Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 8th Edition

June 21, 2015 at 12:24 am

Several weeks later, I am finally getting around to posting this. I’ve now completed Kundalini Yoga Teacher training! We graduated the first Sunday in June, but I will have to wait awhile for my certificate to arrive. I sort of can’t believe the past five months really happened. Hallelujah we made it!

I loved an exchange that happened between our instructor, Sevak, and one of my classmates our second-to-last weekend. Sevak had been talking about how rare a “true kundalini rising” experience is. One of my classmates was seeking clarification. His response to her was: “Do you have any idea how rare you are?” Tears began falling down her face. She truly is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever had the privilege to meet. I think what I will miss the most is the opportunity to spend every other weekend with a group of such pure, genuine, kind, spiritually sensitive, compassionate, beautiful souls. Truly, these people are the cream of the crop.

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Surrender, part 6

May 14, 2015 at 12:38 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

Nearly four years ago, three months after my fourth birth, I wrote the last installment of my “birth story” in a post titled “Surrender, part 5.” In it I shared my somewhat graphic discovery that my youngest daughter was likely originally sharing my womb with a twin who stopped growing very early in the pregnancy. I finished the post with these words:

We can’t know for certain whether there was, in fact, a vanished twin. But my heart feels it’s true, especially when I’m in a room with my family and keep looking around for the one who’s missing, only to realize we’re all already in the room. Or when my baby girl’s face lights up in a huge grin, as though she’s looking at an invisible someone she adores, sitting or standing next to me.

Thinking and writing about it all, I can feel that bit of sadness and loss fading away, leaving peace and understanding in its place. And, even now, my eyes well up with tears of knowing… Yes, I know it now. I can feel it in my bones. I can see it in my tears and in the burning, overwhelming love and joy filling me and surrounding me. Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.

P.S. I gave birth to a baby boy in my dreams two nights ago.

Over the past four years I have become more and more intimately acquainted with this unborn child. He has visited my dreams, appeared in visions, made his presence palpable occasionally at family dinners or gatherings, and all along the way I have told him, “I don’t know if I can do it.” His response has always been a kind, patient, loving, “Whatever you decide is OK. I’ll find my way into your family somehow.” But all the while, he was persistent in his determination to make me aware that he was still there, still waiting, still full of love for me, still hoping to come to this earth through my body.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 7th Edition

May 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I’ve now completed seven full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and sixteen of my twenty required yoga classes. I’m about halfway through my take-home essay exam, hoping to do one question a day to finish before the May 24 deadline. In addition, I still need to create two yoga course curricula. One is for beginners, and I think I’ll do a pregnancy yoga curriculum for the other. I got the Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Manual last week, so it should be really helpful!

IMG_20150502_162014570Between teacher training weekends, on May 2, I was able to attend a gong workshop with Sevak Singh. In Kundalini Yoga, we use the gong quite a lot. It is said that the sound of the gong is like the sound of creation. The gong will always neutralize the mind and force it to a place a stillness. For this reason it is a very powerful tool for deep relaxation. During the workshop we were able to play five different symphonic gongs of varying sizes. And… now I want one. A big one. :-) Gong can kind of be an acquired taste. I wasn’t sure I liked it the first time I heard a gong, but now I love it. If you’ve never heard a gong played well, Don Conreaux has some good recordings. And Khushbir’s video is good too. Also, the gong sounds a lot like the planet Jupiter. Do you know what Jupiter means? Dyeu-peter=“god the father.” Interesting, no?

On Saturday at teacher training we had four students present their practicums. So that basically translated to four complete yoga classes in one day. Whew! It was kind of exhausting, but I love seeing my classmates teach. It’s a joy. We also talked about teaching specialized groups… corporate settings, pregnant women, children, teenagers, addiction recovery groups, elderly, etc. And we discussed some ethical considerations and the various Kundalini and yoga organizations: IKYTA, 3HO, KRI, Library of Teachings, Yoga Alliance, etc.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, Practicum Edition

April 30, 2015 at 7:07 am

I’ve now completed six full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and nine of my twenty yoga classes. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7. So basically I will be spending all of May either in yoga classes or writing essays for our final exam questions. I seriously feel like I’m in college again, cramming at the end of a semester. Good thing I’m a writer, so essays are my thing. Deep breaths (through the nose, of course). I can do this!

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The highlight of last weekend was teaching my practicum! I knew I wanted to sign up for one of the first slots, and I knew I wanted it to be early in the day. I was the third student to present, and the first person on Sunday morning. Before I go into detail about the practicum, here are some highlights from my class notes the rest of the weekend.

Experimental Hairiness

April 17, 2015 at 5:03 am

A couple of months ago I got a text from a friend. She said something like, “I stopped shaving my armpits as an experiment.” I laughed and texted her right back, “Me too.” Literally. We both, individually and without discussing in advance with each other, started the same experiment at the same time. Over the past month+ we have had quite a few conversations about our hairy glory, and eventually both of us expanded our experiments to include our legs as well. I died laughing when she texted me this gem: “An Open Letter to My Beloved Woolly Armpits.”

Last night I finally mustered the courage to talk about the elephant in the room with my husband. I ventured into this experiment without consulting him, and I didn’t need anyone’s permission, but I was slightly curious to know how he felt about it. This man has been my devoted, compassionate, and stalwart partner through some really tough stuff. Given all that I’ve put him through, I was confident that a little hair wasn’t going to send him packing. But I guess I just needed to hear him say the words out loud: “I will still love you, even if you never shave again.” I haven’t decided whether I will make my experiment permanent.

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The lighting here makes it look blonde, but it’s actually not as blonde as I wish it was.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 5th Edition

April 15, 2015 at 6:04 am

I’ve now completed five full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training, my full 40-day sadhana, three of my early-morning group sadhanas (I need two more, but 3:30 is so early), eight of my twenty yoga classes, and four of my take-home exam essay questions. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7.

The highlight of last weekend for me was practicing teaching each other. We divided into three groups of five and took turns teaching various breathing exercises, mudras, and postures. I’ll admit I was really drowsy and preoccupied in class most of Saturday and Sunday morning, but I was alert and having a blast on Sunday afternoon when we began teaching each other.

I loved seeing my classmates shine in their own unique ways as teachers, and I loved having the opportunity to work on my own skills and learn how to better ground and center myself in preparation for teaching. I am on this journey with some really wonderful human beings and feel honored to know them. Here is everyone relaxing during a guided meditation:

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Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 4th Edition

April 1, 2015 at 4:32 am

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Rumi

I’ve now completed four full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and all forty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. Yippee!  Last weekend for yoga teacher training we had an “Ashram-style” retreat in the mountains two hours northeast of Phoenix. It was such a beautiful place to be.

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Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 3rd Edition

March 18, 2015 at 3:45 am

I’ve now completed three full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and thirty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. This stuff is tough! I had to laugh at the end of our weekend training while we watched a Yogi Bhajan video. He said (about the Warrior Exercise he was about to teach):

I’m not willing to let you misunderstand this. If we start doing it, we’re going to reach a stage called ‘The Twilight Zone,” and then there’ll be humongous pain; pain so much that you do not know. . . . Set yourself, folks. You asked for it. I forgive myself and wash my hands of it.

It reminded me of something I had read online in which a critic of Kundalini Yoga called its practices masochistic. Sometimes it can feel like torture, to be honest. But, as we often talk about in class, the practice of Kundalini Yoga is about training your mind-body to serve your spirit, and if you can command your mind and body to endure a difficult yoga exercise, it becomes easier and easier to command your mind and body to endure anything. It’s like a fire-drill.

Conquer

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 2nd Edition

March 11, 2015 at 4:57 am

I’ve now completed two full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and twenty-three days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. There is so much I could say, but I think for the sake of time I will just share snip-its of my class notes in bullet-point form.

See “Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 1st Edition” HERE.

potty training

February 28, 2015 (with Gurumeher Singh)

  • Purpose of yoga= to become one with the infinite.
    • yoga= union, yoke
  • Purpose of yoga= to control the thought waves of the mind.
  • When not in a state of yoga, we identify with our thoughts, reactions, and habitual patterns: “I am angry.”
  • Yoga is potty training your mind
    • need a place to “dump”
    • once a day go to your dumping station (yoga/meditation)

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 1st Edition

March 10, 2015 at 5:45 am

I’ve now completed two full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and twenty-two days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. There is so much I could say, but I think for the sake of time I will just share snip-its of my class notes in bullet-point form.

February 14, 2015

  • Don’t say “I hope that _____ will happen,” instead say “I trust that _____ will happen.”
  • When life feels too big, call on your infinity; make yourself bigger than the problem.
  • Yogi Bhajan said… smile at your mistakes because you have opened up a new neural pathway in the brain.
  • There are four cycles of Kundalini at the throat chakra… “The most important power of a person is the spoken word, both what you speak and how you speak. Ugly words are effective, and praises are effective” (from our teacher training manual).
  • For the first 40 days after birth, an infant should stay within nine feet of its mother (within the protection and peace of mother’s aura). It takes three years for the child to build an independent aura. (<—I think I could write an entire blogpost on this alone.)
  • I love all the plants at Yoga Phoenix!

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I want to be a yoga teacher when I grow up.

February 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

When we fold our hands in prayer,
God opens His arms and gives us a hug.
Life is fulfilled with this union.
That is yoga.
-Yogi Bhajan

About three months ago I wrote a post I titled “Now what?” In it I expressed confusion about where my life was heading:

It won’t be long until all my children will be in school. I feel like I’m soon to be laid-off from my day job. What am I supposed to do now? Write more books? Get a job? Put my doula training to work? Volunteer in the community? Train in midwifery? Become a foster parent? Fight against modern day slavery/trafficking? I have no idea.

IMG_0946My friend, Felice, introduced me to Kundalini Yoga and Meditation several years ago. She attended yoga teacher training while we were writing our book, The Gift of Giving Life (in which she wrote a whole chapter about meditation). Since then she has written more books about Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, and she has taught thousands of students around the country and world, including me. But I was resistant. Boy was I resistant. And never in the years she urged me to keep up my yoga and meditation practice did I ever have a desire to attend a yoga teacher training myself.

The Space Between

May 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm


 
 

Late Friday night, a friend was helping me through a mini crisis. Just before we said good-bye, she told me something I didn’t want to believe.

I have known for a long time that a sort of “Anxiety Girl” was in my brain, sending me frequent fear-filled text messages. But my friend suggested that I also have a “Bliss Girl” on the other end of the spectrum, and that swinging between the two wasn’t good for me. I was confused in that moment how Bliss Girl could possibly be a problem… what could be bad about bliss? But we said our good-byes, and I went to bed.

Mental Health Update

May 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I wish I could tell you that I feel better than ever. I wish I could be a lighthouse all the time, radiating joy and love and hope to everyone around me. But I’m not gonna lie… this past month was rough. And this past week was rougher.

It’s hard not to wonder if the reason it was rough is because I weaned off my medication. In moments of desperation, I find myself thinking I made a mistake… that I shouldn’t have stopped taking it.

But in moments of clarity, I think… Well, you still had hard times even when you were taking the medication. The past couple of months were stressful with the crazy job-hunt and all the illness. You weren’t getting enough sleep. You weren’t getting out much. You weren’t meditating. You weren’t eating enough. You got depleted. Just give yourself a break while you catch up.

So I’ve had anxiety (and some depression) off and on this week. It has fluctuated. Some days were horrendous (that day when I cried to a whole bunch of people on the phone). Some days were so-so, and some were good, hallelujah.

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety

January 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm

My whole world changed once I became acquainted with anxiety. I will never be the same person I was before. But I wouldn’t want to be either. I’m better for my battles. I know it.

72268768989948578_ElZL6iWa_f-225x300If you’re in the midst of your own battle with anxiety, I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I know the hell you’re experiencing. I know you fear that it’s never going to go away. Those fears tormented me day and night for a long time. I still struggle now and then, especially when I let life run me down physically and emotionally. But overall I’m lightyears better than I was when those first panic attacks hit me like a freight train in the spring of 2012. I pray with all my heart that you find healing as well. I have faith that you will. But if you find yourself having thoughts about ending your life, please seek help. You are worth saving. And there is no shame in accepting pharmaceutical help. Medication helped save my life.

On to the purpose of this post… I’ve learned some tricks over the past couple of years as I struggled  to manage my anxiety. I can’t promise these things will help you, but I can say they’ve helped me. This is not medical advice. I’m just sharing what worked for me. 

Your Dream Team

January 10, 2014 at 12:06 am

Over winter break, we headed north to the land of cold where most of my family lives to hang out for a week. While I was there, I did some trauma release work with a a beloved neuropsychologist family member. In her practice, she does almost exclusively EMDR work. EMDR stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.” EMDR is a therapeutic technique, sometimes utilizing alternating left and right tapping, eye-movement, or auditory beeps, in which the client is able to desensitize past traumatic experiences and be released from their present ill effects. You can read more about EMDR and how it works HERE.

The ACE (adverse childhood experiences) study published in 2002 found that there is a “powerful relation between our emotional experiences as children and our adult emotional health, physical health, and major causes of mortality. . . . One doesn’t ‘just get over’ some things” (ACE study). If you are experiencing poor mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health, it’s likely that a traumatic event from your past (or an ancestor’s past) could be a major contributing factor. If you suspect you’re suffering from past traumas, traditional “talk therapy” is unlikely to bring the full healing you seek. I invite you to explore more effective trauma release methods, like EMDR, Emotional Freedom Technique, energy healing, meditation, etc.

My Dream Team

I’ve done quite a lot of trauma release work via EMDR, energy healing, EFT, and meditation over the past year+. But during this past EMDR session, I was guided to do something I’ve never done before, and I think everyone should do it. I designated a “Resource Team,” which I quickly mentally renamed as my “Dream Team.” A Dream Team consists of three groups: Protectors, Nurturers, and Inner Wisdom Guides. You pick who to put in each of your groups. You can pick as few or as many people as you want. They can be alive or dead, real or imagined, whoever you want. You can even pick one person to fill all three roles if you want.

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