A Blessingway to Remember

Multiple times last week I said something along the lines of “I am recovering” from my blessingway. At one point a dear friend said, “I hope you never recover from that!”. And from there I was able to shift, into a space of claiming a new level of confidence and acceptance of love. Out of reaction and into creation with the beauty I was gifted.

There are many impactful activities and functions that can be planned for celebrating a mom to be — showers, parties, etc. What makes events like these special to me is the quality of interactions and the level of intention beyond the purpose of gathering. Once people arrive, once all the fancy decor is completed and the delicious food set, then what?

When these woman folk first trickled into the house there was pure giddiness in the air. I laughed so much. Amanda braided my hair, others massages me, brought me drinks and treats and were just generally playful and excited. A few of the girls began making a beautiful mandala from a carload of flowers from Dripping Springs. They worked steadily and efficiently together. 

As I became more grounded and allowed myself to ease into what was happening, I felt the room do the same. Intentional meditations and discussing my plans for the birth contributed to a next level of presence for me within the group. These were all women that I love and adore, who have played such a significant role in my life over the past few years of my transition to motherhood, to have their presence together in my honor was a blessing in itself. Of course, the words and connections took that much deeper.


After nourishing food and beautiful conversation, the energy of the room continued to ground as we moved toward a sacred circle. Quite a few had to leave to be with their families; they offered their kind goodbyes together with the group, and after a container was held with candles and ceremony. Prayers, chants and deep shares commenced. My cup was filled over and over again with the beautiful words that came from the mouths of my friends. Speaking about our relationships, of birthing, of mothering, of challenges and inspirations. I am so grateful for the heartfelt and honest sharing that was offered in that space.

I still found myself at times closing my heart, almost as if it were too much to bare. And after, my story of “recovering” was absolutely a reflection of me shying away from the experience. Why can powerful love be so hard to take? This is not what I consciously chose. I chose to love and be loved beyond my capacity for it in this moment. I chose to accept the boundless love that my children, my family and my friends contribute to my life in each moment. And to return it in more ways than I even know.

I chose to find new ways to open, to give and to recieve. I have been loving this visualization of Hanuman opening his heart. There’s a sweet story about him holding his chest open to show his devotion. His passionate love is known to provide him with super-human powers, the ability to literally move mountains.


As much as I set my mental and spiritual intentions to open to love, I know there’s little I’ll be able to control with this upcoming birth. My heart is about to open further in more ways than I can imagine, of that I am sure.

May you feel the love around you today and trust that the more you open, the more you receive.

om hrim hrim suryaya namah,

Alexandria

The Sunday chant, to warm your heart, on this crisp October morning.

Fall rhythms, routines and renewal

When I catch a moment of the fall breeze brushing against my skin, a tiny ping of fear creeps up the back of my neck. Cool weather means a baby is coming. Soon to expel his or herself from my womb and into this world.. I am confident, secure and above all trusting. And I know this upcoming process requires the deepest kind of surrender; physically, mentally and spiritually.

My biggest preparation for this birth is centered around family. The first time around I was becoming a mother, a birth in itself. This time I am a mother welcoming a new soul into our home. It feels wonderful. I have told many how much easier this pregnancy has been. Watching not to say these things in front of Indra; he is always listening and I am looking to avoid comparison. The two pregnancies are completely different journeys. And experience makes a world of difference. Both my body and my mind understand so much more now.

This fall has already brought a beautiful grounding rhythm into our daily lives. A summer filled with spontaneous river trips and  late night adventures with friends has come to an end. I am so loving this time of shifting to reflect on abundance, harvest what has been created and move toward rest and renewal.

One of our favorite family tools is our daily and weekly rhythms sheets. Pictured below, this snapshot tells Indra what key things we complete every day and in what order. He adores it. He doesn’t always want to brush teeth, but this sheet makes it possible to offer him consistency and awareness. It also gives me more confidence that as I transition to bonding and healing stage with this second child, Indra will have stability in his daily routines.


For now I am spending every moment I can enjoying the end of this chapter — the past three years have been the most amazing of my life yet. Welcoming Indra to Earth with Michael has been such an honor. My reflections turn into sobs at this point. While it feels hard to say goodbye to this current life, I know the next level only has more amazing things in store.

Add in a week of Kitchari, Abyhanga (self-massage) and home/nesting projects and this fall is off to a great start. I had the pleasure of sharing my favorite elements of an Ayurvedic lifestyle with our 300hr Advanced YTT group last week. It has been such a pleasure working with a powerful group of amazing women. Deeply nourishing and I can’t wait to share more as our program unfolds.


Ready when you are, baby. You’re coming into a beautiful community full of love, light and possibility.
Xo,

Alexandria

Started in my lips, finished in my clitorus. 

A Step on the Journey of Uncovering Personal Trauma

It’s tough for me to post this as in many ways it feels so incomplete, so personal and there are many more things I’d like to say about trauma, yoga therapy, etc. And this blog is about the personal process for me, looking to share what’s going on for me as a means to empower others, so here it goes. 

I stood on the hot sidewalk and watched the events unfolding at my home from a distance. I didn’t want to go closer. Paramedics and police officers went in and out while blue lights flashed across the house. I remember thinking “This is it. You aren’t going to survive this.” In whatever language my toddler mind could process at that point; I didn’t think I was going to live much longer. The cycles of abuse around me continued to grow stronger by day. The trash can was an indication of what lie ahead. Empty glass bottles on top meant physical pain would trickle down to me later. Later that night, from the walls of a women’s shelter, I felt frozen in pure terror of what would lie ahead. All my little mind could process was you are not safe, you have no where else to go.
Memories like these are visceral ones I find myself working to uncover as a means to heal. In yoga, to experience Vidya, right perception, rather than the afflictions of an unsteady mind. The details aren’t pretty, and as Indra approaches the ages I was where my most formative memories of physical abuse began, I find myself reliving many things from my past. Not as a victim, rather as an active participant in the process. To me it’s work of acknowledging my feelings exactly as they were and where they are today, free from judgment. My dream world is my main indication of progress. The Yoga Sutras offer that meditating on dreams can produce a new level of stability of the mind. The idea is that our experiences in dreams are most reflective of our inner states, as they are free from outer world senses and influences. 
Last night I dreamt that Richard, my former step-dad, was standing outside our porch. It was raining. He hid in the dark. He was drunk, aggressively shouting things to Michael when confronted by him. While I stood in the house, my initial caution was supported by an overall experience of confidence that we were safe. That is the part that tells me I’m making progress.
Those who work with me know how much I emphasize the process of uncovering memories from the past. As a Yoga Therapist, I am frequently referring people to work with Mental Health Therapists through the uncovering of (big T) Trauma. At the same time, the process of Yoga Therapy can be invaluable throughout these stages of healing. In Ayurveda, the manas “mind” channels live in both the mind and the body. While Western treatments work to repair and optimize the functioning of the brain process, Eastern offerings tap into the innate intellect of the body. The patterns we hold all through the physical (anamayakosha), energetic (pranamayakosha) and mental (manamayakosha) all contribute to our experience of reality today. 
While many parts of my brain wish I could say the shelter was a turning point, there would be many more memories formed of flashing blue lights against many different homes, even after Richard was gone. He ended up killing himself later in life. I can only imagine the depths of his internal conflictions. By the age of 17, I had moved more than 20 times. So I went out on my own as soon as I could and a few years later I purchased my own home (still owned and one of my most beloved places in the world). The sounds of breaking glass, screaming, and eventually the tone of the dial as my fingers pressed against 9-1-1 are all pieces of memories that have helped make me who I am today. These cycles of experiences have contributed to my individual strength and perseverance in more ways that I can likely see. While sometimes challenging to embrace, new energy resources, ease of daily life, depth of connection, these are the things that keep me on the path of unveiling and revisiting the things that have happened and what I made them mean about me and my life.

All of my relationships today depend on my continuous evolution. If they don’t, then they aren’t moving me forward. I spent many years trying to forget the things of the past. So much so that I disillusioned myself to reality. Many of my filters caused me to act more like a child and experience more pain. While I still find myself throwing the occasional adult tantrum, I’m getting better. My daily mind and life are more peaceful than they have ever been. Do you feel like a better person than you did a year ago? 5 years ago? I say keep on, keepin on then. You’re doing a great job.
Sat Nam,

Alexandria

Written from my eyebrows on a steamy August afternoon with a growing belly!

Breaking Down the Root of Hatred

From a Yogic perspective, hatred is considered a disfunction of the mind. A non-function, non-fun and not our natural state of experience. The idea that “hate is taught” seems to be a popular notion right now. While hate can indeed be modeled and actively demonstrated, when we look at it from the philosophy of Vidya (right perception, truth, understanding) we can also see that rather than needing to be taught, hatred can arise naturally on it’s own simply through a lack of information and a lack of understanding.

This is one of my first registries of dissonance with the ancient compilations of the Bible. A book that has some of the most beautiful passages I have ever heard, as well as some of the strangest. Early in the text, right after we are taught Man creates Woman (totally the other way around..), is a fundamental establishment that knowledge is the root of evil. The story that Adam and Eve create suffering through their greediness of experiences and understanding, bringing on the woes of mankind by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, is a very different approach to fundamental existence than the Yoga Sutras give us. And it is one that I believe contributes to the breeding of hatred. In the Sutras, we are told that the path to liberation from pain and suffering is through more learning, more understanding and more questioning of everything.

In my mind these are two very different approaches to life. Christianity, just like any other religion, can be a tool for oppression depending on how it is delivered and received. And specifically because of this initial suppression of a natural instinct to learn, I see some damage control needed within our society from this thinking. When a child is taught not to seek beyond, to submit and to “trust that God is in control”, right then and there it is quite possible that racism and oppression can become fostered. No other practices of hatred needed. Our capacity for insecurity and fear and deep reactionary systems — once necessary to keep us alive as we functioned like animals — is incredibly high. Throughout our evolution as humans, which today is changing at a more rapid rate than ever, many of our historical spiritual perspectives are in need of an upgrade. Regardless if racism is “taught”, it can be a natural occurrence from the lack of understanding, questioning and following one’s own intuition.

People are different. They do have different skin color. They are born with different intrinsic needs, different resources and different levels of access to information. Some of these differences enable others, when in disfunction, to take advantage of and abuse others. To rely solely on an idea that there is a greater power out there handling it all can disempower me from the real change I can enact through my own actions and choices.

I am not saying that Christianity is the cause of this. I see many people who are beyond empowered through this religion to take right action and make a positive difference in the world. I am saying that I have seen and felt a disempowerment to enact change for myself through the mental framework of Christianity. It is quite possible that had I been raised with these Eastern traditions I speak so fondly of, that the same limiting patterns would have been established. Either way, I recognize it within myself today as a possible avenue for ignorance. I chose to strive for understanding, both of our world myself, through Svadhyayathe practice of self-observation. The first step has to be a further unwinding of our own misperceptions and limited thinking patterns. Along that path, what actions are you taking to dispel the disfunction within our society? Hint ::: No one’s role here looks the same. Everyone can and should be making their own unique contributions. Watch out for frustration or judgement against others for their actions or inactions and turn inward to always gain completion with your own first.

These words are written to be access to knowledge and a perspective that may inspire relief during such a figuratively and even literally dark time. If you find yourself exhausted by the news and your dealings with others, seek to learn something new about your environment. Everything is a framework for existence, from gardening to astrology. The Vedic perspective from this upcoming eclipse is that it is a very inauspicious time, counter-productive and challenging. So hold faith in humanity and your neighbors hand. This isn’t the end of our journey through this life together.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

Written from the beginning cycle of my inner thighs, one of my favorites! Blog post, check.

Stress calendars and the Seasons of Change ✨🚌

Michael and I have a seasonal stress calendar and it’s one of our favorite shared documents. We made it earlier this year by listing out the major events, projects and life evolutions that we have gone through by season both together and separately over the past few years. When we look at it we both laugh with amazement and disbelief at all the things we have done and gone through together. Moving in together, pregnant, married, baby, running and starting businesses, family stresses, travel, building projects, leading and participating in programs.. The list of things we have done makes our minds spin alone. What has it done to them while we are doing them?

Note:  The body reads and processes excitement the same way it does with stress.

Cindi Cartwright, one of the fascilitators of our teaching programs at the Yoga Deza Institute (she has been teaching longer than anyone in the state of Arkansas and has a beautiful Iyengar history — she’s amazing.) shares so much incredible information about the mind-body relationship and stress. Through her teachings she offers a point system of major life events to calculate the amount of stress you have been under in life and correlating practices necessary to help counter. Such valuable information. The practicality of it so necessary.

If you want to operate at your highest frequency, with the most clarity and pre-frontal lobe brainpower, this path of inquiry is the best I have found.

With that being said, I am thrilled to share our newest adventure. It will most definitely be added to the stress calendar (the more exciting and fun it is, the more weight it must have) and I look forward to it being our most conscious and easeful project yet. Last week we finalized on the OMskoolbus — formerly purchased by our dear friends the Phillips Family, it surprisingly ended up being for us! We will turn it into a yoga/kids play/family connection space in our backyard. Construction begins next week! Follow along with a new Instagram @OMskoolbus.

May this life be full of everything you desire.

Cheers to health, happiness, peace and ease.

Written from the Vagina (Yoni in Sanskrit) center on a rainy August day — and the kickoff of our 2017-18 Advanced Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Deza ❤️❤️❤️

From the Navel – Defining Beauty

The Navel center tends to be a more sensitive time for me. Maybe it’s because I am in the middle of my childbearing years. There’s so much work going on in this space of my body.

I taught a subtle body class focused on the Navel Center during my regular Flow class last night. I do that some times — my teacher Annie taught me to always teach what you sense your students need, regardless of what they expected or showed up trying to get. The class started with an intention to love your belly more, welcoming softness and as it happened to be an all-female class, the intention was especially as a woman.. our bellies are magical, powerful places. After class a student came up to me and told me how much the practice resonated for her. Apparently earlier that day her three year-old son had asked why her stomach was “so lumpy”. We laughed and I was left with such a sense of responsibility to teach our young boys about true beauty and more internal, rather than external health.

The amount of nerve endings in the navel make it such a special place. It’s where you first received food, nourishment and where you were still physically connected to your Mother for a few minutes outside of the womb. The Solar Plexus Chakra is often referred to as the “Culture Belt”, a visual I love — we can so often allow this space to become constricted and tense due to social pressures and expectations of “fitting in”.
I was raised in a very externally health-focused environment. The month that I became pregnant with Indra, before I knew that I was, I received an email from a family member who said she saw me eating with a feverish-ness and warned me not to get fat “again”. These are conscious moments where I have taken it upon myself to energetically release the expectations that others hold on me. The simple phrase “I am, you are” has been incredibly helpful for me to release things like this.

My mantra during this moon center is now:  I know what is best for me. I am on my journey. You know what is best for you and you are on yours.

My hope is that my son sees me care for myself in a holistic way; physically, mentally, spiritually and is inspired to look for beauty within others that do the same. More than anything, trusting his own intuition for himself first. These are the values of our family and I find the greatest rewards in the moments where we are seated around the dinner table discussing how we can best care for ourselves that day; what do we need? Time to practice, reflect alone, cook a grounding meal, be social with friends? These are the questions I ask most from my Navel Center, often with a hand over my belly button, reflecting and listening inward.

Dreaming a little deeper

This afternoon my moon center moved into my clitoris. Hello deep reflection and intimacy. I’m still hazy from an intense afternoon nap — often on the cycles my center shifts midday I find myself more tired. Needing to rest even more with two growing babes (one inside and one out), I’ve felt a little drugged. As I consciously shift into a time of reflection, I’ll intentionally pick up my journal tonight and dig a little deeper than normal. If I don’t make space for that now I’ll wish I had — in this center I need to get to the root of me or I’ll find myself unsatsfied with the world outside. 


Picture captured during my first pregnancy by @artefactimageco. Looking into my own eyes I can so clearly remember the swell of emotions. ‘What’s this birth going to beeeee like?’ consumed me. I had so many questions. Baby showers, midwife appointments, birth planning — these things brought so much joy and excitement — synonymous with anxiety to me here. I worked so hard to channel the intensity and still brought so much of it with me into the birth.
So far this second pregnancy has provided space for much more softness, ease and trusting in my body and this babe. Emotions still high, if not higher, but deeper, darker in many ways yet they feel feel pure and more seen.

Dreams are the first place I’ll go with my journal tonight to reflect on my current state. There’s so much for me to access there right now. And a sweet friend @owlsbotanicals just shared a homemade tincture with me that may help that go even deeper. My muscles are testing yes for it so I am along for the ride. When I reflect on my dreams, I first write everything I can remember. Every little detail that comes to mind, and the more sense stimulating — colors, sounds, sensations in general — the better. There’s always more that comes back as my pen moves. Then I identify the key emotions. Was I happy to be where I was in the dream? What feelings were coming up? What did I want to happen in that moment? Typically, the answers to those questions will correlate to a current life experience and the reflection process begins to unfold from there.

Sweet dreams and love to you tonight.

Alexandria