Here we are...Just finished teaching Saturday morning zoom class. It's a new experience for me and I'm learning as I go along. I don't really know what will happen from moment to moment beyond the fact that I am teaching and hope the students are engaging. More times than I wish students devices lose sound (like this morning we got an alert that kicked some students out of the class:) bummer guys! The past few weeks I have been trying to keep it all going smoothly and riding the roller coaster of how I could create a good experience for everyone. Of course I want that and in the process I have realized that I only have so much control over what happens. Whether it's in a zoom class or in life in general I know that I feel more centered and grounded when I allow the things that I don't have control over to just be. Wanting to make sure everyone is ok has been a recurring theme for me in life. It started at a young age just wanting the members of my family to get along and be happy. If I could make sure everyone was ok then I would be ok. It was a way that I could create a sense of safety and a more stable environment for myself. Probably a normal reaction for a little kid. As an adult I have realized that security doesn't come from controlling or holding onto things. When I am continuously working to control a situation or hold onto an idea or a personal possession I am pulled away from the one thing that gives me all that I need, my center. This separation from my center creates fragmentation within my being. I lose sight of why I am really here and what it is that I need to be doing. The indecision that comes from self doubt puts me in a constant state of instability. When I step back from my holding I can see that the emotional charge I get from this false sense of security or happiness only lasts a short time and then the roller coaster takes off again. I have experienced one actual roller coaster (not metaphorically) in my life. It was in my 20's and I made it through the ride by screaming my head off. It was exhausting and it was then that I knew this ride was not for me. I haven't been on one since. Feeling lost or scared is only eased when we finally do find our way back home. The aim of yoga is to find home. We hold onto that which is not ours to hold because we are afraid. Fear is a powerful human emotion that only leads us farther into the wilderness. It originates from grabbing hold of a thought or belief that we are alone and as long as we choose to hold on to that thought we stay on the roller coaster and we are in for a ride. The foundation of yoga is made up of eight limbs. The first four are yama's (restraints of a spiritual life), niyamas (practices we are to observe and cultivate), asana (pose) and pranayama (breath). Aparigraha is the fifth of the five yamas and it means non-attachment or letting go. If holding onto things seems to bring us happiness then this yama might imply that we are not meant to enjoy or experience life. In truth it means to recognize the fears that are at the root of our holding and let them go. We will most likely find more enjoyment out of life when we do let go. I read a quote this morning by General Barry McCaffry "Do not take counsel of your fears." We may acknowledge our fears, offer our deep love and compassion to that part of our being and then let the fear go. In the process we come back to our breath, to the place of presence and peace - our center, and it is from this place that we can take purposeful action. Life is teaching me that a good path is available to each one of us. Inspired by Meditations on the Mat - If we were to write down everything we want in life, let's say a few years from now, and if we were to focus on our spiritual practice, I think we would find in a few years that we would have sold ourselves short, because truthfully, what the Universe - God - Divine has instore for us is far more beautiful than what we can imagine for ourselves.
"Fear is the cheapest room in the house, I'd like to see you in better living conditions” ~ Anonymous.
Below is the LINK for this morning's zoom class (the full recording). Enjoy! If you would like to do some work with me around finding your center through yoga and breath please reach out to me. I am offering a sliding scale from $55 - $85 for a 1 hr. 15 min. session. You pay what you can afford. I would love to meet with you in a private session or small group via zoom, google hangout, facetime or any other virtual platform that you prefer.
"If we know anything about a path at all, it's only because of the Great ones that have gone before us. Out of their love and kindness, they have left some footprints for us to follow. So, in the same way that they wish for us, we wish that all beings everywhere, including ourselves, to be safe, be happy, have good health, and enough to eat. And may we all live at ease of heart with whatever comes to us in life." ~Krishna Das
Saturday Morning Yoga on Zoom
A peacock crossed my path the other day -so amazing these birds. When an animal crosses my path I see it as a sign or message and so I like to look up the symbolism to see what message is being sent. When I looked up the peacock it seemed fitting for our current situation and so I’m sharing this with you.
The peacock spirit animal is the epitome of beauty. This graceful power animal offers lessons about self-love, honor, integrity and the importance of facing life’s challenges as well as the unknown with courage and confidence. When the peacock struts gracefully into your life you may be entering a time of rebirth. You possess a firm connection between the past and present and recognize its effect on the future. You readily see the importance of integrity and honor. Confident in all you do, you also recognize the need for light-heartedness and laughter. Maintaining a delicate balance of confidence and humility is the key.
Balance is obtained by having a strong foundation. Those studying the mysticism of the peacock should pay attention to the feet. The feet are our foundation and support system. Peacocks have sharp, powerful metatarsal spurs also known as ‘kicking thorns’. They use these to defend themselves against predators. Their legs are strong and they have three strong toes facing forward and one facing backwards. What message about balance and having a strong foundation is the peacock bringing to you? Historically, some traditions equate the peacock spirit animal to the Phoenix, a mythical bird that is said to have risen from funeral pyre ash and to be reborn. Why the comparison? Like the Phoenix, the peacock exudes confidence and offers encouragement to shed the old to make way for the new. Embracing your inner truth and allowing your true colors to show can be a point of inspiration and comfort for those around you. Lead by example. If you talk the talk, be sure you walk the walk. It is the peacock’s consistent grace and confidence that attracts attention and admiration.
The iridescent blue green color of the peacock’s feathers has often been associated with royalty and the traits of self-confidence and leadership. The distinctive pattern of “eyes” on the feathers is associated with vision and wisdom. What message is the peacock bringing to you?
I had a fun time yesterday mountain biking with the Sunday Sinners! I feel so strong on my bike this summer. Honestly, I haven't felt this strong in a long time, my BF ( best friend ) Gary says 10 years and I think he's right. I feel more in my body and more like myself than I ever have. It's awesome! I have done some serious work on myself this past year. Diving in to look at some old patterns and deep wounding and really allowing myself to go there and do the work to heal. I have lightened my load emotionally and I really feel it in my physical body and in my attitude. My creative energy is amazing and I am loving life. This really isn't an ad for yoga but yoga is it for me. My practice, my teacher's and my studio are all an amazing gift in my life. Yoga really helps me to connect to myself and to what is real. I had the opportunity to sit by Rifle Gap and enjoy my meditation practice numerous times this past week. As I was driving home I noticed this rather amazing shift in my perspective, everything appeared to be more clear. The colors were brighter, the shapes more defined like my internal lens had been cleaned and I was now seeing through new clear lenses. This is the beauty of the practice. As I sit I watch my breath I hear my mantra in the back ground and I just watch and allow my thoughts to move through. It seems simple. It is. Not necessarily easy though and so an amazing tool for processing and digesting life. The results are clear seeing. Last month in our Women's Healing Circle Erin was sharing how what we say isn't necessarily true. What we say is a manifestation of our thoughts and emotions and generally we tend to believe that all of this is true. We tend to see through our own set of lenses that have been clouded over by our past experiences, beliefs, judgments etc. If all of this isn't true then what is? Exactly! What is is true. This moment is happening and it is beautiful. Even when it doesn't feel beautiful it is, even when it hurts, even when we hate it - beautiful. Ram Das, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, teaches us to love everything. When you have a dark thought, the kind that doesn't serve you in any way, love that thought. When you have pain, could be physical or emotional, love that pain. Love it all because as Rumi says in The Guest House - it has been sent from beyond.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I recently had the opportunity for a mini camping retreat with Beth (our VW van). A lovely friend shared a quiet spot by a little lake and gave me the opportunity to enjoy a little bit of sunshine, fresh air and friendship. We took some time to sit by the lake in the morning and practice our mindfulness/meditation practice amidst the birds and the breeze, it was quit wonderful really. I've noticed that this concept, mindfulness, is quite popular these days. I see magazine and newspaper articles, there are a ton of books on mindfulness, I personally like to use mindfulness as a tool when I am teaching a yoga class. To simplify it mindfulness is simply giving mindful attention to life. This practice of mindfulness or meditation is a part of my day that I really look forward to and cherish. However it didn't start this way. I remember the first time I attempted to meditate, my teacher back then (15 years ago) instructed me to start small. So, I set a timer for 3 minutes figuring this will be a piece of cake. It was the longest 3 minutes of my life and in that 3 minutes I learned that my mind never stopped thinking. It was like a crowded room of voices all trying to talk over each other. This experience inspired me to commit to a meditation practice.
When you begin a meditation practice it may seem like not much is happening at first. In fact it may feel the opposite. Besides the lists of things to do, the he said she said stories, negative thoughts or patterns show up like judgment, anger and fear. At first you may not even notice that something starts to happen. What does happen is that you begin making space to be with what is rather than with the past or future plans. As the great teacher Ram Das puts it, this allows us to see more of the mystery of life itself. This is a place where we can step into another dimension and remember who we really \ are. Beyond the small sense of self to the vastness of the greater Self is in deed liberating. In this we discover our true nature. We become the consciousness rather than our experiences and this gives us the opportunity to rest in the timeless. Instead of focusing on the changing conditions we turn our attention to the One who knows and we rest in awareness itself.
I am excited about where my meditation practice is taking me. There are times now when I am going about life that I find myself able to just watch my thoughts. It is truly a gift in these moments to not be so caught up in my thoughts. I can actually see that I am not them and I get a glimpse of something that actually feels like freedom. I find myself in this place of wonder, realizing that all of this time I have been believing what my thoughts were telling me and suddenly it's like someone turned on the light and I can see. So, loving my practice, a sense of presence, even touching on enlightenment and bliss at times there are still days when I have resistance. I wish it weren't so but I am human and I am required but inspired to tap into my resolve every day and sit.
A lovely poem by Rumi ~ You have been walking the ocean's edge, holding up your robes to keep them dry. You must dive deeper under, A thousand times deeper.
I have heard that there are approximately 3000 pages and 1000 studies out there on meditation, here are just a few of the facts: meditation creates more balance in your life and lessens stress, can help you to be more pliable and less reactive, more mental clarity, attention & focus, academic performance goes up, improved emotional regulation, stronger resiliency, more access to compassion, improved ability to resolve conflicts, improved immune function, Nero protection, more rapid healing, increased integration of different dimensions of our capacities and executive functions.
I am so thankful for you. For the way that you smile and love life. You have a way of being that is unique and so beautiful. This way allows the light to shine through and encourages with unconditional love. Maybe you feel different about yourself than how I see you. Maybe you feel wrong or out of place in some way. You question your actions and words and even your truths. It's ok, your still getting to know yourself. You're so concerned with everyone else's opinion that you have forgotten mine. And then of course there's your own opinion which includes all the "stuff" that gets in the way of you truly shining. You look to others to be your strength and to give you stability. What if you could do that for yourself. You've learned to protect because at some point you had to. The armoring that you've created makes you feel safe when in reality it only serves to help you become those things that you are afraid of. Perhaps you can feel how that fear separates you from God, from life itself. At times you may find yourself so self absorbed in "this is me" that you cannot find the love that you so desperately seek. And seeking you are my love. Maybe it's time to ask your self “Is what I’m seeing really true?” Perhaps now is the time to dive deeper. Deeper still... into the space underneath the noise, underneath the many voices inside and outside telling you who you are. Go to the gem that sits in the deepest part, She is the One that holds the wisdom you seek. You’ll find her in the space between, in between where you and life have become separate. Your desire to know her is great. It is your desire to know who you really are. To know this mighty, exceptional and extraordinary being within you. This is a new perspective for you and here you will find that all things are possible. Everything that you need exists in this place and when you are here you are connected to everything. Here you can find an answer to every perceived problem and the world becomes new. You find that your most important work for each day is just to meet the world with kindness and love. So, stay your course my dear one and know that you are not alone. Make those decisions that may not be easy but are healthy. The ones that may not always be pleasant but they are helpful. Cut through all that noise - the answers are here. Here is where I am waiting for you.
Om Tat Sat - Supreme Absolute Truth
These days of fall have me diving deeper into the science of Ayurveda, pronounced A yur ve da.
In this ancient sister science of yoga there are three Dosha's or elements; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Dosha is often translated as your physical constitution or body type and is represented by the elements earth, water, fire, air and spaciousness. In Sanskrit (ancient language of India), dosha is defined as "that which contaminates" or disease causing agents in the body. In other words an imbalance of vata, pitta, or kappa dosha will cause disease in your body and when there is balance between these three dosha's health exists. As well as the dosha's in relationship to your body there are dosha's in the seasons. Autumn is Vata Dosha and is represented by air and space. Perhaps you've notices lately how spacious the views are now that the leaves have blown off of the trees. Pitta Dosha season is summer and is represented by fire and water, often referred to as transformational qualities. The Kapha Dosha which represents the earth and water is the densest of the three elements and shows up in winter and early spring. With Vata season upon us the weather is turning cooler and dryer and this can upset your Vata Dosha regardless of your constitution. So here are some simple Ayurvedic tips for staying grounded and healthy as we move into winter:
Click on the link below to discover your Ayurvedic body type.
Transforming darkness to nectar
Yoga is one of the six fundamental paths in India called Darsana, which translates “to see” or “sight”, “view”, “point of view”, or even “a certain way of seeing”. One way to understand this, described by D.K.V. Desikachar in his book The Heart of Yoga, is to see a mirror that you use to look inside yourself. Like this, yoga gives us a way of seeing, that allows us the opportunity to better recognize ourselves. We naturally will look deeper inside ourselves as we progress down the path of yoga. Sounds kind of…scary. Who wants to look deeper inside, that’s where we hide all of our “pain” right? Fears, anxiety, anger, hatred, jealousy, insecurity, and…should I continue? But what about happiness, and joy, and experiencing your heart and the stillness that lies there? Mark Nepo asks in Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, “Can you softened your pain till it forms a nectar in your heart? Have you eaten of this nectar? Can you search for the pain softened in others and eat of their nectar? ” Here in Colorado we get to enjoy those incredibly juicy peaches from palisade, can’t you just taste the luscious nectar inside? The famous composer Beethoven, lost his hearing at a relatively young age. He was in deep despair over the progression of his hearing loss and how it was effecting his gift of music. On October 6, 1802, he writes a letter to his brothers confessing to them his deep despair and loss of interest in continuing on this journey of life, and that he was actually considering suiside. In a way this letter was both a surrender to and acceptance of his gift and his loss. He never sent the letter and resolved to live finding the nectar in his pain, and bringing that nectar through his incredible gift of music. The letter was found shortly after his death in March of 1827. This kind of work requires going into the fire in a sense. But how? “It is said that the souls intent on living will reach deep into their wound and bring out the fire living there, which out in the open turns to light. It is said that those intent on making things better will reach deep into their minds and bring out the fire there, which out in the open turns to truth. It is said that those who love like rain soothe every fire” (again ~ Mark Nepo). Through your practice of yoga you courageously reach into the fire. As you surrender to each breath, you stand in front of the mirror that allows you to see inside yourself. This process done again and again softens the pain and transforms it to nectar. I hope your mouth is watering at the thought. Won’t you take that first step? It’s so juicy…
Om Shanti - Peace
Happy New Year,
For as long as I can remember I have loved hearts, they are the one thing that I collect. I have a kind of rule that wherever I am, if I find a heart it is a sign that I am exactly where I am meant to be in that moment. I love this game and I believe that the heart is my Dharma (life's purpose). I long to know true love and see all beings as one. I don't know if I would consider myself to be a religious person but I do have a deep respect for the different traditions that follow the heart. Dearest to my heart is Christ, who to me represents a heart that is awakened to a kind of love where all are welcomed and not judged. In my home I have a picture of Christ hanging on the wall where we have our Christmas tree placed this year. I didn't conscously plan for Jesus to be above the tree but it's kind of cool that it turned out that way. Anyway, in the center of Christ's chest is a vibrant red heart that is radiating with a powerful heart energy. When I look at this picture I feel the power behind the heart of Christ, the Dynamic, Spiritual Heart. In Sanskrit this is called Hridaya , hrid - center, ayam - this. This center in the human body is the seat of Pure Consciousness, realized as Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. On the path of yoga this is really what we call the seat of God in us, the Self or our soul.
The word yoga simply means union and the ultimate goal of yoga practice is a re-union with the Self (soul). Yoga is a tool we've been given to help awaken the memory within us of who we really are. To remind us of how wonderful we are, how good we are, and how worthy of whatever we are longing for we are. It is my deepest hope that together we can discover a deeper meaning of the Self in this coming year and dwell more fully in the cave of the Heart.
Here is a great informative article on coffee from joyful belly.
From self-consciousness to self-awareness.
Yoga and self-awareness go hand in hand. In fact you might say that yoga’s purpose is to bring you into a greater sense of self awareness or self knowledge. Sometimes self-awareness and self-consciousness are used synonymously in fact this very subject has been coming up for me lately. Self-awareness is the ability to look inside and to recognize oneself as an individual being that is separate from the environment around you and other individuals. When feeling self-conscious we become preoccupied with the smallest details of our actions and how others might be perceiving them. With thoughts like “is everyone looking at me” and “what are they thinking” we might be coming from a place of low self-esteem or embarrassment of who we are rather than self-awareness. When we are in a state of self-awareness we are noticing details but in a much different way. Have ever been in an accident and experienced everything happening in slow motion? This is a heightened state of awareness. With practice we can learn this heightened state and find the space to actually interpret our thoughts and emotions rather than falling into the pattern of self-consciousness.
From the ancient tradition of yoga we learn that to truly be in a state of self-awareness we must learn to quiet the mind. The breath has been used universally as a link for developing self-awareness. In fact the beauty of unifying breath and movement, or life, is Yoga. For thousands of years the word yoga has been emphasized as union, oneness, and love. When we step into a this type of awareness we move outside of our thoughts and notice a different perspective. We may begin to notice our personality, our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, values, motivation, emotions in any given moment. We learn to notice where our thoughts and emotions are taking us without judgment. This gives us the opportunity to change the thoughts and interpretations of our mind. When we change the interpretations of our mind we can begin to change our emotions. Now we decide how we will behave and respond, we choose our actions. With this type of awareness we are victorious.
Ujjayi pranayama (pronounced oo-jai), is an ancient yogic breathing technique that helps calm the mind and body. Commonly translated as “victorious breath,” Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. Air enters the lungs and the belly expands during this type of breathing rather than the chest.
Experience it here… (You can practice this as you read or have someone slowly read you the following text aloud and put in a break after each section.):
Each of us is already infinitely wondrous--
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(Divine if you prefer)
Our wondrous nature is the same as the infinite wonder of the universe.
We experience this infinite wonder by waking up to reality.
~ Quote from Gita in a nutshell #4
My spiritual name is Sivakami, which means... one who desires transformation and one who transforms desires. I live in Rifle, Colorado where I teach yoga, create art and love life. I would love to hear your comments.