Stress calendars and the Seasons of Change βœ¨πŸšŒ

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.

Rest for the Soul

Last weekend Indra attended his first [of many!] Yoga workshop — an awesome Restorative program focused on relaxation and led by a long-time local Iyengar teacher. Our amazing little boy slept and cooed either on or next to Mom + Dad while they got some much needed deep rest time in. He is by far the most chill and confident baby I have ever met.

At one point during the workshop we looked at a stress chart. It basically offered a point system to calculate the affects of major life events on the body and mind. I love evaluating stress this way. So often people, myself included, tend to ignore stress when they feel happy and busy. The idea that stress only exists when we’re upset or On the chart, the most extreme level mentioned equaled 300 points. This current life expansiom, in addition to others life shifts the past year (marriage, moving, career shifts) put our family well above that mark. We are in a high risk zone for disease and emotional distress. The good news? We’re also doing all the things that counter those risks:  Talking about our experiences, eating good food, sleeping, casual walks, massages, singing, gardening, etc.

I am so proud of how our postnatal experience has gone and the way our family is forming. It has not been without it’s challenges though for sure. One of the biggest things I have learned is that ever persons’s stress during this time looks different. And while there are always going to be more effective ways for some individuals to process than others, the fundamental stress that comes from the experiences like pregnancy and birth will need to be processed in some way. For me, the physical healing, sleep changes, hormone shifts and heart expanding emotions have been balanced with meditation, visualizations, walking and healthy eating. And there are plenty of other challenges coming my way right now — all those things I was warned about are starting to make sense, but not in a scary – what am I going to do kind of way. In a heart opening – bigger than life kind.

Whatever lies ahead, I know rest and restoration will be a steady practice for me over the next few years. I’m talking about that ahhhhh feeling, heavy body, ease melting face kind of relaxation where the world and my mind stop spinning all at once. Cheers to that πŸ™‚

Here’s a cute baby sleeping video for a taste: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3mTalBi4qiOR1ZCbS1mc0h6Nlk/view?usp=docslist_api

xo,
Alexandria

Developing & Trusting an Inner Voice

We celebrated Indra River’s 4 week birthday this past weekend with a camping trip and yoga gathering at a beautiful farm outside Huntsville, AR. Great people, delicious food and amazing weather. I spent my longest time yet away from Indra — a couple hours where he and Michael walked down to the nearby creek while I practiced in circle next to dear friends. I thought of my boys a few times while they were gone and for the most part stayed present, focused on my breath and overlooking the beautiful gardens in front of me.

Every year I believe more and more in magic. Call it witches and fairytales, spells and curses, none of those things seem “made up” or unrealistic to me anymore. The experiences I have had with the practices of mindfulness and meditation have led me to see the world around me in a different way. The powers we hold in our minds to create, change or destroy the world around us are more impactful than we often recognize. The highlights of my life today have all unfolded through dreams that I intended to manifest. Setting intentions and maintaining positive affirmations until they unfold — sounds like a spell to me.

Our midwife’s assistant, Misty, acknowledged something really special to me about Indra’s birth. She said that she recognized our family’s commitment to doing the hard work and having a blissful experience at the same time. The best way I can describe it:  Our home was filled with flowers in every corner like pure heaven and at the same time I was prepared to go to the deepest depths of suffering. I knew that was where the full experience would be and that is what I wanted. For me, that’s where true joy really lies. Not in the surface of pretty frilly experiences. In the full experience of present life.

There is an inner voice inside all if us that guides us to this place. It is constantly there even though we may not always here it. So how do you connect to it? Pause. Really pause. Clear the noise and listen. Like the cicadas buzzing outside my window right now. Depending on where my mind is, what I am focused on or the noises playing inside my house, I may or may not hear them. And they are there regardless, singing away and inviting me back to a present state. The noises distracting you are often thoughts of worry, fear or doubt. They may be the thoughts of others as well. There is an inner radiance that I feel when I am listening to my own true inner voice. Yoga has taught me to find that sensation and continues to teach me how to connect with it in stronger ways every day.

Last week Jess and I sat on my back deck and reflected on what little Indra has taught me so far. One of the biggest things has been honoring my sensitivity as a woman and a mother. Often society has given me the thought that I need to control my emotions or sensitive nature as a female — that I am naturally “over sensitive”. Indra has shown me what value my sensitivities truly have. I am designed to have them in order to care for children; to mother babies and nurture the world. The more in tune I am with his energy and needs, the faster I see him grow and develop. The more i see the fairytale of our lives unfold. Cultivating sensitivity to the experience of my inner voice is what my life is all about right now. Even through the work and tested moments I would not change a thing.

Feeling magic,
Alexandria

Religion of Relationship

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I have an awesome list of things I want to blog about right now. The list keeps getting longer by the day and the topic I am choosing to write about now is not even on it. I am grateful to be filled to the brim with inspiration and trusting that the time to write will come as it needs to. Last night I stumbled into a conversation around the following thoughts and while it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, it is just now getting formulated into a conscious model. Curious to see if I can put it into words now..

The term religion translates in my mind as a system of personal growth. Despite many connotations and associations that can arise with this word, at the core of it, religion is a very beautiful thing to me. More than anything it represents people just trying to do the best they can in life. I have yet to meet a religious person that is not striving to do the best they can with what they have. I currently rely on many systems of spirituality (primarily Yoga, Ayurveda and Buddhism) to structure my intentions and balance my daily perception of reality against. But I cannot say that I have claimed one of these as my religion. To me that is another level of commitment. I am definitely close to it in many ways but at the end of the day, I haven’t fully given myself over to any of these practices. This time last year I had a conversation with my first teacher, Baron, about my thirst for diverse knowledge and balancing that with the structure of staying with the study of a single practice. And for the past year (likely longer) I have been in inquiry around that. I know the benefits of digging deep and staying within one system of thought from experience. It is a very powerful thing. My favorite visual of this is the idea of a someone digging a well — eventually, if you keep digging, you will find water in any place. The trouble is when we start digging in one place and decide to start over somewhere else. Maybe we suspect the spot we began is too tough to dig in or just not the right place for us to be. A lifetime could be spent digging wells and never reaching water if you don’t stick around in the same place long enough.

At times I have questioned whether it is my ego that keeps me from a full surrender of thought and identification with a religion. Recently though, a new idea is forming within me, that my relationships are my religion. When I look at my life, the people that I come into contact with regularly, some daily and some much less, are my religion. They teach me about myself, my life and my path. My community provides a framework for personal growth that I have fully given myself over to. If my religion is my relationships, then my scriptures are the look on my husband’s face during our conversations, the connection that I feel with this child I am creating, the sensations in my body when I experience conflict and the feedback I get from the people around me. These are all things that guide me to being my best self.

Without a doubt I am beyond committed to the people and relationships in my life. This hasn’t always been the case for me. In the past I put up invisible walls that would prevent me from being in full commitment and partnership with the world around me. If I didn’t like what I was experiencing in past relationships, I was out of there. While time and energy may be resources that spread thin at times in my relationships, the commitment is still there. And it is there on my end whether I see and speak to someone or not. So I have fully given myself over to a structure of practice — the religion of my relationships. It feels powerful to acknowledge that within myself. Endless thanks to those around me who make life so beautiful and worth living to the fullest.

xo,
Alexandria