Browsing Tag

decatur

Balance

Ahhhh, balance.

I recall years ago one of my very first yoga teachers stating (adamantly) in class how our ability to balance on our mat is symbolic of how balanced we are in our life in general. When he said that I likely rolled my eyes so hard I lost my balance. I’m pretty sure this was proof enough that he was on to something, no?

Balance is a state of presence, it’s a relationship that we enter into in each moment. Balance is fleeting. It’s not something you find once and keep, it’s a perpetual dance of noticing and responding, noticing and responding, and noticing and responding ( and on and on).

On the mat and in the greater scheme of things, this comes from our ability to move from our center and to stay connected to this place as we transition and respond to all the moving parts around us, ie L I F E. You may notice in your practice that when we are standing on one leg or balancing on our hands that we must be actively engaged with each little movement or we will likely fall on our face.

Balance is a practice of wholeness, it’s one of noticing that when we enter into a relationship with life and all she has to offer we have opportunity to remember ( literally re-member or rejoin) all the disjointed or disowned parts of ourself. Connecting to our wholeness invites us to the divine flow of life.

And while balance may be a fleeting force, our ability to keep showing up and exploring is not, it’s a practice. This is yoga.

Ahimsa

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, I was incredibly hard on myself and those around me. And while I am far from perfect I keep choosing {over and over} to come back to kindness, for myself and others.

Non-violence, ahimsa, is at the center of yogic ideals. When we think of non-violence we often think of violence in our external environment. We may picture the extremes of hurting or injuring something outside of us, however the foundations of ahimsa always start within and how we treat ourselves.

Our ability to be non-violent with others is in direct relationship to how kindly and compasionately we approach ourselves and our own struggles in life. Through this compassionate process we are invited to examine ourselves deeply. When we hold this mirror up it’s easy to judge and criticize our actions from the past, it’s easy to punish, blame and beat ourselves up. Instead of deepening these patterns we can choose a new way of being.

When we choose to reflect and observe ourselves and our actions with tenderness and kindness we are making peace with ourselves, stepping towards a relationship of wholeness instead of deepening separation. This is not easy work. It takes constant examination, reflection and the choice to try on a new way of being, it’s a practice.

Photo by Kelly T Marie & Dirty South Yoga Fest

Going Within

As the world turns and the seasons change nature is showing us how to let go. Autumn leaves start to turn colors, preparing for the cyclical process of shedding that which we no longer need. The colors of the dying leaves enrich us with their brilliant display of beauty before being released back to the earth. The catalyst for this grand display of change is the journey towards darkness. As we head towards the end of our year we turn further away from the sun, the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, symbolically we are moving into the season of darkness. During this time we are reminded to take our own journey within, exploring and bravely traversing all that lies below the surface.

The myth of the ancient Sumerian Goddess Inanna holds the power of the cycles of death and rebirth. This is the heroine’s journey into the descent of darkness, the underworld. We may only enter this place in humility. Here everything we identify with is challenged, uprooted and stripped away. Our identity is obliterated and all false masks and pretenses are annihilated upon entering.

Inanna and Ereshkigal are the two faces of the wholeness, the sister halves of our own self. Together these goddess sisters are light and dark, heavenly and horrible, enticing and repulsive, acceptance and rejection. They are symbolically poised at the gateway of love and the unloved as we undergo the initiatory stages of our descent into ourselves.

Upon the death of her husband Ereshkigal, the ruling goddess of the underworld, calls her sister Inanna to join her below the surface of the earth to attend the funeral. Though Inanna is the Queen of Heaven the rules of the underworld and The Queen of Death, must be obeyed. Inanna mindfully and vulnerably enters the underworld. She enters humbly on her knees, exposed, naked, and stripped of all her clothing and adornments, stripped of all her worldly possessions and everything that she has identified with. When she reaches her sister Inanna is met with the “eye of death”, this look from Ereshkigal instantly annihilates her. Her corpse is hung on meat hooks and left to rot in the underworld.

From our friend Chani Nicholas…”The only beings that come to her aid are two magical helpers who appease Ereshkigal by witnessing her pain, acknowledging it and mirroring her struggle back to her. These beings echo Ereshkigal’s cries and wails. For the first time Ereshkigal is relieved of her pain because she is related to. Accepted. Given some compassion for her struggle. In return for this kindness she gifts them Inanna’s body and the goddess is reborn. Ascending to the Great Above, Inanna is renewed, but is never the same. Now fully awakened by coming into contact with the pain of her other half, Innana is, for the first time, a Queen truly worthy of her crown.

Ereshkigal is the deep reservoirs of power that lay within the unconscious. We cannot come into contact with our full potential until we are willing to descend into our underworlds, reckoning with the truth of what has happened to us. The struggle of marrying the unconscious and the conscious, the Queen of the Great Above, and the Queen of the Great Below, is a process of transformation so intense and painful we can only do it in the underworld. We need deep caverns, incubators, and safe places to grieve and reunite with ourselves.”

In the darkness is where all life begins. It’s where seeds sprout, it’s the fertile grounds in which to truly explore and nourish ourselves. It’s the place of death, transformation and beautifully enough, of all rebirth and growth. It’s the place where all healing and integration to wholeness takes place. When we turn within to forage through our past experiences and identities, humbly stripping ourselves bare, we find endless opportunity for release and unification. Creating time to be quiet with ourselves, to sit, to breathe, to examine, invites endless opportunity to bring all these aspects of ourselves together. Here we can move closed to the acceptance of wholeness and release that which no longer serves us.

Try This:
Find a comfortable place to sit, or lay down to find comfort. Close your eyes and breathe. Tune in to your body, sense the places where your body is rooted to the earth. Keep breathing mindfully. Now imagine all the places where your body meets the earth. Imagine that through your skin roots start to sprout. Each breath in and each breath out nurtures these roots to grow deeper and deeper, spreading out just below the surface of the earth and eventually finding their way deeper down. Imagine as you breathe in you pull energy up from the earth and as you breathe out you are releasing old stories, old pain, and old trauma. Continue this process until you feel a sense of deep ease, release and relaxation. When you are ready to come back let your roots be released. Take a moment to honor all aspects of yourself, those that are light and dark, accepted and rejected, loved and unloved.

Interested to learn more about these healing practices? Our Ritual, Healing & Sacred Waters Yoga & Self Discovery Beach Retreat in Tulum, Mexico is coming up March 30-April 3, 2019. Together we will explore healing power of Pachamama (Mother Earth) with ritual, movement, mediations, soul work and so much more. Learn more here.

Photo by Thu Tran of 2TPHOTO

All In

When scrolling through our latest images from a photo shoot I saw this photo of myself and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself “Hey, I think I know her!”. It took my brain a moment to realize this was actually me. I look so vulnerable and real, like who I really am.

I have a love/hate relationship with the camera. Over the past few years of photoshoots (and after living with my ex husband who is a videographer) I learned how to take a pretty “good” photo. I learned how to elicit joy and play and how to create a mood to give off a certain vibe. I learned how to tuck away my vulnerable parts to stay safe, I learned how to keep those parts of me hidden unless I invited them out to play. Deep down I am secretly terrified of being fully known and seen. I’m afraid of rejection.

But vulnerability is life asking, Are you all in?

The easy answer for me these days is a resounding “YES!” but it wasn’t always this way. Sometimes I still catch myself holding back to protect myself and sometimes I jump into the deep end head first, heart-bared-wide with no strategy for the swim home. Saying YES and holding back are both risky moves.

Vulnerability is unarmored, it’s courage. It’s real.

Brene Brown asks what experience makes us feel most vulnerable. For many of us, it’s moments of extreme joy: Standing over my children while they’re asleep. Going in to remission. Having a baby. Falling in love. I would like to add sharing a photo and bearing your heart to social media as a vulnerably viable option. 😉

We often mistake vulnerability for weakness, but in fact it’s a great strength. Vulnerability is showing up in our fullness without the need to rely on some overprotective ego pattern to shield us from life. We often greatly value vulnerability in others, but shut down our heart when it’s our turn to be vulnerable (pssst…that is fear running the show, the heart likes to feel safe). My work is in recognizing when fear is holding me back, and this isn’t always an easy inquiry. Fear will keep us stuck in a pattern or from going after something we really want in life and sometimes fear feels safer and more comfortable.

While I have gotten better at sitting with these parts of me I know that these parts (even the parts I don’t want to fully embrace) make up my wholeness. I know that recognizing where I get stuck is the first step towards liberation and this is a life practice. I value seeing my patterns through the many mirrors I am offered so that I may consciously choose how to live my life instead of armoring my heart to keep it safe. I am learning over and over again to let go of the past, my ego stories and fears that are holding me back from living my very best life. And you can too.
Our upcoming Women’s Weekend Retreat: The Sacred Art of Letting Go is happening September 28-30 in north Georgia. We will be exploring these attachments to our stories and old ways of being through yoga, the enneagram, mediation and so much more. Post or message me if you are interested in learning more or head to our website to get more details.

Photo by 2TPhoto

Letting Go

“Our journey is one of movement and continual change. Each threshold different, each letting go with its own character-every set of experiences bearing their own teachings. If transformation were as simple as weeding through your accumulated possessions, it would not be daunting. But meeting life is daunting. It is the letting go, not of books and outgrown clothing, but of a conditioned way of being that has grown immeasurably comfortable. At this threshold you ask yourself, do I really want this? Am I finally ready not to waste anymore time?”
Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night

Yoga was my formal introduction into understanding myself better, little did I know at the time it would be the thing that saved my life.

For years and years I was showing up on my mat. Day after day I was stretching and exercising myself into a sweaty heap of emotional and physical exhaustion. In my head I thought I was a “good yogi”, I was getting stronger and becoming more flexible. I was able to make all the shapes in class but I had no idea that I was not really practicing true yoga. I would judge my own practice, getting upset if I lost my balance or needed to take a break. I would compare myself to those around me celebrating if I was “the best” in the class, feeling bad if I wasn’t. I would show up 25 minutes early to claim my spot in the room and get irritated if someone was in my spot. I was hard on myself and hard on those around me, both on and off the mat. On the outside I thought I looked like what a good yogi should look like, on the inside I was deeply struggling.

One day, when my life was falling in pieces all around me, I realized that none of the stories, criticism or judgements I was harboring was serving me, none of it was helpful. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be liberated from reacting to the world around me. I wanted to be free from all those things that were weighing me down. At that moment I wondered what would happen if I chose a new way of being? It was at that moment that I consciously decided to make a choice to let it all go.

I wish I could say it was easy to let go of those parts that were weighing me down. I wish I could say that once you make the choice to let go then you magically achieve some sort of enlightened state. For me the choice to let go was the first step toward happiness, I immediately began to see some changes but I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took time to reprogram my habits and patterns, it took time to explore new ways of responding to the world around me without falling back into patterns. And as I grow and change I am challenged in new ways, I take on new habits and patterns (some healthy and some not-so-much). I have new challenges that I must navigate in my personal life, in business and in all my relationships. To stay on the path of growth I must be compassionately aware of my tendencies and my messy and imperfect humanness, and at the same time I must keep a keen eye and steady focus on my inner world (and not be afraid of asking myself tough questions and calling myself out on my bullshit and stories). This is my sadhana, my most meaningful daily practice.

Photo on retreat by 2TPhoto

Running Towards Your Dreams

Take a moment with me here.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the following question.

Are you running towards what you want in life?

This can be a tough question. I know I spent many, many, many years afraid of going after what I wanted. Looking back I see I was afraid of failure, I was afraid of rejection, and to be frank I was secretly afraid of success too. I was afraid, very afraid. One day I realized that I was the only one that could change my life, I was the only one who could reach for my dreams. No one can do that for me.

How liberating and truly terrifying that realization was.

When was the last time you got quiet enough to ask yourself what does your heart want? When was the last time you listened to that quiet (or not so quiet) heart song? When was the last time you ran toward what you wanted with arms open wide, heart pounding with excitement and possibility? When was the last time you said YES to your dreams?

Join me and my Soul Sister from another mister, Shari L Fox, on July 21 at the Dirty South Yoga Fest to explore how to live your life to the fullest.

Magic

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

Magic. This is the word I often use to describe the feeling of being on a Soul Nourish retreat. But really it’s not magic at all, it’s what happens when we show up with pure presence. When we soften our edges and relax into our body the world becomes a bit more magical. Our mind starts to clear and our hearts become tenderized. Magic happens when we are seen and loved for exactly who we are.

This isn’t just a space we create on retreat, with practice this is a space we learn to access over and over. We create this space with permission. The permission to relax. The permission to open your heart enough to let someone else (or many someones) in. The permission to dive deep into what yoga truly means. The permission to explore moving your beautiful body in a compassionate and powerful way. The permission to speak your truth. The permission to share your dorky (or badass) dance moves. The permission to look deeply at what holds you back in life (and CHANGE it). The permission to safely explore your patterns and try on new ways of being. The permission to sing off key. The permission to lose your balance (or even lose your shit – thanks for that one Michelle Teel) and to be loved BECAUSE of it not in spite of it.

Are you ready for magic? I am. Head here to see where we are going next.

Photo on our El Salvador Retreat by 2TPHOTO

1 Year Ago Today

I’ve been in hiding, so it’s only appropriate that this interview with Voyage ATL come out now (thanks Universe).

Yes, I have been full with the studio move, retreats and my already full everyday life but I have also been hiding. To give 100% disclosure I have been struggling for a while.

On a personal level my heart is heavy, I am going through a breakup that has been complicated and emotionally draining. I have been spending a great deal of time watching my shadow, shifting, subtly moving and studying what my next move should be.

Our brand new studio has my physical body. I have given this move so much dreaming, planning, energy and attention. We will be opening for classes this Sunday and I am mostly terrified and anxious.

What if I am making the wrong move?
What if our students don’t show up?
What if…
What if..
What if…

FORM yoga was built out of my darkest days. My entire life had just fallen apart. Everything that I thought was real was revealed warped like a fun house mirror. I was starting over. I was alone and I was terrified.

This was how I was cracked open.

From tragedy beauty was born, as it often happens (or so I have learned). This community healed me and continues to do so on days (or weeks) like this when I struggle. Like the ouroboros, a symbol of creation through destruction, FORM built me right back. It was written in the stars.
Thank you.

1/16/17

Photo by 2TPHOTO on retreat in Maui 10/25/17

Retreat Rumination

Last night I dreamt I was back in Big Sur.

Arriving in San Francisco on an unusually warm August day I was feeling unsettled, nervous yet excited. I had knots in my stomach over my ex-husband’s latest alcohol induced antics that left me scrambling last minute to find care for my son. I felt the old familiar tug of anxiety and self criticism for asking my friends to help with my son while I was away. I packed plenty of guilt and shame for going on retreat to such a seemingly peaceful place and leaving the turmoil, loose ends, chaos (and my son) in Atlanta.

Driving our rented Dodge Charger along down the Pacific coast I swapped stories and shared truths with my dear friend and Soul Nourish retreat partner Shari Fox. We approached the iconic winding roads of Big Sur with the raging ocean far below us on our right and immense cliffs at the roads edge on our left. “Watch for Falling Rock” the caution signs warned every few miles.

We rolled down the windows to test for smoke from the raging wildfire just 15 miles away that would soon close the very roads we drove in on.
Are we there yet?

IMG_0687
Arriving in Big Sur my fingers were cramped from gripping the wheel to steer the car should there have been falling rock as the signs warned. Surely we would have been crushed or pushed far off the cliff into the cold swell below had I not. The damp foggy air smelled mostly of earth and flowers with a hint of campfire smoke. The rugged terrain and relentless surge of the ocean along the jagged boulders far below cliffs at Esalen Institute both intrigued and terrified me. Gazing from the fierce crash of the waves against the cliff to the seemingly still ocean in the distance there was a moment of pure clarity, of belonging. I felt comfortable and at home.

IMG_0708
I came to Esalen to study the Enneagram?mostly because Shari asked if I wanted to go (I would probably jump off that 100 foot cliff at Esalen if Shari asked, we have that kind of trust). I had a deep longing to journey away from home and into myself, to take some time away from the everyday to live in the extraordinary beauty of Big Sur, if only for a week. The romanticism of possibilities swirled in my mind and electrified my body alive, keenly attuned and awake. Then abruptly the tingling-swirl-jolt of excitement stopped and a dullness settled in as I thought of a thousand reasons why I couldn’t go.

“It’s…_______”, fill in the blank. “It’s irresponsible. It’s too expensive. It’s too long to be away.” Then the “shoulds” start…”You should spend that money on a vacation for you and Ansel. You should save that money in case the studio has a bad year. You should stay home, that wild fire is really close and it’s dangerous to travel there.”
If these protests don’t stop me in my tracks the ego usually turns into a nasty little fucker, and this is where it gets real personal. “What makes you think you deserve a retreat? You are just a yoga teacher, is life really that hard? Oh, a retreat huh, you think you are so special. You are selfish to even think of taking a vacation on your own. Your son just decided to not see his alcoholic father anymore and you want to fly to the other side of the country and go on retreat? You are a terrible/selfish/horrible (insert your favorite below the gut adjective here) mother.”

Sound familiar?

I could have easily believed to this rumination to be true, in fact much of my life I did. What I have learned is that these thoughts are limiting boundaries that keep me small. When I have listened to them they only kept me doing, thinking, and behaving in the same dull old ways, they simply don’t allow me to grow. Enneagram expert and the teacher of our retreat at Esalen, Russ Hudson reminded us in class that another definition for rumination is the process that cows use to chew cud. They chew, swallow and regurgitate the same material to chew on once again. What we think are thoughts are generally just patterned ways of thinking, habitual rumination of the same story over and over.

My week on retreat was one of the most satisfying and valuable experiences of my life. Each day was a micro-journey into a deeper experience of wholeness. It was filled with opportunities to deeply connect with myself, with nature and with the people I met along the path (both literally and figuratively). This experience was a gift that I gave to myself not because everything in my life perfectly lined up for it to happen, because it certainly did not. This retreat was truly an amazing experience because of the chaos and turmoil that I had to face to get there.

Chew on that.

IMG_0780

 

Interested in going on your own retreat??Learn more here.

Photo by Ross Knight

You Get To Choose

How often do you stop and take a moment to witness the extraordinary beauty around you?
How often do you dull yourself to not make others feel bad?
How often do you just close your eyes and take a big, bold, beautiful breath?
How often do you play?
How often do you question what you think of as truth?
How often do you listen to that feeling in your gut, in your heart, or in your throat?
What if the answer was everyday?
YOU get to chose.