Pain, Growth, & the Healing Powers of Female Energy

Spring is here and so is an increased energy to do start new projects…let the blogging begin! I’m not sure about you, but this past winter was particularly hard for me on so many levels. After my trip to India, I found that coming back to the cold weather (well, cold for San Diego) here made my practice extremely difficult if not downright shitty. I somehow managed to incur a sprained SI joint and I was in excruciating pain for about 4 months. I would cry almost every day and found myself groaning like an old lady every time I would sit down and get up. The pain was so intense that I had a hard time sleeping…I was on the verge of going to a doctor. I detest going to doctors and do not go unless absolutely necessary. I saw a chiropractor and he was the one who told me what I had; his adjustments were amazing but did not heal it. He told me to back of yoga (pff yeah right). I then saw an amazing acupuncturist who’s healing female energy is what sparked me to take a different look at my pain. PAIN, uggghhhhh. WHYYYYYYYY?!?!?
IMG_1797I am 37 years old and my body is changing, I can feel it. I still keep having to tell myself over and over that I just had a baby 3 years ago. Celine, my acupuncturist, told me that she remembered her body going through something similar around the same time in her life…hips shifting, lower back tightening. I noticed that it was the same after my first born, I call it the 3 year marker. For my body, it takes 3 years to go back to whatever “normal” is after giving birth. It felt really good to talk to another woman who has been through the same thing, a woman who has such a healing, motherly energy as hers. The pain I was experiencing unequivocally forced me to go inward and question everything, including why I have a hard time cutting myself some slack.

I also did some serious questioning of the Ashtanga practice and methodologies and myself. The pain made me very doubtful of what path I had chosen for myself. Looking back, I think I went through a little bout of depression. The cold & rainy weather did not help. I was desperate for an antidote.I even emailed my teacher, Andrew, and told him how I was feeling and that I was, dare I say, thinking of trying new things. He told me that I needed to just do first series until things started to heal and to take things very gently.I took a breath and agreed.

Then I signed up for a pilates and a barre class. It…was…WEIRD!! At first I found myself greeting it with a negativity (the breathing was all wrong!), but I then I thought to myself, “Be open! You’re already here so enjoy it, F it!” Turned out that it was very helpful to hear different cues for doing certain motions. I found myself letting go and having some fun; I didn’t take it so seriously. Was that what had happened to me with Ashtanga…I took it too seriously? Did I get so into it that I forgot what it was to find the joy in it? But being in so much pain made it super difficult to find the joy in anything. I think I got caught up so much in the pain that I couldn’t see anything else. Every movement reminded me that the pain was there, it totally and utterly encompassed my whole being.

During times like these, I realized how freaking lucky I am to have such an amazing teacher and **sangha**. It was in an email to my teacher that I was reminded of the power of JOY. Throughout all this pain, I was forced to make a decision on how to deal with it; and it wasn’t how I used to deal with pain, you know, just gritting your teeth and plowing right through it…not taking the time to deal and heal? I allowed myself to chill, love, and do some serious healing on a physical, spiritual, and female level. I made 3 more acupuncture appointments and listened to the words of a wise woman while breathing in her healing energy (I know this may sound weird, but you should meet her). I even made a 4th appointment just to show my body that I love it and am willing to take the time to welcome whatever was bothering me/it, confront it, and send it on its way. I also found a female massage therapist that had some powerful healing words as well. For so long I have been handling my life decisions with so much male energy; forcing my way through things, well, because I had to. One does not get an MS in School Psychology while pregnant, then getting a good job, starting a company, buying a home, running a family, etc. just on female energy alone! Although this style of doing things has served me in the past, it no longer does. Hence, my shift for 2016. I definitely have my work cut out for me.

Now, I still may do a barre class every once in a while, but nothing soothes my soul more than a good practice. And for the first time EVER, I had a week where I practiced 6 days and it actually felt great. My SI pain is still sometimes there, but I acknowledge it this time, take greater care on engaging my bundhas, slow down, and relax. And whenever I find myself tensing up, I send it all back through my hands in downward dog, giving it back to the universe to deal with. Take heed tension! I will no longer accept you!

I am so happy I found my way back to Ashtanga….yet again. Maybe this time I will stay.

Namaste

**funny how articles pop up at certain times your life when you need them the most**

 

Namaskar

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On October 21st 2015 I made my first trek to Gokarna India for a yoga workshop with Andrew Hillam. I left LAX headed to Hong Kong after being in Louisiana for a week attending my last living grandparent’s funeral with my 2 year old in tow & a sinus/respiratory infection to boot. I was physically and emotionally drained and had no idea what would I was about to experience. Fast forward to 1 missed connecting flight, 3 airplane rides, a 3 1/2 hour car ride, and 2 1/2 days later, I ended up in the most serene, tranquil & Earth loving resort I have ever been to; Hotel Swaswara.

I literally collapsed from exhaustion when I saw my fellow yogis in the library….like really fell on the floor. They laughed as they related to my pain and told me to go see my dreamy lodging and get some sleep (as practice & chanting started at 5AM the following day). I ended up bunking with a fellow practitioner, Jessica, which was a sweet surprise as the universe knew I needed someone to get me through this (whatever this ended up being).

Next day, led Primary. SO HARD. It felt as if sun salutations lasted for a hour. No need to explain further how the rest of it went, but I did it. And my body thanked me for it after after traveling for 2 1/2 days.

Day 2. I told myself that I would see how First went to decide wether or not I would start Intermediate and to even attempt Kapo. BUT, I don’t know if it was the humidity, the craving of my body for activity after travel, or the magic of India but practice felt great. And, with Andrew’s help, I did Kapo…and even grabbed my heels!! Then Andrew gave me Supta Vajrasana!! SAY WHAT?! Yup…it happened, it really happened.

Day 3 and on: Body was extremely sore for the remainder of the trip…we all came to the conclusion that because of the humidity that we were so much more flexible and all went deeper into the poses. Our beautiful group of people worked our little tails off in the beautiful shala in the midst of the diverse animal sounds of the Indian jungle (think monkeys, birds, & squirrels). Andrew taught us the most beautiful chants and we practiced them everyday along with teachings of the first chapter of Patajali’s sutras; all while nourishing ourselves with the most authentic of all chai tea & biscuits and gourmet vegan/vegetarian delicacies.

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We visited temples, beaches, villages, and chatted with local Indian women about the same challenges and love motherhood offers. At one point, after telling a woman that her child was adorable she jokingly told me, “You want her, take her!” HA! I’m pretty sure I’ve said that about my children at some point. The Indian women & I all came to the conclusion that although we have many differences, motherhood brings us together…as it’s the same anywhere you go in the world. It was hard being away from my 2 girls, every time I saw a baby I wanted to hold it…I could feel the ache in my heart, the “something is missing” feeling. Then I found myself playing the following script in my head: “Why the hell did I come halfway around the world, by myself, to practice more yoga?? Why couldn’t I do this at home?? I have totally lost my mind. What..the..F***. My husband must think I’m crazy. I’m so lucky to have his support on letting me do this. But I needed to do this. This is good. This is good for me. This is good for my soul. I am able to connect to my soul.”

I haven’t been seeing myself as the “seer” lately. I have not been connecting to my sweet soul in past years and, from not doing so, much turmoil has really showed up in all aspects of my life. But by being able to escape this crazy society and all its demands, to be around like-minded, open, and understanding people who are willing to discuss spiritual matters; to be under the guide of an amazing teacher who truly facilitates “connect-ability” (as I call it), I was able to re-connect with a part of myself that has been lost for a long time. Andrew so graciously & humbly shared his detailed and quite exquisite knowledge of the sutras and how to experience the “sorrow-less ether of our hearts”; and for this I can’t thank him enough for this precious, indescribable gift.

What an amazing thing it is to be surrounded by those who are so connected with themselves that it teaches you to re-connect with yourself. I feel very lucky to have gone through this intense experience with such beautiful beings full of radiant light and energy. This community thing that we have going on has a lot of different personalities & we all come from different backgrounds, but we have all come together for some same reason.

I have a feeling that it’s going to take some time to process all the feelings, emotions, and events that transpired.

Until next time..may you find the “sorrow-less ether” in your heart space.india 1

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Next step…surrender

So…still at kapotasana…still. I think I may have actually regressed a bit too. Not sure what is going on except possibly some personal life conflict arising? I kind of feel lost at this point of my life…not sure what direction I need to head in. Do I go back to school? Learn another language? Find another job? Stay in my present relationships? Big questions, big changes; my body feels as if it is trying to transition into some bigger, deeper space but I don’t know where that is….where am I going??? Will kapotasana ever come?

Since developing a regular practice, I have found it almost impossible to ignore the uncanny connection between mind and body. It really is magical! I find it so fascinating that there are often an abundance of parallels between what is going on in my personal life and how my body feels during the practice. One of the first times I picked up on this was when I became very stressed at work. I woke up the next morning and man, I was so stiff! I thought to myself, if stress does this to my musculoskeletal system, what the heck is it doing to the rest of my body? At that point, I began to start my life-long plight to not let the craziness of life affect my body’s natural inclination towards peace (this is most definitely a work in progress). My body craves the quiet and stillness that peace provides.

Then came good ol’ kapotasana. Which, as it turns out, has been one of the greatest teachers of my life.  It has been here that I have learned so much about myself. For instance, where I hold the most stress…in my ever-aching shoulders. I have gone from feelings of pain, frustration, doubt, acceptance, and then back to frustration and then just plain old feeling like I’m going crazy! Which led me to the question, why the hell am I doing this…how is this serving me?? The past month I felt like my practices have been mindless…I’ve been distracted, not present. Frustrated with my body, my shoulders, my inability to do this stinking pose. During one practice, I just looked at my friend Lisa and said “We are crazy, this is crazy, only crazy people do this! I will never ever ever ever be able to do this pose by myself!” We started to laugh, but I was so serious. And then another dear practitioner said “It takes years…yearssssss”. I actually had some sort of relief when he said this, as if the pressure was off of me to get his pose done. Wait…no one is putting pressure on me except myself! Andrew sure as heck isn’t..he’s the most patient man I know…my fellow practitioners always give me so many gentle and kind words of compassionate support. Why am I putting so much pressure on myself? Why are my shoulders so tight? Why do I feel the need to carry so much burden on myself? I have read that those who have shoulder pain often are experiencing some sort of emotional issue…yep, sounds about right.

Fast forward to my home practice today…got to kapo with the best intentions of being easy on myself. Got to the fourth attempt and started crying…mostly about why am I doing this but something more came up this time; I’m scared. I can not let go..I can not completely surrender. I felt it in my shoulder, I am holding on to something. Ouch…my right shoulder hurts bad.

Wow…long post this time.

Until next time…OM

I’m finally doing this!

When I first started practicing Ashtanga 2 years ago, I began to experience some pretty wild changes. I thought that by writing them down would help me process some of the amazing transformations that I was going through. But, looking back, the universe was informing me that it was not the right time for me to do this. Kids, work, life, etc. had all my free time occupied and it was as if I needed to fully experience what was happening in the shala without any distractions…to be fully present in that moment of Marichasana C & D, Supta Kurmasana…to send all my energy to my agonizing 5 month knee pain or my aching, arthritic-like  shoulder pain (which I still experience). The first 2 years I needed to be 100% available to receive the gift of whatever was being sent to me. I sometimes wish I had written down some of the “big” moments during that time but, as I recall, it was the “small”moments that made my heart the softest.

Well, here I am. What prompted me to do this now? It was after I emailed my dearest teacher, Andrew, with the subject line “Am I going crazy?” that I thought it’s time I log my experiences of my wild Ashtanga ride.

I have been working on Kapotasana for the past 5-6 months (I’ve lost count now) and experienced a major shift about a week ago in our beloved shala. I don’t know what to exactly call what happened “that day” but I remember crying to my teacher and saying that there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t do this pose. And in his easy breezy, light-hearted style, he told me “Hey, it’s ok! You should’ve seen me when I was learning it.” I took a couple of deep breaths and tried not to burst into a river of tears, and for some reason (with Andrew’s help) I was able to finally grab my toes and go into the pose feeling dare I say, relaxed?

Ever since that day I have felt differently, particularly my heart space. It’s as if I am in uncharted territory and I don’t quite know how to go forward from here. I am hoping that by journaling these moments I can find some peace in this new prana I am receiving (and maybe not bother Andrew with too many of my crazy emails).

I have a feeling he will just tell me to keep practicing;)