It's not like it seems in the fog. There's an entire horizon that was hiding behind the blur, the mask, the lies, the ego, the inflated realities. To be where the divine lives that's where we can see. We're never alone, not even in the isolation periods when we're exploring, discovering and finding our path. Traveling through time and space. Wandering the past and uniting with the you of the future. Mending beyond a cellular level that which was torn away and delivering it into the light. Connecting and trusting the unfolding, the becoming. Welcoming the abundance. Move like nature moves amidst the change. Blossom.
Allowing my hamstrings to be melted little by little...
The coconut oil, shea butter, argan oil, breath and agni...are gifts.
Reaching in bow as I watch myself in the mirror, not resisting in pigeon and allowing the crystal healer that seemed to fly in from the clouds to work his magic on my blockages-
It's all vulnerability taking me deeper, further and changing me into a healthier, happier, clearer version of myself.
Her Kirtan has makes me cry almost every time. All this talk of crying...
I called my sister Kate on the day I didn't leave class with tears in celebration, like I'd reached a milestone. It's involuntary, but I don't want to let it freak me out. I'm diving into those layers of myself and swimming like a dolphin right through the riptides. I'm not alone.
I know there is something waiting there for me. It's me. I won't stop until I find her and set her free more and more. Even if it means crying in a room full of people, dripping sweat, and seriously leaving smelling offensive to those around me.
I'm working on ingesting more and more essential oils & cleaning up my nutrition to remedy the stench effect of hot yoga & Ashtanga so stay tuned and don't let that deter you from practicing with me.
I'll make it all smell like roses soon enough.
I feel like starting and ending the blog there because that's the single most valuable advice when it comes to mastering the art of yoga, surfing, or life- Uninterrupted Daily Consistent Practice. A new teacher who has been guiding me, Irene Pappas says, "There are no shortcuts, only baby steps to consistency. Fall in love with the journey because really that's all there is."
Giving it away
There's something about sharing that keeps me moving forward. I remember the day Lezele looked at me and saw that I could put my feet flat on the ground while in downward dog, which is not easy considering most people have to work at having flexible hamstrings and since my home practice has wavered I'll need a few days, or weeks of consistent practice to get that back. Even Lezele who most certainly is a gifted yoga girl, has to work towards hamstring flexibility. She was really impressed and asked me how I did that. I told her, "because I've been practicing every single day." That was the day she began practicing daily and THAT is what got her to where she is now doing scorpion pose and handstands. She is teaching and guiding me now. That is the way it works when you give it all away. Having the ability to pay forward what I gain from my strength training was a game changer. The way to have that capability with yoga would be to take the leap and do the training to advance my practice and be able to teach others. I've been talking about a teacher training for years. I wrote in my journal and in my blog, that I would give myself two years to prepare for a yoga teacher training and in March of 2016 it will be two years. Time is such an illusion. Where does it go?
November is for Nurturing Dreams- it's my birthday month so there's no better time to begin again. Even when we're living our dreams we still have to be sure to nurture them if we want to keep them alive. They are constantly evolving just like everything else.
What I realized about myself is that right as things start getting good and just before things take off, I stop. It might be stress, time, pain, fear, distractions, autoimmune disease, or something else, but I stop and then have to start all over again. I convince myself that first I need to eat cleaner, get healthier, shrink my breasts, make stronger abs and THEN I'll practice again. But, when I see my teachers practicing in a cast, or after back surgery, despite traveling and being in tight spaces- I know I'm making things up when I convince myself to stop. There's never a reason not to try even if it's the laziest practice known to man for a day, or more- it's still better to do it.
That's exactly the time to keep going just when I feel like stopping. Pushing past the obstacle of wanting to give up may not feel or look graceful at first, but afterwards there's a glow that everyone will see and feel. I think that is what feeds whatever that universal energy is we all share. That's a reason not to stop.
I'm recommitting to an uninterrupted daily yoga practice. Developing a strong personal practice, or home practice has always been super important to me. Doing this prior to finding a teacher to take me through my training was always my vision. Although I may face sickness from the cleansing taking place, pain from the metamorphosis taking place, this time I WILL NOT STOP. No matter how ugly it gets I'm going to push through to the other side of that barrier and of that suffering. I'll be sharing that with all of you.
These are my baby steps to consistency. I believe that what we choose to focus on becomes our reality and that we can create any reality we choose. Over the next two months I'll be breathing in my new story and breathing out the old.
Who wants to enter into 2016 feeling really empowered and and commit to a daily practice with me for the rest of the year, then keep going?
Something about this space helps me clear through the mud and come out a lotus.
A gentle, yet firey spirited white bearded yogi and nurtured therapist wander throughout.
Garland is an oasis filled with a world of cultures, healers, educators, beauty and so many sacred in-describe-ables.
Recently they sent me home with the antidote for a dense San Francisco-like fog that began to hover around my yoga practice. Sandalwood suggested by Kevin Starbard, "what it smells like in India's Temple's" and attending the Hatha classes held with Dr. Pratap were my prescriptions.
I lit the incense like a torch in my yoga corner where I breathe like a dragon, focus and hug myself into a playful, thoughtless, fearless state.
I'm freer, happier, younger and closer to my origins everyday.
Quite a lengthy timeline to tackle.
*The list goes on and on spurring questions like, "Ashtanga" shouldn't it really be called "Korunta" which started it all? (Korunta, the ancient text by Vamana Rishi, teacher of Rama Mohan Brahmachari who then taught Krishnamacharya in Tibet who then taught Guruji or Sri K Pattabhi Jois who studied the Korunta and brought the Ashtanga Yoga system, which means eight limbed yoga described as disciplines by Patanjali: restraints, observances, posture, breathing, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, unification of subject and object.)
Patanjali , the great Sage who wrote the Sutras I believe it's unclear if Patanjali was a she, he or even an actual being- the philosophy seems to be accessed through practicing the asana's.
Ashtanga Guru Pattabhi Jois says, "...99% is practice..."
That's where the real learning happens it's there in the posture itself.
Hence, I'm crawling out from under the piles of book, dusting off my limbs and exploring my own timeline. "I'm practicing," says Kate Ryan Maring.
Practice being like an infant alive with instinct, sucking on your toes (Ella inspired) without hesitation, fear, or apology.
*each posture has a specific gaze: nose, belly button, sky...
*the method that makes it work, like pressing forward on the sacrum after stabilizing your pelvis and internally rotating the thighs to get into an easy Ustrasana relaxing the neck and using the natural form of the cervical spine
I have to really pay attention to the looking points (drishti/focus points) or I can easily drift away and topple over. Intellectuals fall victim to this particularly in headstands, "wait where am I...?" Timber!
It's mystifying sometimes when I fall. I may not see it coming because I'm looking inward, you know? I'm really deep inside of myself I have disconnected from senses and don't feel a damn thing!
But, once you learn how to fall you fear it less.
Guruji said to Kino when she was struggling, "Asana(postures), Pranayama(Breathe), Drishti(focus withdrawing from the senses) Do this for many, many years and you will find peace."
It's on the cells of the body the secrets of the universe live.
"... It's like psychotherapy without the 'why' just experience it." Kino MacGregor says on practicing.
Among what I am drawn to in the Ashtanga method is the way it exhausts me to relax me; still your mind which is the real body part we are alchemizing. Everything else follows.
I ran out of excuses, It was raining, 30 degrees and dark, I felt the wind give me a push and so I ran anyway (I have a history with braving the elements.)
Agni (fire) was ripping through my bullshit and dripping down my back.
(See results on Strava Run titled, "Winter Fairy. Blink Green.")
I was alive and bending like a baby, again.
It took months, but on 1-6-15 I got onto my forearms in headstand and can completely flatten my hands onto the ground when bending down to touch my toes without much bend in my knees, or injury to those around me.
It dawned on me while being nibbled on by cold winds roaring over the bridge exiting Penn's campus.
It's me I'm bending into, rushing into my splits to get to me, falling on my mat while Liana tries to show me how to slow down, to get to me.
"Subtle Truth: you are what you love" Rumi.
It doesn't all have to make sense.
I can feel it working.
The Bhagavad Gita Translated by Eknath Easwaran.
Thanks for reading.
This is not a race. You are not running, Sarah Kelly. You are not playing tennis.
It's a seduction. A delicate, precious interaction that can not be rushed. No negotiating.
You are engaging in a relationship with yourself.
As I practice, I have trouble remembering to soften.
Allow myself to bend and fall slowly. Succumb.
Give it time. Abandon thought. Give it a bit more muscle from the core.
Allow the process to unfold.
This can not be pursued or it will run away. Do not rush it and spoil the fun.
Sometimes a little breakaway can be a great assist.
Getting away from people makes you less available to them, but it also makes you more available to yourself. (This always makes you a greater contribution later.)
"Listen" says Rumi.
October 2014 Continuing to master the Primary Series
|Photography: Hoag Levins|
CHIBE-ROYBAL Retreat with UPENN at Congress Hall in Cape May gave me the chance to lead a group of scientists in the art and medicine of yoga.
What a courageous group of intelligent and empowered women.
I got my feet wet with guiding a group in yoga. Sort of.
It showed me how far I have to go and how far I've come.
Teaching has taught me.
My practice of disciplined ashtanga study and asanas, is in its infancy and leading me to the foundations of Hatha practice.
I tried to lead them, for an hour, at 6:30 am. after a night of bonding beach side with plenty of martini's.
The class began regardless of my emotion, sleepiness or otherwise.
Alcohol does not increase bendiness (Lucas.)
I found myself faced with the eyes of 10 others- looking for instruction. I was prompted to begin immediately despite thinking to myself quickly, "why are they looking at me, do what you do usually..." There was an intensity to their eyes I won't soon forget.
I tried to bring them with me, on this most gorgeous of mornings on a blissful beach, to a journey I have come to adore. Emily demonstrated sun salutations and we infused a little Rodney Yee, pigeon and Ustrasana towards the end.
Emily Kane demonstrated, while I walked around to each individual assisting and adjusting their postures- I could not actually do yoga and talk at the same time. That is a fine art of flow, for sure.
I gave them each a stone to hold onto, some grasped it for dear life, while others wondered what they should do with it.
I immediately saw in each person the subtle shifts that could help them with these asana's going forward, as they plunged ahead with such power and might. Later asking, "what's the secret? It's just to relax isn't it?" There are so many "secrets" and none at the same time.
Dana got into Ustrasana quite boldly. I loved seeing her impressed with herself when she saw it was all in the method.
Pam Shaw, I saw in the elevator this morning and she took up another yoga class the next day, determined! She has such life in her eyes that one.
Alison held a beautiful practice with a deep connection to herself and her independence just before plunging into the ocean and delivering a lecture on her massively impressive research project.
Emily has such a united flow about her and helped lead this class and me, without her fearless youth and confidence it would not have been the same.
Joelle is determined and her focus uninterrupted- those students challenge the teachers.
She is a force and is the one who brought this group together. Joelle & Beth the gatherers.
Most importantly we all now share a special bond from this morning on the beach. When we see each other in the med school the light returns to us for an instant.
|Reminding each student as Liana reminded me, "nothing is right or wrong here today- do what comes naturally to you."|
I yogini while I cook dinner, in the shower, while I work, talk on the phone, run to work, watch Shameless episodes, scrub up messes, while I'm having sex (this one is my favorite- a proven way to get your feet behind your head without even realizing it.)
If I think about a posture or even smell it, I immediately get into it.
Without hesitation, or any thought. Actions are everything. The more I do it the better I do it.
After a ton of graceful guidance from the local yoga schools and body workers in Philadelphia - I have taken my practice home with me.
Once I began practicing yoga every single day, I saw a lot of changes happening.
I realized what it would take for me to get the satisfaction out of this I was looking for.
I'm constantly visualizing myself getting closer and closer to that more drenching stretch- my toes touching my forehead, my spine elongating, my core strengthening, my splits spreading, my soul awakening, my focus unyielding.
It makes sense to practice at home as a prerequisite to committing to regular studio time.
It's a frustrating and personal process. Transforming is not always something you want to do in a group, until you've come out of your cocoon (maybe that's just me.)
It's like preparing and studying for a test. Know the lingo and how to get into the postures.
This is when the classes will be very helpful. Come with your homework done and then join a community. It was joining a yoga studio that made me realize this. A private lesson or two can also help you along.
This sets up the foundation for all yoga postures going forward.
Primary Series is that. A series of positions to get your body warmed up to grow in this discipline.
Both studying the Light on Yoga text book by BKS Iyengar, with great focus and a highlighter, and the video instruction of Kino MacGregor spoke to me.
Until my personal practice has evolved to where I will benefit from time at the shala in India, Kino's studio in Miami, David's Ashtanga school down the street, Rodney Yee's Manhattan digs and Dhyana's homey studio- I'll be gettin' down every day (except moon days), looking for video instruction, text books and doing warrior pose while I brush my teeth.
August 2014 Began Ashtanga training and studies. Mastering the Primary Series.
Below are a few good interviews. See related blog posts for instructional videos.
*Kino says Guruji said these three things for many years will take us there:
Finding my focus (pratyahara) by looking (drishti) practicing my asana's (getting all twisty) and breathing (pranayama.)
This also made me see me in her- fun story about her humble beginnings,
Other's so delicately observe, taking each step with careful consideration, so deliberate and respectful. Less messy.
Philadelphia was just voted one of the most yoga friendly cities in the country. I'm inclined to agree.
After 15 years with Rodney Yee and my cozy home mat, which often gets lathered with shea butter instead of sweat, we have embarked on a new future with the yoga community in this city- even extending into my work with UPENN. Ivy League Yogi's are a special sort. Yoga is included in the Physical Therapy model in the cancer center.
Each class brings a new awareness of how much I am capable of, how far I have come and how far I have to go.
Teaching my very bendy toddlers, who are now far more advanced yogini's than myself, is an entirely different platform than what I will be embarking on in the future.
A room filled with strong minds, strong bodies and uplifted souls who will be looking for my guidance, my strength, my healing and my adjustments, to bring them deeper will require me to go deeper.
The Yoga Garden, is a few steps away from home. Among their prerequisites for training yoga teachers- two years of yoga classes in a formal studio setting prior to applying to their teacher training.
They also come recommended by the yoga and Advanced medicine community at Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.
Today I decided I will be taking the advice to train for two years prior to applying to teach. As part of that training, strength training.
Yoga is something that takes baby steps, "forces you to go slow into each transition" A. Holmes today as I was dripping buckets of sweat onto my mat, the floor, the blocks, the kind man beside me- just wanting to push through into butterfly...
This requires strength, fortitude, persistance, patience, breath, flexibility that elongates over time, all of a physical and spiritual nature. This practice is challenging and takes time to develop.
Among the other trainings out there, a four year school in the Iyenger style and a Mysore style training, which only exists in India.
I'll be embarking into my first Mysore, India Ashtanga class this week.
That is if I can get my ass out of bed with a butt cracking, 6:30 am start time;
Disciplines of freedom.
You can also come in and out of this class, as you please, which I find inviting.
Mysore practice honors the flux of the moon, with yin yoga practices, which aim target at the ligaments and even fascia.
Considering I function along the patterns of the moon, I'm called to this practice.
For the next two years, I'll be training in order to practice.
The room was dimly lit with candles, chakras were all aglow.
Liana lightly touched my shoulder like a fairy, "do you have any health issues" she asked with a smile so bright, if my answer was, 'yes,' she would have melted the disease in that moment. I replied "no," and introduced myself. She reached for me, scooped me up and gave me one of those giggly girly hugs where you can transcend back to your childhood.
Two sisters, or friends hugging and jumping lightly at the same time, feeling each others giggles from the gut, laughing as though you just rolled down a grassy hill together.
Within moments I'm sweating, working on my
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana I, moments later I'm crying after feathering out of Ustrasana. She walks around the room on tippy toes so delicately considering your senses at every moment. Liana is such a gentle guide. She tickles your underarm to get it to move where she thinks you might like it better. Gracefully stands before you demonstrating just how it will feel best. Encouraging with heart and divinity, all the way.
Like a mommy, like a mermaid she is one I will remember and cherish.
The onset of my current direction, Liana was a part of it.
Her lemongrass sealed it with a kiss. She showed me what a teacher is supposed to feel like. She showed me, I would love to do this. Once you find what it is you love, I realized, don't ever let it go.
I've been calling her Caroline, Caroline Grace Ashurst, but her name is clearly Grace. Gracie when I feel like super cozy with her. And she is so cozy even with her sharp needles. Like a lily, petite and present, she places them so precisely, as I feel the steam of qi, like butterfly kisses, along my left foots arch. She has created movement, blood flow and feeling. She asks very intently, "does it hurt here, is it achy, what about here?"
She finds that perfect place to place what will be liberating me.
She touched my pulses, glanced at my tongue and seemed to get my entire health story, leaving no stone unturned.
She understood everything with such depth. My fire constitution, or maybe earth or water. It takes awhile to find sometimes. We're pretty certain, I'm a fire.
We're balancing my metal and my fires, so that we can see more clearly. It's a dance you do together practitioner and the one seeking the healing, in order to see the results.
Punctured to the fullest she smoked the room with incence and mugwort torched my belly as I requested. "This definately looks like you went to China and had this done."
She said at my follow up visit. Some like it hot, I don't think she was pleased.
She told me, as she crouched down closely to my belly whispering to it, almost as seductively as the one who kisses it softly and keeps going, but very differently than that, like it was her belly, one she loved, "How can we talk nicer to this belly." I realized then, I can't tell my belly I may cut her again. I have to thank her for bringing life and try to heal her from deep inside. I can feel the vibrations changing in me. I'm now putting my fire into my earth. My scars are healing.
Cindy, with her cable TV network show came to interview amidst all of this change. She has Grounded me, all seven of my chakras to be exact, and it sent me to my core. Helped me to silence that chatter, in order to conduct an interview. Airing on 3-11 in NY and Saturday in Manhattan. "Who are you giving your power to, girly?" She asked, shocked. "I instantly felt a ping in my heart and sick to my stomach when I touched your heart and your belly." She told me I'm definately all in my head, but that I'm not reaching from the divine space to deliver what I'm delivering so freely. "You're around really sick people all day. In that line of work, it's important to balance and ground the chakras." I was calmed, finally. I stopped talking too fast, thinking too fast and losing focus on the now. I had confidence and delivered the interview with ease.
Liana opening me to release, Grace guiding me to put my fire in my earth clearing my metals, water and wood, while freeing my qi and Cindy grounding my dreams into reality. Thankful bliss.
Connecting with something words can't describe, stretching my body, while breathing to bring a better flow until now has been a somewhat solo, instinctual, intuitive, innocent action. A dance with the universe. A meditation with the mystics.
"A divine intervention brought us all together." Said Caroline with grace. "I tap into the divine every chance I get." Said Liana. After one hour with each one of these innocents, tears of release sprung from my eyes as I saw and felt what would come next.
Caroline Grace Ashurst, shifted my perspective, while gradually my soul gravitated to the table.
Showing me what was there in front of me.
Over a glass of green tea, I saw her, see trauma I thought I'd released fully.
She will be guiding me to a healed space;
Releasing me from the human bonds that trap my freedom to fly.
She's already revealing the war I've waged may be presenting some inherent difficulties.
I will have to let the war rage on as I retreat, I'm still present.
Cultivating this giant fire, burning so brightly, in the direction before me. Being sure to put my fire, in my earth.
Check my calendar there is a Yoga combined Acupuncture gathering that will be a life changer. March 8th. Shine your light on it.
New research proves that with as little as three months of practice, yoga can reduce inflammation and fatigue. The more the practice, the better the results.
Researchers recruited a total of 200 women for the study. Not a small number for any clinical trial.
Specific details for breast cancer patients who have completed their treatment regimen were examined and improvement in a qualitative manner was revealed.
“Yoga has many parts to it – meditation, breathing, stretching and strengthening. We think the breathing and meditation components were really important in terms of some of the changes we were seeing.” Kiecolt-Glaser said.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
For more information on the study author interview:
Pitching this to Philadelphia publications and media outlets for possible freelance opportunities.
She reached the surface of the water gasping for air so ferociously, there was a little less oxygen for everything else in the universe.
Shaking off the water that clung firmly to her mouth, skin and hair, she was so happy to be alive, again.
Observing every spec of her surroundings with razor sharp awareness, she clawed her way to the nearest mass of land.
Sand dug into her and sifted through her fingers, salt gashed throughout her bodies open wounds, as the sun dried and extracted her drenched spirit.
She moved forward with grace and dignity, unabashed.
All her years making the impossible possible, the dead alive, the unlivable livable, she
|Photo Credit: Coach Kristen Kelly|
For the naysayers of western medicine, not many things serve no purpose at all. There is a place for most things in this world. Without blood would there be guts, without sad would there be happy, without 'evil' would there be 'good'? You get the idea.
The story of babel intrigues me. Once all humans spoke one language. Turmoil caused a great division and the worlds parted as did the languages, turning the one into many.
That would require more research, either way the idea is a helpful one. (I've already offended someone and they have stopped reading.)
Stay with me.
I can't help but see the light that shines out of the merging, or gathering of these 'worlds.'
It calls to me.
Not unlike dark chocolate with strawberries, or better yet goji berries. I digress.
Each seem to be the half of the others whole.
The physicians and practitioners on the third floor of the Perelman Center for Advanced medicine's Abramson Cancer Center are referring patients for Acupuncture treatments, Reiki and Yoga Therapy.
Those with the talent to push through the panic pace, it's important all the right tools are at their finger tips to provide to those that are begging them for hope and relief.
Like a lotus growing even more beautiful the murkier, the muddier the waters become- these medicine men and women in too much plush palace life, like a lotus, shrivel.
We challenge our humanity daily, for fun, for endorphins, for life, for cures, for others.
We like it and we share it.
Something about seeing the limits of human suffering pushed, poked, and prodded brings out the best of our natures.
A surrendering to each other takes place, a sort of tribe forms instantly in a battle faced better united, while you hold on trying your best to find the courage inside to rescue another, or face death with dignity as opposed to fear. Learning the delicate dance of timing that takes place in letting go.
The reality being pried from souls and bellies, the point of no return exposed before you.
How brave are we? At what point do we reach a threshold? How far will we go for another?
How much of their pain can we recycle and offer back as reward, relentlessly.
She started with skeptical feelings towards recommendations for treatments, such as meditation.
However, she was able to attribute it to one of the many ancient remedies that were key ingredients in taking her neck pain away.
“The pain stopped, Sarah. I used all of the options that were available to me. There is an opportunity for pain relief. I raised three kids while I was going through chemotherapy. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I couldn't have made it without all of that stuff. I stopped going to John Hopkins because they didn't have any of those options available to me.” She had a double mastectomy after her chemo and if you saw her you may wonder if she has graced the cover of a magazine once or twice.
Doctors of Osteopathy were not always seen equal in the eyes of the AMA, but they are now. The OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography,) which Ophthalmology practices now stop without, were once said ,"not to be helpful in a clinical setting at all" now they are the foundation.
a physicist explains after reviewing a more qualitative study on Reiki done at Upenn,
“I'm surprised they are doing these types of studies at Upenn. Really what you at least need is a theoretical reason why something should work. With Acupuncture there is some proof it works through engagement with your nervous system. Reiki the theory is that there is interaction with your chi, Acupuncture originated that way too, but scientific research is replacing that with a more physiologically based framework. Whereas I think they haven't done that with Reiki, yet. People are skeptical for a good reason. I would assume it's less effective than a standard massage. Now, Yoga is totally different from Reiki and comes from different religious backgrounds too.”
That claim the Physicist Philosopher was able to accept with a bright smile of surprise, but with a resounding, “who knows...”
The translators in Translational research are the most important part. “I'm not on a side, I'm on my own side.” says the Physicist Philosopher. "Let's open our minds people." Arjun, Physicist.
Fern says, "education is key."
Abramson Cancer Center offers Yoga, Reiki, Acupuncture, Physical Therapy and other types of treatment for cancer patients and has a large Integrative Oncology Working Group with expert knowledge of the importance of care that is working when nothing else will.
What they are trying to build stronger has become very successful in Pennsylvania Hospital due to its smaller playing field. Dr. Mao says all the time, "we are looking for revolutionaries."
Amidst survival mode, medicinal mothering, and mortified, your finest of raw instincts, primal powers are on the surface ready in an instant to save a life, catch the falling with a reaction time you didn't know you had in you until you were challenged. That lift a car off of your baby kind of power was recognized seemingly by physicians like, Upledger when he had the idea to teach craniosacral therapy to mothers.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome. Sarah