Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lunar Nodes in Astrology

The nodes of the moon are physical points of the moon’s orbit as related to the Earth. There is the North Node and South Node. Traditionally, the North Node represents your soul’s karmic mission, what you NEED to continue ascending the evolutionary spiral. The house and sign your North Node is in represent challenges and things that require effort. These are not areas of your life or character you can gloss over; the North Node will exert itself one way or another. The South Node represents that which you carry in from past incarnations, behaviors and tendencies so basic to your character that they are often subconsciously motivating your actions and feelings. The sign and house of your chart where your South Node falls represents stuff you “get away with,” stuff that you may not even realize you are doing.

I like to look at the nodes in charts because I feel there is always an intuitive jolt of recognition when someone takes a look at the sign and house where these points are located.

I have compiled some very good pages about this topic and present them to you here for your perusal at leisure 🙂

There’s a TON of resources online and in print about nodal astrology. The nodes also figure prominently in Vedic astrology.

I find the nodal axis fascinating and full of juicy info to unpack when looking at a chart. The nodes seem to indicate what an individual’s soul dilemma will be in an incarnation, and can indicate where a native is unconscious about his or her motivations (south node) and where the challenges which lead to soul evolution lie (north node).

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Ana Forrest on Stalking Fear and Triggers

With thanks to Barbara Passy’s Vimeo account for the original videos

Ana Forrest: Fierce Medicine Reading and Workshop at Wind Horse, 2012 from barbara passy on Vimeo.

Ana Forrest : Fierce Medicine Reading at Wind Horse, 2012- Stalk Fear and Understand Triggers from barbara passy on Vimeo.

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Reports from Wind Horse, the first Forrest Yoga conference

Forrest Yoga is about doing stuff like this. Although extremely challenging, it’s not about the pose. The pose is just the vehicle to help you access the stuff.

I wasn’t able to attend this year. Hopefully next year. From everything I’ve seen and read, Wind Horse 2012 looked amazing, and what else could you expect from a gathering of Forrest yogis?

I’ve already expressed my love and admiration for Forrest Yoga in these pages, and my dream to one day certify as a Forrest Yoga teacher. I do study with some amazing Forrest Yoga teachers, including Erica Mather in NYC and Heidi Sormaz whenever I get to New Haven, CT. Here’s some collected blog posts, photos, and other ephemera from 2012’s inaugural (and surely not the last) Forrest Yoga conference.

Top 10 Ana-isms from Wind Horse: One thing I love about the Forrest teachers I’ve studied with so far? Their in-your-face honesty. Emotional and spiritual nakedness even. Ana Forrest  is the grand-mommy bad-ass of them all.

Ana Forrest Fierce Medicine Reading and Workshop at Wind Horse, 2012 (video): Fierce Medicine is an amazing book. Please read it.

New song introduced at Wind Horse 2012 (video): Forrest Yogis sing songs at the beginning of practice. These songs are usually from the Native American medicine traditions. Forrest Yoga has a shamanic/medicine (wo)man thread coursing through it, no doubt inspired by Ana’s earliest experiences working with animals and nature, experiences she chronicles in Fierce Medicine. The songs sung by Forrest Yogis are cherished by the tribe and lend consistency to gatherings that brings yogis together from all parts of the world.

Workshop recaps: A little more detail on some of the workshops offered at Wind Horse 2012, via Forrest Yoga teacher Megan Keane’s blog. Another workshop recap via Grateful Yogi. Monday morning at Wind Horse, via Megan Keane again. Another one from Grateful Yogi.

Some photos, general recaps, and random stuff I found online:

I’m sure there’s lots more I’ve missed or things that will come online after this post goes live. Please leave any updates in the comments. Thanks, and a-ho!

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Yin Yoga & Meditation

There’s a lot of reasons to do yin yoga. Yin yoga is an excellent counterpart to more active “yang” vinyasa or other physical practices. It’s great to practice yin yoga when you’re stressed out, over-heated, or for women in their moon cycle. Whenever you have been too yang, yin yoga will help re-balance your energy levels and serve as a tonic to an over-stimulated, over-booked life. Yin yoga can help quiet the mind and heal the body. Like all forms of yoga, yin yoga can help settle the mind by bringing awareness into the subtle realms of breath and energy, but yin in particular is well suited as a preliminary practice to sitting meditation. Why is this so?

Yin yoga helps lengthen and strengthen connective tissue (ligaments, fascia, possibly even bone!) by virtue of its “yin” methodology. The three principles of yin yoga are 1) meet your edge 2) stillness 3) hold for time. Once you meet your first edge in a yin pose, you’ll soak there until your body opens enough to allow you to find your second edge. Then you soak in stillness there, holding for time, until another edge appears, and so on.

The attention to detail it requires to follow the three-step path of yin yoga (find your edge, stillness, hold for time) naturally settles the mind. The breath in yin is used as much to invite space in (breathe into an area that feels stiff or congested) as it is a release (lion’s breath is a yin treat; holding a pose for a long time can sometimes feel claustrophobic and lion’s breath is a great way to release excess energy without moving). As the body cools down and the muscles become relaxed, the body naturally requires less oxygen. The breath can become slower and deeper.

The quality of breath that develops from a yin practice makes it a perfect antecedent to sitting meditation practice. Not only will the joints used in sitting (spine & hips) be open and lubricated (yin yoga practice actually helps create more of the substance, hyaluronic acid, that cushions the joints) but the breath and mind will already be well slowed down. A sitting practice after yin practice can go very deep.

I will be offering a workshop on yin yoga on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 at Reflections Yoga in NYC. The focus of this workshop will be on using yin yoga to prepare the body and mind for meditation.

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“Grabbing the Cat”

grab the catLast night in the New Moon Shakti Circle at Bija Yoga, we discussed “Goddess Archetypes.” Our facilitator Lisa Kazmer had printed out several pages of pictures we’d uploaded to the Facebook invite for the night, grouped by theme or archetype. We had a page for mother goddesses (Gaia, Oshun, Mother Mary), a page for warrior/chaos/transformation goddesses (Kali, Oya), a page for lunar goddesses, a page for the triple goddess/crone, and so on. We looked at the photos and explored our reactions to each, wrote down keywords or phrases that came up as we discussed each archetype, and talked about how we related to each (or didn’t), and what energy we felt we needed more (or less) of in our lives.

The title of this blog came about in our discussion of the warrior/chaos/destruction/transformation goddesses, namely Kali and Oya. One of the participants (and a friend of mine, and fellow yoga teacher) relayed a funny story about how the intense energy of warrior goddesses can sometimes have unintended consequences.

I’ll her refer to her by her first initial. A., with her trademark awesome sense of humor, told us how her intense energy can sometimes be overwhelming. She “grabs the cat.”

“Whenever I go to my brother’s house, I look for the cat. I just love that cat. But it always tries to get away from me. Maybe it’s because I grab it…and then pet it real hard.” We were all cracking up at the image of this poor cat, being overwhelmed at being grabbed at with A.’s strong desire to show love.

This is a real thing, tho! How many times, in your enthusiasm, have you ever knocked something over, tripped over something, or even hurt someone because you just HAD TO show them how you felt? That’s the energy of Kali or Oya, coming in like a hurricane force and literally tearing sh*t up.

How often have you tried to “grab the cat” in your yoga practice? We weren’t really talking about yoga, per se, but we were mostly yoga teachers in circle last night, so my mind went to how many times I have “grabbed the cat” in my practice and ended up hurting myself. Injury is one of my teachers in the infinite lesson of getting softer, but it’s a lesson I keep repeating as my practice and my awareness gets more subtle.

As above, so below. So when we see our habits and tendencies in our yoga practice, it’s very likely these tendencies come about in our off-the-mat lives too. This is one of the ways to use Goddess archetype work in your yoga practice (and in your off-the-mat life). Where could you use a little more Moon Goddess energy and just receive and reflect? How about the wisdom of the crone or the nurturing energy of the Earth Goddesses?

As women, we have all these energies within us. Some of us are naturally more Kali and others naturally more Gaia. Working with the archetypes helps us identify these primal energy patterns within ourselves and others, and in our life’s unfolding story.

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7 toxic foods to stop eating now

Cross-posted from NaturalNews.com, these foods really ARE toxic. Consumption of these foods has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, so please avoid them!

Diet sodas and beverages sweetened with artificial chemicals
One of the more common dietary misconceptions in mainstream society today is the idea that “diet” beverages are somehow healthier than their sugar-sweetened beverages. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and sucralose (Splenda) are among the more popular artificial sweeteners used in many diet sodas, juices, chewing gums, and other foods (http://www.naturalnews.com).

Not only are artificial sweeteners bad for your health (http://www.naturalnews.com), but they also tend to promote obesity (http://www.naturalnews.com/022785.html). If you want to protect yourself against chronic illness and toxicity — aspartame literally converts to formaldehyde in the body and causes metabolic acidosis — it is best to stick with either raw sugars or natural sugar substitutes like pure stevia extract.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the silent killer
It is not really much of a secret anymore that HFCS, despite all the corn industry shilling, is a toxic sweetener that should be avoided (http://www.naturalnews.com/hfcs.html). Since it is linked to obesity, brain damage, low IQ, and even mercury poisoning, avoiding all foods that contain HFCS — this can include breads, cereals, and other seemingly innocuous foods — will do wonders for your health.

Most vegetable oils, including hydrogenated and ‘trans’ fat varieties
The misdirected war on saturated fats has convinced millions of people that unsaturated vegetable oils are a healthy alternative. Not only do many vegetables oils turn rancid quickly, which means they are toxic (http://healthwyze.org), but many of them also contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which, apart from omega-3 fatty acids, can cause severe health problems like heart disease and cancer. (http://www.naturalnews.com/022860.html)

Many vegetable oils are also derived from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), including canola, soy, and corn oils. These same oils are often hydrogenated as well, a process that turns them into heart-destroying solid oils. Avoiding these and sticking instead to healthy fats like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and hemp oil will greatly improve your health and lower your risk of disease.

White bread, pasta, and other refined flour foods
They are cheap, plentiful, and come in hundreds of varieties. But white breads, pastas, and other foods made from refined flour are among the top health destroyers in America today. Not only are most white flour products carcinogenic because they are bleached and bromated, but they also lack vital nutrients that are stripped away during processing. Avoid them, and all processed wheat products if possible, to optimize your health.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), carrageenan, and refined salt
Often hidden in foods under deceptive names (http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html), MSG is a pervasive salt chemical you will want to avoid that is linked to causing headaches, heart problems, brain damage, and other problems. Carrageenan, another chemical additive often hidden in “natural” and organic foods like nut milks and lunch meats, is similarly worth avoiding, as it can cause gastrointestinal upset and colon cancer. (http://www.cornucopia.org)

And processed salt, which is added to just about everything these days, lacks the trace minerals normally present in sea and earth salts, which means it ends up robbing your body of these vital nutrients (http://www.naturalnews.com/028724_Himalayan_salt_sea.html). Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke are just a few of the many conditions that can result from refined salt intake, so your best bet is to stick with unrefined sea salts and other full-spectrum salts.

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Crystal of the Day: Green Moonstone

Green Moonstone isn’t a special breed of moonstone; it’s just a green moonstone. Moonstone comes in shades of white, grey, pink, and yellow, sometimes blue, and it has a milky, opaque hue. The colored varieties (due to deposits of certain minerals that give the stone its hue) are usually swirled with white. One day browsing at one of my favorite crystal shops, I found the green variety and it spoke to me, so I took it home and it is now one of my most cherished stones.

Green Moonstone

Moonstone is a feminine stone. It helps to ground and stabilize the emotions, helps regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and helps ease cramping associated with the moon cycle or pregnancy, is good for fertility (including gardening!), and helps balance the feminine energies within the self. Although moonstone may be a “feminine” stone, it is an ally in self-care, balance, and connection to the intuition, thus it is an important stone for both men and women who are seeking greater integration of the personality and their polarities.

Like with many of my stones, I purchase or acquire a stone and it usually hangs out with my other stones until a need for the stone comes up. Then the stone usually travels with me in my pocket or purse as I work with its energies.

Recently, I have identified how much stress and tension has built up in my body, and have begun seeing a chiropractor. Around this same time, I started working with my green moonstone and quickly developed a bond with it. I find its energy to be very soothing and grounding, and gazing at its milky mint-green color seems to cool me down and remind me to breathe more deeply. I also work with the stone on my abdomen if I am experiencing cramps during my moon cycle and find it to be much more gentle than malachite in this department (Malachite is known as the “midwive’s stone”).

One day, after wearing my green moonstone in my pants pocket, I realized I had lost it! I tried to retrace my movements and I suspected I had lost it inside my house somehow. However, as with all lost objects and especially lost stones, I accepted the loss of the stone as a sign that I had completed my work with it at the time. I believe healing objects, in particular stones, come into our lives when we need them (we are drawn to or attract–in the way of gift or synchronous connection to–the stone we need) and likewise, they leave our lives thru loss or gifting away when we have completed our work with the stone.

Several days later I found the stone and I was so happy! However, I had already grown a lot around the topics green moonstone represents: self-care, emotional balance, feminine balance. While my healing in these areas in not complete, green moonstone helped me a great deal during several recent bouts of stress, over-work, and discomfort during my moon cycle. It has now taken its place with a piece of Angelite on my bedside table, where I look at and touch it every night, my mineral ally in re-balancing myself. Moonstone helps balance the emotions by reminding those who work with it to see the trials in life as cycles. By connecting to the cyclic view of life (moonstone also governs cycles), one is able to stabilize emotions by seeing the big picture, and the need for these emotions and situations within the larger cycle.

Here’s a list of some of green moonstone’s metaphysical properties:

  • stone of the Great Mother Goddess; represents femininity, Earth,
  • helps with balancing the emotions, integrating the emotions, and balancing the feminine aspect of the personality. Moonstone has a reflective, calming energy.
  • soothes stress, anxiety, women’s hormones; enhances intuitive sensitivity via feelings and less overwhelm by personal feelings. Greater flexibility and flow with life.
  • helps all be more comfortable with our feminine/yin receiving side, especially for water signs. Helps one be more conscious of the fact that all things are part of a cycle of constant change. It is a recommended gemstone for farmers and gardeners, artists, dancers and young men.
  • by unblocking the lymphatic system, it can heal and balance the stomach, pancreas, and pituitary gland. It can reduce swelling and excess body fluid. Placed under the pillow it will allow for a more peaceful sleep, and is often used as a cure for insomnia, used along with the amethyst.
  • wear or carry during the menstrual cycle for gentle support from pain and tension; excellent for fertility and childbirth (a birthing chamber would definitely have lots of moonstone in it!)
  • along with moss agate and jade, moonstone is great for gardening and fertility, due to its connections to water, growth, nurturing, cycles, and fertilization. I would guess green moonstone is even more aligned with plants and gardening due to its soft green hue
  • moonstone is a healer’s stone, helping those who feel the need to stuff down their own needs while caring for others take better care of themselves. It is also a stone of compassion, allowing those who care for others to be present and available without becoming burned out. Moonstone supports being emotionally present.
  • Moonstone, because of its connection to the moon, heightens intuition and is a great stone for tarot readers, astrologers, intuitive healers, psychics, etc. Its powers are said to be highest at the full moon. Wear the stone, or place it in the area you conduct intuitive readings.
  • In ancient cultures, used during the waxing of the moon for love charms and during the waning of the moon to foretell the future

Physical:
Women’s hormones/menstrual imbalance, lymph. Regenerates the tissues and organs. Heals reproductive system.

Careers:
Health care:  Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Doulas, Massage Therapists, and other Health Care workers

Other: Sailors, Coast Guard (for its connection to water; moonstone was often carried as a protective amulet by sailors)

Activities: Gardening, weeding, planting, vacation cruises, swimming, water sports

Magical Properties:
Energy: Receptive
Element: Water
Deities: Diana, Selene, Isis, all lunar goddess
Associated stone: Quartz Crystal
Associated metal: Silver
Powers: Love, divination, sleep, gardening, protection, youth, dieting, psychic abilities.

Zodiac:
Associations: Moon
Mystical Birthstone for the Month of June
Stone of Cancer, Libra and Scorpio
Moonstone has a positive influence on Cancer while a bluish moonstone is more effective for Pisces.

Chakra Classification:
Moonstone is most beneficial on the 2nd, or Sacral/Navel Chakra, for most, but it also connects 2nd, or Sacral/Navel Chakra and 6th, or Third Eye/Brow Chakra for emotional balance and gracefulness.

It is, as well, used to balance the 4th, or Heart Chakra, in helping us discern what we want and what we need…as they do not come from the same place. Moonstone can assist you in absorbing those necessary things in life, while helping you discern what is merely wanted.

Moonstone will help achieve a balance between heart and mind without losing the gentleness and caring needed, yet keep the emotions in check to allow you to function properly.

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