Ferndale Yoga, massage, meditation and wellness
Tara-The Goddess of Compassion
Om, Tara. Tu Tara. Turey. Swaha
We all have hard times in life. Personal struggles, illness, watching loved ones suffer, terrible things going on in the world..... and we feel can helpless. Even if we are good at putting on a brave face and being the rock for ourselves and others, we need to hold space for ourselves and offer compassion. I've faced struggles in my life, suffered great anxiety, trepidation and more like most of us have. And according to the first of the four Noble Truths in Buddhism, life is dukkha-which has many meanings including suffering, stress, and impermanence. It's what we all need to go through to reach Enlightenment. And before I had some of the tools I have now it was much harder to hold that space, not understanding some of the suffering that happens in this world.
I found I can take solace in my yoga asana and meditation practice. My mat, that tiny little space where so many transformational and powerful things can happen, is always there to catch me when I fall. In times of sadness or sorrow we can tap into the ultimate source, find our connection to everything in the Universe and know that we are not alone. Gods, Goddesses and Deities can be called upon for support. These are often archetypes possessing attributes we hold within ourselves, we may just need help in finding them. For anything we ever need is already within us, we simply need to turn within and and let our own inner light guide the way.
Tara is a Goddess of Peace and Compassion. Honored by Hindus, Buddhists and Tibetans alike, she is the Mother Creator who can offer us protection and navigate us when confronted with obstacles. She holds many forms across the world; connected to the Chinese Goddess of Compassion Kuan Yin as well as the Egyptians, the Celts and people all across the globe. She's available in one way or another to all who call upon her. She embodies feminine strength and offers us the courage to prevail over stressful and troubling times, gifting a long life and the ability to work selflessly for the betterment of others. There are said to be 21 Taras, varying in color and attributes for what we may need to call upon from peaceful to auspicious to even wrathful.
So when we find ourselves holding onto fear, stress or even anger, we can call upon not only ourselves but those who came before us but who still remain. Energy makes up the entire Universe, none is created nor destroyed but forever in transformation. We are all the clouds, the sea, the stars and the Gods-and when we can feel that connection in our hearts we can be the ones who wrap our arms around the world in compassion and love.
I was fortunate enough to slip away for 18 whole days to immerse myself in a world filled with nothing but seclusion, nature, beautiful souls from all over the world, and of course......yoga. I flew to Baja Mexico, just north of Cabo San Lucas, to attend the first leg of my advanced yoga teacher training towards my 500RYT (and I still have to go back in April to finish, darn!) and prepared myself for hard work, deep connection and an expasion of consciousness. To my elation I received not only that but so much more. The lovley and talented instructors were filled with knowledge, riddled with kindness and bursting with support. We not only studied adancement in asasa (or postures), but in pranayama (breathing techniques), meditaiton, mantra (Vedic hymn), Ayurveda (Indian alternative medicine for living), Bhakti (devotional yoga), Kundalini and Tantra yoga. Studying the elements of nature, the cycles of the seasons, the sun and the moon we were able to see how in sync we are with the universe as well as how connected everything in this world truly is.
We had delicious home cooked organic/vegetarian meals everyday and stripped away any caffeine or sugar to cleanse the body. That along with the moist ocean air, the many practices (including 2 hours classes every morning at 7 before breakfast) and the view at the edge of the world made me feel amazing and full of life. When you take away everyday influences and stressors, including bad diets, television, election craziness, traffic jams and more it's easier to see the bigger picture-and we are a part of it. All of it. To be able to resonnate the sound of the universe within the body and the mind is to be everywhere. To be the bird soaring through the air, the creatures swimming in the ocean, the trees whispering in the wind.
At times it was tough. I had self doubt....... trouble connecting. But when you're part of a collective you have so many others to lift you up. A place where connection is everything and competion doesn't exists, you can't help but to succeed. As we say at the end of every yoga class, 'Namaste'-'I bow to you. I am you, You are me. We are one'. We worked together and together we all made it and grew forever connected to a community of amazing people. There is no class system, no discrimination, no divide of any kind. The only hope is for everyone to succeed and be happy. That's it. To work together for the greater good of all of mankind, animal and nature kind too, everywhere in the world. That kind of revalation was more that just refreshing. It was everything. And that is one thing I'm clinging to in my heart as I return to the states in the midst of so many devestating healines and heated passions all over our country.
I had the adventure of a Vision Quest (a Native America ritual)- fasting for 24 hours, in silence and left out in nature with nothing but an umbrella, an 8 foot diamter around me in the sand where I was to stay for hours, a bottle of water and my thoughts. When the mind is not occupied- not even by taking photos, journaling or picking up shells, it has quite the time to open and connect. To fully experience a sunrise, deepen meditation, sit in mantra, see whales migrating and breeching though the waves, butterflies, birds and crabs exploring the air and the sand you can't help but feel connected to everything around you. Some find it uncomforatable to sit in their own company for even a few minutes, seeking any kind of stimulation or distraction. But it's when you can peel away all of those layers to get to the true, peaceful, lovley aspects of who we are all that everything else seems insignificant.
The highlight of the trip was one afternoon we were all sitting on the beach during sunset, deep in meditation. Our teacher told to be still, quiet and open our eyes to look behind him. There we saw a huge sea turtle sitting in the sand right behind him. She had just climbed out of the ocean.....she was magnificent. She continued to walk just a few more feet inland and began to dig a whole in the sand......she was about to lay her eggs! We all watched in awe and excitement and she layed all of her eggs (average 50-70) and secure them deep into the sand. She then moved slightly away and dug a decoy hole close by. When she was done she slowly made her way back into the ocean and was swept away by the powerful waves. It's said when they come up to lay their eggs they are a sort of trance, not seeing the world around them. No matter where they are in the ocean they must return back to the spot where they were born to lay their eggs, and they just know where to go. How amazing to be so connected with the earth, always remembering where you came from. After she returned we held hands and around the eggs and offered a protection prayer. Later a fence was put around to protect the many new lives that lay beneath the surface.
A truly transformative time, I am happy and humbled to be back at the studio- and to be able to share new tools and experiences with our lovely tribe. I look forward to seeing you, be well. Namaste. Check out the lovely lady of the ocean below! And thank you to Zuzanna Zigmondova and Mary Tilson of Mary Tilson Yoga for sharing some amazing photos of our trip!
If you've been to any of my yoga classes chances are I've offered the class a mudra to get settled in our beginning meditation. Mudras, Sanskrit for 'seal', are symbolic gestures made with the hands and fingers used in many Indian religions. A visual language, this form of wordless communication helps to realign and direct the energy in the body, mind, and spirt for connections and healing. Often used in yoga as well as meditation, you may use mudras on their own or along with pranayama, or breathing techniques, to cultivate a correct flow of prana in the body. Here are 6 mudras you can use every day to relax, reflect, restore and renew from one of my favorite resources, 72 Yoga Mudras of Yoga by Cain and Revital Carrol.
Anjali Mudra-The Mudra of Intention & Reverence
You most often hear yoga instructors speak of this mudra throughout class, hands placed in a prayer position in front of the chest, followed by the word 'Namaste.' Allow the palms and fingers to touch, rest the base of your thumbs on your sternum and hold in front of your heart. This symbolic gesture seals our intention, invokes devotion, and connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Anjali mudra is a beautiful way to cultivate reverence; as symbol of honor to those around you and as well as respect for yourself. During yoga or meditation, use this mudra while tuning into your breath and set a positive intention. Settle into your calm center and connect all aspects of yourself-body, mind and spirit. I often raise my hands and rest the base of my thumbs on my Anja Chakra, or Third Eye for added guidance and intuition.
Shankhavarta Mudra-The Mudra of Inner Stillness & Intuition
Begin with palms in Anjali mudra and hold slightly away from the chest. Keep finder tips connected then press palms away from one another and drop the right first finger towards the center. Invoke inner stillness, holding this mudra in front of the heart. As you allow the outside influences of the world to melt away, open up the heart and the mind to simply be present and listen. Connect with your own inner teachings on what's true in your heart and soul.
Garuda Mudra-The Mudra of Fierceness and Protection
Hold hands in front of you, palms facing the chest. Cross left hand over the right (left hand furthest away from you) and interlock the thumbs. Stretch the remaining fingers out like the wing span of a bird-Garuda is a fierce, eagle-type creature. Relax the shoulders and allow the elbows to sink down by the rib cage. Hands can reach down to settle in front of the space above the navel. This area is know as the Manipura Chakra, a place of personal power. Use this mudra when depleted of energy to spark the fire in the belly and surround yourself with protection. Hold, breathe, and stoke the fire of your inner awesomeness to take on anything.
Panchamukha Mudra-The Mudra of Memory & Healing
Begin in Anjali Mudra, then press palms away keeping the fingertips connected and hollowing out the palms of the hands. This mudra is said to enhance our memory retention and improve our concentration. Close your eyes and begin to sharpen your awareness, noticing subtle movements in the body. Concentrate on your breath, how the body responds as you breathe, and tap into the body's natural healing abilities. Use this mudra before a big test, presentation or to simply keep the mind sharp and offer healing.
Sahasrara Mudra-The Crown Chakra Mudra
Sahasrara is Sanskrit for 'Thousand-Petalled Lotus', our highest self Chakra or energy center located above the crown of the head. Hold your hands with palms facing away from you, join the first fingers and the thumbs to form a diamond shape. Either standing or sitting, hold this mudra above the head and imagine a divine, white light above your head. Our crown chakra is our oneness, our connection to the divine. Connect to your highest spiritual self and draw a sense of calmness into your spirit. This mudra is also said to reduce headaches and improve brain function.
Samputa Mudra-Connect to your True Nature Mudra
Samputa means 'bud' or 'vessel' in Sanskrit. Join the hands in front of the chest with thumbs resting side by side. Keeping tips of fingers connected hollow out a small space in between the hands; like you're holding a baby bird or mouse, gently tuck thumbs in the hollowed space. Gently lengthen through the back of the neck and drawn chin down towards the chest. Use this mudra to help balance all 5 elements, reduce mental and emotional suffering and connect with your true Original Nature.
Padma Mudra-The Grounding Mudra
Start in Anjali mudra, keep the thumbs and tips of pinkys connected the spread the hands and other fingers apart-keep the base of the hands connected. Padma means 'lotus flower' and it resembles a blooming flower. The lotus signifies grounding, and this mudra helps to weaken ego grasping and settles the mind. Use to balance the immune system and ignite spiritual devotion.
Use these tools to help connect with yourself and offer strength and healing. Remember every day that you have the power take charge and renew, giving your soul a peaceful place to dwell. Namaste. Get the full deck of Yoga Mudra cards on Amazon-it's a great resource!
As summer nestles down into a slumber and we get that first rush from a cool breeze, something happens and we begin to shift our energy. Whether we realize it or not, we follow Mother Nature’s lead and sync with her circadian rhythms. She has spent the last season on fire reaching a height of growth and fertility, celebrating the power of the sun. Our energy matched hers, spending time outdoors and enjoying all she has to offer. Some of us may have even celebrated the Summer Solstice by offering 108 Sun Salutations with the rising of the sun. Longer days prevailed, and now they have begun to wane. Longer, regenerative nights lie ahead-and we need to take advantage and set our intentions to match hers.
At the Autumn Equinox we hit a complete balance of light vs. dark, and have now just fallen past that tipping point. Now that we’ve burned off that fiery energy of the sun we can begin to shift to a more reflective, cooling energy of the moon. A season of letting go, we begin to settle under a blanket of reflection to see what hasn’t worked in our lives. Reaping the harvest of our past few months of hard work and investments, it’s time to till the soil and release what didn’t pan out. Our lives mirror the seasons, and if we align our energies properly with can work with the cycles instead of against them.
So as the world is set ablaze with the colors of the fall, here are 6 ways to align your energy with Mother Nature and find magic this season:
1. Let it go Use the elements of Mother Nature to let go of what no longer serves you. Allowing for contemplation, autumn is a time to turn inward for deeper self-healing and take a look at all we’ve worked to build. What do we need to work on? What didn’t work, and we can release? Create your own ritual of letting go. You can write down what you wish to release, toss the paper in to a fire (only safe practices here, a fire pit or other means of outdoor burning) and watch it turn into ash and disappear. You may also bury the list into the dirt and allow it to be consumed by the Earth Herself. Perform these rituals under the full moon to enhance their effects. Gather a sage bundle or smudge stick, used in purification and protection, to cleanse your home of negative energies. You may also use Palo Santo, wooden sticks made from a mystical tree in South America, found in some metaphysical shops. Related to Frankincense and Myrhh, this ‘Holy Wood’ helps to cleanse home and energy, enhance creativity and enhance immunity.
2. Protection Yourself & Your Home Every fall we gather beautiful chrysanthemums to adorn our home with beautiful colors of the fall. But did you know these are known to be flowers of protection? When we get closer to Halloween then the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest this flower is said to keep the evil spirits at bay. Red mums offer love, yellow & orange bring joy & good cheer, purple represent power & passion, white invokes the truth & bronze encourages a loving, happy home. Gather your mums to create a happy, healthy environment for your pets and your family. You may also set out stones of amber for added protection.
3. Make a Feast! Gather friends and family to celebrate this time of harvest. Foods of the season include root veggies such as beets, potatoes and carrots, nuts, breads, corn, figs, honey, as well as apples which are said to be a most magical fruit! Pomegranate and its seeds are related to Greek Goddess Persephone and her return to the underworld every fall season. Cider, beer, wine and mead can be added to the table as loved ones offer gratitude and reflection during this celebratory time.
4. Set Up Your Meditation Altar Create your space to align your energy with the shift in seasons. The colors yellow, orange, red and brown set the tone for autumn and the changing of the leaves as they work to let go and prepare for winter. Some elements to adorn your altar include: candles, herbs of ivy, myrrh and sage, cloves, cinnamon, and stones of amber and hematite to offer protection and grounding. Add photos of loved ones and what holds gratitude in your heart, or write down a mantra you can return to every day during this shift. Offerings of fresh cut flowers, honey and mead can add another element to invoking the creative and nurturing side of nature.
5. Keep a Gratitude Journal Listen to the transition, journal and prepare for self-healing and reflection. You find you can sense, feel and become one with the change happening all around you. Once you’ve released what you no longer need you are more able to sit back and look at all that you have. Cultivating gratitude is very powerful and has a tremendous effect on your over-all health and well-being. You may choose to journal outside in nature, sitting under an oak or maple tree to connect with their energy and wisdom. This is also a nice ritual to be before you go to bed at night. Begin with some light yin yoga poses to offer the cooling energy of the moon and set a reflective and restorative tone for your journaling.
6. Seva-The Art of Selfless Service When we cultivate gratitude we see all that we have, but may also become aware of what many do not. Take this time to practice the art of Seva, or selfless services. Offer to volunteer at a nursing home or hospice, bring offerings and your kindness to the homeless or disabled veterans. Offer some free classes or services to those who may otherwise not be able to afford such things. Join together communities and help to offer gratitude and self-healing to others and match the nurturing side of Mother Nature during this time.
Mother Nature has all that we need readily available at our fingertips, we simply need to know how to apply it and connect with her energy for transformation and change. So let’s work with the currents of the Earth and find a ride with them into beautiful alignment, peace and well-being. Bring a little magic back into your life this fall and nurture your mind, body and spirit. Namaste.
Kali. Or Kali Ma to others. She isn't your average Hindu God, oh no. She is the bad ass Mother of Demons, first of her name. The goddess of time, creator of change. The Queen of destruction and preservation she is the breaker of chains to our ego and the liberator of all men. And yes, if you are following my Game of Thrones references she too was born of fire, but to devour blood. I'd like to tell you a story of Kali Ma. She is Enlightenment herself, a mother of tough love meant to lead us to find true transformation & release our pre-conceived notions of who we think we are or think we should be so that we may find Moksha, or liberation. She is the powerful, hungry feminine who wears a string of skulls around her neck and a skirt of severed arms. She wears infants for earrings and carries a severed head in one of her 4 arms and a sword in another. But we'll get back to that.
First we'll begin the story of how she came to be. It's a plot fit to be in a popular HBO series, but much fiercer and with greater reward. She was born during a battle between the Gods & the Titans. Durga, the Mother of the Universe rode into battle on the back of a lion to slay many demons & the Asura King. However, every time one of her 10 weapons in her 10 hands ripped through his flesh, each drop of blood that touched the Earth created a clone of the king. Hundreds of replicas appeared as quickly as she wielded her swords. Feeling the crushing weight of defeat Durga did something out of desperation, frustration & anger. She emanated her most gruesome & compelling aspects of herself. And from her brow the Goddess Kali was born. Designed with a lust for blood and a cyclonic wrath, Kali worked to quench the demon fire that was sure to lay waste to the heavens. Her tongue reached for every drop of blood that hit the ground; devouring the army of kings & eventually the king himself, restoring peace among the Gods.
So. Earning her bragging rights on slaying demons and killing kings, Kali continues to live on offering us peace by bestowing comfort and wisdom with the protective fury of a mother for her children. So lets get back to that skirt. Her appearance can be construed as frightening but has much more meaning than death and destruction and straight up slaying everything in her path. Her face is often depicted as dark blue or even black, representing the vast darkness in which the universe was created and which will be its eventual destruction. Her goal is to protect us from evil & release us from our egos which ultimately come from our connection to our physical body. It's said that one can only reach liberation when there is a release of the attachment to our physical form and we connect with our true eternal self. Death. Transformation. Liberation. So the skulls and body parts represent her trophies in victory for liberating her children from their ego through knowledge. In one hand she holds the Sword of Truth, the other a severed head dripping blood. This represents destruction of the ego through knowledge. Her tongue is out ready to lap up the blood of those slained, ready to kill some demons. Her breasts are bountiful and her womb fertile. A true nurturing mother who will do anything to protect her children.
Her many strengths include her compassion & ability to consume. She is the essence of life. When we find ourselves in battle with inner demons or challenges of the world we can invoke our inner Kali, draw in a fiery fierceness to stand up to our demons and fight. The ability to absorb into yourself or consume your enemy allows you to fully own your fear. To experience it, know it, and eventually move toward peace and resolution. But don't misunderstand to assume engaging in confrontation. Our internal strength is used to understand and slay what lays waste to our eventual liberation. Confrontation only breeds more aggression and conflict.
So when you're up for battle remember this mantra: Om Krim Kalikayai Namah.... I bow my head to the Goddess Kali, Mother of Demons, First of her name. The Queen of destruction and preservation she is the breaker of chains to our ego and the liberator of all men.
Channel Your Inner Kali and Live Forever!
So if you've dived head first into the wellness pool; exploring meditation, yoga, green smoothies, clean eating, bodywork & other areas of wellness you've probably come across the term Chakra. We've finally dedicated ourselves to taking care of our bodies, our minds, even our spirits.....but now we have to take care of our energy centers? If you're beginning to find there is no end and the whole thing is getting a little too woo woo for you, let me give you some advice.....do yourself a favor and learn about these core aspects of yourself-the woo woo in you will thank you!
So here's the low down on our Chakras.....we have 1000s of them, but to keep it simple we are going to quickly go over our 7 main Chakras. The word Chakra is Sanskrit for 'wheel' or 'disk'. It is said in Hinduism and many other Eastern religions that we not only have our physical bodies; made up of organs, blood, bones and the other things that make us us, but we also have energetic bodies. Auras, Meridians, Chakras & Doshas oh my! A Chakra is an energy center, a spinning vortex of energy located in the body & can extend outward as well. Our 7 main energy centers run vertically up the length of the spine, beginning just below the spine at our perineum and ending up above the crown of our head. Each Chakra has a different frequency, a different vibration. These vibrations radiate a certain color frequency as well, that's why you may have heard that Chakras have different colors. Each energy center helps to regulate not only physical but emotional function, and these can fluctuate throughout our entire lives from childhood until our last days in this physical body.
On a physical level, our Chakras are connected to our Endocrine system, so glandular function may be affected if these frequencies get out of whack. Emotionally, each Chakra is connected to a different part of our selves, such as creativity, self esteem, security and more deeply engrained personality traits. Some of our Chakras can develop at certain times in our lives, and it varies from males to females. Take me for example, my throat Chakra has been very closed during most of my life. I was shy, had terrible anxiety whenever I had to speak in public, didn't know how to express myself. It wasn't until my mid-thirties I finally found my voice! I'm now a teacher, a coach & speak in front of dozens of people at a time (with a smile on my face!). It just took a while for that part of me to become fully developed. Sometimes our Chakras are cool and balanced, all is good. But sometimes they can be overloaded, depleted or somewhere in between. Our Chakras are often envisioned as lotus flowers and they can be in several stages from a closed bud to full bloom. Lost yet? No worries, if you know what these parts of ourselves represent, you can use that information to put more tools on your tool belt to help keep you balanced! Let's get started and break it down:
7 Main Chakras-starting from the bottom up:
1. Root Chakra (Muladara Chakra)-located at the perineum this is our basic energy center, red in color and representing our survival instincts, security & groundedness. This chakra is the foundation of the development of our personality & connected to our adrenal glands & sympathetic nervous system.
2. Sacral Chakra (Svadisthana Chakra)-This energy center resides below our navel by our sacrum, the triangular bone between our lumbar spine and our tailbone. Also known as 'the sweetness', this Chakras regulates our desires, self-expression and intimacy. Residing behind our sexual organs it helps regulate our ovaries or testes as well as our sexuality.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura Chakra)-This yellow, fiery, solar energy of the sun sits at the space just above our navel. Here sits our personal power & self esteem-our 'go-getter' attitude. Here's our pranic energy, our life force, is created and distributed to the rest of the body & where our egos are developed. This Chakra is connected to our pancreas and adrenal glands.
4. Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra)-Resonating green in color this center is located in the space surrounding our hearts. Controlling our self-forgiveness, universal loving kindness & compassion this Chakra acts as the bridge between our lower physical self & our higher/spiritual selves. Connected to our thymus gland this energy center is said to be where to soul resides.
5. Throat Chakra (Visuddha Chakra)- Our communication, both with ourselves and others, as well as our inner listening, this Chakra develops our personality, thoughts & our emotions. Offering the color sky blue this center is connected to our thyroid and parathyroid.
6. Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra)- Located at the space in the center of our forehead our intuition & inner wisdom resides. The color of indigo blue, the night sky, this space is also the 'communication center' & 'commander' of our other Chakras and is connected to our pineal gland.
7. Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra)-Our final main Chakra is the highest part of ourselves; our connection to the Divine, our understanding. A beautiful white or sometimes violet colors, this 1000 petal lotus is our purest consciousness, connected to our pituitary gland.
There are several ways to help keep these parts of yourself balanced through meditation, Reiki or Pranic energy healing, yoga, chanting with Bija mantras and more. Simply wearing the color of the Chakra you are working on can help facilitate balance. So there you have it, the low down on our Chakras! If you'd like to learn a little more about these energy centers I will be hosting a Chakras 101 workshop Sunday May 22nd at 6:30 pm. Visit the events page and reserve your spot today. Here we will dive in a little deeper into these energy centers and do meditations to help find balance-with information & meditations you can take home.
Stay cool and balanced, Lotus Tribe. Namaste.
Hello lovelies. I hope you enjoy my journey of discovering my magick and Divine Feminine along with health, wealth of spirit and evolution. I am happy to share my experiences with you to heal, love, and evolve. Namaste-Heather Rae