Category Archives: mind body spirit

July Relaxation Reward: Private Yoga & Thai Massage Bundle

thai massage NYC jersey city

Take advantage of my special July private yoga/thai massage bundle to get that lazy day summer feel!

July is here, and on this first day of the month, I’m reflecting about how summer FEELS in the body. Remember being a kid and feeling so good and relaxed when school ended and your days just stretched out in front of you with no obligations or responsibilities? We had fun exploring, being with our friends, or taking quiet time with a book or art project. We moved our bodies and got dirty. We played and scraped our knees. And at the end of the day, we slept peacefully and soundly, then jumped out of bed to do it again the next day! Childhood was so much fun and our bodies remember that delightful combination of physical activity and relaxation, of being so tuned in to the present moment and enjoying everything that came our way.

To help us busy New Yorkers reconnect with this feeling, I’ve designed a special July bundle of Private Yoga & Thai Massage. This is a 2 to 3 hour time commitment but afterwards, you will feel amazing, and maybe even reclaim some of that sparkly summer energy we had as kids.

I can only fit a few of these into my schedule because ideally, we should do 60-75 minutes of private yoga, followed by an hour to 90 minutes of thai massage, so if you’re interested, please let me know soon so I can organize my schedule. I’m pricing these to encourage you to do it! It’s like getting the yoga free, or the thai massage free, however you want to slice it.

60 minutes yoga/60 minutes thai for $135
75 minutes yoga/75 minutes thai for $165
upgrade to 90 minutes of thai on either package for $30

To schedule your appointment, email me at rephann at gmail dot com.

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Holiday Forrest Yoga & Yin Yoga Retreat in Paradise, Costa Rica!

I’m thrilled to be leading another retreat at Anamaya Resort in beautiful Montezuma, Costa Rica from Dec. 19-26, 2015. How special to be teaching over Christmas week! I am honored to be spending my holidays with the beautiful people and guests of Anamaya and invite you to join us for week of magic, play, rejuvenation, growth, community, kindness, friendship, and fun! What a better way to end your year than in the paradise setting of Anamaya.

This week I will be teaching my two passions, Forrest Yoga and Yin Yoga! We’ll have energizing, strength-building, and healing Forrest Yoga-inspired Vinyasa classes in the morning, and meditative, healing, grounding Yin Yoga practices at night. There will be meditation offered both morning and evening and a workshop on “Unlocking the Gates,” a revitalizing and prana-moving Forrest Yoga workshop to open the hips, quads, and groins. Ooooh!

Anamaya Resort is a top notch destination featuring incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and Costa Rican cloud forest canopy. Located just above the canopy, the location of Anamaya offers unparalleled views of the coastline, flora, fauna, and our resident animal friends, the howler monkeys, iguanas, birds of prey, and many other incredible species, all right there in front of your eyes. There is an ozonated pool (no chlorine here!), an infrared sauna, hammocks and chaises for napping, and 3 meals daily of the cleanest, freshest, most high-vibe organic food you’ve ever had. I always leave Anamaya inspired to revamp my own meal plan! Anamaya also has a world-class spa for facials, massage, and other mind-body wellness treatments. And the grounds of Anamaya are an epiphany of how we can live in balance with our natural surroundings.

Packages start at $1500 all inclusive for an incredible week in one of the most magical locations on planet earth. Please message me with any questions about this incredible yoga retreat in Costa Rica during the holidays.

http://www.anamayaresort.com/holiday-yoga-retreat/

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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

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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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Beauty Report: The return of my personal yoga practice

yogapracticespaceSince completing the Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training, I am so grateful that my personal yoga practice has returned. My strongest intention going into the training was to get my personal practice back on track. While I received far more than this, one of the greatest gifts has been to get back on my mat every day, now for 33 days in a row.

It’s oddly common to hear yoga teachers talking about the loss of their personal practice when they begin teaching professionally. It really doesn’t make much sense: how can you teach something you no longer practice, no matter how many years or decades you did it before? Lack of logic aside, I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to get on the mat. The excuses were legion: I don’t have time (of course I do!) I’m not in the mood (ew!); my apartment isn’t really set up for it (ok, but there’s alternatives and creative solutions to this); I am tired (yoga will help get you untired); and on and on it went. Somehow, I equated the little bit of mat time I got through my various teaching gigs to count as practice. It’s not!

Our personal yoga practice is so much more than simply doing poses. What I’m finding out is that personal practice, especially daily personal practice, is a commitment to myself and a deep care-taking of my self that gets stronger each day I return to my mat. This has been the secret gift of getting back on the mat everyday: that the more days that go by continuously, the less likely I am to let a day slide, the more I actually tremble at the idea of a day going by.

I am healing from a lot of self-abuse. I need to practice regularly. I need to keep the well of my own sense of trust, appreciation, and love for myself topped up. Daily practice is, so far, the best way to do this I have experienced. I am so grateful to Ana Forrest and her amazing assistants for helping me get into the habit of daily yoga practice. This is one habit I definitely don’t want to break.

Here’s a photo of me practicing in my mom’s apartment’s gym space. To me, meeting myself on my mat daily, and letting it be discovered what comes up (am I focused; am I rushing; am I adhering to my intent; am I using my neck in the poses?!; etc) is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine. This is my therapy, my salvation, my healing, my gift to myself.

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Forrest Yoga Classes in New Jersey

I recently completed the 200-hour Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training at Fresh Yoga in New Haven, CT with master teacher Ana Forrest. It was a life-changing experience.

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Some of the many gifts I received from this training are:

  • I got my personal yoga practice back. It’s not unusual to hear yoga teachers bemoaning the loss of their own personal practice. As of today, I have practiced yoga 31 days in a row. And I have no intention of turning back. One of the personal ethics I created for myself during the training was to practice a minimum of 6x/week for at least 30 minutes per day. So far, this ethic is guiding me into health, a sense of wholeness, and a sense of trust in myself that I have not felt for a very long time. My strength is growing by the day.
  • My connection to breath has deepened exponentially. I have always felt a strong connection to breath and had a good intuitive understanding of how to teach breath. But since this training, my application of breath is becoming so much more skillful. I am better able to share this understanding with my students, and teach them in a practical way HOW TO USE BREATH FOR HEALING. This will revolutionize your yoga practice and your life.
  • I realized through this training how I had a plethora of habits that were holding me down and dimming my light, as well as showing up as obstacles to moving forward in life with clarity and conviction. Social drinking and partying (I have been a DJ in the nightlife scene for 10+ years), mindless eating, even social media use suddenly revealed themselves as ways that I would distract myself from what was essential in my life at the moment and choose a behavior that took me away, that numbed me out. Getting clear about the myriad ways I was squandering my life energy made me see that all those things we take for granted as being normal, “let loose” or “have fun” type behaviors are actually hooks that drain our vitality. I have since reformed how and what I eat, and my tendency to casually use “party favors” (drugs & alcohol) in favor of clarity around how these actions keep me from feeling what I need to feel. The pull towards addiction or compulsion is insidious, and our modern culture accepts and even encourages our slavery to various forms of addiction, from shopping to gambling to online porn to recreational drugs to exercise. Getting clear about my tendency to fall into these traps and speak about it to anyone who will listen has been liberating.
  • I have learned how to connect to my spirit by breathing well, finding beauty in the everyday, and speaking my truth from my heart. These concepts sound nice on paper, but applying them is ironically not as easy as it sounds. When our thoughts are poisoned by a steady stream of negative inner dialogue, our spirit is often in hiding or maybe even not in residence. If our spirit is our essential, truest self, the best version of ourselves, why would that best version of yourself hang out for the punishment most of us put it though on a daily basis? In Forrest Yoga, we learned to see ourselves as ENOUGH. I am enough. This is a radical concept because our culture is always telling us we are NOT enough, that we need one more degree, more money, less cellulite, more hair, more boobs, etc. to be worthy. This is the furthest thing from the truth because who we are is ONLY and EVER from our spirit, never from what we do, what we earn, what we learn or accomplish along the way. It is WHO WE ARE at the essential, spiritual level. Developing tools to help us connect with this essence of who we are is one of the most powerful and healing aspects of Forrest Yoga.

These four paragraphs above sum up the four pillars of Forrest Yoga: Breath, Strength, Integrity, and Embodying Spirit.

Forrest Yoga is a healing, therapeutic approach to yoga. It heals at the physical, emotional, and energetic level. I am so grateful that my spirit guided me to Forrest Yoga nearly four years ago. Before I was even ready to begin the healing I’m experiencing now, my spirit guided me in this direction. Healing is a process. We must have patience and put in the time to reap the rewards. The rewards are nothing less than a transformed life, freedom from addictive and compulsive behaviors, clarity about life and what we most want and need, letting go of our rackets (ritualized and rationalized behaviors designed to keep us from being present to what is actually happening in the moment) and life-zapping mental habits.

I am offering Forrest Yoga privately in Jersey City, NJ and New York City. If you are interested in private instruction in Forrest Yoga, or an inter-disciplinary approach utilizing the other styles of yoga that I teach, along with thai massage and shamanic reiki, please contact me.

 

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Shamanic Reiki

Shamanic Reiki blends wisdom from many traditions, including Mayan, Native American, Earth-based wisdom, etc.

Shamanic Reiki blends wisdom from many traditions, including Mayan, Native American, Earth-based wisdom, etc.

I recently completed a Level 2 Shamanic Reiki certification with Stacey “Sky” Gibbons, a Forrest Yoga teacher and Reiki master. I completed Level 1 with Stacey in October 2012. Level 2, as Stacey noted, is a much deeper attunement than the Reiki 1 attunement. But wait. What’s an attunement? A reiki attunement is given by the Reiki  master to the student. An attunement is a series of reiki hand positions, symbols, and breath techniques to transmit the energy of the reiki master, along with his or her lineage of reiki masters, to the student, empowering him or her to give the reiki treatment at that level.

Symbols are used in reiki. These symbols were said to have appeared to Dr. Usui, the founder of the system of reiki that has since been used as a platform to evolve new styles of reiki (in a nutshell, “traditional” vs. “Western” reiki). Symbols are given in level 2 that allow the practitioner to send reiki at a distance, or in other words, to perform distance healing. In the reiki system, “distance” can be interpreted as physical distance or linearly, as in time (sending reiki to events in the past, for instance).

Shamanic Reiki differs from tradition reiki in that shamanic techniques are layered on top of the reiki energy treatment to give, in my opinion, a much more complete and personal healing experience. Some of the shamanic techniques we learned and practiced during this training included shamanic journeying, the use of stones/crystals/plants or other earth elements in the reiki session, and “cutting cords,” or energetically severing ties between people.

As reiki sees “no future, no past, no present,” energetic ties to people from our past can persist to this day. Stacey even told us that women retain energetic ties to any man she has ever been intimate with. It was in this context that we performed the cord cutting ceremony, to allow the energy that woman naturally gives out to come back to her luminous field, aka her light body or energy body. Stacey taught us that feminine polarity is give/receive, symbolized by the void of her vagina/uterus, so the woman continues to draw energy, much in the way the Galactic Center continuously pulls things towards it. She compared this to the masculine polarity which is a more outward-directed/searching energy and is fed by movement, variety, and conquering. This is a blog post in itself, so let me stop here before getting carried away…

Using shamanic techniques before, during, or after reiki treatment brings added insight. Reiki moves energy in a very palpable way for those sensitive to such things. For example, during a treatment I thought for sure the person treating me had her hands on my right hip. It was not the case. She was not touching my right hip, but I felt the most heat, pressure, and sensation in that area. In other scenario, a woman receiving reiki treatment could not stop a tremor in her shoulder, even though reiki hands were not on her shoulder. Reiki students are taught that reiki energy goes where it is needed, so while hands may be on one part of the body, the energy is activated throughout the body. Shamanic techniques add another layer of insight to what is going on in the body, so a student could connect to the areas of greatest sensation and use visualization, for instance, to see his/her energy body as a transparent crystal, then look for “occlusions” in the crystal body. The seeing is done intuitively, and this is an area where Shamanic Reiki shines, for intuition is a major tool of the shaman.

On the first night of our training, after receiving the Reiki 2 symbols, I was exhausted. The same thing was reported by most of my fellow students in the training, due to having loads of energy moved in the work we did that day. On the 2nd day, we felt much revived, and the evening of day 2 I did not feel so wiped out. Stacey told us that over the next 21 days, the energy from the attunement will settle and move within us, and to be alert to changes subtle or overt. Within 24 hours of completing the training, I broke out with pimples and a cold sore! It was like my body was literally erupting and purging. Break outs are not too common for me, and I felt like this was directly tied to energy I was moving via the work. The training did help me bring to the surface a few issues that had been rattling around in my brain, which I did not know needed as much ventilation as they did, but I found out just how much I needed to release these energies by sobbing quietly throughout an entire 30 minute reiki treatment. During this experienced, I observed which hand positions caused tears to well up, and which helped them subside. Placements over the heart center definitely welled up more tears, while positions over the crown chakra helped them dissipate.

Shamanic Reiki both strengthens and reinforces intuitive power, in both the giver and receiver. Shamanism gives a new context in which to practice reiki, and the combined forces are far greater their either on its own. I will write more about my experiences working with reiki energy and shamanism as I continue learning. I am grateful to be part of this lineage of healers, which goes back to my teacher’s teacher, Llyn Roberts.

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