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Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice June 2013

"Vulnerability is allowing ourselves to truly be seen."  --Jason Nash

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.-chagall

"All our interior world is reality, and that, perhaps, more so than our apparent world."--chagall

Tonight, the Sun moves into Cancer.  
As the sun moves into Cancer, it marks the point of the Summer Solstice, where the light of day is the longest of the whole year.

What does this mean for us?

We come into full awareness of that which we planted during the spring in the Aries cycle, and as we "square" that aries energy with the sun in Cancer, we add a new element to the mix that seems incongruent with the aries energy:  how our hearts feel, and we begin to nurture our intentions and actions into fruition from the inside out.  We begin to release our head into our heart, as we walk down the body from aries to cancer, from head to heart.

How does what you started feel to you now?  Is it in line with your heart's desire?  Follow the emotions with the breath.  Notice what you feel as you meditate on your intention in the full light of awareness brought with the solstice.  Notice what needs to be exhaled and let go of, and what needs to be nurtured to bring forth into our lives.

Meanwhile, we start this process by acknowledging our inner landscape.  Exploring the depths of ourselves in the light of the full sun, and reaching out from that place of strength, our humanity, the human heart.

How deeply are you penetrating into the depths of the shadow and light of ourselves?  
To ignore one is to ignore meaningful insights and understanding of the self as a human 'shell' or space embodying the spirit.

Cancer is represented by the crab.  half on land, half in sea, the crab learns to navigate the inner and outer environments with ease.....

We first reach inward, into the depths of the sea, or our unknown depths.  Become whole with ourselves.
Then we extend outward in full awareness of that self reaching out.
Cancer's have a tendency to absorb others, environments, energy, being a highly psychic sign due to their call to dive deeply inward, they know the depths and potential of the human spirit, mind and body.

So in this tendency, call it the shadow of cancer, to reach outside before inside we develop illusion.... we absorb that which is not us.  We are called to release, feel, purify, and then build that heart space with awareness, with nurturing, love. 

When we don't, we become "shelled", unable to break open that soft heart into what we truly are called towards that lies known only in our heart individually.... the process of going inward is deep, complex, and many run, unable to face the good, bad, and ugly.

But that is our beauty.
Why are we so embarrassed of ourselves.
We are human.  We feel.  We sense.  Let yourself dive deep into the ocean.

And then emerge with the grace of vulnerability as you extend yourself out.
Remembering that internal world, just as when we "wake" out of end svanasana in yoga, we keep that sense of the breath in the body (gemini) moving in a current that draws us inward as we sense the flow, the rhythm of our own body, mind, and emotions.  Through this sensitivity we watch with that witness (see post from earlier today), the observer, to keep that sense of self as we interact and experience.  

We give ourselves space by tapping into that depth.  Space to feel out whatever comes.

If we become too externally focused, stop feeling and start reacting, we become hardened by that "crab shell" and sense the urge to protect ourselves.  

This is what keeps us in pain, in illusion.  Really the work is in the self, the rest flows with ease.  When we don't sense that ease, we go back into the internal world to build, rework, feel, and release.  

Instead in culture, we are taught to ignore that soft internal world.  We are told that feeling, vulnerability is weak, and focusing on nurturing ourselves is weak.  Why?!  Because it's scary to us.  It's dark, deep and unknown.

So make it known.  Love that internal self wildly, madly, completely, and nurture that dream, that vision, that we find in our own hearts.  Soften to become strong.

Just like in yoga:

It's not how hard I can become through the struggle of external effort to hold the pose. 
Rather it's about how soft I can become to RESPOND to the pose, my body, my self.
A flexible mind releases fear and struggle of effort into easeful effort, using the breath.
We learned through the gemini energy that it is the breath that draws us into mindful ease where we release into the flow that surrounds us always and we can truly RESPOND to ourselves, to our feelings, without the attachment, without the struggle.  the struggle comes when we don't feel the breath, that flow, a symbol of our ability to feel, sense, and move in ease.

The breath is the body, the body the breath.  
With the breath, the subtle body awakens and move the energy to the physical, where effort becomes doing instead of struggle to do.

We become alive, from the inside out.  

Without the internal world becoming strong through awareness and letting go to our feelings, we become shelled, protective, defensive, and those crab claws emerge and attach us to that which may not be in our heart afterall.  Because... we didn't look.

Cancer energy is a call to develop the self... that soft spot of the heart which holds our humanity in a bridge to our spirit.  We unlock inside to unlock outside.  

It can't happen any other way, otherwise, it's just effort, just trying.  

And watch as you love yourself to death, how you emerge as that butterfly from the cocoon, new, alive, and living in integrity.

Otherwise we're crusty shelled hearts, unable to feel our way through life.

Yeah, you say, but you don't know what's so wrong with me!  What i do, what I struggle with!  It's horrible, it's evil, its embarrassing, I can't let that out!

You're right... no one will ever know who you are, until you let it out.

But we're called to look at it first, with our own eyes.  

As a cancer myself, it was always easier to take what other ppl said as my own.  That caused me pain through illusion.  

On one hand we're right, nobody does know what we go through.  That's our job to bring it to the world, taking it from victim hood to strength.

And THAT is the power of vulnerability, of looking in and then out.  

As we deal with our own Shit, literally, we become at peace with it.  We feel it, pass it, let it go with the breath.  But we have to feel it first!  You can only heal what you feel.  So know you're own self.  Take yourself from victim to strength through vulnerability, practicing on the inside as we comb through our heart, and then taking that strong nurtured self with us as we extend out.

I can't imagine anything stronger than being totally authentic, vulnerable.  

The ego becomes pure, connected to the spirit, and the heart becomes light.

Watch how your world responds.  

Writter:Nicole Skelton, RYT200, Yogastrology Inspired Teacher
With a life-long interest in the mind-body-spirit connection, Nicole realized her     passion for teaching self awareness by following her heart into a 200 hr teacher training at Pranayoga in Fort Wayne, Indiana. From elemental yoga to the expanding fields of metaphysics and astrology, Nicole has developed a breadth of experience, resulting in a Yogastrology-Inspired teaching style with pioneer Diane Booth Gilliam in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a yoga teacher, Nicole reveals the subtle, esoteric concepts of yoga through a combination of alignment based on sacred geometry, meditation, visualization and pranayama. Tailored to the individual, her classes often include elements of meditative movement, sun and moon attunement (as presented by Diane Booth Gilliam's Yogastrology out of SanFrancisco), intention setting and gentle yet strong yoga. Nicole deconstructs poses down to their elemental and restorative design with influences from tantra and Tibetan traditions from her time as a teacher at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

Nicole is trained in Shambala Meditation, teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative Yoga with a RYT 200 hr from Pranayoga, and is currently practicing yogastrology under the guidance of Diane Booth Gilliam, established astrologer and founder of Yogastrology.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How Can You See Yourself… When You Can See Yourself? By Lauren McMann

 When I am practicing my asana, I truly see myself for who I am. I feel powerful, beautiful, serene, and at peace with body. It is the one time where I am not feeling that strain of judgment of my physical body interfering with my life. Stepping into my studio, whether it be my home space or PranaYoga, I feel it all fall away, and I look forward to an hour and a half of true “me” time.

            While out of town this week for work, I decided to find a studio to practice and decompress from a stressful work week. I was really excited about practicing at a new studio- almost like taking a yoga vacation! The studio was absolutely beautiful, the teachers and students welcoming, and don’t even get me started about the new and exciting retail that I perused.

            After I changed clothes and stepped into the space, I noticed that the wall that our mats were facing was a wall of floor to ceiling mirrors. I had never practiced in front of mirrors before, and I was interested to see what my practice actually looked like in the flesh. We started at the top of our mats in mountain pose. I immediately noticed that the shirt that I had chosen to wear made me look awfully wide. I looked over at the girl next to me, thinking that maybe the mirrors had a strange effect on our bodies, but she looked the same width in the mirror as she did in person. Interesting. Maybe I would not choose to wear this shirt in the future. It did nothing for me, visually.

By the time I was getting over the hideous shirt, we were through sun salutations. Time for some standing poses. Warrior II. OH MY GOODNESS. Is anyone noticing the fact that my stomach is sticking out this far? I look like I am with child. Mula bhanda, Lauren. Tuck that bad boy in. I suppose that looks a little better… it’s probably just the brownie that I shared with a friend after dinner.  

By this point, I was hoping for any pose that would put us in the opposite direction of the mirror, or involved laying on our backs. The entire class, I was scrutinizing my make-up, clothing, and physical body. There were a couple of times that I noticed a posture needed adjusted, but I probably missed some obvious corrections that I could have made due to observing that my hair was getting frizzier and frizzier.

Which begs my original questions- How can you see yourself, when you can see yourself? How are you supposed to look inward if you are looking outward? If PranaYoga had mirrors in their studio, would I be able to overcome this obstacle, or would I have never fallen in love with yoga?

I left the class feeling dejected and more stressed than I was before I walked in. As I was sitting at lunch the next day, eating my PLAIN grilled chicken, thank you very much, I decided that I would not again choose to practice in front of a mirror. I prefer the way that I see myself without getting my reflection’s opinion.

-Lauren McMann, Is currently enrolled in PranaYoga's Yoga Teacher Training, Karma Yogi Support Staff at PranaYoga School of Yoga and Health. In her spare time she is  Branch Manager and Associates Vice President at Old National Bank, a Newlywed, and Proud mother of four fur children.