Monday, March 1, 2021
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Parsvottonasana/Pyramid pose is a standing forward bending side stretch of effort and ease. This stretch strengthens the legs, lengthens the hamstrings, helps improve stability, and allows release in the spine/upper body. Breathe in, expand your lungs, soften your upper chest, back, heart, head and neck. Connect your mind to your breath and your breath to sensation.
Take care with moving, listen to the language of your body.
To stay awake and aware in our world today requires a lot of effort. This past year has proven to be a difficult and heart breaking one for many of us. In addition to the devastation of the pandemic, we are dealing with continued violence, oppression and racism in all its ugly forms. To care is to put yourself in a place of vulnerability and exposure.
As a daughter, sister, nurse, partner, and friend it is my job to care. As a caregiver, it is easy to put yourself aside and take care of others first. I know this because I have done this. Not putting boundaries or personal needs first creates depletion, strain and eventual breakdown. This wearing away of resilience and strength looks different for everyone, it may not be externally visible to others, and it doesn't happen overnight. Recognizing when we need to step back and find equilibrium is self care. Personally, I have many responsibilities that extend outward from my home into my community, and even further globally. As someone who believes in equality and justice, it is a struggle to fight such a large system that feeds on greed, power, money and selfishness. That struggle can wear you down, making self care an essential resource to keep going, to keep helping, and to keep supporting those in need.
For the past 20 years, I have worked with families in crisis. I know what suffering looks and feels like. I have had the privilege to care for people in all transitions of life and death. The witnessing of suffering, knowing the inevitability of it, and recognizing it is the first step to helping. Soothing others suffering is possible. It requires you to stay open, patient, and available without expectations. Sharing a moment with a stranger or a friend is humbling. I remember as a young nurse, many mentors told me not to cry with patients and families as it can be emotionally draining. The job remained exhausting on many levels despite my reaction to it. In time, I found that allowing myself to feel my emotions instead of masking them improved my ability to let go of the stress related to the difficult experiences, to be more present at work and at home. The willingness to listen to other people's stories and feelings is essential to begin the process of helping and healing. This is the act of compassion; to understand, to empathize, to sympathize, and choose to take an active role in relief.
To live compassionately is to own your self care.
The origins of self care are deeply political. I urge you to research the history of self care and the moments it received attention and promotion in the media. Self care is a practice of survival. Rest is essential, but is particularly important when anxiety, stress, fear, and grief become part of our everyday experiences.
In my life, I have chosen to move, breathe and meditate as part of my self care practice. It helps, even small movements, a few deep breaths, and short moments of quiet time. This practice is one that I share in the form of Yoga and Reiki.
Free Virtual Slow Flow Yoga
DM for details/link.
For those who can't make it to the live class, I've recorded free movement/meditation offerings. The most recent video focuses on Reiki as a (~ 20 min) self care practice, shares the 8 Reiki Self Holding Techniques: hands to head, eyes, ears, back of the head, shoulders/neck, upper chest/heart, upper abdomen, and lower abdomen. Reiki holds space to continue to care and support each other through compassionate help. Reiki is flexible, adaptable, it meets you where you are with no agenda, no judgment, and no expected outcomes.
"Caring for myself is not self indulgence, it is self preservation
and that is an act of political warfare."
2/18/1934 ~ 11/17/1992
In support of the importance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self care this months free offering highlights the efforts of 'The Audre Lorde Project' (ALP). This months donation has been made to the ALP, which is a Community Organizing Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming (LQBTSTGNC) People of Color Communities. Through mobilization, education, coalition building, and advocacy, the ALP promotes community wellness, progressive social and racial justice.
As I write this, many states within the United States are considering legislation that will restrict healthcare, impose criminal penalities on medical professionals and parents that offer care to transgender youth. Even though these proposals are not happening in the state in which I live, the United States is an extension of my home which continues to promote inequity, violence, and ongoing discrimination. I have found that researching and educating myself has been the largest part of my activism. Reading and listening to other people's stories is an important part of finding connection and understanding. The Trans Justice Funding Project is a grant funding group that helps local communities organize, they offer great resources to groups who are committed to freedom of self expression.
Anti-racism, anti-oppression, and anti-violence work is ongoing and will continue for the rest of my life. My activism starts in my own heart, my home. I share the work with my kids to provide opportunities for discussion, to further understanding and open communication. It's challenging and difficult, but doing the right thing has never been easy.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
"We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again."
In 'Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times', Katherine May gives a meditative honoring to the season of winter. She marks the feeling of a season in one's life as a wintering season. The joy, the sadness, the cozy, and the cold are all woven into this beautiful book about the need for rest, replenishment, and renewal within the seasons of our lives.
In New England, where the glory of each season is only here for a short while, there is a need to pause, to connect with the beauty in nature, to hold the moments with all your senses, to remember the feeling of each passing month.
Being in the season of winter now, there will be some days you may not want to get out of bed. Do it anyway. Find some space to lengthen, reach out your arms and legs, reawaken, and linger in the first stretch of the day. Lean into your supports, a wall, a block, or a strap can encourage and promote a softening within sensation. I'm not a morning person, in fact, morning is a difficult time for my body as it takes me a while to comfortably move my tight joints and stiff muscles. As the day progresses, I move more fluidly and the season of my day arrives.
As a child, I've always enjoyed discovering the seasons through fresh eyes. Every year I grew and matured within my abilities to really see, hear, smell, taste, and touch all that nature has to offer. When I became a mother, sharing in the joys of a first snow in winter, a little green in spring, the warm summer sun, and the abundance of fall guided our days as a family. Slowing down to celebrate and honor each season as it arrives is a way to connect the magic of my childhood and pass it on to my children.
This February I will be sharing offerings that inspire moving, breathing and meditating.
Virtual Slow Flow Yoga
*(no class 2/17)
This is a pay-as-you-can class ($5-15)
Click here to sign up for class via Paypal.
If you are having issues with the link, or don't have a Paypal account, please email me.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
This February I will be sharing weekly classes that inspire moving, breathing and meditating.
Some weeks I may read a poem or two...
For those that like to plan ahead, there will be *no class on 2/17.
Virtual Slow Flow Yoga
This is a pay-as-you-can class ($5-15)
Click here to sign up for class via Paypal.
If you are having issues with the link, or don't have a Paypal account, pleae email me.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Monday, January 11, 2021
Today the kids and I made a crystal grid (a group of stones laid out in a particular way for a specific purpose) as our January new moon mandala. We only had a few minutes between work and school prep, but it was worth it.
These are dark days and we are all coping differently. I'm grateful for the consistency of prioritizing ritual to help manage the fatigue of being a nurse in a pandemic, to support my kids while remote learning, and hold space for open communication and connection. Carving out the smallest amount of time for creativity can spark discussion about what weighs heavy on the hearts of the young. It is in the processing of thoughts, opinions, and discussions that can reveal the truth of words as action and activism. We infused our crystal grid with reiki (positive intention sent through the hands) for justice, equality, peace, and accountability.
Intention and reflection is a powerful form of action.
I'm feeling like we need to keep connecting virtually, to keep breathing and moving collectively. I find it easier to get quiet and still for meditation when there is a surrounding circle of support. Consistency within the practice is a big part of it too.
This week calls for gentleness, we will begin with the breath and see where it takes us.
Let's keep finding opportunities for reflection within the transitions of our bodies, the thoughts in our minds, and the changing emotions within our hearts.
#activate love power
From my home to yours.
Slow Flow Yoga
This is a pay-as-you-can class ($5-15).
Click here to sign up for class via Paypal.
If you are interested in class and are having issues with the link or don't have a Paypal account please email email@example.com
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
This beautiful quote by the wise Sonya Renee Taylor is truth.
On these last few days of 2020, I'm looking, listening, and feeling my way through to 2021. I'm sitting with discomfort, grieving the losses, and the injustice of many years culminating into this past year. This year has exposed a lot to unravel and will have mental and physical impacts on many of us in the future. In an effort to stay hopeful, I've been cultivating a gentle observance with myself and others, taking a long deep breath before I speak or react, consciously choosing non-judgment and neutrality over an explosive response. I listen and read to find understanding, to learn more, to help me parent two beautiful humans who have so much love, patience, and generosity to give. I tune in to how I'm feeling and use my senses as super powers to activate an awareness that is open hearted and trusting of my own gut instincts.
This look, listen, and feel paradigm is one I learned in school and work; a life or death assessment in some cases. Look, listen, and feel can also be a practical tool for coping with new and uncertain experiences. If a situation unravels, taking the time to look at it from different angles can be helpful. Listening to all sides and talking it out usually brings insight. Interestingly, the body can react differently than the mind in any given situation. The way things are said or taken in through our senses can stimulate emotional responses that the rational mind doesn't connect with. I know I've been quick to anger, feeling frustration or irritability that blocks my seeing a bigger picture scenario. I've also taken things personally, and felt hurt with harsh and insensitive words. This is a process, I make mistakes often, but I apologize and forgive. Take the time to feel the language of the body, it is a form of compassionate communication to oneself.
This year I have had uncomfortable conversations, held the hands of dying strangers unable to be with their family, watched my friends and coworkers struggle in situations that aren't sustainable, and made decisions that will change the way my kids learn and live. I've also seen the power of the human spirit thrive, that change and adaptability is possible, discovered that love continues to grow, found hope in unlikely places, and faced many personal fears along the way.
Reflect and release
There are many variations of this pose. This image is a gentler version with the hands showing self holding techniques to the heart and low belly. Modifications and adjustments can be made with the heels down or lifted, a rolled or folded blanket under the heels can be a useful prop to support this pose.
This New Year has the potential to be transformative on many levels, it won't happen overnight, but change is constant. If we look, listen, and feel into each moment we can witness the unfolding of it, and become an active part of the process.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Typically, winter is a time of rest where many of us hunker down in our houses and enjoy time off as we transition into the new year. But this year has already been a long one with much suffering and loss, and those who have been masking and distancing, in attempt to slow the spread of this insidious virus have already experienced the separation and isolation that winter can bring. This year has been an eye opener for those who choose to stay aware, engaged and curious. World and local news has been difficult to bear witness to, it can feel apathetic to many who don't know how to help or be a part of the solution. I worry for families in crisis, victims of unjust violence, and the helpers who are fatigued mentally and physically. Some people have told me I care too much, and I do. It's also my job to care. I work in healthcare and have had experiences in my career that I never thought I would see.
Most days I am taking one moment at a time, not focusing too far in advance, holding on to the gifts of ordinary days, and staying inspired as best as I can. We need each other, especially now when we can't touch or see our loved ones. It's easy to get lost in fear when we are left alone for too long. I talk to my Mom everyday and stay in touch with friends and family. I'm so grateful for modern technology!
While winter can be a dark time, it is also a time of transition, and every day that passes we get closer to the light. We need the balance of dark and light to appreciate the beauty all around us. In the meantime, we can shine our own light outward and help those in need with simple acts of kindness. Sending letters or emails, talking on the phone, checking in on neighbors, or waving at others when we walk outside are all reminders that we are not alone.
Caring gives hope and when given collectively, it can bring healing.
With regard to self care, here are some video practices I recorded filled with movement, breathwork and moments of rest to bring increased energy, stoke our inner fire, and keep your light shining strong and bright.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
December is here in New England and we have a few more weeks of fall left before we transition into winter. The changing seasons offer us opportunities to notice more, observe the natural world around us and feel into that connection of living, breathing and being. This time of year, the leaves have completely fallen off most deciduous trees and the evergreens remain. The season of late fall seems most stark as the tree limbs stand bare, the weather becomes colder, the days are shorter, and the call to stay warm and rest more is strong. I live my life by these nature rituals of noticing what changes and what stays the same. It gives me hope to know its rhythm and consistency.
As I reflect back on the last 15 years of sharing yoga, I am clear on one thing; change is constant. When I first started teaching, a few friends gathered to give me support and help build my confidence in my new endeavor. Their presence and feedback in my life has been such a gift. As I moved on to show up in studio spaces, I continued to confront my fears of public speaking, and developed my own style of teaching. My classes were always small as I didn't feel comfortable promoting myself, but I kept going and my connections kept growing. Years went by and I continued to meet wonderful people who it seemed were teaching me more than I was teaching them. With all the highs and lows of how life unravels, I am still inspired by the beauty of this moment. 2020 has shown us all that nothing stays the same.
Finding time to slow down, listen to the mind/body, move purposefully, and breathe with intention has always been the foundation for creating an authentic space that continues to grow beyond the limitations of walls. Returning to rest, ease and comfort is the theme for December. I remember my early days of learning the practice of being present during my teacher training at Kripalu. Stephen Cope shared his thoughts and mantra 'BRFWA' (breathe, relax, feel, watch, and allow), a powerful tool for coming home to ourselves. Read more about it here.
Many thanks for your patience while I navigate a new path, there will be bumps in the road, but life is for learning.
Virtual Slow Flow
Free class on 12/2 & 12/9
Wednesday evenings 730p-845p
email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details/link.
This is the season of giving and I'm happy to gift 2 free classes this month. Please join me as moving, breathing and meditating is about creating space in your life to find steadiness. My goal is to share a few live movement practices to wrap up our season of late fall before winter begins and see what our New Year of 2021 will bring. Until then, I have free movement videos on YouTube and free guided meditations on Insight Timer.
With love and care,
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
This time of year can bring up different emotions for many people depending on your family experiences, beliefs, customs and cultural lineage. Thanksgiving has never been a holiday I enjoy or like to celebrate. As a nurse, I typically sign up to work the holiday as a way to avoid it and divert my attention towards attending to others. As a parent, I have taken the time to share the truth of our history in an age appropriate way through books and discussions with my kids. Honoring traditions is important, but not at the expense of others grief or loss. As I continue to grow and learn, cultivating new rituals, and staying open to human connection through helping and caring is the true gift of abundance.
Acknowledging this gift is in the practice of gratitude.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia or gratus, which means grace, graciousness, or thankful pleasing. This act of appreciation either expressed or received, releases potent neurotransmitters in the brain. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are responsible for our emotions, and when they are released they enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.
Take a moment to remember a time when someone said something to you that genuinely recognized you in a meaningful way. Perhaps it was something you did or said, now think about the sensations that were released when that moment happened. Typically, when feel good hormones are released, there is a sense of warmth that radiates throughout the body, causing temporary feelings of bliss, happiness and contentment. Practicing gratitude can increase neuron density, establish new neural pathways for the brain, and lead to greater emotional intelligence, all while making you feel good!
With gratitude, there is a reflection on what you have as opposed to what you don't have. That reflection acknowledges the goodness in our lives. Once our basic needs are met, there is an extension of that goodness outside of ourselves that helps us to connect to something larger and beyond. This expanded awareness of gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, positive emotions, improved health, and stronger relationships.
Gratitude is a daily focus in our family. I share my morning meditation with my kids, bringing hands together palm to palm or to rest on our upper chests, we take three deep breaths and state three things we are grateful for, aloud or in the silence of our hearts.
When we verbally express our gratitude, it is a recognition that you see, hear and value someone or something. It's a way to honor an interaction, connection, or validate an experience.
There are many ways to express gratitude to ourselves and others. Wishing someone well, saying thank you, sending a hand written note or email, and recognizing an opportunity to verbally express appreciation for a moment of connection can have a serious impact on someone's life for the better.
My younger son is creating a gratitude journal for school and sharing his thoughts about our current living conditions during this pandemic. Our discussions about what we are grateful for now are really the little things we took for granted before. We truly miss the simple things we live without now, daily meet-ups with friends and neighbors, after school play times, sports, and heartfelt conversation over a cup of tea or coffee. When both my kids were younger, we would write down a few things we were grateful for and place them in a jar to read aloud at special times. We still have the jar, and we still write down what we are grateful for, which in turn have shaped our hopes and wishes for the future.
When we endeavor to connect gratefully with others, we open ourselves to what it means to be fully human. Embracing our vulnerability in the need to interact with others honors the profound opportunity we have to share the experience of being alive, together, in this world.
It is my sincere hope that we can all interact safely and meaningfully while giving thanks this year.
Connections & Gratitude
I've added a short practice of moving, breathing and meditating to boost our immune systems and our feel good hormones. This slow flow utilizes breath centering to connect with gratitude and mindful movements.
This practice is dedicated to those that help and serve others.
A donation has been made to World Central Kitchen, an organization that creates smart solutions to hunger and poverty. World Central Kitchen are 'Food First Responders", they serve millions of meals each year and provide disaster relief to those in need. They provide training programs, strengthen economies and empower communities all over the world. Consider donating to their amazing efforts this week.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
|"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."|
Saturday, October 31, 2020
October into November brings us into the darker days of fall. We turn the clocks back here in the northern hemisphere to perserve the light during our waking and working hours. Feeling into the seasonal shifting is a moment to moment awareness that sometimes is forgotten, overlooked, or unseen in the bustle of day to day life. The older I get, the faster the days go. While the leaves change color and the air turns colder, the world is more chaotic, violent and frightening with each passing day. One week bleeds into the next, I struggle to hold on to the beauty of transition and let go of fear and worry.
These last few months I have walked everyday, immersing myself in nature as much as possible. It has helped me to make sense of the senseless, to find hope in the hopeless, and remember that nature unravels herself gently and patiently. When I expand my awareness to what is beyond my immediate world, it's like a door opening into the unknown.
Carving out moments in my day to move with intention and breathe deeply has brought insight into the passing of my days. Some of which are filled with rage, sadness, and moments of joy. The emotional range is wide and I've leaned into it, gathering strength from the stillness of observing, listening, and feeling. If we close ourselves off to that which is too painful or uncomfortable to feel and fail to look beyond what is plainly seen or heard, we limit our potential. We shut down all possibility of infinite perception.
Parighasana or gate pose is a side body stretch that uses the breath to expand one's awareness into all dimensions of the body and beyond.
Parigha translates as door or gate, while asana means seat or posture.
A gate is defined as an access, an entrance, or a portal permitting passage.
Gate pose is an embodiment of perception, potential and possibility.
Lay out a mat or folded blanket and try these variations on Parighasana or gate pose. Support for the grounded knee is essential in keeping the joints of the body safe and aligned. Press down through the top of the back foot, gain strength in your foundation before opening up the opposite leg into an extension. Press through all four corners of the front foot. Find a pace to your breathing that feels supportive and steady yourself through the low body before uplifting through the upper body. A block can be grounding and allow for the release of the opposite arm that lifts up and out of the pelvis. Adjust your head and neck for comfort and breathe into the spaces of the rib cage. Explore the expansion in your body as you lift up and out from your strong center.
Let go of expectation.
Extend out to create space.
Pay attention to the wisdom of your body.
Perception is a portal that opens possibility and potential.
Slow Flow virtual class Wednesday 730p-845p EST
Free guided meditations on Insight Timer.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
While it saddens me that so many shops, restaurants, and yoga studios must let go of their physical spaces due to the pandemic, small businesses still need your support. We are all learning new ways of doing things and the need to offer opportunities to strengthen our perseverance is more important than ever. Online classes to move, breathe and meditate are abundant. I have been grateful for my friends, colleagues and mentors who are showing up, adapting and pushing forward. Their actions inspire me to keep going, to keep growing, and remember that life is unfolding in the beauty of the seasons that surround us and guide us. My hope is that we can expand our perceptions and connections to continue to support each other in a welcoming online community.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
|"Serve with a full heart. By making others happy, you make yourself happy. |
The key to your heart lies hidden in the heart of another."
Tree pose is a posture to honor our root connections and
celebrate the earth energy of September.
With love and care,
Monday, August 31, 2020
As we enter this last month of summer in 2020, we can feel into the seasonal shift of autumn coming. The coolness of the morning air, the sunshine that warms the day, and the brightness of the blossoms still in bloom. As the colors of each sunset expand orange, pink and and purple across the evening sky, we slowly lose incremental minutes of daylight towards the next season of change.
For me, this time of year moves quickly. There are many transitions with work, life and school schedules. Although things will be different for many of us, together we push towards our dreams, and what it means to plan for the future that is unknown in many ways.
This summer, I have been reading selected books alongside my sons. We have enjoyed the stories and discussions together, which have opened our thinking to themes that include gratitude, expectations, and hope. One author stands out among the rest, an author that writes for the potential of all of our youth, and the remembrance of the dreams that still exist in our hearts and minds.
Take time to watch and listen to Jason read this beautifully filmed poem. Share this poem with a coworker, a friend, and your family. His message is simple, caring, and personal. "If you somehow find truth, comfort, or anything at all within this ramble, keep it close and use it for firelight for this long and often dark road."
Jason has inspired me and my sons to read more, write more, and to honestly reflect on what is really important in our lives and in the lives of others. All it takes is courage. His writing prompts have been a guiding light to keep us thinking. The offering is this: "A Place Worth Being," a writing Spark that prompts one to think of themselves as a place, turning their body and mind into an environment through writing. As someone who expresses themselves through action, intentional breath and foucused attention, I relate this prompt to my movement and meditation practice. As a whole being, my body is my home. This beating heart inside emotion surrounded by muscle, bones, and skin is a universe alone. When I connect with others, reach out, form bonds, and engage in meaningful experiences my universe extends, providing a sense of worth.
We are here, now. Do what makes you feel good. Do what makes you feel true. Find your place that is worth being, and extend that worth to help others find theirs. We are in it together.
Finding your worth takes courage. There are many different types of courage ranging from physical strength, mental stamina, or emotional awareness. For some of us, everyday tasks can fulfill an act of courage. Following your heart, persevering in the face of adversity, and standing up for what is right are all acts of courage. Letting go of our comfort, feeling pain, suffering or grief with dignity, and believing in yourself all take great amounts of courage. In our embodied world, there is courage and there is fear, but they function together, and when the two combine an impermeable force is born.
Here are some offerings to move, breathe and meditate, while harnessing our courage.
This short video is meant for inspiration, there are no guided verbal prompts. Perhaps, watch through and then move your body from a place of intuition. I invite you to reflect on how you feel before, during and after. The poses are listed in the description. The video ends with self holding techniques (reiki) intended to help bring intention and awareness to areas of the body that may need more attention. The hand positions highlight the low back, upper and lower abdomen, and heart space.