Forrest Yoga Suns & Sun “B Series”

Here’s a little video I shot the other day at Yoga in the Heights, Jersey City, NJ before teaching. I teach Forrest Yoga at Yoga in the Heights Mondays & Wednesdays at 7:45pm and Saturdays at 9:15am.

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Connect To Your Core: Core Anatomy, Integration, and Application

In Forrest Yoga, we do core work. If you’ve never encountered this in a yoga class before, your first thought might be WHY? A strong core is incredibly important. In our modern day, “weakness” comes not just from lack of tone, but also from too much tone, or tightness. Sitting at a desk all day confers both lack of tone in some parts (lower back, pelvic floor) and too much tone in others (psoas, rhomboids). In Forrest Yoga, core work builds tone and connection where it is lacking, and releases tension where hyper-tonicity is adding to weakness and disconnect.

Our core muscles protect the bones and organs of our trunk, hold our organs in our abdominal cavity, and connect our trunk to our legs. A healthy toned core, one that is neither flaccid nor rigid, provides the best support for our vital organs, and in particular our guts. It’s a new way of thinking that “toned core” means “healthy guts” more than “six-pack abs,” but this is what Forrest Yoga does: takes you far deeper into understanding your body, and also helps dismantle a lot of popular, but erroneous, ideas.

In this two-hour workshop, we’ll review the basic anatomy of the core, in particular the muscles most commonly used in our basic core moves. I’ll explain what the muscles do, then you’ll experience that (integrate the information) by doing the poses yourself. For regular practitioners, you’ll get a new level of detail in understanding your core work poses. For new folks to Forrest Yoga, you’ll get a crash course in knowing how this part of your body works. Doing the poses following the anatomy part of the workshop should help everyone feel more educated and aware about this part of our body that for many of us, is an area we’d rather not think about, or don’t really understand well.

Once we’ve talked about and experienced our core muscles, we’ll put it all together into a back-bending class (yup, you use you core in that too and the more intelligent you are about the application of your core muscles in back-bending, the more pleasure and the more results you’ll receive from your back-bending practice). You’ll feel the support of your core from, as Ana Forrest likes to say “crotch to crown” and that’s pretty exciting. My experience of core work is that it makes me feel really connected, really powerful, sexier, and more alive.

I hope you will join us on Friday, May 15th from 7-9pm at Yoga in the Heights, 317 Central Ave., in Jersey City, NJ. www.jcheightsyoga.com

NewCore_web

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Beauty Report: My Students’ Progress

My student wanted to know how long she’s been coming to my classes. I told her about 3 months. She told me “I’ve lost 12 pounds. My mother notices it when we Skype.” I’m so happy that she feels better in her body, and happy for the pride she is growing for herself at her accomplishment.

My student wanted to sell his business and follow his heart. It took about two years, but he sold his business and is now figuring out this new phase of his life. I’m so proud of him for following his heart. I’m so inspired by his generosity to those who know him, including me, his fortunate teacher.

My student wanted to see movement in her feet. She said “they’re frozen, like dead.” Within a few months, space and breath started coming between her toes, and now she is a full-on lover of the breath. “I thought you were a little weird at first, talking all this about breath, but now, I totally understand it and realize how important it is.” I’m so proud of her for persevering and for sitting with her doubt and skepticism until she knew for herself.

My student told me that she gave up a relationship because she knew it was time to let it go. She said she got the strength to realize this from our classes. I’m so proud of her, and have such respect for her strength and courage.

My student wanted to get pregnant. I asked her to feel for how she could be more receptive in her life. I related, being a “woman in control,” a highly capable, hyper-independent “modern woman,” more by default than by choice. She started slowing down and making more time for her. She sent me a photo of her beautiful baby boy hours after he was born. I never saw her in class again. I suspect she’s found a new kind of satisfaction and peace, a yoga of her own, with her growing family. I’m so happy for her realizing her dream.

My boyfriend had hyper-lordosis. His lower back hurt a lot, his belly protruded, his posture suffered. He’s been practicing yoga regularly for a couple of years now and his spine looks completely different. His swayback is gone. He’s no longer in so much pain. He’s in love with yoga now, and I get to share my love of yoga with him. I am so grateful for this gift. I’m so proud of him, seeing him become ever more sensitive and aware and am in awe of his language of embodiment and spirituality. And I love having him in class.

I am so happy for my students and proud of them. Teaching yoga is such a gift. I hope to remember all the amazing moments that my students share with me, their breakthroughs and victories and realizations. I have let so many pass without marking them somehow. These are a few of the big ones that I remember, that I committed to heart, but everyday, in every class, their shining eyes after savasana, their easy smiles on the way out the door, and the trust I feel from them, our growing mutual respect and honor for one another, I receive as a gift, an honor, a treasure.

The word “namaste” resonates so much for me when I bow to my students after class.

My soul honors your soul.

I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.

I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you

Because it is also within me.

In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one.

Namaste.

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Neptune is Transiting My Sun. And, I Need Rest.

neptune-in-piscesToday I was introduced to a concept called the Forer Effect, which in a nutshell says that people have a tendency to believe statements about themselves to be highly accurate, even if said statements could be applied to anyone. The Forer Effect is used to denigrate subjects like astrology, numerology, the Enneagram, etc. as pseudo-science.

As my boyfriend will tell  you, one of my favorite words is “anecdotally.” The Forer Effect doesn’t really explain about anecdotal evidence. This was on my mind as I checked the ephemeris for 2015 and found that transiting Neptune is back on my solar degree. This is the second time in about 8 months this has happened, and I can feel when Neptune is on my sun. I am tired. My brain isn’t so good for organization, clear thoughts, tasks, deadlines. I’m forgetful. Have trouble formulating a coherent or elegant sentence. And my mild dyslexia flares up so I read things like “tonight” and see “Tuesday.” This makes for snafus a-plenty.

Also lately, I have been working seven days a week. It happened sort of by accident during a time when I was worried about money and scheduled more things than I should have, and when I wasn’t being careful, and yah, when Neptune was transiting my sun and I couldn’t keep Tuesday and Thursday straight and ended up with too many commitments, several of which I couldn’t break because they were contractual. So after about a month of this schedule, and Neptune doing its thing, I had to make some room.

So I gave up my beloved Yin Yoga class at Reflections Yoga, a class I have taught for about 3 years. It was the first time Yin was offered at Reflections, and what started as my love for the practice has grown into a very popular class and a beautifully community of practitioners. I just found out today that Reflections found a new teacher for Fridays. Her name is Tatum and she looks lovely and I am certain that everyone will love her class.

The lesson I got from this experience is that sometimes we have to let even beloved and dear things go, because holding on to them is taking more from us than we can give out. And if we try to give from an empty place, it’s no good for anyone. That’s what Ana Forrest calls the “sacrificial whore” and it’s an ugly phrase to express an ugly condition that we sometimes find ourselves in.

Needing rest is REAL. Especially when Neptune is transiting your sun. Working seven days a week, even if one of those days was just teaching one yoga class, has worn me down. And, I’m also going thru something. It’s hard to say what. This is part of the Neptune transit. It’s a time marked by fogginess, confusion, delays. Neptune in mythology rules the seas. Water represents our deepest emotions, and the hidden and mysterious parts of ourselves. It’s also where we are most fluid, most playful, and most adaptable, literally in the flow. To align with the way I’m feeling now, I need more time for quiet, for rest, for being ok with being in an in-between state. When the transit is over, what’s most important will be clear. I really get that, even though I’m not close to knowing what will be revealed, but I really get that this is a process, and letting go, feeling exhausted by the “regular world,” by work and obligations is part of that.

I am proud of the work that I do. I consider myself a hard worker, and very responsible. So to feel this way, that I don’t have the energy for much directed activity, is weird. I’m not used to it. I feel strange saying it, admitting it, which is why it’s safer to do so on my blog, although I have shared this feeling with a few friends who will understand. But I don’t want to be analyzed and questioned and given advice. I want to find my way through on my own.

 

 

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Beauty Report: Paramahansa Yogananda Awake Documentary Awakens Me

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda

Last week I went to see AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, a documentary about the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. Yogananda gave the world Autobiography of a Yogi and dozens of other books, the Self-Realization Fellowship, kriya yoga meditation, and a wealth of teachings on how to live a divine life.

I’d been feeling very disconnected the last few months, over-worked, over-burdened, and tired. I felt my spiritual practice had plateaued. Watching Awake I was reminded of my love for God and how Yogananda, and millions of others, have made the choice to serve God the central theme or purpose of their lives. The fullness of my heart in the closing credits brought tears to my eyes. These were not tears of sadness, but of a longing for God, for the feeling of being one with the Divine, with the energy of creation, with the supreme intelligence that knits together our universe and beyond.

I finished reading Ana Forrest’s Fierce Medicine for the second time for my Forrest Yoga Mentorship homework, and between that book and seeing Awake, I have begun speaking to God as I know him/her/it once again. But, as I approached it this time around, I had to re-think what exactly I do believe. I wondered why my faith wavered so much, why I couldn’t really zero in on a way to STAY connected to God. I knew that part of it was due to my mind and my heart being on opposing sides of the debate.

I have a conflict. My cynical and habitual thinking mind questions the concept of divinity or a positive, loving force in the universe. In my darkest moments, I feel adrift, a boat on a chaotic sea that is totally random in its movements and machinations. Thriving in this random universe is a combination of luck and wits and it is exhausting. But seeing Awake reminded me of how I FEEL, which is knowing I have touched the vastness and beauty of God as manifest in our physical world, in periods of meditation, the practice of yoga, sex, love, being in nature, or playing music.

With this reminder that I do love God and know God, and that I know this through a feeling sense, I was able to return, with faith, to speaking to God, which Yogananda oft repeated to his devotees: in meditation, they should repeat over and over again “reveal thyself!” and to the true disciple, God will. Then I had to find a way to speak to God that felt authentic to me. Drawing from Ana Forrest’s work, I found the way I could commune. Oh Great Spirit That Moves in All Things…

And so began a ritual of prayer, a ritual that I have abandoned in the last strange year of my life, and one that has never really stuck with me as much as I liked the idea of it. The last year has seen me leave 20+ years of corporate life for life as a self-employed yoga teacher; return to an abandoned relationship and the healing and growth therein; review who I am and what I truly need and what I’m here for. In prayer, I ask the Great Spirit to give me the strength to persevere and not fall to the pressures of city living, money, confusion, fatigue, and day-to-day relationship struggles, to infuse me with patience and gratitude, and to have the strength to see the good in my life and to keep going.

It was a Beauty Moment that I took myself to see this documentary. I haven’t really been attending to my needs well, to romancing my spirit, as Ana would say. The last year has been all about working and making sure the bills are paid, about deep inner work in terms of my training as a yoga teacher and within my primary partnership. It has been a more difficult year emotionally than I’ve had in a long time. It was Beauty that I took myself to see this and got a small bit of an answer that I am seeking. A-ho!

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Beauty Report: The beach and being in the present moment

Sandy beach, Long Beach. Long Island, New York, USAMy partner and I went to the beach on Monday. Being at the beach erases all troubles and allows us to be our most natural selves. When we’re at the beach, everything is ok. The sound of the waves caressing the shore lulls me to sleep. We soak in the rays of the sun, build sandcastles, watch seagulls. In this moment, life is perfect and beautiful. As we live only in the present moment, let me rephrase that to say…life is perfect and beautiful.

There is nothing like being in nature to reconnect us to Beauty. Nature soothes. Without distractions of phones, computers, traffic, noises, advertisements, or schedules, we can simply experience ourselves as human animal, primal, perfectly made for basking in the sun and playing in the waves. This is healing.

Beauty Reports are something we do in Forrest Yoga to acknowledge the overwhelming beauty of our lives, and to help us reconnect to our spirits, the things that feed us. A-ho.

 

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Asking For What We Need: The Empowerment Triangle

empowermenttriangleA friend of mine posted this to her Facebook wall today: “What you resist persists. Gotta feel it to heal it. Avoiding life does not lead to transformation or enlightenment.”

Let’s break this down. “Feel it to heal it” aka “the only way out is through.” Sometimes “feeling it” means going thru a period of shadow willingly and without resistance. Our emotions don’t come with a time-table; sometimes we get activated by processes or life circumstances and we’re IN IT. The right time is now. The other day at lunch with some friends I started crying. My friend said “feel that.” As soon as she said it I knew what she meant. Don’t push it down. Get what that feeling is. FEEL THAT! I’ve learned that if we push down or deny or reason away our emotions, we’re going to end up numb and disempowered.

Avoiding life…just because we are active in our work and social lives and personal life doesn’t mean we are present. Non-avoidance means acknowledging what comes up and grappling with it, not shrinking away, having courage to admit “this is here” and then taking the next most healing step.

This dovetails into “what you resist persists.” When we know we have something to deal with and we don’t, it’s just going to sit there like mold growing on one strawberry in the box; eventually, the whole box is contaminated. What we don’t address gains momentum and strength, like opportunistic bacteria that thrive the danker and more toxic their environment gets.

For whatever reason, I was born in this life with a drive towards liberation and freedom, my own and others who are suffering (which is, everyone). All my samskaras (past and present life karma) are here to teach me. I have trained myself to view challenges, injuries, and “shit that happens to us” as teachers. I was not always this way. Peace is a long road. We all come to the path with different strengths and weaknesses. And we are all walking it together.

To couch this post in a constructive light, I’d like to make a request of anyone reading this: TODAY, please FEEL your feelings around something that triggers you. Do NOT avoid it. Then, write your comment here, what you felt, what you did not resist, and how you did not avoid life.

Here is mine, for today: I need to start ASKING for what I want and need in a clear and precise manner instead of assuming people will understand what I want/need and give it to me. This is especially true in intimate partnerships and work situations. This also applies to creative situations, where I am working with others. My programming around asking is that I will either not get what I ask for or I will get something less than what I asked for, or a replacement. For example, as a kid, I wanted to play the drums and wanted a drum set. My father said NO!, then a few weeks later brought me a small hand drum. I remember feeling as a young child that I was expected to be ok with this hand drum, but it was not the drum set with drumsticks that I yearned to bang on. I did not ever end up playing the drums. In relationship, when I have asked a partner for something I needed, like assistance when I had an injury, the expectation I had was not met. I was helped in the most rudimentary (and reluctant) of ways, and I felt burdensome and ashamed, especially because he lacked compassion for the condition I was in (needless to say the relationship ended). This is just an example of how I learned that asking did not mean receiving.

To heal this, I have to move out of “victim” mode by identifying how I feel. How I feel when I am confronted with need is afraid, vulnerable, unsteady, knocked off balance, shy, and anxious. How I will avoid avoidance (hah!) is by identifying when I need to ASK for something to have my needs met and finding the courage to ASK with clarity and precision. If my initial ask is not acceptable, I will NEGOTIATE until a solution can be reached.

This process was inspired by my friend Alex’s “empowerment triangle” he mentioned at dinner tonight. The image of it is above.

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