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

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

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

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

Weep

July 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

IMG_1222Nearly every day for the past few weeks I have had a meltdown. This is when I weep, usually to a supportive family member, for an hour (or two or three). This morning was a doozy. It almost sounded like I was in labor. My husband was my doula. For I don’t know how long, I sat on my parents’ bed (my husband stood in front of me), and I rested my head on his stomach, letting myself sob and sniffle and make sounds, so many tears gushing from my eyes.

But I’ve started noticing something about these meltdowns: I usually feel better afterward. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. I learned at some point in the past few years that tears really can actually create a measurable shift in a person’s mood and physiology.

In a Psychology Today article, Judith Orloff, MD explains:

After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed [stress] hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones” (Source).

It is healthy to cry. Crying is good for us.

Magnesium for Tics and Tourette Syndrome

April 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

When the blinking started, we knew something was definitely going on.

I’m not talking about ordinary blinking. I’m talking about excessive blinking, sometimes extremely excessive. If you’ve ever seen a kid with a blinking tic, you know what I’m talking about. Approximately two years ago, my second daughter began exhibiting tics. IMG_0707_2Since then, we have seen a variety of tics come and go (both vocal and motor).

Kidshealth.org describes tics this way: “A tic is a sudden, repetitive movement or sound that can be difficult to control. Tics that involve movements are called motor tics and those that are sounds are called vocal tics.” Tics usually become worse when children are under stress. This is definitely true for my daughter. When my daughter began experiencing tics, my mind quickly jumped to Tourette syndrome, but having tics does not necessarily mean you have Tourette syndrome.

I watch my daughter carefully every day. I notice when a new tic emerges. I notice when an old tic disappears. I notice when the tics escalate and when they subside. We have learned that certain things exacerbate her tics: stress, lack of sleep, food additives (artificial colors, etc.). If certain things can exacerbate her tics, it seems logical to me that the tics are her body’s way of calling for help. It also seems logical to me that something inside of her is out of balance. My daughter would like her “habits” (as she calls them) to stop, and by golly I’m going to do everything I can to bring about her desire.

Modeling Empathy

March 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Back in 2010, a study of nearly 14,000 American college students indicated that “college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000” (Source). I started college in 1999, so this downward trend began in my generation. What can we expect to be the consequences of this lack of empathy? “Low empathy is associated with criminal behavior, violence, sexual offenses, aggression when drunk and other antisocial behaviors” (Source). Not a pretty sight. This probably helps explain why I rarely watch/read the news anymore. So can we halt this trend toward empathy-lack?

As a first-time mom, a friend of mine invited me to attend an event for moms and kids. I don’t remember much about it. I think we rotated through different rooms with a variety of crafts and games and activities. The one thing that has stuck with me (after ten years) was a presentation about the importance of empathy. The woman encouraged us to respond to our children’s distress or tantrums first with empathy. She explained that we all have an innate need to feel understood, including and especially children. She encouraged us, when our children would cry about something upsetting to them, to acknowledging their big feelings, speak aloud our understanding of why they would be upset, match their tone of voice and facial expression and then gradually bring it down to a calmer one. For whatever reason, this advice about empathy felt profound and life-changing, and it sunk deep into my heart and mind.

Magnesium for Healthier Moms and Babies

February 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

My brother and his wife came into town and visited us on Monday. My brother mentioned that he was having horrible neck pain. “Magnesium!!” I yelled at him as I slathered his neck and shoulder with magnesium oil cream and spray.

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It’s been several years since I read The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. But I was skimming through it the other day and came upon the chapter about magnesium’s impact on pregnancy-related issues and early infancy. I shared some of this info in my 2010 blogpost “Magnesium for Pregnancy and Beyond,” but I felt impressed to share a bit more today. I’ve got a lot to do today, so I’m going to be lazy and just quote Dr. Carolyn Dean.

Power Poses for Childbirth?

January 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

About a week ago, I saw a TED Talk video that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. In this 20-minute video, Amy Cuddy shares a “free, no-tech life hack.” Her research on body language demonstrates that we can infuse ourselves with greater confidence and serenity in the face of a challenging situation simply by changing body positions. She calls them “power poses.” Here’s the video, if you’re interested. Totally worth your time.

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. 

4 Great Reasons to Hire a Doula

January 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I wish every laboring woman could have a doula’s support.  Here are four great reasons why…

1) Doulas are nothing new.

A lot of people, when they first hear about doulas, think… oh, that’s new. But it’s not at all. For thousands and thousands of years women have been supported by other women during childbirth. We watched an awesome film at our doula training called “The Timeless Way” which showed the history of childbirth starting with ancient artifacts and moving to more modern depictions. I was struck how the very same image was represented through sculpture, wall carvings, pottery, and art over and over and over again. It is the “classic birth triad”—an upright laboring woman supported from behind by another woman, with a midwife in front ready to catch the baby. It has only been in the last century that this “classic birth triad” has all but disappeared. Doulas are not new. Modern obstetric practice is what has strayed (very far, I might add) from the time-tested norm.

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.

Gifts that Heal

December 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

A few weeks ago, a friend showed up at my door with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s… like this…

brussels

It was a healing gift for a number of reasons… 1) Because there’s something very heart-warming about having another person “get you” well enough to know exactly what would make your day, and 2) Because brussels sprouts are healing in and of themselves.

I love gifts that heal. They’re the best kind.

Here are some more healing gift ideas…

Posteriority

October 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Eight years ago today my second baby came into this world upside down, or “sunny side up” as some people say. And she has indeed been a ray of sunshine in my life.

133 Amber pics 153_edited-1

She was posterior (facing my front side) rather than the normal anterior position (facing my back). Her posteriority (I think I just invented a word!) brought with it some surprises. I had fully expected my second birth to happen very quickly. My sister’s labors were each roughly half as long as the previous. My first daughter’s birth lasted less than six hours, so I was expecting my second to come in less than three! I suspected she might be posterior, however, when that supposed-to-be-fast labor turned into an on-again-off-again roughly 28-hour labor.

For Your Birth Bag

August 22, 2013 at 5:32 am

Image Source

This morning, a friend posted on my facebook page wall:

“Do you have a full list of things you recommend to bring for people who choose to have a hospital birth? I would love to pass a list on to my sister and friends who are pregnant, if you have one.”

I told her I didn’t have one, but she had given me an idea for a great blogpost. I should preface this by saying that I didn’t bring any of these things to my hospital births. But if I could go back in time, I would! Ten years of studying childbirth have taught me a lot!

Aside from the usual change of clothes, toiletries, and baby gear, here’s what I’d recommend you pack in your bag to ease your hospital birth and postpartum experience.

Lightbulb Moment

August 19, 2013 at 12:00 am

A week or two ago I had a little epiphany. Ever since, I’ve had that song stuck in my head… “I wear my sunglasses at night…” I’m a child of the 80’s. Actually, that’s the only line of the song I really know, so I’ve just had that one line repeating over and over in my head. Ha. What is that song even about?

Seriously though, if we’re going to wear sunglasses, we really should be wearing them at night (unless we’re driving, of course). And because of all of this pondering about light and sunglasses, I’m becoming convinced that every woman transferring in labor to a hospital should wear amber (blue-light blocking) eyeglasses. At least until she gets situated and comfortable and labor is continuing to progress.

Let me explain…

It might help if you read these posts first:

Sound Body, Sound Birth

August 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.

If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.

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