Posts

Nobody said being a healer was easy

I’ve been following the coverage of the latest wildfires in California with a heavy heart. If you pay attention to the news, it seems like the whole world is on fire, literally and figuratively. To be alive at this time, especially for those of us who have been called to be healers, is no easy feat. There is just too much to do.

Yet, when I’m doing my work in the world – teaching yoga, training yoga teachers or Shamanic Reiki practitioners, running two yoga studios, or offering one-on-one healing – I feel my connection to that greater purpose. During those times, the discouraging news drops away and I feel “in the flow.”

But being in the flow doesn’t mean the work is easy.

It is okay for healers to be tired. Just don't quit.Every day the healing and transformative work I am drawn to do asks me to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at the top of my game. And that’s just not possible. Like everyone else I get injured, I lose focus, I grieve, and I doubt. I can’t count how many times I was ready to quit during the past year. When I was tired and overwhelmed, I thought of pulling the plug on the whole thing.

What if it’s okay to be tired?

I was listening to an interview with Jo Fairly, co-founder of the organic chocolate company Green & Black, on Carrie Green’s She Means Business podcast (which is a great resource for female entrepreneurs), and Jo was asked how she did it all. Her answer was, “When you’re tired, rest, don’t quit.” Hearing that, in her lovely British accent, made me realize it was okay to acknowledge that getting tired didn’t mean I had failed, or that I couldn’t do the work. It meant I needed to rest and renew my energy.

Accepting that sometimes I am going to be tired is a big shift for perfectionist Debbie. For the past few weeks, I have given myself permission to feel worn out, and to plan rest time into my day, even if it’s simply going to bed a bit earlier or treating myself to a yoga class that someone else is teaching. Then, when my energy returns, I start moving forward again.

I can’t quit, because there is healing work I need to do in this world.

If you are walking the path of healers and change-makers, I would love it if you give yourself permission to rest. Just don’t quit, because the world needs you to do your work. Can I witness and support your necessary desire to rest? Let me know with a reply.

Dancing in the Moonlight

MoonlightOnce every three years or so there is a month with two full moons. The second is known as a blue moon. If you’re reading this on July 31st and you go outside right now, you’ll be standing under one.

Astrologers seem less excited about the second-of-the month aspect of today’s full moon than about the moon being in Aquarius. Breakthroughs in the midst of struggles are predicted. You’d do well to pay attention today.

But perhaps you were not even aware that the moon has just gone full. Why is the lunar cycle even important?

I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, on a skinny street between two canals. It was a poorly crafted street which went downhill as you traveled inland from the bay to its lowest point where the two canals dead-ended. When the moon was full, high tide was very high – so high that the ocean spilled over the bulkheads and flooded the street at that low point. If you needed something from the store, you were just going to have to wait a few hours.

Most of us live too cut off from natural phenomenon like moon tides to feel the consequences of the lunar cycle. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. The same gravitational pull that affects the tides draws gently of the water in your body. It changes you, in albeit subtle ways. When we start to pay attention – really pay attention – we become aware of those subtle changes.

Yoga is an excellent tool for building subtle awareness of your body. The practice of Chandra Namaskar, the moon salutation, taps into the cyclical nature of the moon while opening the hips, the seat of the second Chakra. The sacral energy center is the home of water energy. Water is changed by the moon. Do you see where this is going? The circling sequence of Chandra Namaskar itself represents the cycle of lunar transformation, the flow and ebb and flow and ebb that is the constant rhythm of life.

Are you tuned into the lunar cycle? Is it time to start exploring the moon’s ever-changing energy again? I’d love to hear from you. Share your comments below!

Inspiration to Run with the Wolves

One of my Goddess Spirit Circle sisters is reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and shared a reading from it when we met last month. I remember reading the book many years ago (Amazon.com remembers I bought a copy in 1998!) and being wowed by the powerful feminine archetypes. Ready to be inspired again, I just ordered another copy. And when I was putting together graphics for my social media posts this week, I added some quotes from Dr. Estés. Stand up and howl, sisters!

CPE Stretch

CPE Wherever

CPE Woods

CPE Defiant

Do you have a favorite quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estés? Share it with me in the comments!

Celebrating Earth-based Spirituality on Pagan Pride Day

“A wee child toddling in a wonder world,
I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens
where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds,
the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. 
If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.”

Zitkala-Sa

secondbestcircleToday I am in Syracuse, New York, to lead “Elemental Yoga” at the annual Central New York Pagan Pride Day festival. My workshop is from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. Afterwards I get to spend the remainder of the day connecting with and learning from others who, like me, look to nature for their spiritual inspiration.

Pagans are an eclectic group; their diversity makes them interesting and fun. Their practices may be formal and structured or spontaneous and casual. There are numerous subsets under the Pagan umbrella. Pagans may worship deities from classical or tribal mythology, practice shamanism or magick, view futurology, community or ecology as religion, focus on the Divine Feminine, or simply venerate natural phenomena. Most chose their spiritual paths, rather than following the religions of their families.

At today’s festival we’ll be celebrating the upcoming autumn equinox, as well as doing lots of networking and community building. My husband will be manning the Adirondack Earth Lore booth to showcase his amazing woodturning, and I’ll be hanging out there discussing yoga and healthy living with anyone who will listen. We’ll do some drumming. I’ll watch bellydancers. And I’ll be showing folks how to connect with the energies of Earth, Air, Fire and Water with yoga.

In the area? Come on over to Onondaga Lake Park and join the fun!

Feel the Earth Element in your body with these three yoga poses

EarthElementMountainNext weekend I am teaching a yoga workshop called “Elemental Yoga” at the Central New York Pagan Pride Day Festival in Syracuse, New York. I’m very excited. This is the first time I’ve ventured out of my comforting Adirondack mountains to teach yoga to strangers, so I’m also a bit nervous. I have been doing lots of grounding work over the past few weeks, drawing nourishing energy from the earth, while at the same time inviting my vision for the workshop down to the physical level so it will manifest.

Yoga always helps me stay grounded and centered, but these three simple poses are my go-to poses when I need a quick refocus.

  1. Mountain pose. Tadasana is the basis of all standing poses in yoga. It embodies the grounding energy of the root chakra and brings awareness to your postural alignment. Stand with your feet no wider than your hips and your toes forward. Soften your knees, spread your toes and balance your weight between the balls of your feet and the center of your heel. Drop your tailbone and reach the crown of your head up, lengthening your spine. Relax your arms by your sides. Close your eyes and imagine your weight dropping into your feet, like you are trying to be so heavy that no one can lift you off the ground. You might sense your feet sinking into the floor or, if you are outside, the ground. Keep your knees slightly bent – if you lock them it will be harder for you to keep your feet heavy.
  2. EarthElementLotusLotus pose. Padmasana originated in the meditative practices of ancient India and is still used by modern-day practitioners. This centering posture presses your sitting bones, your physical “roots,” firmly down. Due to the hip and knee flexibility required, full lotus pose, with both feet placed on the opposite thighs, is not available for everyone. If you find it difficult, you can modify by bringing just one foot onto the other thigh (half lotus pose) or simply crossing your ankles (easy pose). If you practice Padmasana regularly, be sure to alternate which leg is on top to avoid developing imbalance in the hips. Once you get settled in your seat, lengthen your spine, lower your chin slightly and become aware of everything that is touching the surface you are sitting on. I find that just a few minutes focusing on my physical connection to the earth is calming and helps me to feel present.
  3. EarthElementCobraCobra pose. It is difficult to get closer to earth energy than to have your belly on the earth in Bhujangasana. Lie face down and stretch your legs back, feet hip-width apart, and press the tops of your feet into the floor. Place your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread, and hug your elbows to your sides. Keeping your pelvis pressed into the floor and straightening your arms as you make space to do so, lift your heart. Relax your shoulder blades down your back, draw your lower belly slightly off the floor and lift the top of your sternum. Draw your ears away from your shoulders, lengthening your neck. Feel the tops of your feet, your thighs, your pelvis and your low belly on the earth. If you are in a time of transformation or change, add extra oomph by closing your eyes and imagining you are shedding your skin, slithering out of whatever you are letting go of in order for change to happen.

Growing Roots: A grounding meditation to connect to the Earth

GroundingMeditationWhen things start to feel out of control or unsettled, I spend a few minutes practicing a simple, grounding meditation. Seated firmly on the floor or, even better, outside, I settle into my breath, then imagine growing roots.

To get you started, I recorded this simple grounding meditation to help you visualize your own roots. Once you get the idea, you can practice growing roots whenever you need to feel more settled and stable.

Thanks to Mark Piper, a talented local musician and awesome friend (and my guitar teacher), for the background music.

Why should the last day of spring mean something to you?

image

As I’m writing this, Spring 2014 has less than 24 hours left. Most folks are excited for summer to officially start, although, depending on the climate where you live, it may feel like summer already. Here in the Adirondacks, the start of summer was a bit of a shock, because winter-like weather lasted well into spring. We’ve only just turned the heat off at the yoga studio.

Perhaps you, like me, will be celebrating the Summer Solstice this weekend, or maybe a graduation or a wedding. Maybe, if you live in the U.S., you welcome summer on July 4th. However you celebrate, don’t forget to say goodbye to spring.

Before the festivities start, take a few quiet minutes to reflect on the two seasons that have passed. Did you set intentions for this year, or for last season? Have you honored what you’ve accomplished? Is there anything you need to reassess?

I initiated some big changes back when fall gave way to winter. I needed to feel better physically and emotionally. I also needed to look at the directions my career and finances were taking. Heavy stuff.

I’ve been lucky. I have tremendous support from family, friends and my yoga community, and my new family of health coaches at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Even with that support, change is difficult. There have been fears to face, reality checks, uncertainties and second guesses. But there is also slow, steady progress.

I could not have made these difficult but necessary changes without all of that support. I will continue to need that support, as I still have a long way to go.

Knowing the value of that support makes me feel very good about my decision to become a Holistic Health Coach. The best way I can honor all of the support I have received is to give that same caring, nurturing support to others. Together we can discover how to change your life to put you on the path to health and happiness.

Why I write 3 pages about anything every morning

Cover of "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual P...

Cover via Amazon

I purchased my copy of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, about 15 years ago. Working my way through the book was an enlightening experience, and the start of many small changes that have, over time, transformed my life.

The tool that I used most consistently, and kept up the longest, was the Morning Pages. From Julia Cameron’s website:

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

I did my Morning Pages for nearly a year after finishing the book. I have started and stopped a number of times since then. The latest lull lasted a couple of years. Then I started my Health Coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

One of the many fabulous things about IIN’s training is all the non-food-related things that support wellness. Early on in the training I was reintroduced to the Morning Pages during an awesome talk by Julia Cameron. (She is a great storyteller.) I dug out the notebook I had been using during the last round and started again.

When my alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., I am usually already awake. I sit up in bed and grab my notebook, a pen and my book light (so I don’t wake my husband). My brain gets very busy first thing, so I never struggle to think of something to write. It takes approximately 30 minutes to write three pages longhand. By the time I’m done, my mind is much quieter and I can get on my yoga mat focused on my practice.

I have sorted out lots of issues in my Morning Pages and my yoga practice feels much more centered. Try the Morning Pages for a couple of weeks and see where they take you.

I will be including the Morning Pages as part of my 6-month Health Coaching program. Contact me and let me know you’d like to be on the list for a free initial phone consultation during which you can find out how a Health Coach can guide you on the path to wellness.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Keep these 3 things in mind when you try yoga with weights

Arm rotations in tree pose require extra focus.

Arm rotations in tree pose require extra focus.

When I decided to combine my yoga teacher training and personal trainer certification and teach a yoga with weights class, I looked around at the programs out there and couldn’t find one that satisfied me. Instead of taking a training that did not offer everything I was looking for, I created my own. My Earth & Fire: Vinyasa Flow Yoga with Weights classes are structured to be safe and designed to stabilize the core in every pose or movement. I borrowed from yoga, pilates and weight training and built all the moves into a flow.

Unless you live in the eastern Adirondacks in New York, you will need to find a yoga with weights class near you if you want to try it. (Or ask me about doing a session on Skype.) When you take that class, keep these things in mind:

  1. Keep it light. Yes, you should keep your attitude light, but what you really need to do is choose light hand weights. If you’ve never worked with weights before, 1 or 2 pound weights are enough. If you have, pick a weight that is less than you usually lift. When you are holding your arms out with a weight in each hand in Warrior II, you don’t want to be slowly tearing your rotator cuff. Since you’ll have to focus on holding a pose as well as what is going on in your arms, it’s safer to downsize your weights. The weights I offer my classes max out at 5 pounds.
  2. Engage your whole body. As you are pressing weights overhead in Warrior I, is your alignment degrading? The weights are just one part of what’s going on. Ground through your legs and feet and always, always, always use your core muscles. Maintain a neutral pelvis and support the low back by drawing the lower abdominals in and up and tucking your tailbone. Keep the shoulder blades down unless you are targeting their movement. Bring your chin down until your ears are directly above your shoulders and keep the neck as soft as possible. The true challenge of practicing yoga with weights is not the number of reps, but doing those reps without sacrificing your alignment.
  3. Breathe. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but I have learned from my own practice and observing my students that whenever something new is introduced or the going gets rough, we forget to breathe. When I teach Earth & Fire, all the movements are timed to the breath. That might mean those movements are slow, and that’s okay. First and foremost, keep breathing throughout the practice, and fire up your Ujjayi breath.

I love my yoga with weights practice. The strength training has supported my regular practice by building the muscles that allow me to have fun in inversions and all sorts of balance poses. It’s also great cross-training for the running and hiking I do, and the yoga and weights give me a double-dose of bone density maintenance. Keeping those three things in mind, give a yoga with weights class a try.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Come for the Restorative Yoga, Stay for the Cat

Cats give great adjustments.

Cats give great adjustments.

Restorative yoga is lovely and deeply relaxing. I enjoying teaching restorative classes and workshops, and one of my favorites is a workshop I created where participants learn how to prop restorative poses with just one folded blanket. This gives them the opportunity to recreate the practice at home without having to invest in bolsters, blocks and straps.

I thought I would share a short one-blanket restorative sequence with you. I particularly like this sequence because the transitions are smooth and easy. You’ll go around in a circle as you move from pose to pose. Rather than write it out, I set up my camera in the backyard to record a video of the sequence for you.

It was a good idea. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. However, our cat was outside enjoying the weather, too. If the cat knows there’s yoga happening, she has to get in on the action. I’ve nicknamed her “the 4-pawed Reiki master” because she loves to give paws-on, energy-laden adjustments.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to record the video without the cat.

If you’d like to try the restorative poses, ignore the cat, who shows up just past the 3-minute mark, and listen to my voice. If you like cats, then enjoy watching her climb on me, rub my face with her head, and get in the way during transitions.

Either way, thanks for watching.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta