“When the soul rises to the lips we get the kiss we have always longed for…” ~Rumi

This morning at the end of my mama/baby/tot yoga class I asked the mothers to take a moment to check in with how they felt now– as compared to when they first arrived a bit over an hour earlier.  The first mother volunteered her comparison:  “what I notice most now is how relaxed my jaw is– I think this is the first time I’ve relaxed my jaw- really relaxed since the baby was born.”  (4 month prior)

What I noticed was not only was her jaw truly relaxed-  she was radiant!  I asked her if I could offer her a consideration.  She replied, “Yes.”   I said, “when your man arrives home tonight– give him a few moments to gather himself from the commute home– then tell him,  “honey,  I am going to kiss so that I can practice keeping my jaw relaxed for the rest of of the evening,”   She seemed delighted by the idea and immediately I sensed how she recognized that kissing (as she and her husband had done in the past) was still available to her even though she was a mom –with demands of caring for a new baby.  Her entire perspective of kissing as a greeting would set the tone for a very different evening if she met him in another way– or more likely not at all.

My point in writing about the art of kissing and motherhood is that kissing for the play and art of it as a new mother has the potential to dramatically shift how she experiences her life expanded to include the role of being a mother.

For example, kissing the baby is something that new mothers do right away-  while other mothers kissing is not a part of their culture– and yet globally we can see the art of kissing is a ritual that exists within the context of intimacy and trust.  It is a ritual of greeting — that acknowledges each other in a way that in fact nurtures trust and intimacy.

In a culture that increasingly is becoming more dependent on devices that dictate and program our experience of life- devices that distract us from feeling our bodies and what truly gives rise to being happy.    I vote for nurturing intimacy and trust through the art of playful kissing.  It is good for all of us!

 

 

 

 

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September 1 – 8th, 2014 has been designated as “Empowered Birth Week.”   Here are the definitions in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. to give official authority or legal power to..
2.. enable
3to promote the self-actualization or influence of..
The blessing of You Tube is that it has made the process of Birthing transparent.  There are thousands of videos of birthing women available.  There is a growing number of women birthing at home or in birth centers around the globe.  Hundreds of thousands of women birthing without ‘medical intervention.’  This makes sense to me given that birth IS in and of itself  not a medical event.  ( Birth is)  It has been an on-going process of the life cycle since the dawn of life as we know it.   If we as Intelligent, awake and conscious humans were to spend 15 minutes to contemplate the numbers of mammals (humans are mammals) who have birthed free of any life threatening complication we would stand up and do a HAPPY DANCE at the amazing capability of the mammal kingdom to keep itself going.
So if we simply ponder the reality of birth as a naturally occurring event that is meant to happen according to the life cycle as we know it….it seems a necessary and logical outcome that would cause  mothers & fathers to be to BREATHE  a HUGE sigh of relief and declare,  “We’ve got this.”
However, this is not always the case,  in-fact if you look at the stats across the industrialized world you would notice a rise in medical intervention over the past 75+ years. Not only would you notice this you would hear moms clearly state that they expect the birth to have medical intervention.   They anticipate their own bodies needing outside help to get the baby out.  These same mothers do not see how they collude with their doctors to create their birth experience. Many blindly trust what they are told as matter of fact and some mothers say they don’t believe they have a choice. These same mothers to be (or second-third+ time moms)  have little or no faith,  REAL KNOWLEDGE or WISDOM of their own birthing bodies capability, in-fact intrinsic and innate ability to birth the baby without the need for anyone poking and prodding or cutting her to get the baby out.
What many mothers and fathers do not realize is how they have been programmed,  schooled if you will by the media, other women, their doctors to believe that they must rely on an authority outside of themselves to ‘get the baby out..’  We simply have lost confidence in our body’s intrinsic and innate capability to birth.
My friend and Spiritual Mentor has defined the “Old Paradigm of Birth as one that fosters fear in the mother, by taking authority over the birth mother, there is a lack of respect for the mother, the baby and the old paradigm of birth does not trust the birth process.   Where as, the New Paradigm of Birth exemplifies power WITH the mother.  The new paradigm empowers the mother and believes she has sovereign authority over her body,  the new paradigm of birth respects the mother, the baby, the partner and trusts the birth process.  The New Paradigm of Birth honors the highest aspect of mother-baby & partner.”  I would even take it a step further and say that I truly believe that because it is the mother-baby who are in-fact having the direct embodied experience that we must SEE THEM AS THE EXPERT…as one who is experiencing in the present moment of the ‘eternal now.’   I will talk much more in a blog that follows this one.
I write today, during  Empowered Birth Week because of the compelling birth stories that my prenatal students share with me upon their return to my Mama-baby postnatal yoga classes.
I have heard hundreds and hundreds of stories from my prenatal students returning to re-count their birth story and what I hear more often than not is that she tells the story of the “Old Paradigm of Birth.”    (Although this is changing because the paradigm of how we see birthing women is changing).
I am writing today during  Empowered Birth  week because I stand in agreement with this new paradigm of birth. I see a time when women will stand fully in their authority as Divine Feminine.  They will see themselves and their bodies as perfectly designed and lovingly capable to birth their babies.   I see women being surrounded by those standing in loving support of the holiness of birth.  The holiness of Life.  I see babies being born into an atmosphere of love, joy and peace.  And So it Is !!!
I believe it is because of the increase in medicalized birthing practices that a Birth Empowerment movement is rising up.
I think of the women who are standing up and saying to other women,  do you know that you have a choice?  Do you know you can say NO to un-neccessary procedures?   Have you ever thought would happen if you as a birthing woman completely removed fear from the birth equation and how that would give rise to a very different birth experience?
What would taking ownership of your birth experience look like to an outsider?  Do you have any idea what it feels like to stand in your own sovereign authority?
You may find that as you read this you are asking yourself,  “I want to understand how to stand in my sovereign authority,” I want to gain confidence in my body to birth my baby.”  Where do I begin?
The path that I took and am most familiar is the physical-spiritual  (mind-body-soul) practice and art of Yoga.  It is a path of personal awakening and transformation.
The practice of yoga and deep spiritual inquiry is a place for mothers- to -be,  and their partners to begin the practice of removing the layers and layers of misconception around their own bodies and birth.   It starts with a willingness to go into the silent stillness of a deep dive practice to find the PEARL of great wisdom that lies within the womb of every woman.
I will share more of my journey and how I can am here to support you in my next blog.
For more information on how to work with me please contact me:  through my facebook page:  Shakti Moon Yoga.

Loving as my guide

April 12, 2014

If you are a mom or a dad or have super hero tendencies you are someone who would likely sacrifice your own life or at least go out of your way on behalf of your child or another human being in the line of danger.
It is in spirit of awakening (not sacrifice), that I write this blog today. It is my hope that it will spark a fire in your own heart to consider that really what I see as self dismissal is often a result of misunderstanding and ignorance and the diminishing of one’s joy in favor of a perceived need to sacrifice self.
Now imagine you are in super hero mode and someone you love is going blindly along down the track where you clearly see she will be in great peril but because she has been conditioned and program by her parents, her girlfriends or the dominator virus that permeates the mindset of our culture she does not see what is up ahead or even worse sees what is up ahead and accepts it as her fate and dismisses her own well being, along with the pure potential of something different.
Then YOU come along as her “real superhero friend and ally.” You come bearing good news but she is suspicious of your intentions and may well think you in- fact have flipped your lid and in some cases will defend her position to move towards that which brings her harm because, after all that is just the way that it is and in the end she really will be, “alright.”
I share this analogy with you in this way because it is describes my experience as the bearer of good news of the beautiful design of a woman’s body giving birth. The good news of how a woman’s body is magnificently designed to birth her baby with great ease and in a state of calm, quiet joy. Notice I say it is how our bodies are DESIGNED…..it is innate to experience birth in this way, yet few women actually experience birth in this manner.
Truth is I have much to offer around this subject matter and It is my heart-felt desire that by sharing my experience through the forum of this blog that there will be those who will take action to explore with me the possibility of experiencing birth in a way that I know is possible and ever more likely when the heart opens to real loving.

In her book Sight and Sensibility (the ecopsychology of perception), Laura Sewall speaks of how our landscapes effect our views of life. Those who live fully embodied lives and are in touch with their sensate-feeling self know this to be true. I know that sitting in front of this computer typing this blog has a completely different effect on me than when I’m up among the Redwoods strolling in the early morning fog. I feel alive, I feel myself very much part of the landscape.
I have no doubt that the way a woman experiences birth is inextricably connected to where she chooses to birth. I have taught prenatal yoga for the past 13 years and the women who are choosing to birth at home or at our local birth center are returning to my postnatal classes with very different stories. It stands to reason that this is the case. Hospitals are for sick people, simply walking into a hospital will unconsciously undermine a woman’s confidence and trust in herself to birth her baby her way. What really bothers me is how a woman will have an experience that she defines as great and then as I listen to her recount her birth story, she starts to talk about all the ways that the undermining of her confidence ensued through the birth. For example, One of my former students was moving along and expressive through her birth process, after 12 hours an R.N. came in and asked, “Well have you had enough of this foolish notion of birthing without help.” Another student said that she had spent about 18 hours of her early birth process at home, when she got to the hospital and the triage nurse asked her “how long have you been in labor.” She replied, “eighteen hours.” The nurse turned to her husband and said, “how did you manage her like this?” These are only 2 of the countless stories that I have heard. Two weeks ago in my postnatal yoga class two mothers shared their stories. It turns out both of them lost a good deal of blood that required emergency intervention because the placenta’s “were taking too long and had to be pulled out…” after which excessive bleeding followed. This is the ultimate in misogyny and extremely disrespectful. How is it that we are still practicing in a way that is so utterly disrespectful and clearly reveals an overall diminished since of trust in the birthing process?
Women absolutely deserve to be respected in HOW SHE CHOOSES TO PROCEED WITH BIRTH especially if there are no signs of problems with baby or mother. We must live in a way that educates and reveals the birth process as a naturally occurring event in the cycle of life. I believe we must turn our eyes and hearts towards the simple and profound and open to ease and grace of the whole process. Perhaps when little children learn how to internalize and are an embodiment of love, peace, harmony and trust the process as a naturally occurring phenomenon because the adults in their lives actually model and embody these characteristics, we will see birth return to an event which more often than not turns out as we would expect. A woman who is fully embodied and quietly present to receive her babe as soon as she emerges from her body and that each person graced enough to bear witness will utterly and fully respect the mother and the baby. (In word and deed.)

So here’s the thing, we have read that sperm & egg unite and become ONE fertilized unit that begins to divide ITSELF according to the intrinsic ‘know how’ that already exists within.  In the first few days WE…ALL MAMMALS are FREE FLOATING passengers in the body’s of our Mamas.   Do you know that YOU,  that’s right YOU made your own source of nourishment ‘before’ connecting to your mom?  Did you know from YOU, arose the matter that became your amniotic sac?  Did you know that your mother’s body actually must say, “YES” and allow you to attach YOURSELF to HER so she then can continue to support you in your journey to BECOMING?

I am amazed at how humans can stand in complete and utter AWE of this journey from fertilized egg to baby emerging….becoming while other humans completely are devoid of any Awe and Reverence.   LIFE IS SACRED, LIFE IS HOLY…and humans are capable of dismissing it as something so much less.

As an R.N. in the maternal-infant arena and prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher and birth educator I daily stand in Awe and Reverence ,  a deep deep respect for this process of Birthing.

I give thanks and praise everyday for  fertile wombs.  I stand in awe at the magnificience of the whole process!

The essence of this children’s parable was  that little engine thought it could, even when it felt the heaviness of the load,  climbing up the hill,  even when it wasn’t sure the engine had what it took,  it kept repeating the Mantra,  “I think I can,  I think I can, I think I can.”  There was alot of subtext that was playing and ALL THE WHILE, the Mantra kept being repeated, “I think I can,  I think I can,  I think I can.”     Deep inside Every woman is a little engine that knows ‘She can”  even when the other words swirling round her head may be trying to convince her otherwise, if she is quiet and still she will be able to hear the Mantra,  “I think I can, I think I can.”    And watch out if she flat out says,  “YES, I CAN AND YES I will and yes  I Am.   We might just see her doing a happy jig as that baby slides out of her like an eel.   But then again we wouldn’t want a woman to feel fully empowered and deliciously embodied when she experiences birth because things might get out of control and there would be WAY TOO MANY people on the planet.

She is Rising….

January 27, 2013

Today I took place in my first ever ‘flash mob ritual.’   The word ritual arises from a Sanskrit word r`tu, which can mean either ‘art’ or ‘order.’    The ritual involved local dancers and taiko drummers.   The focus of the ritual gathering was to celebrate, honor and exalt the feminine form in all of her many aspects and the beauty of Feminine expression.   We were part of the public ritual that was joining in conscious unity with Eve Ensler and Onebillionrising.   It was an open statement of women declaring:  “This is my body,  my body is holy….” from the song,  “Break the chain”     The song is declaring, ENOUGH violence on women (and men for that matter).    I danced because it is time to step forth in our power as women and say YES to celebration as a way to shift from violence into health, to live and say a BIG resounding yes to love, peace, harmony and joy.   It is time to throw off the mantle of victimization and self-pity and step fully into our power as conscious co-creators and regenerators of life.

For me personally,  I have done a tremendous amount of soul-searching. It is time to align with others who are willing to fully embody and radiate love, joy, peace, kindness, harmony.  It is time to forgive, to let go,  to surrender to the beauty of life that is beckoning to us.     A world where we consciously say YES to the goodness and beauty that is within us.    It is time for each us to understand how we contribute to the beauty or the maleficence of our world.

StarHawk described in her book: The Fifth Sacred Thing, a world view that represents two societies.  A utopian collective where respect (reverence), creativity and spirituallity thrive and flourish, and a totalitarian goverment with a severe bent towards domination. Eve Ensler describes it as  “thug mentatlity.”   Starhawk goes on to say that “el mundo buena” reflects a state of consciousness that decribes the utopian collective where as “el mundo malo’ reflects fear that gives rise to domination.

Week after week I receive women into my yoga classes. They are on their journey to motherhood.  There are first time mamas and others on their journey to their second or third birth.  What I know for sure is that these mamas are there to FEEL and LISTEN to the depth of the innate wisdom contained in their very being. The Mamas to be in my yoga classes are saying YES to the Supreme Intelligence contained in every cell of their body.  They are saying YES, to the baby and yes to Natural Birth, A birth that can illuminate the true essence of  her brilliance and innate intelligent power.  We need no longer fear birth.

My prayer and deep deep longing is for every birthing woman and girl growing into womanhood to remember who SHE IS.      And may the men in her life SEE CLEARLY the luminosity contained within this beautiful being that he has the honor of beholding as a birthing woman.

May we wake up and hear ourselves when we disrespect or attempt to thwart a woman’s power, especially when her body is opening to bring forth new life.   She in ALL of HER GLORY is Rising.  She is beauty, truth, love, peace, harmony, bliss, compassion, joy and so very much more.

The following suggestions are simple and often overlooked as a way to experience pregnancy and the first few months of new mama-hood.   Time after time mamas return to my yoga classes and say, “I’m sleeping better because I’m not looking at my computer after 7pm.”  Or,  “walking 20 minutes during my lunch break or afternoon break and I’m sleeping better.”    “I stopped drinking orange juice and my heartburn is way less of a bother.”   

I could go on with many more examples of simple solutions.  I offer these.

~Drink liquids in small frequent amounts.  Sip water and consider drinking coconut water and other liquids that have electrolytes once or twice duriing your 12 hour day.

~Eat whole foods.    Whole foods (un-processed) provide the highest source of nutrient density for ourself and our baby.   Enjoy meals frequently with your loved Ones.

~Give yourself permission to slow down and rest.  Practice the art of living in your languid body.  Appreciate the aspect of yourself that expresses your sensual self during pregnancy and afterwards.

~Move your body, especially if you sit all day at a desk job.   Take little 2 minute movement breaks when going to the bathroom.  Before bed, do stretches that feel good to YOU or put on some music that you enjoy and dance.

~Set aside time to take sanctuary from your day to day grind.  You matter, vote for yourself and your baby. Find a movement practice like yoga or tai chi and learn to find your natural rhythm of deep breathing.

I learned along time ago that practicing the art of Self-care is essential to a healthy happy life.  So, I encourage all my yoga students to begin now, it will make a difference in how you experience pregnancy and new mama-hood.

 

Mothers

April 16, 2012

I am a mother and I practice and teach yoga.  Today another Six week mama/baby series came to a close.  And one thing is apparent, stepping into the role of motherhood would do well if the social climate of the U.S. would honor and exalt the women who chose to become mothers.  We are expected (many of us) to work and provide a second income (some women are the primary ”bread-winner”), raise the children which includes  the day to day of meal provision, a warm and safe place to sleep, clothing, house-keeping, taking care of our own needs and do it all with a sense of grace and ease.

There is an on-slaught of information coming from experts and authority figures who jump at the chance to capitalize on our fears and feelings of inadequacy.  What happened to the voices that reassure us and comfort us….often those voices of our close friends and family?   Where is the voice of the  innate intelligence that resides in the body-being of female mammals?  Mother mammals know instinctively how to care for their young.

Mothers need each other,  we need to gather regularly to listen, to play, to share in the challenges, to find ways to come together to create the world we long to leave behind for our children.  We must slow down enough to hear what are hearts and souls are longing to express. What if we came together to create? To create poetry, and sing, to play, to paint, to write stories, to move and dance, to feel deeply into our soul that is longing to simply create as an expression of life.  There are plenty of gardens that wish to be planted or trees that are saplings in our local nurseries that can be transported to a barren front yard and planted.  There is a wonderful quote on my calendar by Albert Einstein, “Look deeply into Nature and then you will understand everything better”.

As I guide the yoga mamas through yoga, I sense their hyper-vigilence melt away as they connect with their breathing body.   I see the skin of their faces soften and their babies grow quiet and alert.   I encourage them to take time to notice where the tension resides in their body and remind them when our body feels the support of the Earth, gravity and space we can surrender much of the tension we carry.

The yoga practice is the one thing that brings them back to the innate intelligence that resides in the tissues of our body.  It is where they can feel a sense of renewal and wholeness.  And I know there is more they long for…..I can feel that too.  Women need each other, we need simply to be each others sister as we move together as mothers doing our best to love and support our children into a quickly changing world.  The yoga practices encourages us to slow down, breathe and feel the earth beneath our feet and the fragrance of the spring jasmine blossoming for our pleasure.

I honor each woman who shows up to slow down, to breathe and feel and sense into herself more deeply. This takes courage, perseverance and a willingness to be with what rises to the surface when we become present to our self in the moment.   I am grateful for the yoga practice and I am grateful for the courageously thoughtful women who choose to carry the mantle of mother.

 I believe that harmony is the order of the Universe. It is certainly the order of the physical workings of our body.  The very fact that we as humans have evolved to this point of performing manual dexterity while putting thoughts and conveying feelings down onto a two dimensional screen, while at the same time countless numbers of functions are occuring simultaneously that enable me to perform this feat, never ceases to arouse me into states of blissful wonder! 

~I believe that Harmony is the Law.  (And yes we, think thoughts and say things that fly in the face of that law every day).

~I believe that we, truly I can only speak for myself, came to the planet to express love by crafting a wild-life style.  for me the term wild implies,  beauty, truth and freedom all rolled into ONE.

~I believe that it is time we exalt the Feminine principle that resides within each of us. 

~I believe that through celebration in the forms of music, poetry, dance, song, intuitive yoga, and napping we will find our natural harmonious state of being. (of course the list is longer than what I’ve included)

~I believe Soul nourishment is as important as food, clothing and shelter.

 All of this because my child and all children reflect immediately back to me where I am failing to express love and the goodness that resides in the heart of All of Humanity.  Love and Joy are always present, we sometimes fail to feel it because the fog of ill-thinking and misinformation is so thick and dense we cannot sense their presence. 

May All Beings feel the joyful presence expressing itself as Harmony.