prenatalyoga

Be Free

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“Today I release you from all false contracts - quiet little ways in which I hold you hostage to my own needs and fantasies - whether or not they concur with your own. What am I doing trying to recreate you in my image of who and what I think you should be? You have a right to your own particular variety of fulfillment and joy.”
~Tian Dayton, Journey Through Womanhood

Yoga is a conversation with body, mind, and spirit. Listen carefully and equally to the agreements, gaps in reasoning, silent pauses, and outright disagreements in this conversation. Let assumptions and questions ignite a passion to research and explore while remaining open to a new path that may unexpectedly appear.

Simultaneous separation & embodiment

Yoga has become my discipline of choice along this path of life. It has been an avenue of exploration and creative expression. Yoga is a practice of embodiment that has shown me how to be very present to the shifts of body, mind, and spirit.

Having two children has changed my body and life. In terms of life, one of the key shifts has been a change in engagement with community. Though a majority of yoga practitioners are women, yoga studios do not offer childcare. To be honest, babysitters make more watching my kids than I do teaching my classes. A majority of teacher training programs do not inform teachers how to address pregnant and postpartum bodies. As a result, I have developed a home practice and relatively small teaching schedule. I have felt very separated, at times, from our local yoga community where I once felt so immersed and connected.

What has happened, in this simultaneous separation from community and increased personal embodiment, is a peeling away of what does not serve. It has shown external attachments masked in spiritual-looking accoutrements. It has been a painful and relieving process of satya (truth and integrity). I have realized my devotion to the craft of teaching. I have become deeply inspired by developing a practice that, rooted in tradition, continues to branch and flower thanks to the fertile ground of modern science, intuition, experience, poetry, and all the amazing information we have access to in this modern era.

Yoga as a guide

Yoga is a key part of an overall wellness plan, a guide on the path to simply being well. An example from my experience: I have hip pain and have never had much external rotation. If I were to put myself in lotus pose on the regular, I would likely need a new left hip. This does not mean I have deep emotional problems (you know, because some guruji once said “Hips are where we hold emotions”) and it does not mean I need more pigeon pose or need to push my body to what someone has diagrammed as what a pose should look like. No, it means that my path to wellness includes physical therapy, strength training, and help from body rolling. It means sitting on a cushions in sukhasana instead of lotus. Following this path to wellness gives me the opportunity to pick up experience, insights, and knowledge from other branches of physical engagement and weave them into the classes I craft. (Yoga with Balls, Balls Out Yoga….I’m sure I’m onto something that could be really trendy here.)

Permission to be free

I share my personal experience here to give you permission to be curious and explore. Be free to find freedom. Do not be tethered by the dogma of a teacher or tradition. Do not feel limited by the number of “followers” you have on social media or how many people you know at the studio. If you feel limited by ability, community, or opportunity, know that each and every one of us has a little patch of creative space. Maybe it is five minutes, maybe it is five hours. Maybe it is in a studio, maybe it is in your imagination for now. Just know that you do have creative space and in your space, “you have a right to your own particular variety of fulfillment and joy.”


P.S. Are you following the conversation on the Yogaland podcast? There is an incredibly honest, informed conversation going on about how yoga can evolve from an ancient practice to a modern practice. I am deeply grateful for Andrea Ferretti’s work - we need these conversations in the yoga community. If you’re not listening, get on over to iTunes and jump in the conversation.

Launch

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This launch is quiet. No big splash. Maybe a rebrand and launch is supposed to be a big splash, but I've never been a big splash kind of person. 

I finally decided it was time to get clear. Stop forcing and trying too hard. Actually say out loud what I want to offer. It was time to get pictures of my kids off the public internet.

In business terms, it was time to rebrand.

In launch terms, the launch of this little website is less like breaking a champagne bottle on the helm of a big boat and more like taking my small kayak to the river. I need help getting my boat on and off the car to get to the river. It always seems like a straight shot from the parking lot to the river, but it is a long walk for me. On the way to the water, I often drop the boat, bang myself in the shins, narrowly avoid poison oak, get a scrape or two from shrubs, and work up a sweat awkwardly carrying my vessel to the water. I drag the boat on the shore, let my feet get wet, climb in and give my boat a big push or wiggle to eventually glide into the water. Throughout the journey, my hands will blister and callous, my arms will get tired, I might narrowly avoid a snag in the river, and I will experience an overall great sense of peace that comes from being on the river as my own navigator. On the water, I will find myself constantly working with the current, my intuition, my skills, and the boat’s tools - even when I am enjoying conversation and something to drink.

Yes, this launch metaphor best describes the launch of Be Well Yogini. Nothing fancy, no big party, just plenty of quiet effort to get in the flow. It is just me simply putting myself out into the current.

I spent the past year in a bit of a mama cave in a deep creative contraction. I stopped going to studio classes, cultivated a home practice, integrated more functional movement in my daily life, focused on building my daughters’ sisterhood, and rested whenever I could. I turned forty. I re-evaluated everything in relation to my primary responsibilities of householding and caretaking - my relationship with yoga, writing, career, the yoga community, and social media.

This little website launch is me sticking a toe out of the cave, tentatively taking a step forward into the outside world.

I keep coming back to yoga. I believe yoga is part of a deep web of practices that can help us engage with the world from a space of compassion and grace, especially on those days we want to crawl into the cave. This does not mean that we are always happy or permissive, it means that we show up with fierce, honest love. By teaching yoga over the past several years, I have found a great opportunity and privilege to both explore these practices and teachings in my personal life and share this exploration with others - all of us, together, on a path to just be our very best selves, to be good human beings.

I believe now is a time (more than ever in my lifetime) when we must support one another and reach deep inside ourselves to find fierce love. In class together, we have mourned and celebrated as a community over and over and over again. We have made beautiful human connections and made real change - like that time we raised $500 for the ACLU and again raised another $500 for the International Rescue Committee. Teaching yoga focused on women's health has been just the beginning of an incredible opportunity to share empowering, healing practices for women in our community. Together, in all these yoga events and gathering, we explore and fall in love with our divine humanity. That is why I keep showing up and do what I do. I am ever so grateful. 

Thank you for joining me here, at this new turn in the road. Let’s get together some time.

Keep it Simple

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Simple.
So simple.

Sitting simply is time to notice how I make the simple so hard. In the simplicity of sitting, I feel the push/pull of strength and softness in body, mind, and spirit. I notice a cycling song that goes something like, “I can't go on I will go on I can't go on I will go on,” and begin to change the lyrics. In the simplicity and space of sitting, I make time to witness the stories I tell myself and begin to shift the narrative.

There is almost always that beautiful moment of, "hey, I can put my arms down if I want to, but I won't. I think there is something here I need to hear." 

We do this often in prenatal yoga. Holding space for this simple shape is just as challenging and rewarding as it is on the student side.

One day, a few months into her practice, a mama who had been new to yoga and seeking relaxation on recommendation from her doctor allowed herself to fully embody her Feminine with a capital F in class. Eyes closed, fully in her moment, she swirled her hips and moved so intuitively. It was witnessing Freedom with a capital F. It was simply beautiful.

Women who give birth do not just give birth to children, we birth ourselves into motherhood and our birth partners into parenthood.

It  is complex.
It is disorienting. 
Yoga and meditation can help.

When life is complex and disorienting, we need something simple to help us come back home to ourselves. In those times, we can find our way to an easy seat with our eyes closed, put our arms up in the air, and simply connect.

The yoga. It works.