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?

Be my own…

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I’ve been quiet lately, full of introspection, and trying to maintain my sense of peace.  The election was yesterday; we woke today to a new path forward for this country, one that I am unfortunately not surprised by.  I felt it on the wind a few weeks ago and I’ve quietly sat with that information.  I’ve gone through the stages of grief – anger, denial, more anger, confusion, acceptance, and did I mention anger?  The President-elect, in his campaign, has exposed layers of hate and intolerance that I had hoped didn’t exist; while he proved me wrong in their revelation, he won’t keep me down.

My intention this month really took form yesterday.  To “be my own…”  To be my own light; hope; love; kindness; compassion.  And from me becoming that for myself, I can better become that for someone else who needs it.  I think the strongest two of these are hope and kindness.  When we heal as a nation, it’ll be from those two words.

So what can I do?  I had a conversation with my sister tonight (well, two sisters, but I’m only referencing one – sorry JP).  She pointed out how last week, on a really bad day, anger got the better of me and I put energy out to the universe (my translation) that I didn’t need to send.  I’m not proud of that moment.  But I’m striving to correct it.

I hope that the new administration realizes – they serve us all, even those that didn’t vote for them; I hope that my rights to love and to marry are not taken; I hope that women can still choose for themselves; I really hope friends of various ethnicities can begin to feel safer; and I hope that we all begin to see each other, to speak with each other, and to accept each other.

I want to be kind to all – especially those that may not agree with me politically.  I want to be kind to myself – anger will win sometimes (that’s the dragon within) and that’s ok.  As long as I don’t direct my fire and hold space for myself, that will pass; it always does.

Mending the Hoop of the People is serious business.  But I believe in it with every fiber of my being.  I mess up, but I stand back up and fight for what’s right.  I don’t think I’m alone.  Who wants to “be their own…” and join me to #riskchangingourworld?

Intention, October ’16

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It’s time for a new intention.  Well, not that I’m getting rid of the old ones.  That’s the fun thing about working with intents – we can add to them, allow them to evolve, or even re-use the same ones repeatedly.  I’ve been feeling the intention for this month churn inside me for a few weeks now.  With the new moon yesterday, new month today, and rainy weather here today, it feels like the right time to start.

Back story – I’ve been emotionally overwhelmed lately.  News of hate, violence, killings, beatings, etc. is really getting to me.  The level of disrespect is increasing at rates that we may have never felt before.  I’ve noticed my shoulders getting heavier with the weight of all things worldly and I’ve seen the same in bodies of students.  There have been definite moments I’ve wanted to retreat, to hide, to shield, and then to build my fortress.  I did that once.  And I’m still tearing down those walls, so I know that’s not really an option.

This month, I’m working with the word ‘connection.’  Each day, I’m going to go deeper connecting with my own spirit.  Using some lessons from Ana Forrest, I’m going to feed my spirit daily, to delight it, and to feel my own light grow brighter.  And each day, I’m going to connect to the spirit of anyone the universe leads across my path.  I’m going to see people as human.  Not a designer label, not a social class, but an outright human.  And hopefully, whether they feel it or not, their spirit will feel the value my spirit places on them.  And they get to grow brighter too.

While I’m not sure, I feel like actually connecting with myself and with others with true kindness is the beginning lesson we need to change this world.  To heal.  Authentic connection can be the catalyst to change, but as brightly as I know I can shine, I can’t do it alone.  If connecting to your own spirit is new to you, I’m going to give some ideas of how I’ll be connecting.  If you have that but aren’t sure how to connect to others, I’ve got some suggestions.  They’re just suggestions and you’ll figure out what will work for you.  Use this intent, share this intent.  And let’s all shine more.

Connecting to spirit: meditate; dance; sing; yoga; learn something new every day; play a drum; play a flute; play something; laugh; go outside; walk a dog; scratch a cat; feel the earth; look up; read a book; write a journal; write a poem.

Connecting to others: get off the computer; get off Facebook; call; write a letter; meet for coffee; meet for dinner; say hi to a stranger; open a door; say thank you; don’t look away; put phones down; laugh; sing; dance; hug; share a poem; share a song.