The Art of Grounding: Eight Ways to Embody Earth in your Daily Life

The Art of Grounding: Eight Ways to Embody Earth in your Daily Life

The earth always returns to equilibrium and harmony. As yogis, we’re invited to step outside the cultural typhoon and call on this omnipotent harmonious force of the great mother to bring a sense of balance to our physical, emotional, mental and energetic bodies. Our bodies are the mountains, the soil, the rivers and the oceans. Our body is 100% composed of nature and she’s telling us to slow down.

Here are 8 ways to more easefully balance our daily lives. xoxo

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5 Guideline for an Alchemical Yoga Class

5 Guideline for an Alchemical Yoga Class

While each has the potential to be a cauldron of transformation, not all yoga classrooms are created equal. There are those teachers who make time stop, who remind us of what we didn’t know we’d forgotten. Those who change our practice with a simple cue that wakes us up from a long unconscious slumber, those whose palpable inner stillness calls us back to ourselves or those whose generous touch, applied with the skill of a surgeon yet the softness of a mother brings out tears that are long overdo.  

While technique is important, far more influential is the energetic environment a teacher creates. More than what is said or done, what is felt in a classroom is the true medicine. If we don’t feel safe to challenge ourselves, to take it slow or to break down and cry if need be, there is only so much transformative potential available in our practice.  

On the cusp of the new year, as I prepare to teach my first cohort of yoga teacher trainees, I’m asking myself- what it means to be a ‘good’ yoga teacher. Here are five guidelines for an Alchemical Yoga Class. 

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Five Minute Embodiment Meditation for Busy People

Five Minute Embodiment Meditation for Busy People

Disembodiment is the state of living in our head. By taking time to value, nourish and care for our embodiment, we wipe clean the daily dust of distraction, tune in to the innate wisdom of our body and re-commit to living from the heart, a place of acceptance, ease and clarity. 

Even a few mindful minutes makes for a calmer, more focused mind, a richer sense of appreciation for yourself & others, greater health & wellbeing in your body and a more meaningful life. It's a series of small, subtle shifts make the biggest and longest lasting changes.

Take five minutes for yourself and all those you'll interact with today because the world needs you to be present in your body, not just your head.

Here are the 7 magic steps: Posture, Body Scan, Ground, Breathe, Gratitude, Intention and Touch. Let’s do it!

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From the Root of Your Back Pain to the Root of Your Core in 4 Steps 

From the Root of Your Back Pain to the Root of Your Core in 4 Steps 

Yogis, stop duct-taping your body! Redefine "the core" & shift your movement patterns to address the root of back pain and collapsed posture. Stretching and crunching is a bit like duct tape. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, which in the physical body is unhealthy movement patterns, spinal weakness and the muscular tension and asymmetry they cause, we “just put some duct tape on it!” Usually not from laziness but from ignorance. Unlike a few exercises, retraining efficient movement patterns treat the root of discomfort and imbalance, improving energy levels, circulation, digestion and calming the nervous system to reduce stress while increasing our sense of living purposefully. Start connecting to the root of your core, the root of your power in movement, by experimenting with these four steps in your practice. 

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Marrying the Goddess

Marrying the Goddess

In the midst of my sister’s fairy tale wedding in Prague I realize that we are all children of the Great Divorce between Mother Earth and Father Sky. The legacy of this divorce is the myth of separation of body & mind that permeates every layer of our culture from the induvidual to the collective. Acknowledging that life as a love affair between our form and our spirit through the daily practice of self-dating invites us back into the house of belonging with all of nature and away from existential homelessness. The primary task of the sacred activist, those of us committed to healing this world and ensuring its future, is to break down the walls of separation in our own hearts. So I proposed- to myself.

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Practical Mystic’s Toolbox: The Five Elements as Cheat Sheets to Well-Being

Practical Mystic’s Toolbox: The Five Elements as Cheat Sheets to Well-Being

The yogi, or sadhika, is asked to purify, strengthen and refine her unique alchemical vessel, composed of the five elements- Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Space- to stir them together in varying degrees depending on the situation and imbibe this alchemical brew to invoke her own transformation. The concoction usually taste something like wellness, balance, ease, love, truth and power. Yum, de-li-cious!

This article gives you the raw materials of this process- the practical mystic’s tools of the trade. To the skilled yogi, the applications are endless. We can use them to cool the flames of anger or focus our burning passion with precision, to stimulate the watery flow of creativity or channel a storming torrent of challenging thoughts or emotions towards the highest possible outcome, to inspire ourselves and others like the cool freshness of a deep, slow inhale or to navigate the winds of change with the ease of a bird floating through the endless immensity of the sky, we can use them to ground ourselves in the face of anxiety or to plant, fertilize and harvest the stability of financial security.

While the elements may seem theoretical in their raw form, they aren’t meant to be simply mused upon. Yoga offers an infinite number of practices to create balance inside of ourselves that immediately or eventually translates to our outer environment through our interconnection with all things via what the yogis called the anandamaya kosha or interconnected matrix of all things.

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The Art and Science of an Open Heart: Unlock your Deepest Backbend

The Art and Science of an Open Heart: Unlock your Deepest Backbend

Most of us take backbeding poses in the place it’s the easiest- exactly where we shouldn’t! When we practice unskillful backbends we reinforce old patterns of instability and imbalance both physically and emotionally. Unlock the healing potential of your deepest backbend by understanding the simple yet ingenious design of your spinal curves. Embody the metaphor of an open heart by honoring not only the art of deep poses but the science.

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Downtown Oakland Becomes a Redwood Forest Just in Time for the Woman's March

Downtown Oakland Becomes a Redwood Forest Just in Time for the Woman's March

As I sat alongside other unsuspecting hipsters at Arbor Cafe this morning, violence erupts, illustrating both the roots of iniquity and well as the power of embodying compassion amidst chaos. These are deep lessons for our march this weekend.

Arm in arm on Saturday, embodying peace, courage and justice with our hearts held high, breathing deeply, may we wrap our roots around each other for greater strength and resilience. May we return downtown Oakland to it’s pre-industrial roots: a forest of redwoods.

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Each Moment Lived Fully Awake is Both Prayer and Lovemaking

Each Moment Lived Fully Awake is Both Prayer and Lovemaking

Since 11/9, poetry has been saving my life.

It's been pulling me out of bed and dragging me to my altar for morning practice. It's been lulling me to sleep, gently stroking my hair, reassuring me that everything is going to be okay, that I have a purpose here. Now. That it's okay if I don't yet know exactly what that purpose looks like in action.

It's been reminding me that turmoil and challenging emotion are the mothers of vision and hope. That the peace and the wisdom of the body is available in every moment by simply drawing awareness to my senses. That the earth is holding me and I can embrace her back by simply touching my own heart with my hand or by touching the backs of those I love. That the fiery passion of creativity is a byproduct of confusion. That making love to the moment saves us. That "each moment lived fully awake cannot help but be both prayer and lovemaking" and that "our lovers are everywhere," even in the midst of the chaos, death, disappointment and the impending rebirth of this historical moment.

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Alchemize Worry into Vision: Prayer For Standing Rock

Alchemize Worry into Vision: Prayer For Standing Rock

Every thought is either a worry or a prayer. In addition to donations, don't forget to offer your greatest resource to Standing Rock: intention.

Every time I feel stress, overwhelm, fear or powerlessness that I can't physically be supporting our brothers and sisters and the healing waters at Standing Rock, I've been offering this simple prayer:

Great Spirit, that which doesn't change with the seasons, the tides, with age or circumstance,
Please protect our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock
Please protect the Healing Waters from the Black Snake
Please help me to understand and experience myself as an embodiment of earth
Please protect the rivers of my blood, the fire of my power, the winds of my breath, and the clay of my my body from the stress, tension, worry and fear that sap my life force
May my life be a beautiful offering of love to the Earth and all of her beings
Aho

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Embodiment Conquers Hate

Embodiment Conquers Hate

Physical tension limits our ability to embody peace and therefore, to create social change. When we live from the neck up, our body creates tension. Tension is a lead wall blocking the experience of our interconnection with people who who are different from us. Instead of embodying acceptance, we unconsciously embody fear. Hatred is the product of unchecked fear.

To be present inside of our bodies in a culture that threatens those bodies is a radical act that sharpens our swords for action. To be present in this moment, with all of it’s tenderness and horror, is a radical act. To deepen our breath and to relax in the midst of collective anger and hatred is a radical act.

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We Are All Leaders Now: How We Treat Our Bodies Is Deeply Political

We Are All Leaders Now: How We Treat Our Bodies Is Deeply Political

As we begin to organize to cultivate clear-seeing and big picture vision, how we treat our bodies serves as the framework for how we treat each other and our country. Our presence is our greatest resource. We must redouble our effort towards equality by starting with ourselves. A quiet nervous system is the only way we can begin the hero's journey of creatively imagining the yet unimaginable, the world of our great grandchildren where walls are torn down not built up, where diversity is strength, where the earth is the sovereign and our leaders take their authority from her.

A new world is coming. We must strengthen our vessels.

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Don’t Confuse Yoga with a Workout, Yogify Your Workout: My Experiments in Embodied Integration

Don’t Confuse Yoga with a Workout, Yogify Your Workout: My Experiments in Embodied Integration

The more I've embraced yoga as a physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically transformative lifestyle, the more I've stopped demeaning it by confusing it with a workout (despite the increased strength, muscular balance, the sweat, the sensation of empowerment and the delicious booty that are often lovely side effects).

Since I've stopped confusing yoga with a workout, I've been yogifying my workouts, meaning I've been wedding my playful, self-imposed booty kicking with conscious breathwork (pranayama), meditation, intention, big picture goal-setting, positive affirmation and dedication to the benefit of others.

And, guess what- this marriage feels good. I mean, REALLY, REALLY good. 

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Strength on Purpose: Tools for Awakening through Mindful Fitness

Strength on Purpose: Tools for Awakening through Mindful Fitness

 Can we bring meditation and fitness together?

The body is an alchemical vessel. Everything we do with our physical body affects our energetic body. Therefore, taking an hour to workout is a huge dose of potential transformation that is often underutilized! In our culture right now exercise one of the main ways that people disembody and move away from the experience of the moment. A workout that makes your world a better place is a practice of intentional, focused awareness of mind, the merging of breath with movement, and dynamic alignment of the body.

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Partner Massage Video to Ease Shoulder and Back Tension

Partner Massage Video to Ease Shoulder and Back Tension

Learn a quick and easy technique to ease the stiffness, tension, pain and discomfort caused by computer sitting, driving and SAP (Standard American Posture). This is a sweet way to connect with your partner, kids, roommates, lover or family. Intentional touch is a powerful medicine in and of itself. Make sure to stay connected with your breath while giving or receiving and keep checking in with your partner about pressure!

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Ritual, Initiation, Nature and the Body

Ritual, Initiation, Nature and the Body

Each challenge of our lives is an initiation. Can we keep breathing deeply, our jaw soft, in the face of stress, challenge and crisis?

I’m fresh from the shamrock-mint green, mist-soaked landscape of west coast Scotland to the drought-ridden, west coast desert of my homeland. California, once laden with an infinitude of indigenous spiritual sites on a coastline worshiped by the Native Americans as the home of the spirit world, has long since been bulldozed over by colonialism.

While the traces of ancient spiritual practices of our indigenous ancestors may be challenging to uncover, on the west coast of Scotland, in Kilmartin Glen, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a site of ancient spiritual significance. Read more hear about lessons for our own culture of spiritual longing.

In the wise words of Celtic mystic, John O’Donohue, “the body is your only home in the universe. It is your house of belonging here in the world. It is a very sacred temple. To spend time in silence before the mystery of your body brings you towards wisdom and holiness. “

Rituals of self-care are rituals of connecting to the Earth and her cycles. Planning a consistent weekly hike, going to yoga class, receiving or offering massage, eating or cooking food from the ground- all of these are ways to experience nature in the form of your body, to connect with the space of ritual, which is beyond time, constantly nestled in the nowness of the present. These are also ways to fortify our bodies as the sites of our deepest initiations, the space from which we ask and sometimes answer the hardest questions, the space from which we offer back to something grater than ourselves, the space from which we will, one day, hopefully, walk bravely into the ultimate unknown.

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