I am the edge of the cliff. The ending and beginning

Because the majority of my work is voice based my voice is often tired.  I talk and talk and talk and talk – I tell stories, I boss students about how to move their bodies, and I hold my clients hands when I tell them the honest and hard truth. Sometimes, I will literally speak for eight hours straight. Those days I am so tired of hearing myself that when I have the luxury I stay quiet.  I don’t call my friends or family, I don’t seek out dinner companions, instead I sit still and in silence, usually in the bathtub, probably with the lights out. Like a singer, this last week I injured my voice.  My big powerful beautiful strong voice is currently muted.  I can speak but it is not suppose to be above a whisper and in truth it is not suppose to be at all.  As soon as my doctor told me that I had to shut-up I realized that I had so much I wanted to say pretty much to everyone – especially those I love. Yet this time silence is not a luxury. Silence is not a gift to myself. Silence is now both my practice and my healer.  Freaking silence. So I am practicing remembering to remember to be silent.  To say the least it is hard, it requires effort, it makes me uncomfortable – if I were in front of a yoga room right now I would say that this serves a purpose. That this discomfort will agitate me to grow. Maybe it will but right now when I am out...

Is that you or is that me?

Historically it has been difficult for me to remain calm when others are being emotional. Like an absorbing mirror I breathe their emotion in.  Always categorized as extremely sensitive, it wasn’t until my late 20s that I realized my mood was transient because I was constantly absorbing other people’s feelings. My personal boundaries were so blurred that I didn’t realize where I ended and others began. My energetic awareness shifted one day waiting for the ATM in a line that was two people deep. I went from feeling happy and light to being pissed. It was a heady enough shift that I stopped and asked myself: “where is this emotion coming from.” It was then I realized the line had grown and was full of agitated people. Without a doubt, my willingness to make inquiry was rooted in my time on the mat.   Since then I tune in when I feel myself shift and I ask: “Is this really my emotion or is it theirs?” That question and the awareness to ask it changed my life and set me on a path of energetic exploration.  Sunrise at the Healing House I first began to share the energetic toolkit that I developed as a presentation in Charm City Yoga’s teacher training about four years ago.  In it we discussed mirror neurons, the idea of a professional persona, the need for grounding through presence, protection through appropriate boundaries, and the awareness and willingness to release.  I have made this presentation numerous times and its content has grown into a three-day retreat that I offer once a year.   During my most...

Chakra Yoga: Lam. Vam. Ram. Yam. Ham. Om. Om.

Over the many years that I have been teaching I have spent the majority of my time instructing beginners.  I love the challenge inherent to teaching people new to the practice but even more than that I love their openness.  Beginners have yet to define what Yoga means to them so they are flexible.  If I say Yoga is chanting, they are in. If I say Yoga is breathing, they are in. If I say Yoga is stillness, they are in. What has always seemed strange to me is that many students over time become rigid about their practices. They define Yoga for themselves and are no longer open to new ideas or new styles.  To be honest that rigidity makes me sad.  Yoga is a 5,000 years old tradition and from my experience every time you try to limit it the practice will expand beyond the boundary you set in the sand. This last week I challenged myself as a teacher and taught Chakra Yoga with the bīja (seed) mantras to beginning students. That basically means that for over an hour my students sang while holding postures.   It was a huge risk as a teacher and while I am rarely nervous about teaching on Monday I was. Through that agitation I caused myself to grow, after all the only way to expand a comfort zone is to be uncomfortable. As usual my beginning students were my teachers.  From the Root Chakra to the Crown, twenty-two students sang with open minds and hearts and I am proud of every one of them for it. To me the myriad of...

Rumi is dreamy.

Years ago I discovered Rumi during a yoga class and he has been a meaningful part of my practice ever since. If you have yet to make your way to Rumi’s writings I recommend that you get yourself a book. If you are anything like me it will be worn by your hands. Today to mark the start of my personal practice, I blindly opened my book and was struck by this beautiful passage: The spiritual path wrecks the body and afterwards restores it to health. It destroys the house to unearth the treasure, and with that treasure builds it better than before. Rumi I remained still for a moment giving his words room to have weight. After a bit, I turned my focus inward and became aware of my breath rolling in and my breath rolling back out. I added movement for a while playing with my edge. Moving and breathing, breathing and moving, I made my way back to...

“Efforting”

First and foremost, I know that “efforting” is not a word.  Lately though, I have found myself using it when I teach. At first I used air quotes to acknowledge its made-up status but I even dropped that. Full disclosure, when I read books and there are typos or grammatical errors I find a pen and circle them. So why am I using a fake word?  I think we can all agree that word choice is powerful. For example the word “try” has a very different meaning and implies a very different energy than the word “effort”.  So in all honesty I am hopeful that my students will forgive my bad grammar when I ask them to make sure that they are efforting.  I wish instead that they use that cue as a reminder to take a breath, reconnect to themselves, become active participants in their pose and put forth some focused...

Once I glow, I enter the room, and offer up my knowledge to those in attendance

Recently I taught the teacher trainees in Charm City Yoga’s low residency program.  My segment had to do with Protecting Yourself Energetically as Teacher.  Many of you reading this may find it strange that you would need to be protected as a Yoga Instructor. After all, all Yoga teachers are happy, healthy, perfectly in-balance, they don’t even need coffee (biggest lie going).  However, from the energetic perspective when you are holding the space for others to heal and let go (i.e. controlling the place where others are practicing) protective energetic boundaries for the teacher becomes important. I want to talk for a minute about the idea of boundary – boundary does not mean armor. Boundaries can be breached, they are permeable.  I think of a boundary, when I am teaching like a force field, in fact I imagine myself radiating white light numerous times during the classes I instruct.  I feel that that radiation makes me a creature of the light to my students – one they can trust and respect – but also protects and keeps my energetic boundaries safe. Okay, so what is this energy stuff all about?  Eastern Philosophy teaches us that we are all interconnected; that we are all in fact one.  Science for a long time pushed the idea of individuation but recently (and this is mind-blowing stuff) scientists have discovered a subset of our neurons known as “mirror neurons” , also called “Gandhi neurons”.  These neurons hardwire us for empathy.  So basically, if you see someone getting punched there is a part of your brain that says “ouch” and another part that hears...