a yoga teacher.  A student of Forrest Yoga.  I’m a healer.  I’m a friend.  A brother.  A son.  I’ll always be a dragon but the fire of the phoenix is burning bright in me right now.  New year, new beginnings maybe.  I don’t know.  But I feel like it’s setting me up for something more.

My spirit wants attention – daily.  It’s like a greedy child but in the best possibly ways.  My spirit wants to play, to feel, to be let out and encouraged to fly.  I think the past few months of connecting to my spirit more deeply have set me up for the end of the year.  To actually without pause be with me.  And to enjoy it.

I don’t know what 2017 or the universe have in store.  But I do know a few things….I’m stronger now.  I look at myself more honestly.  I see others.  I feel others.  And I really hope for the best.  With the powers of crow flying around, I have a hunch 2017 will be a year of magick, of laughter, and of discovery.  I can’t wait.  More to come this month (I promise) but I cannot wait to step into the next year, give a quick side eye, and take off.  Who’s with me?