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How Fear Can Open New Doors

What is fear, how can we define it? Or, let’s ask this: Why do we fear? From what, when, and how do we fear and how can it open new doors?

Fear:

Noun: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
Verb: being afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful.

”Fear is the cheapest room in the house,
I would like to see you in better conditions.”
-Hafiz

Basically, fear is a feeling that arises from a dangerous situation or threat and causes changes in the metabolism and eventually in behavior.

Fear is the natural and necessary reaction of the body to situations where it feels danger and wants to survive; which actually thanks to fear, the race of human being survived until today. But in our daily lives – let’s say ‘most of the time’, we do not deal with or confront the things that truly threaten our lives. At least for most of us, these situations are less than before. But we still deal with an unnecessary feeling of fear daily, and maybe sometimes we do not even understand where it comes from.

According to research, most common fears in society are; failure, being alone, rejection, flying, heights, spiders, clowns (I can relate to that) and death. Fear of the unknown. For example, why are we afraid of a spider? Probably, we do not know if it is going to harm us or not, so we react with fear. But for some of us, spiders are not a source of fear at all. But why?

Because most of our fears also depend on our lifestyle, country, family, traditions and so on. Seth Norrholm, a transnational neuroscientist at Emory University, states that; “You get evidence from your parents and your environment that you need to be scared of these things.” Drastic, isn’t it?

Sometimes, we can feel all the reactions of the body to fear. Even in a ‘normal’ moment without any special situation, we can feel like something serious is happening. Increase in heart rate, a butterfly effect in the stomach, sweating. These are the fight or flight responses of the body to deal with danger. I can easily write these down because I have been there before. I have even experienced fear of having fear. And this is where we tend to call these moments anxiety or panic attacks. But fear, this very basic human feeling, is it something that we really need to be afraid of?

If we let it affect our lives negatively, the answer is yes…

But we can use our fears as a source of change, as an opportunity to grow.

Can fears really open the doors to new paths?

My answer to this is: Yes!

Let’s look at what ancient yogic texts say about fear?

Patanjali says in Yoga Sutra 2.3 that; ”Ignorance, egoism, attraction and aversion, and fear of death are the afflictions which cause suffering.” (Interpretation by Swami Vishnu – Devananda).

Sutra 2.9 explains more about ‘abhinivesah’ which is translated as ‘blind clinging to life’ by Swami Venkatesananda and ‘attachment to life’ by Iyengar.

Iyengar interprets the Sutra 2.9 as follows: “Self – preservation or attachment to life is the subtlest of all afflictions. It is found even in wise men.” He continues, “While practicing asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breath) or dhyana (meditation), the person penetrates deep within itself. S/he experiences unity in the flow of intelligence, and the current of self-energy. In this state, s/he perceives that there is no difference between life and death, that they are simply two sides of the same coin. Through this understanding, s/he loses his attachment to life and conquers the fear of death.”

Can yoga, when practiced with all its limbs, be the way to deal with our fears? My answer to this also, yes…

But how?

In my past, I had a huge fear of death, which now I learned to deal with. The fear was coming from the unknown. Not knowing what’s going to happen after it. And without any awareness by my side, this fear restrained me from many things, affected my social life, and in the end came to a point of anxiety.

I cannot say to you that all fears come from this, and you can handle them the way I did (in my case, yoga and meditation were the tools to cope). But I firmly believe that attachment to life and obscurity of death hinder us from many things; especially using our full potential for life. Most of the time we may not even be aware of it. Isn’t it ironic that attachment to life makes us unable to fully live our lives?

Yoga practice brings us to the moment, to the here and now. Where there are no worries of tomorrow or resentment of yesterday.

Fear is such a personal feeling that it is not easy to define its reasons in general for every other person. Generalizing it might be dangerous and we ourselves need to get to the roots of our own fears. It is not an easy journey for sure. And there might not be short cuts.

Fear in yoga practice:

I remember my first yoga asana class. I stepped into the studio with fear, with the hope of finding a solution to my fears (ironic, isn’t it?). I lay down in my first Savasana, in the dark class, hearing the noise of my heart, beating with fear. But I knew that there was something special on that mat, at that moment that if I wouldn’t give up, would take me to another path. Which it did…

This doesn’t mean that now I have no fears. I still have, A LOT! But yoga taught me to look into its roots and how to deal with it. And only if I want to deal with it…

We can start by labeling the fears – do they come from survival instincts or are they irrational? And we need to keep in mind that one is not less important than the other one. If it affects our life, coming from a survival instinct or not, fear is fear!

And let’s remember. We are human beings that have all types of feelings, even if we tend to call them negative or positive, most of the time. But the important thing is; what that feeling tries to tell you, and are you brave or willing enough to look at it? That’s where the game changes.

 

 

Derya’s passion for lifelong learning and her curiosity about different cultures, different bodies and energy work brought her to Southeast Asia 3 years ago. She started her yoga and Thai yoga massage journey in Turkey and has been sharing her love for these two abroad in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. Once she found “home” within herself, all countries became her home. Derya’s passion is movement and her goal is to show the strength, gracefulness and beauty of being in a body when it is aligned inwardly and supported by a steady breath. She wants to inspire her students with the possibility of waking up every morning with an enthusiasm and thirst for learning new things.

Connect:

deryadenizyoga.com

IG: @deryadenizyoga

 

What Does it Mean to Heal?

Heal the mind, body, and soul, yes, we’ve all heard that before. And if you’ve ever experienced heart ache, disease, or depression you know first-hand how impossible and nagging those words can sound. What do these words even mean? Is this a concept? Or could it be a process?

There is an absolute boat load of distractions today and every day. So much so that we pile pain on top of pain on top of disorder on top of dysfunction resulting in disorientation and confusion. Healing our internal wounds seems insurmountable in a world of endless contradictions. One might say, “How can I heal myself if the world is such a mess?” Even a daily yoga practice with spiritual intentions can be neatly stacked on top of the deep disillusionment that many yearn to unravel, leaving one relentlessly yearning.

And the truth is; healing is personal. Healing is slow and uncomfortable. Healing perpetually creates new steps to take, new roles to fill, new rules to follow; in a whirl-wind of self-care, protective measures, precautionary diets, exhausting exercises. Fortunately, and undoubtedly, no matter how daunting the issue may be, healing will above all push you to newer heights whether your responses realize it or not. Fabricated or strained, any slight recognition of needing to heal will set you on the path to living a more fulfilling life.

And this is the point, right? To live?

To live a FULFILLING life.

As I began to dip my pinky toe in the murky waters of my own existence, I have come to know that every human is a package of functional anomalies. How anyone is able to “hold it together” is absolutely and quite literally beyond me. Miraculous. And I myself am living the stigma of people thinking that I “have it together” and can tell you first hand that “having it together” is illusory; a subjective judgment. No individual knows the intricacies of the deck of cards that have been dealt to another. No one. Only you know how you feel and therefore only you can act consciously to heal yourself.

We have been taught so much dysfunction from the moment we were born, from family (or lack thereof), society, school, friends, loved ones, and have been expected to translate it into health and leadership. Success. Progress.

Are you kidding me?

Feeding into the external world without a solid internal foundation can be overwhelming and deadly. Society gives many options and expectations but only you can assess your needs; feel your true direction.

We are in critical times ALWAYS – and have always been! There is no mystery. There is no solution. “The end” is always near. Fear surrounding this is the ultimate external hang-up.

The only thing that existence needs from you is to truly be.

Science now shows what indigenous and traditional peoples have always known; that within us we carry the lives of our ancestors in our very DNA. So not only are we dealing with the child within us, the dysfunction of our upbringing and family life, but we also deal with the inherited damage that has traveled through space and time and now resides physiologically within us.

What?

Yeah, all the crappy feelings you have that bombard you from all sides and of which you never knew where, why, or how you felt this way; these are unseen forces, empathic resonances; basically, there is more to what you feel than what meets the eye. To accept this is the key, because there is no time to dwell on it.

Allow me to rephrase this; no longer are we burdened to deal with shortcomings or distress – we are graciously presented with the opportunity to complete the cycle, to conclude the damage, to evolve beyond survival and blossom into harmony; a thriving harmony that is so effortless, so genuine, so real.

This is what healing has to offer. It extends into the past and into the future. Lovingly addressing the suffering that humanity has perpetuated. Healing yourself first is necessary to healing the world. When the plane is going down, the clear instructions are to put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help anyone else. This is a strong reminder that until we heal ourselves, we cannot be expected to try to heal anyone or anything else.

I invite you to accept this responsibility. Within this vessel of a human body; these tissues, these issues, these differences, these grievances, there is only one truth. You are alive.

The healing potential is not solely limited to our own personal family timelines; there is no limit – this is EVERYTHING. Like mycelia of a forest, a network of communication is constantly buzzing and emanating from your every move. All of your thoughts and dreams and ideas are electric. Like a school of fish; a flock of birds – the entirety of existence is connected electrically. So, don’t be fooled to think that you can get away with plundering your own potential – you are infinitely connected, and eternally supported.

My heartfelt suggestion to every human is to meditate. Develop a daily practice and stick with it. Be responsible and compassionate to yourself which in turn extends to others. Your true-life potential lies within you.

Lay down the pipe, put down the drink, ditch the Prozac, skip the party and go within. Everyday spend time with yourself. Everyday!
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed; Be patient.

Make the time to be responsible about the only thing you are responsible for: you. Taking care of yourself first is the most responsible thing you can do for anyone else, any animal, any forest- for the entire planet.

YOU are worth it.

With the teachings of those who have come before us, the sages, the gurus, our teachers, parents, grandparents, community leaders, the internet and any transfer of knowledge, we have the miracle of understanding. We have the human miracle of listening. We have the knowledge to know that we put one foot in front of the other. We know that the answers are not external, however the guidelines given to us are very useful. You are not alone. We all must begin from with-in. Every individual must Begin.

Begin to be aware.
Breathe.
Be.

A few links to help you on your journey:
https://www.wopg.org/

https://www.chakraboosters.com/

https://www.medicalmedium.com/

https://www.louisehay.com

https://www.drmorsesherbalhealthclub.com/

And in the wise words of Jimi Hendrix:

“There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.”
“No reason to get excited,”
The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour’s getting late.”

 

 

 

Abigail Tirabassi is a star-gazing artist, surfer, traveler, philosopher, drawn to elevating the human vibration through her own healing; St.Pete, FL/Pavones, CR. IG: @scrammby

Meditation As A Lifesaver

It was the day before my birthday (May 21st, 2019) and I decided to celebrate at Shipwreck Beach on Kaua’i. I didn’t expect to go cliff diving that day, but it ended up happening and meditation practices saved me. I remember looking at the cliff and saying to myself, “That shit is way too high, I’m not jumping off of that.” About five seconds after my thought, two guys walked by and were talking about jumping. So I went ahead and followed them. Before I got to the cliff, I read a warning sign:  Diving or Jumping May Lead to Serious Injury or Death. The first guy jumped and his friend looked at me and nervously chuckled as he said, “Well, I had to make sure he made it before I jump.”  He then jumped in, then I followed landing perfectly in the sea.

All was well, until I swam back to the surface and realized that both my contacts flew out of my eyes due to the impact. At that point I was blind. I could, however, make out a slight blur of the two guys swimming like torpedo dolphins for a split second before they were out of my sight. I began to swim back to what I believed was the shore. I swam like a turtle, because that’s how I swim. I began to notice that the strong waves and current were pulling me toward the cliff’s gigantic rocks. I wasn’t making any distance from the cliff. I then realized I was going into a panic. I was over exhausting my mind with fear. This was causing me to use an excessive amount of energy.

I knew I had to find a way back to a calmer state of mind, so I started focusing on my breath. I began to find myself in a meditative state of being fully present. I couldn’t see the beach, but I could feel the current of the waves pushing me toward the shore. I knew the currents were too strong to fight head-on. So, instead I swam sideways, parallel to the current. I thought to myself, “This is how people die and, if I’m going to die. I’m going to die in gratitude enjoying every moment I have left.” This time I swam like a dignified turtle. With every stroke, I started to use a simple breathing mantra I do when meditating – “Inhale Thank, Exhale You.” I began observing my thoughts changing. I would not allow myself to die here! I thought to myself, “I won’t die here! I will live to heal others.” My strokes became graceful and strong. I then began to see the beach. I made it back to land and felt a deep gratitude for being alive!

Shortly after the experience, I came up with the vision of guiding a 200hr Meditation & Yoga Teacher Training + Peruvian Shamanic Ceremony in Peru, January 4th-24th, 2020. I am inviting anyone who wants to take yoga beyond the mat and into the sea of life to come. The way I teach my students is based on the core philosophy of yoga, bringing the practice back to its roots. Yoga for me is not solely about the asanas, but the remaining seven limbs of the practice as well. The eight limbs of yoga will be discussed and practiced during this teacher training.

The first limb of yoga is Yama, which signifies the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The five yamas are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non stealing), Brahmacharya (continence), and Aparigraha (noncovetousness). The second limb of yoga is Niyama, which emphasizes self- discipline. The five niyamas are Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas
(spiritual austerities), Svadhyaya (study of one’s self), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrendering to the source of creation).

The third limb of yoga is the most commonly known in Western society, Asana. Asanas are the physical postures of yoga. Yogic philosophy believes that the body is the temple, so taking care of the physical body is essential. Asanas, however, do not only assist with physical well-being, but they assist with developing concentration and discipline which is used in meditation. The fourth limb of yoga is one of my personal favorites, Pranayama. Pranayama is commonly known as “breath work”. These specific breathing techniques enable us to send prana or “life force” throughout the body. I am trained in many different breath work techniques and I enjoy sharing them with others.

The fifth limb is Pratyahara, meaning withdrawal or transcending the senses. Practicing Pratyahara allows us to see life from a larger perspective – to transcend beyond our emotional and mental stimulus. Each limb of yoga prepares us for the latter, therefore the next limb is Dharana. Dharana is the sixth limb of yoga and it means concentration. Pratyahara helps set us up for this deep concentration that Dharana teaches us. Dharana is used when we heal a specific energy center in the body, by giving all of our attention and awareness to it. When we are deeply concentrated on a particular mental object or energy, we can listen to the messages that it is trying to communicate with us. This brings us to our seventh limb of yoga – Dhyana, which is meditation. So, using Dharana, we are able to access Dhyana and a deep state of contemplation. Dhyana is more immersed in the everythingness and nothingness at the same time. It does not take much focus but more immersion and letting go. This is where you can see deeper aspects of the self, and your relationship to all. Last but not least, the eighth limb of yoga is Samadhi, meaning ecstasy or some people call it “nirvana”. The purpose of all of these practices encompassed as an ultimate state of bliss. The overall journey of yoga is to reach a state of divine peace.

After practicing yoga for over a decade, I have fallen in love with sharing this unique practice with the world. The reservoir of unlimited peace is within all of us, and it would be an honor to guide you into finding this peace within yourself. Yoga teacher trainings are great for anyone, regardless if you plan to teach yoga in the future or not. They help develop a consistent practice of yoga in all aspects of life, beyond the mat. I am looking forward to this teacher training in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Aloha and Namaste. 

 

 

 

 

Wolf Kinsmen, the founder of HĀ Yoga, has over a decade of experience in yoga & meditation. He has taught and trained all over the world. In addition to his yoga training, he has studied Shamanic practices while in the Amazon of Peru and received the name ‘Smiling Wolf’ from Don Howard. He completed the Wim Hof Method Advanced Instructor Training and was told by Wim Hof that he is a ‘healer’. He considers himself a lifelong student of nature! He learns from teaching others. He does this through being himself and giving a genuine experience wherever he happens to be.

Connect:

https://hayogallc.com/

IG: @hayogallc

 

Regenerative Practice: Pixie Lighthorse

Nature knows best. As we observe the natural world as being regenerative, we begin to realize that it is essential for us to mimic this mindfulness into our own daily existence. It can be easy to become repetitive and ‘mono-culture’ like in our yoga practice and other daily doings. This is one of the reasons I love attending gatherings that spark inspiration and cultivate positive change.

Being seasonally summer based in South Lake Tahoe, California makes it quite a joy to journey north to Wanderlust Squaw every July. This year was the most beloved Wanderlust experience yet! Could be a coincidence that they were also celebrating their 10 year anniversary with this ever evolving event. I was fortunate to participate in many beautiful classes and workshops, but the stand out this time around for myself was the speakeasy talk with Pixie Lighthorse. She touched on topics dear to my own heart, and engaged the community in important conversations. Her written and spoken words are wonderful resources for healers who wish to advance in their fields of study and for individuals in the self-healing process. Here, we catch up with Pixie as she shares a glimpse into her own creative and regenerative process…..

Can you briefly tell us a bit about your Earth journey thus far?

My Earth journey has had a lot of bumps and sharp turns! But I suspect not more than the average 48 year old living in the western world. What I find most exciting about living on Earth is how relationships are grown and how we strengthen them with healing and bonding. 

How has yoga influenced your life?

I practice a form called Primal Vinyasa, created by Annie Adamson of Yoga Union in Portland, OR. It integrates functional mobility training with barefoot theory, nature awareness, and some foundational principles of asana that work really well for strengthening the front of my body for daily life and ordinary moving. We call it “no more achy sounds movement practice” because it’s the antidote to cranky restricted movement—very playful and FUN. I came late to practice, and yoga has always been a little bit out of my wheelhouse. It’s changed the way I move each day and brought a lot of joy into moving and being on Earth. I was becoming a complainer with chronic stuck bits and pains. Traditional asana was too much like a competitive sport for me, my body was hurting trying to do it. 

Article Photos by: Heaven McArthur

What does a ‘regenerative practice’ mean to you?

Regenerative practice is an agricultural term (I’m also a part time rancher) that asks us to look to the soil to learn how to be. It calls for diversity on all measures: gut biome, range of motion, expansiveness, inclusive friendships with all kinds of people. It calls for honoring all of our bodies: emotional, spiritual, mental, physical in order to be fully engaged with the process of life.

How did you get into public speaking and presenting at events such as Wanderlust? 

Elena Brower connected me to Wanderlust, having read my books of prayers at gatherings around the world and seeing a positive response. In the world of yoga, just as in other communities, there is potential to heal spiritual and religious trauma. My books in the Prayers of Honoring series are that call-to-action.

What are some techniques you use to tend to your internal waters and soil?

Allowing emotions to have a place in my life has freed up a lot for me. As an adult child of an alcoholic, there is a secret ethic of “Don’t talk. Don’t trust. Don’t feel.”  This is toxic, and to me, it’s the Round-Up of the soul. Emotional repression is the signature of post-WWII America, and it’s tendrils have made intimate relationship increasingly sufferable the more intelligent we’ve become about what it feels like to be human. I’m deeply fed by the relationships I can count on. Inner healing for people and soil ravaged by chemicals, pesticides, and desertification bear similar results.

How do you balance nurturing yourself while designing beneficial relationships with others and nature?

I take a lot of time and space for myself. One example is that my partner and I deconstructed our co-habitation patterns so we both could have time to down-regulate our nervous systems. We stopped living in the same house and now claim quality interaction together when we have something to give. This is unconventional, but I think people are learning that it’s okay to do what works and gives life. Being with people all the time doesn’t give me life. When I tell that part of my story it’s alarming for some! It’s made a huge difference to us—the time we spend together isn’t about tolerating one another, it’s about building really great moments together.

How can we create more diversity and vitality within our daily yoga practices and life? 

Play and have fun. Life is too chaotic and too short to make movement another chore full of drudgery. Just this morning, my daughter and I made an impromptu stop at a park with a rock climbing feature before school drop off. We both got stuck up high and laughed our heads off while we navigated down. I like to make friends at the grocery store and our family pulls over to help people stranded on the road. I’m at my best when I have some room for spontaneous awesomeness. And gardening, of course. Lots of permaculture anywhere I can make a bed. 

Any tips on how to tap into creative brilliance?

Let the creative brilliance use you to tell its story. We have the most fragile aspects of our egos all tied up in our creativity, where it has no business trying to run things. I honor Creator when I sit down to write or paint and say, “Do what you will with these hands today.”  And I have to promise not to complain about what I make. We can have fun learning new skills, but our obsession with perfection is ruining all the fun. It’s making for an intellectual climate that to me, is boring and arrogant. Imagine if soil was so picky about the leaf litter that fed its worms. We must learn to do what we can with what we have and find joy in it.

What inspires you most right now?

I can’t get enough of marginalized voices. We are seeing the next major Civil Rights Movement! It shifts something so profound to center others. I’m getting tired of my own voice and tired of white males dominating the conversation about…just about everything. The inherent sagacity of black, brown, and indigenous peoples gives me life. Also, Autumn. I love the inward turning season—it’s my new year.

If you could say one sentence that everyone in the world would hear, what would it be?

Trade in your repetitive habits, forms, and mono-cultures to restore land, bodies, and vitality with diversity.

Do you have any upcoming projects or events you would like to tell us about?

Work! I am putting the final touches on my fifth book, Goldmining the Shadows, available in early October. It’s the sister to Boundaries & Protection and will make navigating the inner darkness much easier to talk about, and normalize.

Anything else you would like to share?

Yes, the Earth is a mirror for our bodies and lives. Every plant is a medicine, every animal a messenger, every direction a teacher. When the Earth suffers, we suffer. We can start healing right now, by tending our bodies’ needs and any soil that we can steward back to health.

 

 

Pixie Lighthorse is the author of five books centered on self-healing through intimate relationship with the natural world. She is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She writes to honor the unheard voices of her ancestors.

www.pixielighthorse.com

Insta @pixielighthorse

Off the Mat – Activated after Bhakti Fest

It was one of my very first yoga classes that my teacher spoke about practicing yoga “off the mat.” I initially came to yoga to get in shape, lose some weight, and start a new exercise routine, with no intentions to get in touch with myself or find any sort of spirituality in the process. I remember thinking to myself, “ of course you can practice yoga off the mat, you just do the poses on the ground anywhere else!” Easy peasy.

It wasn’t until that moment in savasana that my mind got quiet, I felt my body, and my breath became my own sacred white noise, that I realized that yoga is far more than a twisted posture in a peaceful room. Class after class I would reach that feeling I couldn’t describe and still barely can, that feeling of connection to myself and everything else around me. It started to come to me in different postures, and then in meditation, and then I started to feel it after class, when I’d stumble onto the bustling streets of NYC and still feel that sensation of deeper connection. The people or situations that once agitated me no longer carried so much weight. And there it was: I was practicing yoga off the mat.

This photo and cover photo by: Monique Feil

Thousands of downward dogs later and now I understand why practicing yoga off the mat is not only important, but necessary. My understanding for what yoga actually is has been completely transformed— I now know that yoga is a way of a life, a way of a service, and truly a way of activating our own lives to reach outside of ourselves and into the world. After attending Bhakti Fest in September, my beliefs were absolutely validated and certainly expanded, as this festival lives and breathes yoga off the mat.

As the mantras were being chanted and the mala-wearing yogis were saluting the sun as it spread its rays through the Joshua Trees, there was devastation happening around the world. Hurricanes destroyed the eastern side of our beautiful country and wildfires scorched the old growth forests of the West, while ice caps were simultaneously melting at rapid speed in the arctic. This, amongst the heavy political strife in ours and so many other countries around the world, pushed me to wonder how chanting and deep breathing in a Southern California desert could possibly contribute to this polarized world we are living in in a positive way. While I felt a shift inside myself, how could that reach outside of myself?

Photo by: Monique Feil

So many teachers, musicians and artists at Bhakti Fest were tuned into this same question, and addressed it quite directly. From MC Yogi’s lyrical genius, singing “love is righteous, and it might just save the whole world from this global crisis,” to Michael Brian Baker’s plea to protect our planet and its people by supporting Chase Iron Eyes to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline and drop all charges against water protectors. This festival is not just about feeling good, but also about being real with our own innate power and using it for good.

After taking a class with Sianna Sherman, focused on creating change off the mat and in the world, we spoke more in depth about how yoga can inspire compassionate activism. Sianna teaches Rasa Yoga, “an alchemical fusion of mantra, mudra, asana, Bhakti, tantra, soul alchemy and earth ceremony.” One of its goals she said is “to remember that we are a collective tribe and also earth guardians, and we are here to protect and serve the earth and each other.” She spoke about using yoga as a pathway to better understand our own shadows and the power of turning towards, rather than away, from our own pain and anger. These practices teach us how to work with our own emotions and stay centered so that when it’s time to be a voice of change and to be of true service to the world, we are not pulled out of ourselves, but rather grounded and activated from within. “If we use our power and really consciously work with our own emotional fluency and literacy, and emotional intelligence, then we can change all the energy inside, including all the anger and rage—so we can truly create positive change,” said Sherman. What we’ve seen happen far too often is that “rather than using our power consciously, we end up polarizing and dehumanizing the other point of view and righteously standing only in our own narrow perspective” she said.

Sherman’s sweetie and beautiful musician, Masood Ali Khan, also had a strong take on the matter of change-making. He shared about how the sustainability of our world “is coming closer and closer to its death if we don’t make a move. This is a call for us to rise up.” He went on to say that in order to create change we need to move as a family and a community, so we can expand fast. “We need to make changes now, because it’s going to be too late if we wait. And you know the way that the planet is going— a week, two weeks could be too late, who knows what the next storm might bring,” said Khan.

Photo by:  Simone Levine

Bhakti Fest was really a place to gather people together to open their hearts and minds in order to activate change off of the mat. And while we came together to chant the mantras and pray, a very important medicine for the self, according to Breathwork facilitator and founder of the The Breath Center, Michael Brian Baker, “it is not enough to actually create change in our world as we need it now.” He went on to say, “we’ve reached this critical mass where things are shaking and going on, and if you look at it from a spiritual standpoint, the right brain would tell you that spirit incarnated into this physical form in order to take action, because spirit without a container can not create change on a material plane.” The call is loud and clear: it’s time to take action now!

As I left Bhakti Fest on a high of feeling the good vibes and inner transformation, I knew there was much more for me to do. I signed some petitions for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and am honing in on what lights me up so I can practice my yoga off the mat from my own center, a center that is truly ignited.

Learn more and connect with Bhakti Fest:

bhaktifest.com

 

 

 

 

Simone is an experiential educator who’s passion for international travel, growth, and transformation take form through photography, practicing and teaching yoga, and communing with nature.

IG :  @momomagical

This Little Light ‘o Mine: Reflections for When the Path Grows Dim

I have been awash with jealousy.

It is not a thing I am eager to admit.

I met her when we were both newish teachers, a year into the game, about 5 years back.
We solidified our bond when we both had babies in our bellies.
Both our firsts.
Both girls.
Born a mere 5 weeks apart.
(I joke that she gets a pass for her absentee-ism at my BlessingWay as that was the day her daughter saw fit to make her way into the world. Pardon. Granted.)

During that time we took walks and talked about our growing bodies, waning energy levels and the changes to our practice.
We talked about the changes to come.
Our dudes – turned out they worked in the same industry.
Our frustrations & fears.
And some good, thoroughly geeked-out yoga talk that only a few can truly relate to: “I know, right?! Toooootal mula bhanda right there. …”

Our wee ones had their first “playdate” when mine was just a mite eight days old.

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Over the years, the parallels and similarities have piled up.
We’ve had students walk up to us in the halls, ready to spark a conversation, thank one of us for Thursday’s class, only to realize a few minutes in that, “Oh, wait. Not this one. The other one.”

But also, over the years, somewhere – the parallels have dissipated and re-arranged themselves in contrarian angles as well. Her one girl child quickly morphed into two, while my own family continued on in trio form.
We bought a big house on a big, sprawling piece of land and started talking about plans.
She and her guy re-financed an upside-down mortgage and halted construction on a half-gutted house that is still theirs’ to live in – till the tide turns in their favor.
We had a good year and socked some money away.
They had a rough one and are learning to make due.

But the linchpin in all of this boils down to this.
I injured my hip, a mysterious lingering malaise that still rears its’ vexing head even now, a year later.
I settled into the sort of practice that she and I have always secretly sneered at in hushed tones, the downgraded version of the form we hushingly call, “Old People Yoga”. I stopped running and hand-standing and hopping and over-exerting and watched the lingering “baby weight” settle in for an elongated stay.
Meanwhile, my friend launched a self-sculpted Instagram display – devoting herself to 10-20 minutes of well-documented monkey business every day – hop-ups, drop-backs, 20-second mid-room pincha-mayurasana holds, and twisty-twirly-funky side crow variations and such.
It didn’t start out looking like much, several months back.
But she has been diligent.
She has been focused, keen, hopeful & spry.
And consequently, my parallel-sister-doppelganger friend – has taken on a certain shine – a pallor, which it seems, I currently, do not possess.

People take notice of the shifting, leaner lines of her body, the brightness dialed up a notch inside her skin and eyes.
A new choir of admirers flocks to tap the little heart icon and leave their awestruck comments below her latest demonstration of kinesthetic grace & skill.

My skin stays the same, perhaps even a bit more crinkly-wrinkly than a year before.
My shine continues to stay dim – so far as I can see.
And the little heart icon — below the little musings and humble pitter-patter that I bleet out into the ether now and then — grows dim and quiet, blurring into the backdrop of unremarkable moments that comprise my life.

This jealousy business bodes unwell within me.
It makes me feel uneasy and off-balance.
I wonder if it turns me to a shitty friend.
What’s more, it defies logic.
It makes me scratch my head in twain.

For here is this woman, friend, mirror, pal – who lacks so many of the basic things which I, in fact, possess – and yet I crave what small gems have been allotted her.
Where I have space that’s ample, she carves out a tiny corner where she can.
Where I can dip my feet into a pool of resources that is deep and wide, she sprinkles together what can be found, in order to float the tiny boat a small length or so more.
From the tiny flickers of hope nestled inside her world, she has fanned a worthy flame.
She has taken the limited notes that she’s been granted and she’s made them f*cking Sing.

And I suppose that’s the rub.

For while I’m standing here, admiring her hard-won treasures, greedily wishing them for my own – I deny the gift within me.
By staring so astutely, so hungrily and achingly gazing at the light cast forth by my hard-working chum – I turn my back on the Sun, the moon, the stars – that perhaps, even now- are trying to work their cosmic Sheen through me.
I linger in darkness a beat, a day, a week or so more.

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I am at a place in my teaching, in my practice, in my adhikara (my studentship), where, six years in, I am ready for something More.
I am ready to dig deeper, go further, push limits, and implode old ways.
I am ready to continue the work it takes to be a true Bearer of Transformation – A Truth Teller – a Light Worker – a Guide.
And, when I look at it honestly, I had a certain view of what that would look like.
What shape that new blooming would take.

I thought it would look a lot like my friend.
With fancy-schmancy arm-balances and accolades and sh*t.

But my light doesn’t shine that way it turns out.
At least not in this Moment.
My offerings don’t come in happy-shiny, five-steps-to-Eka Pada Koundinyasana pdf-form at this point in time.
Instead I have been learning the ropes of Humility,
the steps of unravelling Grace.
I am being shown the proper alignment of Gratitude.
I have been made a student of breath, awaiting, and Being with What Is.

The peak poses occur as gentle, spouting epiphanies inside my head and heart.
I am learning to show up in all kinds of ways beyond the mat.
And I am being taught the path of Intention inside the studio(s) of my marriage, my mothering, my friendships, my bank balance, my Life.

A thing decidedly less sexy than the forearm-balances that I was hoping to share with you all by now, but a treasure, nonetheless.

Injury has stepped in to be my teacher.
A thing I would not have chosen on my own.
But she’s brought me things a perfect handstand may have not.
She’s shown me how to show up where I am – to breathe, to allow, to emit a humble sliver of the Light.
She’s allowed me to drop into the seat of the student once more, rather than espouse a bunch of high-minded answers I don’t yet possess.
She’s haltingly brought me to a recognition – We all get a slice of the Gods’ Glory pie – whether or not it’s the shape, size or flavor we prefer.

We can all sing in the choir.
Even if our voice is small.

We know the cracks – the conundrums, the vexation and the brokenness that we possess – are where the Light gets in.
But it’s what we choose to do with the pieces – broken or not – that determine how much Light – we send back out.

To my girl, I say:: Shine on, lady. Keep #kickingass and I will watch you glow.
And I’ll learn how to harness my own lick of the Divine flame in my own humble way.

Together::: we’ll brighten up this corner where we stand.

 

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Amy Day has been teaching asana classes & creating work around sacred circles, for the past 6 years. She loves the place where the Sublime & the humdrum intersect, and chanting to her students on the ukulele. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.