Makin’ a Baby…One Asana at a Time

 

We’re all in training… training for a big run, new promotion, skill…always to get to the NEXT LEVEL; land the big score. Yet in our yoga practice we strive to be in the present, in the now — with nowhere to get to. Isn’t that yogic bliss? Isn’t that why we all come to our mat — just to BE PRESENT? Well, yes, of course! So what about when I conceive and birth a small human being… am I training for the BIG SCORE or am I blissfully in the present.

 

Bear with me here…guys, un-previously impregnated women, women who don’t have the slightest interest in sharing your body with any other living creature, stay the course…there’s something very intriguing about what I have to say – to everyone. I’m going to use this circumstance, but I invite you to tack it onto ANYTHING in your life to that you’ve committed yourself to do or be. Anything you have {miraculously!} chosen even though you’ve got NO IDEA how you’re going to complete it successfully {much less SURVIVE it}, and then come out of it on the other end pleased as punch to list it as one of the MOST exhilarating experiences you’ve ever totally ROCKED. You might even be crazy enough to do it again.

 

So, let’s get back to TRAINING. And the yogic “present bliss”. They can actually simultaneously coexist. And in the preparation for childbirth, I’m not sure how they couldn’t.

 

Mind you…I started with a GOAL {insane, but true}. I was committed to crossing that finish line a certain way. No drugs… at a Birth Center.. just me and my husband. Candles, music, Jacuzzi, aromatherapy…

 

SO, I knew needed to train, but what I didn’t know at the time was that the MOST IMPORTANT part of all of it was the blessing of being in the moment. I actually had was TRAINING myself to BE PRESENT.

 

Here’s what I discovered:

 

  1. Prenatal Yoga is NOT sitting on a cushion holding hands with other crunchy mamas, breathing in unison while you try to align your uteruses with the cosmos. It’s WORK. Work like Utanasana on the wall for several minutes {because that’s how long a contraction is and you need to BREATHE through it}. That was cute. Full-on Planks and Chatturanga {because you need arm strength to carry “those suckers” around}. And powerful Warrior sequences {because you need every muscle in your body to endure the process, and to stay the course}. Holy sh*t. We were TRAINING.
  2. A meditative Savasana at the end of each practice during which we “talked” to our babies was the most amazing {and crucial} discovery of each practice. I actually had the opportunity to have real conversations with this little person who was always with me. And sometimes I was really angry. And sometimes I was terrified. And sometimes I was excited. And he heard it all. And four years later, he still does. To this day, it’s one of my most proud connections with my son. Again, we were TRAINING to be present.
  3. It takes a long time to really get what it takes to be in the moment. HA! The irony of it all. It’s that damn TRAINING. New challenges developed {think Half Moon with a 20 lb. weight hanging around your waist…that moves}, and restrictions came up left and right {no deep twists, inversions are controversial, holding your breath is a no-no}. Well, how in the hell was I supposed to do MY YOGA? If I couldn’t TRAIN hard, what was the point? The point was that that was being in the moment. Knowing, adjusting and being content.
  4. Labor was not like anything I could have imagined. It’s the ONLY experience I’ve ever had in my life where I was nowhere BUT the present. Some may refer to it as survival. I prefer to call it intense bliss. I was so present that I could still recall that day like it was yesterday. “The moments” were a short-lived trip to Target {not a romantic series of rounds of breathing by candlelight; check that one off the list}, Childs Pose with DEEEEEP Ujayi breath on the living room floor {not a relaxing nap to save my energy with the hubby; whoops!}, and an “only to distract me” shower followed by a seat-clenching, TV mini-series like highway car ride {hold on, wasn’t my goal the Jacuzzi?}.

 

And why is it that I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch last Thursday, but all of those moments could be painted with vibrant color and precise detail? Simply because I had TRAINED for those moments — those beautiful, wonderful, blissful moments.

 

 

So my challenge to you…
As you take on your next great big hairy, scary challenge, create your plan and consider yourself in TRAINING. Keep that eye on the prize. Take notice in those moments {especially when it gets SUPER hairy} that these are YOUR MOMENTS, your PRESENT {pun intended actually, as it really is a gift}.

 

Breathe them in. Resist them. Send them packing. It really doesn’t matter. Just know that those precious moments will be the very things that have you crossing that finish line…embracing and remembering every sacred, miraculous minute.

 

No go and unwrap those moments!

 

 

By Baby Mama Kelly Whalen
{Call me Crazy, but I’m doing this AGAIN!}

Food for Thought or Thoughtful Food


 Today is day four of my seasonal juice fast. Many of my friends and relatives consider this to be a bit radical, this ritual of denying myself any solid food for 5 days. I suppose it does sound a bit over-the-top in contrast to this society of fast paced, conveniently packaged living. I mean, my diet is fairly healthy in comparison, so why detox? I eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. I limit my sugar intake and cook from scratch. No packages here. And I enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. So is this really necessary?

According to many holistic practitioners, yes, it is extremely important to give our bodies a break. We are like a system of filters that need changing now and then. Ayurvedic science considers that many toxins build up in the bodies of even the healthiest of people. There are three types of said toxins: environmental, metabolic and un-digested food. Environmental toxins are the obvious pollutants that are, sadly, just a fact of our modern world. Metabolic toxins are the residue of the digestive process, much like fire leaves behind soot. And last but certainly not least is un-digested food left in the digestive tract. In our society of over-abundance, we all have food in our digestive tract as the digestive system cannot keep up. We generally eat our next meal or snack long before the previous one has been fully digested. This un-digested food creates a substance called “ama”, a sticky, white, toxic substance that is considered the root of all disease in the holistic sciences. Medieval western herbalist used to say that “death is in the bowels”. If left too long, ama begins to seep out of the intestines in search of a weaker area of the body where it can settle and manifest as disease.

This seems reason enough for a regular cleansing ritual, but I like to consider the spiritual aspect as well. This past weekend I had the honor of leading a three day detox at Moyo. I began cleansing regularly many years ago and have encouraged my husband and children to join me. So I know from experience that when these toxins begin to release from the cells and dump into the system, and the cleanser begins feeling irritable and lousy, they turn their frustration toward me as the one who suggested this in the first place. So, as you can imagine, I was a bit apprehensive to lead ten people through this process. However, it proved to be a great experience and really boosted my enthusiasm for my own cleanse as I enjoyed the support of a community of like-minded people. We came together for two hours each day to practice yoga, journal, meditate and discuss our revelations as the weekend went on. The most profound revelation, I think, was a unanimous realization of how we use food for so much more than just nourishing our bodies.

Denying ourselves for a short period of time allows for introspection and self-study. It helps uncover emotions that we tend to suppress, often with food. It is a time to disconnect entirely, a retreat of sorts. And although juicing is very labor intensive, and maybe because it is so, it gives us a profound appreciation for the food that the earth produces and that we lovingly prepare. When our food is prepared for us, either packaged, prepared food or restaurant food, we lose the connection to that food.

Once bitten with the juicing bug, a trip to the farmers market is a source of great delight. And this time of year the markets are a riot of vibrant, colorful deliciousness. I love the vision of the enormous basket of fruits and vegetables sitting on my table awaiting their turn in the juicer, producing potent concoctions of concentrated nutrients that, bypassing the digestive tract, shoot straight into the system delivering mind clearing, energizing goodness.

So all in all, a juice fast is something to consider. Even if you’re not fasting, incorporating juicing into your lifestyle, whether once a day, or now and then, can give your body an energetic boost. So get out and support your local farmers markets this season and try experimenting with combinations of fruits and vegetables you may not have considered. My favorite is apples, ginger, carrots and kale. A new one I discovered on this recent cleanse is green apple, grape, lemon and spinach. The possibilities are endless, as is the selection of produce in spring and summer.

Enjoy the bounty of this beautiful season and I’ll see you in the fall for our next cleanse.

 

Lisa Scarborough

Ayurvedic Nutritional Consultant

What is a MOYO Trekker?

The MOYO Trekkers are a fairly laid back somewhat crazy group of yogi’s who love to be outside as much as they love to practice yoga! On our outdoor adventures, we take a few too many pictures, make lots of bad jokes, get sent to the back of most restaurants and feel that just about any place is a pretty good place for a yoga pose. Trekker sightings include: handstands under waterfalls, a calming tree pose at a vista (one trekker claimed to have vinyasa-ed on a wooden bridge surrounded by rhododendrons with only the sounds of the stream until she heard her Trekker pals catching up!). Post hike/adventure we love to chat, share stories over FOOD! Trekkers love food!!!

The Trekkers started with myself, Christy Holland and Tom Sharp’s love of hiking!! Now that we’ve been through our first season, our little hiking group seems to be evolving into an adventure group!! Last summer the Trekkers went white water rafting at Jim Thorpe. This year, we kicked off our second Trekkin’ season on St. Patty’s Day with rock climbing at Philadelphia Rock Gym. Be on the look out for… another white water rafting trip, a camping/backpacking trip, a ropes course and of course HIKING!

You could be wondering, what do you have to do to “Be a Trekker Too?”

If you want to know more about the Trekkers or want to be put on the list e-mail me a christy@moyo-yoga.com. Or you can talk to frequently participating Trekkers (they are typically the troublemakers in your yoga class!). For updates on on Trekker mayheim join MOYO’s facebook page!

Wouldn’t you like to be a Trekker Too?
“I’m a Trekker, he’s a Trekker, she’s a Trekker… We’re all Trekkers! Wouldn’t you like to be a Trekker too? ” ~ Best when sung to the 1980’s Dr. Pepper jingle

Trekker Out,

Christy Holland, MOYO Yoga Teacher

There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.

Have you ever injured yourself in effortless motion and cursed the very action you were performing? Do you know what it feels like to take a lifetime to work thru the stages of sorrow, anger, and frustration, just to get to acceptance and healing? Robin Sharma, author of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, writes about this very action. He explains that we need to change the way we respond to these life situations and form the habit of searching for the positive in EVERY circumstance. He explains, “For there are no mistakes in life, only lessons.”
Recently, I injured myself in yoga and cursed the practice. I sunk into my couch and cried. I contemplated never teaching again. So many times I’ve promised myself to slow down, but never put forth the effort. Maybe through this injury, the divine found a way to make that happen. It’s hard to imagine that a negative experience is a good thing, but without them we would not be able to savor the good ones! Every experience has the opportunity to teach us to grow and learn, for from struggle comes strength and the laws of nature always ensure that when one door closes another opens.
Change isn’t easy for me, I have a set way for things to happen and my injury wasn’t on the list. (Yes, I like control or at least the illusion that I have some.) This injury may have thrown a stone onto my path, but it will not stop me from keeping the MOYO in my life, the benefits and transformation far outweigh anything. I’ve had to modify my practice and let go of some control issues, but I wouldn’t go back in time and change things for I have more compassion and a bigger appetite for life. Don’t be afraid to fall down or even breakdown, these struggles build you stronger. And yes the process is continual. If you ever feel the need to just talk stop by some time, I would love to hear your story!

Steph Neff, Certified MOYO Teacher, RYT

Where’s Your Will?

To hear the word “surrender” in a yoga class is commonplace. To surrender into the pose. To surrender any pre-conceived expectations of how a pose should look or feel. To surrender the ego. Now, surrender is a fine practice. It fosters sensitivity, humility, patience, and awareness. All worthy and necessary qualities.
But what has become of the Will? The deliberate nurturing and cultivation of an adamant Will. The bedrock upon which all action is built. Such talk is practically akin to blasphemy in most of today’s rainbow chocolate covered chakra-licious yoga classes, but the simple truth is that the practices of Yoga are part of a system intentionally designed to nourish and mature the power of the Will.
Now please don’t suppose that by that is meant a system to empower and create a particularly willful variety of stubborn Ass. No, that is not what is meant, though that does tend to be what is conjured in mind when one speaks of Will these days. Three conjoining terms from Yoga will shed light.

Iccha (Will) Kriya (Action) Jnana (Knowledge)

A yoga sadhak was expected to cultivate a Will strong enough to take the Action necessary to attain to Knowledge. Self-knowledge. Furthermore, consider this. Meditation is the fixing of the mind upon a single object to the exclusion of all other mental and sensory diversion. Meditation is only made possible if the Will is strong enough to hold the mind from wandering. The foundation of Meditation is the Will.

Yogas chitta vritti nirodah.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the Mind – the classic rendering of Patanjali’s most famous sutra written above. But wonderful, symbolique Sanskrit also allows for this translation -
Yoga is the cessation of the wavering of the Will.

I leave you with two quote to take for a spin.

“Do as thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” – Aleister Crowley

“You’ve got to know when to hold em’
Know when to fold em’
Know when to walk away
Know when to run”
– Kenny Rogers

Namaste Mo-fo’s!!!
Tom Sharp, KYT

How many breaths do we take in a lifetime?

Alex Hitchin’s Quote aka “Hitch”– “Life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away!”

Coming to the mat allows the opportunity to find those moments where we marry the breath. The breath can be easily forgotten when the intensity of the pose overpowers us, and the teacher gives a nudge reminding us to remain present and breathe.

Yin is a style of yoga that asks nothing but to soften and breathe in the stationary pose, slow and steady with a sense of core softness and surrender.

There are three main principles in Yin postures:
1) Come into the chosen shape to an appropriate edge.
This means coming into the pose non-aggressively and sensitively, allowing breath to be slow and steady, so we can detect the appropriate depth of sensation, while using props blankets, bolsters and blocks.

2) Reminding ourselves that we’ll be in this shape for some time and the need to breathe and soften, being aware of ourselves in this space.
We draw our attention to the breath and with each inhale and exhale we settle deeper into the shape. Each time our attention wonders off in its own direction we come back to the inhale and exhale, all the while reaping the benefits of our Yin practice.

3) Knowing that we will be in this pose for some time developing an ability to surrender and breathe. Each time we are in these shapes it affords us an opportunity for a time of introspective reflection or mini-meditation while finding the qualities of slow and steady breath.

In addition to allowing us to connect breath to our practice; Yin with its long hel passive poses permits connective tissue which becomes shrink-wrap like over time to stretch in a gentle and passive manner a return to a more youthful (elastic) state.

This practice has given me the ability to bring meaning to more of my moments, living with care and intelligence, being able to access resources within my inner world and feel connected to life!

Always remember “life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away!”

Pat Setley E-RYT500

A Winter Reflection

It is that season, the season where we turn inward to re-awaken our sense of self.

The days darken early, and even the world around us reveals its bones –- the naked tree limbs that stretch against the sky, the patch of ice that in its very stillness reflects the universe.

It is in this spirit, the spirit of reflection that I offer you the following lyrical essay that I wrote about a little place called MOYO.

I hope you enjoy it and remember to use this winter time to reconnect with your “self.”

the yoga studio

They come in the early evening for yoga, carrying red, purple, green rubber mats,
tight-rolled, banded in silk made from Indian saris.

They come in black pants and tie-dyed headbands,
carrying their water canteens;
browsing in the gift shop before class,
chatting over hand-rolled sandalwood incense, semi-precious gemstone malas,
neti pots, China gel, gypsy bags,
amethyst crystals strung on leather cords.

They put boots on the raw wooden rack,
hang jackets on pegs,
unroll mats and bodies on the wooden studio floor;

In the back room, I prepare for massage,
lighting the crimson pillars around the Buddha’s head; warming the bed; steaming the towels; scenting them with essential oils — lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus

I offer a prayer to Shivago, the father doctor, in the language of Pali,
Na-a Na-wa Rokha Payati Vina-Santi
May this healing medicine encircle the world . . .
I direct the words into my breath, my heart, and my hands.

When my client arrives, I place my fingers on her, traveling a different landscape; eyes closed, I will press here, there, feel the subtle beat of pulse and hard bone, strum against the cords that bind this body, down the lamina groove, over the erector spinae muscles, C-7 to the thoracic spinous processes, to the lumbar’s secondary curve, down to the fish-shaped sacrum, and then separate hands to trace each iliac crest.

Little lumps of hard fascia poke through her tissue, bits of cold butter against my palms.

I rub muscles; effleurage, petrissage, jostle, hold, compress, using knuckles, forearms and fists
until she melts on this river of herself.

Sounds rise from outside the door. The yoga students depart with flushed, perspiring faces, and call out cheerful goodbyes,
the gentle click of the door between this world and that one.
But no matter, it is all ways, you, always you, under your own hand.

Patti Kinsey CMT, LMT  Massage Therapist

What is in your sleep toolbox?

I love sleep, plain and simple.  I must have inherited this from my father who can sleep at the drop of a hat.  Imagine my excitement when I was introduced to a yoga practice called Restorative Yoga and found myself surrounded by blankets, bolsters, neck pillows and the like. I was smitten to say the least… seems like the perfect time to take a nap!

 

Well lo and behold, Restorative Yoga is not time for a nap BUT it can help you get a good night’s sleep.  This practice of balance and healing assists us to create space in our muscular-skeletal body, our emotions and our mind.  Just as importantly, it gives us time for ourselves to reset, renew and reenergize.

 

One way you can get a better night’s sleep is to spend time in a pose with your legs above your heart. You can easily access this position with your legs up the wall, chair, couch, coffee table, etc.  The key is to keep your feet up higher than your heart.  If you want to go all Sanskrit, the beautiful name of this pose is ViparitaKarani.

This highly accessible pose only requires a supportive place for your legs to rest and maybe a firm blanket for cushioning the lumbar spine.  Of course, additional props like a neck pillow, a blanket to cover oneself, or even a strap to keep the legs from falling outward are akin to putting a cherry on top of a sundae.

 

What would you expect to get out of practicing this pose?  The benefits are numerous including the following:

  • Increasing circulation which helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body
  • Relieving swelling and fatigue in the legs
  • Helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis
  • Quiets the mind
  • Can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.  This will also attribute to a more healthy sleep cycle.

 

 

When should you practice this pose?  You can certainly practice at anytime of the day but to transition from activity to sleep, it is most beneficial right before bed.  Find a place where you can be undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, put on your comfy pjs, turn down the lights, and take a few deep breaths as you settle into the pose.  Feel free to wiggle, adjust, and settle with some deep breathing until you can begin to relax the muscles, the mind.  I highly recommend Left Nostril Breathing to go along with the pose.

 

To do this gently close the right nostril with your thumb of your right hand, breath in and out of your left nostril, closing eyes. Use this breath if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.

 

With practice, the body begins to remember this relaxed state and can more easily ease into your (hopefully 8) hours of sleep each night.  Happy Rest, Happy Healing and Happy New Year!

Diane Kistler, Certified MOYO Teacher

 

For more yummy poses, check out Diane’s blog at www.RestorativeYoga-Feelingthebliss.blogspot.com.

 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Over the past several weeks,  I have been setting an intention to gain clarity on different aspects in my life.  One day before yoga class, that clarity was realized as I glanced in the bathroom mirror.  Staring back at me were the words: “BE STRONG…Stand up for what you believe in!.   “WOW”!  I immediately felt a sense of clarity.   These words made me realize that I AM STRONG for managing my depression and I should STAND UP and help others gain the strength I’ve found.  Namaste!!!

I continued to stare at my reflection and wondered if the people in my life were a mirror reflecting my true self.  Could this be?   I have found myself looking away from people and closing myself off many times before (a typical response of a depressed person is avoidance which only causes symptoms to become worse).  For instance,  if I had the courage to show up for yoga on a depressed day, I would enter into child pose creating a proverbial shell around me.  Funny how I found myself avoiding the part of the yoga practice that would’ve  helped me manage my depression the most!  Now, I realize when I’m feeling raw, miserable and closed are the times in my life when I need my sangha (community) the most.  I don’t need to hide in my shell but reach out and OPEN myself!   Our MOYO sangha has given me love, support and allows me to see that everyone is an authentic reflection of me.

No matter what you are dealing with either depression, anxiety, stress, life/death issues, loneliness, etc. I encourage you to practice yoga to OPEN to your true self and reach out to your sangha for love and support  because they are an authentic reflection of you…..

Come and join me on January 21st as I facilitate Yoga for Depression and Anxiety.

Gratefully,
Eileen Connell, Certified MOYO Teacher

Sambasana

I like to move it, move it! I like to think of each yoga class as a DANCE — the choreography of the asana; the primitive rhythm of the breath; the unique expression of each special being. So why do so many yogis practice so still, so rigid, so POISED??

Dance has been used for centuries as celebration, worship, ritual…even for communication and self-expression. Couldn’t incorporating a little dance into our yoga practice do that for us? First, try thinking of its ritual nature — that every time we step onto our mat, we’re honoring someone {ourselves, each other?} or something {world peace, hot, fresh pizza?}, using each precise movement paired with breath as a sacred act.

Now, imagine that with each act, you also have a beautiful story to tell…but you really need the movement to have it be heard. Try this: Before you step onto your mat, pick one of the following that speaks to you, and make THAT the theme of your practice.

 

  1. WORSHIP {A higher being, yourself, your thighs…} — What if every reach toward the sky fills your heart with adoration? What if your Warrior II was an homage to those thick, strong {maybe even jiggly} thighs?
  2. CELEBRATE {An accomplishment, the fact that you’re still breathing…} — Bring your JOY. Smile, laugh, sing {even out loud, maybe…what???}.
  3. COMMUNICATE {Speak with your TRUE voice} — Have each movement speak for you. Feeling your power? Be STRONG with each asana. Feeling romantic? Let your Heart Chakra lead you.
  4. EXPRESS {An inner flair, your grace, love…} — Let your fingers and hands create a beautiful mudra, flow with your hips to the beat {of your breath, the music}, create a Sun Salutation that is all yours.

Remember, the most important thing is that if you’re connecting your mind, body and soul, it’s YOGA!!! Need more easy, breezy ideas?? Try these:

  1. Wake Up. Cue your favorite music {Guilty pleasures like “Everybody Dance Now” encouraged}. Dance, move, leave it ALL on the floor {you go, J. Lo.}
  2. Find a local DANCE studio. Hellloooooooo? Ballet, Hip Hop, Ballroom {my heart flutters as I write this}, Salsa, your daughter’s 8th grade dance…whatever calls to you.
  3. Attend a flow-y yoga workshop/class. There are some great teachers out there who masterfully incorporate yoga and dance! Some of our recommendations: Faith Hunter {http://www.faithhunter.com/Faith_Hunter_Yoga/Home_faith_hunter_yoga.html}, Natalie Levin, Dana Flynn {http://nyc.laughinglotus.com/ourteachers_dana.html}, Simon Park{http://liquidflowyoga.com/}, and Shiva Rae {http://shivarea.com/about-prana-flow}

Now, go get ‘em Footlose!

Kelly Whalen, CYKT

P.S. Look for more MOYO Mixx classes in the new year — a PERFECT opportunity to add a little Sambasana to your repertoire.